But Fu Zhiyu knew that this wasn’t feasible. Not to mention that Emperor Qingyuan had seen Yuan Mingdao and it was impossible for him not to know his gender, an imperial consort wasn’t married casually. It wasn’t possible to muddle through it like this.
Besides, Mingdao was only twelve years old now, and Fu Zhiyu treated him as a younger brother. He was not such a beast.
“Let’s just put it off,” he said, rubbing his brow tiredly, “I just don’t want to marry, can I be forced into a bridal chamber?”
He was praying there was something that could attract the attention of Emperor Qingyuan and make him focus on politics and stop messing around with cooking mandarin ducks. He didn’t expect that within half a month, a big event would really happen.
The Qianyuan Battle was not just the victory over the barbarians, it also shocked the entire continent. Now that the barbarians had made a treaty to cede land and pay compensation, the first batch of offerings was to be sent to Jilin. But not only things would be sent there; people were also coming.
King Xidan was coming.
On the surface, he said that he admired the power of Jilin and was coming to apologise for his youth and ignorance in the past. But as soon as he announced it, the ancient countries of the Western Regions also took advantage of the situation and handed over letters, saying that there had been few exchanges between the countries of the continent in recent years. It was better to take this opportunity to have a gathering and in-depth exchanges. They also hoped it was a chance for the countries to understand each other in order to keep the peace in the continent and protect the people from war.
Emperor Qingyuan knew in his heart that they wanted to find out where Jilin stood, but he was also confident that Jilin wasn’t an embroidered pillow (something that has only appearance but no abilities). The Qianyuan Battle wasn’t just a matter of good luck. So, this was an opportunity for everyone to see and recognise Jilin’s status, so that they wouldn’t dare to make random moves in the future.
The two vassal states, Chen and Jing, naturally followed Jilin’s meaning. As for Southern Xinjiang, a place that was easy to defend and difficult to attack, they had always been independent and never involved in these things, so Emperor Qingyuan didn’t expect them to come.
It was a rare event for the four countries to come to Jilin.
However, it wasn’t that fast to arrange the arrival of everyone. This event would also have to take a lot of time. Emperor Qingyuan was ambitious and wanted to sit firmly in the top spot of the first country of the continent. When Fu Zhiyu went to Liuli Palace again, he could hear the music playing from a distance.
In order to showcase the power of the country, naturally, cultural, political and martial arts had to be involved. Emperor Qingyuan had always been a well-prepared person, and he had a lot of things to arrange.
“In the previous life there was none of this,” Yuan Mingdao also heard of it and said to Fu Zhiyu with emotion, “Things in the world are changing so fast.”
Fu Zhiyu didn’t know how to describe what was happening. All this could be traced back to the bowl of decoction that was spilled by Momo Gui in the imperial garden, and even further back to the choice he had made at the moment after waking up that was different from the previous life.
The butterfly flapped its wings, causing an unpredictable hurricane, and everything that happened in the future was beyond his control. Fu Zhiyu was now just a person who drifted with the current. He just wanted to follow the vast development of history, quietly settling in a corner.
Because of this gathering, Emperor Qingyuan’s attention was somewhat shifted, and he wasn’t so concerned about urging Fu Zhiyu to marry anymore. However, the pressure was still there, and Fu Zhiyu changed his approach; it wasn’t like there were no people in his harem.
He wasn’t going to go along with Xie Ke’s wishes just because Xie Ke was up to something. Fu Zhiyu had no intention of having anything with Lu Jian now, but Lu Jian could play the pipa, so Fu Zhiyu occasionally called him in to listen to a tune. The other concubines sent by the palace were all versatile. One of them could do a sleeve dance. Fu Zhiyu took a look and thought it was good.
Recently, there was nothing new in the stories told by the storytellers outside. They glorified the Xie family to the sky. Fu Zhiyu didn’t want to listen to it anymore. It was better to pick up a storybook at home and listen to the music occasionally or watch dancing, and life could be considered delightful.
