This chapter of Yun Zhong Ge marks a turning point in Yun Ge’s emotional trajectory, or at least a detour of sorts. She comes to terms with the fact that her Ling gege isn’t going to be hers, in a way that is actually very mature and considerate taking into account how she can be quite bratty at times. When it comes to Xu Ping Jun and Liu Bing Yi, Yun Ge feels like she’s the interloper, and she’s going to hide away her childhood promise with Ling gege while moving on. But will she move on to Meng Jue? Looks quite likely, especially if that man turns up the charm and the intensity. She’s pretty much putty in his hands. But Xiao Jue better watch out, because he’s so smart that sometimes he doesn’t realize that people don’t necessarily analyze everything before acting. We also finally get a glimpse into Meng Jue’s backstory, and oh boy is it painful to read.
Chapter 11: Past Dreams
Despite Xang Hong Yang participating in the “Salt and Steel Conference”, one hand cannot clap by itself, so Huo Guang and Shang Guan Jie’s concerted non-participation leaves this conference unable to achieve Liu Fu Ling’s intended goal of letting those three break their impasse and see where it leads.
But afterwards when Huo Guang had his farewell banquet for the scholars and Liu Fu Ling secretly visited the estate later that same night and the subsequent “assassin incident”, that actually caused the three Regents mistrust of each other to float to the surface.
Huo Guang always pushed for those related or are close to the Huo family when it came time to appoint new officials. He always opposed Shang Guan Jie and Xang Hong Yang’s suggestions, and in court he was becoming stronger in winning appointments over Shang Guan Jie’s candidates.
Since the days of Emperor Wu of Han, Shang Guan Jie has had a higher government position than Huo Guang, and the current Empress is his granddaughter. Shang Guan Jie always saw himself as the most powerful noble in court.
When the child Emperor first ascended the throne, all the nobles and officials wondered why Liu Che named four lesser ministers as the Regents. To preserve their power and their lives, Shang Guan Jie and Huo Guang had no choice but to align with each other to quell the discussion in court. To strengthen their ties, they even married their children to each other.
On the surface Huo Guang is very deferential to Shang Guan Jie, always discussing everything with him or letting him make the final decision. But once their enemies started to topple and the child Emperor started to grow up, things began to change.
Their budding conflict started with who would be the Empress. In truth, Shang Guan Jie’s daughter Shang Guan Lan and Huo Guang’s daughter Huo Cheng Jun are more age-appropriate matches for the Emperor to be his Empress. But when either tried to push for their daughter, the other would vehemently oppose. In the end, they compromised and picked their mutual granddaughter Shang Guan Xiao Mei.
On the surface the Shang Guan and Huo families enjoy untold power and riches. But their conflicts continue to grow under the surface. Shang Guan Jie was very close to Consort Zhao when she was beloved by the Emperor, so the young Emperor was closer to him. But as the Emperor grew, he became closer with Huo Guang because they shared the same reformist political leanings.
The Emperor’s sudden visit to the Huo Estate was to send a message. He was so close to Huo Guang he can visit anytime, and in the future he will be using Huo Guang and his reformist faction more than Shang Guan Jie and his hawk faction.
Shang Guan Jie was already aware of this, that going forward he could not share power with Huo Guang any longer. It would be an either/or resolution to their growing impasse.
So Yun Ge and Da Gong Zhi’s unplanned “assassin incident” only deepened Huo Guang and Shang Guan Jie’s existing distrust of each other. Huo Guang was certain the other two set him up so the Emperor would suspect him. Shang Guan Jie wondered why this happened at the Huo Estate immediately when he arrived to meet the Emperor? Perhaps the Huo servant who secretly slipped him the message that the Emperor was there intended for him to be set up.
Xang Hong Yang acted even odder. Despite being so old, he valiantly tried to shield the Emperor at risk to himself. Since Da Gong Zhi knew the truth about the “assassin” and that no one was at risk that night, but Xang Hong Yang didn’t know that, and ought to be commended for being so loyal. But what if Xang Hong Yang was planning an assassination so that he could show off his loyalty to get brownie points with the Emperor?
