Luo Wei exited the Hall of Literary Transcendence, only to find that lanterns had already been lit outside. He’d entered the palace at dusk, and now it was almost midnight.
Long Xuan walked behind Luo Wei and said in a low voice, “Luo Wei. The grievances between you and me are difficult, but for the sake of Greater Zhou’s mountains and rivers, it’s better to put down rancor for the time being and collaborate with me. At least before Black Frost City returns, you must trust me.”
Luo Wei looked back at Long Xuan. This man clearly stood on the veranda beneath the halo of palace lanterns, but his body was shrouded in shadows. Luo Wei couldn’t see Long Xuan’s expression clearly, and only replied, “When has this humble servant not trusted Your Highness? The grievances Your Highness speaks of are even more so beyond discussion.”
“Luo Wei, even for the state, even for this country you cannot trust me?”
“Can you regret?” Luo Wei suddenly asked.
Long Xuan did not understand. “Regret what?”
“To go to Yue Zhou, your Hall of Literary Transcendence lost two family members,” Luo Wei elaborated. “Today it seems those two’s departure was not worthwhile, and you don’t regret it?”
Long Xuan did not think too much before replying, “I have never thought twice about people who are already dead.”
Luo Wei looked at the palace rooms before him. There were many beautiful women here, and he had really asked an extraneous question. He continued, “Soon there will be a true mistress here. I just don’t know which noble family’s daughter will be fortunate enough to enter the Hall of Literary Transcendence.”
“You also heard that I am going to establish a proper wife?” Long Xuan asked.
“Yes, I heard,” Luo Wei affirmed. “Women will not ask much about the state and country, but the topic of Your Second Highness and the Third Highness’s establishment of proper wives is of great interest for them.”
Long Xuan considered a bit more, and realized that Luo Wei would know of these matters even when he stayed at home sick. Putting aside his own business, it was impossible for the Luo family to ignore third brother Long Xing’s selection of a proper wife.
After Luo Wei bowed and saluted to Long Xuan, he said, “No need to see this humble servant out.”
The wind in the courtyard suddenly strengthened, its passing inciting the susurrus of the thickets in the courtyard. The palace lanterns hanging from the veranda also rocked back and forth, light and shadow flashing continually.
“Your Highness.” Fu Yun trotted over from the end of a covered walkway.
Long Xuan didn’t look at Fu Yun. He looked at Luo Wei’s shoulders shrinking from the cold of the blowing wind.
“Your Highness.” When Fu Yun walked closer, Long Xuan and Luo Wei saw Zhao Fu and Wei Lan following behind Fu Yun.
“Lan?” Luo Wei looked at Wei Lan, who had walked to his front, in surprise. “Why are you here?”
Wei Lan smiled at Luo Wei, and then followed Zhao Fu in saluting Long Xuan.
After saluting Long Xuan, Zhao Fu smilingly said to Luo Wei, “Young master, His Majesty knows you came to His Second Highness’s place. It’s late at night and the wind is blowing. His Majesty ordered this humble slave to lead Imperial Bodyguard Wei into the palace to wait on the young master.”
Luo Wei made a gesture of thanks in the direction of the Hall of Eternal Light.
Zhao Fu continued to face Luo Wei with a smile, “Young master, His Majesty was afraid that us humble slaves would not be able to serve the young master.”
“Where are these words of Mr. Zhao’s coming from?” Luo Wei laughed. “His Majesty is feeling sorry for you guys!”
(T/N: again, keeping acid’s translation of “mister” for the term of address for eunuchs.)
Zhao Fu smiled as he repeatedly emphasized that he did not dare to think so.
“Your Highness.” Luo Wei and Zhao Fu completed their banter, so Luo Wei addressed Long Xuan as he stood beside them, “This humble servant will retreat.”
Long Xuan replied, “Okay, be careful on your way.”
Luo Wei had just taken a step on the stairs when the wind blew even more fiercely than it just had. Luo Wei used his sleeves to cover his face, leaning towards Wei Lan.
Wei Lan hurriedly draped the fur overcoat in his hands on Luo Wei.
Long Xuan’s hands, which had come up to undo the belt of his thick overcoat, fell again.
Wei Lan and Luo Wei switched sides so that Wei Lan blocked some of the wind for Luo Wei as he supported him out of the Hall of Literary Transcendence.
Long Xuan watched the two people walking together amid the biting, chilling wind, each indeed intending to accompany the other. Long Xuan’s expression was frosty as he turned around to enter the hall. He didn’t want to look anymore, but he couldn’t walk forward to separate the two men. He could only walk away by himself.
