On New Year’s Eve, it was customary for the palace to set up a big banquet. The seven lords of the seven clans, including the Helian clan, were to bring their families there.
Fuyu was not like the Great Yan. There was no rule for men and women to sit separately. Not only the Great Yan-zhi, all high-ranking concubines were allowed to attend. However, Helian Zhuo had never been keen on the harem. Except for the Great Yan-zhi and Lady Zuo Farida, the rest were all ordinary concubines, and there were no high-ranking concubines.
Wei Zhao had no name and status, and naturally he was not qualified to attend. What’s more, Helian Zhuo never asked him to attend and the Great Yan-zhi didn’t want to see him at all, so he never went.
Today, as Helian Zhuo was not expected to come, Wei Zhao and Yi Yin stayed inside, planning to spend the New Year in peace and quiet.
Whatever life he lived, Yi Yin was always uninterested in the New Year. No matter how lively it was, it was someone else’s holiday, not his.
Indeed, when he lived in the village house in his previous life, the festivities in the palace had nothing to do with him. Even Wei Zhao ignored him, so Yi Yin had no interest in celebrating the holidays alone.
Later, when he returned to Yujing, everyone regarded him as an outsider. He was obviously the grandson of the emperor, but he was not added to the jade plate(1) and was not eligible to participate in the rituals of the Imperial Temple.
Yi Yin was at a loss as to which country he belonged. Whether it was Fuyu or the Great Yan, no one would acknowledge him.
Because it was the New Year, Wei Zhao exempted Yi Yin from his homework for half a month and wanted him to have fun. When Wei Zhao was studying at the palace school, he used to have holidays during the New Year.
Unexpectedly, Yi Yin didn’t enjoy that idea at all and still practised every day, just swapping reciting the books with dawdling.
Wei Zhao was very puzzled when he saw this. Weren’t children of Yi Yin’s age very playful? Think about his nephews and nieces, which one was not?
Why was Yi Yin so well-behaved? Was it because of his relationship with Helian Zhuo? But he remembered that Yi Yin used to love to run out and play, climbing over walls, climbing trees and digging bird nests. He used to be very naughty…
Wei Zhao thought about it and decided it was the Great Yan-zhi’s fault. Yi Yin had beaten Pei Di, but it caused the Great Yan-zhi to settle the accounts with him and it scared Yi Yin, so he didn’t dare to run around.
From then on, Yi Yin became affectionate to him again, and practised martial arts seriously, without any supervision at all, and Wei Zhao had the feeling that Yi Yin had suddenly grown up.
Thinking of this, Wei Zhao was both relieved and sad. A little kid less than four years old should be spoiled and carefree all day long. When he was four years old, he was naughty enough to turn the Great Yan’s palace over. His father and mother, and even his elder brothers and sisters just let him do whatever he wanted. It wouldn’t come to his mind to care about other people’s thoughts and intentions. But Yi Yin was forced to be so precocious and so restrained. It made Wei Zhao feel very distressed when he looked at him.
So Wei Zhao picked up his son who was lying on the kang in a daze and asked softly, “Ah Yin, do you want to go out to play?”
“Play what?” Yi Yin turned his head and looked at Wei Zhao in surprise, his eyes full of disbelief.
At the beginning of his rebirth, Yi Yin chose to stick to Wei Zhao because he had no choice. At least, Wei Zhao would not harm him, no matter what, he would refuse to accept him at most. Yi Yin never dared to delude himself that they would be as close as real father and son.
Wei Zhao was stung by the look in his son’s eyes and froze for a moment before saying, “What do you want to play? Make a snowman? Snowball fight? Or set off firecrackers?”
Yi Yin was not a real child, and he was not interested in rolling around in the snow alone, and at his current age, could he set off firecrackers by himself? Wasn’t Wei Zhao too irresponsible?
He thought for a while, tilted his head and said, “It’s not fun playing by myself, will Daddy accompany me?” Wei Zhao would refuse, most likely, so Yi Yin wouldn’t have to go out. It was so cold outside, but it was still warm in the house.
