Chapter 197: The Corpse Returns to the Palace
Having said this, Xie Heting turned around and barked, “Go, quickly invite Yuan Zhenren.”
The Yuan Zhenren he spoke of was a famous doctor who was known as a Zhenren(1) because he was also a zealous Daoist.
- 真人 (Zhenren) – a Daoist master or sage
A Xie servant hurriedly took his order and rushed off on a carriage.
At the same time, Xie Heting had picked Chen Rong up and carried her to Wang Hong’s compound.
He had long legs and took brisk steps. In a flash he had rushed through the front door.
This man acted so decisively and quickly that only after he left with Chen Rong did her guards hurriedly follow.
As soon as Xie Heting placed Chen Rong on a bed, he demanded: “Is there any century ginseng?”
“Aye there is,” a servant hurried to answer.
“Bring it here.”
Very soon, an old ginseng housed in a jade box was delivered to Xie Heting. He glanced at it and instructed, “Use a bamboo knife to finely slice half of it; boil the other half. Quickly.”
In short order, a stack of ginseng slices was set next to Xie Heting. He took one piece and placed it in Chen Rong’s mouth. When he saw that her lips were closed, without further thought, Xie Heting opened her lips to push the ginseng in. After seeing Chen Rong hold the ginseng slice in her mouth, Xie Heting stood up. He stared at Chen Rong for a while and then turned and left.
When they saw that he was about to leave, the servants couldn’t help but panic, uneasily calling out: “Young master Xie, are you leaving?”
Xie Heting glanced at them and coldly said, “I’ve done all I could.”
He stepped outside. As soon as he walked up the steps, a carriage was pulling in. When the driver saw him, he called: “My Lord, I met Doctor Wu on the way and invited him first since the situation is urgent. I’ve asked Xiao San to invite Yuan Zhenren separately.”
Xie Heting nodded. He stopped and watched the driver help a gray-bearded man out of the carriage, then watched them walk into the room.
After staring at the silent room for a long time, Xie Heting called in to ask: “Doctor Wu, how is her injury?”
“Unpromising,” the doctor sighed.
Xie Heting frowned upon hearing his answer. He stared at the door swaying lonely in the wind, lowered his head and murmured, “What a pity.”
He slowly turned and strode away.
Xie Heting had just walked out of the Wang estate’s door when he saw a group of royal guards approaching in an aggressive manner.
Looking at them, he halted.
Due to Xie Heting’s status, when the royal guards saw him, they hurriedly saluted with a bow.
Xie Heting did not move. He coldly stared at them and unhurriedly said, “The Grand Chamberlain is gravely injured. I’m afraid the worst is yet to come.”
Having said this, he raised his head and dropped them an indifferent sentence: “Even though she had killed the Ninth Princess, her own life is in critical condition… Moreover, it was the Ninth Princess who tried to assassinate her. Gentlemen, it’s going to get complicated once the news reaches Wang Qi. You’d better go back.”
He said nothing more before turning around and striding away.
The guards stared after him, then traded looks among one another. One of them whispered, “What Young master Xie says is very true, we shouldn’t get involved.” Another chimed in, “Exactly, if even the young master of the Xie House intercedes on behalf of the Grand Chamberlain, we can’t afford to get involved!”
After a moment of silence, their leader who was at the front said through clenched teeth, “Let’s go back.” He lifted his head and whispered, “Let’s leave Jiankang and wait for things to pan out.” He knew that if he were to return to the palace empty-handed like this, he would either be censured or sent back here again. Only by leaving and avoiding this place would he still have a chance to survive.
The guards were all smart people. They glanced at each other and moved into Wang Hong’s residence. Once inside, while the Wang servants were standing at attention, one spoke up and asked, “Where is the side door?”
A servant stupidly pointed to the eastside: “Over there.”
The guards nodded and marched to the side door. In the blink of an eye, their figures had disappeared from the servants’s sight.
By this time, a commotion had formed in the street. Several ashen-faced and quavering guards were lifting the Ninth Princess’s body and placing it into a carriage.
Then, they surrounded the vehicle and headed for the palace.
A long line followed behind them. Both commoners and nobles alike stared at the carriage and incessantly traded chatter: “She was killed by the Grand Chamberlain.”
“The Grand Chamberlain said so herself, that it was the Ninth Princess who tried to assassinate her with a dagger. Do you see the dagger stuck in the princess’s chest? That’s what she had used to kill her.”
“The princess had always been arrogant, and had admired Wang Qi from a young age. She probably killed her out of jealousy.”
“Probably? It is obviously so.”
“What about the Grand Chamberlain? How is she doing?”
“She’s badly wounded. I’m not sure if she’ll survive.”
There was a spate of chatter, coming quietly but never dispersing. As they carried the Ninth Princess’s corpse back to the palace, the carriage entered the palace gate and headed directly to the Emperor’s study.
The carriage was gone, but the crowd did not scatter. Small groups remained in place, whispering among themselves.
It was a very thrilling day, to say the least. First, the Wang-Xie couple had an amorous incident on their wedding night, and now the Ninth Princess was killed on the spot, while Wang Hong’s beloved Madam Grand Chamberlain’s own survival was unknown.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Once the princess’s corpse entered Yuqian Palace, the sound of running footsteps and earth-shattering wails began. It was a middle-aged woman who was rushing over like a madman.
The palace maids hurried after her, calling out as they ran: “Your Majesty, we beg you to not be overwhelmed by your grief.”
As soon as two palace maids reached her, the Empress Dowager swung her hand, causing one of them to fall back and almost bump into the Empress who was also following behind.
Just as the Empress Dowager made for the carriage, and as the servants wept over the princess’s corpse, the Empress also arrived. She wiped her tears with a handkerchief, and while sobbing, held the Empress Dowager to comfort her: “Royal Mother, we beg you to not be overwhelmed by your grief.”
While the two women were crying, the palace servants were also in tears. At this time, the sound of rolling carriages and footsteps were still coming.
Before long, several young and elegant men stepped down from a carriage and gathered around. They all had red eyes and sad faces as they comforted the Empress Dowager.
In the midst of this chaos, there was another series of footsteps.
As soon as these footsteps arrived, the mourning crowd stopped in their tracks. They turned their heads, retreated and bowed to the one who arrived.
This man walked to stand behind the Empress Dowager and quietly called, “Royal Mother, we beg you to not be overwhelmed by your grief.”
