Chapter 16: Letter
The new year arrived silently. Because Ren Fengyao was still recuperating, nobody came to disturb him, so the year passed by peacefully. During this time, Ren Fengyao suggested accompanying Zi Yinye to the Zi clan to see her parents, but Zi Yinye refused quite ingeniously while still maintaining the impression her standing was low at the Zi clan. Only later would Ren Fengyao be aware that Zi Yinye was a special existence in the Zi clan, so special even the lord of the house, Zi Zuoqian, did not dare to touch her in the slightest. If Zi Yinye did not want to appear in the public, Zi Zuoqian would not dare to request her to appear. Only, once he became aware of this, it was already too late.
After the New Year passed, Zi Yinye patiently waited three months for the Spring Hunt to arrive. Ren Fengyao’s health had improved greatly at this point, and it seemed he would move away soon. This made her very happy. Then one day, when a letter arrived, Zi Yinye’s mood soared.
Unfolding the letter, Zi Yinye beamed with joy. She couldn’t help but raise her voice. “Chun Ri, it’s brother Du! Brother Du finally sent a letter! Wonderful! I was afraid he was going to ignore me forever and never contact me again.”
Seeing her lady loud and excited, Chun Ri also became happy. “Ok, ok already. My lady, you’re so happy that young master Du’s letter has arrived.”
“Of course. I’m most happy when brother Du sends letters.”
“But stop twirling me around with you, I’m about to go dizzy,” Chun Ri laughed. Sometimes, her lady would seem very childish.
Releasing Chun Ri, Zi Yinye humphed quietly in a playful manner. She sat down, reading the letter carefully. Chun Ri carefully poured her a cup of tea, then left quietly. Young master Du was finally willing to contact her lady. Did that mean he was not feeling so guilty towards her any more? Her lady had few friends, so her lady treasured her two friends, young master Du and young master Hua. Chun Ri got up to do her busy work, not noticing a figure who had stopped outside of the east courtyard’s entrance. He stood there for a while, then turned around, going back from where he had come.
“Young master, didn’t you go to see the seventh lady?”
Ren Fengyao shook his head. “Not any more.”
So this young master Du actually existed! Although he appeared placid, he was thinking rapidly. Originally, he hadn’t believed this young master Du actually existed, especially because he had never seen Zi Yinye contacting young master Du, but today…. It sounded like this young master Du hadn’t contacted the seventh lady because he was angry, probably from a misunderstanding. It seems he had to be quicken his pace and let the pitiful seventh lady be freed faster.
Zi Yinye was not aware that Ren Fengyao had come and in the process, also dispelled his suspicions. She happily put the letter away, then quickly wrote a letter in reply for Chun Ri to send out. Zi Yinye leaned back with satisfaction. Outside the window was still a blanket of white. Only, a few buds on the trees were starting to blossom. Spring was coming.
Some say that men and women can never truly have pure, platonic relationships, but she and Du Luo truly were simply friends. Sometimes Du Luo was like her older brother, but most of the time, they were friends, purely just friends without any special emotions.
Du Luo was a wandering swordsman. They had met through chance, yet it was also somewhat inevitable. Their first meeting was a little cliché, the crappy hero-saving-damsel-in-distress scenario. Actually, at that time, she didn’t really need anyone’s help, and Du Luo isn’t the type to rescue damsels in distress, but the moment their gazes met by chance, there was a resonance. It was as if their friendship was preordained, only requiring one glance to recognize. As a result, Du Luo, who normally disregarded people, gave a hand and helped Zi Yinye when she did not need saving. After a glance and a laugh, they became extremely good friends.
A gentleman’s friendship is as weak as water*, but their relationship was not truly as weak as water because neither she nor Du Luo were gentlemen. However, they were not fiery either. Du Luo wandered all year round whereas she was only travel every few months for a only a few days, then return before anyone from the Zi clan found out, so they did not see each other often. Sometimes, Du Luo would secretly come to the Zi clan and the two would enjoy a drink together while she listened to his experiences. Sometimes, she would go to visit Du Luo, traveling about and sleeping outside for a few days, experiencing the world.
*A Chinese saying. Back then, the nobility only care about superficial relationships, which are easily broken.
Unfortunately, the harmony was broken a year ago. Her hand went to her left chest. There, there was a pink scar. A tribeswoman who was in love with Du Luo was envious and attacked her. That one strike almost took her life. It was this strike that caused Du Luo to evade her, escaping far away out of guilt. Ever since then, there had been no news until now.
Finally back! Zi Yinye smiled happily, a brilliant smile blossoming on her lips. When Chun Ri came back after sending the letter, she had an intake of breath. What a beautiful smile! How long has it been since her lady had smiled like this? Perhaps almost a year!
