Please note… There will only be 1 additional chapter each week for July even though there are enough for 2. The team is working hard on getting all the translation and words correct.
Edited by Halley & Larkspur
Chapter 2: Departing Camp
When I woke up the next day, the skies had turned bright.
The place beside me was empty, not even half a shadow could be seen. I pulled the quilt off and when I got off the bed, my legs touched the copper basin by the bed and made a sound.
Servants immediately walked in from outside the tent.
“Furen has awoken. May Furen rise and change clothes.” They bowed towards me and when they saw the undergarments I was wearing, they were startled in unison.
I knew what they were thinking about. My undergarments were very neat and the knot that held my clothes together was still the complicated and fancy one from last night —— nothing had happened in the wedding chambers last night.
“Where is the General?” I asked them.
A servant replied, “The General has gone to the camp early in the morning. One fears that he would only return at nightfall.”
I looked at the wooden stand by the lacquer screen that had held the armour. It was empty.
“So it is so.” After a brief moment, speaking nonchalantly, I stood up, letting them assist me in dressing up.
Suddenly, I remembered a time when I was just over ten years old when Father’s good friend, Zhou Bo, the Supervisor of Attendants, married off his daughter. My wet nurse had gone to take a look and upon her return, for a month, criticised from the number of dowry to the decoration at the doors. She proudly told me that if our family’s Young Lady was to be married off, one feared that only Her Highness the Princess’ marriage would be comparable in the entire Chang An.
Last night, my new Father-in-law, Wei Jue, was busy settling the Dong Xuan who were on their last legs, at the Jiao county in the East and did not attend his son’s wedding.
There were no six rituals, no maiden family to send off, no aunts to receive kowtows and even upon waking up on the second day, one’s husband was already not by one’s side. This second marriage was just so simple and crude. If my wet nurse were to know of it, one does not know how sad she would be.
But fortunately she had already passed on and would not need to worry about these things.
Of course, I did not hate the Wei clan because I was not reluctant about this marriage. For me, since that year when I was fourteen, I had seen someone welcoming a bride on the street and afterwards, it did not matter who I was married to. Wasn’t being able to live a little better, a good marriage?
I did not have to wait till the evening to see Wei Tan as he came over at noon.
“The army will strike camp and Furen will be returning to Yong Capital.”
Upon entering, his only form of greeting was a nod followed by that sentence.
“Immediately pack things up and we’ll set off in the afternoon.” This was the second sentence.
He did not wait for me to express the gentleness and thoughtfulness of a newly wedded wife and had already turned around and left like the breeze, just like the way he came in.
The servants looked at one another.
“In a daze for what? Quickly tidy up. The journey will begin this afternoon!” Madam Zhang urged on.
Recovering their senses, everyone quickly went about their tasks to pack things up.
“The General is still on an expedition. Furen should be understanding.” Madam Zhang came over and said that to me.
I gave a small smile and raised my head calmly.
There was nothing to be understanding of, because if there were apologies then there would be understandings. Wei Tan’s words just now were commands and there was not a trace of apology.
“Is the Prime Minister still in Jiao County?”
Madam Zhang said, “It is exactly so.”
I lowered my head and stopped asking questions.
I was very clear on the reason why Wei Jue used the entire Lai Yang in exchange for me to marry his son.
Since ancient times, the Fu Clan of Huai Nan had been a big noble clan. For the past few hundred years, the clan had produced generations after generations of officials and the number of people with a government pay scale of six hundred coins and above would be large enough to take up a few pages in the Clan Records. In the entire country, there were only a handful of famous and reputable clans like the Fu.
Not talking about something far off and just mentioning my ZhuFu, Fu Yong. A talented and learned man, he was highly appreciated by the late Emperor Huan and became a Chancellor before he was forty years of age, becoming the youngest of the three state councillors of the Central Government in this dynasty. After his death, Father succeeded the position of Chancellor until the Late Emperor ordered the extermination of the Fu clan under Empress Bian’s vilifications.
The reputation of the Fu clan had been resounding for hundreds of years, they would also regulate literary works and nurture scholars, thus there were numerous connections inside and outside of court. A tall tree attracts the wind and this was what the Late Emperor was afraid of. It was difficult to predict the winds and clouds and the root of trouble for the Fu clan, in this chaotic world, had turned into the fortunate star that transformed my life.
Wei Jue went separate ways and established his clan. Even though he had the Heavenly One in his hands, he was denounced by the scholars. Yet, though the Fu clan had fallen, their reputation was still strong among scholars. Wei Jue wanted to recruit talented individuals of wisdom and valor to legitimise one’s authority and thus, the marriage between Wei Tan and I came about.
I was the sole descendant in the Fu clan and there was nothing more worthwhile than this.
The things were quickly packed up and stuffed tidily onto two horse carriages. Wei Tan had dispatched three hundred soldiers to escort me and the leader of the troops was Cheng Mao, a military commander.
While getting onto the carriage, I noticed Wei Tan on horseback in the distance, talking to some people. The literary scholar beside him was someone familiar looking and after a while, I had recalled. That was the master of ceremony from last night.
