Chapter 11: A Sick Visit
“My lady, my lady, there’s bad news!”
Zi Yinye set down her book with displeasure. “Xia Yue was always the one making a ruckus,” she muttered quietly, “but already, only a few days after she left, you’ve started to take after her, hollering loudly without fear of being ridiculed!”
After setting down her book, Zi Yinye continued reprimanding Chun Ri. “I thought I was finally going to have some peace and quiet! Speak, what happened to cause you to make such a fuss?”
“My lady, his lordship, it is his lordship who is in trouble.”
“Ren Fengyao? What could have happened to him? He’s currently on top of the world, someone favored by the emperor, incredibly powerful!” She picked up the book and continued on heedlessly, “But it is true that as time passed, the number of of his enemies have risen. Was someone sent to harm him? Wait, no, that Leng Canxing who accompanies him is a high level expert. With him there, Ren Fengyao will not be harmed so easily. Then what happened exactly?”
“My lady, his lordship was carried in.”
“Huh? He was attacked?” Zi Yinye set down the book with amusement. “Doesn’t Leng Canxing always accompany him? Besides, inside the imperial palace, Leng Canxing is never more than a few steps away. Perhaps, inside the palace, he was…”
“No, my lady. I overheard the garden servant Xiao Si say that his lordship had fainted at court, shocking his highness and the chancellors. The imperial physician was brought directly to the palace in order to diagnose him.”
Zi Yinye was alarmed. “How did he faint?” she said immediately.
“It seems he overreached himself.”
“Overreached? How is that possible? Are you sure? Chun Ri, go out and investigate. It’s quite possible he’s been poisoned. Afterall, tensions between factions at court are so high, they almost want to kill each other, and currently, he is favored by the emperor. The number of enemies he has amounts to more than just one or two.”
“My lady, what are you thinking about!” Chun Ri cried out. “I just received the details. His lordship had fainted due to fatigue. The imperial physician examined him personally, unless you believe that he is mistaken! In addition, I heard that his lordship is often ill. During the period of time when the emperor ascended the throne, his lordship assisted him at the expense of his own health, which later evolved into an old ailment. It seems that over the years, his lordship never paid attention to his health since there were always issues requiring his lordship’s attention, and lead to him falling ill today while he was in the court hall.”
“Is that so!” Zi Yinye exclaimed. “He sure has worked hard for the sake of this country and the emperor. No wonder he is renowned as Dongling’s prime minister, no wonder the emperor depends on him. He truly is worthy of the rumors.”
“My lady, will you go visit him?”
Zi Yinye smiled, her brow raised. “Of course I will. At the very least, I need to give the appearance of attempting to, but currently, it should be chaotic. Once the chaos dies down, we will go and give a small gesture.”
”A small gesture?” Chun Ri muttered. “My lady, you sure are heartless.”
Zi Yinye smiled widely, bemused. “Then Chun Ri, what do you suppose I should do?”
Chun Ri’s smile stiffened. “My Lady, I** was merely joking.”
“Why have you not gone to investigate yet? Go!”
Deciding the right time to visit unexpectedly required some thought. She was supposed to visit “her husband” as soon as possible and if a “mere wife” appeared in such a chaotic setting, no one would take notice, but she did not want to be in a room stuffed with people. Nighttime? What a joke! Not only would Ren Fengyao already be asleep, even if he wasn’t asleep, there would be misunderstandings. What would she be visiting a man’s room in the dead of night for? Then during the day? But during the day, there would be so many people passing by, maids taking care of Ren Fengyao, young manservants and so forth. It was only a small journey from here to Ren Fengyao, but who knew how many servants with loose lips she would bump into. She sincerely hated all those judging expressions. Then…
After mulling over possibilities and their consequences, Zi Yinye decided to visit him immediately after dinnertime. It would be dusky then with few people out on the streets, and it was unlikely that Ren Fengyao would go to sleep immediately after eating. Would she have to prepare anything? Just as she was worrying over what to possibly bring, Chun Ri spoke.
