Chapter 482. Yuwen Tong, Why Are You Such a Lousy Parent?!
All the courtiers halted and looked in the direction of the doorway of the imperial study.
On entering the study, Ling Zhang caught sight of the couple of courtiers who appeared to have just paused on their way out. Slightly surprised, he wondered what this was about.
Apart from him, Old Master Ji and the others were also secretly surprised as their eyes met. Ling Zhang was walking in with his back to the daylight coming from outside, and not only did every line of the contours of his figure seem to be cloaked in some kind of halo as he moved, but a sense of power was spontaneously radiating from him, and, though not quickly, was flooding towards them. When looking at Ling Zhang’s eyes, they felt that their souls were quivering. His eyes were so penetrating as though the owner of them was seeing right into their hearts and reading their minds!
Almost all of them were awed and on the alert in spite of themselves. Even Old Master Ji, after a brief moment’s stupor, gave a horrified start.
Ling Zhang was approaching, an involuntary expression of confusion appearing on his face as he saw them remaining stationary.
Old Master Ji was the first to realize the situation. “I’m honored to bow before you, Your Highness.”
The others became conscious of externals and all hastened to pay their respects to the empress.
Inwardly raising his brows, Ling Zhang said, “There’s no need for formalities, Your Lordships. Are you going inside or…”
“Your Highness, we’re going back to the hall to confer with each other about the matter of army provisions.”
“I’m impressed by your dedication.”
“A compliment none of us deserve. I think it’s safe to say Your Highness is here to talk with His Majesty and Her Highness, so we’d like to take our leave if you’ll excuse us.”
Ling Zhang nodded and resumed progressing. Old Master Ji and the others watched as he walked towards the far end of the study.
Ling Zhang sensed the gaze from behind him and the corners of his mouth unnoticeably curled.
Between the front doors of the imperial study and the inner chamber where the emperor’s desk was was a straight passageway paved with mirror-like floor tiles. All those who could tread it were top-ranking officials of the Great Wen, pillars of the imperial court. Over the past five years, Ling Zhang had seldom come to the imperial study on his own initiative, even more rarely to the consultation hall, and there were very few occasions when he’d met any of the courtiers. The last time he’d seen Old Master Ji and the others was at a banquet held in the palace on the eve of the New Year’s Day. At that time he hadn’t reached the sixth layer of his method of cultivating internal energy yet, and his proficiency in the utilization of the Force of Blood in him had still been at a rather low level. Now he had reached the sixth layer, and it was as though he had truly taken his first step into another realm. He was seeing and hearing things in a very different way and also capable of control his powers in a more efficient and accurate fashion. A short while before, after he sensed Old Master Ji’s and the others’ presence in the study, he’d been briefly surprised, decided to try it out on them and gradually lifted the restrictions he’d imposed on his powers, and the outcome struck him as satisfactory, for he had noticed that even Old Master Ji, a wily old fox, had had an involuntary look of shock and astonishment in his eyes.
At this time, a fit of coughing suddenly came from inside, which didn’t sound like the kind of cough that people couldn’t stifle. It was tinged with displeasure. Clearly the person inside was displeased with Ling Zhang’s slow pace.
Ling Zhang lifted his brows and quickened his pace. Through the see-through curtains, he could now see the major part of the interior of the imperial study. Around a corner was a spacious hall. On the two sides were tall bookcases laden with books of all descriptions. Right between the two rows of bookcases was the emperor’s desk which faced due south, and which people could see immediately after turning the corner.
Yuwen Tong, who was holding Crescent in his arms, had cocked his ears the moment Ling Zhang had entered the imperial study. Hearing Ling Zhang’s footsteps and his greetings to the courtiers, feeling the sense of power radiating from him, Yuwen Tong had slightly squinted his eyes with a proud look on his face. Eager to see Ling Zhang, he had deliberately let out a cough to give him a prod and then perceived him quickening his pace. Through the curtains, he could vaguely see a figure coming towards him. When Ling Zhang was standing in the hall, Yuwen Tong fixed his eyes on him. He hadn’t seen Ling Zhang for nearly two months, and now he could finally put an end to the days when he had to lie in bed alone and unable to sleep. He hardened his face, preparing to “dress down” Ling Zhang to let him know that he had been lonely and suffering from insomnia all this time. However, he had just opened his mouth when the countenance of Ling Zhang standing opposite him changed drastically and with that Ling Zhang let out a roar.
