Fuzhu’s Ballad Chapter 56

Chapter 56 Unspoken meaning

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Lan Dan ran to the side of the steps, and saw Shentu Rui slowly climbing up. His eyes were cast downward, only looking at the path beneath his feet. He was wearing a Beimo sacrificial attire, and his hair was not styled in a topknot and he wore no crown, it was simply tied back. He stood tall and graceful, with the stars shining brilliantly above his head as if they were all draped over him, emitting a dazzling light.

Lan Dan never knew that when she suddenly saw someone she missed, her mind would become completely blank, her heartbeat would suddenly reverberate through the heavens and earth, causing her to inexplicably break into a light sweat. She practically ran down the steps, every step blocking her eagerness, she ran too fast and was too anxious, eventually stepping on her dress and falling down. She didn’t close her eyes or cry out, she just instinctively opened her arms and threw herself into Shentu Rui’s embrace, holding him tightly. Shentu Rui was pushed back one step by the impact, and in order to prevent them both from falling, he had to support her waist and block her rushing force. The stone lamps on the railing of the steps shook violently due to the wind that Lan Dan brought, almost extinguishing the flames.

“Why are you so thin?” Lan Dan frowned, this sentence blurted out without thinking, she had been worried about what to say as the first thing, but it turned out she didn’t need to consider it at all. His robe was empty underneath. Lan Dan looked up, and only when she was staring so closely at him did she realize that his cheeks had become thin, and his expression appeared particularly resolute. He didn’t look at her or acknowledge her, but at least he didn’t push her away.

Su Yi Ming stood on the steps without coming down, and simply said with some surprise, “Brother… Your Majesty… why did you come?”

Shentu Rui hung onto Lan Dan and didn’t rush to leave. He looked up at Su Yi Ming and said lightly, “For mother’s sacrificial ceremony, I had to come.”

When Lan Dan heard the “sacrificial ceremony”, she realized that she had lost her composure. Regardless of how much she felt about the reunion, the most important thing tonight was the Empress Dowager’s memorial ceremony. She quickly let go of Shentu Rui’s hand, but once he left, she felt lost and stood in front of him, dumbly blocking his path. Helpless, Shentu Rui pursed his lips and quickly walked around Lan Dan, heading towards the top of the platform with Su Yi Ming. Lan Dan turned around, watching them disappear up the stone steps. As Su Yi Ming turned to leave, he kindly waved to her, indicating she should follow. Lan Dan felt disheartened. Without Su Yi Ming’s help to relieve her embarrassment, she didn’t know how she could return to the platform with the right mindset.

The memorial ceremony had begun. Lan Dan hurriedly walked to her original spot, solemnly kneeling down. The ritual masters began to sing Beimo’s memorial song. Lan Dan couldn’t understand the lyrics, but everyone sang with sorrow, as if they were singing and sighing at the same time. Even though she didn’t understand the language, Lan Dan felt their singing was a comfort to the departed souls and a lamentation for the deceased’s life. Their singing, accompanied by bells and drums, sounded particularly ethereal and mysterious under the night sky, as if it were soaring into the heavens. As Lan Dan listened, tears flowed down her face. The Empress Dowager must have also heard this memorial song sung for her, and she would have gained the strength to fulfill her wishes.

Lan Dan put her hands together, closed her eyes, and sincerely prayed that the Empress Dowager could achieve her wishes and find happiness with her beloved in the next life. The Empress Dowager had lived a bitter and lonely life, and Lan Dan hoped that everyone’s wishes today could help her pave a smooth road.

When pink hues appeared on the horizon, Lan Dan heaved a sigh of relief. She had been afraid of falling asleep all night and failing the Empress Dowager. The priests finally sounded the gongs and drums to signal the end of the ceremony. Shentu Rui and Su Yi Ming stood up to bid farewell to the priests, and Lan Dan quickly followed suit. She had been sitting cross-legged in the back half of the night and was shocked to find that her legs were too weak to stand up. After regaining circulation, she was still numb. The priests left one after another, and Shentu Rui didn’t leave immediately. He stood by the railing, supporting himself, and looked at the pink hues in the sky for a while before finally sighing.

Su Yi Ming hadn’t spoken all night, and his voice was hoarse. He looked at Shentu Rui’s complexion with concern and advised, “Brother, you should go to rest soon. You’ve been traveling for several days and stayed up all night. You must be exhausted.”

Shentu Rui nodded wearily. He really couldn’t hold on any longer.

Seeing him walking towards the steps, Su Yi Ming quickly turned his head and motioned to Lan Dan to follow. They had been waiting for so long, and now that Shentu Rui was finally here, they had to make a good impression. But why was Lan Dan hesitating and not moving forward?

Lan Dan bit her lip and didn’t follow Su Yi Ming’s lead. She was a bit scared now. Throughout the night, Shentu Rui had sat upright without even looking at her once. Even though they were both there to guard the Empress Dowager, Lan Dan didn’t believe that he could resist looking at his beloved after being separated for more than two months. Hadn’t she seen enough of men’s fickleness? She had overlooked it in the past because he had been too affectionate, but now that his heart had turned cold, perhaps he was no different from those other men. He was now the Son of Heaven, and all the beauties in the world were at his fingertips. Betraying him, Lan Dan might…no longer be worthy of forgiveness.

Shentu Rui closed the door to his room, and Su Yi Ming, who was standing in the yard, glared at Lan Dan angrily. “Why didn’t you follow him?” He just didn’t believe that there was any obstacle they couldn’t overcome together when they lay down on the bed together!

