The Shadow Guard is also the White Moonlight [Rebirth] Chapter 16

Chapter 16

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“Hmm. It seems that the thief is not you, indeed.” Chu Zhaoyi spoke these words calmly, without any ripples.

However, after these words were spoken, Fu Nian didn’t feel any intention for the hand to withdraw.

The silent confrontation lasted for quite some time, and Fu Nian wondered if it was just his imagination, but he felt that the hand seemed to move upward a bit more, and its grip tightened slightly.

Fu Nian tried to ignore the unusual sensation on his leg, adjusted his breathing, and calmly said, “My injuries have not fully healed, and I’m afraid my blood might soil your hand…”

After saying that, there was a long silence. Suddenly, Fu Nian felt the temperature on his severed leg disappear.

Seeing that Chu Zhaoyi didn’t speak and didn’t voice any accusations, Fu Nian didn’t dare to ask if the person had noticed anything.

—If someone else had touched him all over, Fu Nian could have remained composed. But when it was Chu Zhaoyi’s hand… Fu Nian was still human, and muscle memory didn’t always obediently follow the brain’s commands.

In the dim light, he saw the man in front of him turn and leave without a word. When he reached the doorway, he took a handkerchief from the eunuch and repeatedly wiped his hands. Fu Nian couldn’t discern whether the expression was one of disgust or something else.

Only then did Fu Nian hop off the table, hurriedly put on his boots, and picked up his cuffs to re-fasten them.

As he walked out of the storage room, Fu Nian had already calmed his tumultuous thoughts.

In the courtyard, almost everyone stood in place, wearing expressions of fear and uncertainty, quietly discussing the whereabouts of the person who had just been dragged away.

Before Fu Nian could move forward, he saw a familiar figure bounding toward him.

“Are you alright? When they dragged you in just now, the expression on His Majesty’s face…”

Hearing Rendong’s anxious voice, Fu Nian replied calmly, “I’m fine.” That man’s expression was nearly always the same, as if he were missing a few pieces of facial muscle by nature, Fu Nian thought.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I thought you were beaten. Your belt isn’t fastened properly, your cuffs are twisted, and your right pant leg is disheveled. The eunuch searched you through your clothes earlier…” Rendong stared at him for a while before voicing his suspicions, “Most importantly, your face and ears are quite red.”

Fu Nian’s brow slightly furrowed, and he clenched his fist.

Then, he calmly fabricated, “I wasn’t beaten. They probably suspected me strongly, so they had me take off all my clothes for a search.” Fu Nian shifted the topic with a cough, lowering his voice, “But it was a pretty palace maid who conducted the search for me…” He intentionally left the sentence unfinished.

Rendong remained stunned for a good while. Suddenly, his fair cheeks inexplicably turned bright red, as if he had learned something he wasn’t supposed to. “Oh, I see….”

“Yes. Regardless, thank you for vouching for me in front of His Majesty today.” Fu Nian finished speaking, patted the shoulder of the blushing youngster in front of him, and briskly left the courtyard.

Returning to his own room, Fu Nian made sure to latch the door before taking off his clothes. First, he changed his intimate undergarments, and then he checked the condition of the prosthetic limb and the severed limb’s attachment.

Unexpectedly, the joint where the severed limb was attached only had a slightly reddened area; the skin hadn’t chafed, let alone bled.

Watching Chu Zhaoyi leave with the appearance of wanting to scrub off his hand, Fu Nian had actually thought that his hand had been dirtied with blood.

Perhaps it was just a simple aversion, after all, the typical reaction for anyone touching a severed limb was disgust. Fu Nian didn’t delve further into it; he slumped onto a stool and looked at his empty arm.

Switching to another blade would yield the same result.

Training together with the new guards and learning palace protocols made for relatively leisurely days for Fu Nian.

Basic combat training posed no challenge for him, and he quickly adapted to the palace’s etiquette and rituals.

After a week had passed, during his breaks, Fu Nian finally managed to surreptitiously retrieve a portion of the hidden weapons and various types of substances he had concealed in the palace before—sedatives, antidotes, and various disguising materials. In the future, these prohibited items would be indispensable for entering and exiting Chengyuan Hall.

