Fuzhu’s Ballad Chapter 53

Chapter 53 Sorrow and happiness stem from one’s state of mind

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Holding the dragon robe in both hands, Lan Dan came out of the hall in a daze. Su Yi Ming stood at the bottom of the stairs and, upon seeing her, smiled bitterly and said softly, “You’ve worked hard tonight.”

Lan Dan shook her head awkwardly and turned half way to look back into the hall. The Empress Dowager had apparently already made arrangements. The palace maids had just gone in to invite her out, and now they were calmly tidying up and changing the clothes of the Empress Dowager and Shentu Cheng’s bodies. Not a single person cried or wailed. No one was talking.

Su Yi Ming coughed and advised in a low voice, “You should go back… someone will take care of the rest. You… don’t need to look at it.”  

Lan Dan turned her head to look at him, knowing he meant well. Her mind was too chaotic, and what the Empress Dowager and Shentu Cheng had talked about tonight was their past, but it seemed to be her past as well. Many of the puzzles that she had been unable to solve before had suddenly been answered, but instead of feeling relieved, she felt even more sad. “Since… there is a solution, why does the Empress Dowager have to sacrifice her life?” she muttered softly to herself.

Su Yi Ming smiled, with a hint of understanding of the ways of the world. “There’s nothing left to cling to now. She just held on until now for Brother Rui’s sake.”   

Lan Dan fell silent for a moment and smiled lightly, “I wonder if the Khan Sa Ju… looks like Shentu Rui?”

Su Yi Ming teased with a playful tone, “It is said that he looks a lot like him, and he’s even more handsome than Brother Rui. He was a great hero of Beimo, riding on the grassland to protect his home and country, and was vigorous and awe-inspiring. If he hadn’t failed in the Battle at the Dragon Wall, he would have become a god of Beimo.” As he spoke, he revealed a hint of longing.

Lan Dan let out a long sigh and felt that she understood the Empress Dowager a bit more.

Su Yi Ming looked towards the hall, where the palace maids had almost finished cleaning up. The Empress Dowager had instructed him to cremate her and Shentu Cheng’s bodies immediately afterwards, something he didn’t want Lan Dan to see. “You should go back and check on Brother Rui,” he urged her, pulling her arm and dragging her away.

Lan Dan gave him a bitter smile and his hand trembled inexplicably. “Go ahead… ” His tone of voice, when speaking to her, had become strange even to himself.

When Lan Dan returned to Shentu Rui’s room, Ge Chun had just finished changing his bandages. He stood by the bed, rolling up the blood-stained gauze to throw away, and when he saw Lan Dan come in, he said without much expression, “He’s just woken up. Feed him some porridge with medicine. Let him eat as much as possible.”

With wide eyes and joy on her face, Lan Dan walked over to the bed. He was awake? She realized she was still holding the package in her hands, so she placed the dragon robe carefully on the table before hurrying over to the bedside.

The room was dimly lit, but fortunately Ge Chun had placed a small lamp at the head of the bed for changing the bandages. 

Although Shentu Rui’s condition had somewhat improved, his eyes were still closed and his mouth was tightly pursed in displeasure. Lan Dan couldn’t help but smile and sigh. He was already starting to throw tantrums.

The soft orange candlelight illuminated his face, which looked thin and fragile but still handsome. He didn’t know that another person who truly loved and cared for him had left the world, and it was only thanks to these people who had been his companions that he had persevered until today despite all the hardships he had faced over the years.

Lan Dan’s nose began to feel stuffy, and tears started rolling down her cheeks. Afraid that he might see her crying, she turned and went outside to get some porridge.

Ge Chun also came out and sat silently on the edge of the corridor. He took out his cigarette pouch and matches and lit a cigarette. “Is Shentu Cheng dead?” he asked, seeming uninterested in the topic and asking out of boredom.

“Hmm…” Lan Dan nodded wearily while holding the porridge.

“No wonder,” Ge Chun sneered. “Most of the garrison troops have withdrawn, it seems the crisis has been resolved.” He knocked out his pipe on a nearby rock and said nothing more.

