T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter part.
Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 106 out of 171
The scholars across from them didn't know what was happening here. Seeing that Song Hui wasn't moving, some of them even started joking, "Flower boy, are you still not coming back?"
Wei Luo took her hand back. She stammered out, "You're welcome."
After saying these words, she didn't say anything else.
Song Hui stared at her. There were a thousand words that he wanted to say. In the end, they only hovered in his lips and teeth before he swallowed them down. What could he say? Their relationship had been broken the day the engagement was canceled. In the future, whether there was sorrow or joy, it had nothing to do with the other person. Even if they met, it could only be like now. He could only say thank you and ask a token how are you. Nothing could be done.
She was already engaged with Zhao Jie. Several days ago, when the imperial edict was announced, there was uproar about this among the aristocratic families. Even if he didn't want to know, he couldn't avoid finding out about this news. Duke Ying's Fourth Miss was so fortunate. Count Zhong Yi's family canceled their engagement and she became the future honorable Princess Consort Jing. The canceled engagement had changed into a great topic to discuss. Without his sacrifice, how would she be able to be with Zhao Jie? When this was said in the mouth of others, this was a small matter that didn't hurt or itch. But, this was serious injury to him.
Originally, Song Hui thought he would be able to quickly get over this and no longer feel bad. He thought he would be able to feel calmer when facing Wei Luo in the future. But, he wasn't able to do this. It had been okay when he didn't see her. He could force himself to do other things to distract his attention.
But, as soon as he saw her, he remembered everything again. It felt like someone was using a blunt tool to gouge out his flesh piece by piece. As the other person was gouging, he was using needle and thread to sew up his wounds. In the end, the pieces of flesh he had sewed back would gradually fall off. The parts that should stay couldn't be kept. Someone else had mercilessly taken his most important parts away. Although the wounds weren’t fatal, seeing her was like seeing the traces of his sutures, his heart couldn't help feeling sore.
Song Hui looked away, turned around, walked back to the group of scholars, and gave the lantern to a man wearing a piao piao jin hat and plain darkish red silk robe. Song Hui smiled and cautioned him, "This time, keep a careful watch over this. Don't lose it again."
(T/N: Below is a picture of a piao piao jin hat.)
The man touched the back of his head, laughed, and said, "Brother Song's reprimand is correct..."
Wei Luo lowered her eyes, held Zhao Jie's hand tighter, and said, "Older brother Jing, let's go."
Then, holding Zhao Jie’s hand, she started walking away.
They didn't walk two steps away before that scholar wearing a piao piao jin hat rushed over to them. He stretched his hand out to give Wei Luo something. "Miss, please wait. Since Miss was the one who correctly guessed the riddle, then the reward should be given to Miss."
The item in his hand was a dark jade waist accessory carved into a python and with precious stones below the python. It looked like a man's accessory. Wei Luo couldn't use this. She shook her head and refused, "Thank you, but I just happened to guess right. I wasn't trying to get the reward. You can keep this."
However, that scholar was very insistent. Since she had guessed right, the prize should naturally go to her.
Wei Luo's face showed her hesitation. Just as she was feeling embarrassed, Zhao Jie reached out, took the item, and said, "Thank you." Then he bid farewell to the scholar and pulled Wei Luo along to leave the area.
As they returned to Duke Ying's corner gate, Wei Luo was still in low spirits. It was a sharp contrast to her earlier happy and excited mood.
Zhao Jie brought her back to the entrance, lowered his head, and closely held her cherry blossom outer robe embroidered with reishi mushrooms. Seeing her drooping head, there wasn't a change in his expression other than his eyes darkening,. He called out, "Ah Luo."
Wei Luo lifted her long eyelashes. Not knowing why he said her name, she asked, "En?"
Zhao Jie took out the python waist accessory given by the scholar and asked her, "Do you want this item?"
The jade accessory’s craftsmanship was very exquisite. Below the main jade piece, there were two bright, round pearls. Underneath the moonlight, the pearls faintly shimmered. Wei Luo glanced at it, wrinkled her nose, and said, "I don't want it."
Zhao Jie nodded and closed his hand around the jade accessory. Without any expression on his face, he threw the jade accessory into the nearby flowers and plants on the roadside. There was a clattering sound before the jade accessory was submerged into the dim light of night.
Startled, Wei Luo asked, “Why did you throw it away?”