Lan Dan lowered his eyes and shook his head. “Let him take a good rest first.” His face was too haggard and his body too weak. Even if he was well-prepared to assume the throne, it would still be a daunting task. He had suffered such serious injuries that his recovery was not going well. She was afraid that he would throw another temper tantrum, and her presence would only prevent him from getting a good night’s sleep.

Su Yi Ming sighed helplessly. “All right, I’ll have someone tidy up the guest room. You can go there for a while.” Shentu Rui’s room had been occupied by Lan Dan during this time. With Shentu Rui shutting the door like this, Lan Dan had nowhere else to go.

She nodded absently.

Su Yi Ming woke up after sleeping for only two hours, just as the sky was beginning to lighten. He didn’t want to lie down anymore, so he got up to do some boxing exercises. He guessed that Shentu Rui hadn’t slept well last night, so he decided to check on him. When he walked to the courtyard, Shentu Rui’s door was still tightly closed, but Lan Dan was leaning against the porch pillar, half asleep. She was still wearing her funeral clothes from last night, dampened by dew, and her face was very dim and gloomy due to fatigue, making her expression even more sorrowful.

“You didn’t go to sleep?” Su Yi Ming was almost angry.

Startled, Lan Dan’s eyes widened, but she relaxed and smiled lightly, saying, “I’m afraid he’ll leave while I’m asleep.”

Su Yi Ming moved his lips but didn’t say anything.

Leaning against the pillar, Lan Dan looked at the clear blue sky of the morning and sighed, “Oh…he’s still so angry, it’s been over two months, and he hasn’t cooled down at all.”

Su Yi Ming couldn’t bear to hear her say any more and urged her to go rest in a firm voice, “Don’t worry, I asked Sun Shi Xiang, they won’t leave today, and they’re even summoning the magistrate of Jixian this afternoon. Go to sleep!”

“Oh, that’s good.” She smiled and stood up to get the basket in the corner.

“What are you doing?” Su Yi Ming was a little angry now. “Do you still want to go gather herbs? You have enough herbs to last until your next life! Besides, with Ge Chun taking care of him and the entire Imperial Pharmacy at his disposal, is there any shortage of good herbs that we need your rough wild herbs?”

He spoke bluntly, and for a moment, Lan Dan was stunned. The tears in her eyes turned, but they didn’t fall.

“I know, he doesn’t need my rough and crude herbs anymore.” She laughed at herself. “Every time I want him to forgive me, I don’t know what to say or do, so I go pick herbs. It’s the only thing I can do for him.”

Su Yi Ming choked up and smiled bitterly. “Then I’ll accompany you. Don’t faint on the mountain road and get eaten by wolves.”

Lan Dan laughed along with his joke. She had been to that mountain countless times. Where would there be wolves?

They had filled a basket with herbs and had already made it to the mountaintop. Lan Dan stood at the edge of the cliff as usual, knowing full well that the person she was thinking of was in Tongye, yet she still gazed in the direction of the capital. Perhaps she foolishly believed that Shentu Rui in the capital would be willing to listen to her heart, while he in Tongye would not.

Su Yi Ming stood quietly half a step behind her. She gazed into the distance at the capital city, and he gazed at her– even though they were so close, he still felt like she was beyond his reach. Su Yi Ming wondered if Khan Sa Ju had been driven crazy by this feeling, which led to his resentment of Consort Xi. If the tragedy of Empress Dowager and Lan Huang was not being able to obtain love, then the tragedy of Khan Sa Ju was obtaining love but not being able to love in return. This pain was likely far greater than the former.

“If…” Lan Dan smiled helplessly into the distance. The assumption was meaningless, she just wanted to say it. She was grateful that Su Yi Ming came along, giving her someone to confide in. “If Shentu Rui had told me everything from the beginning, why he saved me and why he was so good to me, I wouldn’t have doubted him, nor would I have made such a big mistake and made him so angry and disappointed.”

Su Yi Ming was silent for a moment before speaking, “If I were him, I wouldn’t say anything either.”

Lan Dan was very surprised and turned to look at him, her eyes filled with puzzlement.

“Let me ask you,” Su Yi Ming said seriously, “If Brother Rui had saved you on the execution platform, helped you change your identity and start anew, and then told you that he had liked you for many years, had been secretly watching over you, caring for you, and risking his life to save you during his own crisis, what would your feelings be towards him?”

Lan Dan thought for a moment before answering, “I would be grateful, but I wouldn’t know how to repay him.”

“That’s the point. He has been infatuated with you for many years, but he’s still a stranger to you. Suddenly, he appears as a benefactor, and regardless of whether you are grateful, unfamiliar, or want to repay him… whatever your attitude, it will be awkward for Shentu Rui. Because before you can have genuine feelings for him, you have to face his kindness, and that’s not what he wants.”

Lan Dan thought for a while and suddenly smiled, “Yes, he secretly liked me for so many years, such an ordinary and mediocre me. So he won’t really hate me, forget me, and refuse to forgive me.”

Su Yi Ming lowered his eyes, hiding the emotions in his eyes. “Yes, you should try your best. You know, it’s not pitiful to fail after trying your best like Lan Huang did, but it’s painful to have regrets for a lifetime without even trying.”

Lan Dan took a deep breath of the fresh air in the mountains, and her eyes regained their brightness. “You’re right. If I don’t try my best, I will feel regretful for a lifetime!”

Su Yi Ming forced a bitter smile. It seemed that someone who didn’t have him in her heart couldn’t understand the meaning behind his words.

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