Perhaps because he had slept too much during the day, when his nanny came to carry him back to his room, Yi Yin was awake, or at least half awake, but it was also true that he was uncomfortable. His head was dizzy and his limbs were limp. Something was really wrong with him. He didn’t want to move.
What surprised Yi Yin the most was that Wei Zhao actually left him for the night because the touch of his nanny made him uncomfortable. It was incredible, but his mind was not working right now, and he wasn’t in the mood to think about it, so he quickly fell asleep again.
Wei Zhao was a martial arts practitioner and had never been afraid of the cold; but because Helian Zhuo had used medicine to restrain his martial arts skills and had tortured him severely over the past few years, his body deteriorated considerably and he was so afraid of the cold that he spent almost all of his winters on the kang and rarely went out.
Helian Zhuo was very cruel to Wei Zhao in bed, but in material terms, he never treated him badly. Seeing him being cold, he gave him good furs every year, and the fire in the room was also very warm, just in case Wei Zhao was freezing.
Yi Yin was different. He was young, in good health, and his fire element was strong. No matter how cold it was in winter, his hands and feet were warm. The kang in Wei Zhao’s room was hot and the quilt was thick. Yi Yin couldn’t help but kick off the quilt unconsciously because it was too hot. Wei Zhao covered him several times.
Wei Zhao had never brought up a child before, but he knew that children who kicked off the quilt while sleeping could get sick easily. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to watch Yi Yin when he fell asleep, so he simply pulled the child to his side, making him unable to move even if he wanted to.
When people are asleep, they always unconsciously approach the heat source, and the same was true of Wei Zhao. He didn’t sleep next to Yi Yin at first, but then fell asleep and felt something warm next to him, so he took it into his arms and held it as a heater.
In the middle of the night, Wei Zhao felt something was wrong. Was the temperature of this heater too high? He opened his eyes and lit the oil lamp, only to find that Yi Yin’s face was flushed with fever, he had lost consciousness and was in a coma.
Wei Zhao panicked, and his drowsiness suddenly disappeared. He called up the nanny and the maids, and while taking care of Yi Yin, he sent someone to invite the shaman doctor on duty in the palace.
The nanny was more experienced in taking care of the children. As soon as she entered the room, Wei Zhao consciously gave up his position next to Yi Yin and said anxiously: “He is burning very badly. Did I let him catch a cold? Or… is it too hot?”
The nanny shook her head and said that it was not Wei Zhao’s fault. Yi Yin’s fever at this time was mostly the result of catching a cold in the snow during the day. She thought that after taking a hot bath and drinking ginger soup, he would be fine. He hadn’t been burning during the day, but suddenly his fever flared up at night.
Wei Zhao held Yi Yin’s burning little hand, unable to relax. He knew full well that children were very fragile, but he hadn’t thought of asking the shaman doctor to come over and take a look. How could it not be his fault?
Early yesterday morning, Yi Yin was just like the previous two days, running away after breakfast and nowhere to be seen. Wei Zhao didn’t care at first. The palace was only this big, where could Yi Yin run away to? He was Helian Zhuo’s son, so who would dare to do anything to him.
As for the fights between children, Wei Zhao didn’t take it to heart. It was just messing around, Yi Yin was not a girl and didn’t have to be a wimp.
Yi Yin had been out for a long time, and his nanny wasn’t at ease. She sent someone out to inquire. They didn’t find Yi Yin but they heard that the Great Yan-zhi had been looking for the First Prince everywhere and he had been missing for some time.
The nanny’s heart suddenly thumped. She could see that Pei Di was bullying Yi Yin, and getting more and more ruthless. If the two of them collided, or Yi Yin was taken by him, what would happen?
It was hard to say how much Helian Zhuo cared about the child. If someone else touched Yi Yin, he might have punished them. But if it was the First Prince, he would likely only say a few words for the sake of the Great Yan-zhi’s face. After all, the identity of the Great Yan-zhi was there, and her father and brother’s troops were also there.
