Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol03 Ch65
Dong Lin, inside a hidden valley.
Chu Beijie and Pingting’s alliance brought up the fallen morale. After the military conference ended, each of the generals seemed to have a new goal as they stepped out of the tent. It seemed like their footsteps had become much lighter.
But at the same time, everyone understood they were taking a huge risk too. The Duke of Zhen-Bei and Pingting’s strategies were both bold and dangerous. There wasn’t any room for the slightest error.
After the discussion ended, Chu Beijie pulled Pingting from the crowd heading outside the tent. “How could Advisor Bai not stay by after exhibiting such talent to me, the Main Advisor, just now?”
Pingting turned and smiled, “Duke, don’t forget our bet. Pingting won, so Duke isn’t allowed to touch Pingting’s hand for ten days.”
Chu Beijie’s eyes suddenly flashed, not hesitating to draw the Divine Spirit sword from his waist. He handed it to Pingting, “Pingting might as well cut me ten times, replacing the promised ten days.”
Pingting was taken aback by the sword’s reflection. She hurriedly put the sword back in its scabbard, frowning, “Duke’s desperate measure isn’t going to work. You were the one who provoked Pingting first, having a map of Qierou already hidden. Your intent to test me is quite obvious. What if Pingting hadn’t been able to answer, utterly shaming herself?”
Chu Beijie lowered his voice, “It’s not a desperate measure. Not being able to touch your hand for ten days, especially when you’re right in front of me, is more painful than ten sword cuts. Longing is bitter, a pain than comes from the inside. I would rather take the easy route, fairly and justly.” His handsome face was earnest.
Pingting’s heart trembled at his words. She lowered her head. It was ages before she said in a barely audible volume, “Even if the promise of ten days is dissolved, Duke shouldn’t touch Pingting’s hand every day at every possible moment.” She thought for a moment, unable to hide her angry flush. She scowled, “Duke is far too aggressive, forcing Pingting to make that bet. No, Pingting must pay back this hatred.” Her energetic eyes lifted slightly, looking both sweetly and angrily as she glared at him.
Chu Beijie saw this as a gentle charming expression. His mouth lifted into a smile as he whispered, “Tell me where you’re going.”
At this question, Pingting’s face dimmed slightly. She softly said, “I should go see genius Doctor Huo. Zuiju…” She softly sighed, her eyes already red.
Chu Beijie’s heart suddenly burst in pain.
After the two’s reunion, Pingting seemed to have a bitter recollection of the past, mentioning it occasionally. Every time she did, she only mentioned a few words at a time, unwilling to describe in detail.
Yet he deeply understood the damage of the ups and downs had not yet healed. Zuiju’s death added another blow to Pingting.
That year, what on earth happened on the icy snowcapped Songsen Mountains that caused this kind of tragedy?
Was their child also buried under that mass of white snow?
But he didn’t dare ask Pingting whether their poor child actually died or not. To Pingting, that must be unbearable pain.
“I’ll come with you.” Chu Beijie tightly held onto Pingting’s hand.
Pingting slowly shook her head, “Forgive me, Duke. Pingting would like to talk alone to Zuiju’s Teacher.”
“If from now on…Pingting really needs something,” Pingting raised her head, her eyelashes rising unsteadily as she looked at Chu Beijie, “Duke will definitely be by Pingting’s side, right?”
Chu Beijie was jolted defenceless by her delicately pitiful gaze. His heroic courage seemed to drain out as he solemnly promised, “Definitely.”
Pingting smiled. She gently pulled out the little finger from inside Chu Beijie’s palm, hooking it around her own. She then turned to leave.
Chu Beijie stood and watched her leave the tent. As his mood fell, he suddenly felt the peculiar feeling of being watched.
He was no ordinary person. When he knew someone was watching, his alertness suddenly returned his heart. He turned around and began to chuckle. He spread his arms open while helplessly saying, “If Sister-in-Law wants to laugh, go ahead. As the saying goes, there is always one thing to conquer another. I can never do anything when in front of Bai Pingting.”
The various generals in the tent had already left, but the Queen remained behind, propped up on a chair. There was laughter in her smile, “Duke of Zhen-Bei is too modest. That desperate measure struck me as quite a good choice. How could you say you can’t do anything? Gentleness has always been the grave of heroes, so perhaps the beloved women who resist their men will all be like Duke of Zhen-Bei.” Her gaze slowly drifted to somewhere beyond the tent door. It seemed to mix in the wind in the sky, instantly flying across thousands of miles , reaching to the far away Dong Lin Royal Residence’s location with its former striking and luxurious designs.