As soon as these words were uttered, the Empress Dowager ceased her choked sobs. She looked up and sternly shouted at the guards who escorted the carriage: “Who was it? Who killed my child? Who killed my child?!”
The Empress Dowager’s hoarse howls sounded like the cries of the nocturnal birds.
… There being so many princesses, only two or three were favored. The Ninth Princess was favored because the Empress Dowager was her birth mother.
The screaming Empress Dowager ignored the Emperor, and didn’t once glance at him.
Upon hearing her scream, the guards’ faces turned pale and their bodies trembled as they plopped to the ground.
They banged their foreheads on the ground and, at the Empress Dowager’s shriek, one of the guards crawled on his knees and shakingly said, “I-it’s the Grand Chamberlain, Your Majesty.”
“Grand Chamberlain? Which Grand Chamberlain?”
The guard crouched on the ground and shook as he said, “I-it’s the Daoist nun called Hong Yunzi, her secular name is Chen Rong.”
“A woman?” The Empress Dowager gave a shrill laugh and grimly said, “I don’t care who is behind her, go and bring her here. I want her to die by a thousand cuts so that I can bury her with my child.”
After the Empress Dowager said this, she saw that the guards were still prostrated on the ground. “What? Are you not listening to me now?”
At this moment, the Emperor stepped forward and quietly said, “Mother, I have sent men to arrest her.”
The Empress Dowager still ignored him, but her voice was no longer so sharp and angry. “Why haven’t you brought her in yet, then?”
At this moment, footfalls were heard.
Within a short time, a eunuch had come to the crowd. He accorded the proper ceremony and said in a high-pitched voice, “Your Majesty, the guards who went to capture the Grand Chamberlain have run away.”
These words stunned the audience.
The Empress Dowager sucked in a breath as she laughed: “Excellent, even the guards have run away… This Grand Chamberlain has quite the clout.”
The Emperor, however, frowned and asked, “How can they be on the run?”
The eunuch was scared speechless by the angry Empress Dowager. Hearing the Emperor speak, he trembled briefly and took a breath before replying: “I heard that they met Young Master Heting of the Xie House and listened to a few words from him before they fled.”
“What words were they?”
“Your servant does not know, Your Majesty.”
The Emperor’s frown deepened, and at this moment, another eunuch came scurrying in. “Your Majesty, Wang Hong’s estate sent a message that the Grand Chamberlain was stabbed in the vitals by the Ninth Princess. She is losing too much blood, and her survival is uncertain at this point.”
After a pause, the eunuch added, “The doctor also said that the poison applied on the Ninth Princess’s dagger is called Mianmian Wuhuo. There is no antidote for this poison after it makes contact with the victim’s blood. The victim will suffer painfully for one month before they die. Even if the Grand Chamberlain does not die today, she will not survive past next month.”
As soon as the eunuch finished, the Empress Dowager gave a shrill laughter. “Good, very good, my daughter did well.”
She gritted her teeth and sternly shouted, “Let that woman suffer for a month before dying? What an excellent poison. But even if she dies, we can’t let her family get away with it. Men, find her kinspeople and kill them all for me.”
The Emperor, who had been frowning and contemplating, came back from his thoughts in time. He came to stand behind his mother and said to her, “Mother, that would be inappropriate.”
“How so?” The Empress Dowager finally turned her head. She stared at the Emperor sullenly and demanded, “Is it because you ordained that whore and you’ve slept with her so now you can’t bear to kill her?”
Her words were completely discourteous and, moreover, vulgar.
The Emperor raised his brows. He regarded his mother and deliberated, “The Grand Chamberlain is Wang Qilang’s sweetheart.” When he saw the Empress Dowager about to go on her tirade again, he added, “Even Xie Heting of the Xie House came to her defense… Mother, it was my ninth sister who tried to assassinate her, and she defended herself as she was dying. This isn’t a capital offense that would implicate an entire clan.”
Having said so, the emperor didn’t wait for his mother to speak before turning around and ordering: “Enough, don’t leave my sister to suffer out in the sun. Go, bring her back to the ceremonial terrace and ask the priests to pray for her peace.”
“Aye, Your Majesty,” they responded to his command in unison.
Chapter 198: Wang Hong Returns
Sun Yan was outside the city when the news reached his ears. Not caring about the presence of his elders, he jumped on his horse and raced back to the city.
The sun was setting in the west by the time he reached the city gates. Having entered the city at the last moment when the gates were about to be closed, Sun Yan, who was burning with impatience, was blocked by the tide of people and could not steer his horse.
After dismounting his ride, he took the reins and hastened on foot. After knocking down numerous pedestrians, Sun Yan arrived outside Wang Hong’s residence. By this time, twilight was deep, and the world was dark.
Outside the Wang estate gate, people of all kinds came and went, but the gate remained tightly closed. The brilliant lights paired with the quiet courtyard emitted a frightening calm.
Sun Yan left his horse and jumped over the wall.
As he landed, a dozen guards rushed out from all directions, swords in their hands and shouting: “Who is it?”
As soon as they barked at him, they saw Sun Yan’s face, which was covered in sweat. With their hands on their hips, they called out: “Oh, it’s the young master from the Sun House.” They knew why Sun Yan had come and, after trading looks with one another, stepped back.
Sun Yan dashed to the courtyard where Chen Rong was located.
He entered the archway without delay. As soon as more people rushed in, he seized a servant by her collar and anxiously demanded, “Where is Ah Rong?” His voice trembled badly. “How is she doing?”
Lifted by him like this, the servant girl’s neck was strangled, her face flushed, and all she knew was that her arms and legs were swinging around. How could she even begin to answer him?
At this moment, several maids and guards who had arrived looked behind Sun Yan and greeted in unison: “My Lord.”
My Lord? Wang Hong is back?
Sun Yan whirled around.
A wind blew past him, and in the twinkling of an eye, a white figure was already at the steps and into the room.
Seeing Wang Hong enter, Sun Yan quickly dropped the poor servant girl to chase after him.
With the two of them rushing in like this, their robes floated into the room with a gust of wind. Instantly, the bead curtains clinked, the veil fluttered in all directions, and the serene curls in the incense burner also swayed unendingly.
Sun Yan dashed to the bedside within several strides. Just as he outstretched his hand to lift the bed curtain, he saw the approaching Wang Hong and froze in his tracks.
Wang Hong’s face was incredibly white. This snow-white countenance coupled with his dark eyes in the dimly lit room frightened Sun Yan a little.