Today, Dou Shen had been suddenly called to the imperial court, and due to this abrupt summons, their new instructor hadn’t yet arrived. Thus, they were spared a day of training.

While everyone was heaving sighs of relief, Fu Nian stood in the corner of the training ground in silence.

For a military official in the capital to be unexpectedly summoned to the imperial court was generally not a good sign.

However, given Fu Nian’s current identity, even if something were happening in the court, he had no right to inquire about it, and even if he did inquire… he had no right to speak about it.

Taking advantage of the break, Fu Nian considered it and decided to pay a visit to the Imperial Hospital.

When his prosthetic limb was installed, Physician Xu had told him that the prosthetic had been hastily crafted and likely had ill-fitting parts. He had advised Fu Nian to come for regular checks and adjustments.

Entering the front courtyard of the medical office, Fu Nian noticed a female court official in a side courtyard teaching the young apprentices. He quietly waited for a while until they finished their lessons before intercepting one of the apprentices who was walking alone. He showed his waist token, used for identification, and asked the apprentice to relay a message to Physician Xu, stating that he wanted to see him.

After a considerable wait, the apprentice finally emerged. “I didn’t meet Physician Xu, but I did meet my mentor. I asked her to help deliver the message. She said that ordinary palace guards aren’t allowed to see the physician unless there’s a special reason. If you’re feeling unwell, you can wait in the side chamber of the front yard, and a doctor will come find you.”

“There’s a special reason.” Fu Nian thought for a moment, not yet sure how to explain. Just then, a female court official emerged from the side courtyard carrying a medicine box. She glanced at the apprentice, then at Fu Nian.

“Mentor, it’s him who wanted to see Physician Xu.”

Fu Nian quickly added, “I got fitted with a prosthetic limb a few days ago…”

“Is it from Xi Wang’s Residence, surnamed Lian?”

“Exactly, that’s me,” Fu Nian replied.

“Follow me.” The court official’s brows slightly furrowed as she walked purposefully toward the inner courtyard.

Fu Nian kept his head lowered as he followed her step by step. They arrived at the rear courtyard.

After being ushered inside and seated, before he could even express his gratitude, the court official spoke again. “Next time, just wait here for Physician Xu. There’s no need to send messages through the apprentice.”

“Alright.” Seeing her displeased tone, Fu Nian thanked her and fell silent.

After the court official left with the apprentice, Fu Nian faintly heard a scolding voice from outside.

“Qinqin, this is the palace guard from Xi Wang’s Residence who caused such a commotion last time. In the future, when guards like him come to relay messages to you, just pretend you didn’t hear them, understood?”

The reprimanding voice wasn’t loud, but Fu Nian still heard it clearly.

Causing a commotion… Fu Nian tugged at the corner of his lips. Well, it was true. Affairs between palace guards and Wangfeys were only ever found in those vulgar romance novels.

No wonder the court official had been so unfriendly just now.

Fu Nian surveyed the room. All the medicine cabinets and drawers were locked, the table was tidy, and only a few common jars and bottles were on it.

Originally, he had come this time hoping to find some clues about who might have planted the gu for him.

Fu Nian sighed.

Not long after, Physician Xu arrived.

“Physician Xu.” Fu Nian quickly saluted.

“Please sit.” Physician Xu hurriedly responded, “I heard that you’ve started working in the palace. You should be fully recovered by now. How has the prosthetic been adapting during this time?”

Fu Nian sat down on the stool, loosened his belt, and revealed part of the prosthetic. “It’s been mostly fine. However, the leg joint isn’t always as flexible and convenient as I’d like, and holding objects with the hand prosthetic isn’t very stable.”

Fu Nian remembered that his previous prosthetic had fit his body perfectly due to the high-quality stone, and the craftsmanship was also different from the current one.

After finishing his explanation, Fu Nian patiently waited for Physician Xu to scrutinize the prosthetic on his body. The physician adjusted it a bit and hesitated before speaking.

