It was half a month later that Yan-daren opened his eyes again.
He lay on his bed and looked around the room filled with rare tonics bestowed by the Emperor.
Seeing that he was awake, the servant girl keeping watch by the bedside hurriedly went out to bring him a bowl of medicine.
Yan-daren resisted the sharp pain all over his body and got up to take a sip. He didn’t ask about his injury or how long he had been lying down. The first sentence that came out of his mouth was: “How is Rui Wang?”
“This slave doesn’t know,” the servant girl said frankly. “But I heard that, on the night you were injured, it was Rui Wangye who carried you to the Imperial Medical Hall.”
Clack. The spoon in Yan-daren’s hand fell into the bowl.
To walk from where the dinner party was held to the Imperial Medical Hall would take the time of at least one incense stick to burn1About 30 minutes. At that time, the scene was chaotic. Everyone was occupied in protecting the Emperor and chasing the assassin. With such a small body, how long did he walk while carrying an unconscious person on his back? Half a shichen2Shichen is 2 hours, so half a shichen is one hour?
Yan-daren dared not think about it anymore. He closed his eyes and felt a tingling pain in his chest. In an instant, some blood seeped through the white gauze wrapped around him.
After some time, it snowed heavily again in the capital, and it was heavier than during the winter solstice. The entire imperial city was in endless whiteness.
When Yan-daren could walk around just barely enough, he immediately stood on his feet, regardless of the doctor’s dissuasion, and went straight to Rui Wang Mansion.
Having not heard from him for a month, Yan-daren’s heart was torn in anxiety. He wanted to know if he was safe. He still had a lot to tell him.
But the gates of the Rui Wang Mansion were tightly closed, as cold and cheerless as before.
Yan-daren was anxious, and he stopped a stranger passing by to inquire.
The passerby said, “Rui Wangye ah. He received a fief a month ago and left the capital.”
Yan-daren was stunned for a while, then breathed a sigh of relief. He asked anxiously, “Where is this fief?”
It was in the far north.
The snow that had stopped all night began to fall again. Yan-daren stood under the snowflakes fluttering in the sky, and the figure of that person laughing and playing as he tread through the snow seemed to appear before his eyes.
After Yan-daren completely recovered, he waded to the palace, took off his black gauze cap3乌纱帽 – Futou, also known as the wushamao, is the headwear of Ming dynasty officials, consisting of a black hat with two wing-like flaps of thin, oval shaped boards on each side. (Wikipedia), and handed it to the Emperor along with the jade pendant the latter had given him.
The Emperor sighed before the table. “Do not blame Us4朕 (zhèn) – the pronoun the Emperor uses when referring to himself.”
Yan-daren looked indifferent and estranged. He said, “This commoner5Since Yan-daren has decided to resign, he can no longer address himself with “xiaguan” (this lowly official). Instead, he’ll have to use “caomin” (草民), which literally means “grass root.” It’s how commoners address themselves towards someone in position. It’s like saying that they are mere people of the grass and the wild. dare not. I only blame myself for not looking at the assassin carefully. His Majesty’s use of luring an enemy away from his territory6 调虎离山 – Literally, to lure the tiger from its domain in the mountains is really beautiful.”
The Emperor’s face sank, and he didn’t say any more. Seeing that Yan-daren turned around and was about to leave, he called out in a hurry. “A’Heng7Heng (恒) is Yan-daren’s given name. The A (阿) here is just something added to the beginning of a person’s name as a more affectionate way of calling them. It can also be written as Ah Heng or A-Heng..”
It was unknown whether Yan-daren heard it or not. He stepped straight out of the threshold without stopping.
It was the first time in many years that he left this place without any reluctance.
Two days later, Yan-daren dismissed most of the servants in the Yan Residence. After all arrangements were ready, he packed up some of the thickest cotton-padded clothes and saddled on a fast horse alone.
Before leaving, the old housekeeper asked curiously, “What is Shaoye going to do in the north?”
The corners of Yan-daren’s mouth rose. “Go live with my wife’s family8入赘 – to marry into and live with one’s bride’s family; in effect, you become a member of her family. (I guess he’ll be taking Xiao Jiu’s surname? haha).”