In Sun Yan’s wide eyes, Wang Hong walked up next to him. Wang Hong didn’t look at him. He instead focused on the bed, staring intently, as his outstretched hand that reached for the bed curtain trembled and shook.
His hand was trembling so much that he could not pull the curtain back despite grabbing it several times. Sun Yan, seeing so, reached out and pulled the drapery for him.
Both of them lowered their heads at the same time and looked at the bed.
Under the brocade quilt, Chen Rong’s face was as gray as a sheet of paper. She slept there with her eyes tightly closed, her lips slightly pursed, and a white, tender hand still clutching the corner of the quilt.
The lamp and candle light shone on her face, an obviously warm yellow, but it for some reason stained her with a frightening tranquility.
Slowly, Wang Hong collapsed before the bed.
He tremblingly stretched out his hand, and it took a great effort for that hand to reach Chen Rong. As soon as he was about to touch her, his hand shrank, and it took a while before that hand touched Chen Rong’s face again.
His slender, white fingers wandered gently and carefully over her pale lips.
Sun Yan also reached out, but he instead took Chen Rong’s pulse. After pressing for a while, he turned to Wang Hong with a blue face, restrained himself and shouted in a choked voice, “How did you look after her? Wang Hong, why can’t you even protect a woman? Huh?”
Both of them had their heads bowed, looking at the bed.
Spittle flew at Wang Hong’s face, but it was as if he didn’t hear him at all. He just carefully stroked Chen Rong’s lips and her pretty nose.
Sun Yan was furious, reaching to pull at Wang Hong’s collar.
This translation belongs to h@mster428.
Just then, Wang Hong moved. He withdrew his touch, covered his face with his hands, and lowered his head… one, then two drops of tears silently seeped down his fingers and onto the floor.
Sun Yan was dumbfounded. He didn’t realize until then that Wang Hong’s white clothes had long turned muddy. The knuckles on his fingers were bruised and swollen and stained with blood, which meant he had been gripping something to have these traces.
Wang Hong covered his face with both hands, tears spilling, but from beginning to end he did not make any sound… The tears poured out but not a sound was issued. Such desolation this scene painted.
Sun Yan dropped his outstretched hand, moved his lips, and finally bellowed, “What are you crying about? She’s not dead yet!”
He turned his head and shouted to the outside: “Where did everyone scurry off to die? What did the doctor say?”
He bellowed his words, but no one answered.
Sun Yan was infuriated.
Just then, Wang Hong’s muffled, tearful voice said, “Come out.”
Seeing that he finally stopped crying, Sun Yan turned to look and was taken aback. Wang Hong’s flawless face was still handsome, his eyes were still crystal clear, and his posture was elegant and noble. If not for the muddy clothes on his body, if not for the tears in his eyes, he almost thought that the man who was nearly out of control just now was not him.
As soon as Wang Hong’s voice sounded, a man in black appeared in the corner.
Wang Hong lowered his head, looked at Chen Rong without blinking, and asked in a muted voice, “What did she say?”
The black-robed man replied, “She didn’t say much, but before falling to the ground, she had confided in Xie Heting that ‘Qi Lang, I was the one who killed her and it has nothing to do with you. Don’t cause trouble for yourself’.” The black-robed man’s voice was very rigid, speaking without any rise and fall in his tones. When repeating Chen Rong’s words, there was no trace of emotion in his words.
But as soon as he finished, Wang Hong’s hand gripped the brocade quilt. His grip was so tight that his whole body shook uncontrollably.
But even so, his face was still calm, his eyes were still crystal clear, and his posture was still elegant.
Sun Yan stared at him and let out a huff. He fisted his hand and was about to punch Wang Hong in the face when the half-extended fist froze again. A strand of blood was spilling from Wang Hong’s mouth down the corner of his lips and dripping onto the floor.
The flawlessly handsome face, inky hair, noble posture, and provocative blood converged into an eerie picture in the quiet room.
Sun Yan stared at him and only woke up when he saw him gingerly stroking his chest. With a huff, Sun Yan sneered, “If your heart hurts then it hurts. Stop trying to be tough.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he turned his head and covered his face with his sleeve to block the falling tears.
Wang Hong didn’t answer, didn’t care. He stared unblinkingly at Chen Rong’s peaceful face and then slowly stood up.
At this point, Sun Yan remembered to ask: “What did the doctor say?” Although he had listened to Chen Rong’s pulse, he had no understanding of rhythm and still had to ask the doctor.
No one answered Sun Yan’s words.
Wang Hong, who had stood up, leaned forward and slowly lifted the quilt, his eyes flickering to the tightly bandaged wound.
Looking at the wound, he gently separated Chen Rong’s fingers that were clutching the quilt.
She was holding on too tightly, and he could not separate them. He lowered his head and gave her a gentle kiss on her lips. After staining her pale lips with a trace of blood, he called out in a quiet, gentle, and loving way: “Darling, let go of your hand… Come, let your husband hug you.”
His voice was very soft and gentle, like a whisper, like a spring breeze.
Sure enough, Chen Rong’s hand let go.
Wang Hong gently enclosed her hand in his palm, and then he picked her up.
Sun Yan grabbed his arm and shouted, “Wang Qi, are you crazy? How can you move her when she’s so badly injured?”
Wang Hong carelessly pulled his hand away and insisted on lifting Chen Rong up.
Seeing him turn around and leave, Sun Yan, who couldn’t understand what was going on, grew livid. “Can someone come out and tell me what’s wrong with Ah Rong?!”
While Sun Yan raged, Wang Hong’s spring-like voice came: “How is the situation?”
The man in black stepped out, bowed his head and replied, “The Ninth Princess is dead, and the Empress Dowager is enraged, insisting on killing the Grand Chamberlain and also executing all of her relatives. However, after learning that the Grand Chamberlain had been poisoned, she was dissuaded by His Majesty.”
Wang Hong lowered his head, his satin-like hair gently brushing against Chen Rong’s face. Looking at her, he was full of love and pity, and gently bit her on the tip of her nose. “Why was Xie Heting there?” he continued to ask.
“Xie Heting was with the spectators,” replied the man in black. “The men who were sent by His Majesty to arrest the Grand Chamberlain were dissuaded by him.”
Sun Yan fumed as he listened to their exchange. He yelled at Wang Hong, “What time is it already, why are you still asking this and that. Wang Qilang, tell me, what’s going on with my Ah Rong?”