Who knew that Wei Zhao would nod without hesitation: “Of course Daddy will accompany you.” Yi Yin had no playmates, wouldn’t he be pitiful if he didn’t accompany him?
Yi Yin was suddenly dumbfounded, and when he woke up from his daze, he was about to pull Wei Zhao to the door and run. Wei Zhao actually wanted to accompany him to build a snowman, have a snowball fight and set off firecrackers! It was now or never, so it was an opportunity that could not be missed.
After just two steps, Yi Yin was caught by Wei Zhao, who said helplessly: “Ah Yin, don’t rush, change your clothes before going out.”
Yi Yin laughed happily, not even noticing that he was wrapped into a small ball by his nanny and maids. He really felt that this was the happiest New Year he had ever had in his memory.
The little ball-like player had short legs and short feet, and it was not easy to walk in the snow. Before Wei Zhao could do anything, Yi Yin tripped over and couldn’t get up, so Wei Zhao had to pick him up.
So the planned snowball fight failed. The father and son piled up snowmen in the yard. Yi Yin helped Wei Zhao roll snowballs while asking the maids to get charcoal and carrots.
The snow was thick on the ground, and two snowmen, one big and one small, quickly piled up. Yi Yin personally inserted eyes made of charcoal and mouths made of carrots into the snowmen, and then pointed to the bigger snowman and said to Wei Zhao, “Daddy, that one is you.”
Wei Zhao patted off the snowflakes that had fallen on his body and picked up Yi Yin, and then saw him point to the smaller snowman and say, “This one is me, I’m with Daddy.”
In fact, the two snowmen were not piled up exquisitely. They were just two snowballs of different sizes stacked together, with eyes and mouths inserted. But Yi Yin looked at them and liked them so much. Wei Zhao personally helped him pile them up.
“Ah Yin, do you still want to set off firecrackers?” Wei Zhao remembered that this was something that most boys liked. When he was a child, he used it to scare many little princesses and little princes.
Yi Yin touched Wei Zhao’s hand, shook his head and said, “Daddy, let’s go back to the house, the firecrackers will be set off at night.” Wei Zhao’s hands were so cold, if they didn’t go into the house to warm up, Yi Yin was afraid he would get sick.
Wei Zhao was also afraid that Yi Yin would catch a cold, so he carried him back. The two changed their clothes, got on the kang and talked around the charcoal pot.
There were sweet potatoes buried in the charcoal pot, and their fragrance wafted out from time to time. Wei Zhao saw Yi Yin sniffing the air, so he took out one potato, warmed his hands and broke it open to feed Yi Yin.
Just when the two of them were having a good time, the Great Yan-zhi sent someone to deliver a message, saying that they should be prepared to attend the New Year’s Eve banquet in the evening.
Wei Zhao was stunned, and Yi Yin also felt very strange. Wei Zhao’s status was simply not enough to appear on such an occasion. Yi Yin could, but the nanny would have to take him alone.
Wei Zhao wanted to shirk, but the messenger said that this was the meaning of the king, and it had to be obeyed without failure.
The messenger left, and Yi Yin asked Wei Zhao, “Daddy, can we not go, I don’t want to go.” Something was wrong. He was afraid that something would happen to Wei Zhao, but he couldn’t remember when it happened to Wei Zhao.
The only thing he could be sure of was that it would not happen too late, not later than when he was five years old, and possibly earlier.
Because after that, Yi Yin began to have memories, but he couldn’t remember how Wei Zhao’s arms and legs were ruined, so it must have happened when he was little.
Wei Zhao shook his head and said softly, “Ah Yin, no, we must go.” He was Helian Zhuo’s exclusive property, and what qualifications did he have to disobey his orders? Under the current circumstances, it was better for them not to irritate Helian Zhuo.
When Wei Zhao spoke, the light that Yi Yin couldn’t understand flashed in his eyes. Apart from humiliating him and insulting the Great Yan, what else could Helian Zhuo do? Since he couldn’t avoid it, he had to face it.
