When Fu Zhiyu was going out now, it was very different from when he first came to Jiangnan. Almost all the people in Luanzhou knew him and many people would stuff him with fruits and delicious food. When he was going out, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he was going to return with the carriage filled with fruit.
Not only people in Jiangnan knew him, but people outside Jiangnan also knew him as the King of Jiangnan. When they mentioned his name, they would praise him as if he is a divine being that descended from the sky to the earth.
There were also people who had written books about him, and in extreme cases there were even some temples erected. Yuan Jiangxing was worried about whether the emperor’s attention would be attracted in this way, but Fu Yanran took the initiative to send a letter and comfort Fu Zhiyu, telling him not to think too much and just be normal.
“If you do well, people will praise you. The people’s hearts are like a mirror. Imperial Brother doesn’t have to think too much. If I didn’t understand it, I wouldn’t deserve to be the emperor. If you spend your days thinking about it, you won’t have time to do anything.”
But despite these words, Fu Zhiyu had gradually become more and more idle over the years.
Most of the things he had done already met his own requirements, and anything more he could do, he could leave to others.
Once, he took Mingdao and his mother out to play and went to Leicheng (Tear City) not far from Jiangnan. The moat curved around the city was shaped like a tear, and the canal was also connected here. When Fu Zhiyu went to see it at night, he saw that the willow trees by the river were decorated with lanterns, looking very beautiful.
Leicheng was a small town. Fu Zhiyu took Yuan Wanyun shopping, looking at the shops and stalls on the side of the road. There was the largest jewellery shop by the road and his mother liked it very much. She chose several small ornaments and bought a piece of jade for Fu Zhiyu to hang on his waist.
When they were paying, the shop owner came out. It was a woman in her thirties, but she didn’t comb the hair at her temples in the style of a married woman. She only used the simplest hairpin to hold her hair, looking casual and beautiful.
Fu Zhiyi took an unintentional look and was stunned for a while.
This was Qiu Rong.
It was just that Qiu Rong in front of him didn’t know him. She was obviously surprised when their eyes met, but she didn’t step forward, just lowered her head and smiled, and then went on with her own business at hand.
She was not as young as in Fu Zhiyu’s memory; the Qiu Ring with two buns on her head, always so happy, might have only lived in his memory. The person in front of him was proficient in what she was doing and looked relaxed and elegant.
Fu Zhiyu was now older, but his appearance had basically not changed compared to ten years ago. He seemed to never change. When he looked at someone intently, he would appear even more attractive.
When the time to settle the bill came, they were charged a lot less. The cashier smiled and said, “Our shop owner sees that you are good-looking, and this jewellery also suits you, so she specially gave you a discount. Come back often in the future.”
Fu Zhiyu: “…good.”
He must have been the only one who remembered the past between him and Qiu Rong. Mingdao was gone by that time, and Xie Ke only met her once, but he could hardly remember such a small maidservant.
Later, Fu Zhiyu took the time to inquire about Qiu Rong’s affairs, only to learn that her real name was Lian Wan, so she probably changed her name after she entered the palace.
She was also quite famous in Leicheng, probably because of her good business and her origin that many people knew.
Lian Wan’s father died early. Her mother was bullied by her brothers-in-law for a long time. They suffered a lot, their money was taken away and the family almost sold Lian Wan as a slave. Fortunately, at that time, the Qian family’s textile factory expanded its scale to Leicheng and looked for weavers. After hearing the news, Lian Wan’s mother took her away and went to work in the Qian family’s weaving factory to escape her cannibalistic relatives and avoid the fate of her daughter being sold as a slave.
Her mother worked in the Qian family’s textile factory for many years. Lian Wan followed her and learned to read and write in the Qian family’s school. She also became a student to a jewellery master there and learned to make hairpins. When she came back, she opened such a shop.
After Lian Wan came back, she brought seven or eight thugs with her, and her uncles didn’t dare to come to look for trouble again. She took her mother with her, became self-sufficient and earned a small fortune. Many people envied her, living so freely and chic.
It was not that Fu Zhiyu hadn’t looked for Qiu Rong before, but he didn’t have much information about her back then, and he couldn’t find out where she was from. He had asked Fu Yanran to help watch and let him know every time a new maid entered the palace, but Qiu Rong wasn’t there.