She thought of the top-notch alcohol, food, and the central hall decorated in gold. It seemed all like an illusion now.
She accompanied the King for many years but only deeply realised what she felt during the very last occasion where they parted.
She wasn’t only the Queen of Dong Lin but also the wife of this man.
After the last of the Dong Lin Royal House disappeared before her eyes, she realised what made her remember, the feelings between him and her.
Dong Lin was not relevant, the Royal House was not relevant, nor was the King and Queen.
Only husband and wife, him and her.
For those virtuous customs, she had often uncontrollably wanted to clench onto his hand and embrace him, yet she had thought of her rank as the Queen. She held back on her desire to indulge in his love.
“Eh?” The Queen mumbled, suddenly coming back to her sense. She called, “Duke of Zhen-Bei, please come to my side.”
Chu Beijie took two steps, sitting down beside her.
“Are you planning to classify Dong Lin’s soldiers as a part of the Ting Army?” The Queen of Dong Lin asked.
Chu Beijie originally intended to make this clear with his sister-in-law. He frankly nodded, saying, “Yes.”
“Ting Army…” The Queen of Dong Lin held the words, as if chewing it in her mouth. She smiled bitterly, “That day, the King once said the Duke of Zhen-Bei is too sincere for a man and wasn’t quite suited to live in a heartless Royal House. He was worried about that the most, but now, I don’t quite know whether to worry or rejoice over Duke of Zhen-Bei’s current disposition. After all, without the immense love for Bai Pingting, how could Duke of Zhen-Bei magically conjure the Ting army, willing to oppose He Xia?” She then changed the subject, asking, “I want to confirm this matter. Suppose Dong Lin’s soldiers assimilate into the Ting army… If the Ting army was to win in the future, Duke of Zhen-Bei will have great power but what will Dong Lin’s fate be? What about the Dong Lin Royal House?”
Chu Beijie was silent for a moment. He clenched his teeth, “To be honest, Sister-in-Law, I will create a new country, with a new name.”
“Then Dong Lin…”
“Dong Lin is already a thing of the past. I’m not doing this for Dong Lin but to give Pingting a peaceful world to live in. If Dong Lin gained all the glory after this mess settled, then that officially means Dong Lin conquered the other three countries. What difference is that to He Xia? The other three countries would secretly hold anger in their heart, waiting for the right time to attack. There’ll never be true peace in the world.” Chu Beijie’s eyes were determined as he solemnly added, “This is my promise to Pingting, and it will never be changed.”
The Queen of Dong Lin’s gaze suddenly turned sharp, studying Chu Beijie.
Chu Beijie didn’t avoid her gaze in the slightest. He faintly added, “If Sister-in-law is angry, feel free to punish Chu Beijie but my decision has been set.”
The Queen of Dong Lin studied him carefully for a long time until her sharp expression gradually faded. She helplessly side, “The fundamental roots of a country has always been its people, correct?”
“Sister-in-Law?” Chu Beijie felt stunned.
“Where can you possibly find a wall that doesn’t let wind pass through at all? The conversation between Princess Yaotian and the Duke of Zhen-Bei before the war at Yun Chang has been inquired by many people.” The Queen of Dong Lin wryly smiled, revealing a look of recollection. “When the Royal Residence was burned, I couldn’t help but often wonder how my Dong Lin looked like, when it was first established. Perhaps there was a union of some sort, one whose people didn’t hesitate to shed blood so they could look forward to seeing his wife and children, happily living through their daily lives, right?”
Why is, after hundreds of years, a country engraved in the heart yet its people were forgotten?
Hundreds and tens of thousands of people, hundreds and tens of thousands of deaths, had all been tangled up in it.
The Queen of Dong Lin’s slow gaze swept past Chu Beijie’s face. She sighed, suddenly making her decision. “While country is important, what good is it to think lives are worthless? Without peasants living out their lives in peace, country means death. Duke of Zhen-Bei, just go do what you want.”
Chu Beijie hadn’t expected the Queen would make her choice so decisively. He fiercely stood up and knelt on one knee. He articulated, “I will forever remember Sister-in-Law’s grace.” He hadn’t expected the most difficult hurdle to be broken through so easily.
“Go. Settle the chaos, so that life is no longer trampled on, returning peace to this world.” The Queen of Dong Lin’s lips raised into a faint smile, a trace of longing escaping into it. “Peasant or royalty, everyone wants the same. As people who have the privilege of being born human, we should all know our lives are precious and should know we shouldn’t be trampled on by others like ants.”