Not long after, Wei Tan finished talking to them and turned over. I could feel his gaze land over here and in a short few moments, he spurred his horse over.
I stood by the carriage and watched him dismount from his horse two steps away, before walking towards me.
“… Husband.” I greeted.
I had originally wanted to call him ‘General’, but had suddenly remembered the words he had said last night and instantly changed my words.
Wei Tan seemed to be rather satisfied with this address and asked, “Is the packing completed?”
“Reporting to General, everything is packed up tidily.” I had yet to speak when Madam Zhang, who was at the side, had already answered it for me.
Wei Tan nodded and spoke to me, “Furen, come and meet Lord Wang.”
I looked over in amazement and saw him slightly moving aside. Behind him was the literary scholar, the master of ceremony from last night, who moved forward to greet me with an amiable expression, “Wang Ju of Lang Ya greets Furen.”
When that name fell into my ears, I was somewhat in a trance.
Wang Ju, courtesy name Zhong Ning, the descendent of Lang Ya’s Wang clan and previously the Governor of Qing Province. The reason I knew about him was because Father had a good relationship with him and one would often hear Father mentioning him to my Older Brothers. Father said that he was talented but unfortunately was inflexible, otherwise, with his family background, he could have a rank within the Nine Ministers and above had he remained in the capital.
The person in front had a head full of greyish-white hair. If Father was still alive, he would be of a similar age…
“It turns out to be Lord Wang of Qing Zhou.” I returned the greeting.
Wang Ju smiled and shook his head, “Furen has overwhelmed this subordinate. This one has left the governing post of Qing Province for a long time and is now, merely a commoner.”
Wei Tan smiled gently, “Lord Wang is the army’s Chief Military Advisor. Father had heard that Lord Wang had good relations with Furen and especially invited him to be the master of ceremony last night.”
“So it turns out like this.” I smiled and looked at Wang Ju before sighing lightly, “I still remember that whenever Father mentioned Lord Wang to my brothers, it would always be filled with praise. If Father knew of the matter today, it would be gratifying.”
One did not know if it was because my words were filled with sentiments or Wang Ju was filled with affection, the rim of his eyes had turned red.
“That year, one was in distant lands and when one had heard about Furen’s family matter, a long time had passed. Furen should take care. If there is any difficulty in the future, one is willing to be a dog or horse.” He gave a deep bow and spoke solemnly.
I lowered my head, “Many thanks to Lord Wang.”
Wang Ju said more words of goodbye before taking leave.
Upon seeing his departing figure far away, I retrieved my gaze and unexpectedly met Wei Tan’s eyes.
He had been staring at me and under the blue skies of the wilderness, one was unable to see what was under those slightly squinted eyes.
“One has been brusque to Furen last night.” He continued, “Today, I will be heading to Jiao County and request Furen to return to the Yong capital first.”
Those words still did not have any sincerity. I lowered my head slightly, to appear virtuous, “Husband is battling outside, Qie has no resentment.”
Wei Tan did not say anything but seemed to be observing me.
“Even though Yong capital is somewhat far, the roads are flat and easy to travel on.” After a short pause, he said, “Cheng Mao has been my Deputy General for many years, rest assured that all will be taken care of.”
I nodded my head, “Respectfully assent.”
Wei Tan reached his hand out to me.
I momentarily froze before realising that he wanted to support me up the carriage. I gave him my hand, his arm was firm and strong that he quickly supported me up.
“Take care,” he finally said.
I bowed and replied softly, “Husband, do take care.”
Wei Tan no longer speak and withdrew his hand before nodding slightly towards the driver.
One heard a shout and the carriage started to move.
My fingers kept the carriage curtains raised as it covered half my face while I kept on looking at Wei Tan. Only when one was out of the gates and one could no longer see him, did I lower the curtains.
There was only me in the carriage and there was no need to put up any expression or act. I let out a breath, leaned back lazily against the wooden post and stretched my feet.
As the carriage swayed in motion, from time to time, light penetrated and the scenery outside passed by. Suddenly, I saw a scholar atop a horse on the hill by the road, seemingly gazing over.
Wang Ju? My brows slightly rose.
Recalling the scene from before, I was very satisfied with my performance.
In this world, there were not many people that Father would commend. One heard that Wang Ju had an arrogant temperament and it was due to the lobbying effort of the clan elders that he took on the post of Governor of Qing Province. It was very surprising for me to learn that Wei Jue was able to get Wang Ju under his tutelage. No matter what, from Wang Ju’s official rank and Wei Tan’s attitude, he seemed to be a well-respected person and having good relations with him was currently advantageous for me.
As for ‘old friend’. Haha. Dog-ass old friend.
When Father’s matter happened, all those good friends of the former days seemed to have disappeared. I would never forget that on the day Father and Older Brothers were executed, I was the only one who followed the prisoner chariot and sent them off.
All those so called old friends, even if they were to cry till they broke down before me, there would still only be cold laughter in my heart.