Yi Yin stopped talking, but stretched out his hand and covered the back of Wei Zhao’s hand. Knowing that it was a grand banquet, he couldn’t help but go, but he felt too bad.
Later in the evening, Wei Zhao took Yi Yin to the main hall of the palace where the banquet was held. As soon as he appeared, there were all kinds of fingers pointing at him. Some looked down on him, but more were angry. The number of Fuyu soldiers who died at Wei Zhao’s hands that year was not small.
Wei Zhao’s face was expressionless, as if he didn’t hear them. Yi Yin couldn’t bear listening, and stared at those people fiercely. There were many people who called him a “bastard” behind his back, but in front of him, no one dared, so there was no more extreme behaviour.
The Great Yan-zhi always disliked Wei Zhao but today, she was a bit different. Not only did she not embarrass him in public, she also arranged the position of the father and son in the front, right next to Farida.
Fortunately, from Helian Zhuo’s harem, only the Great Yan-zhi and Farida attended the banquet. Wei Zhao’s seat was ranked after them. Although it was a bit strange, it was not a mistake. It was just that the Great Yan-zhi was never so considerate, and it made Yi Yin feel frightened. He was afraid that there was some trick behind it.
Besides, Farida was not easy to deal with either. Yi Yin remembered very well that in the 10th year of Taiping(2), he followed General Huo Dongjun to recover Youzhou, Helian Zhuo was defeated and died, and the Crown Prince Luojia succeeded to the throne. This Luojia was Farida’s son, which clearly showed her ability.
Sitting next to Farida, it was difficult for Yi Yin to control his eyes from looking at her. But when he saw her, he was stunned.
Who could tell him why Farida looked so much like Wei Zhao that anyone would easily believe that they were siblings? Yi Yin was simply dumbfounded.
On second thought, Yi Yin realised that Farida and Wei Zhao were really related. Farida was the daughter of Tiele Khan Vaziri, while Vaziri, however, was the son of Princess Xin’an.
Princess Xin’an was Wei Su’s elder sister, Wei Zhao’s direct aunt. It was not unreasonable that her granddaughter and nephew had similarities in appearance.
Of course, Farida and Wei Zhao had completely different temperaments, and their clothes were even more different. For the people who were not familiar with them or didn’t observe them closely, it would be difficult to see the similarities.
It didn’t matter if others could see it or not. Yi Yin believed that Helian Zhuo could see it, but in this case, wasn’t his mind messed up? Yi Yin was extremely bored, and his thoughts were wandering ridiculously.
During the meal, Wei Zhuo and Yi Yin tried to behave like a background, while Helian Zhuo and the Great Yan-zhi didn’t deliberately focus on them, so everything went well.
After three rounds of wine, Farida said that she was unwell and wanted to go back to the palace to rest. She was pregnant and the Great Yan-zhi couldn’t stop her, so she agreed with a bland expression, but everyone here could see that the look on her face was not pleasant.
Helian Zhuo ignored the Great Yan-zhi and walked up to Wei Zhao with a wine glass, asking him to accompany him to drink, making the Great Yan-zhi’s face even darker with anger. Yi Yin couldn’t help but sigh that Helian Zhuo had definitely done it on purpose to make Wei Zhao’s life even more difficult.
Fortunately, Helian Zhuo didn’t have any other intentions. Wei Zhao accompanied him for a drink, and he returned to the main seat.
Soon the news came that Farida had slipped in the snow. Helian Zhuo was shocked when he heard it. He threw down his wine glass and rushed out. The Great Yan-zhi stomped her feet and followed.
The king and the king’s wife were both gone, and the six clan lords were also sensible enough to say goodbye. The relationship between Fuyu and Tiele was still in the honeymoon period, and Tiele’s princess had an accident that was not easy to explain. Seeing that the banquet was over, Wei Zhao also took Yi Yin back to the Northern Courtyard.
- The imperial family tree
- Era name; as you remember, Wei Su’s era name was Yongjia (“forever auspicious”), and Wei Yang’s era name was Taiping (“peace and security”)