Chapter 56: Reflection of the Past
“Who said she died?”
Dongfang Chao was utterly at a loss for words. He then heard Ren Fengyao say in deadly earnest, “She lives forever in my heart.”
Dongfang Chao immediately exploded with anger, his sleeves flapping as he gestured madly, “You… you stubborn fool! Just stay here and have a good reflection of what you’ve done wrong.”
“No matter how much time passes, my response shall be the same. So you majesty, there is no need for you to come here again.”
Dongfang Chao froze at Dongfang Chao’s calm words. A sense of powerlessness immediately took hold of his entire body. Just when he was about to speak, there was the tearful cry of a girl. “Brother Ren, why do you not want me?”
“Rongfei? You… why are you here?” Dongfang Chao was startled to discover Dongfang Rongfei outside the prison door.
But Dongfang Rongfei did not answer Dongfang Chao, her tearful eyes fixated on Ren Fengyao. “Brother Ren, tell me, why do you not like me?”
Ren Fengyao seemed unswayed by her tearstained face and red eyes. He said calmly, “There is no logical reason for liking or not liking a person. Princess Rongfei, we do not suit each other.”
“Then who suits you? That already dead ugly person?” Dongfang Rongfei’s voice raised to a feverish pitch.
“She is not ugly!” Ren Fengyao calmly stressed. “She truly is not ugly.”
“Are you going to say that she is the most beautiful in your heart?” Dongfang Rongfei stared at Ren Fengyao, biting her lip. “Ren Fengyao, you’re too unreasonable! How could you compare me to a useless, ugly woman!”
Ren shook his head, saying calmly, “If is not that I compare you to her, but that you compare yourself to her. There is nothing to be compared between you to. Rongfei, find someone who genuinely likes you from the bottom of their heart.”
Dongfang Rongfei stared at Ren Fengyao fixedly for some time, then turned away haughtily. “Indeed, how could she compare to me? But Ren Fengyao, you will regret. You will definitely regret.”
Watching as Dongfang Rongfei left with feigned strength, Dongfang Chao let out a long sigh. He said to Ren Fengyao, “Jing Xuan, you truly are a cold hearted person. At the time, if it were not for Chuqiu, you would not have helped me ascend the throne.”
Ren Fengyao’s eyes widened. He slowly closed his eyes, expressionless as he said, “So that is what you think.”
“Is that not so?” Dongfang Chao abruptly turned around, his voice filled with intense grievance. “Every time I mention your name before Chuqiu, her gaze becomes very different. She becomes more happy, has more questions, all her questions about you! Have you never noticed the way she looks at you? You haven’t. But I have. Her gaze towards you is always filled with hidden unwillingness and passion, but she has never looked at me like that. I know if that event did not happen in the past, perhaps today you two would… You were previously childhood sweethearts with deep feelings, and your Ren clan has sacrificed so much for the royal family. I should not have… But I… I am also suffering! The two Xie sisters fell for you. We brothers are like a joke.”
“If that is what you think, why do you allow me to enter the harem as I please? Aren’t you afraid that…” Iciness came from the depths of Ren Fengyao’s eyes. “Were you waiting for me to err or for concubine Rou to err?”
“I have never thought that! We have been best friends since youth, and still are. Apart from being my subject, you are my only friend I can confide to, the only one I do not have to use the royal “we” to address. I have never thought of doing such a thing. But even the best of friends have misunderstandings. I am a normal man; I can feel jealousy.” Dongfang Chao smiled bitterly. “Perhaps I subconsciously wished for you and Chuqiu to make a mistake, because I wanted to give you two a chance. I wanted to return her to you.”
“She was never mine. Whether you believe it or not, I was only childhood friends with the Xie sisters. There has never been any other relationship between us.” Ren Fengyao’s eyes were limpid and bright. He slowly shook his head, smiling sadly. “I had to leave at the age of ten, while Chuqiu was nine and Wanqiu was eight. How could such young children understand what is love? You said that if it were not for that event, we might have… Might have what? Not all childhood friends become husband and wife. Chao, even if that event did not occur, I and Chuqiu or Wanqiu wouldn’t have become lovers. We do not suit each other.”
“Again with suiting each other? Is that dead person the only one who suits you? Let me ask, if not for Chuqiu, would you have helped me so easily?”
Ren Fengyao sighed. “Father’s dying words, master’s imploring words… I have never forgotten what they said when I was nine.”
Dong Fangchao’s gaze turned distant. He dimly recalled the fated afternoon twenty years ago.
There had been no wind that day, only intense sunshine. Bullied as the young prince he was, he hid in the rock garden, sobbing. Then, a young man of the same age appeared.
He patted his head, then said soothingly, “What are you crying for? Be a man! Shed blood, not tears!”
To be comforted by a child the same age as him made him irritated. Even though he was not a favored prince, he couldn’t let just anyone touch his head.
But when he looked up, he was stunned!
Although they were the same age, the boy was clearly much more mature than him.
