Luo Wei returned to the estate and heard the steward say that Fu Hua was in Luo Ze’s room while Luo Zhi Qiu was talking with Xie Yu in the study room.
“How is my second brother today?” Luo Wei asked the steward.
“The second young master didn’t wake up,” the steward replied. “The imperial physician came from the palace again to treat the second young master, and he wrote a prescription. The second young master has already taken the medicine.”
Luo Wei nodded and went to Luo Zhi Qiu’s study.
The steward said from behind him, “Third young master, people came from the Xiao Yi Apothecary. They said they are shadow guards rescued by the young master. There are five total waiting in the young master’s courtyard.”
Wei Lan wanted to see his compatriots from the Qi Lin Villa, but worried about leaving Luo Wei alone.
“Go and see them first Lan,” Luo Wei smiled and said to Wei Lan. “I’m in my own house surrounded by stewards, but you’re still afraid that something will happen? I’ll go see my father and come back quickly.”
“Yes ah, the third young master has us to accompany him,” the steward also said from the side.
“And me,” Qi Zi also patted his own chest, “Big brother Wei, please rest assured and go.”
Wei Lan then went to Luo Wei’s courtyard.
Luo Zhi Qiu was conversing with Xie Yu. When Luo Wei walked in, he asked the steward to add more charcoal to the furnace in his study.
“Your complexion really doesn’t look good.” Xie Yu looked at Luo Wei, who sat beside him. “Don’t run out anymore.”
“I went to the palace to beg forgiveness,” Luo Wei said, “of course I have to go while I look pitiful.”
Luo Zhi Qiu asked, “His Majesty forgave you?”
“He said it was just this once,” Luo Wei replied. “Father, big brother Xie Yu, seems that this trial has passed.”
Xie Yu let out a sigh of relief. “Your Majesty also sent an imperial physician to treat the second brother’s wounds. It seems that he will not punish second brother anymore. I think this matter is over.”
Luo Zhi Qiu only fretfully looked at Luo Wei, “Don’t mention it again now that this is over. Wei Er you just recover well at home for your father. Again, you don’t need to get involved with outside matters for the time being.”
How could Luo Wei be someone who could peacefully recover at home? He nodded in agreement, but immediately asked, “Have father and the Crown Prince discussed the matter of the Second Prince going to Yue Province?”
Luo Wei’s arteries had been damaged and he couldn’t afford overexcitement. Therefore, Luo Zhi Qiu dared not tell Luo Wei about the conversation he had with Long Yu in the Western Mountains. “Let’s play it by ear and first see what the Second Highness intends to do,” Luo Zhi Qiu replied.
“His Majesty promised to let Chen Tu Ye escort the Second Prince to Yue Province,” Luo Wei reported. “Playing it by ear”–this phrase told Luo Wei that they had no plan.
Xie Yu immediately said, “This can safeguard the Second Prince on the road, but what about after his arrival at Yue Province?”
“I haven’t figured it out yet,” Luo Wei answered honestly.
“This is difficult to handle,” Xie Yu said, “maybe Official Qiu has a way.”
Luo Wei replied, “It depends on how bold Official Qiu is.”
Luo Zhi Qiu and Xie Yu listened to Luo Wei’s ominous words and turned it over in their minds. For a long time, no one in the study spoke.
“Wei Er!” After Luo Zhi Qiu stewed in his thoughts, he asked Luo Wei with shock, “You have some considerations for the Second Prince?”
Luo Wei thought it was strange that Luo Zhi Qiu was so surprised. “It’s nothing, I’m just discussing something on its own merits. What considerations does father speak of?”
Luo Zhiqiu coughed twice and said, “Go rest, let’s talk about the situation in Yue Province another day. It will take some time for His Second Highness to leave the capital and go to Yue Province. Wei Er you don’t have to trouble yourself and think too much, father has a plan.”
Luo Wei wanted to ask what his father planned, when he heard Xie Yu speak, “Yun Qi, things are not urgent right now. You go to rest first, I will have a meal with teacher. Official Qiu isn’t someone easy to work with. Let’s first observe his strategy.”
