"My past was pretty boring, nothing exciting about it!" Yang Shaolun said as he sat down, recalling the last thirty years of his life. There really wasn't anything worth telling.
"Even if it's not exciting, I'd still love to hear about it. Tell me about your childhood; everyone misses their childhood." Whenever Lin Haihai recalled her childhood, she felt happy but also sad that she could never return to those days.
Yang Shaolun thought for a moment. "When I was young, my happiest memories were Imperial Father's praises. He was a very serious person and had very high expectations for me. He would get angry if I couldn't perfectly accomplish the task he asked of me. Based on what I could recall, he’d only ever praised me twice."
Lin Haihai looked at him with sympathy. She put her hands in his and squeezed.
Yang Shaolun continued, "I was ten the first time he praised me. At that time, he was testing my martial art skills and my archery skills. I ended up meeting all his expectations. He patted my head and said good job appreciatively. Even though it was only a couple words, I was so happy that I didn't sleep for a couple nights."
He sounded lonely, as if he was recounting a sad memory. Lin Haihai could empathize with him. The praise was the result of his sleepless nights spent training and studying. This compliment was thus dampened by a lot of bitterness and wasn't a pleasant memory to recall.
“What about the other time?” Lin Haihai questioned, cocking her head and looking at him with a sparkling gaze full of love.
"The other time was when I was thirteen. We were hunting in the countryside accompanied by many officials. My second brother and I took Hanlun with us because he insisted on following me. He was four years old back then. We parted with the group and followed a white bunny to the border of the forest, where there was a river. Second Brother didn’t know how to swim, so I took Hanlun to play in shallow waters.
“He was too playful and slipped away when I wasn’t paying attention. He was washed downstream. I was terrified when I saw him and immediately swam over, grabbing him by the leg. Yet, I wasn’t strong enough to fight the rapids, so we were washed away together. Second Brother was also frightened and froze on the spot with his hands on his mouth. He even forgot to scream for help!”
Lin Haihai was shocked. What else could two children who were washed downstream by the river do? Her hands gripped Yang Shaolun’s tightly as if she had been the one in his shoes.
Yang Shaolun smiled lightly and continued, "At that moment, I had already forgotten to be afraid. My only thought was that I couldn't lose my brother, so I desperately held on to him. The water kept pouring in through my nose and mouth. I felt breathless and my chest felt like it was going to explode. Finally, I found some leverage and managed to lift my brother up onto a big stone, but I had used up all my strength and blacked out. When I woke up, I saw my lmperial Father's stoic mask break to reveal a trace of concern. He stared at me for a long time before telling me I had done a good job! I couldn't stop crying and I felt aggrieved. Imperial Father held me in his arms and patted my back. Afterward, Second Brother told me that a passing woodcutter saved my life. If it weren't for that woodcutter, I would’ve been dead!"
Lin Haihai looked at him with tears in her eyes. She couldn't believe that he had a near-death experience when he was young. She recalled that Yang Hanlun once said that Yang Shaolun had encountered many assassination attempts since he became the emperor, one of which nearly killed him. Her heart ached for him. She couldn't bear to let him suffer any more injustices. When she was healing him, she discovered countless scars on him, some of which were from training and others, from assassination attempts.
"Told you my story wasn't that exciting. Tell me about yourself!" Yang Shaolun wiped her tears away and smiled. He could sense the ache in her heart, but he was a man. This was his mantle to bear.
"My childhood was spent studying medicine, collecting medicinal herbs, and working as an apprentice. Oh, I also joked around with Li Junyue. Those were some happy days. Yet, in the blink of an eye, my youth was over. I didn’t want it to be over." She vaguely recounted her past. She didn't want to lie to him about this.
"Who did you learn medicine from?" Yang Shaolun always had this question in the back of his mind. Her medical skills were so superb that even the imperial physicians wanted to become her disciples. Who could possibly be her master?
"I made an oath to my master that I would never tell anyone of his origin, otherwise I would die a terrible death. Getting hit by a car - carriage while walking, choking while eating..." Yang Shaolun kissed her prattling lips and gently bit her as punishment. "Stop saying nonsense!"
Lin Haihai put her hands around his neck and got up on her knees to look at him. Yang Shaolun's smile gradually disappeared, replaced by a look of heated desire. She kissed him lightly at first before deepening the kiss. He held her tight in his arms and his gaze darkened. Like rain dropping from the sky, he planted kisses on Lin Haihai's face and neck. His tongue tangled with hers like a snake. Lin Haihai's passion was ignited by his actions. She embraced him and responded heatedly. Yang Shaolun's gaze darkened further and lost his self-control. Emotions and instincts took over. He stroked her back with his large hand and pulled on her waistband. It was a pity that Lin Haihai had wrapped the waistband around her torso seven or eight times, so it wasn't easy to untie.
This was what Baizi saw when he arrived in response to Lin Haihai’s summon. Irritated, he coughed lightly and watched the couple separate at lightning speed. Dressed in elegant white clothes, he looked like a celestial descending upon the mortal realm with that fair and finely sculpted face of his. Lin Haihai blushed and lowered her head in embarrassment. Yang Shaolun looked at him and asked, "May I ask who you are?"