Now that he had met her here, perhaps it was fate.
There was no Fu Zhiyu in Lian Wan’s life, but when you looked into it carefully, there was him everywhere. It was a chance encounter, but in reality it was the inevitable result of all the occasional connections.
In this situation, seeing that she was doing well, he didn’t have to worry anymore. But after thinking about it, he still asked his subordinates to send a sum of money to the shop.
“Let’s say the hairpin is very well made and my mother likes it very much,” Fu Zhiyu said, “I also hope that the shop owner will get better and better in the future.”
After leaving Leicheng, Fu Zhiyu rested for a long time.
He no longer held the post of governor of Luanzhou and handed it over to other young people. The elder uncle and the younger uncle retired one after another, and the responsibility in their hands was handed over to their son-in-law and son, and they were finally living a life of leisure.
Mingdao didn’t cooperate with Yuan Lu anymore. He became independent and opened a bodyguard agency. His business was very good. After Fu Zhiyu became more and more silent, Mingdao became more famous, and no one regarded him simply as the guard of the King of Jiangnan, even though Mingdao himself was very satisfied with his identity.
The entire continent wasn’t merged into one country as in the original book. Although Jilin was now the strongest, Fu Yanran’s behaviour in this regard was conservative. He didn’t send troops to invade other countries, and the countries lived in harmony for many years. Even Southern Xinjiang had become more and more outgoing. Although there were occasional frictions between countries, they were all resolved quickly.
The affairs between his mother and Lin Yan remained the same way, and Fu Zhiyu didn’t care about it. But as the time went on, he could see that his mother was still a little shaken.
During the Qixi Festival, his mother went out with Lin Yan silently.
Fu Zhiyu ate a bowl of hot noodle soup alone in the mansion, took a plate of osmanthus candy, and enjoyed the moon in the pavilion.
Steward Zhou was too old. He had already retired and returned to his hometown some time ago. Now he was replaced with a new steward, also introduced by Steward Zhou. He was very similar to Steward Zhou and very thorough in everything.
But maybe because Steward Zhou was old, had a bad memory and had too many things to explain, he forgot to tell the new steward a lot of things.
For example, you can’t buy things in the pastry shop that looks to be doing a good business not far from the mansion, even if the master really likes to eat osmanthus candy from there.
Before, it was fine, but it was fashionable to eat osmanthus cake and osmanthus candy in Jiangnan during the Qixi Festival. After the steward bought it, he also talked about it with Fu Zhiyu: “The shop said that Wang Zhao doesn’t need to give money to buy things there. I tried to make them take the money but they didn’t want it.”
The steward didn’t find this matter difficult to understand. Wang Zhao had a very high reputation in Jiangnan. If Fu Zhiyu went shopping by himself, forget about paying, there would be a lot of people trying to give him anything he wanted.
Fu Zhiyu: “…Okay, I see.”
Other than that, he didn’t say anything.
The moon of the Qixi Festival was actually nothing to look at. After watching it for so many years, it hadn’t changed much. Fu Zhiyu felt very bored after watching it for a long time. At this point, it was still very lively outside. He thought for a while, found a clean bag, put osmanthus candy into it, and then went outside to join the fun, eating while walking.
He was still very popular. The young girls smiled and handed him peach blossom branches, but Fu Zhiyu didn’t dare to pick them up and politely escaped.
I will have to marry her if I pick it up.
Fu Zhiyu avoided the crowd and strolled to the river by himself. Many people put river lanterns on the water there. He also asked for one. He took a brush and thought for a while, but he couldn’t think of what else he wanted that had not yet come true.
He looked around for a long time and all he could think of was that everyone was happy and cheerful.
In the end, there was nothing written on his river lantern, so he put it on the water and it floated away with the current.
He walked around for a while by himself. It was getting late, and almost everyone went back. Finally, he returned to the place where he had put his river lantern and saw another river lantern slowly floating past. It was also empty, and there was no wish written on it.
Now there were only two people on the bank of the river. Fu Zhiyu followed the lantern and looked over and saw Xie Ke standing up slowly.
His movements were so slow that when Fu Zhiyu saw his face, he had a very unreal feeling.