He also deliberately took one of the sultry-looking concubines out several times, causing rumours that he was lascivious and spoiled his concubines excessively. Wang Zhao was now out of his mind, and there was basically no possibility of him inheriting the throne. The high-ranking families had a purpose when marrying their daughters; in terms of marriage, Fu Zhiyu was really not as good as Consort Xue’s two sons, or even as the young Fu Yanxi and Fu Yanran.
That was what Fu Zhiyu wanted, and he was glad to see the result.
The emperor was not interested in the families of low rank, but his favourite family, the Xie family, had a girl who was suitable for marriage, a young lady born from the main wife. But the girl had gone crazy, saying she had a lover and refused to marry Wang Zhao. She cried and promised to hang herself. Although the decision on marriage was not up to her, it wouldn’t be good if the matter was too big. If the Xie girl really killed herself and the happy event turned into a funeral, the original intention to marry the Xie family would fail. Instead of a useful marriage it would become a feud, which would be more trouble.
It was not that there were no other girls in the Xie family, but they were not from Xie Lin’s line. Emperor Qingyuan took a closer look at the young ladies in the Xie clan, but to be honest, the Xie family was originally humble. It was Xie Lin who made the whole family rise. The rest of the people were useless and scheming. Xiao Jiu was simple-minded now. Emperor Qingyuan was afraid that if he would marry such a scheming woman, his harem would know no peace.
In the end, he was unable to find a suitable woman in the huge capital.
Emperor Qingyuan was also tired of this matter. He told Consort Yun that if there was no one suitable in the capital, after a while, there would be princesses from the four countries coming to Jilin, and it wouldn’t be impossible to get married at that time.
Fu Zhiyu: “…He hasn’t given up yet?”
“Just let him do it,” Consort Yun said helplessly. “If you don’t want to, you can always find a reason. He thinks a lot about it, and he won’t ask you to marry someone casually.”
In addition to the forced marriage, Xie Ke’s annoyance level was also high.
Or maybe it had something to do with the progress of Fu Zhiyu’s marriage. Fu Zhiyu had also heard about the young lady in the Xie family. She was fine at first, but then she suddenly became like this, as if… she had been threatened by someone.
General Zhenyuan’s residence was just across the street, and Xie Ke’s number of over-the-wall trips was increasing day by day, both at night and during the day.
He was even used to Rongrong coming up to bite him, and there was no way that Xie Ke, with his physical strength, couldn’t even beat a wolfdog! Even if he turned over the wall halfway and met Yuan Mingdao, he wasn’t afraid. Fu Zhiyu also saw them fight once. After all, Mingdao was still young, and Xie Ke took his scimitar away in a few moves.
“Practice a few more years, kid,” Xie Ke said, “You can’t beat me now.”
Yuan Mingdao was furious; but Xie Ke was only able to show off his strength for a short while. As soon as he approached Fu Zhiyu, his treatment was nowhere as good as Yuan Mingdao’s.
The shadow guards were watching the residence of Wang Zhao. Xie Ke knew that Fu Zhiyu was calling those concubines just to watch them dance and play music. He was just creating an impression for the outside, so that he could push off his marriage. He had never stayed overnight with them. But it was one thing to know, and the feeling after seeing it was another thing.
Jealous, jealous, but helpless.
Xie Ke couldn’t help but feel sour, but he really didn’t dare to show his temper in front of Fu Zhiyu. Now he was trying to control Rongrong who was about to bite him, while leaning to Fu Zhiyu and saying bitterly: “I also know how to play many musical instruments, what does Zhiyu want to hear? I will play anything for you.”
Fu Zhiyu beckoned to Rongrong to come over, soothingly touched Rongrong’s ears without looking at Xie Ke, and said, “I don’t want any.”
Who knows where Xie Ke had learned it from but now he was like a dog plaster. Even Fu Zhiyu was intimidated by his stalking attitude. He couldn’t drive him away, so he let him be. The main reason was that if he really put his mind to the task of driving Xie Ke away, he wouldn’t have time to do anything else.