This time, Wang Hong finally noticed Sun Yan. He turned his head and stared at him as he whispered, “Your Ah Rong?” Seeing that he was still concerned about this name, Sun Yan’s eyes dilated in anger.
Wang Hong, however, only spared him a glance before withdrawing his gaze. He looked down at Chen Rong, faintly smiled and said, “In this world she can only be my Ah Rong.”
Sun Yan gritted his teeth and shouted angrily, “What the hell is wrong with your Ah Rong?”
Wang Hong did not look up. He placed a kiss on Chen Rong’s lips and softly said, “Nothing is wrong, Ah Rong is just… dead.”
“What?!” Sun Yan was beyond livid. He could no longer grab onto Wang Hong’s collar, gritting his teeth and shouting: “Fucking explain what you mean.”
Wang Hong glanced at him and carelessly brushed the back of his hand off.
This brush wasn’t able to push him off. With a frown, Wang Hong finally raised his head to take a serious look at Sun Yan. Staring at him, he unhurriedly said, “Knock him out.”
As soon as these words were uttered, a gust of wind swept by. Startled, Sun Yan brought his right hand up to block the blow. Just then, the sound of wind came from the other side as well. He only heard a thwack before he fell backward to the ground with a pain in his neck.
Wang Hong glanced at the slumped Sun Yan and quietly said, “Send him back. Remember to treat him well. If you hurt him, Ah Rong will be angry with me when she wakes up.”
The two men in black responded to his order, picked up Sun Yan, and within a few leaps disappeared into the courtyard.
Chapter 199: Awake
An unmarked and ordinary carriage was parked in the courtyard. Wang Hong hugged Chen Rong and whispered, “Let’s go.”
The horse-drawn carriage drove away.
There had always been many people milling around outside Wang Hong’s compound, but this time when the carriage pulled out from the side door, although some looked at it, they did not care. The Grand Chamberlain was gravely injured and dying. At this time, it would be common sense that she should not be moved. What’s more, this carriage was so ordinary that there wasn’t a single guard in front or behind it. No one could have imagined that Wang Hong and Chen Rong would be sitting in this carriage.
Of course, it was not completely ignored. Gradually, several people followed the carriage.
When it drove into an alleyway, Wang Hong carried Chen Rong down and into another vehicle… They changed once every alleyway, and after the fifth group of carriages, there was no longer anyone behind them.
The carriage continued to drive forward.
The bright moon is gradually rising. Not a wisp of cloud was seen tonight, and there is only one bright moon in the clear and deserted sky.
In the carriage, Wang Hong lowered his head and quietly looked at the woman in his arms.
As the carriage jostled, Chen Rong, whose eyes were closed, furrowed her brows from time to time, showing a tinge of pain. Looking at the peak of her eyebrows, Wang Hong lowered his head and lightly bit. After a few teeth marks were left on her furrowed brow, he stroked her lips and asked, “Darling, I have returned. Why are you still not awake?” He gave a low laugh, because his lips were pressed against her skin, the laughter was muffled. “I bit you and you don’t even open your eyes to stare at me?”
His voice was extremely thin and light, seemingly there yet not, like a spirit that had entered the night breeze and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Even the woman in his arms was deaf.
The carriage drove very slowly and every time it jostled, the driver would nervously glance back at the carriage.
Maintaining this speed, the driver’s voice rang out less than an hour later, “My lord, we have arrived.”
“Mmm,” Wang Hong answered. He casually took a piece of jade pendant from his waist and waved it outside. Then, the dull sound of a door being forced open came through.
The carriage continued to drive.
A quarter of an hour later, Wang Hong jumped off this carriage. He raised his head to look at the quiet and plain courtyard in the moonlight, at the six pairs of bowing men and women, as well as twenty guards and asked, “Invite Yuan Zhenren here.”
“Aye,” answered a guard. After answering, he added somewhat hesitantly, “My Lord, Yuan Zhenren has a hot temper. He has been cursing during these two hours. If we let him see the Grand Chamberlain, will his tantrums expose the news?”
Wang Hong knew what he meant, he shook his head and said, “These grounds are remote, let him curse.”
After the guard left, Wang Hong carried Chen Rong and strode into the bedchamber.
Although the plants and houses in the compound were ordinary, this room was refined and comfortable. Inside, there was a burst of fragrance, and the pink veil was fluttering in all directions. At the screened window, a rich green dyed the whole world.
Wang Hong hugged Chen Rong and gently placed her on the bed.
He sat sideways and reached out to clasp her hand.
Looking at her, he let out a low sigh and murmured, “Ah Rong, I was wrong, I was wrong.”
His lips were pressed into a tight line.
At this time, a loud curse sounded: “Whether there is a cure or not depends on me. You shameless criminals. Haven’t you heard that healers can’t be forced?”
Then he yelled: “Which royal Sima prince are you? This old man cannot stand to be humiliated like this.” Yuan Zhenren was originally a Confucian scholar. He was well versed in the classics and upheld piety and integrity, but after less than a month as an official, he returned his seal and walked away. Since then he studied medical books and, after three years behind closed doors, he cured the King of Liang’s terminal illness as his first case, which no one in the Central Plains had been able to cure. He was over 70 years old this year, a proficient physician who also became fascinated by the practice of Daoist alchemy some ten years ago.
For these reasons, he was still courtly even though he was uttering curses. Only his voice was raised and his temper was hot.
The servants who followed behind him were obedient and did not refute anything he said. They led him to the door, bowed to him and said, “Yuan Zhenren, this way.”
With a sneer, Yuan Zhenren kicked open the door and shouted, “I want to see which petty thief is posing as a bandit.”
As soon as his voice sounded, his gaze was frozen by the white figure standing next to the bed.
Wang Hong slowly turned around. He gave a deep bow to the wide-eyed, disbelieving Yuan Zhenren and said, “Yuan Zhenren, please accept Lang’ya Wang Qi’s greetings.”
“Lang’ya Wang Qi?”
“It is I.”
Yuan Zhenzen stomped his way over to Wang Hong. He lowered his head, glared at Wang Hong and yelled, “The one who kidnapped this old man is you, Wang Qi?”
Wang Hong accorded him ceremony and said, “The situation made it unavoidable, so please forgive me for this offense, Elder Yuan.”
Yuan Zhenren sneered. He glared at Wang Hong several times, then turned his head to look at Chen Rong.