“My lady, are we leaving just like this?”
Zi Yinye sighed in response. “What, are we going to parade there and announce our presence as we go?”
“Aiya, my lady, I** didn’t mean that. I** was thinking, shouldn’t we bring something because we’re visiting someone who’s sick?”
“Bring what?” Zi Yinye couldn’t help but laugh. “Chun Ri, if I were an outsider, it would only be proper to bring a gift, but you’ve forgotten I hold the status of his wife! Would someone bring a gift to see their own husband?”
Right, she was currently Madam Ren. Bring a gift when seeing “her husband”? How unnecessary, why would she try to make trouble for herself!
“My lady, it is because you are currently Madam Ren,” Chun Ri said, emphasizing on the words “Madam Ren”. “So you must show even more sincerity, not be half hearted. Are you really going to go empty handed?”
“Then what do you suppose I should do?” Zi Yinye said calmly.
“At the very least, soup or the like!”
“Soup? Chun Ri, supper has just ended. If we send soup, would he be able to finish it? What’s more, it would be prepared by some random servant, and what’s the point of putting on pretenses? I’m merely a pampered little rich girl, there’s no need for me to prepare it myself!”
“But my lady, in reality…” But seeing Zi Yinye’s expression darken, Chun Ri stopped midway and smiled helplessly. “My lady, doesn’t his lordship deserve your handmade food?”
“What do you think? Also, little Chun Ri, stop calling him ‘his lordship’. Is he your true master?”
“My lady!” Chun Ri stamped her foot. “My lady, I** know you have left your magnanimous heart for the people and do not harbor him in your heart. Originally, I** too believed no one in the world was worthy of you, but I have watched his every action closely ever since the marriage. From my** careful observations, I** have discovered his lordship is a good person, worthy of my lady entrusting herself to for a lifetime. My lady, you cannot stay like this your entire life. No matter what, my lady should be taken care of by a man.”
After she finished listening to Chun Ri with strained patience, Zi Yinye spoke. “Magnanimous heart? Chun Ri, your lady is not so grand nor ambitious. Promising brother Jianli to reunite the country is only my selfish wish. And as for letting a man take care of me, that’s not something that I can agree to if I want to, but if my heart agrees.
She paused, a glimpse of grief on her face. “I’ve seen the second and third wife fighting for favor, seen my mother’s hidden grief. I’ve seen my siblings arrogant and rude and I’ve lost my faith. In some aspects, Father is an admirable man, talented and handsome, but the more admirable a man, the more women around him. Chun Ri, you have followed me for many years and know I am prideful. I cannot stand eyesores and desire someone who will devote themselves only to me, someone who would stay by my side forever.”
“My lady…” Chun Ri watched Zi Yinye sorrowfully, not knowing what to say.
Zi Yinye laughed, desolation flickering across her eyes. “Chun Ri, in the future, do not watch after Ren Fengyao so closely. He is not easy to deal with. Careful that he obtains pertinent information relevant to us instead, preventing me from escaping. Sometimes the more talented one is, the more evil they are. And Ren Fengyao is likely much more outstanding than Father!”
Chun Ri remained silent for a while.
Zi Yinye reached out and patted her forehead. “Enough, weren’t you going to visit your lordship? Let’s go, what are you standing around here for. It’s almost dusk. If it’s too late, a visit will become an act of ‘seduction’!”
Fortunately, they did not cross paths with any passersby on the way. Standing before Ren Fengyao’s room, she let out a breath, then motioned to Chun Ri to knock on the door.
Light footsteps. The door clicked open. Zi Yinye had expected to see a servant but unexpectedly, it was one of the two beautiful mistresses from Beiqi, Qi Zhenniang. Mistress Qi Zhenniang also seemed surprised upon seeing Zi Yinye, but immediately, a disdainful and mocking smile surfaced.