“Guard Lian, this is already the best state it can be, and further adjustments are not possible.”

Fu Nian tried it out and found no difference from before. “Recently, I happened to read a book… It mentioned that there was once a person in the palace who was missing an arm and a leg on the right side. The prosthetics they used were capable of perfectly aligning with the human body. But now…”

There was silence for a while. Eventually, Physician Xu hesitated before speaking with a somewhat troubled expression, “I’ll be honest with you. Initially, this type of prosthetic… indeed came from a noble who was brought into the palace by His Majesty. None of the craftsmen in the entire capital had seen this kind of craftsmanship before. Later, the palace’s craftsmen began to study the prosthetic of that noble and replicated it. Although there were a few that could be used for the human body, they were never able to reproduce the intricacies of the original prosthetic. However, after that noble passed away, all the records and documents regarding the prosthetic’s production were destroyed, and even the noble’s body disappeared without a trace. Just recently, the prosthetic left behind by that noble was retrieved from outside.”

Fu Nian listened silently, without saying a word.

He had a fairly good guess about who might have done this.

The stonemason who had crafted the prosthetic for him with the rare stone had been the only outsider to thoroughly understand the specific structure of the prosthetic. However, after making the prosthetic for him, the stonemason had disappeared without a trace.

Since then, Fu Nian had gradually realized that the prosthetic’s craftsmanship was likely a closely guarded secret of his sect. Even though he knew this, Fu Nian who had already betrayed his sect had only reminded Chu Zhaoyi to keep these craftsmen hidden and not expose them to the world. The reason these craftsmen were still alive was probably because they hadn’t fully comprehended the prosthetic’s specific structure and could only replicate a crude version, posing no real threat.

“The retrieved artifact… His Majesty has been keeping it in private. We haven’t even seen it after it was brought back, let alone use it for research. The one you have now is just a copy that wasn’t destroyed originally. It’s been repaired slightly and given to you. It wasn’t made in haste, but there are certainly some deficiencies in the craftsmanship. You’ll need to adapt to it more.” Physician Xu finished speaking and paused for a moment. “As for where you saw those books, I’m not sure. If you happened to see them in the palace, I advise you to hand the books over to the Imperial Attendants Bureau as soon as possible. Pretend you haven’t read them. I can’t say much else.”

Fu Nian looked at the dark prosthetic.

It had been deliberately darkened, unlike the original color of the stone.

“Thank you for your guidance, Physician Xu.” It appeared that even after his death, people from his sect had been closely monitoring him. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say that someone had been watching him since he left the sect.

Thinking about it, if he wanted to find clues about his master and senior brother, starting from here might be a way to go.

Just as Fu Nian was considering whether it was time to leave, he heard a sudden sound from the door.

“Physician Xu, this servant is here to retrieve Ze Wang’s…” Following the opening of the door, a clear and crisp female voice sounded. However, she stopped abruptly before finishing her sentence.

Fu Nian turned his head.

Seeing the young girl in front of him, who was dressed like a maidservant but adorned with an array of jewelry and ornaments, along with her appearance, one might mistake her for a young lady from a prominent family.

After observing for a while, Fu Nian felt that he recognized her, but before he could recall who she was, he met her fierce and sharp gaze. It was only then that he remembered his disheveled appearance and quickly averted his eyes, lowering his head to put on his shoes and fasten his wristband.

Appearing disheveled in front of others was indeed rather impolite.

“Miss Lu Yi, your timing is perfect. I’ll prepare your medicine right away,” Physician Xu didn’t notice the awkward situation on the young man’s side at all. He stood up, took out a key from his sleeve, and opened a medicine cabinet, rummaging through it.

Lu Yi…

Upon hearing the name, Fu Nian instantly recalled that it seemed to be someone from Chu Zhaoyi’s little royal uncle’s side. Though officially referred to as a maid, in reality, it appeared she was more like a child left to be cared for by a friend. When Chu Zhaoyi visited Ze Wang Mansion in the past, Fu Nian remembered seeing Chu Zhaoyi hold her.

