This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
Chapter Seventy-Five: The Winds Rise Again
Yan Jin Qiu woke up groggy from a heavy sleep. It might have been because he had slept for so long, or because he was ill, that he felt his vision was slightly blurry. He only focused when he heard movement beside him.
“Is it a little better?”
A warm hand appeared on his forehead. He blinked and saw Hua Xi Wan bend down to touch her lips to his forehead.
“Your temperature has gone down.” Hua Xi Wan straightened up. “You slept for many hours. Get up and eat something.”
The servant girl standing behind perceptively handed over a porcelain bowl painted with blue over white. Hua Xi Wan used her injured hand to hold the bowl as she used her right hand to raise the spoon for a taste. It was slightly hot, so she blew on the spoon before moving it in front of Yan Jin Qiu. “Come, taste this. This is a vegetable porridge that I had the kitchens make just for you. After you recover, I will have them make good things for you to eat. Right now, I can only first maltreat your stomach.”
Mu Tong helped Yan Jin Qiu sit up against the bed. Seeing Wang Fei use a tone as though she was talking to a child to treat Wang Ye, he looked carefully at Wang Ye. Not seeing any anger on his face, Mu Tong bowed and moved to the side.
Yan Jin Qiu looked at the porridge inside the spoon. She said it was vegetable porridge, and it really was a simple vegetable porridge. Finely chopped vegetables gave off a faint fragrance scattered among the glowing grains of rice. He felt a great hunger and swallowed the spoonful.
Seeing Yan Jin Qiu eating, Hua Xi Wan used chopsticks to pick up a piece of finely cut pickled carrots from a dish on the side. She moved it to Yan Jin Qiu’s mouth with a smile. “Come, try this.”
“What is this?” Yan Jin Qiu looked with puzzlement at what was on the chopsticks.
“This is pickled carrots. It is not very hard to make. Every year when there are the most vegetables, the common people will put them into salt water to soak. During seasons when there are not many vegetables, they will eat this with rice.” Hua Xi Wan thought and then added, “When one eats too much oily food, this is very suitable for stimulating the appetite.”
He had heard that many of the common people ate this. Yan Jin Qiu was suspicious of the taste of this food, but he still put it into his mouth. It was slightly sour and slightly salty. He could not say if it was good or not. However, because it was salty, it was really a match for the rice.
What Hua Xi Wan did not tell Yan Jin Qiu was that the pickled vegetables that he ate had gone through many steps. They had been soaked in saltwater along with other kinds of ingredients. The kind that the common people ate did not have so much care put into it.
“It is all right to occasionally taste this. Will there be any effects if one eats this frequently?” Yan Jin Qiu finished drinking the porridge with the pickled vegetables. After rinsing his mouth, he asked, “The medical books say that pickled food commonly harms the body.”
“Of course it is not good to frequently eat this.” Hua Xi Wan used a hot towel to wipe his hands with one of hers. “Most of the common people will think of all kinds of ways to make their lives better. Otherwise, why would so many novel foods appear from among them?”
“The truly intelligent and able usually are among the common people.” Yan Jin Qiu sighed. “But even so, it would be better if they had more fresh vegetables and fruit to eat.” The prestigious and noble families would never lack food, but the common people’s livelihoods depended on the weather. It was good if the weather was good, but if it was a bad year, the days were hard.
“Rest a while longer.” Hua Xi Wan pushed on his shoulder for him to go back under the blankets. “You cannot bathe today. You can only do so after you recover—do you understand?”
Yan Jin Qiu only showed his head above the blankets and nodded obediently.
Satisfied with his cooperation, Hua Xi Wan nodded. “Sleep, I will stay here.”
A hint of a smile appeared on Yan Jin Qiu’s lips, and then he really did close his eyes and drift off. Maybe it was because he had someone who was willing and sincere in accompanying him, or maybe it was because his body was weak from the illness, that he had a very good sleep. When he woke up, it was morning.
He sat up from the bed and saw a thick mattress spread out on the chaise next to the bed. Hua Xi Wan was laid out on it, her hair falling down to the ground. The entire room was quiet.
Putting on an outer robe, he walked next to the window. Pushing the window open, he found that the outside was misty and blurry like a mystical world.
“You are awake?” Hua Xi Wan rubbed her eyes and woke up. Looking at the scenery outside, she said, “Such thick mist.”
The servant girls outside heard noise coming from inside the rooms. After a greeting, they came flooding in with things to help them wash. They changed into clean clothes. Hua Xi Wan saw Yan Jin Qiu recover his energetic state and said with a yawn, “It was you who was ill, but why does it look as though I was the one ill.”
Yesterday afternoon, the three from the palace had sent servants with medicine to the wang fu. It appeared as though Yan Jin Qiu was having a great illness and not just a small cold.
Yan Jin Qiu saw that Hua Xi Wan still had tiredness on her face and knew that she had not rested well in order to care for him. He said, “After eating the morning meal, rest some more.”
“En.” Hua Xi Wan nodded. She felt this idea was a very good one.
Because Yan Jin Qiu had recovered, his morning meal became lean meat porridge and some minor dishes. After eating, he heard a shocking news. Hua Xi Wan’s hopes of having a nap were destroyed as well.
“Wang Ye, Wang Fei, crying sounded from Princess Rui He’s fu today. The fuma has passed away.” Mu Tong saw Hua Xi Wan’s expression was slightly shocked and said, “This one heard that he passed away after four in the morning.”
