Qian’kun Palace Hall
“This empress greets Your Majesty!”
The empress was summoned by Yang Shaolun upon her return. He sat at his desk, looking over at the empress with piercing eyes. “What did she say?”
“She wasn’t willing to listen!” the empress responded as Lin Haihai had instructed.
“What do you mean she wasn’t willing to listen?” Yang Shaolun raised his voice with a storm of emotions brewing within his gaze.
“She said she didn’t want to know what your question was, and didn’t allow this empress to tell her!” the empress responded calmly.
“You may leave!” Yang Shaolun said with suppressed emotions.
“This empress will take my leave!”
The empress turned to walk away when Yang Shaolun interrupted, “Where does she live now?”
His voice was steady, but his clenched fists belied his calm. The empress threw a worried glance at him. His composed mask sent a chill down her spine. “She’s moved back to the Prince Residence. This Empress isn’t sure where she has been living these days.”
“Go,” the emperor said coolly with rage flashing through his eyes. “This Emperor has reports to go through!”
The empress took her leave. Yang Shaolun closed his eyes. Lin Haihai’s refusal buried deep into his heart like a dagger. Quietly, he murmured, “I will not let you go just like this. Don’t ever think about running away from me!”
Once she returned to the hospital, Lin Haihai said to Li Junyue, “I think I can save him with my spiritual energy. Send someone to notify Chen Luoqing. Tell him and Official Luo to come here at once.”
Li Junyue peered at her doubtfully. “Wouldn’t there be any side effects?”
“I’d lose my power for a few hours, but that’s it!” Lin Haihai responded without hesitation.
“Would that be a problem?” Li Junyue was worried.
“There’s nothing to worry about,” Lin Haihai said nonchalantly. “It’ll be at most a night. I’ll be fine when I wake up!”
Li Junyue thought for a moment. “Then I’ll get prepared!”
After dinner, Yang Hanlun strolled around in the garden with Chen Birou by his side. It had been days since Lin Haihai last came home. Every time he visited her, she always said that Xiao Yuan was still in a critical condition and that she had to stay for the night and keep watch on him. He had left the palace early that day, so he didn’t know what had happened with Lin Haihai. The repercussions would be dire, so the empress had prohibited anyone from talking about the matter under pain of death. Everyone within the palace had been fearing for their life, and thus nothing had been spread to the general public.
“What’s been bothering you, Husband?” Chen Birou stared at Yang Hanlun’s furrowed brows and asked despite knowing the answer.
Breaking from his reverie, Yang Hanlun managed a smile and said, “Nothing. I’m simply worried about Sir Xiao. It’s been many days. I wonder if his condition has stabilized!”
Chen Birou knew he wasn’t actually worried about Xiao Yuan. With a chuckle, she said, “Why doesn’t Husband go check on him? We should take Elder Sister Lin back as well. It’s better than living outside on her own!”
Her investigation over the past few days had revealed to her that Lin Haihai was the Physician Lin whose fame had reached all of the capital, which surprised and shocked her. She had taken Lin Haihai as a crude fool, and dealing with her would be as easy as flipping her hand. However, it turned out that Lin Haihai was the living Bodhisattva well regarded by the public, and Chen Birou wasn’t sure what she should do with her.
Seeing Yang Hanlun’s yearning for the woman ignited fury in Chen Birou’s heart, burning all her internal organs to a crisp. Nevertheless, she knew she must not let her anger show, but instead must put on a generous front to inspire gratitude and guilt in him. This way, she would have an easier time executing her plans.
As she had expected, Yang Hanlun came to a halt and looked at Chen Birou with gratitude and guilt, saying, “I, Yang Hanlun, am fortunate to have married you in this life.”
Chen Birou’s stunning face arranged itself into a faint smile. “What are you talking about, Husband? Birou is the lucky one to have been given your love! Elder Sister has saved your life. You wouldn’t be here if not for her. That makes her Birou’s benefactor as well. Birou is willing to serve Elder Sister my whole life in return for what she’s done! Husband should take Elder Sister back. It’s worrying for a woman to live outside on her own!”