Despite knowing this was a wolf-tiger battle, and the winner would achieve sole power, Xiao Jue must be hoping the final victor was Huo Guang if he had to pick a side.
Then what about the Emperor? Was his closeness with Huo Guang genuine or just for show? Was it intended to spur on the conflict between Huo Guang and Shang Guan Jie?
An Emperor dressed casually going to the estate of his trusted official late at night, and talking while admiring the scenery. Clearly it was intended to indicate comfort and closeness. How could Shang Guan Jie not take action after seeing that. But did Huo Guang really believe the Emperor was favoring him? And what was Xang Hong Yang really thinking?
What a major headache!
Forget about it! Da Gong Zhi turned around and closed his eyes. Hong Yi saw him go back to sleep and she lightly walked out of the room.
Yun Ge was naturally a very hearty girl, so with Meng Jue’s exceptional medical talent and Xu Ping Jun plus Hong Yi taking good care of her, she recovered remarkably quickly. But it was rare to have a chance to be lazy, so Yun Ge used this illness as an excuse to take more time off from Uncle Chang, who grumbled but didn’t push a sick person to get back to work.
Yun Ge took a satisfying afternoon nap and woke up with the bright sunlight streaming in through the windows, playfully making rectangular shadows on her pallet.
Outside in the courtyard, Hong Yi was sitting under a tree knotting a rope, with Da Gong Zhi nowhere to be seen. Yun Ge walked up to Hong Yi and sat down “Where’s Da Gong Zhi?” Hong Yi pointed to the room and made a sleeping gesture, smiling at Yun Ge before resuming what she was doing.
Hong Yi’s fingers are extraordinarily clever and Yun Ge sees her fingers flying over the rope threads and turning into it flowers. Yun Ge remembered Da Gong Zhi’s jade on his waist and could see this design was perfectly paired with it. “Hong Yi, you are so nimble with her fingers, I don’t know any female talents with the needle and thread.”
Hong Yi took a branch and wrote on the ground “What do you want? I’ll make it for you.” Yun Ge took the branch and drew a design on the ground “I’ve seen people wear this. I find it really pretty, is it hard to make?”
Hong Yi smiled at Yun Ge, first nodding her head and then shaking her head. She pointed to Yun Ge’s heart and then wrote “Heart Together Knot.” Yun Ge didn’t realize what Hong Yi meant – that it was hard to make, or not hard to make? But Yun Ge’s heart wasn’t on this right now so she didn’t ask further.
Hong Yi picked a red thread and put it on Yun Ge’s hands, telling her to make it herself. Yun Ge didn’t want to learn, but seeing how excited Hong Yi was, she didn’t have the heart to say no. As she was learning, she asked “Hong Yi, can I………ask you something?”
Hong Yi smiled and nodded. Yun Ge hesitated for a moment “Are you close with Meng Jue?” Hong Yi looked at the Heart Together Knot in Yun Ge’s hand and thought Yun Ge was making it for Meng Jue, so she got all excited and gave Yun Ge a thumbs up sign for having good taste.
But Yun Ge thought Hong Yi was complimenting her for knotting it well “You’re too kind! It’s not as nice as yours. Yours is pretty and sturdy.”
Hong Yi blushed and was nervously gesturing that she’s known Meng Jue since she was a twelve years old. “So you knew him when you were young? Then Hong Yi……………do you know………….that Meng Jue cannot taste food?”
Salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy, Meng Jue can’t taste any of it. Yun Ge only read about people who cannot taste and it made her wonder how someone can live life not having any enjoyment of food. Who knew she would actually meet such a person one day.
Hong Yi looked confused so Yun Ge smiled “Nothing. I was just talking nonsense. So why is this called Heart Together Knot?”
Da Gong Zhi called out from the room “Hong Yi, I want some tea that is not too hot or too cold.” Hong Yi ran off immediately after shooting an apologetic look at Yun Ge. Da Gong Zhi walked over with a smile.