The Duke of Zhen-Bei would establish a vast new empire.
This empire’s vastness wouldn’t come from its troops. Every single person in the country would know how to respect themselves, not look down upon themselves.
They would not see each other as puppets nor tools for others.
They would never be forced to walk on a battlefield.
When the threat of war loomed, they could choose whether they wanted to fight to protect their future, like today’s Ting army.
And if their red blood fell onto the battlefield, that patch of earth seeped in blood would grow the lushest green grass for the future.
“Bai Pingting,” The Queen of Dong Lin raised her head, sighing at the skies. “An amazing Bai Pingting.”
Gui Le, twilight rustled.
There was no longer the soft fragrance, that both bees and butterflies enjoyed, for the people in the Cold Palace.
The lock untouched for so long began to softly clink. The Queen of Gui Le, wearing tattered clothing, slowly lifted her head. She saw a majestic yet familiar figure.”
The King of Gui Le, He Su, stepped through the door. “Your older brother Le Zhen was defeated by Fei Zhaoxing. In fear of Yun Chang army attacking again, he led the remnants far away from the capital to escape.”
His tone was calm, surprisingly not angry.
The Queen of Dong Lin was imprisoned for many days, so this was the first time she heard the news of her brother. She was silent for a moment before coldly asking, “Is King here to bestow death on me?”
He Su didn’t make a sound for a long time. He walked towards his wife and extended his index finger and then as if from the time he was still affectionate. He began to stroke her thinned chin.
“Queen, do you not want to see Shao’er?” He Su suddenly asked.
The Queen of Gui Le shook at this, looking at He Su in disbelief. “King…will let me see Shao’er?” Her son was her heart, after all. Her voice trailed off.
“Why wouldn’t I let you?” He Su sighed, answering with another question.
The Queen knew she would die, most likely poisoning by dagger or alcohol. She made her decision to accept that. But she hadn’t expected He Su to come personally. His words and actions were so different from her imagination. Her heart couldn’t help soften, as they have been married for so many years, in addition to mentioning their son. Her face could never muster the coldness from before so she lowered her head, faintly replying, “I secretly revealed King’s ambush, my father monopolised power, and my brother defied the royal Order, using the army as he wished to go against King. The charges the Le family are guilty of…are all worthy of a death sentence.”
“Queen also knows of her own crime?” He Su thought of the current situation of Gui Le and couldn’t help coldly harrumph. When seeing the Queen’s head lowered in silence, he sighed softly again. “Get up, Queen. I’ll forgive your sins. You are ordered to return to the Royal Residence, as the master of the harem.”
“What?” The Queen raised her head in surprise.
Le Zhen leading the troops against the capital was no different from rebellion. This was the most treacherous crime against royalty, one that could never be forgiven.
But He Su’s expression didn’t seem to have the slightest trace of a joke.
The Cold Palace was particularly dark at night. He Su’s figure stood in front of the door, so very close, yet she could not see the slightest bit in the depths of his eyes. It felt like he was far away, only leaving a mass of blurry shadow.
The Queen thought how her relationship with her husband was already broken down to an irrepairable state. She lowered her head again, grinding her teeth, “King should still kill me. I was married the Royal House when I was fifteen. When King ascended to the throne, I was immediately crowned as Queen. Thinking of our love from back then, I can’t imagine how we have ended up like this today. It’s all become a done deal, irreversible, so even if King forgives me, I would never have the face to be Queen once more. I really do regret it, the jealousy I had to get someone to warn He Xia of the ambush for a mere Bai Pingting. Even if she was taken into the harem, what did it matter as long as King was happy? For a single woman, Gui Le has become a mess, I…I really was stupid…”
Her shoulder began to dramatically tremble as she collapsed onto the ground, weeping.
As the Queen, she had been raised and ever lived in the residence. He Su was really the only man she held in her heart. In the past, they dined the best cuisine together, surrounded by servants, discussed various matters every day-including her father and brother. But the Queen just had to scheme below the surface, deliberately fulfilling her own selfish desires.
From the moment her red clothes faded and her hands becoming too lazy to comb her black hair, she listlessly stared at passing clouds in the Cold Palace. She would occasionally remember the past, often the most trivial of things.
She’d remember how she gingerly stepped into the Prince’s Residence for the first time, how she saw He Xia for the first time as he slowly lifting red veil on their wedding night. She remembered how excited she had been as she lovingly murmured into He Xia’s ear about her belly having his flesh and blood. She too remembered how she dressed up to receive the Queen’s seal in front of many witnesses.