Fu Zhiyu had hardly changed in the past few years, but Xie Ke had changed a lot. His hair was half white and his face looked much older. He was obviously just a few years older than Fu Zhiyu, but the two of them looked like two different generations.
“You, what’s wrong?” Fu Zhiyu couldn’t help but ask him.
“It’s fine,” Xie Ke said, “This body will grow old, and I’ve also reached this age.”
Fu Zhiyu gave a soft “oh”, indicating that he understood, and the two fell silent together while Xie Ke walked up to him.
“Shall we walk together?” He said, “I haven’t actually seen this section of the canal in Jiangnan.”
Fu Zhiyu thought for a while but didn’t refuse and nodded.
Xie Ke was holding a lantern in his hand, and the two of them walked slowly along the river. There was no one on the road. Xie Ke remained silent, but Fu Zhiyu spoke first.
“I was thinking, if it weren’t for you, this canal wouldn’t be so good.”
Xie Ke shook his head and said, “I just helped a little bit, it was mainly Fu Yanran and you.”
Without Fu Zhiyu, Xie Ke would naturally not care about the canal, but he actually misunderstood what Fu Zhiyu meant.
Fu Zhiyu recalled that if it hadn’t been for Xie Ke to clean up the Deng family and the Qian family back then, even if he had a way to deal with them, it would have taken a long time, and needless to say, there would be intrigues.
He was angry and willing to put in the effort to do these things, but if he spent most of his time on it, he wouldn’t necessarily have that much time to look at the Jiangnan documents, and after teaching these two families a lesson, he would have probably found the fighting really pointless and would have gone back to his life in seclusion.
As for the others, he wouldn’t have had time to notice.
Fu Zhiyu felt that there was both chance and necessity in his emotional transformation, and it was undeniably a good kind of chance that Xie Ke did appear at that time.
This section of the canal was not long. When they got to the corner, there was a wall blocking the way, requiring them to backtrack and make a big detour to pick up where they left off.
“That’s it for today,” Fu Zhiyu said. “If you still want to see it in the future, go and see it by yourself.”
Xie Ke lowered his head and nodded.
Fu Zhiyu walked back and Xie Ke followed, the lantern in his hand swaying, illuminating the road for him.
Fu Zhiyu arrived home after a while. He stood in front of the gate and watched Xie Ke stand there staring at him blankly.
“You go back.” He said.
Xie Ke didn’t leave; he put the lantern aside, took a few steps forward and gently hugged him.
Fu Zhiyu froze and didn’t push him away for a while.
“Zhiyu,” he heard Xie Ke say to him in his ear, in a voice that only two people could hear, “I love you.”
Fu Zhiyu didn’t answer.
Xie Ke didn’t hold him for a long time. He let go and stared at Fu Zhiyu again. There was an undefinable meaning in his eyes. Fu Zhiyu thought he was going to say something, but he just kept repeating: “…I love you.”
Fu Zhiyu lowered his head, gave a soft “en”, and then said, “I see.”
This probably couldn’t be considered a response.
Fu Zhiyu added another sentence; other than that, he didn’t know what else to say to him.
Xie Ke let go of his hand. He seemed to have thought about something clearly because of these words, smiled at Fu Zhiyu and then watched him walk into the mansion, standing in front of the gate for a long time before leaving.
Fu Zhiyu had never seen him since then.
He never received another message from the Lord God again either. Sometimes when he thought of those things, he felt a little strange.
Fu Zhiyu stayed in this world for a shorter time than he expected. Sometimes he looked in the mirror and couldn’t tell how old he was, let alone see any signs of ageing. He thought he would live like a monster for a long time, but in fact he didn’t.
When he saw all his cherished people leave, his desire to stay in this world wasn’t so strong.
But he still didn’t expect it when he left. One morning, he felt tired, and when he turned around, he felt different.
He felt that he was gradually floating up, and there was a dazzling white light in front of him. When the white light dissipated, he couldn’t see anything clearly but he heard the sound first.
It was the sound of the Lord God’s space. This was the place where the master brain was located. There was often a beeping prompt sound, as well as a low mechanical-like rumble.
“You are finally back,” Fu Zhiyu heard the voice of the Lord God again, “Zhiyu, I have been waiting for you for a long time.”