Looking at Chen Rong, Yuan Zhenren sneered and said, “Is this the amorous nun who made you disregard all consequences?”
“This is her,” said Wang Hong.
Yuan Zhenren was still glaring at him.
Wang Hong bowed deeply, smiled and said, “I heard Yuan Zhenren once said that if you ever met a true man, you would do everything to prolong his life for three years. I am not talented, and although I’m in danger of schemes and intrigues, my strategizing and taunting of the barbarians should still merit me the title of a true man. This time, I only ask Elder Yuan to pity my anguish and save this woman.”
Yuan Zhenren stared at Wang Hong, who was still bowing, and then scowled for a while before saying: “Don’t those people say that you, Wang Hong, never likes to ask for help? Why have you dropped arrogance for humility today?”
Wang Hong bowed his head and replied, “Death is fine if I were the injured one. However, it is this woman who is injured. She is important to me, and I cannot bear to leave her.”
“You unambitious little thug,” Yuan Zhenren grunted.
Though he yelled at him, he still sat down on the bed, and while sitting, he angrily scolded, “True man? Bah, is there any true man in this world who is so foolishly infatuated?”
Wang Hong smiled wryly.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Seeing that he didn’t answer, Yuan Zhenren glared at him again and reached out to press Chen Rong’s pulse.
Wang Hong stilled as soon as the doctor’s hand touched Chen Rong’s. He stared at Yuan Zhenren without a glance elsewhere.
At this time, Yuan Zhenren placed his hand on Chen Rong’s other pulse.
After taking the pulse of both hands, Yuan Zhenren stood up. He brushed the quilt from Chen Rong’s bare feet and pressed the pulse on their front.
This process was not long. It took only a quarter of an hour from start to finish, but Wang Hong, who had always been smiling in his graceful and elegant way, was sweating through his undergarments.
After a while, Yuan Zhenren pulled the quilt back on Chen Rong.
He turned to look at Wang Hong and frowned. “Wasn’t it said that the Ninth Princess used the Mianmian Wuhuo poison on her? Why can’t I detect it?”
Wang Hong respectfully replied, “It was never poisoned. I had sent someone midway to steal and replace the dagger used by the Ninth Princess.”
As soon as he said this, Yuan Zhenren’s eyes widened, and his long white eyebrows were twisted into a ball. “If you knew that the Ninth Princess was going to assassinate your woman, why didn’t you stop her?”
Wang Hong smiled without a response.
Yuan Zhenren heaved a grunt and shouted in disgust, “You must have played some kind of scheming mind game again. No wonder you admitted that you are in danger of schemes and intrigues. You little thief, you’re not a good person.”
Wang Hong looked up, smiled and said softly, “You are wrong, Zhenren. Good people have never been relied upon as heirs in a family like the Wang House.”
Yuan Zhenren frowned for a moment, shook his head and sighed, “You are ruthless, seeing that you’re willing to afflict even the woman who is pregnant with your child.”
As soon as he said this, Wang Hong’s upright body shook. He slowly lowered his head and stared at Chen Rong. Wang Hong’s voice was extremely dark and dull: “It was I who miscalculated… Not until now did I know that my heart could also hurt.” If the stone was thrown harder, no, he was simply wrong, he should have thought of another idea, he should have thought of another idea.
The corner of Wang Hong’s mouth raised, and he murmured with a smile, “My grandfather once said that I’m a ruthless and heartless person… He was wrong. At this moment, my heart feels like it’s been crippled and shredded.”
Though he said his heart felt crippled and shredded, his tone was relaxed and calm, his handsome face was smiling and graceful, and his eyes were clear and lofty. He didn’t look at all as though he was heartbroken. But for some reason, Elder Yuan saw his white garment swaying in the night wind and couldn’t help but believe his words.
Although he believed him, he walked towards the bed and finished prescribing the medicine. Elder Yuan who was taking the golden needle towards Chen Rong was still sneering as he said, “If you make such a mistake again, no amount of regret will be of use.”
Wang Hong’s eyes flashed upon hearing his words. He took a step back and bowed towards Elder Yuan, saying in a trembling voice: “I am grateful to Elder Yuan for your treatment.”
Elder Yuan burned the gold needle on the candle and inserted it into Chen Rong’s inner wrist. As he twisted it, he said, “You should thank this woman of yours. To this moment, her vital energy is still gathered in her lower abdomen… She is trying to keep the fetus in her belly.”
When Wang Hong heard these words, the corners of his mouth raised, and a gleam of light flashed in his eyes. He quietly gazed at Chen Rong and said in a low voice, “She’s always been like this.” There was a touch of pride, satisfaction, and inexpressible love and happiness in his voice.
Elder Yuan inserted another needle in Chen Rong’s side abdomen, and while rubbing his fingers to turn the needle, he glanced at Wang Hong and said, “You care about this woman so much and yet you can be so cruel. I suppose you do occupy a high position, and I don’t know whether it is a blessing or a curse.”
Wang Hong did not answer.
As time passed, Elder Yuan’s movements grew faster and faster, and the number of gold needles inserted in Chen Rong’s body also increased. When the nine golden needles glittered in the candlelight, sweat had formed on his forehead, and his mouth and lips were tightly closed, no longer able to talk to Wang Hong.
“All right,” he said at length as he drew the needles.
By the time he removed the fifth one, there was a low, dark hum that sounded. Slowly, Chen Rong’s eyelids lifted, and slowly, she opened a pair of dazed eyes.
At the moment her eyes opened, a loud thump was heard. Elder Yuan jumped in shock, but when he looked back, he saw that Wang Hong had fallen to his knees. He seemed to be trying to get up. His hands, which were propped on the ground, were exposing most of their veins due to excessive force. Nevertheless he had a smile on his face, his back was still straight although he was kneeling, and his manner was still graceful. Still, he propped himself up four or five times but couldn’t get himself to rise.
Elder Yuan widened his eyes at first, then forthwith let out a loud laughter.
Chapter 200 – The Oath
Amid Elder Yuan’s booming laughter, light gradually returned to Chen Rong’s bewildered eyes.
She slowly turned her head sideways and looked in the direction of the sound. Staring questioningly at an unfamiliar Elder Yuan, Chen Rong’s dry mouth opened, but she couldn’t issue a word.
A maidservant who was at the side hurriedly brought a cup of water and placed it to her lips for her to take a sip.