That struck a chord in Yang Hanlun’s heart and moved him deeply. He nodded and said, “Sorry to have put you through this. Imperial Mother will be glad to know that you’re so considerate. I, Yang Hanlun, hereby swear to the heavens that I will not take Birou’s love for granted!”
Eyes misty with adoration, Chen Birou said in a lilting voice, “Birou knows my husband isn’t a fickle man, or Birou wouldn’t have insisted on getting married to you. You should get Elder Sister home before it gets too late!”
Yang Hanlun nodded. “I will. Let me walk you to your room first. You shouldn’t wander around in the garden too late at night, or you may catch a cold.”
Chen Birou agreed meekly, and the couple went back in.
Lin Haihai had just finished treating Official Wang when Yang Hanlun made his way to Linhai hospital. She lay bonelessly on a chair. It had been a while since she was so tired. Even after some rest, she was still weak in the limbs, and her vision was dim. Li Junyue checked on Official Wang and announced that his condition had stabilized. Chen Luoqing and Luo Kuangyuan would be able to get some answers from the man once they came.
Noting the exhaustion on Lin Haihai’s face, Yang Hanlun said with obvious care in his voice, “You should go back and rest. Look how exhausted you are!”
Lin Haihai opened her eyes to see the concerned look on Yang Hanlun’s handsome face. She did her best to smile at him and said, “Don’t worry. My energy won’t run out. I’ll be fine after some rest. Why are you here?”
“I came to take you home. Birou said it might be inconvenient for you to live alone outside, and she told me to take you home!” Yang Hanlun had chosen his words deliberately to lessen Lin Haihai’s dislike for Birou, but it was entirely unnecessary.
Li Junyue emerged with a stethoscope around his neck. When he saw Yang Hanlun, he said, “Good, you’re here. Take her back to sleep and don’t let her leave the residence tonight!”
Li Junyue was worried that something might happen to her while she was deprived of her power. It would be safer to have a martial art expert like Yang Hanlun around.
It was the first time Yang Hanlun ever felt anything positive for the man. He nodded and lowered his head as he said, “Come on. Let’s get back. I would’ve had a sedan chair prepared if I had known you were so tired.”
Lin Haihai was so exhausted that she couldn’t even move any of her muscles. She rose to her feet and said weakly, “Fine. I do want to sleep. Keep a close eye on him, Stupid Bear, and tell me if anything changes!”
Li Junyue rolled his eyes. “Do you really fancy yourself a savior? Shoo, go home and sleep. It annoys me seeing you so tired. Go away!”
Lin Haihai didn’t have any other choice. She let Yang Hanlun support her as she stumbled outside.
Lin Haihai had been able to walk on her own in the beginning, but gradually, she leaned closer and closer to Yang Hanlun until she was basically draping herself all over him. Yang Hanlun felt both concern and adoration. He never felt such happiness when he was with Chen Birou. Putting an arm tight around Lin Haihai, he walked along the almost empty street with her.
Lin Haihai could no longer hang on. Exhaustion threatened to knock her out. She came to a stop.
“What’s wrong?” asked Yang Hanlun.
Lin Haihai opened her eyes and responded, “Bend down!”
Yang Hanlun didn’t know what she wanted, but he did as she had said. Lin Haihai took a step back and climbed onto his strong back. She fell into a slumber almost immediately.
It took a moment for Yang Hanlun to react. He picked her up with a serious expression and continued walking. His eyes revealed his deep love for the woman on his back.
Not far from them, a pair of blazing eyes locked onto the two of them. The rage radiating from him sent a shudder down the spines of the passersby.
Yang Hanlun carried Lin Haihai back to his residence. The guard at the door hurriedly went up to him to greet him, but Yang Hanlun stopped him with a gesture. He didn’t want to wake Lin Haihai up.
The walk to her room felt too short. Yang Hanlun didn’t want to let go of her. He wanted to walk for an eternity with her on his back. However, every road had its end, and no matter how reluctant he was, he had to let her go.
