Chapter 38: Guilt
“Right, senior brother,” Leng Canxing suddenly remembered. “Based off of our intel, Nanrong and Xili sent men to Zhi nation. Perhaps some of those unknown people have appeared near her. If they search for her origin, she will be in danger!”
“They won’t be able to find anything. I just said I would give her the sky, so I won’t let anyone know about her existence before Wutian. I have already ordered men to erase all traces of her previous life.”
Leng Canxing gazed at Ren Fengyao in disbelief. “Senior brother, you… You did so much for her silently, but…” Leng Canxing smiled mischievously, “You must have done this mostly because you were afraid they would know her gender, correct?”
Ren Fengyao did not respond, his eyes flickering. He returned to his desk and sat down, picking up a sheet of paper. Leng Canxing scooched over. “Senior brother, she really is not like a girl. This doesn’t seem to be written by a girl at all. Her actions are said to be very manly as well. Anyone who didn’t know would never guess she is a girl! Senior brother, I had wondered why you had been so calm when so many outstanding men appeared at her side. You already were on your guard it seems! If they do not know her gender, they will naturally not fall for her!”
Ren Fengyao humphed. “Who knows? I didn’t say that!”
Leng Canxing laughed. “Senior brother, don’t underestimate. Right now, the only people who know her identity are Du Luo, Hua Jianli, and that king, Wen Yuanbo. Out of these three, Du Luo was your biggest threat, because it was very likely he is that ‘young master Du’ sister in law mentioned, which is why you investigated him. That day, when you asked him if he knew of the agreement between you and sister in law, you were feeling him out. His baffled response showed that sister in law and him merely had a platonic relationship. That was why you made the deal with Du Luo. Hua Jianli is the one who has known sister in law the longest, but sister in law has never harbored feelings for him for such a long period of time, meaning the probability of her falling for him in the future is very little. That leaves Wen Yuanbo. He is a very important, busy man, so he has no time to think of love. Once he has time, however, you will…”
“Canxing, are you bored?” Ren Fengyao raised a brow, asking Leng Canxing this question with a bright smile.
Canxing immediately shut up. But then he smiled mischievously again. “Senior brother, I’m just praising you. As expected of the prime minister of Dongling, not overlooking anything!” Hopefully you did not overlook anything, or else…
Emotions are never absolute. They are the most out of our control, what hurts us the most.
Ren Fengyao seemed to be smiling yet not smiling as he looked at Leng Canxing. “Canxing, it seems you really are bored, so bored that you are trying to guess my thoughts.”
“No, no, senior brother, I am just saying nonsense, definitely not your true thoughts.” Seeing Ren Fengyao’s smile deepen, Leng Canxing hurriedly sat more upright, then changed the subject. “Oh right, senior brother, West Zhi will fall into her grasp soon. Once East and West Zhi unify, won’t all the other countries… What will you do, senior brother? The emperor will order you to send troops…”
Ren Fengyao cast a sideways glance. His smile disappeared. “Who said Zhi nation will reunite immediately? Do you think she is stupid? If she didn’t know what would happen after the unification, she wouldn’t have secretly infiltrated Wutian. In truth, the real reason why I am hiding her traces is so that others will not find out the connection between her and Wen Yuanbo.”
Leng Canxing stared at Ren Fengyao, thinking to himself, senior brother is doing more than he needs to. If her connection to Wen Yuanbo was exposed, wouldn’t everything she has done go to naught? She would naturally return to senior brother’s side.
But although Leng Canxing’s thoughts were written on his face, Ren Fengyao did not say anything. He knew that if Ye Yin’s intentions were exposed, she would partake in an even more difficult battle and definitely not return. If he said he would give her the sky, then he would give her the sky!
The study fell silent. No one knew that the subject of their conversation had fallen into the greatest trap of her life.
On the sixth day of the sixth month, Qi Chengfeng was sliced up beyond recognition and died. Chu Feiye escaped with heavy wounds, but he did not seem to have returned to Jiangyou. All traces of him disappeared. Hua Jianli sealed off all routes to Jiangyou, so although Chu Feiye survived, he is unable to regain his power. As for all the high ranked officers the county lords brought, they nearly all died. Ye Yin even sent men after the survivors, not sparing a single soul.
Ye Yin erased all evidence of his involvement, leaving all evidence pointed towards those two instead. On the surface, it seemed that because those two had fought over a women, they sacrificed many talents and lives.
Anyone who knew the truth died. No one knew that in reality, a scholarly youth had been the cause of it all and would even become the person they admired the most.
The soldiers of Lequan and Jiangyou felt resentment towards their superiors who had wasted so many lives for a mere woman. The remaining officials were unable to suppress such emotions. Under such chaos, taking control is easy, so under Ye Yin’s manipulation, Hua Jianli quickly took over all of Lequan and Jiangyou.
Everything was almost over!
The West Zhi emperor could sense a distinct loss in power, but he did not struggle till the end. The main battle was over, yet Ye Yin sank into an unprecedented low.
“Little Qi, are you really not going?” Hua Jianli asked worriedly.
Inside a small courtyard, Ye Yin calmly sat in a chair. “No, there’s no need for me to go. Right now, the north has Zhu Ziliang leading the way whereas you have the south. This war does not need any further strategizing, so I will not go to only be a hinderance. I am also tired now and want to rest.”