Listening to the swallowing sound Chen Rong made as she drank water, Yuan Zhenren nodded. He walked to the bed, pointed at the prescription and said, “Use it just like this and you’ll be out of harm’s way in one month.”
After packing up his things, he stared at the ground to one side, grunted and called out discontentedly, “Little thief surnamed Wang, this old man is leaving. Are you going to stop me this time?”
Little thief surnamed Wang?
Chen Rong’s eyes lit up and she couldn’t wait to turn her head to follow the sound. But as soon as she moved, she saw her wound and had to slow down.
At this time, she saw a white figure coming in, and he gave a deep bow towards Elder Yuan. The soft, wry laughter of her lover came into her ears: “Elder Yuan is jesting. I owe Zhenren a favor and will repay it when I have the fortuity to do so in the future.”
“That’s more like it.” Yuan Zhenren stroked his gray beard and said, “Child, remember what you said today.”
Thus spoken, Yuan Zhenren swaggered away.
Chen Rong frowned in confusion as she watched Yuan Zhenren leave. In her memory, she had never seen anyone speak to Wang Hong this way.
At this moment, someone came to her. He lowered his head and quietly approached her.
Chen Rong formed a weak smile even before she looked up. She looked up at him, pale as paper, with a smile on her bloodless face: “Qilang.” She stretched out her hand with great effort and slowly landed on the back of his hand, her eyes fondly falling on his gray clothes, asking hoarsely and feebly: “Why are your clothes so dirty?”
Now that she was awake, she did not ask about her injuries, her poison, or her child; she was only worried about her lover’s clothes.
Wang Hong slowly stretched out his five fingers.
His white palm enclosed her small hand.
“Ah Rong.” His voice was hoarse. “Does it still hurt?”
Chen Rong hurriedly shook her head, but after only two shakes, she got so dizzy that she quickly stopped. Looking at him with a smile, she whispered, “It doesn’t hurt.”
Looking at him, her lips moved for a while before she softly asked, “I… how am I still alive? If I live like this, will it be a problem for you?”
She still hadn’t asked about herself. She wasn’t worried about herself, she was only worried about his safety.
Wang Hong closed his eyes.
He cautiously cupped her small hand and lowered his head to kiss the back of it. The voice that he spoke with sounded nasally in its hoarseness: “I’m fine.” After a pause, he softly called, “Ah Rong.”
He raised his reddened eyes, looked at her seriously and said, “I would rather you trouble me and still want you to live.”
Chen Rong did not expect Wang Hong would one day say such words of love to her.
She blinked her eyes, her bloodless lips raised in a wide smile. After exchanging only a few words like this, she already got very tired. Chen Rong lowered her head down on the jade pillow, her fingers tightly holding onto his. After a long while, she answered softly, “Mmm.”
She didn’t say anything, just a happy soft response.
Wang Hong looked down.
He touched the back of her tender hand, rubbed it against his lips and exhaled a low and lingering voice, “Ah Rong, I’ll see to it that you won’t need to get hurt again.”
Chen Rong, who was shocked by Wang Hong’s unusually tender words, just blinked questioningly. After a long while, she came to think: It is said that if you don’t die in a calamity, you will be blessed afterwards. It seems that the heavens won’t put me to death after all.
She couldn’t speak, and only responded with a quiet hum: “Mmm.”
He parted her five fingers one by one, and pityingly placed the white and tender fingertips between his lips. Wang Hong looked into Chen Rong’s eyes, which were red and gleaming. Unknowingly, Chen Rong was mesmerized: This is her langjun, her langjun is really wonderful and incomparable.
With her fingertips in his ruddy lips, Wang Hong softly and ambiguously said, “Ah Rong, you must always love me like this. No matter what, no matter when, you must always love me like this.” His voice was still nasally. This handsome man with his crystal clear eyes, looking at her as gently as water, with his inky hair flowing as noble as the gods, saying these childish and stubborn words.
Chen Rong narrowed her eyes. Although she was light-headed from having spoken too much, she was still happy, and she couldn’t help but reply, “Mmm.”
“Swear to me.”
Wang Hong, however, was unusually persistent. He stubbornly stared into her eyes, waiting with bated breath for her to speak.
Chen Rong held back a laugh and said gently and feebly, “I, Ah Rong of the Chen House do solemnly swear that I will always love my Qilang, no matter what, no matter when.”
After receiving this vow from her, Wang Hong grinned childishly. As he was smiling, he lowered his head and buried his face in Chen Rong’s palm. Chen Rong was still puzzled when she felt a coldness in her palm, and then, several teardrops slowly flowed down her fingers.
Startled, Chen Rong stroked his face with her other hand and softly said, “Qilang, don’t be sad, am I not fine?”
As she talked, her voice carried sweetness, beauty, and joy… At last, in the eyes of the man whom she regarded as her treasure, was she his treasure, too?
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Listening to Chen Rong’s soft words of reassurance, Wang Hong remained still.
After a while, he raised his head, leaned back, and slowly and methodically took the hot towel from the maid’s hand to wipe his face of dirt and dust.
Then he stood up and spread his arms. In the twinkle of an eye, the vulnerable, pitiful, and gentle Wang Hong had disappeared. With his arms extended like this, he was like a monarch — graceful, noble, and unattainable.
As soon as he stood up, several maidservants stepped forward and took off his soiled outer robe, replaced it with a new set of white robes and combed his tousled hair back into place.
By the time the maidservants retreated, the Wang Hong in front of her had regained his peerless grace of an immortal on earth.
He lowered his head and looked at Chen Rong tenderly.
Chen Rong looked up at him and met his eyes, clear and calm, yet still as gentle as water. She weakly smiled.
Chen Rong looked at him and quietly called, “Qilang.”
“How are you?” Chen Rong’s eyes were a little nervous. “You didn’t do anything, did you?”
Wang Hong slowly shook his head.
He reached out and gently stroked Chen Rong’s long hair. While combing it, he murmured, “It’s a bit knotted. Mmm, you have injuries on your body, I will help you wash later.”
Upon hearing this, Chen Rong couldn’t help but shake her head. She only shook once and then stopped because she became so dizzy. “No.”
Why not? Because she was embarrassed. Chen Rong bit her lips, glanced at him and shyly said, “Just call the maid.”
Wang Hong saw her shyness.
He stepped forward and gently supported Chen Rong to sit upright, and then sat behind her to let her lean on him. “I smell like blood,” Chen Rong mumbled against him, “it will cling to you.”