Lan Dan saw that he had no intention of talking, so she turned and went into the room. Shentu Rui had already opened his eyes, with a clear and calm gaze, but he didn’t look at her. He turned his head to look at the dragon robe on the tea table.

“My mother… she’s gone, isn’t she?” Shentu Rui hadn’t spoken for a few days, his voice was hoarse, and he sounded particularly bitter when he said this.

Lan Dan frowned and didn’t answer. She regretted leaving the dragon robe there and sat down at the bedside. After composing herself, she forced a smile and said, “The porridge is cooked just right. Eat some.”

Shentu Rui seemed not to have heard her words, and murmured to the dragon robe in the distance, “Yes… she’s gone. Otherwise, she would have personally presented me with the treasure.” He closed his eyes heavily and said in a low voice, “Get out!”

Lan Dan’s hands trembled, the porridge almost spilling out. Her heart was wrenching. She knew that Shentu Rui was being cruel because he didn’t want to cry in front of her. She left without saying anything, closed the door behind her, and retreated to the darkness under the terrace, where she sat down in despair. She was afraid to hear him cry, to share his grief, yet she didn’t know how to comfort him. Lan Dan had to hold her head as she felt a headache coming on. She thought to herself that she never wanted to experience a night like this again.

A faint light flashed in the corridor, and it turned out that Ge Chun was still there, lighting another cigarette.

The night was thick and still, the stars were bright, but the moon was nowhere to be seen. Lan Dan suddenly covered her face and cried silently. Despite the stillness, she still couldn’t hear Shentu Rui’s voice.

She knew that he was tearing himself apart at this moment. She would rather hear him wail and weep loudly. How much pain did he hide in his heart? How difficult was it for him to endure and how cruel was he to himself that he could still hold back his tears in such grief? Only when he was sick and delirious with a high fever, would he call out for his mother in her arms. She would rather his personality be as cold and selfish as Shentu Cheng’s, so that he wouldn’t have to suffer this kind of heart-wrenching pain. But it was because he was who he was that she loved him so much. Lan Huang was much smarter than her, able to judge people accurately and eager for power and status, but she never wavered between Shentu Cheng and Shentu Rui.

Lan Huang hated Shentu Cheng so much, probably because she saw through his coldness from an early age. As a child, Shentu Cheng thought that Consort Xi was his mother, but he never sought a private audience with her. He was afraid of causing trouble and making her father hate him. He also harbored resentment towards his “mother” for not favoring him, which led to his childhood exile and being selected as a hostage. Even if he acted affectionate and said sweet words, someone who treated his own mother so coldly would only inspire disgust.

Shentu Rui is the exact opposite of him…

Lan Dan’s mood stabilized a bit. She wiped away her tears haphazardly and suddenly felt very fortunate. If she hadn’t made the first move, then Lan Huang would have been with him! Just thinking about it made her heart pound and her stomach ache. When she was still naive and ignorant, Lan Huang and he had already had so many opportunities to talk and meet in private. His later tolerance and accommodation of Lan Huang was probably not just gratitude. After all, they had grown up together and supported each other all the way.

“Go in, it’s about time,” Ge Chun stood up and beckoned Lan Dan. “Sadness should have a limit. Being too emotional will damage your vitality and spirit, and recovery will be slower. Did you hear me?” Ge Chun asked Lan Dan as if it were a matter of course.

Lan Dan sniffled, feeling both aggrieved and helpless. Of course, she heard him, but she also needed a way to deal with it!

The candle on the bedside had burned out, leaving the room dimly lit. Starlight struggled to filter through the window, relieving the oppressive darkness.

“Get out!” Despite the hoarseness and weakness in his voice, Shentu Rui’s tone remained rough and forceful.

Ge Chun casually lit another candle, casting a soft glow that seemed to glare in Shentu Rui’s face as he turned away and looked toward the bed.

Neither Shentu Rui nor Ge Chun spoke up, so Lan Dan picked up the porridge and sat down more gently beside the bed. “Are you hungry?”