Although Lu Yi was young at the time, and Chu Zhaoyi’s embrace was merely an affectionate gesture towards a child, Fu Nian remembered her solely because she had been held byChu Zhaoyi.

“Found it. Here’s this package. Take it and send my regards to Ze Wang.” While Fu Nian was still holding the unfastened wristband in his mouth, a cloth package suddenly fell.

“Apologies, my hand shook, I’m sorry…” Before Physician Xu could bend down, Fu Nian, who was quicker, used his prosthetic to scoop up the cloth package and stood up.

He wasn’t particularly interested in others’ privacy. However, when he picked up the package, he unintentionally noticed the exposed herbs.

This was… the Nine Province’s extinct plant, frost-cold ginseng?

Fu Nian remembered the strange poison in his body. If someone hadn’t planted an obedience gu, this frost-cold ginseng might have been the medicine he used to sustain himself. Although he knew that this herb had unique effects and other uses, he couldn’t help but associate it with the strange poison and the obedience gu in his body.

Especially when it was extinct in the Nine Provinces, and this herb appeared in the palace, carried by Ze Wang’s attendant.

“Give it to me!”

Fu Nian hadn’t taken a close look, but he heard the furious voice of the young lady in front of him. She reached out to snatch it.

Although the package indeed wasn’t his, he instinctively evaded.

However, in his haste to evade, the hastily tied wristband that he hadn’t fastened properly came off.

Fu Nian looked at the young lady in front of him. Her face transitioned from a hint of red to gradually full-blown crimson.

He didn’t say anything and took advantage of her anger. While pretending to pick up the wristband, he sneakily opened a corner of the package and quickly glanced at the herbs inside.

It was indeed a small package full of frost-cold ginseng!

Fu Nian looked somewhat dazed.

The persuasive power of Ze Wang being the person who had planted the gu in him, had just increased substantially.

Before he could even digest this astonishing revelation, Fu Nian saw the package being snatched away in front of him.

Raising his head, he saw Lu Yi holding the medicine package, glaring at him with a mixture of anger and embarrassment.

Fu Nian tried to explain stiffly, “I was just picking up the package for you… I saw you weren’t pleased. So, I deliberately didn’t let you take it and quickly put it back on the ground.”

After explaining, Fu Nian felt like the young lady in front of him was even more infuriated.

Fu Nian: …

He didn’t understand, but he saw Lu Yi quickly run away.

On his way back, Fu Nian kept thinking about the frost-cold ginseng matter.

Although he didn’t know the purpose behind Ze Wang needing frost-cold ginseng, Fu Nian was already more or less convinced that Ze Wang was the one who had planted the gu in him.

Once he found more concrete evidence to support this, Fu Nian decided he would confess to Ze Wang… confess his mysterious identity and experiences, along with his desire to repay the favor.

He hadn’t found any leads yet when he heard someone rushing towards him, “Lian Nian! Lian Nian!”

Fu Nian raised his head and realized it was Rendong. “Why are you here again?”

Ever since the Jiang person had been taken away while accusing Rendong of framing him, nobody knew whether it was true or false. In any case, nobody dared to bully the slim and small Rendong anymore. Those who had bullied him before even treated him with a bit more respect.

Rendong remained as cheerful and foolish as ever, getting along with everyone, but he especially liked to play around with Fu Nian during training.

“Why do you keep getting into trouble?” Rendong appeared concerned as he approached.

Seeing Rendong’s anxious expression, Fu Nian was utterly confused.

What did he mean by getting into trouble again?

“What’s wrong?”

“Don’t you know? They’re searching everywhere for you. You better hide.”

“Huh?” Fu Nian still couldn’t grasp the situation.

“They’re all saying that you intentionally didn’t dress properly in front of Miss Lu Yi… and then you specifically let her undress you. Afterward, you even said some inappropriate things to her and made her cry. Miss Lu Yi is Ze Wang’s senior attendant. Whoever dares… to make her cry is truly in trouble!”

Fu Nian: ?

What in the world was going on?

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