With a serious expression, he said, "Since you decided you didn't want it, why keep it?" Then, seeing that Wei Luo didn't show any reaction, he helplessly sighed, leaned over, and hugged her. His face was snuggly pressed against her soft, tender face. He said into her ear, "Don't keep thinking about Song Hui. In the future, you can only think about this prince."
Wei Luo finally understood his meaning. She blinked and asked, "Why did you think I was thinking about older brother Song Hui?"
Zhao Jie's complexion faintly became heavier. He had an expression of "What do you think?"
She suddenly wanted to laugh. So, this was the expression that Zhao Jie had when he was feeling jealous. She took the opportunity to wrap her arms around his neck, tilt her head, and made an intentional kissing sound. As soon as she kissed him, she quickly let him go. As quick as a wisp of smoke, she quickly hid behind the gate. "I'm not thinking about him. I was thinking about that riddle..." She finally pretended to be angry and deliberately said, "Older brother, do you want to even control what I'm thinking about? You’re already so controlling when I haven't even married you. What will happen after we're married?"
Zhao Jie stagnated for a moment. Just as he was about reply, "You..."
But, she didn't give him the chance to speak. She closed the gate, turned around, and started walking back to her room.
Zhao Jie stood at the gate and thought of the words she had recently said. He didn't know if he should be angry or laugh. In the end, he curved his lips and said, "Annoying troublemaker."
Clearly, these were words of reprimand. But, his gentle tone made the words seem more like affectionate words of wanting to spoil someone.
The moonlight was sparse. The deep night became quieter.
On the way back to Pine Courtyard, Wei Luo wasn't discovered by anyone. At this time, other than Bai Lan and Jin Lu, who were anxiously and constantly looking at the entrance, everyone else was sleeping. When Bai Lan returned by herself, Jin Lu scolded her after finding out what had happened. No matter what, she should have gone with Wei Luo. How could she return by herself? If something happened to Wei Luo, as a servant girl, Bai Lan should be in the front to block the danger.
Now, seeing that Wei Luo had returned, they sighed in relief and welcomed her inside.
Wei Luo changed her clothes. After cleaning herself up, she lied down in bed and went to sleep.
After Mid-autumn Festival, each day was colder than the last.
In early September, Duke Ying's family's Second Miss, Wei Dong, married an imperial physician’s younger son.
There was a long line of people following the marriage sedan sent by the groom's family. The scene was very grand. After Wei Dong's wedding, Wei Luo and Wei Ya were the only unmarried girls in the residence.... Oh, there was also Second Master's daughter that was born by an outside mistress, Wei Bao Shan. However, no one attached any importance to Wei Bao Shan. Normally, no one paid attention to her. It was to the point that Wei Luo had almost forgotten this person's existence.
Wei Luo had the status of someone waiting to be married soon. She couldn't easily go outside. Other than going to Mister Xue's and Han-shi's to do schoolwork and learn etiquette, respectively, she would also occasional go to Plum Courtyard to pay respects to Fourth Madam Qin-shi. The rest of the time, she would sit in the verandah to look at scenery.
There was a tall gingko tree growing in Pine Courtyard. Right now, it was the time for its leaves to change to yellow. When she woke up every morning, she could see the ground sprinkled with golden yellow leaves.
Today, she was wearing a moon white cloak with peony flowers while sitting in the verandah and looking at the leaves. Jin Lu came over to her after coming back from the main room. As she brought Wei Luo tea, she said, "Miss, Master has said he wants you and Young Master Chang Hong to go the palace banquet that will happen in a few days."
Wu Rong's emperor and prince had come to the capital a few days ago to come to an agreement about the relationship between the two countries. Wu Rong had declared its position about wanting to establish ties with Da Liang. After receiving this news, Emperor Chong Zhen was very happy. With a wave of his hand, he decided to hold a state banquet. He invited all of the court officials and the honorable aristocratic families to attend.
(T/N: I thought Wei Luo and Zhao Jie’s short date was sweet and harmless until I read the part where Jin Lu blames Bai Lan for not following Wei Luo, even though Bai Lan’s only choice was to obey Wei Luo’s command. It was interesting that the author points out that Bai Lan could have been punished because of Wei Luo and Zhao Jie’s decision to sneakily go out on a date without thinking about the consequences to other people. It made me rethink all of the previous times that Zhao Jie takes Wei Luo away when Jin Lu and Bai Lan were suppose to be with her.)