Yun Ge looked at him “You know?” He continued to smile “How long have you known?”
“Not long ago. I tried a few times to verify it and only recently confirmed it.”
“He’s very sensitive about this and never discusses it. You better pretend you don’t know. When I met him, he was already this way. I don’t know the exact reason, but it appears to be connected to when he was small and watched his mother die a violent death. He was severely traumatized and caused this affliction where his tongue has no ability to discern taste.”
“Violent death?” Yun Ge’s heart thundered. Da Gong Zhi smiled at her “Yun gal, are you planning to marry Meng Jue?” Yun Ge glared at him “What the heck are you talking about? Don’t forget that you’re living in my house right now. If you piss me off, I’ll kick you out.”
“If you don’t want to marry him, then why are going asking so much about his personal life? His matters, I only know bits and pieces. If you want to know everything, you have to ask him. But………….” Da Gong Zhi held up Hong Yi’s hand and took a drink of the tea before leading her out of the courtyard “my suggestion is to ask nothing at all. Everyone has things they want to forget. Why dig them back out?”
Who did Da Gong Zhi think she was? Yun Ge shook her fist as Da Gong Zhi. All she wanted to know was why Meng Jue couldn’t taste so she could think of a cure. Yun Ge didn’t want to imagine a person living his entire life not tasting food.
She let out a deep sigh. Why do these people all have things they want to forget, things they want to bury deep inside? Liu Bing Yi was that way, and Meng Jue is also that way.
Many times she tried to ask about Liu Bing Yi’s childhood, how he lived all those years, and also ask if he remembered his trip to Xi Yu. But all she could sense was Liu Bing Yi wanted to never think about his past, and always avoided people asking about it. So she never dared to ask. Would she need to be that way towards Meng Jue as well now?
Yun Ge was feeling down so she climbed a tree like she always did when she was a kid. She saw someone who looked like Liu Bing Yi walking past and Yun Ge rubbed her eyes. She confirmed that the straight –laced serious person was indeed her big brother.
The casual, lazy, carefree guy who always seemed like he was one step away from laying down and falling asleep was nowhere in sight. Who was the person walking with big brother, who could transform him like this?
Yun Ge snuck into Liu Bing Yi’s courtyard and was surprised to see that person politely gesturing for Liu Bing Yi to sit down. Liu Bing Yi faced this elder and wanted him to sit first, but the elder appeared not comfortable with it. He waited until Liu Bing Yi sat down before taking a seat.
Zhang He looked around the courtyard, his eyes misting, confirming that this place was fine. His heart ached and he smiled “It’s well tended to, doesn’t look like your handiwork. Which girl helps you?” Liu Bing Yi replied “Little sister Xu comes by to help occasionally.”
“Xu Guang Han’s daughter?” “Yes.” “Bing Yi, you are at the age when you ought to be married. Anyone you like? A house needs a woman to feel like a family.”
Liu Bing Yi lowered his head and didn’t answer. Zhang He continued “Bing Yi, if there is no one you like, I can arrange to match make for you.” Liu Bing Yi raised his head “Uncle Zhang, with my situation I would be hurting any woman who marries me. Plus who would want to marry into this? I’m doing fine, I have enough to eat and I don’t want to worry about these things…….”
Zhang He stood up and pointed his fingers in anger “What kind of crap are you saying? Your grandfather, your father, your uncles, they all fought and everyone worked hard to preserve your life. You are the only one left in the family, so do you want the family bloodline to die out? Look at you! How can you face any of them? How can they rest down under? How many people died! You…..you….” and then Zhang He was sobbing and he couldn’t talk anymore.
Liu Bing Yi sat there tense and unmoving, his eyes filled with unspeakable pain. Zhang He suddenly knelt down and bowed his head to Liu Bing Yi, who also scrambled on his knees and bowed back, unable to accept such a lofty gesture.
Zhang He cried “If you still think about your grandparents, then listen to me. If you still refuse I won’t push further, but I cannot forget all those people who died, all those people who protected you. The entire family wiped out, generations gone, all to preserve one final bloodline, hoping you can continue the family………..”
