Chapter 1369: [Epilogue] Special Release for Lunar New Year’s (Pt. 1)

New Year's Eve.

The countless fireworks made the night lively. In the Great Qin palace, lanterns shone in dazzling hues as the fireworks went off. After the imperial couple left with their son and daughter, this vast palace was no longer just quiet, but cold. Fortunately, Gu Beiyue had the heart to arrange things ahead of time. Even though Rui'er had prepared the red envelopes that were meant to be distributed, Gu Beiyue still helped Long Feiye and Han Yunxi with some other matters.

For example, he used Long Feiye's namesake to reward the officials of the court and soldiers at the borders. He used Han Yunxi's name to prepare red envelopes for all the servants in the palace and noblewomen in the imperial capital, to be sent out on the first day of the new year. He also used her name to send a heap of goods from the south to the palace, such as paper-cut lanterns, fresh flowers, and lots of fireworks and firecrackers.

Because of this, the palace tonight was especially lively. Even the servants inside the palace suspected that the emperor and empress had secretly returned, to say nothing of the people outside. Currently, it was getting closer and closer to midnight. A new year was about to begin. The sound of firecrackers outside intensified while Qin Min was curled up peacefully sleeping in Gu Beiyue's arms. Perhaps this was the first time she felt tired after mortal delights, or perhaps she was just too gentle, but the noise didn't wake her up at all. Instead, it was Gu Beiyue who remained sleepless as he cradled Qin Min's head with one hand while resting the other behind his own head. Eyes wide, his thoughts were a mystery.

After a long time of silence, he exhaled. "A single year ends with tonight, yet those 10,000 li away have yet to return home." 

His originally calm eyes actually filled with some tears. He was about to rise when Qin Min murmured unintelligibly. He turned to look at her and Qin Min moved, nuzzling against him a few times before moving to hug him. Gu Beiyue felt a little unused to it, but his lips soon curved up into a faint smile that was three parts helplessness and seven parts doting. He couldn't move anymore, so he gave up and carefully brushed back the strands of hair on her face again. There was no thought of getting up from bed now.

He couldn't sleep.

Hearing the hustle and bustle of the palace, he remained awake…

At this moment, Tang Li and Ning Jing, Jin Zi and Mu Linger, were all staying in the place and also suffering from insomnia. Tang Li and Ning Jing sat on the threshold to their rooms. She was slowly chewing on the red bean soup that Tang Li had made her, while he had tilted his head to watch her eat. The soft smile on his lips was even sweeter than the soup itself.

Ning Jing ate a few bites before feeding a spoonful to Tang Li's lips. He smiled even sweeter and said, "Madam, you've improved."

Ning Jing was expressionless. "What does that mean?"

Tang Li laughed. "You know your husband's hard work and how to treat him right."

Ning Jing said simply, "Tang Tang's not here, so I can't feed her. I'm not used to the feeling so I have to feed you occasionally in order to soothe my feelings of missing my daughter."

Tang Li was scornful of her answer. "My daughter started eating on her own when she was three years old. She's never let anyone feed her. Ning Jing, you can't slander your daughter behind her back when she's not here."

Ning Jing only thought to herself, Why are you talking so much when it's just eating porridge! She rolled her eyes at him and said coldly, "I just can't eat it all. You want some or not?"

Tang Li blurted out, "Your appetite is so big you can clearly polish off a big bowl!"

Ning Jing's expression stiffened. But quickly she plastered on a fake smile. "If you're not eating, then forget it!" And so, the spoonful of soup at Tang Li's lips was withdrawn and nommed into her own mouth!

The sweet and sugary scene instantly changed flavors. Ning Jing stopped chewing slowly and started scarfing down the rest of the red bean soup, leaving Tang Li with no chance to even glimpse its leftovers. When she finished, she threw the bowl into Tang Li's hands. "Wash up and sleep."

Then she gave a lazy stretch and entered the rooms. Tang Li stared at the bowl in his hands for a long time before muttering to himself, "Wash up and sleep?"

When did that phrase start meaning doing the dishes instead? 

Naturally, he handed the bowl and utensils to a servant to deal with before going into the room. There he saw Ning Jing not sleeping, but packing up the luggage instead. He hurried over and asked with a grin, "You really got mad?"

"Ah-Li, let's go to the Ice Sea too," Ning Jing declared.

After all, she still missed her daughter. Perhaps they could meet with Gu Qishao at the Ice Sea and ask after Tang Tang's situation. Although the trio of children had changed their names and hid their identities after entering Mysterious Continent, Gu Qishao had still sent back messages of peace and safety from them so the parents wouldn't worry. 

Tang Li withdrew his cheeky attitude and replied, "Alright. If we can't make it for New Year's Eve, we should still be able to see Little Qi during the Lantern Festival."

Gu Qishao and Lil Thing stayed on the shores of Ice Sea, acting as messenger for both sides. With his personality, he'd definitely come to annoy Long Feiye and Han Yunxi during the holidays. He would definitely be at Ice Sea during New Year's Eve and the ensuing Lantern Festival too. 

Tang Li and Ning Jing left as soon as they said so. They didn't bid Gu Beiyue farewell, but left a note. Tang Li even left a red envelope for Shadow on purpose so Qin Min could receive it on his behalf. 

And yet, they'd hardly left the palace when they heard a man and woman arguing. The voices were extremely familiar.