The nanny took someone out to find Yi Yin. Wei Zhao felt that she was making a mountain out of a molehill. But after a while, he felt an inexplicable panic. In this panic, he thought of the possibility that something really had happened to Yi Yin.
When Yi Yin was just born, Wei Zhao really hated him and wanted to kill him, but Helian Zhuo was determined not to make him feel better and had the baby kept in front of him so that he could see him anytime and anywhere. And when the child could talk and walk, he even rushed to Wei Zhao and tried to cling to him.
Wei Zhao was not hard-hearted, nor would he be indifferent, but he didn’t want to admit defeat and didn’t want to admit that he cared for Yi Yin, so he pushed him away again and again.
Finally, Yi Yin got sad and learned to play alone, never coming close to him again. Wei Zhao looked at him as he was coquettish with his nanny, and his mood was so complicated that he couldn’t describe it. This was the result he wanted, right?
When he found the small, isolated courtyard where no one had ever set foot in, Wei Zhao had to admit that he regretted it and he was scared. If he had been any later, Yi Yin would have died there. He was only three years old, he was injured all over, he was lying in the snow, unable to move, unable to make a sound even if he wanted to call for help.
For the first time in his life, Wei Zhao picked up Yi Yin. He suddenly realised that apart from being Helian Zhuo’s son, Yi Yin was also his own son.
The maid who had gone to invite a shaman doctor soon returned, but alone. She gasped for breath as she returned, “Master, all the shaman doctors in the palace have been called over by the Great Yan-zhi, saying that the First Prince was sick. What should we do?”
Wei Zhao’s expression froze. The shaman doctors in the palace couldn’t come, and they couldn’t get out to call those outside the palace! If he had known this, he shouldn’t have refused when his cousin taught him medical skills back then. Now Wei Zhao regretted it.
The nanny thought for a moment and suggested, “Master, why don’t we go and beg His Majesty?” It was a matter of Yi Yin’s life and death. She didn’t believe that Helian Zhuo would be so cruel as to ignore it. He would send a shaman doctor over.
Wei Zhao didn’t answer, but said after a long time, “Helian Zhuo is in the Western Courtyard, how can you see him?” The nanny froze, and the look of pity on her face intensified. As for Wei Zhao calling Helian Zhuo by his name, they had long been used to it and were not surprised.
The Western Courtyard was the residence of Lady Zuo, Helian Zhuo’s newly married left wife, Farida, who was not a Fuyu, but a princess of Tiele, the youngest daughter of Tiele’s Khan, Vaziri.
Four years ago, Helian Zhuo lost four counties in Youzhou and was constantly thinking of a counterattack, but Fuyu’s power alone was not enough to fight against the Great Yan.
At this time, Tiele, who had retreated to the north of the desert, were not happy with their defeat, and Vaziri joined forces with the Wusun Kunmo(1) Yizhimi that was discontented with Wei Su’s abolition of Wusun capital and the establishment of Hanzhou to exercise direct rule over the Wusun territories.
Wei Su was furious and sent Li Kang, Hou Pingnan, to quell the rebellion. Li Kang defeated Wusun and Tiele at Tianshan and returned with a great victory. The Wusun had to bow their heads and admit defeat. Only Tiele were left, and they could no longer make waves in Hanzhou.
When the war on the western front subsided, Vaziri turned his attention to the east and joined forces with Helian Zhuo, whose aim was to counterattack. As a gesture of good will, Vaziri married his youngest daughter, Farida, to Helian Zhuo, much to the displeasure of the Great Yan-zhi.
At the beginning of the year, Tiele and Fuyu joined forces to attack Youzhou, splitting the four northern counties between themselves. After the end of the campaign, Helian Zhuo was able to show off in front of Wei Zhao for a long time.
