Chapter 82: You Chose Your Path

The empress was stunned before replying in a low voice, “Imperial Mother, what are you referring to?”

 

The empress dowager observed her for a moment before saying slowly, “Empress, do you really think I’m old and muddle-headed? You really think that I would remain oblivious even after such a huge event occurred?!” 

 

Her tone carried deep pain. The empress felt rueful. The empress dowager had always pampered and loved her. She recalled the time when she left her homeland and her family to live in this unfamiliar country. She was utterly alone, but this elderly woman had warmed her icy and numb heart bit by bit. She slowly walked over to the empress dowager and sat down, holding onto her icy hands. “Imperial Mother, don’t worry too much. I actually don’t know what happened either. All I know is that Yuguan has been captured, and His Majesty led people to save her.” 

 

The empress said out of kindness. She knew it wasn’t the truth, but she could sense the empress dowager’s worry and fear from her trembling hands. Although Lin Haihai was the empress dowager’s daughter-in-law, they ultimately weren’t biologically related. Even if she was anxious for her, she wouldn’t be overly worried. 

 

The empress dowager stared at her. “Are you telling the truth? How did Yuguan get captured?”

 

The empress replied, “I don’t know who captured her, but that is what Commander Zheng told me. Imperial Mother, there’s no need to be so worried. His Majesty is already leading people to pursue them. Everything will be okay soon.” She could only keep her mother-in-law in the dark. If she knew that His Majesty was in trouble, she would definitely faint from shock. 

 

“Why does that child encounter so many hardships?” the empress dowager sighed and said slowly, “I heard that she was mistreated in her maiden home. Even after marrying Hanlun, she hasn’t been able to enjoy many peaceful days. Instead, she spends her days diagnosing patients and working on her plantation. Who could such a warmhearted person possibly have offended?” The empress dowager cared about Lin Haihai. Not only had Lin Haihai saved her two sons with her marvelous medical skills, her consideration, generosity, and magnanimous demeanor all moved her deeply. She was proud of this daughter-in-law. 

 

The empress added, “That’s right. I don’t understand why someone would want to hurt Haihai either!” 

 

The empress dowager glanced at the night sky and said, “Empress, you should return to your room and retire for the day.”

 

The empress stood up and curtsied, replying, “Imperial Mother, rest soon too. Don’t overthink about the situation!”

 

The empress dowager nodded. 

 

“I will take my leave now.” The empress turned calmly, her expression composed. However, her eyes revealed deep worry and unease the moment she had turned away from the empress dowager. 

 

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Dawn gradually came as the sun gracefully leaped out from the horizon, dyeing the clouds gathered in the sky. Then a gentle and faint light emerged, painting a poetic and graceful scene. Slowly, the gentle light turned bright and dazzling. The clouds grew more and more visible as the sun surged in brilliance, its reserved heat prepared to be unleashed upon the world. 

 

Lin Haihai witnessed the spectacle with her head on Yang Shaolun’s shoulders. Sunrise and sunset occurred every day, but how long had it been since she last got to admire it? Yang Shaolun put his arm around her shoulders, asking, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

Lin Haihai slowly shifted her gaze to the handsome man by her side. “It’s not beautiful, but vigorous and full of energy. Don’t you feel more awake and energetic after seeing the sunrise? Just like how someone with an uncertain future will become rejuvenated at the prospect of hope.” 

 

Yang Shaolun looked at her clear eyes and bright grin, as well as the vitality between her brows. This was the only woman he truly cherished! However, the arrival of dawn would be followed by their separation. Was the smile on her face genuine?

 

Lin Haihai lightly bit her lower lip between her teeth and smiled. Sliding her slender fingers across his ink-colored thick brows, she leaned in and gently bit him on the lips. She whispered in his ear, “Smile, and then say goodbye!” Stunned, Yang Shaolun took some time to process her words. How could he possibly smile after hearing that?

 

Lin Haihai looked around the cave and said in a yearning tone, “If we are really able to live in seclusion here in the future, it’d be the greatest joy of my life!” 

 

Yang Shaolun’s mood took a depressive turn. Her happiness was so simple, but he couldn’t even give her that. I’m the emperor of this nation, but I can’t even make the woman I love happy!

 

“Why are you so pure? If you were greedier and more obstinate, maybe I’ll feel less guilty. How am I supposed to deal with these emotions now?” Yang Shaolun looked at her in pain. Forgive him for not being able to bid her farewell with a smile. He couldn’t smile like everything was fine. 