Liu Bing Yi looked torn and backed into a corner, but he saw Zhang He’s forehead was already bloody, so he helped the old man up “Uncle Zhang, please get up. My life was given to me by all of you. Bing Yi will never forget it. Whatever Uncle Zhang arranges, I will do it.”
“Good! Then let me arrange it and you wait for my good news. I will be attending your wedding banquet before the year is out.” Zhang He finished and took off, already anxious to start preparing.
Yun Ge huddled in the corner of the wall, not even realizing Zhang He had already left. Her heart was filled with thousands of emotions and thoughts, impossible to describe. Liu Bing Yi also sat there quietly, and after some time he shouted “Yun Ge, are you still outside?’
Yun Ge rubbed her tingling legs and limped her way into his room “Big brother, so you knew I was outside eavesdropping?”
Liu Bing Yi’s tone was voice was open, the first time he didn’t try to hide his sorrow and exhaustion “Yun Ge, get some wine. I want to get drunk tonight, not thinking about anything, forgetting everything.”
Forget? The blood flowing through his body reminded him constantly, so how could he ever forget? Getting drunk is really just getting more sad.
The drunk Liu Bing Yi could barely hold his cup and still he was downing one after another cup of wine. Yun Ge was drinking along with him and was also getting tipsy. She grabbed his arm and asked “Big brother, big brother……….Ling gege, Ling gege, I’m Yun Ge, I’m Yun Ge! Did you ever think of me? I never forgot our promise. I’m not a little piggy, you’re the little piggy!”
Liu Bing Yi was sprawled on the table and he smiled and rubbed Yun Ge’s head. But the Yun Ge in front of him was wobbling and became two Yun Ge’s, so his hand landed on her cheek “Yun Ge, I remember. Your name is Yun Ge………I don’t want to remember, I want to forget it all. Forget my surname is Liu, forget all that blood………all those lives……….Yun Ge, I don’t want to remember it…………”
“Ling gege, where is the pearl embroidered shoe I gave you? Do you remember it? Back then you asked me if I knew what it meant for a girl to give an embroidered shoe. I didn’t know at that time, but later I knew. You asked me not to forget and I never forgot. We had a promise between us…………..”
The two of them, each talking about their own woes, each talking over the other, smiling one moment and then sad another.
Meng Jue couldn’t find Yun Ge in her room so he flipped over the wall into Liu Bing Yi’s courtyard. All he saw was Yun Ge completely red-faced and nestled on Liu Bing Yi’s shoulder. Her eyes were closed as she kept saying “Where did you put my pearl embroidered shoe? Did you lose it?”
Meng Jue’s dark eyes were like a tempest surging through them, wanting to destroy everything he was seeing. He walked into the room and pulled Yun Ge out of Liu Bing Yi’s arms.
Liu Bing Yi wanted to reach for Yun Ge “Yun Ge……….” But then he toppled and fell on the ground. He wanted to get up but he was like an injured bug who was struggling on the ground. Meng Jue had no intention of helping him, shooting him a look of hatred and disgust before walking out.
“So many lives……….so many lives……….so many bloody lives…………”
Meng Jue heard that and he stopped, all the blood in his body seemed to be boiling in hatred and yet an icy coldness froze his body at the door.
Liu Bing Yi suddenly started laughing bitterly “………..bloody……..Did you all ask me? Ask me if I wanted to live this way? Ask me if I wanted you all to sacrifice for me? How it feels like to live because of the sacrifice of hundred of lives? How it feels to live all alone? Unable to talk to anyone about my life? Unable to have a shred of hope about the future……….unable to do anything with my life. Even wanting to live like a commoner is asking for too much. My life was meant to suffer and endure punishment, so how could I hope to live like an ordinary person?………..I cannot even choose to die……because I have to stay alive for those lives I owe a debt to………….Even if I can do nothing, and live like a dog……….I must stay alive………….If I died back then, I would at least be with my parents and my sisters. I wouldn’t have to endure the suffering of my childhood and today’s anguish………….”