“YUWEN TONG, WHY ARE YOU SUCH A LOUSY PARENT?!”
Ling Zhang, after turning the corner, had specially paused looking in the direction of Yuwen Tong sitting behind the desk. When he’d seen Yuwen Tong sitting there idly instead of coming down to welcome him, he had curled his lip intending to talk with him about it, but then his eyes had moved downward and alighted on Yuwen Yue in Yuwen Tong’s arms and with that his countenance had abruptly changed and he had sprinted inside in alarm.
Yuwen Yue, a naughty kid, had dipped her father’s writing brush into the ink, scribbled on her face and then put the brush into her mouth. Her cheeks and lips covered in ink, she was grinning, revealing her ink-stained baby teeth…
Everybody in the study was taken aback by Ling Zhang’s roar. At the sight of Ling Zhang streaking towards him after a drastic change of his countenance, Yuwen Tong hastened to look down at his daughter. Startled by the scene, he hurriedly grabbed the writing brush one end of which was in Yuwen Yue’s mouth. Unfortunately for him, Yuwen Yue had the brush clamped tightly between her teeth. Yuwen Tong didn’t dare pull hard for fear of hurting her teeth, sweat breaking out over his back.
The couple of courtiers outside, who hadn’t left yet, heard the roar, ran back into the study and were dumbstruck as they saw the little princess whose face and lips were covered in ink fighting her father for a writing brush.
Ling Zhang tore up to the desk, slapped Yuwen Tong’s hand off the writing brush and grabbed it himself. “Let it go, Crescent,” Ling Zhang said.
Yuwen Yue’s eyes brightened noticeably at the sight of her “birth father”, but for some reason, seeing her father holding the writing brush, the mischievous girl misconstrued this as some kind of game, smiling archly, refusing to slacken her grip. Looking at the ink in her mouth, Ling Zhang almost blacked out with anxiety and he subconsciously demanded in an imperative tone, “Yuwen Yue! Let it go!”
On sensing Ling Zhang’s anger, Yuwen Yue was astounded. Not daring to smile any more, she loosened her grip in a dreamy way. When Ling Zhang had hastily pulled out the writing brush and tossed it away, the corners of her mouth dropped and she burst into tears, an injured look in her eyes.
Flustered, Ling Zhang tried to wipe the saliva mixed with ink off her lips, but his efforts seemed to be having the opposite effect. Positively faint with anxiety, he swiveled his head around and thundered, “Send for a court physician!”
There was no telling whether or not the ink she’d consumed would make her ill. The very thought of the damage it might cause to her health wrenched at Ling Zhang’s heart.
A eunuch hastened to send for a court physician. The courtiers didn’t dare leave and just watched as the empress took the princess from the emperor’s arms and used his own sleeves to wipe her lips and face. The princess was still crying noisily. The emperor was anxiously patting the princess’s back and at the same time sneaking guilty glances at the empress. This scene which was heavy with a flavor of the next married couple’s daily life astonished them so much that they forgot about the sense of power that had radiated from the empress and awed them a short while before.
“Stop crying. Daddy didn’t mean to lose his temper with you. Look at you – both your face and your mouth are black. And you’re making yourself look terrible with your tears,” coaxed Yuwen Tong.
But “look terrible” seemed to be the only words that the little girl had heard and she cried even louder.
Yuwen Tong paused, unsure as to whether he should withdraw his hand or continue stretching it out to console her.
Ling Zhang gave him a dirty look, lifted Yuwen Yue up and then stationed her on his knees to let her face him. Supporting her with one hand and wiping her tears off with the other, he cajoled, “Be good. Stop crying. Are you not happy to see Daddy?”
The anger that had registered on his face a few moments before had been replaced by a concerned and affectionate expression. Sobbing, Yuwen Yue put her arms around his neck, soiling it and his collar with the remaining ink in her mouth. “Daddy yelled at me…” she said in a choked voice, still weeping.