Compared to the flamboyant nature of Princess Rui He in Jing, this Rui He Fuma was much more low-key. No matter what major or minor matters happened in Jing, this fuma did not like to participate. Because Princess Rui He supported a few handsome manservants in the princess fu, many people laughed at this fuma for being a cuckold. However, no one ever saw this fuma react. He still lived idly. Who would believe that such an open-minded person would pass away so suddenly?
“It really is not peaceful recently.” Hua Xi Wan’s brow furrowed. After she had married Yan Jin Qiu, many things had happened in Jing. Ever since the case of Master Zhang, disturbing events kept on occurring in Jing. Even the Crown Prince had lost his life in this fight for succession. She didn’t know how many people would fall into this fight.
Yan Jin Qiu clasped her hand lightly. “Do not be afraid.”
Hua Xi Wan smiled at him and then said, “When you leave the fu in the future, remember to take a few more guards along. Now that you are a qinwang, it is not a break with etiquette if you take a few more.”
“All right.” Yan Jin Qiu accepted with a smile. “The situation is clear now. I will go to the princess fu. Your arm is heavily injured, so you do not need to appear right now.”
One had to complete the act. Also, the wound on Hua Xi Wan’s arm was not a light one. He couldn’t bear for her to make the trip to the princess fu.
Hua Xi Wan understood what Yan Jin Qiu thought and agreed. An hour later, when she was lying on the bed, she heard a servant report that the junior minister of the Judicial Office, Zhang Hou, as well as the assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice was asking for an audience.
She could only climb up from bed to dress and put on makeup. As Zi Shan arranged her hair, she asked with puzzlement, “Didn’t this Junior Minister Zhang anger the Emperor? How is he still in his role as junior minister of the Judicial Office?”
“This servant does not know.” Zi Shan’s brow furrowed. “This servant heard Mu Gonggong say that it was because many people praised Junior Minister Zhang for being fair and just, not afraid of authority. The Emperor sees his virtue, so he was kept on.”
Qilong Emperor just didn’t want to leave behind a bad reputation. While he praised Zhang Hou, he probably hated the person. Many among the prestigious families knew what the Emperor thought. This was something that could only fool those scholars who did not understand politics.
Zhang Hou sat in the side hall of the front hall of the wang fu. He accepted the tea the servant presented and took the opportunity to observe the decorations of the side hall as he took a sip. He felt an elegant presence, and it made him feel with a glance that the owner of the fu was fond of elegance.
“Young Minister Zhang, please wait for a moment. Wang Fei will arrive soon,” a taijian wearing blue robes said in a polite tone. “Apologies for making you wait.”
“It’s nothing. It is this one making a disturbance.” Zhang Hou smiled politely at this taijian. He might now recognize this taijian, but he could see from the cloth that this taijian wore that he was at least a steward of the wang fu.
The official registar of the Judicial Office who had come with him sat carefully and occasionally glanced at the doorway. Inside, he felt a great predicament. Recently, it was as though there was an ill energy going around Jing. Something happened every two or three days. It caused bad days for everyone in the Judicial Office and the Ministry of Justice.
Assistant Minister Hu of the Ministry of Justice was responsible for the case of Xian Wang Fei’s assassination. He himself knew that there would only be one result for this case: finding a scapegoat. In reality, everyone knew that this assassination had something to do with the fight for succession. However, no one could say this, and he didn’t dare to investigate. Then what he could do was find a scapegoat who could satisfy both Xian Wang Fu and the other people involved.
But no matter what, he had to follow normal procedures. This Xian Wang Fei had been injured for four days; she should be able to see guests now.
“Daren, Wang Fei has arrived.” The blue-robed taijian from just now walked in after leaving for a brief moment. After reporting this, he bowed and stood at the side.
The people seated simultaneously stood. Not long after, they saw Xian Wang Fei appear dressed in a plain green floor-length robe. They hurriedly greeted, “This lowly official greets Wang Fei.”
“I have caused Daren to wait for a long time. Please rise.” Hua Xi Wan sat down at the front with help from Zi Shan’s hand. Seeing them still standing, she said, “Please sit.”
The Judicial Office Registar had only heard that Xian Wang Fei was devastatingly beautiful but had never seen her before. Seeing her today, he could not think of any descriptive phrases. He only felt that Xian Wang had great fortune to have married such a beauty.
“For what matter did Daren come today?” Hua Xi Wan had the servants switch out new tea for them. She said with a smile, “If we can help, our Xian Wang Fu will cooperate fully.”
Zhang Hou saw that Xian Wang Fei’s expression was pale and her left arm was unnaturally curved. He knew that her injury had not healed and stood to say with his folded hands raised, “It really is out of helplessness that this one has come to disturb Wang Fei today. But in order to do our best to find the mastermind behind the assassin, Wang Fei, please tell of the events in as much detail as possible.”
“So that is how it is.” Hua Xi Wan had an expression of realization and forced a smile. She said, “Everyone has been working on this matter, and I, the person involved, should talk about the events.”
The people present saw that while Xian Wang Fei had a smile on her face, her eyes still hid fear that was unable to be disguised when she possibly thought of what had happened.
Assistant Minister Hu sighed. He pitied Xian Wang Fei. Such a weak female had experienced such a scare. She was still like this several days after the event. It could be seen just how dangerous the situation had been.
Translator Ramblings: Sorry for being late. I’m having a headache.