Wang Hong ignored her, resting his face on the side of her neck, unmoving for a long time.
Just as Chen Rong was about to turn back out of curiosity, his nasal voice sounded again: “Darling, for the rest of my life I’ll never fail you again.”
Chen Rong was completely stunned.
Her eyes widened, not believing her ears.
After a long, long time, she asked in a trembling, choked voice, “What did you say?”
Not caring about her dizziness, she looked back and up at him and begged with tears, “Qilang, what did you just say? Please say it again.”
She opened her eyes wide, letting tears fall from her bright eyes onto her cheeks. “Qilang, please, say it again… don’t make me guess, I won’t be able to.”
Wang Hong lowered his head, his lips pressed against her forehead.
After a long moment, he softly and pointedly said, “Darling, I am no longer me… Today I have tasted all the troubles in the world.”
He moved back from her face, looked at her with great tenderness, closed his eyes and kissed her lips.
With their tongues intertwined, Wang Hong languidly separated as soon as they touched. He looked at her again and said, “I said, I will not fail you in this life.”
Chen Rong choked out a sob.
She hid her face in his arms and did not move, quickly damping his new clothes.
With her tears overflowing, Chen Rong had forgotten her pain. She just tightly hugged him and patiently wept.
Wang Hong ran his fingers through her long hair and softly said, “I didn’t retaliate against anyone.” Upon hearing this, Chen Rong’s choking ceased, and she began to listen with a twitch.
His voice was like a breeze, softly murmuring: “The Ninth Princess is dead, but the royal family also thought you wouldn’t escape death yourself.”
Hearing this, Chen Rong pushed back from him. She lifted her tear-stained face, the joy and happiness in her expression slowly turning into anguish.
Facing Wang Hong’s questioning look, Chen Rong whispered, “Did you know that I have been poisoned? The Ninth Princess said that she had coated the dagger with a poison that has no antidote.”
At this moment, she seemed to have understood why Wang Hong was behaving so differently today. He shed tears in front of her, made a promise to her and gave her such beautiful expectations… He must also know that she was going to die.
When Chen Rong said these words, she saw Wang Hong dropping his gaze without speaking. She couldn’t help but smile a smile that was particularly bright and sunny. Turning her head to the side, Chen Rong blithely said, “Qilang, don’t worry, my life was borrowed (1) anyway. The gods above took it back, but have also allowed it to be.” After a pause, her voice turned quiet and weak: “You don’t need to make such a promise just because you pity me.” She chuckled and said, “One month is only thirty days, which is not as long as a lifetime of suffering. Even so, I’m very happy to hear you say that you won’t let me down in this life.” She was too excited and said too many words. Suddenly overcome with dizziness, she slowly lay down and closed her eyes. But out of the corners of her eyes, two pearl-like tears slowly slid down, seeping into Wang Hong’s lapels.
- She technically said “pick up” like picking up something inconsequential from the roadside.
Chapter 201: Wang Hong’s Explanation
Wang Hong lowered his eyes amid Chen Rong’s choked sobs. He gently stroked her long hair and quietly said, “You weren’t poisoned.” His voice was soft and gentle. “There was no poison on the dagger.”
Chen Rong’s choked sobs instantly stopped.
She raised her head in surprise, her tear-stained face was shocked and ecstatic, and she could hardly believe her ears. “What did you say?”
Wang Hong stroked her inky hair, pressed his lips on her forehead and whispered, “You weren’t poisoned.”
Chen Rong finally trusted her ears this time. She tremulously murmured, “I wasn’t poisoned?” She buried her face in his arms. “I wasn’t poisoned, no, I don’t have to die.”
Momentarily, the elation of being able to live washed over her like a wave.
Chen Rong cried and laughed for a while. Only when Wang Hong forced her to lie down did she close her eyes.
Even as she closed her eyes, she was still joyfully saying to herself: “I don’t have to die after all.”
After speaking incoherently for a while, Chen Rong, who was overwhelmed by emotions, slowly calmed down. She had just recovered from a grave injury. The excitement was now agitating it. After clenching her teeth and enduring the pain for a while, Chen Rong slowly closed her eyes in Wang Hong’s gentle care and fell asleep.
Her sleep lasted many hours.
When Chen Rong woke up again, Wang Hong was still leaning on the side of the bed looking at her tenderly. He smiled faintly when she opened her eyes, a smile of contentment and relaxation.
Her hand was also gently held in his. With their fingers intertwined, she could feel the sweat in his palms.
Chen Rong smiled back at Wang Hong and curiously asked, “Qilang, the Ninth Princess told me that her knife was coated in poison. She had come prepared, there’s no way she would get it wrong again? That can’t be, given her personality.”
Her voice was crisp and relaxed, and her tone was full of questions.
Wang Hong’s eyes were still downcast.
At the moment, his inky hair was draped over his shoulders, his face was aglow with paralyzing nobility, and his white outfit was immaculately spotless.
His eyelashes fluttered upon hearing Chen Rong’s question, but he did not answer her.
Chen Rong waited for a while but couldn’t hear his reply, so she stared at him and curiously asked, “Qilang, why aren’t you answering me?”
Wang Hong’s eyebrows jumped.
After a long time, he whispered back, “I don’t know either.”
So there was something that Qilang didn’t know, too.
Chen Rong blinked as she added, “I killed the Ninth Princess and the Sima clan is letting me off like this?”
Wang Hong shook his head and said, “No. Ah Rong of the Chen House has been poisoned, no one knows where she went to die. You are now just Wang Qilang’s sweetheart.”
This time, Chen Rong was completely stunned. She exclaimed, “You mean, the world thinks I am dead?” Then her Daoist temple, her hamlet, the farmland that His Majesty had bestowed her, and her older brother, Nurse Ping… are they all gone?
She could no longer appear in front of others and, just like this, would now live in silence?
The more she thought about it, the paler Chen Rong’s face became. She stared at Wang Hong, and as she stared at him, her lips moved again and again. After some time, she closed her eyes.
Chen Rong wasn’t stupid. In fact, she had spent both of her lives in long intrigues. She had some experience with state affairs and the human heart. At this time, she only hated herself for being too clear-headed. With sober reflection, she found that all defenses were ineffective, and only one explanation made sense.
Wang Hong felt the small hand in his palm begin to grow cold and hastily clasped her. “Ah Rong?” he called uneasily.