 

Lin Haihai raised a delicate brow and laughed without a care in the world, saying, “I am very greedy. Therefore, you have to reward me with a lot of money after you return to the palace. Remember that Physician Lin from Linhai Hospital is a woman that is in love with money!”

 

Yang Shaolun smiled faintly. He knew that she loved money very much as well as the reason behind it. She cared about the common people. Because she had a purpose and meaning in life, it was easy for her to smile and say goodbye. “It seems the common people within the capital will recognize only Physician Lin in the future, the emperor be damned!”

 

“Love is the best remedy for all gloom. Anyone with a loving heart wouldn’t have to worry about not being loved by others,” Lin Haihai said solemnly. When she was sentenced by Bai Muyang, the common people all stood up for her. She’d gained the approval of the public through her actions. It was the best reward she could ask for. 

 

“I will remember your words, and transfer my love for you to the common people!” Yang Shaolun said simply, his tone making his determination clear. 

 

“Brother Yang, let me sing a song for you.” Lin Haihai glanced at the rising sun and its brilliant golden light. Dawn had finally arrived. 

 

“Sure, I’d love to hear you sing!” A glimpse of happiness rose in between Yang Shaolun’s brows. Lin Haihai suddenly regretted her decision. It was better not to sing this song. She had tried so hard to make this breakup less of a painful memory; she didn’t want to ruin the moment. 

 

“Nevermind. I’m not a good singer. I don’t want you to laugh at me.” Lin Haihai managed a smile and mumbled. 

 

“The song you sang at my imperial mother’s birthday banquet was beautiful. Plus, your voice is very unique. I have been wanting to listen to it again. Sing for me for the last time, would you?” He begged in a low voice. However, when he said “last time,” it shattered Lin Haihai’s brave facade. She turned away to control her tears. Tilting her head up, she took a deep breath and attempted to smile. By the time she turned to face Yang Shaolun again, there was a smile on her face. In Yang Shaolun’s eyes, her smile was beautiful enough to charm everyone. He hated to part with her, but what could he do? In the end, he only let out a sigh. 

 

She sat on the huge rock, facing the sun. He nestled against her and sat down too. Under the golden sunlight, Lin Haihai put her head on his shoulder and began to sing in a low voice, “Dawn, please don’t come. May this fantastic night last forever and ever. May this moment of pureness accompany the love in our heart… Don’t let daylight separate us, and don’t let the night slip. Please order daylight to stay away…”

 

Her clear and cool voice tinged with faint sorrow. It sounded as if she was weeping. It was a song that befitted this moment they shared. What a pity that dawn was already here, and they must separate now. 

 

Lin Haihai held in her tears and smiled as she sang this sorrowful song. She originally didn’t remember the lyrics, but somehow she got the lyrics right once she started singing. Yang Shaolun felt grief-stricken. Although he knew that everything would return to normal when morning came, he was still unable to maintain calm and collected when their separation was on the horizon.

 

The couple fell silent as they cherished their last moment together. Whatever they said now would be superfluous. Pledging undying love wasn't practical, and telling each other to take care was too formal. If they said they couldn’t bear to part away from each other, then it’d only add on to their sorrows. Silence was the best goodbye. 

 

By the time Baizi appeared, the two panicked. Distress flashed through Lin Haihai’s eyes as they set on Baizi. She glanced at Yang Shaolun’s slightly trembling lips. The sadness in his eyes was too deep, making it impossible for her to ignore it. She parted her lips, managing to pull a faint smile of some sort. “Dawn has arrived.” Such simple words, but the statement stabbed both their hearts like thousands of daggers. Yet, they had no choice but to smile. 

 

With an impassive expression, Baizi swept his gaze across the two of them. Then his eyes landed on Yang Shaolun. “I’ll get you out of here first. There are lots of imperial guards searching for you. They should be able to find you right away!”

 

Yang Shaolun kept quiet as he looked at Lin Haihai in distraught. The latter tried to smile. “Go ahead. Go up first.” It was meant as a reassurance for him, but also a reminder for herself to give up.

 

“The happiness I felt last night will last me a lifetime!” He looked intensely at Lin Haihai before turning to say to Baizi, “Let’s go.” If he didn’t go, he might not be able to hold back his tears. He wanted her to remember his smile. 