Meng Jue flashed through his memories of things he never wanted to ever remember. The things he did in order to survive.
When he was starving, to survive, he stole food from the mouth of a dog. When the dog’s owner saw him, he just laughed. He fought with wild dogs over the corpse of a dead person, just so he could take the dead person’s clothes.
After his mother stopped breathing, her eyes remained wide open. When she was tortured, every single one of her bones were snapped, but her one finger remained stubbornly pointed West. She died in anguish, having thought the homeland of her youth could keep her son safe. Who knew her son would have another name “dog bastard” when he lived there.
New Year’s eve, every household was locked and inside eating around the hearth, while he was laying outside in the snow, staring at the falling snowflakes. In the distance, an old one-eyed wolf was eyeing him, the two of them gauging each other’s strength. He no longer had any energy left to struggle, too tired, just sleep forever like this! Mother, younger brother, they are all waiting for him……….
The sound of his younger brother crying came back to him “Father, my name is not Liu Xun. I don’t want to be the Wei royal grandchild. I am your Hua Er……….. Big brother, save me, big brother, save me…….”
They say a tiger no matter how vicious will not harm its own offspring. But he watched as his father cut out his younger brother’s tongue to keep his younger brother from talking and revealing the truth. He watched that three year old younger brother carried away, knowing that this time his capable older brother wasn’t able to save him. At that moment his younger brother stopped crying, stopped struggling. He just looked at him, his eyes filled with longing and sorrow. His younger brother even tried to smile, his mouth opening and closing despite no voice coming out. But he knew what his younger brother was saying “Big brother, don’t cry! I’m not hurting anymore.”
Was he crying? His vision was blurry and he wanted to wipe away his tears. He wanted to see his younger brother clearly, but his hands were tied.
Vengeance and hopelessness could kill a person, but it also could force a person to survive no matter what.
That half blind old wolf wanted to bite his throat but in the end it died in his hands. When a person’s heart is filled with vengeance and hopelessness, a person is no different than a wild beast. The only difference is that a person is smarter and more patient. So the wolf died, and he lived……..
Liu Bing Yi was collapsed on the ground and passed out drunk. But his hands were tightly fisted still, like he was still bitter at life and wanted to punch it. But he couldn’t find a target so his hands remain weakly by his side.
Because the lamplight in the room wasn’t tended to, it started to get weaker and the pale light shone on a dirty person sprawled on the floor and a well-dressed person standing by the door. Time seemed to stand still, until with a sputter the lamplight extinguished.
Meng Jue still didn’t move, not until Yun Ge sneezed. He startled and realized that Yun Ge was chilly and she was burrowing into his chest. He held Yun Ge tighter in his arms and decisively walked out of that room and into the darkness.
Meng Jue carried Yun Ge over to Xu Ping Jun’s house and kicked on the door. Mother Xu came running and saw a man carrying a girl and she screamed for help. But Xu Ping Jun immediately came running out.
Meng Jue shot Mother Xu a look that was smiling but it was so frigid that she couldn’t say a word. Meng Jue said “Ping Jun, Bing Yi is passed out drunk. Go over and take care of him.”
Meng Jue then turned and carried Yun Ge away. “Meng dage, where are you taking Yun Ge?” Meng Jue appeared not to hear Xu Ping Jun’s question and his figure quickly disappeared in the darkness.
When Yun Ge woke up the next day, she couldn’t understand how she ended up in Meng Jue’s estate when she had been drinking with Liu Bing Yi. She laid on the pallet and thought really hard but could only remember bits and pieces that seemed more like a dream.
In her dream she seemed to have reunited with Liu Bing Yi and confirmed her green embroidered shoe. She seemed to have touched it and even held it in her hand. There was a lot of “do you remember?”, which seemed like she was asking someone, or someone was asking her.
“Can’t remember?” Meng Jue asked as he sat on her pallet. Yun Ge curled into her blanket “Hey! King of the Jades, you’re a man, I’m a woman, we need to maintain propriety! I’m still sleeping, you can’t come in.” He smiled “Who do you think carried you here last night? Who took off your outer robe and shoes? Who put you on the pallet?”
