“I’m going too,” Fu Wei said. Seeing Ning Fei quickly escaping like this, Fu Wei became even more upset. She thought that her old dad was just a big ruffian, even scaring a general such as Ning Fei away.
The door to the room shut with a “bang”; Fu Wei had slammed it from the outside.
Fu Jing Zong looked at Luo Wei and laughed, saying, “Wei Er’s body looks much better now. Your dad was so scared that your uncles would make too much noise and wouldn’t let us see you.”
“Speaking nonsense again,” Fu Hua cut in. “When did our family’s prime minister say you couldn’t see Xiao Wei? It’s just that Xiao Wei needs to quietly recuperate now, and didn’t you and the sixth child just make a racket in front of Xiao Wei?”
Fu Jing Zong had always been lenient with Fu Hua, who was the only great aunt of their generation in the Fu family, since childhood. Even though Fu Hua already belonged to the Luo family, he was used to indulging her. After Fu Hua’s lecture, Provincial Governor Elder Fu did not open his mouth again.
Luo Wei spoke one sentence to Wei Lan: “Lan, go and see if my congee is ready.”
Wei Lan, like Ning Fei, had wanted an out since long ago. Ning Fei could say his house had some matters, but this official’s residence was Wei Lan’s house. He couldn’t use such an excuse. After Luo Wei spoke, Wei Lan quickly paid his respects to Luo Zhi Qiu and three others, then left.
“Is he the Qi Lin shadow guard you spoke of?” Fu Jing Zong asked Fu Hua.
Luo Wei heard Fu Jing Zong’s disgusted tone which also carried dislike, and spoke before Fu Hua did, “Uncle, we haven’t seen each other in a long time.”
Fu Jing Zong replied, “That’s right ah. I still remember when you were a little fatty, now that I see you again you’ve become a little sickly beauty…”
“Big brother!” Fu Hua shouted. Sickly beauty? This older brother really spoke of any taboos he could!
“I’m saying that Wei Er is even better-looking than those little ladies! I see he’s like,” Fu Jing Zong stared at Luo Wei for a while, then paired his two fists together and continued, “I say, the more I look at Wei Er the more familiar he seems. Isn’t Wei Er’s face the same as the official residence’s third young lady’s?”
“Mother,” Xu Yue Miao spoke up, “You Er is also tired, I’ll take him back to sleep.”
“I’m not sleepy!” Luo You yelled.
“Be good!” Xu Yue Miao had experienced Fu Jing Zong’s thoughtless disposition firsthand. They were celebrating the Lunar New Year. Not mentioning whether it was appropriate or not to speak of the deceased, Luo Wei’s body could fail him at any time. He’d just regained some color and had been spoken of as if he’d already passed away. This great lord uncle even used such a loud voice for such inauspicious talk. Xu Yue Miao was his junior, and could hardly speak words of blame towards her senior, Fu Jing Zong. She could only take Luo You away–out of sight out of mind.
Luo Wei also spoke to Luo You: “Be obedient and come back to your youngest uncle’s residence tomorrow. I’ll teach you to paint.”
Luo You currently had an interest in painting. Hearing Luo Wei’s words, he became docile in Xu Yue Miao’s arms. His mother left with him in her embrace.
Luo Zhi Qiu and Luo Wei’s faces could still muster smiles, but Fu Hua’s could not. Luo Zhi Jin was a sore spot for Fu Hua. Hearing Fu Jing Zong bring her up today, Fu Hua was really about to become impatient with this big brother of hers.
At this time, Luo Wei smilingly said, “Eldest uncle, I also haven’t seen sixth cousin in a long time. Have you brought her to the capital to play?”
“Yes ah,” Luo Zhi Qiu did not wait for the great Provincial Governor Fu to reply and interjected, “these days the sixth child has been to a few places in the capital.”
“That’s good,” Luo Wei said. “I had thought that since the selection of ladies is about to start, sixth cousin would attend.”
Fu Hua asked, “Can your sixth cousin not attend?”
Luo Wei replied, “Sixth cousin’s appearance is not a problem, but I’ve seen her temperament. Do the depths of the palace suit her? After entering the palace, would she still be allowed to have martial arts matches with others?”
