The Shadow Guard is also the White Moonlight [Rebirth] Chapter 61

Chapter 61

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Confused, Fu Nian withdrew his hand from his earlobe, wrapped himself in his blanket, and tried to use sleep to heal the discomfort in his body.

After a short nap, his fatigue was relieved, but the dizziness persisted.

It was just the beginning of winter, and catching a chill was common. Walking to the Imperial Attendants Bureau, Fu Nian reluctantly wore a slightly thicker cloak and sighed.

It seemed that he was finally at an age where he couldn’t avoid getting sick due to weather changes.

When he arrived at the designated location of the Imperial Attendants Bureau, Fu Nian pulled his cloak’s hood tighter and stood quietly in the corner, waiting. After a while, a familiar figure carrying a blade approached.

“Big Brother Lian, come out. Are you ready?”

Hearing Rendong’s voice, Fu Nian emerged from the corner, took off his heavy hood, and revealed only his eyes.

“In the southeast corner, third row from the top, towards the middle on the right. I can’t read much, so this is as far as I can help you,” Rendong added.

Fu Nian nodded and held up the small lantern in his hand. “Thank you. How long can I stay inside?”

“Two quarters of an hour. After that, a colleague will come to take over, and we need to leave before that.”

“Okay.” Fu Nian agreed and then hurried inside.

Rendong had already helped him find the records of the date when he was poisoned, marked in a book. He just needed to read it himself.

Finding the spot Rendong mentioned, Fu Nian placed the lantern down and quickly started flipping through the pages.

With the dim light of the lantern, Fu Nian read the records one by one. Finally, he found the date when he was poisoned.

Fu Nian carefully read it three or four times but couldn’t find any suspicious entries of unknown people entering or leaving the Chengyuan Hall during his coma. 

Apart from Chu Zhaoyi himself, the imperial physician, the eunuch, and personal maids, only one unnamed sorcerer had entered the Chengyuan Hall. Even Ze Wang had not been inside. As for those courtiers who wanted to see the emperor, they were initially arranged to meet with Ze Wang and report their business there. 

Fu Nian looked at the books, puzzled. 

Before he could come up with an explanation, he heard the voice of Rendong knocking on the door from outside, “Brother Lian, it’s time to come out.”

“Right away,” Fu Nian responded and glanced at his notes. 

Chun’e… that name seemed to appear frequently, like the name of one of the palace maids. 

Fu Nian jotted down a few more names of the maids who had been present at the time and planned to start his investigation with them when he returned to the Chengyuan Hall. 

Once outside, Fu Nian quickly extinguished the lamp and climbed onto the roof, lying low. 

Before long, two guards arrived to change shifts, and they received something hefty from Rendong before departing. Only then did they walk away with brisk strides.

In the bushes outside the Imperial Attendants Bureau, Fu Nian finally breathed a sigh of relief. 

“How did it go? Did you find what you were looking for?” 

Fu Nian hadn’t figured out how to respond. 

It was apparent that his personal entry into the bureau had required considerable effort this time. Getting Rendong to do it again might be…

 Perhaps you could tell me what you’re looking for. Some of the old eunuchs and palace maids in the Imperial Attendants Bureau have been in the palace for decades and might know a lot.” 

Fu Nian thought for a moment and then took out a handkerchief. He pricked his fingertip and wrote down the names of the palace maid he had seen earlier. “The palace maids who were at the Chengyuan Hall many years ago. Some of them should have left the palace due to their age. Find out where they went after leaving the palace. If they are still in the palace, then don’t bother investigating.” 

Taking the handkerchief, Rendong nodded, “Alright, I understand. I’ll inform you if I find any information. You know, being able to work in the Imperial Attendants Bureau was originally thanks to Brother Lian’s favor. If you need anything, just let me know.”

After Rendong had gathered the items, he looked at Fu Nian. He had noticed that Fu Nian, who rarely showed any signs of illness, seemed to have a hint of sickness today. After some thought, Rendong decided not to ask. “Then, I’ll head back now. I have work to do tomorrow. Brother Lian, you should return early too. See you another time!”

“Okay.” Fu Nian replied gloomily and then headed back in the direction of the Chengyuan Hall.

This time when he returned, his roommates had moved out, so he no longer had to worry about waking anyone up when he returned late.

Upon returning to his room and lighting a lamp, Fu Nian noticed that there was an embroidered box on the table.

He pried it open with his blade.

Inside the embroidered box was a pure gold hairpin. Although the style was intended for men, it was carved with a phoenix. Upon closer inspection, the right wing of the phoenix was slightly damaged.

Fu Nian took out the phoenix hairpin and examined the bottom of the box.

It was the Fuguang Blade.

Fu Nian stared at this blade for a while. The design of the short blade wasn’t particularly attractive, and its craftsmanship was quite rough. There were many scratches on the blade, and in the grooves, there were old, indelible bloodstains.

This was the first gift that Chu Zhaoyi had given him when they were both young, during a moment when no one was watching, imitating the ceremony of a newlywed couple.

In the years that followed, he had used this blade to kill countless people for Chu Zhaoyi. However, before leaving the palace, Fu Nian had returned it.

After contemplating for a while, Fu Nian placed the pure gold phoenix crown back into the embroidered box and returned the Fuguang Blade to its sheath on his person.

