Chapter 12: Farewell
True to her word, Zi Yinye never spoke of visiting Ren Fengyao, not even uttering the name “Ren Fengyao”. The servants all gossiped in secret over this, mostly unpleasant comments. Chun Ri was angered but didn’t dare to speak of it. Her lady’s cold face already made the days hard to endure. At the same time, the meaningful glances and comments of the servants left her depressed and she could not help but lay blame on Ren Fengyao.
It was the eighth day since Ren Fengyao had fallen ill. After lunch, Zi Yinye switched her garments. Although it was still simple yet elegant, Chun Ri felt it a bit peculiar. Was her lady planning on going out? Her lady cared about utility and comfort the most and never changed clothes.
“My lady, are you* going somewhere?”
“To say farewell!” Zi Yinye appeared to be in a good mood, her tone also cheerful.
“Farewell?” Chun Ri didn’t understand, staring blankly at Zi Yinye. Zi Yinye spoke. “This morning, the housekeeper came and informed me that the other courtyard is already prepared. I can move there in a few days.”
“Ah? My lady, are you going to see his lord – no, Ren, uh, that person?”
Zi Yinye laughed at Chun Ri’s cautious manner and reached out and pinched her cheek, smiling. “Yes, I’m going to see him.”
“You’re not angry at him any more?”
“Why would I be angry at him? It’s not like he was the one who angered me!”
Curling her lip, Chun Ri muttered quietly, “He didn’t anger you, but his woman did.”
“What did you just say?” Seeing Zi Yinye’s raised brow, Chun Ri broke into a grin. “Nothing. But my lady, his lordship is still unwell whereas you’re about to leave. Is it proper?”
“How is it improper?” Zi Yinye said as she walked towards the door. “What’s the point in staying here? It’s better to avoid certain gazes. Once I move away, she can move in. She’ll be satisfied, and I’ll be satisfied. I don’t wish for others to… Humph!”
Chun Ri had thought Zi Yinye had already cooled her temper, but it seems she still held a grudge. However, why did she sound like she was jealous? But although she thought this, Chun Ri did not dare to voice her thoughts. She followed after Zi Yinye closely. Only after a period of time did Chun Ri speak. “My lady, aren’t you going the wrong way? This isn’t the way to his lordship’s bedroom.”
“There’s no mistake! I already consulted the housekeeper. Ren Fengyao has improved much over the past few days so he is now usually in the warming pavilion or the study to work. Humph! He had become so sick he fainted, but instead of seizing the chance to rest, all he does is work. Serves him right!” After a pause, she continued. “Today is a bit cold and snow is possible. He should be in the warming pavilion, so we are going there.”
As Zi Yinye neared the warming pavilion, she heard a woman’s laughter from the distance. She continued on, although her expression was a bit grave and her eyes somewhat gloomy. She hoped no one else would…
Ren Fengyao’s warm voice leaked out, muffled. Chun Ri said, “My lady, are we going to knock on the door first?”
“For what? Would they do something shameful in the middle of the day?” Zi Yinye sneered. She did not want to be blocked at the door again. Rolling her eyes mockingly, she walked forward. The door half closed, Zi Yinye walked in without a second thought, but once she saw who were in the room, she froze. For a moment, she didn’t know how to respond.
In the room, Ren Fengyao half sat, half laid on a brocaded couch, a meager blanket covering him. Sitting next to the couch in luxurious clothes was Dongfang Rongfei. Meanwhile, another figure sat next to the fire. It was the venerable emperor, Dongfang Chao.
Upon Zi Yinye’s arrival, the three also froze, but Ren Fengyao said immediately, “Madam, why have you come?”
After coming back to her senses, Zi Yinye hurriedly kneeled. “Yinye greets his majesty, the emperor, and her highness, the princess.”
With her head lowered, Zi Yinye could only hear Dongfang Rongfei “Humph” once. Only after a while did she hear Dongfang Chao say, his voice clearly icy, “Get up!”
Zi Yinye slowly got up. Before she was fully standing, she heard Dongfang Rongfei. “Brother, just look at the result of the conferred marriage! Brother Ren was sick for so long, but she was not in the least concerned, humph!”
So that was why! They knew that she had not seen Ren Fengyao even though he was ill, not to mention take care of him. No wonder she sensed the emperor’s expression darkened the moment she entered, alas! Her luck sure was bad. If she mentioned moving out of the minister’s residence now, the emperor might ask for her head!
“Madam, is something the matter?” Evidently, Ren Fengyao was unwilling for Zi Yinye to stay for long, so he went straight to the point.
“The housekeeper informed Yinye the other courtyard is already prepared. Yinye came to…”
“Is that so,” Ren Fengyao laughed. “There was no need to inform me, you could have left just so. If you need anything, contact me through the housekeeper. I have been unwell the past few days, so I can’t help you much, I’m afraid. Take care!”
“Yes. Yinye shall take her leave.”
Seeing Zi Yinye was about to leave, Dongfang Chao said coldly, “Wait. Did I say you could go?”
Zi Yinye froze, coming to a halt. She lowered her eyes, silent. Ren Fengyao frowned and said softly, “Chao!”
He humphed and waved offhandedly. “Get out!”
After she “got out” through the door, Zi Yinye winked naughtily at Chun Ri’s worried face and whisked her away, walking away quickly. He had never liked her in the first place, but now she was definitely disfavored, alas! She couldn’t stay in Dongling for long; she had to find a way to escape even more quickly!
“My lady, why was the emperor was present?”
“How should I know? It’s not as if I’m an omniscient god or anything. If I had known he would be there, I would have avoided him at all costs. There’s no point in being angered meaninglessly.”
“But my lady, it doesn’t feel as if you’ve been angered.”
“Is it worth being angry at the idiotic emperor? In any case, I will be leaving Dongling in a few days. I, for one, won’t foolishly get angered over that stupid emperor. And only another fool like Ren Fengyao would be able to devote himself to the idiotic emperor, stupidly overreaching himself until he was sick.”
“But my lady, the reputation of the current emperor is pretty good. He is not some idiotic, useless monarch, but wise and astute!”
Zi Yinye gave a sideways glance. “Rumors are not reliable, understood? From what I’ve seen, the smartest thing he’s ever done is getting that stupid Ren Fengyao to slave away his life for him.”
“Pft,” Chun Ri giggled. “My lady, the emperor hasn’t done anything to anger you, why are you dislike him so much?”
“What? If it weren’t for him, would I be stuck in this situation?”
“My lady, you’re so petty!”
“Women are allowed to be petty! Don’t forget I’m also a woman!” Zi Yinye said fiercely, emphasizing on the word “women”.
“Haha, my lady, you sure have changed ever since getting married. Before, you were always so cold and aloof, not happy nor angry, barely any changes in your expression. But now, you have a variety of expressions.”
Zi Yinye stopped in her tracks. She had changed?
Inside the warm pavilion, Dongfang Chao’s expression was icy. “Why didn’t you let me give her a lesson?” he asked, his anger barely concealed.
“Yeah, brother Ren, why didn’t you…”
Ren Fengyao raised his hand, cutting off Dongfang Rongfei. “Chao, you came today as my friend,” he laughed. “As my friend, how can you just punish my wife whenever you want to?”
“Then it would be fine as the emperor?”
“Chao!” Ren Fengyao sighed inwardly. “Chao, our relationship is not what it seems. There are a few things you don’t know.”
“Don’t know? Then why don’t you tell me?” Dongfang Rongfei pouted.
He gave Dongfang Rongfei a sideways glance, then lowered his gaze. “How can a husband and wife’s private affairs be told so easily to an outsider? Little Rongfei, don’t try to meddle in such rubbish.”
Private matters?! You two have private matters as husband and wife? Dongfang Chao watched Ren Fengyao suspiciously, but seeing Ren Fengyao unpeturbed at his measuring gaze, Dongfang Chao felt Ren Fengyao was unreadable. After a while, unable discern any particular emotions from Ren Fengyao’s eyes, he lowered his gaze and sipped some tea. “Why don’t you divorce!”
“Yes, yes!” Dongfang Rongfei clapped her hands excitedly.
Ren Fengyao glimpsed at Dongfang Chao, his gaze still void of emotions and unreadable.
“You’re unhappy and she won’t take care of you. I need a person who can…”
“You need? Is it your wife of mine?” Ren Fengyao seemingly smiled, his eyes glaring at Dongfang Chao. Dongfang Chao became conscious he had overstepped his bounds and shut up. “Since when was I unhappy? As for taking care of me, the minister’s residence has so many servants, is there even a need for a weak little girl to personally help?”
“Brother Ren, y-you’re actually protecting her. You, you…” Dongfang Rongfei’s eyes widened.
Ren Fengyao smiled calmly. “She is my wife. Why wouldn’t I protect her?”
Her voice quivered with shock, her complexion paling. “You… You’ve fallen for her?”
Ren Fengyao smiled faintly without a word. It was the same expression he had a few days prior during princess Xie’s birthday banquet, the one Dongfang Chao had not understood. Dongfang Chao frowned. “Enough, do as you will. If the day comes when you don’t want her, I* will give permission as the emperor for your divorce.”
Haha! That was the phrase he had been waiting for! They would definitely divorce and become free, but not now. It was not the right time. If they left now, with Chao’s personality, Chao would definitely immediately find another woman. In that case, it was better to simply shelter Zi Yinye. Most importantly, she did not love him, making it easier to break free unburdened.
“No, you cannot love her, you…”
“Rongfei!” Dongfang Rongfei’s hysterical words were cut off coldly. She looked grieved, tears glimmered in her eyes, but seeing Ren Fengyao remain aloof, she lowered her gaze, silent. But she couldn’t help but stamp her foot then dash out the door.
With a helpless sigh, Dongfang Chao stood up. “Take care of yourself. I’m going to to go look after Rongfei. She has been too spoiled by me and Mother, but you were also… Whatever, you heartless man.”
As Dongfang Chao turned away and left, Ren Fengyao smiled. “Come in. Aren’t you cold, watching from outside?” he said to the window.
In a flash, Leng Canxing, in black garments, sat where Dongfang Chao had been sitting moments before, eyes filled with glee. “Senior brother, you really must have a heart of stone. The princess is, afterall, a beauty. You…”
Ren Fengyao raised a brow. “You have feelings for her? Then just pursue her.”
“But the person she likes isn’t me! Senior brother, you are quite protective of the seventh lady.”
“What? Should I not be protective and let the emperor to divorce us whenever he pleases?” Ren Fengyao watched Leng Canxing. “Or is it that you want to see another marriage here and block alcohol shots again?”
“That’s true. It’s possible the next one wouldn’t already have a sweetheart like the seventh lady. Perhaps they wouldn’t let you go. At that point, you would have no choice but to accept them as your wife. But then again, if the next Madam Ren knew of your inability to engage with women before the age of thirty, who knows if she would be able to endure. You’re still five years away from thirty years, alas! A fairly long time!”
Ren Fenyao’s gaze turned cold. “Canxing, are you bored? Do you need me to assign you work?”
“Haha!” Canxing laughed. With another flash, he was outside the door. At the same time he teased, “No, I’m going to visit the Madam Ren who is able to endure and see if she needs help.”
Ren Fengyao shook his head, bemused. Although this junior brother of his had a cold face, he was warm hearted. His handsome countenance was always placid. Only when they were alone, the two fellow disciples, would he show his true nature, a little naughty. Recalling Leng Canxing’s words, Ren Fengyao frowned. After Zi Yinye moved to a different residency, would Chao use that as an excuse to have them divorce? It seems he would have to come up with a plan to continue the marriage.