Fu Jing Zong said, “After entering the palace she would not dare.”
“Uncle has said that she has stayed in the barracks since childhood. Her fundamental disposition is already like this, can it be changed? This time Maiden Xu died at the Western Mountain hunting grounds. The Xu clan of Shanghang also sent their daughter in and ended up like this. Uncle can’t act as if he can’t see that right?”
Fu Jing Zong looked at his little sister. What was going on? Was Luo Wei lecturing his uncle? Of course he knew of the matters involving the Xu clan’s daughter. Did Luo Wei mean that Fu Wei would have the same fate as the Xu clan’s daughter if she entered the palace?
“Big brother,” Fu Hua said to Fu Jing Zong, “I’ll accompany you to the front courtyard all right?
Wei Er also should rest.”
“No,” Fu Jing Zong declined. “Why did his words just now sound strange to me? Wei Er, speak more clearly.”
Fu Hua continued, “Let’s go. Anything you don’t understand our family’s prime minister can discuss with you in a bit. Don’t talk anymore in Xiao Wei’s place, his health hasn’t recovered yet.”
Fu Hua dragged Fu Jing Zong away.
“You think your sixth cousin shouldn’t attend the selections?” Luo Zhi Qiu asked Luo Wei. “Your mother’s suggestion that she not enter the palace and instead accompany the prince–this too is inadequate?”
Luo Wei’s expression cooled and he said, “The Fu family wants to become imperial family relatives?”
Luo Zhi Qiu froze for a moment before replying, “It isn’t wrong for your maternal uncle’s family to want to rise up.”
“With her temperament, can Fu Wei be a royal daughter-in-law? The Fu family has soldiers; accompanying a prince? Other than the Crown Prince, who else’s side can she stay by? The third prince? Brothers with the same mother don’t count as those born in the imperial family?” Luo Wei said.
“Wei Er!” Luo Zhi Qiu glanced at the tightly shut door, and only then calmed slightly. After the Liu clan’s extermination, Luo Zhi Qiu hadn’t slept soundly for many nights. The Liu clan of today could be the Luo clan of tomorrow. Furthermore, unlike the Lius, their Luo family was raising a descendant of dragons. None could be certain of what would happen. Sometimes, when Luo Zhi Qiu stood at court, he would feel as if he was treading on thin ice. Luo Zhi Qiu’s aspirations lay with assisting the emperor in his rule. This Senior Official Luo Zhi Qiu’s involvement in the matters of seizing the position as the first wife’s son was involuntary. He was mired in a swamp, trapped without hope of rescue.
Luo Wei inhaled a breath. It was not that he didn’t see Luo Zhi Qiu’s haggard state. However, unless their family abandoned governmental posts and resigned from the nobility, travelling to distant lands without ever asking after worldly affairs again, they could only continue to struggle. The Luo clan did not include only their immediate family, but it still relied on this family’s protection. In his previous life when the official residence of the Luo family fell, in the same way the distant Yan city shed rivers of blood. Half the city emptied. Even if their family wished to run, they could not.
Within the room, father and son looked at each other and simultaneously sighed.
At this time, firecrackers set off in the front courtyard. Luo Wei and Luo Zhi Qiu both turned to the window. The fireworks in midair projected red light on the snow-white paper of the windows. No matter what transpired this year, time stepped forward without stilling. The sound of manmade firecrackers ushered in the new year.
There are still six years, Luo Wei said to himself. It’s good that there are still six years, so that this intrigue and deception can all be finished.
“Let your mother talk about those things.” Luo Zhi Qiu no longer looked at the framed windows whose paper, washed by splashes of color from the fireworks, became ever more varying and rich in appearance. He faced Luo Wei and said, “You are a junior. Even if you understand what you see, it does not follow that you should speak.”
“It would be best if father makes one thing clear to mother.” Luo Wei’s voice was very cold and clear. “As long as my Luo family remains wealthy and honored for a day, so too can the Fu family. The Emperor’s ministerial circle and the frontier officials, though they all count as court councilors, they are still not the same. Only if mother understands this concept, then the uncles and theirs will understand.”
All filler and no action makes translator a dull boy