Chapter 430: Departing for Jiangzhou & A Longing for Reunion (IV)
“I’m going to miss you. Don’t sit in the consultation hall for too long. Eat your every meal on time. Don’t you ever stay up all night writing instructions on memorials to the throne. Go to bed when it’s bedtime.”
The moment Ling Zhang finished these words, Yuwen Tong lapsed into silence. The two of them just looked at each other.
Watching this scene, Yao Yi and some others in the doorway were desensitized somewhat. Their marshal had been changing by the day since he’d started a relationship with Childe Ling. After one of them became the emperor, and the other the consort, they’d started changing at an even more alarmingly fast pace. The two of them being like this was something they’d never seen before, but they were totally unaffected by it, and they didn’t care whether or not the two masters of theirs would do anything more shocking in the next moment.
At this time the right thing to do was look up into the sky and enjoy the bracing morning breeze.
They were all bachelors. Nobody would drum anything into their heads or miss them, so they were not jealous at all.
It was a long time before Ling Zhang and Yuwen Tong finished bidding grudging farewell to each other, and it took Ling Zhang another long moment to walk out of the gates of the Infinite Fortune Palace, which he told Yuwen Tong should be the parting of the ways.
“You should go back. If you walk me any further, I wouldn’t be able to leave. Go back.” Ling Zhang firmly told Yuwen Tong to return.
Yuwen Tong stayed in the gateway of the palace, watching Ling Zhang’s receding back, his hands balling into fists behind him.
Ling Zhang didn’t dare look back. It struck him that this was the most difficult moment of parting he’d ever had. He hadn’t got out of the sight of the Infinite Fortune Palace yet, but he felt as though all his insides had disappeared.
Yao Yi, Wang Dashan and all the others had disguised themselves and were nondescriptly clothed. They left the imperial palace through a side gate with Ling Zhang. It was very early and nobody noticed them. Progressing forward, all of them kept silent, mainly because Ling Zhang was silent.
Yao Yi, Wang Dashan and their men all didn’t dare utter a word for fear of interrupting Ling Zhang’s train of thought. It was not until they exited the city and met Jiang Yu waiting for them outside that the mood lightened slightly.
Ling Zhang cast an appraising look at a middle-aged man dressed like a guard behind Jiang Yu. He could tell at a glance that that man had kung fu skills and internal energy.
“It’s an honor to kneel before you, Your Highness,” chorused Jiang Yu and the guard, getting on their knees.
“You may rise. There’s no need for formalities outside the palace. Just call me ‘Childe Ling’ as you used to,” said Ling Zhang.
“Yes, Childe Ling.” Jiang Yu rose to his feet and then introduced the man behind him to Ling Zhang. “This is my personal bodyguard Jiang Qi. He’s the only one I’m taking with me.”
Ling Zhang inclined his head. “Let’s go. It’s still early. We should start our journey right away.”
Jiang Yu looked at him. Seeing the listlessness in his eyes and his lethargic bearing, he guessed the reason for it. A sensible man, he didn’t make any remarks, mounted and followed in the wake of Ling Zhang’s team.
Two hours later. In the consultation hall.
Yuwen Tong’s mind wandered for a brief moment before he asked the man standing beside him, “What time is it?”
The man told him the time.
“They’ve probably crossed the city boundaries by now.”
The man beside him hastened to leave. After a while, he returned and reported, “Sire, a scout sent word that His Highness has crossed the city boundaries.”
“Um,” Yuwen Tong answered. When he resumed writing, the air about him was much colder. When officials of all descriptions entered the hall to attend the meeting, they noticed that Yuwen Tong appeared not as energetic as he used to be, that his whole being was radiating an icy emanation. All of them were scared and didn’t dare speak unless they were asked to, wondering what had happened.
After the court meeting was over, some of them fell into hushed discussion. “Did His Majesty have a fight with His Highness, by any chance?”
“But I didn’t get wind of anything like that.”
Yuwen Feng, who was walking beside them, gave a little cough and said, “It’s best if you stop speculating about His Majesty’s personal life, Your Lordships.”
The couple of courtiers smiled embarrassed smiles, not daring making any more remarks.
When they had gone far away, Yuwen Han walked up to Yuwen Feng, gave him a friendly cuff and asked, “Hey, why do you think His Majesty looks a lit down today?”
Yuwen Feng stayed silent for quite a while before he replied, “How am I supposed to know? Everything’s going well in the imperial court. No matter how heavy the workload is, it shouldn’t be a problem for His Majesty, so I think it probably has something to do with His Highness.”
Yuwen Han snickered, “Did they really have a fight, by any chance?”
Yuwen Feng rolled his eyes upward once again, feeling that this cousin of his was so gossipy, but he still gave it some thought and then responded, “It doesn’t seem like it. When did you ever see them quarrel? Given how touchy-feely things between them are, it’s next to impossible for them to have a fight.”
“Then what happened exactly? His Highness is ill?” asked Yuwen Han.
