Xiao Wangye took the letter paper and pondered for a while, thinking that he must’ve been too subtle in expressing it. And so he took up the pen and revised the letter.
This Wang1本王 (běn wàng) – 本 (ben) is used by the speaker to refer to themselves in third person, and, well, you already know what 王 (wang) means. This form of speaking is used for more formal occasions, usually when the speaker is part of a conversation among equals or as the highest ranking person in the room has been very upset since the death of his Father-Emperor. Emperor-gege has been too busy with government affairs the whole day that he has no time to attend to me. Fortunately, before Father-Emperor died, he entrusted me to Prime Minister-daren.
Prime Minister-daren treats me like a family member, and he often comes over to console me, and to which I am very grateful. It’s just that, recently, he’s always mentioning, whether intentionally or not, that he’d like to give his daughter’s hand to me in marriage. It was only then that I realized that I’m also already of marriageable age. As I think about it, with my identity and my appearance, I will probably be quite popular.
Yan-gege, if you don’t come back, I might take a wife earlier than you.
Looking forward to your reply,
Not long after the letter was sent, it received a reply as quickly as the last time. Yet, there was still only one sentence:
“Wangye’s looks and talents are all superior. It is a good thing to be welcomed by beautiful women.”
Xiao Wangye read it over and over again, and finally decided that the key point of this sentence was to praise himself. Thereupon, he was still quite satisfied.
In the twinkling of an eye, the heat and cold weather alternated for two rounds. On that day, when he got out of bed, Xiao Wangye received a letter from Yan-daren, saying that the southern border had been settled, and that he could leave for the capital in the next few days.
Xiao Wangye jumped up in joy and ran all over the palace to announce it. When he ran to Emperor-gege, the Emperor calmly sipped on his tea and said, “I already know.”
Xiao Wangye suffered a blow, and he inwardly complained of how the horse delivering the Emperor’s letter was faster than his.
From this day on, Xiao Wangye would go everyday to the city gate tower and wait. Pearl said that, even if their horses were at full speed, it would still take a month to travel from the southern border to the capital city. At the moment, he didn’t have to be so anxious. But Xiao Wangye didn’t listen.
Pearl said, “You are quickly turning into a Stone Gazing Out for Husband2望夫石 – Pearl here is referring to Wangfushi, more commonly known as Amah rock, which is a naturally-shaped rock located on a hilltop in southwest Sha Tin District, Hong Kong.
According to a legend, the faithful wife of a fisherman climbed the hills every day, carrying her son, to watch for the return of her husband, not knowing he had been drowned at sea. In reward for her faithfulness, she was turned into a rock by the Goddess of the Sea so that her spirit could unite with that of her husband.
Xiao Wangye was blushing as he retorted: “De-definitely not my husband.” But at the bottom of his heart, he felt very sweet.
A month later, the army finally arrived smoothly. The Major General of Defense rode in the front, and beside him was Yan-daren, who had made numerous military achievements.
After five years of tempering on the battlefield, Yan-daren had become a lot more mature. Although the changes were turbulent, his edges and corners3棱角 – A metaphor for the sharpness a person reveals. were more distinct than before, and his heroic spirit was pressing.
Xiao Wangye recognized him at a glance. He madly rushed down from the city gate tower, and in a short while, he was in front of the troops.
“Mojiang4末将 – A lower general rank pays respects to Wangye,” said Yan-daren.
Xiao Wangye tried to resist the throbbing of his heart as he grinned all over, his eyes narrowing in the smile.
The corner of Yan-daren’s mouth was also slightly raised as he said, “Wangye has grown taller.”
Xiao Wangye got on Yan-daren’s horse, and they went into the city together.
Since he hadn’t seen him for a long time, Xiao Wangye wouldn’t take his eyes off him even just for a minute. Though he sat in front of Yan-daren, he insisted on turning his head around to stare at him.
Yan-daren was a little uncomfortable being stared at by him, so he forced his head to turn back. But as a result, the moment he released his hand, Xiao Wangye would turn his head around again.
The Emperor was waiting outside the palace. Seeing Xiao Wangye mixed in, he couldn’t help laughing. “It seems that Xiao Jiu has just come back from the battlefield.”
Xiao Wangye hurriedly jumped off the horse and stood behind the Emperor.
The generals dismounted and saluted one after another. The Empress stepped forward to help up the Major General of Defense. The father and daughter had not met for a long time, and the Empress’s face was full of tears.
The Emperor walked to the Empress. He held her and gently wiped her tears. He said thoughtfully, “The Empress is pregnant. Being too emotional will hurt the body.”
The Emperor and the Empress were very affectionate, and all the people present were envious of them. Only Yan-daren’s thin lips were tight, and he didn’t say a word.
In the evening, a welcome banquet5 接风洗尘 – Literally, to welcome and help wash off the dust. A dinner to celebrate one’s arrival. was held in the palace for the officers and soldiers. Xiao Wangye sat beside Yan-daren and chatted about the big and small events in the capital these past years. Yan-daren listened to him absentmindedly as he drank.
After the banquet, Xiao Wangye and Yan-daren went for a walk in the garden. Xiao Wangye had been talking all night, so this time his voice was a little hoarse and dry and he had to stop talking.
The two walked together quietly, and the atmosphere turned cold for no apparent reason. Only then did Xiao Wangye realize that Yan-daren had been in a low mood ever since seeing the Emperor today, and he seemed just like as he was on the night that the Taizi established his Imperial Concubine.
Xiao Wangye didn’t know why, and he didn’t know what to say. At this time, an apple fell from a nearby fruit tree, and it happened to hit Xiao Wangye on the head.
Xiao Wangye raised the apple, and with nothing else to talk about, he said, “Yan-gege, why do you think the apple fell?”
Yan-daren didn’t answer.
Xiao Wangye felt put out. He bit loudly into the apple. Answering himself, he said, “It probably wanted to be eaten by me.”