Yun Ge was silent for a few minutes, unable to process the cruel reality, and then she started hollering “AHHHHH……….” She tossed her pillow at Meng Jue “You fake gentleman bastard! You’ve hookwinked everyone! What dashing elegant gentleman?”
Meng Jue easily caught the pillow and coldly looked at Yun Ge. She realized that she was wearing very little so she shrank back in the blanket “You bastard! You bastard! All those things in the past, it was because you were saving me, so I let it go. But now you………you……….. Wahhhhhh.”
Yun Ge covered her head with the blanket as she tried to assess what the damage to her virtue was and how to recover from it. Meng Jue’s voice was muffled through the blanket “This is to teach you a lesson about drinking with men in the future. Next time you get drunk, I can’t guarantee what will happen.”
Yun Ge was silent as she remembered the reason for drinking, making her feel exhausted. After some time, Meng Jue sighed and leaned down over her “Don’t be mad. I was just teasing you. The maids took care of you.”
Through the blanket, Yun Ge could feel that Meng Jue’s lips were close to her face and she turned bright red.
Meng Jue grabbed Yun Ge’s hand that was tightly gripping the blanket and put it in his hand, like he was cradling the most precious treasure in the world “Yun Ge, Yun Ge…….”
His voice, it was magical. Like rejecting, like accepting. Like happiness, like sorrow. Like remembering, like forgetting. Yun Ge didn’t know what Meng Jue was thinking, but she knew that a corner of her heart was melting.
Yun Ge slowly composed herself. Didn’t she decide already? Now the time has come, she can’t get distracted. The person who will be saddest about big brother getting married is not herself, it’s Xu jiejie.
When Yun Ge found Xu Ping Jun, she was sitting in the room sewing with Hong Yi. She pulled Xu Ping Jun outside “Xu jiejie, big brother is getting married. Yesterday an uncle came to play matchmaker. I thought about it, and with Meng Jue’s help, we could………”
Xu Ping Jun didn’t say anything so Yun Ge asked “Jiejie, aren’t you anxious?” Xu Ping Jun was afraid to meet Yun Ge’s eyes so she looked elsewhere “I already know. The uncle was Uncle Zhang, and my dad’s former superior. He came by yesterday and got drunk with my dad, and my dad agreed to a marriage.”
Yun Ge gasped and then grabbed Xu Ping Jun for a hug “Jiejie, jiejie, you should be happy! I heard big brother say he will agree to any marriage arranged by Uncle Zhang. You two now have official parental blessings!”
Xu Ping Jun was a bit embarrassed and thought her mom might object, but Yun Ge reminded her that since her dad already promised, it can’t be undone by her mom.
Yun Ge continued “I don’t have any money right now, but I’ll borrow some from Meng Jue to add to wedding gift from the groom’s side, so your mom who loves money won’t have any reason to object.” Xu Ping Jun smiled “You always have these outlandish ideas.”
Liu Bing Yi just met with Zhang He and knew everything was set. He thought back to all his memories with Xu Ping Jun leading up to today. It was hard for him to figure out what he was feeling. Xu Ping Jun was beautiful and capable, for her to marry him it was already too good for him. But still he felt this conflicting emotion. Ultimately………….
Liu Bing Yi smiled derisively at himself. What right did he have to wonder about anything else?
Xu Ping Jun saw Liu Bing Yi walk inside and she lowered her head, all red-faced. She wanted to leave but he stopped her, also looking awkward. He didn’t seem to be able to say what he came to say and Xu Ping Jun’s head dropped even lower.
When Yun Ge saw them, she turned to quietly leave. “Yun Ge, wait!” Liu Bing Yi looked at Xu Ping Jun and then took out a small cloth which opened to reveal a matching pair of jade bracelets.
“Ping Jun, you are a wonderful girl. I always wanted the best for you. Following me, you will endure a lot of hardship. I cannot give you………..” Xu Ping Jun raised her head and have him a steady firm look “Bing Yi, I’m not afraid of hardship. All I know is that if I married anyone else, that would be the real hardship.”