“My lady, you…”
Zi Yinye replied, “Chun Ri, have you sent the letter?”
Chun Ri nodded, then said hesitantly, “My lady, there is a question that Chun Ri has been meaning to ask…”
“My lady, are you and young master Du Luo…?”
Zi Yinye already knew what she meant even with words left unsaid. She smiled brilliantly. “Chun Ri, not all the men and women in the world love each other. I and Du Luo are only friends. You don’t understand that feeling, the feeling that with one look, you have known each other for thousands of years. Brother Du understands me and I understand brother Du. We understand each other’s preferences, personality, way of thinking, but because we are too familiar, we will not fall in love with each other. At most, we are intimate friends, best friends who will support each other without fail. In truth, it is more suitable for men to be friends with women than women to be friends with women.”
”But young master Du, he… He caused you such a deep injury, and you almost…”
Zi Yinye sighed quietly. “If even you think this way, how could brother Du not feel guilt? The situation last year could have been avoided, which is exactly why brother Du does not dare to meet or contact me. I understand his guilt, but I dislike it. If I were him, perhaps I would disappear forever!”
“Then, my lady, what did young master Du say?”
“He said he is currently in Xili, still traveling. It’s possible he will return in a few months.”
“In a few months? But, my lady, by that time…”
Zi Yinye smiled mischievously. “How dare he be gone without a word for over a year, causing me so much worry. How can a friend be like that? So as a punishment, I am going to make him worried too. But with brother Du’s intellect, he should be able to sense something is wrong and find me.”
But she never would have thought her joke would almost take Ren Fengyao’s life.
Spring. Fertile, lush earth, hints of green sprouting. On the sides of the road, the trees were budding to reveal small leaves, like naughty children peeking out to examine the lively world.
The Spring Hunt had arrived! Thinking of how the plan was going to come into fruition, Zi Yinye felt both anticipation and tension. The day had come!
Inside the carriage, Zi Yinye looked outside the window. Clear azure skies with no clouds, what a good day! Fit for hunting and fit for…
Farther in the distance were flapping banners, the emperor’s guards, armored in black, awe inspiring. How ostentatious.
Smiling faintly, Zi Yinye cast a curious gaze towards the man in cyan who was currently riding and conversing with the emperor. It seems he favored the color cyan. Besides formal official wear, he seemed to always wear a common cyan garment. Although it was simple, when he wore it, there seemed to be an imposing aura. Today, it seems he had switched to cyan rider’s clothes for the occasion, adding a youthful energy to his normally refined air, unlike his usual old, fatigued appearance, something more suiting his twenty something age. It had been a while since they had last seen each other, but he seemed well. It seems her efforts had been effective. Looking down at her clearly worn hands, she felt some anger. In order to get rid of the pestilence, she had spent quite an effort. Hopefully today everything would be settled!
Sighing quietly, Zi shifted her gaze back to Ren Fengyao. Dongfang Rongfei was continuously chattering about around him, appearing charming and friendly. Many womenfolk had come to attend the Spring Hunt this time. With all the concubines and wives of officials, along with the squadrons of men and horses, it was bustling with noise and excitement. But for the most part, the women were all seated inside carriages. The only woman on horseback was the strong willed princess, of course. Naturally, Zi Yinye understood. On horseback, she could be closer to Ren Fengyao. Conversing outside was much better than being inside the stuffy carriage. Zi Yinye withdrew into the carriage gloomily. Riding on horseback was uneven while sitting in the swaying carriage was also uncomfortable, alas! How she longed for the transportation of her previous life! Fast and convenient! What a pity… After a self-mocking laugh, Zi Yinye’s mind started to wander. It had been such a long time since she had recalled her previous life.
The rest of the journey, Zi Yinye remained withdrawn inside the carriage, so she did not see Dongfang Rongfei as she turned around to shoot pleased expressions from time to time. Instead, Chun Ri, who had been constantly looking out excitedly, had a sullen expression.
“What, why is your expression so ugly?” Zi Yinye looked up at her.
“My lady, that princess, she… she’s utterly…”
Zi Yinye immediately understood what Chun Ri was angry about. Smiling, she said, “Does she keep on looking back with a delighted expression?” Seeing Chun Ri nod, Zi Yinye continued, “I already anticipated this. If she didn’t, it would be strange!”
“My lady, you’re not angry?”
“Why would I be angry? She is doing that because of Ren Fengyao and is intentionally trying to make me jealous. If I truly liked Ren Fengyao, then perhaps I would be angry, but right now, why would I get angry at someone irrelevant?”
Chun Ri helplessly watched the relaxed Zi Yinye and secretly sighed in her heart. It seems her lady and his lordship had no chance of a relationship.