Luo Wei sat on the soft sedan with a heavy heart, carried by servants of the Official’s residence. He returned to his courtyard. Luo Zhi Qiu’s attitude seemed abnormal to Luo Wei. Did the Crown Prince say something? Luo Wei pondered, but couldn’t grasp a conclusion.
There were two big snowmen piled up in Luo Wei’s courtyard, entirely constructed by Xiao Xiao and servants he had brought over.
“Young master,” Xiao Xiao saw Luo Wei coming in and ran over in excitement, “look at these snowmen!”
Luo Wei glanced at the two snowmen standing side by side and said, “You all are truly idle.”
Xiao Xiao’s smile stiffened, “Young master doesn’t like it?”
“I like it,” Luo Wei got out of the soft sedan and responded without thinking too much. He saw Luo You’s wet nurse standing outside the veranda and asked Xiao Xiao, “Luo You is here?”
“The little young master of the house has been here for a while,” Xiao Xiao spoke from behind Luo Wei. “He’s sticking to big brother Wei and horsing around, and he’s now in big bro Wei’s room.”
“Third young master.” The wet nurse saw Luo Wei walk towards the veranda and hurriedly bent her knee to pay courtesies.
“It’s cold here,” Luo Wei said. “Wait in the side room, I’ll go see that little thing.”
The wet nurse agreed to take two little maids to the side room in the courtyard to warm up.
As soon as Luo Wei pushed open the door to Wei Lan’s room, Luo You’s laughter rang out. Who knew what the little guy was giddy over, his laughter joyous. “You Er,” Luo Wei shouted at the entrance.
“The young master is back,” Wei Lan moved much faster than Luo You. Luo Wei’s voice hadn’t faded yet when Wei Lan arrived at the door. “Come in quickly,” Wei Lan said, “It’s cold outside.”
Luo Wei held a hand warmer in his hand. He touched Wei Lan’s hand and said, “It’s not cold, my hand is even sweating.”
“Uncle!” Luo You pounced.
Luo Wei hugged Luo You when he threw himself into his arms, and he lightly scritched Luo You’s little nose. “I heard you laugh before I entered the door. What are you so happy about?”
“Young master,” the other five people in the room came towards Luo Wei, each kneeling on one knee upon the ground.
“Hurry and get up,” Luo Wei immediately said, “you don’t have to pay me such grand courtesies. Lan, hurry and help them up.”
“Get up,” Wei Lan said from the side, “Let’s go in and talk.”
Qi Zi brought everyone inside and added a few charcoal furnaces to Wei Lan’s room before retreating.
Luo You didn’t wait for Wei Lan and the shadow guards to talk, pointing to a few pieces of drawing paper on the table and saying to Luo Wei, “Uncle, they all can draw, look.”
Luo Wei picked up a piece of drawing paper. Someone had painted a camellia in black ink upon the paper, and the word “nineteen” was written beside the flower. Luo Wei looked at the other drawing papers. A scarlet kaffir lily, a pot, a spoon, and a little round chick–each had a number written under it. “What is this? You all know how to paint?”
“Uncle, these sirs also taught You Er to paint today,” Luo You clarified.
“These are our codes when we get in contact. We don’t recognize any words other than our own codes.”
Luo Wei looked at these paintings and said, “Then nineteen is the camellia, twenty-one is the scarlet kaffir lily, thirty-one is an iron pot, thirty-three is a spoon, and forty-two is a chick, am I right?”
The five shadow guards nodded; they all seemed restrained in front of Luo Wei.
“Then Lan, what is yours?” Luo Wei asked curiously.
Wei Lan said, “Mine is not very good.”
“Draw and let’s see,” Luo Wei replied. “Don’t tell me that you’re a pig.”
Wei Lan lifted a pen and drew a few strokes on blank drawing paper.
“It’s a meat bun!” Luo You clapped his small hands and smiled.
It was a steaming meat bun with a bite taken out of it, revealing its meaty insides. The word “twenty-nine” lay beside it, carefully and neatly written.
Luo Wei saw this picture, looking as if something had taken his soul. How could it be him? Luo Wei looked at Wei Lan in astonishment.
“Young Master?!” Wei Lan stepped forward and hugged Luo Wei. Luo Wei had already passed out.