Farida was young and beautiful, and she had the status of Tiele Princess, so Helian Zhuo’s treatment of her was naturally good. She had always been a favourite, and was so arrogant that she would not even give in to the Great Yan-zhi. If Helian Zhuo would stay in her room for the night, who would dare to disturb him, unless they didn’t want to live anymore.
Of course, if Wei Zhao were to barge in, he might be able to see Helian Zhuo, and even if Farida was unhappy, she couldn’t do anything to him in front of Helian Zhuo.
However, the thought of going to beg Helian Zhuo, even if it was for Yi Yin, filled Wei Zhao’s heart with resistance, and he gave up on the idea without hesitation, while the others, too, didn’t dare to say anything.
“Daddy! I’m cold!” Yi Yin was still burning earlier, but now he was shivering and trembling, his forehead was dripping with sweat, and his breathing was rapid.
Wei Zhao picked up his son and patted him gently, a complex look that no one could understand flashing in his eyes. Yi Yin murmured a few words and soon fell back into a drowsy sleep, his whole body shrinking into a small ball, like a kitten in fear of the cold.
Seeing Wei Zhao’s refusal to beg Helian Zhuo, the nanny said urgently, “Master, it’s not good to keep on burning like this, the child will burn his brain silly. We must hurry to find a way to cool him down quickly!”
“What kind of way?” Wei Zhao humbly sought advice. He couldn’t bow down in front of Helian Zhuo, but he didn’t want to see Yi Yin die in front of his eyes either.
The nanny said hurriedly, “Use wine, wipe his whole body with wine, this slave’s son had a fever, so this slave used this method.” Without a shaman doctor, she could only try an ancestral native method, not knowing whether it would work or not.
Wei Zhao immediately ordered, “Bring wine, the strongest wine.” The maid went to follow the order.
The strong wine was quickly brought, and together with the maid, Wei Zhao wiped Yi Yin’s forehead, chest, armpits, groin, hands and feet with a cloth soaked in wine, neither gently nor slowly, until his skin was red and warm.
In addition, the nanny kept giving Yi Yin warm water to prevent him from sweating too much and collapsing from dehydration.
Yi Yin’s physique was very good, and after half a night of tossing and turning, his body temperature dropped to a normal level, and his breathing returned to a steady state, so he slept peacefully, much to everyone’s relief.
Wei Zhao left the two maids behind and sent the others to their rooms to rest, while he himself sat on the kang and watched Yi Yin’s peaceful sleeping face.
The maids persuaded him to rest, saying that they were looking after Yi Yin, but Wei Zhao waved his hand and the maids didn’t dare to speak again.
When it was almost dawn, Yi Yin woke up, and when he woke up, he only felt comfortable all over, not the same as yesterday’s drowsy and limp. He stretched, rolled over and saw Wei Zhao sitting next to him, with blue shadows under his eyes, obviously after a sleepless night.
The way Wei Zhao looked at him was deep, making Yi Yin feel inexplicably familiar, as if he had déjà vu.
Suddenly, he remembered that in his previous life, Wei Zhao had also looked at him in this way.
Yi Yin didn’t understand why before, but now he understood that Wei Zhao was rejoicing and regretting, rejoicing that he had survived and regretting that he had not died because he was a child that should not have been born at all.
Yi Yin was in a daze when Wei Zhao’s hand reached out and caressed his forehead: “It’s not yet dawn, sleep a little longer.”
Yi Yin was dumbfounded and nodded subconsciously. Wei Zhao would take the initiative to talk to him in such a gentle tone. Did he hear it wrong, or did he not wake up and was still in a dream?
So, he tugged at Wei Zhao’s sleeve, “Are you sleeping too?” Since it was a beautiful dream, it would be better to dream for a little longer.
Wei Zhao nodded obediently and took off his outer robe to lie beside Yi Yin. Yi Yin was very happy and felt that today’s dream was really wonderful.
- Kunmo = the Khan of Wusun