Outside the Hall of Literary Transcendence, Luo Wei said to Zhao Fu, “Go back Mr. Zhao. It’s fine now that Wei Lan and I have exited the palace.”
Zhao Fu replied, “The young master will get tired.”
“It’s okay,” Luo Wei’s reward had already entered Zhao Fu’s hands as he spoke, “I’ve sat for a long time, and want to walk. Wei Lan is here, you guys don’t need to take care of me.”
Zhao Fu said, “Then the young master should sit in the soft palanquin to exit the palace, and have Imperial Bodyguard Wei accompany him out?”
Luo Wei whispered to Zhao Fu, “I still want to walk around in the palace. This is Wei Lan’s first time inside.”
Zhao Fu chuckled. “This slave understands. As the young master wishes.” He took a multicolored ceramic glazed palace lantern from behind him, putting it in Wei Lan’s hands.
“Let’s go,” Luo Wei said from beside Wei Lan.
Wei Lan held the glazed lamp in one hand while supporting Luo Wei with the other, and whispered to Luo Wei, “The young master knows the way out of the palace?”
“I know it,” Luo Wei whispered back with a smile. “Follow me and you won’t get lost.”
Zhao Fu watched the two people walk further away step by step, and then said the two eunuchs holding the palanquin, “Just follow the third young master from this distance. If he can’t walk further, you will help him up.”
The two little eunuchs hurriedly followed with the empty palanquin.
Fu Yun ran back to Long Xuan’s study and reported to Long Xuan, “Your Royal Highness, the third young master and Wei Lan have left.”
Long Xuan looked at the teacup opposite him. At his place, not to mention drinking a sip of tea, Luo Wei did not even touch his white jade teacup once. “Zhao Fu and the rest followed?” Long Xuan asked.
Fu Yun replied, “Third young master didn’t let Zhao Fu and the rest follow. Zhao Fu signalled and knows how to curry favor. After the third young master was far away, Zhao Fu had the two eunuchs holding the palanquin follow from behind.”
Long Xuan lowered his head and looked carefully at the map of Northern Yan’s landscapes and rivers again.
Zhao Fu could not wait for Long Xuan to speak, and he quietly walked out.
(T/N: Author wrote Zhao Fu. Maybe he followed Fu Yun in? Translator confused too.)
The doors and windows in the study were shut tightly, and the medicinal scent on the opposite side of the desk seemed to stagnate in that one chi of space. Long Xuan didn’t know what he was thinking. After immersing himself in the rivers and mountains of that map for a while, he picked up the untouched cup of tea and splashed it on the opposite side of the desk. When the white jade cup had not a drop left in it, Long Xuan fiercely flung it to the ground, smashing it into pieces.
(T/N: 1 chi = ⅓ of a meter).
Zhao Fu stood guard outside the study. Hearing the movements in the study, he did not dare to investigate.
On the stone path covered in fallen leaves, Luo Wei and Wei Lan walked shoulder to shoulder.
“Are you cold?” Wei Lan asked.
“I’m all wrapped up like this already,” Luo Wei replied. “If it gets colder, can I still go out of the house?”
Wei Lan felt Luo Wei’s hand. The hand holding the warmer had sweat a bit. “The Prime Minister wanted me to bring the young master back a bit earlier. I didn’t expect it to be so late.”
“I had matters to discuss and it got a bit late. I’ll talk with you about it when we’re back.” Luo Wei lowered his voice and continued, “There are listening ears everywhere in this palace, I don’t dare speak.”
Wei Lan looked at their surroundings. Except for the two little eunuchs who followed them from far away carrying the empty palanquin, there was no one else. “It turns out that the palace is like this,” Wei Lan said to Luo Wei. “It’s different from what I imagined.”
“What did you think the palace is like?”
“It is said that the road to the palace is paved with gold, the buildings are covered with jade, and the night pearls illuminate the dark like its daytime.”
Luo Wei laughed, “So it turned out you believed this?”
“Unexpectedly, there are also fallen leaves on the roads in the palace.” Wei Lan lowered his head and smiled with embarrassment.
“It was just blown down by the wind,” Luo Wei said. “Someone will clean it tomorrow morning. But I like to walk on this kind of road.”
Wei Lan smiled and said, “Then in the future I will ask Xiao Xiao and them not to sweep the fallen leaves in the young master’s courtyard.”
“If he won’t even sweep the grounds, won’t he die from laziness?”
Both of them laughed, and the leaves they stepped on rustled beneath. In this quiet night in the palace, these sounds carried far–these weren’t sounds of music, but they were just as sweet to the ear.