Yuwen Feng said, “If His Highness is ill, someone of the Ling family would’ve come to the palace in great haste some time ago.”
“You’re right. Things in the Ling Mansion are pretty normal,” observed Yuwen Han, fingering his chin. “This is so puzzling.”
“So they didn’t have a fight, and His Highness isn’t ill. What other possible reason could there be?” Yuwen Han continued.
Yuwen Feng inwardly responded, “There’s also parting.”
He was one of the few who knew that Ling Zhang earlier this day had left the capital city heading for Jiangzhou. This matter was supposed to be kept confidential, so he naturally wouldn’t breathe a word of it to anybody. However, having seen the dispirited state Yuwen Tong was in, Yuwen Feng couldn’t help but sigh in his head again, “Sometimes deep love also hurts.”
When it was almost midday, a eunuch came delivering lunch to Yuwen Tong. At the footsteps which issued from outside as usual but didn’t sound familiar, Yuwen Tong’s face went even colder.
The eunuch tremulously served the lunch and then hastened outside, waiting for the emperor to finish his meal.
Looking at the food on the table, Yuwen Tong thought of the dishes Ling Zhang would normally have cooked for him at this hour. Although these delicacies prepared by imperial cooks were appetizing in appearance, tantalizing in smell and delicious in taste, they struck him as quite bland. At this moment Yuwen Tong really regretted having allowed Ling Zhang to leave. This situation would last until Ling Zhang’s return from Jiangzhou, which was a few days away.
The very thought of this made Yuwen Tong’s resentment towards the Wan Kingdom and the Luohai Kingdom deepen further, the expression in his eyes so wintry as though ice would drop from them.
Sensing the almost palpable icy air emanating from the man sitting in the consultation hall, all the secret bodyguards and imperial guards on duty nearby sighed. This kind of feeling struck them as somewhat familiar. It was as though they had traveled back in time to the days when they’d been in the borderlands a long time ago. Actually, after giving it some careful thought, they found that it hadn’t really been that long since the end of those days. However, they had taken a liking to the person that their master had been before meeting the empress, which was why they felt rather upset when they saw their master become the lonesome, distant man he used to be.
“I hope the matter of Jiangzhou would be settled quickly and the empress would come back soon,” someone said.
“I’m hoping for the same thing. Our master had a hard job finding a life worth living, and now he’s going back to his old self. Had His Highness seen this, he would never have left our master.”
“How about we go and bring His Highness back?”
“How about you do it alone?”
“I don’t have the guts to do that. I value my life pretty much.”
This remark brought the conversation to an end. Nobody uttered another word.
Ling Zhang, who was on his journey, had halted to take a lunch break. Yao Yi and the others, whose ability to survive in the wild was very impressive, figured out a way to make a pot of hot soup despite the poor conditions. They also had some cooked food.Read latest chapters at Listnovel.com
Ling Zhang took a bite of the food and then looked at the color of the sky to gauge the time, slowing chewing. “Someone must’ve delivered lunch to the consultation hall by now, right?”
Yao Yi and the others paused at this question, and then the former quickly replied, “Yeah, yeah. Definitely. Rest assured, Childe Ling, nobody dares delay serving our master his meal.”
“Um,” answered Ling Zhang. The look in his eyes was still a trifle crestfallen, and he was eating rather slow, looking nothing like the person he usually was who always had a good appetite. Seeing this, Yao Yi and the others felt somewhat sorry for him. They knew that Ling Zhang liked to eat meat very much, that he could easily overeat when the food was delicious. The cooked food they were eating was Ling Zhang’s favorite, but he didn’t seem to be enjoying it at all, for his mind had wandered back to the capital city.
Yao Yi exchanged glances with the others, then ladled some steaming soup into a bowl and handed it to Ling Zhang. “Have some soup, Childe Ling.”
Ling Zhang inclined his head. “Put it here. I’ll drink it later.”
Yao Yi could tell that Ling Zhang was not in the mood for soup, that he wanted to return to the capital city.
Alas, they had got married already. Why did separation seem to be more torturous than it had been before they married?
Yao Yi and the others, who were all bachelors, really couldn’t understand. Why was this happening?
Jiang Yu was sitting on the side. Having been Ling Zhang’s adviser for some time, he knew very well how happy Ling Zhang usually was when having meals. This was his first time seeing Ling Zhang so listless. It was as though Ling Zhang’s separation from Yuwen Tong had really rendered the former incapable of feeling things.
Jiang Yu found that kind of feeling somewhat confusing, but Ling Zhang’s lethargic bearing struck him as bewildering and also fairly unpleasant. He slightly furrowed his brows and lowered his eyes, looking away from Ling Zhang. Though unaware of the reason why he was in this kind of mood, he perceptively sensed danger.
Ling Zhang was indeed not inclined to eat at all, but at the thought of the words Yuwen Tong had drummed into his head before his departure, he still filled his belly, despite his lack of appetite. He had to take good care of himself.