Liu Bing Yi was taken aback by Xu Ping Jun’s candid boldness and he laughed “You’re a silly girl.” He picked up her hand and slid one bracelet on her wrist “Uncle Zhang said this was my mother’s so he gave it to me for me to use as an engagement gift.”
Xu Ping Jun stroked the bracelet with happy tears in her eyes. All those years and finally her dream is coming true in the form of this bracelet. Liu Bing Yi handed the other bracelet to Yun Ge “Yun Ge, this one is for you. I heard I once had a younger sister, but she’s……….” Liu Bing Yi smiled “Big brother wants you to have this bracelet.”
Yun Ge stared and didn’t accept it. Xu Ping Jun understood why Liu Bing Yi was giving Yun Ge this bracelet in front of her, and she happily said “Yun Ge, accept it! I want you to wear it, didn’t you say we were sisters?”
Yun Ge accepted the bracelet with joy and heartache, putting it on her wrist “Thank you, big brother. Thank you, sister……..in-law.”
Xu Ping Jun turned red-faced and walked out. Yun Ge laughed and ran towards her room. The moment she walked in, she sprawled on the bed and her blanket was soaked with tears in minutes.
“Do you know what it means for a girl to give a boy an embroidered shoe?”
“I accept it. Yun Ge, you must remember.”
“With the stars as witness, no regrets and no change.”
“Next time you can finish the story. When you come to Chang An, there will be plenty of time to listen to your stories.”
Since she was old enough to know what the meaning of their promise was, she never once worried that this promise wouldn’t come true.
She never once forgot it.
Wherever she went, she accumulated stories so she could tell him one day.
Everyone she met would lead her to remember that she had a Ling gege.
Every delicious dish she ate she would think of his expression when he ate it. He will smile, just like that day, when all the stars seemed to melt in his eyes.
She always thought someone was waiting for her far away.
She always thought he was just like her, would stare at the stars at night, secretly remembering their time together, imaging the day they would meet again.
She thought he was like her, loving the star filled nights.
The promise was right there, but everything has changed.
For all these years, it was all just herself putting on a one-person play.
Outside the room, Meng Jue wanted to walk in but Da Gong Zhi stopped him “Let Yun Ge be alone for now. Xiao Jue, that was a good move. Clean and neat.”
Meng Jue smiled “This time your guess is incorrect.”
“Not you, then who? There is no one who knows more about Liu Bing Yi than you.”
Meng Jue gave a distant smile, neither confirming nor refuting it any further “Faced with things now, does my lord not have the stirrings of doing something you want. Do you want to waste your life in women? A man needs to use his power to change the world.”
Da Gong Zhi hesitated and then smiled “Have you thought of me as an Infante Duke? Don’t address me as my lord, it gives me the goosebumps. I’m not interested in that position. The old Emperor was strategically brilliant and heartless, plus he was wary and always suspicious, trusting no one but himself. Would he really have handed a child over to four unrelated Regents? He must’ve planned for what is happening now. Liu Fu Ling let the old Emperor take the risk and hand the empire to him, which means Liu Fu Ling must be extraordinary. Take the “assassin incident.” Huo Guang still doesn’t close out the investigation but Liu Fu Ling doesn’t pressure him and instead relies on him even more. Xang Hong Yang is secretly investigating the Yu Lin Army but Liu Fu Ling pretends he doesn’t know. Every time Shang Guan Jie pressures him, Liu Fu Ling casually resolves everything with just a few choice words. Liu Fu Ling did nothing and yet he managed to use an “assassin” attempt to his advantage. I warn you, pull back your ambitions early. I’m a cowardly person. If one day I’m so startled, I might say something I shouldn’t say.”
Meng Jue expected this from Da Gong Zhi and only smiled and asked “When is my lord planning to leave Chang An?”
Da Gong Zhi laughed “Afraid of my welfare, or afraid I’ll throw a wrench in your chess match? I don’t need you to worry about me, I’ll leave when I’m ready.”