Because of the serious injury suffered last time, Xie Ke kept telling the emperor that he wasn’t well and needed to rest for a while. The general’s health was a big deal, and besides, there was no war recently, so Emperor Qingyuan was naturally willing to accommodate him. Therefore, this newest member of the court had a lot of free time to pester the person he wanted to pester.
However, Xie Ke also seemed to be afraid that Fu Zhiyu would be angry and didn’t dare to go too far in many things. He was slowly infiltrating, starting with the trivial things of clothing, food, housing and transportation, trying to make Fu Zhiyu fall into his web imperceptibly. But Fu Zhiyu wasn’t unaware. He even received a warning from the outside.
This warning actually came from Shen Yang, the head of the Ministry of Justice. Fu Zhiyu paid attention to the dynamics of the court from time to time and could see some secret waves. Shen Yang and Xie Ke clearly cooperated in some aspects, but Shen Yang seized the opportunity to come to him three or four times and remind him over and over again that Xie Ke was very dangerous and was not a good person, don’t be deceived by him.
“Wang Zhao, don’t be blinded by appearances. Xie Ke seems to be very good to you at the moment. That’s because he has an agenda,” Shen Yang said righteously, “But I’m different. I will protect you for the rest of my life.”
Fu Zhiyu: “……”
Do you believe this yourself? The two of you are the same, so don’t try to step on each other.
Every time he faced Shen Yang, he ran quickly; he couldn’t afford to provoke him but he could hide. Anyway, Shen Yang wasn’t as powerful as Xie Ke. If Fu Zhiyu wanted to avoid him, he could. Perhaps because of this lack of communication, Shen Yang never seemed to guess that he was also reborn.
The days passed like this. In general, of course, it wasn’t as tranquil as the period when Xie Ke went to war. But Fu Zhiyu’s heart was calm and he wouldn’t be disturbed too much because of other people’s actions, so he thought it was fine.
These days, the speed of information exchange was slow, and it took a long time to discuss everything remotely, not to mention an event like the gathering of the four countries in Jilin. The dates were carefully selected, and there were more and more preparations. This way Fu Zhiyu spent a cool summer. Early autumn, when the leaves on the trees turned yellow, the envoys of the four countries finally arrived.
The official road was full of people watching the show. The Chen and the Jing processions were nothing to look at. The style was in the same line as Jilin’s. It was mainly barbarians and the Western Regions that interested people. Let alone the caravans, the people were different, so it was fresh and lively to look at them.
The people from the ancient countries of the Western Regions were the same as Yuan Mingdao. Their eye colour and hair colour were not black as those of the people in the Central Plains. Their carriages were often decorated with light gauze, their pants were wide, their facial features were deep, and the people were more open than those of Jilin. As for the barbarians, all of them rode horses, dressed in riding clothes, tall and dark-skinned, really interesting to look at.
Fu Zhiyu had been very bored recently. Anyway, Xie Ke was called to greet the ambassadors today. Fu Zhiyu was so happy that he took Mingdao and booked a private window room in the Fengyue House.
When he saw the procession from the Western Regions, Fu Zhiyu couldn’t help but ask: “Mingdao, haven’t you thought about going back?”
Yuan Mingdao gave him a puzzled look and said, “Why should I go back? I don’t have a home there, my home is where Master is.”
Fu Zhiyu rubbed his head, not knowing how to answer, finally sighed lightly and said, “I will always treat Mingdao well.”
“I will treat Master well too,” Yuan Mingdao smiled at him. Then he seemed to think of something again, his face darkened suddenly, and he touched the half-moon scimitar hanging from his waist.
“Xie Ke, this old thief, keeps talking nonsense, and keeps disturbing Master!” He said bitterly, “Bullying me for being young! When I finish my martial arts training, I will definitely skin him with my own hands!”
New hatred and old hatred combined, and he and Xie Ke were even more at odds in this life.