The boy had a delicate and handsome face. What struck him the most were his eyes that seemed to be able to see through everything. They were very profound, yet also somehow warm.
He was very thin and weak, looking as if he could be blown away by the wind. However, he stood with perfect, straight posture. When he saw the prince raise his head, the boy smiled. His smile was mystifying, like wind brushing past leaves. In a blink of an eye, it was as if a hundred flowers blossomed. In that instant, the prince’s heart became settled, soothed by the smile.
“Were you bullied?” the boy said gently.
The prince shook his head strongly. He did not speak, as if to resist replying to the boy who had suddenly appeared. However, as if the boy understood, he said, “If you are bullied, you must bully them back. Crying in a corner does nothing.”
“How can I bully him back? I can’t afford to offend him!” the young prince said hatefully.
Indeed, at the time, he really could not afford to offend the prince who was favored by the emperor, who often left his mother crying.
“I’ll help you!”
The boy’s faint smile did not disappear from the prince’s hostile attitude. Instead, he ended up helping him vent some anger, and he did it so perfectly too, leaving no traces of evidence behind. Since then, they had been best friends. The boy solemnly vowed to always help him, no matter the cost!
Seeing Dongfang Chao’s changing expressions varying from happy to concerned, Ren Fengyao knew that Dongfang Chao was definitely reminiscing about the past. “I have always remembered my vow to you, so I did not hesitate in the slightest when you asked me to help you at the imperial court. I promised to deliver a powerful Dongling to you, which I did. Now, no one dares to offend Dongling!”
Dongfang Chao fell silent. After some time, he finally spoke. “Whatever, If you really don’t want to marry, then I won’t force you. Jing Xuan, go back home and reflect on your mistakes! Without my permission, you cannot leave the prime minister residence.”
Watching as Dongfang Chao left, Ren Fengyao’s mouth shifted just the slightest bit. It was a smile of no warmth, no schemes. It only seemed to be filled with endless disdain, disdain for himself, disdain for humanity’s ignorance.
Dongling, the prime minister’s residence.
Heavy snowfall, so heavy that the land was nothing but a vast expanse of whiteness. Ren Fengyao stood before the window, watching as snowflakes fell down twirling. He smiled faintly.
“Senior brother, you’re smiling. What are you planning to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“The emperor wants you to reflect on your mistakes. He even said without his decree, you cannot leave. Isn’t this a disguised imprisonment?” Leng Canxing could not hide his anger. “Senior brother, you have sacrificed so much for him, but in the end, you’re treated like this. Senior brother, don’t you feel disappointed?”
Ren Fengyao was completely relaxed. “Why would I feel disappointed? It’s fine like this. It’s been a while since I could have a good rest. I can take this opportunity to take a break.”
“Senior brother, aren’t you afraid Dongfang Chao would seize this opportunity to take away some of your power?”
Ren Fengyao turned around, smiling ineffably. “Even better. Stuck with this position, I can’t go anywhere or do anything. Canxing, is this position really that important? If even I don’t think it’s so bad, why do you think that way?”
“It’s not that I think it’s terrible, I just don’t think it’s fair,” Leng Canxing said quietly.
Outside, the snow started to snow even more heavily, hiding the sky, covering the earth. It was as if it was going to envelop the entire world. Ren Fengyao turned back to the dancing, devastating snowflakes. Slowly, he said, “It rarely snows, but now that it is, it continues on endlessly*.”
*oh shit how did i not notice it was a metaphor for his love the first time i read this
Leng Canxing’s lip twitched. Inwardly, he thought, why are you concerned about the snow of all things!
“I am concerned about the snow because after it becomes heavy, it will be hard to leave. I will leave traces. Canxing, in the future, make sure your face is not so easy to read, otherwise, everyone will know what you’re thinking.” Ren Fengyao turned around again to face Leng Canxing, smiling widely.
But Leng Canxing froze. “Senior brother, you… you want to leave? But the emperor said that you cannot leave!”
“You think I’ll do it just because he told me to?” Ren Fengyao walked over to the study desk and unfolded a sheet of paper. He only made a few strokes on it, but every stroke was beautiful, like plum flowers, vivid and rich. Ren Fengyao set down his brush and smiled, pleased. Then, he said to Leng Canxing, who had a blank expression, “I have never been an obedient person!”
Leng Canxing had always thought his senior brother was a lukewarm, meek gentleman. He always wore a restrained smile, not the least bit ostentatious, but.. Leng Canxing stared at Ren Fengyao vacantly. So it turns out senior brother could also smile this charmingly!
His normally gentle face now smiled brightly, sparkling with delight. Leng Canxing felt his heart leap. He couldn’t help but say, “Senior brother, you… you plan on leaving? Where are you going?”
Ren Fengyao smiled widely. “Wherever I want to go, naturally.”
Isn’t the place you want to go there, why act so mysterious? Leng Canxing twitched his lip with annoyance. Suddenly, he had a thought. Would senior brother meet that person? What would happen once they met? It would definitely be interesting!
He definitely needed to go see!