Shentu Rui didn’t respond or turn his head. Lan Dan hesitated, not wanting to grab his face, but Ge Chun stepped forward, skillfully grasping Shentu Rui’s jaw on both sides with a twist.

“Do you choose to eat it yourself, or shall I pour it in for you?” Ge Chun asked the question without emotion.

Shentu Rui glared at him angrily. Although he was sick, his eyes were still very menacing, but Ge Chun didn’t care at all, and Shentu Rui couldn’t do it anymore. He shook his head resentfully. Ge Chun understood, snorted, and relaxed open hands.

“Feed him!” Compared to ordering Lan Dan, Ge Chun was relatively polite to Shentu Rui.

Lan Dan quickly scooped up a spoonful and was about to feed it to Shentu Rui, but Ge Chun made a loud noise.

“What did I tell you?” Ge Chun glared at Lan Dan angrily, dissatisfied with her forgetfulness and dullness.

Lan Dan’s mind was already confused enough that day. Being yelled at by him like this made her even more confused. She held the spoon, pondering hard for a moment, and remembered that Shentu Rui was throwing a tantrum and couldn’t be fed too kindly, or he would intentionally not swallow it. She took a deep breath, and put on a serious expression. Fortunately, the porridge was no longer hot, so she drank half a bowl in one breath.

Ge Chun was stupefied and asked, “What are you doing!”   

Originally, Lan Dan had the porridge in her mouth, but after being frightened by Ge Chun, she swallowed it all and looked very helpless.

“I told you to taste it first, to test for poison. Why did you eat it? What will he eat now?” Ge Chun’s face turned pale.  

After swallowing such a large mouthful of porridge, Lan Dan felt choked and regretted it. Oh, that was right, she was just supposed to test for poison. How could she have forgotten?

Ge Chun patted his chest to calm himself down. He would eventually be driven to death by these two! The medicine porridge was such a precious and genuine article… He glared at Lan Dan and was slightly shocked. “What’s wrong with you?”

Shentu Rui’s eyebrows furrowed, and he looked at Lan Dan with Ge Chun.

Lan Dan felt her nose getting hot and wiped it. She saw blood on her hand. Did she have a nosebleed?

Ge Chun took her pulse weakly and grunted, “The patient hasn’t even done anything yet, and you’re bleeding from over-nourishment!”

Blushing, Lan Dan put down her bowl awkwardly and covered her nose with a handkerchief. She didn’t want Shentu Rui to see her nosebleed, so she walked to the side of the bed and rubbed it hard in anger.

“It’s not your fault,” Ge Chun said sarcastically. “The antidote Yao Run gave you earlier already contained tonifying ingredients. In order to prolong the onset of the poison, she added some tonics. With the addition of this porridge, it’s strange if you didn’t have a nosebleed. But…” Ge Chun’s tone suddenly changed, “how did you get those small injuries on your body and hands?”

Lan Dan didn’t understand why he suddenly asked her about these minor injuries, but when Shentu Rui listened, she also felt like complaining. She pouted and said sullenly, “The injuries on my arms and legs were caused by Sun Shi Xiang pushing me. The injury on my hand was caused by a servant using a door clip.”

“Oh…” Ge Chun said indifferently, “your leg seems to have some muscle and bone injuries. Come over here and feed him, and after he finishes eating, I’ll take a look at your leg.”

Lan Dan understood his intention a little bit. Sure enough, when she fed Shentu Rui the porridge again, although he had a cold face, he cooperated well and finished a bowl. Ge Chun ordered him to eat another bowl, and Shentu Rui reluctantly finished it.

Lan Dan followed Ge Chun out, and soldiers had already taken the bowls and utensils to wash.

Ge Chun turned back to the room and sneered. He knew how to deal with this little rascal. “These are all external injuries, and they will naturally heal after a while. Don’t waste my good medicine.” He didn’t even look at Lan Dan. He brushed off his sleeves, and went to his own residence. It was time for him to rest. He hadn’t slept for three days due to the commotion, and it was time for someone else to deal with it!

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