There was a large black patch on Ling Zhang’s overgarment, which had been left by the ink he had her spit out a short while before, and now, since his neck and collar were also stained with ink and tears, he was no cleaner than Yuwen Yue. Resigned, his heart aching for his daughter, he drew her into a hug and patted her back. “There, there. Daddy won’t be angry with you again. You shouldn’t have put the writing brush in your mouth. I’ve told you many times this kind of stuff is inedible. If you do that again, I’ll spank you instead of scolding you.”
With her arms around his neck, Yuwen Yue sobbed, “Don’t spank me, Daddy.”
After hearing this, Ling Zhang was both resigned and amused. Supporting her little butt, he replied, “If you don’t want to get spanked, do not put a writing brush into your mouth again. You hear me?”
“Okay,” answered Yuwen Yue in a muffled voice. She was still sobbing, but not as hard as she had a few moments before. Yuwen Tong was relieved at the sight of this. Looking at her little butt supported by Ling Zhang, he felt an urge to spank her. It’d been so ill-behaved of her to bite a writing brush when he was not paying attention.
“Stop crying.” Yuwen Tong rubbed her head and then turned around to sort the memorial on the desk which had been messed up by Yuwen Yue. Fortunately, it was just a common memorial that an official had sent to him to wish him good health. It was of little significance and he didn’t have to reply to it.
Before long, a court physician arrived. After being given an account of the incident, he examined Yuwen Yue and then prescribed her some mild laxative. “Her Highness consumed only a small amount of the ink. It should be nothing serious. She just has to drink more water to wash her intestines and stomach. The laxative would serve only to detoxify the tiny amount of poisonous substance in the ink. The most severe potential side effect would be the runs, but Her Highness has a strong constitution, so it’s unlikely she’d suffer from any side effects.”
Fu Caiwei had always been in good health, and Yuwen Yue seemed to have inherited her mother’s strong constitution. On top of that, Yuwen Tong and Ling Zhang cared about their adopted daughter very much and had been raising her according to the advice of some experienced wet nurses since her birth. Also, Mr. Mu had been visiting the palace to examine the children on a regular basis. As a result, the two princes and the princess had seldom developed any diseases. All wet nurses and handmaids were very scrupulous, and none of them dared make any careless mistakes when it came to the health of the young imperial family members. Every one of the three children had a strong constitution, and they’d hardly suffered any minor ailments.
After being informed that she was okay, Ling Zhang heaved a sigh of relief. Still, in his annoyance, he couldn’t help but playfully hit Yuwen Yue’s little butt twice. “You naughty little devil. I bet you won’t dare do that again.”
Yuwen Yue had stopped crying. From the combination of the court physician’s presence, the anxiety on both her father’s and her Daddy’s faces, and the nervous facial expressions of the lingering courtiers, she deduced that she’d done something wrong. After being hit on the butt, she secretly stroked it, not daring utter a word.
Ling Zhang was amused by her bearing but didn’t chuckle for fear that the little girl would get the wrong impression that what she’d done was no big deal. He scooped her up. “Okay. We’re going back. You need to drink some water and the medicine and change clothes. Look what a mess you’ve made out of your clothes.”
He was taking his daughter back. Yuwen Tong, who hadn’t seen him for such a long time, naturally was going back to the imperial bedchamber with him.
Since the little princess was fine and the imperial couple were returning, the courtiers all sensibly took their leave first, and the court physician left with them.
It was not until all of them had disappeared from view that Ling Zhang scowled at Yuwen Tong and reprimanded, “Crescent is still young, but you’re an adult. I expect more from you.”
Yuwen Tong knew he was in the wrong. “It was my fault and you may dress me down any way you like. Just stop being mad. You have just returned and haven’t had any rest yet. If you keep being angry, your health will be damaged, and when that happens, my heart will be broken.”
Owing to Yuwen Tong’s sincerely admitting his mistakes, and the knowledge that Yuwen Tong had failed to stop the kid from doing that because Yuwen Tong’s attention had been fixed on him, Ling Zhang, recalling that they hadn’t seen each other for quite some time and that he hadn’t checked on either of his sons yet, stopped being angry and walked out of the imperial study with Yuwen Yue in his arms, heading for the imperial bedchamber.
Yuwen Tong followed in his wake, casually making a gesture at the guards behind him, who saw it and immediately cordoned off the imperial study, not allowing anybody to get in or out of it.