Chen Rong reached her hand under the quilt and stroked her stomach.
After a long silence, her low, bewildered voice sounded: “Qilang, that gray old man just now, was he the doctor?”
Chen Rong turned her head to the side and, quietly looking at him, softly asked, “Then do you know that I am three months pregnant?”
As she had expected, Wang Hong nodded.
Looking at him who was quiet, Chen Rong gave a muted laugh as she murmured, “Was it an impromptu idea to fake my death,” her voice was unusually dry, “or was it a premeditated plan?”
He had just replied to her that he himself didn’t know. But in the twinkling of an eye, Chen Rong had bluntly asked this question, leaving nowhere to escape.
Wang Hong’s throat undulated.
He lowered his head, letting his satin hair fall on Chen Rong’s quilt, his eyes flashed under his long lashes.
He did not answer.
Chen Rong gave a low laugh.
She gave two laughs before her voice went mum and her throat was astringent. She moved her dry lips several times before she said with difficulty, “The blade was originally poisonous, did you replace it?”
Wang Hong ever slowly raised his head to look at her.
He looked at her, his gaze was still clear and lofty, as well as tender and affectionate.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
He held her retracted fingers and unhurriedly said, “Since our return from Nan’yang, nay, since the moment our silhouettes appeared outside Jiankang, all eyes have been on you and me… I’ve defeated Murong Ke twice and have become famous all over the empire. Even for the Wang House’s succession, I gained so much more support from the elders, the commoners, the purists and famed scholars. Ah Rong, at the time, I was condemning the chief position of the Wang clan as rotten meat to show that I didn’t have the ambition to be the chief. It rattled some. What’s more, the Jin empire has no shortage of anything. The only thing we need are capable generals and strategists. Yet my emergence as a good general and strategist has broken the balance that the major clans have painstakingly maintained. Furthermore, I’ve offended many people with my capricious conduct over the years.”
He quietly looked at her, gently lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss on it. His gaze was ardent, his voice was hoarse and lingering: “My reputation out there as a legitimate son of the Wangs invites hatred, but also restraint, and no one dares to make a move.”
“The only one they can touch is you. If you are harmed they can drive me to a corner. Perhaps I would go crazy with rage, do something irrevocable that then completely ruins me.”
After saying this, he lowered his eyes, leaned over, and imprinted a kiss on Chen Rong’s brow. His gentle voice was like a spring breeze, slowly passing: “Right now, those who love me and those who hate me all want to put Ah Rong to death… The only thing I can do is to take advantage of the situation and let you die.”
He did not immediately look at her, the knot in his throat moved as he slowly said, “Yes, my men had reported to me that the Ninth Princess wanted to kill you. I sent someone to replace her dagger. When she tried to assassinate you, I sent someone to deflect the blade with a stone so that you wouldn’t get stabbed in the vitals. Even when Xie Heting sent someone to call the doctor, it was I who arranged for Doctor Wu to show up so that I could deliver a false message to the palace. Yuan Zhenren, meanwhile, was drawn away by me. I just,” his voice was dry and difficult, “I just didn’t know that you would be so badly hurt and unconscious for a whole day.” I also didn’t know that you would personally kill the Ninth Princess in order to protect me.
Chen Rong looked at him. While looking at him, she quietly asked, “The child. When did you know that I am with child?”
Wang Hong once again dropped his gaze, and as he lowered his head, a strand of hair hung down the side of his forehead, gently swaying.
After a while, he softly said, “I knew when your menstruation didn’t arrive.”
Chen Rong’s face turned pale, and she murmured, “You knew all along that I was pregnant with a child?”
Chen Rong smiled dumbly — powerless and sad. “Qi Lang, weren’t you scared that the child would be lost from that blade?”
Wang Hong smiled and softly replied, “If it’s gone, it’s gone, I just want Ah Rong.”
Chen Rong was stunned to hear him say this.
She stared at him, two streams of tears slowly falling, and her voice was also very desolate: “Qilang, that child is your flesh and bone. Don’t you want it?” Did he think she didn’t deserve to have his child? Was he not afraid that after she was injured like this, she would never be able to give birth again?
“It’s not what you think.” Wang Hong shook his head. He quietly looked at Chen Rong and said, “In today’s world, those who live suffer, those who toil suffer, and you can be disposed of for being mediocre… I don’t want my children to live in a world where people are made powerless.”
Caressing Chen Rong’s lips, he faintly smiled, his inky eyes overflowing with charm and enchantment. “Besides, if you have a child, you will not love me as much as before. I don’t like that.”
Chen Rong opened her mouth and incredulously stared at Wang Hong. As she stared, she laughed bitterly: “Without children, I’m afraid that I’m not even qualified to be your concubine.”
Not waiting for her to finish, Wang Hong laughed and interrupted her, “That is the opinion of the profane world, not mine.”
He looked at her and, eyebrows slightly frowning, said word by word, “My promise cannot be bought with gold, let alone my vow. Ah Rong, I have made a promise to you, and I have made a vow, I will not fail you in this life. In the future, there are some words you must never say again.”
His attitude was unusually cold and resolute. Chen Rong’s lips moved, but she finally stopped asking.
She turned her head and looked at the ceiling beam in a daze… The sharp pain when she was stabbed by the Ninth Princess, the despair and fear when she heard that the blade was coated with poison, and the resolve when she pulled the dagger from her own chest to stab the Ninth Princess. All of these are cataloged in her mind. But all of this, he had already known. Although it was to give her an escape, although it was to save her life, why did his approach feel so disheartening when she stopped to think about it?
Chen Rong closed her eyes, feeling so very exhausted. Her whole person was heavy, and she didn’t have the strength to lift a finger.
After a long, long time, Chen Rong opened her eyes again. In the moment she opened her eyes, she glanced at Wang Hong, who was staring at her with dread and fear in his eyes. But this look was fleeting, and when she looked again, his eyes were again lofty and clear, unstained by dust.
Chen Rong didn’t have the wherewithal to ruminate over this for the time being. She slowly drew her hand from his palm and said in a low voice, “I’m tired, you should go and rest, too.” After saying this, she turned her head to the side and didn’t look at him again.
The man at the edge of the divan did not move.
After a long, long time, as Chen Rong was about to fall asleep, she heard a low, feeble sigh. Then, footsteps were heard walking away, and the door to the room was gently closed.
Phew! Happy New Year!