How did this couple step towards such national hate? Why had the string of fate, which they should have already tied for life, constantly tangle or be cut by the slightest heartache and ultimately leave nothing behind?
The Queen wept so much that it felt like her insides were breaking. She felt a gentle touch on her shoulder from two large palms.
The Queen lifted up her tear-stained face, as He Su held her up.
“Don’t cry any more, Queen. I’ll be honest, Le Zhen secretly fled with the army, leaving the capital empty. He Xia has already led the army of Yun Chang here, completely besieging us.”
The Queen was taken aback, “What?” She had been imprisoned for a long time. No one dared to pass on the outside news, so she had no idea the situation worsened.
“One’s strength is meaningless when knowing defeat is certain; I’d rather not fight this battle. Tomorrow at this time, I will open the gates, personally delivering a letter of surrender to He Xia.” He Su smiled bitterly, “The country’s capital is almost gone, so why shouldn’t I forgive the betrayal crimes of the Queen and the Elder Statesmen?”
The Queen could hear her husband’s words were full of deprivation and helplessness. He attitude was very different from his former chilly pride, causing her heart to ache and regret. Her voice quivered, “If it weren’t for my mistake, Gui Le wouldn’t’ve had civil strife and King would have had the army. How could He Xia possibly come so easily? I…”
“Don’t say any more.” He Su cut off her words as he lowered his words. “The maids are holding onto your clothes and ornaments. They are waiting outside the door. Queen should properly dress up like she used to. It’s been a long time since you’ve accompanied me while I drink alcohol. Tonight will be ours, not to be disturbed by outsiders.
The Queen quietly studied He Xia before finally bowing. “Yes.”
He Su turned to leave. There indeed were maids waiting outside. Once the King left, they swam in like fish. Each held a tray. On them were the Queen’s favourite clothes and accessories, even rouge and powders, complete with coloured incense.
“Queen.” The crowd of maids obediently kowtowed upon seeing the long-lost Queen’s appearance. Each face seemed dark with sadness. The news of the King’s surrender to He Xia had spread through the Royal Residence.
After she bathed and dressed, the Queen carefully drew her eyebrows. She made sure she was dressed like a goddess before heading for the King’s chamber.
He Su had indeed ordered his men to prepare food and alcohol. He was on the other side of the bead curtain, drinking as he watched the scenery under the moon.
The scenery was beautiful, the dishes were warm, and the alcohol was warm. Thinking how she was still imprisoned in the Cold Palace a moment ago, this seemed like a dream. She could only sigh at life’s unpredictability.
The two people had infinite thoughts in their minds as they quietly sat, drinking a few cups. He Su asked, “Why isn’t Queen saying anything?”
“I…” The Queen’s face, which she had drawn on very finely, was rather confused. “I don’t know what to say.”
He Su carefully assessed his wife’s face. He broke into laughter, “I just suddenly thought that ever since becoming the master of the harem, you are the most beautiful today.”
At such praise, the Queen’s heavy heart floated lightly for a few moments, as if her body had a lot more hazy white mist. She bowed slightly, “One can only see the most clearly when their heart is without distractions. Maybe it’s because today I will never have to pretend or have anything to hide from King.”
“Well said.” He Su raised his cup, “Today’s Queen makes me remember the Queen that first entered the Prince Residence. Time sure flies; we’ve been husband and wife for so many years already.” His tone was inadvertently gentle as all those years ago.
The Queen’s face revealed a touched surprise. “King…you still remember how I looked when first entering the Prince Residence?”
“How could I forget?”
“Really…” The Queen raised a hand to touch her hair. She softly asked, “To be honest, I remember it too.”
The Prince Residence, the Prince He Su of that time.
There was joyous music, humorous jokes, and delightful qin sound.
A group of young friends at first, prominent families of Gui Le. They gathered, practicing swordsmanship, playing qin, or discussing literature, art, or politics. The ones who clapped would clap and the ones who joked would joke. Yangfeng had always been in the Prince Residence, while He Xia and Pingting had become regulars.
The Le family had strict policies. She was the Crown Princess hence her identity was different from the others. She couldn’t laugh and mess around with the others, only lean against the heavy wall and listen to the faint sounds of laughter that came through.
The King remembered everything from back then.
But did the Prince Consort of Yun Chang, He Xia, the leader of the army currently surrounding the capital, remembered too?