The woman huffed as she demanded, "Would it kill you to walk a little slower?"

The man replied icily, "You're the one who's walking too slow despite accusing me of being fast."

The woman retorted, "I have to take three steps to match your one and you still call me slow?"

The male defended, "You're short, so why blame my legs for being long?"

The female seemed incensed by this and didn't speak for a while. Tang Li and Ning Jing exchanged doubtful looks before the former whipped his horse. As expected, they saw two familiar figures not far ahead. 

Weren't they none other than Mu Linger and Jin Zi? Although they were arguing like mad, Jin Zi still clutched Mu Linger's hand and didn't let go. Seeing their intertwined fingers, Ning Jing couldn't help bursting into laughter. After all, Mu Linger really was rather short while Jin Zi tended on the tall side. It really took her three strides to catch up with his one. 

Jin Zi was leading Mu Linger to walk, so it was hard work for her to keep up. 

Hearing the noise behind them, Jin Zi and Mu Linger turned around at the same time.

"What a coincidence, you guys are leaving too?" Ning Jing asked.

"Big sis Jing, we're going to Ice Sea. Are you guys?" Mu Linger answered hastily. If not for the sake of accompanying Rui'er for New Year's, they would've gone to Ice Sea ages ago Who knew they headed south while Rui'er ran off. She missed her little Ling'er, her big sis and brother-in-law, Qi gege and Lil Thing. After the meal, she wanted to ask big sis Ning whether she wanted to come along, but Jin Zi stopped her. He said that the city was filled with fireworks on New Year's Eve and wanted to take her for a walk to enjoy the view, but they ended up walking all the way to the city gates. Water must have entered her brain by then to trust his words. Judging by their height difference, it'd be impossible to take a leisurely walk together in their lifetime!

"We're going to the Ice Sea too, toget—"

"We're going to the Ice Sea too," Tang Li cut off Ning Jing. "We'll head off first, so you guys…can keep, keep hah! That…brother Jin's legs really are very leg."

Only Tang Li would end up encouraging others to argue instead of persuading them to make up during New Year's…[1] Just like that, his words left the scene awkward with no one speaking. Tang Li seized the chance to flip onto his horse and bringing Ning Jing with him before hugging her tight.

"See you at the Ice Sea!" He raised his whip and galloped away with his wife, leaving Jin Zi and Mu Linger standing in place, speechless.

"What did you mean by that?" Ning Jing was exasperated.

One of the things she regretted most to this day was not asking Han Yunxi for some poison to hide away. At critical times, she could've used to to render Tang Li mute. Tang Li just grinned without answering beyond whipping the horse to go faster.

"Tang Li, stop! Wait for them!" Ning Jing tugged at the reins. But he only looked down and rested his chin in the crook of her shoulder.

"We can wait for them at the city gates," he said softly. "Ning Jing, I'll stop talking so you do too, okay?"

Ning Jing didn't know what Tang Li wanted to do, but she was defeated by his gentle voice. She didn't like his chatterbox habits, but as soon as he softened, that low and magnetic voice became something she never tired of hearing. She really did shut up and allowed Tang Li to hug her tightly from behind in silence. Tang Li didn't whip the horse any further, but allowed it to trot slowly beneath a sky covered in fireworks. 

At last, Ning Jing noticed the long-sounding firecrackers around them. She subconsciously looked up, saw the sky of fireworks blooming into multicolored flowers above them, and murmured, "So beautiful."

Tang Li wasn't looking at the fireworks. To him, what was beautiful wasn't them, by time.

This moment was so beautiful!

By now Jin Zi had already released Mu Linger's hand and said coldly, "Forget it, I won't take walks with you from now on."

Mu Ling felt wronged and almost wanted to cry. But Jin Zi knelt down and said, still in the same cold voice, "I can't cut off my legs because they're long. In the future I'll carry you on my back, all right?"

Mu Linger gave a start before she pounced. Climbing up Jin Zi's back, she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. "Great, no take backs allowed! Otherwise you're a puppy!"

Jin Zi rolled his eyes before standing up. He didn't want to talk at first, but after adjusting Mu Linger's weight he couldn't help remarking, "You've gotten thinner. Starting from tomorrow, add a half bowl of rice to your meals."

"Do you take me for a pig?" Mu Linger retorted.

"Even pigs walk faster than you," Jin Zi was frosty.

"Are you done with that or not?" Mu Linger was enraged again.

But Jin Zi only responded, "Not done!"

"Just what do you want?" Mu Linger stopped hugging Jin Zi's neck and…started choking him instead!

Jin Zi said, "Nothing, I just like arguing with you."

Mu Linger was startled. But she soon gave him a tight squeeze. "So pointless!"

Jin Zi didn't answer, but lowered his head to look at the road. Still, an attractive smile rose to his features. After a period of peace, Mu Linger raised her head to peer at the fireworks and murmured, "Promise you'll always let me win in our arguments from now on. Otherwise, I'll never fight with you again."

Jin Zi almost laughed, but held back. He said coldly, "Fine, then no more arguing from now on."

"You!" Mu Linger realized she'd been tricked.

And Jin Zi couldn't help it—he laughed loudly.


1. It's common Chinese superstition that negative feelings, words, and arguments are bad during the New Year's! You're supposed to stay happy and positive.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

bless them, a rare chapter with sugar and not much nitpicking from yours truly

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