“Oh, Madam! What led you to come here?”
Although she addressed her as “Madam”, Qi Zhenniang’s tone was not respectful whatsoever. On the contrary, her tone was somewhat sardonic. Zi Yinye glanced over briefly. “Yinye heard that Husband* had fallen ill and came to visit.”
Past Qi Zhenniang, the door was half open,.Zi Yinye found that Ren Fengyao’s room was stacked with books and manuscripts. He treated his room like a study? Or was the room originally a study?
Chun Ri had entered Ren Fengyao’s study before and knew that his bedroom was split into two compartments. The outer compartment was used in times of leisure, to read before sleeping but also for working on official business occasionally, while the inner compartment was the true bedroom. Not knowing whether he was asleep or not, Chun Ri raised her voice as she called out, “My lady is worried about his lordship’s condition, so she came specially to see him.”
“A servant dares to interrupt when her master is supposed to speak?” Qi Zhenniang scoffed, then said to Zi Yinye, “Did Madam really come to visit, or…” Sizing up Zi Yinye, Qi Zhenniang sneered. “Madam has already been married to his lordship for several months, however, his lordship has never expressed interest in Madam. Madam, could it be… It truly is a bit late. Has Madam thought of a method to win his lordship’s heart?”
Zi Yinye was at a loss for words, eyes widening in disbelief. After staring at Qi Zhenniang for a period of time, she said faintly, “Yinye truly came simply to see Husband’s* condition with no other intentions.”
“Oh, really? But Madam, you came empty handed for a sick visit?”
Zi Yinye lowered her eyes, hiding her anger and the glint in her eye. Qi Zhenniang continued on. “As expected of a pampered girl. Those jade hands have never cooked anything before. But since Madam has come, it can be seen that Madam truly worries for his lordship, it’s just a coincidence that the sky is a bit dark at the moment. His lordship has already fallen asleep. Please return, Madam! Or does Madam have any other business? His lordship’s condition is not well enough to be entreated of business.”
Understanding Qi Zhenniang’s implicit meaning, Zi Yinye was on the verge of exploding. With a deep intake of breath, she forced down her anger. When she raised her head, her eyes were tranquil once more. “Yinye was simply a bit worried. Fortunately, Husband* fine.”
“Madam does not need to overthink. Zhenniang thanks Madam for her concern on his lordship’s behalf. His lordship has I** to take care of him. Afterall, I** am more familiar with his daily activities and customs.”
Fist clenched, Zi Yine smiled at Qi Zhenniang, who had on a rictus smile. “Then Yinye shall return.”
She turned around confidently, walking away without so much as a glance. Chun Ri resisted the urge to slap Qi Zhenniang and hustled after Zi Yinye. She could tell from Zi Yinye’s rigid silhouette that she was on the verge of exploding with fury, so she followed Zi Yinye silently back to the residence. Quietly pouring a cup of tea and setting it down next to Zi Yinye, Chun Ri did not know what to say.
As she forcefully tried suppress her inner ire, Zi Yinye lifted the teacup, but before drinking, she smashed the teacup viciously onto the ground. She was so angry, her body shook as she spat out, “Don’t ever suggest seeing him again!”
“My lady…” Chun Ri said timidly.
“What a joke, I never expected to experience what I hated the most, a vixen striving for favor against me. She actually treated me as a fellow vixen! Ren Fengyao, who is he for me to be treated this way!”
Zi Yinye bit her lip, angered to an extreme. Tears swam in her eyes. Chun Ri was both shocked and terrified. She had never seen her lady cry before and was at a loss. “My lady, no-nobody said you were a vixen….”
Zi Yinye cut her off. “She did not say it,” Zi Yinye snarled, “But you saw her expression, her tone. I have never experienced such utter humiliation.”
Her face dark, Zi Yinye turned and walked towards the bed. “You should take your leave. From now on, never mention the name ‘Ren Fengyao’ in my presence ever again.”