He put Lin Haihai onto her bed. When Guihua carried a basin of hot water in, he ordered her to leave it and go. Yang Hanlun picked up the towel to gently wipe Lin Haihai’s face. She opened her eyes to look around before quickly shutting them. Then, as if struck by her realization, she grabbed Yang Hanlun’s hand and said, “Have a seat. I have something to ask you!”
Yang Hanlun paused and smiled slightly before taking a seat by the bed. “What is it?”
“We’re no longer husband and wife. Will you make Birou your first consort?” Lin Haihai wanted to know what he was thinking.
Yang Hanlun preferred it when she was sound asleep. “We’ll discuss this later. Now sleep!”
“I want to have this conversation now. I’ll go to the empress dowager tomorrow and tell her that we’ve long gotten divorced. Then Birou will be your first consort. That’s only right for her.”
Yang Hanlun’s expression darkened suddenly. “Why are you so eager to get rid of the title of a princess consort? Have you fallen for someone? Or have you not forgotten about Imperial Elder Brother, and want to enter the palace as his consort?”
After a pause, Lin Haihai asked tentatively, “If I can’t forget about him, and he’s willing to be with me, what would you do?”
“Then he will no longer be my Imperial Elder Brother, but my enemy. No man can tolerate having their wives taken away.” Yang Hanlun stared at her with an impassive look on his face. “He loves you, too, doesn’t he?”
“I did have feelings for him, but it was merely a moment of weakness. I wasn’t serious when I asked you the question.” Lin Haihai closed her eyes and said mockingly, “Who would want to be a consort? I’ll find myself a rogue and travel the world with him. Won’t that be a much happier life?”
“You wouldn't dare!” Yang Hanlun scowled with fury burning in his eyes.
“Why wouldn’t I? You’ve divorced me!” Lin Haihai turned away, her tone as irreverent as ever. “I’ll go back to the North Court and find the divorce paper you’ve given me. Otherwise, you may not let me go even after I find someone I love!”
“I’ll kill anyone you lay your eyes on!” he threatened fiercely and turned her around.
His fury made Lin Haihai’s heart pound. There was no point in provoking him even more, but she couldn’t help but make another attempt, “If I fall in love with someone one day, and I must have him in my life, will you let me go?”
Yang Hanlun shot to his feet and leveled an icy gaze on her, biting out, “There’s no way!”
She huffed out a bitter laugh and closed her eyes. “Forget it. It’s not something worth knowing. I’m tired. I want to sleep. Remember to close the door behind you!”
She opened her mouth wide to let out a yawn. Yang Hanlun glared at her furiously. She wasn’t just having a theoretical discussion, he was sure of it. Watching her slowly falling asleep, he muttered in a low voice, “I won’t let you go. If anyone is to take you away from me, I’ll get you back no matter the price! Even if it’s Imperial Elder Brother!”
He spent some time looking at her. Then he leaned in to drop a kiss on her forehead. Putting out the candles, he rose and dragged his feet outside.
In the darkness, Lin Haihai opened her eyes suddenly. What he just said had deprived her of all her hope. Looking at the room swallowed by shadows, she couldn’t help remembering the warm embrace, the pained and disbelieving eyes, their intimacy, their time together in the cavern, and the way he had buried himself in the plate of chili. All that was now in the past. She held onto the blanket tight to cover her heart. Pain spread slowly to all parts in her body, but there was nothing she could do.
Stumbling into a slumber, she kept dreaming about him asking her, did you get together with me out of genuine feelings?
Suddenly, she jerked away when she felt a presence in the room. A figure slowly approached her in the dark. Her heart pounded. It was pitch black all around her. She couldn’t make out her visitor’s face, and he hadn’t said a word, but she recognized him anyway.
Soon, she found herself pulled into a familiar embrace. Furious heat overwhelmed her as his steely arms wrapped around her, so tightly that no room was left between them. She felt dizzy for a few seconds, but then she came to her senses. She pushed against him with all the strength she could muster, but he didn’t even budge.
“Have you lost your mind?!” she demanded in anger and frustration. “This is the Prince Residence. Don’t you know what the repercussions are if you’re discovered?!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter