Chapter 13: Nursing
It had only been five or six days since they had moved to the other courtyard in the outskirts of the capital, but Zi Yinye had already felt how much more carefree and satisfying the days were. Although she had married Ren Fengyao for only little more than two months, she had felt the days crawl by at a snail’s pace. Now, she didn’t need to wear a mask and had room to breath.
The courtyard was northwest of the capital, built near a mountain. It was only an hour away from Minjing and was in a secluded area, a few different species of trees planted at the front. Etched powerfully on a sign above the courtyard was “Lifeng*”, presumably carved in by Ren Fengyao himself.
*means something like “free/independent style/tastes/wind” but in a much more profound way.
Lifeng courtyard was somewhat small. The difference between it and Ren Fengyao’s minister residence at Minjing was the difference between the sky and earth. The minister residence was so large, traversing the entirety of it required half a day, whereas Lifeng was comprised of only two lateral courts, one east, one west. Although she did not know if Lifeng courtyard was purchased by Ren Fengyao himself or bestowed to him by the emperor, Zi Yinye couldn’t help but admire his tastes. Lifeng courtyard’s elaborate arrangements were admirable. The courtyard’s interior was not particularly complicated with a long corridor, towers and pavilions, but the exquisite garden with lush bamboo as well as the varying decorations in each room exhibited refinement.
But only after a few days, her free and happy days were ruined by Ren Fengyao again. Was the heavens purposefully making her life difficult? Why did he also move?
Chun Ri watched on gloomily. Her lady had not spoken for nearly an entire afternoon. She said timidly, “My lady, there is no point in continuing to be angry. His lordship has already moved in, and there is no way you can force him out.”
Zi Yinye humphed coldly.
Chun Ri continued, “My lady, truthfully, his lordship is a very good man. He has never tried to make things difficult for us. Although he moved in, he is recuperating in the western lateral court, whereas you are in the east, so in any case, you two will not meet. If it’s too much, just pretend he doesn’t exist.”
“Enough. How can I pretend that such an important figure doesn’t exist?” Zi Yinye said hatefully. “He’s as annoying as a ghost unwilling to give up living. What’s he here for when he was recuperating perfectly well in the minister residence! After only a few days of happiness… humph!”
“There’s no alternative! Who could control his lordship from fainting at court! The emperor was so shocked, he ordered no one to disturb his lordship’s recuperation and would not allow his lordship to work at all before recovering. But, my lady, as you also know, the minister’s residence is not a place fit for recovering. Thus, his lordship moved here.”
“Sucks for him!” Zi Yinye’s expression brightened, her anger visibly gone. She was smiling yet not smiling as she said, “Little Chun Ri, you seem to be continuously speaking on behalf of Ren Fengyao! In just two months, your heart has been captured?”
Chun Ri’s expression instantly darkened upon Zi Yinye’s teasing. “My lady, you… I…”
Seeing Chun Ri on the verge of tears, her eyes watery, Zi Yinye recognized that Chun Ri was genuinely angered and got up hurriedly to placate her. “Aiya, Chun Ri, you’re angry? I was just teasing you!”
“My lady, Chun Ri has followed you ever since we were young. Is my lady completely unaware of Chun Ri’s feelings?” Zi Yinye could not see Chun Ri’s expression as her head was lowered. She frantically stood up and pulled Chun Ri’s arm. “I know, I know. How could I not know? Your every move is for my behalf. Sorry, Chun Ri. I was really just teasing you just now, please stop being angry.”
“My lady, don’t make that kind of joke ever again. Chun Ri can’t stand it.” She raised her head. “If my lady was safe and happy forever, Chun Ri would be happy.”
Zi Yinye was deeply aware of the girl’s devotion and didn’t know what to say. She only sighed, “Chun Ri…”
“My lady,” Chun Ri continued, “Chun Ri truly believes his lordship is a good man and hopes my lady and he will…”
She waved offhandedly to cut Chun Ri off, and then sat back down on the chair. “Enough, you’re speaking up for him again. I understand what you’re thinking, but the heart is not something that can be controlled. What’s more, I do not think he is any good! That guy is stupidly loyal, fickle, and untrustworthy!”
“Is he not? We already agreed for me to live alone at this courtyard, yet… He doesn’t keep his promises! After I took just one step into this house, he’s moved in after me, like he’s afraid of me stealing or the like, breaking his promise!”
Seeing Zi Yinye’s lip curled unwilling, Chun Ri couldn’t help but laugh. “My lady, I feel like it’s fortunate his lordship moved in. I’ve never seen you with such an angry expression before! I remember you were very mature at a young age, as if you already knew what the future would bring, your expression bored as if you had already seen the world, neither happy nor sad, nothing able to move your heart. Many times I was afraid you would become a monk, moving away to cultivate in seclusion. But now, I’ve seen you laugh and get angry. I really am thankful to his lordship for this.”
Zi Yinye was taken aback. It was the second time Chun Ri had spoken such words to her. Was it true that Ren Fengyao had changed her? Perhaps! With Ren Fengyao’s presence, countless situations out of her control had appeared. Before, she was able to have a firm grasp over every aspect of her life, everything developing as she wished, but now, her life was gradually leaving her control. She did not approve of this! She had to find a method to return to her previous lifestyle and discard Ren Fengyao!
“My lady, what are you thinking about?”
Zi Yinye snapped out of her deep thought. “I was thinking about how to ask that pest to go away.”
“My lady, you, you’re going to kick his lordship out?””