Baizi threw a cold glance at Lin Haihai, which she dodged guiltily. She was annoyed with herself for forgetting about having summoned him. Baizi's icy gaze shifted to Yang Shaolun, the emperor of the mortal realm. As expected, this man was different from regular people, his innate kingly presence frightening. In a dignified tone, Baizi stated, "My name is Baizi. It was me who saved and healed you!"
Yang Shaolun suddenly felt a chill and cupped his hands. “So it turns out you’re my savior! I thank you for saving my life!”
Baizi looked at him, his imposing aura made it difficult to not turn away from him. He pursed his lips and declared with a smile, "There's no need to thank me, I've cut myself off from the materialistic world and didn't care about these matters to begin with. I just hope that you can keep my identity a secret and not throw me at the edge of a storm."
That was for Lin Haihai’s benefit. He knew how difficult Lin Haihai’s mission was. It was best to keep her ability a secret to avoid more trouble. That was also what Lin Haihai had asked of him when she summoned him.
Yang Shaolun straightened and promised, "Please rest assured that I will never reveal a single word if you don't want me to say anything!" A sovereign's words are not to be taken lightly.
An emperor’s word was as good as any oaths. As soon as Yang Shaolun spoke, Baizi nodded. "What will your explanation be when you go back?"
"I don't have to explain to anyone!" Yang Shaolun smiled confidently.
"Very well. Originally I was worried that your injuries were too serious, so I invited Physician Lin over. To my surprise, your physique is better than most. Within one day, you were eighty percent healed. It seems that my new medicine has yielded miraculous results. Fortune has smiled upon you!" Baizi explained.
"I see, so that's what happened! I thought it was strange that I showed up here without any reason. It turns out it was an expert who sent me here!" Lin Haihai pretended to have come to a sudden realization.
"You should rest here for the night. Tomorrow at dawn, i will see the two of you out." Baizi looked at Lin Haihai in indignation. Staying here for a night was her idea. He was reluctant to go along. If he hadn't shown up when he did, things could've become complicated. In truth, he didn't understand Lin Haihai's thought process. She wasn't an irrational person. She was quite the opposite, but it was this rationality that showed her she and Yang Shaolun would always be apart in the future.
Lin Haihai was a woman in love. A woman who couldn’t be with the man she’d devoted her heart and soul to would become tragically desperate, but that desperation wouldn’t last forever. She would be content if she could have him to herself once. Then she would be able to endure the distance between them in the future. What she wanted was to spend a night with him. She would put a lifetime worth of love into this moment, savoring their time together.
Baizi wouldn’t understand. In fact, Lin Haihai knew how dangerous this was, but she needed a night like this to make her lonely future worth it. It was the first time her heart raced, ached, and moved for a man. She wasn't a saint. Nothing happening in this era had anything to do with her. She shouldn’t have to shoulder this responsibility. However, she would finish what she had started. She would see her career through, so to speak.
Between romance and career, she could only choose the latter. This was the hardship of being a woman; men never had to worry about choosing between love and their careers.
Yang Shaolun looked at Lin Haihai with a smile. At this moment, he was satisfied. They could worry about the future later.
Baizi disappeared from their sight suddenly. Lin Haihai was used to it, but Yang Shaolun was shocked despite the calm mask concealing his emotions. Is he human?
Lin Haihai felt a dull pain in her heart. She could sense Baizi's anger. He was blaming her for her irrationality. She looked up and widened her eyes in an attempt to hold back her tears. Caught off guard, Yang Shaolun took her hands and asked while holding her gaze, "What's wrong?"
Lin Haihai smiled gently and said, "I'm happy, happy that we can have one night together. I'm satisfied. I'm truly satisfied!" She repeated as if to assure him.
Yang Hanlun looked at the disappointment hidden in her eyes and felt his heart sink. It was as if he had fallen to the bottom of the sunless sea. He was the emperor. Most women would’ve killed to climb into his bed, while he wanted only the woman before him. However, she didn’t belong to him. It made him happy beyond description to be able to spend a night with her, but wasn’t that the greatest irony in and of itself?
Lin Haihai forced a smile. "We agreed to have a good day. Don't be sad, that'll taint our memory."
Yang Shaolun gazed upon her smiling face. Her eyes glinted in the dimly lit cavern with unspeakable sorrow. His heart ached and he embraced her tightly in his arms. The sadness in his heart prickled his eyes and he murmured in a trembling voice, "You were right. We met at the wrong time!"
Lin Haihai closed her eyes as tears ran down her face. She could pretend to be strong, to be indifferent, but when separation was right in front of her, all her disguises were torn to pieces. In the end, she was just a regular woman.
She could smile and say she was satisfied having this one night to make up for a lifetime of loneliness, but she was deceiving herself. He was, too. However, there wasn't a better way. If they were more rational, they wouldn't even get to spend the night together. They should be satisfied, and they should smile, but the tears on their face and the sadness in their hearts said otherwise!
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Would you choose romance or career? Personally, I would choose career if I had to choose one.
P.S. We realized there's a missing section in Chapter 78. We'll be linking a chapter 78.5 once we've finished translating it. The steamy part probably didn't pass censorship so it was removed in the raws we had. (NOTE: There will be a lot of steamy action! So stay tuned!)