Meng Jue smiled “Big brother, I don’t worry about your life and death, but I see Hong Yi as my younger sister. If anything happened to Hong Yi because of you, I will pile on the new and old debt between us and collect from you.” Meng Jue said this very politely, like a younger brother to an older brother, but his expression was chilly.
Da Gong Zhi heard “big brother” and his smile froze. He stared at Meng Jue before turning and walking away, his voice giving a final warning “The situation in Chang An is pulled as tightly as a taut bow. Neither the Infante of Yen or Shang Guan Jie is easy to deal with. You be careful.”
Meng Jue watched Da Gong Zhi walk away, appearing to want to say something, but in the end he didn’t. Meng Jue stood outside Yun Ge’s door and wanted to knock, but slowly lowered his hand. He leaned against the door and sat on the door ledge, looking up at the stars.
It seemed so long since he quietly looked at the sky. Meng Jue watched as a crescent moon slowly rose to the middle of the night sky, and the sound of sobbing from the room gradually stopped. He heard Yun Ge pour herself some water, heard her burn herself and drop the cup, shattering it. He heard her walk and bump into a table. He heard her lay down and then get back up. He heard her open the window and look out at the night sky.
Him and her were just separated one step from each other. Then he heard her close the window and go back to sleep…..
Meng Jue said to the stars, she’s asleep, I need to leave, I need to leave………….but the sky is so beautiful and so peaceful………..
Yun Ge tossed and turned all night, and when the first rays of sunshine arrived she got up. When she opened the door, something tumbled in through the doorway and she jumped to avoid it. To her shock, it was Meng Jue. He was laying on the ground, his eyes staring at her with a misty confusion, like he had no idea where he was.
A moment later, he rubbed his head where it struck the floor and got up to walk outside, saying nothing to her.
Yun Ge was totally lost “King of the Jades, what are you doing here?” Meng Jue didn’t turn around “I got drunk and was looking for Da Gong Zhi and came to the wrong place.”
Yun Ge wandered around all morning before finally realizing what was amiss. All morning she hasn’t seen Hong Yi or Da Gong Zhi. She pushed open their room and written on the wall in bold slashing letters are “Goodbye, farewell.”
Xu Ping Jun asked “What’s written?” Yun Ge answered “They left.” They exchanged a look and Xu Ping Jun murmured “They come unexpectedly, they leave just as unexpectedly. I guess this means I have two less guests at the wedding.”
Yun Ge stared at the writing “The writing is good, but why write on my wall? Doesn’t he know how much it’ll cost to paint over it?”
They chattered about random things, all to cover up a niggling sadness, especially at the departure of Hong Yi, whom they both adore.
“Yun Ge, when do you think we’ll see Hong Yi again?” “When there is a spectacle! Da Gong Zhi loves fun times, and Hong Yi is his shadow. Whenever we see Da Gong Zhi, we’ll see Hong Yi.” Xu Ping Jun heard the word “shadow” and thought Yun Ge’s description was perfect. Hong Yi was Da Gong Zhi’s shadow. Quiet but always by his side. She lowered her head and looked down before sighing.
She pointed out to Yun Ge, who looked down and saw that their shadows were barely visible despite it being noon time on a day with plenty of sunshine.
Yun Ge also sighed but then changed the topic “Good sister-in-law, you’re going to be a bride! Wearing your red wedding dress, no one can miss you. Ai ya, I can’t wait to see sister-in-law make her own wedding dress. Sister-in-law’s talent is renowned here in Shao Lin Yuan. The wedding dress is sure to be beautiful. When big brother sees it, he’ll be rendered speechless.”
Xu Ping Jun’s cheeks turned red but she pretended to be stern with Yun Ge “A girl like you shouldn’t be babbling nonsense out in public.” Yun Ge laughed “Why? Is it because someone turns red every time I call her sister-in-law?”
Xu Ping Jun didn’t turn around, so she didn’t see that underneath the teasing voice was a pair of despondent eyes staring at the shadow of a tree.