“I am sorry, Little Qi!”
Ye Yin was shocked. “Brother Jianli, what are you saying sorry for! You have not dong anything…”
But Hua Jianli broke Ye Yin off. “Little Qi, it is all my fault. I should not have involved you with Zhi nation’s conflict. It not for me, you wouldn’t be so exhausted. You are still a young lady. If it were not for me, you wouldn’t need to…”
“Take a look at yourself! You have such a weak expression again! Brother Jianli, didn’t I say before that I was delighted to help you reunite the country? Why are you…” Ye Yin laughed. “Brother Jianli, I do not regret. I have never regretted, because I have my own motives. I wanted to see the extent of my ability.”
Ye Yin was smiling, but Hua Jianli gave Ye Yin a hard, long look. “But Little Qi, you are not truly happy. I know you are feeling guilt for the deaths of so many people and for Rouge. You…”
Ye Yin’s smile froze, but did not disappear. He sighed faintly. “I do lament the deaths of so many people, but I have never regretted. Although many were talented, they would only be a future hinderance if they lived, so they could only be eliminated. I only feel guilt for Rouge.”
“You did not do anything wrong! No one expected Qi Chengfeng to lay his hands on her on the road. He should have been using his all to flee home, yet… Little Qi, it was not your wrong!”
Ye Yin’s gaze deepened. He quietly watched Hua Jianli, his voice ice cold. “No. In truth, I did think of the possibility. Qi Chengfeng is very possessive and impulsive. He cannot stand other’s incitement. At Intoxicated Dream, I deliberately showed the intimacy between me and Rouge for him to rouse him to capture her. At that time, I suspected it was very likely for him to take his anger out on Rouge. Brother Jianli, I’ve destroyed Rouge with my own hands.”
“Little Qi, even if that is true, you do not need to blame herself. For her revenge, Rouge willingly cooperated with you. You have eliminated her enemies as well, so she will not blame you.”
Ye Yin shook his head. “No, brother Jianli, you don’t understand. You do not understand the importance of purity for women. My true sin is that even if I were present, I would have watched on emotionlessly as she was raped. I would not have shown myself nor sent others to save her. Chu Feiye is a very paranoid man. I could not allow any chance of suspicion. There was only one opportunity to take down Qi Chengfeng and Chu Feiye, so I could only sacrifice Rouge. I sent men to follow Qi Chengfeng at a distance and ordered no interference regardless the situation. They were there to kill the survivors. Brother Jianli, I have become someone ruthless, someone willing to do anything for their own ends! But still I do not regret.”
“Little Qi…” Hua Jianli stared at blankly at Ye Yin. He opened his mouth to speak, his gaze laden with grief, but did not say a word. He should not have brought such a weak youth to the chaotic battlefields of war. It was he who burdened the youth with so many lives, so pained he was, yet he could not speak of his anguish.
“I am sorry, Little Qi,” Hua Jianli said raspily. “Rouge would definitely not blame you. When we held our strategizing meeting, she agreed to give herself to Chu Feiye, and perhaps even to Qi Chengfeng… So Little Qi, right now she is only… Think about it – in a way, she had escaped a possible calamity, otherwise she may have been tainted by not one, but two men,” Hua Jianli said dismissively.
Ye Yin shook his head. “It is not the same. Although we first planned for her to ** the two men at the same time, at that time, her heart was dead. She was too numb, willing to accept any fate, so she would not have been wounded as much, but being violated is different. Did you know how her gaze lit up so brightly when we determined she did not have to give herself to the two men? Her flame rekindled, believing she could preserve her purity, but… Brother Jianli, I know how much terror she must have felt, her despair as her calls for help were in vain, the deepness of her wounds. I destroyed her!”
“Little Qi, you… You should not blame yourself like that. Rouge originally planned on using her body for revenge, which was why she joined Intoxicated Dream. This was the path she chose, completely unrelated to you.”
Ye Yin sighed. “Yes, she chose that path, but I gave her false hope. Rouge was originally of the the literati class, meaning from birth, she has been taught that purity is more important than her life. She went to Intoxicated Dream with all other paths cut off, living only for revenge. Do you know how cold she was on stage that day? How emotionless, so emotionless it was heartbreaking, but…” Ye Yin did not continue, laughing. “Brother Jianli, go quickly! You don’t need to care for me. I am actually very tired, so I want to rest before thinking of our next move. I also want to stay here to guard her until she leaves that room.”
Hua Jianli nodded. “Alright, but I will be worried if only you and Rouge stay here. Why not allow me to find some people to…”
“What are you worried about? Chu Feiye has already been chased to Xili. No one will pay attention to a nobody like me, and it seems that Rouge is unwilling to see anyone, so don’t waste your time.”
“But you already sent away Qiu Xing and Chun Ri, so no one is at your side. Who will take care of you? Why don’t you ask either Chun Ri or Qiu Xing to return?”
Ye Yin laughed. “Did you think I grew up a pampered lady, everything handed to me? I have my own hands, I don’t need someone to take care of me. Without Chun Ri and Qiu Xing, my hearing becomes clearer! You should stop wasting your time worrying, just let me enjoy my days quietly.”