She rolled her eyes at Chun Ri. “Kick him out? Am I crazy? Do I have that capability? He has already moved in and furthermore, this is his own land. Making him get out? Am I crazy?”
“The how is my lady planning on “ask[ing]” his lordship to go away?” Chun Ri emphasized on the word “asking”, looking towards Zi YInye.
Zi Yinye propped up her chin, saying slowly, “If he’s here because he’s sick, then he’ll leave after he recovers.”
Chun Ri did not understand what her lady meant. “Whatever. My lady, I’m going to go prepare dinner.”
Zi Yinye watched on as Chun Ri left. Chun Ri’s mutter came from outside the door. “I thought my lady had thought of a good move, but… what does she mean by ‘he’ll leave after he recovers’, is that rubbish?”.
Zi Yinye smiled faintly at Chun Ri’s mutter. She looked out the window. He would leave after recovering, so she just needed for him to recover faster!
The next day, Zi Yinye was accompanied by Chun Ri to the western lateral courtyard specially for visiting Ren Fengyao. This time, only Leng Canxing and Mo Bai were there, so she was not blocked by anyone. Ren Fengyao’s complexion was fairly good, but Zi Yinye left hurriedly after a short while. There was nothing she could discuss with Ren Fengyao and she disliked acting pitiful all the time. Zi Yinye was also afraid Ren Fengyao’s sharp eyes would be able to see through her act. There seemed to be a strange hint of a smile in his eyes when he gazed at her.
Not long after returning to the eastern lateral courtyard, Zi Yinye pulled back her sleeves and walked into the kitchen, leaving Chun Ri with quite a shock. “Miss, you… you’re going to the kitchen? You haven’t entered the kitchen for three years, why are you…?”
After she finished prepping ingredients haphazardly, Zi Yinye said helplessly, “I don’t want to, but if I don’t, who knows how long the pest in the west will be sick! If I want him to recover and leave by his own will, then he should recover faster!”
“Then, my lady, you’re planning on… Oho, it turns out you went to see his lordship to see how to treat him. I was wondering why you would be so kind as to pay his lordship a visit.” Chun Ri shook her head smiling wistfully.
Zi Yinye curled her lip. She didn’t say anything, only chopping the prepped ingredients viciously. Chun Ri lowered her head and smiled. “My lady, are you planning on preparing medicinal cuisine to nurse his lordship back to health?”
Zi Yinye sighed and nodded. “He fell ill from overworking himself and needs to be nursed back to health slowly. When I left, I glanced at what medicine he was taking secretly. The medicine he’s taking only enriches blood and Qi. The medicine is high quality, but… His body has been worn down for a while. The effects will be too late relying only on those medicine, so I need to add some medicinal effects to this cuisine. Only with these different types of medicine attacking the illness at two angles will he recover faster.”
“His lordship’s illness actually requires my lady to personally cook? His lordship sure is lucky. My lady, how long has it been since you personally cooked anything?”
“Little Chun Ri, are you taking joy in my misfortune?” Zi Yinye shot a glare at Chun Ri. She handed over the finished medicinal cuisine to Chun Ri. “I was only able to prepare a soup with those ingredients. Bring it over and tell him it was you who made the medicinal cuisine to help his body recuperate. Also, say you will prepare all of his meals from now on.”
“My lady, don’t you want to tell him it’s you who made it?” Chun Ri asked, feeling it was strange.
Zi Yinye flicked Chun Ri’s forehead. “Idiot, I’m supposed to be a pampered, wealthy little girl. How would I know how to make medicinal cuisine? Do you want me to expose myself!”
“Oh!” Chun Ri responded, then turned around, leaving. Zi Yinye called after her, “Chun Ri, be careful when you speak, don’t expose us!”
Chun Ri nodded as she left. Zi Yinye heaved a sigh of relief. She had learned medicinal cuisine from her previous life. Recalling recipes left her somewhat sorrowed. She was not allowed to do anything besides cook in the past, but now… Even with all her expertise, she was unable to control her fate.
The soup Zi Yinye had simmered over the stove suited Ren Fengyao’s tastes very well and also had medicinal properties, so Ren Fengyao handed over the responsibility of cooking all his meals to Chun Ri. On the other end, Zi Yinye was immediately in need of ingredients. She laid out a variety of ingredients, planning on which ingredients to send one of Ren Fengyao’s people to procure.
Originally, the ingredients only had to be procured by a servant and Zi Yinye had not planned on leaving the courtyard, but once she glimpsed through the trees and saw which outsider was unable to enter, she changed her plan.
The afternoon the day Ren Fengyao had moved in, Zi Yinye discovered a barrier had been cast around the surrounding foliage, the core of the barrier the stone guardian lion at the entrance. In fact, when she had first arrived, she had sensed there was something peculiar with the forest, but she had not expected that someone was actually using magic to plant them. Normally, nothing would seem out of the ordinary, but once a spell was cast, there was a mirage effect.
After Ren Fengyao moved in, the small stone guardian lion was shifted over slightly, which created the dizzying undulations from the trees. People inside could leave, but outsiders could not enter. The barrier was for preventing others from disturbing! She wondered whether it was Ren Fengyao who had casted the barrier or if it was Leng Canxing. Fortunately, she had learned many fields when she was young. Otherwise, she would not have been able to notice such a minute detail.
Zi Yinye chuckled as she watched the worried person who was unable to enter. Tomorrow, she definitely had to go out herself. How could she let such a good opportunity go?