 

Noting the sorrow in Yang Shaolun’s eyes, Baizi sighed inwardly. He took Yang Shaolun’s arm and disappeared like a swallow. Lin Haihai started bawling, her smile dropping instantly. Her unwillingness and reluctance had to be buried deep inside her heart; even the birds flying by couldn’t help but sigh when they heard her wails. 

 

By the time Baizi returned, she was squatting on the ground and crying her eyes out. Anger rose in his heart. “You’re not separated by life and death. Do you really need to act this way? If you love him, then be with him! Why do you need to turn yourself into a mess?”

 

Lin Haihai stood up, her eyes swollen. She looked in the direction that Yang Shaolun had disappeared in. In a melancholy voice, she said, “We have to stay away because we love each other deeply!” 

 

Baizi looked at her strangely. He was about to ask her what she meant when she soared into the air and then vanished! Stunned, Baizi stared at the empty sky, unmoving. They can’t be together because they love each other? What exactly does that mean? Since they love each other deeply, why shouldn’t they be together? Humans are strange! Baizi lost interest following the train of thought. It’s better to be a snake. We get together with whoever we like. 

 

It didn’t take long for Yang Shaolun to be found in the forest. The messy-looking palace guards teared up with overwhelming relief as soon as they saw the emperor. They hadn’t eaten or slept for a day and night. The majority of them were soaked and exhausted from the pouring rain. Their will was the only thing keeping them upright. The sheer relief of seeing Yang Shaolun emerge safe and sound made them fall to the ground. 

 

Yang Shaolun looked at these loyal men, moved. They were all his subordinates, and they’d sacrifice their lives for him. Haihai was right. Love was the best remedy for heartbreak. The love between him and Lin Haihai was nothing compared to the greater good of the nation and the wellbeing of the common people. If they got together despite all the reasons they shouldn’t, the world would fall into chaos for sure. 

 

Even if he disregarded his imperial brother’s ten thousand soldiers, his imperial uncle would seize this opportunity to incite the public to rebel. Then a war might break out and wreak havoc all over the nation, making the common people suffer. Then would she really be happy even if they could be together? She would be criticized by everyone, and the common people would look at her with disdain. She would be cursed and insulted. How could he possibly allow such accusations to be levelled against her? 

 

Yang Shaolun felt sorrowful, but he understood that they had to separate; not because they didn’t love each other, but because they did. He was unwilling to let her suffer in the least bit. Therefore, he would keep all his emotions inside. As long as she didn’t forget that there was once a man named Yang Shaolun that loved her very much. He wasn’t the emperor nor her imperial elder brother. He was just a man, a man that loved her. Yang Shaolun revealed a downcast but beautiful smile, soundlessly saying goodbye to Lin Haihai. 

 

-----

 

Lin Haihai returned to Linhai Hospital in a daze. The imperial physician on duty was overjoyed and hurriedly walked up to greet her. Lin Haihai managed a smile before claiming that she was tired and returning to her room. She sat down on her chair, utterly lost. She was the one who broke up with him with a smile, and the one who said they shouldn’t cry, that they should face their future with optimism. So why did her face appear pale in the mirror?

 

“You didn’t even greet me when you came back. I got worried about you for no reason!” Li Junyue grumbled unhappily.

 

Lin Haihai looked up at Li Junyue’s careless expression. Her tears pitter-pattered down the floor. She bit her lips, refusing to cry out loud. Li Junyue walked over and hugged her, feeling heartbroken for her. He patted her back and asked, “What’s the matter? What happened?”

 

Lin Haihai lifted her head and choked out, “Stupid Bear, I feel as if my heart has been stabbed. Whenever I breathe, my heart aches!” 

 

Li Junyue wiped away the tears on her face and consoled, “You’re okay, you’re okay. You’ll be better after a while.”

 

Lin Haihai looked at him incredulously. “Really?”

 

Li Junyue promised, “Really. I’ve experienced many breakups. Just cry your heart out and then find someone to date. You’ll quickly forget who Yang Shaolun is!”

 

“But I can’t forget him. Whenever I think of him, I feel like there’s a great boulder weighing on my heart. I can’t bear to be away from him!” Her bitter tears fell down, and her bright and beautiful huge eyes were crestfallen. 

 

“If you can’t bear to be away from him, then be with him. Why do you have to do this to yourself?” Li Junyue sighed. “Being apart is painful, but the same goes for being together. Choose the one that’s less painful!”

 

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