The lamps in the Chengyuan Hall were still lit all night, and it was a cold night. Many eunuchs were seen going in and out of the Imperial Study.

Fu Nian thought for a moment, prepared some money for tea, and stopped a seemingly idle young eunuch to ask him to return the embroidered box to the administrative office of the Chengyuan Hall.

Not three days later, Rendong sent a message saying that they had found three of the palace maids who had left the palace. Two of them were married, but one named Chun’e had left the palace and settled in a nearby town. She had opened a private school there.

Upon receiving the news, Fu Nian reported a day off to his instructor and prepared to leave the palace to visit Chun’e. He was determined to find out who had helped him plant the gu all those years ago. If Chu Zhaoyi wouldn’t tell him, he would find the information elsewhere.

At night, Fu Nian washed himself in the bathhouse with cold water as usual, wrapped himself in warm clothes, and returned to his bed. He was planning his trip out of the palace for the next day when he suddenly heard a knock on his door.

Fu Nian quickly put on his clothes and opened the door. “Li Gonggong.”

“Lord Lian, I apologize for disturbing you, but His Majesty…”

“I know.” Fu Nian replied before Li Gonggong could finish his sentence.

With Li Gonggong leading the way, Fu Nian followed him to the Imperial Study. He entered quietly and knelt in a corner, not wanting to disrupt Chu Zhaoyi, who was busy writing.

After a long while, Fu Nian saw Chu Zhaoyi put down his brush.

“This subordinate…” Fu Nian began.

“Please, have a seat. I’ve told you many years ago, there’s no need for you to kneel.” 

Fu Nian remained silent and sat down as instructed.

During Chu Zhaoyi’s time as Wangye, Fu Nian had already been excused from formalities like kneeling. To others, it might seem like a privilege from the Emperor, but only Fu Nian knew that Chu Zhaoyi disliked the creaking sounds made by artificial limbs and found them irritating.

They looked at each other in silence.

After a long while, Chu Zhaoyi couldn’t bear the awkwardness any longer and tentatively said, “I heard from the instructor that you’re requesting a leave to leave the palace?”

“Just for a day. I’ll return after a brief visit. It won’t interfere with my duties in the palace. Your Majesty need not worry,” Fu Nian replied sullenly.

Fu Nian had anticipated this situation long ago. Many years ago, on the eve of his departure from the palace, he and Chu Zhaoyi had spent their time together in silence. 

From talking about everything when they were young to having nothing to say, the change had been gradual.

“On that day, I asked Li Gonggong to deliver the phoenix crown and Fuguang Blade. The phoenix crown was returned, but the Fuguang Blade… You kept it, didn’t you?”

Fu Nian responded, “The short blade is still handy for me. Thank you, Your Majesty.”

Chu Zhaoyi…

In the past, Chu Zhaoyi had complained about Fu Nian, saying that he was terrible with court etiquette. But now, after being apart for so many years, Chu Zhaoyi felt strangely uncomfortable. 

“Ah Nian,” after much contemplation, Chu Zhaoyi forced himself to continue speaking, though he didn’t know what to say after addressing him this way. 

Indeed, in the past, it had always been Fu Nian who tried to please him. Even if they didn’t speak, their actions were not as distant as they were now. Chu Zhaoyi had hardly needed to initiate conversations or take the initiative to interact with Fu Nian. 

“Regardless, you are now the legitimate Empress. In terms of propriety, you should assist in managing the palace’s internal affairs, and you shouldn’t leave the palace except under special circumstances,” Chu Zhaoyi continued, but he felt a tightness in his chest. That wasn’t what he meant. What he had intended to convey was that he hoped Fu Nian wouldn’t leave his sight. If he needed to leave the palace, he could do so openly and directly speak to him about commanding the Imperial Guards. Even if their relationship couldn’t return to what it used to be, he could still enjoy all the privileges of the imperial position without such restraint, without acting as a guard.

Fu Nian replied, “I understand. Starting tomorrow, I will read relevant books about the position of the Empress and learn how to manage the palace affairs. If there are genuine emergencies, I won’t take leave from the palace easily.” His voice was calm, no different from his usual response when given orders.

He had forgotten that he now held the title of Empress. Fu Nian thought that Chu Zhaoyi was genuinely trying to avoid trouble and just handed over the responsibilities of the Empress to him, saving a large sum of monthly allowance.

Chu Zhaoyi clarified, “That’s not what I meant. If you need to leave, there will be Imperial Guards to accompany you…”

“This subordinate truly will return as soon as I leave, Your Majesty. You don’t need to worry that I’ll run away,” Fu Nian reassured, adding, “It’s a waste to have battle-hardened Imperial Guards look after a disabled person.” 

Chu Zhaoyi: … 

Fu Nian: … 

Ever since leaving the Imperial Hospital, his physical discomfort had not subsided, especially at night when the dizziness and nausea intensified. After some thought, Fu Nian decided to speak up, “If Your Majesty has no other matters, I will take my leave.” 

“Move back to the sleeping chambers from now on,” Chu Zhaoyi said, adding, “It’s getting colder as winter approaches, and the sleeping chambers are warmer…”

Before Chu Zhaoyi finished speaking, the nausea hit Fu Nian again, causing him to bend over involuntarily.

When he finally recovered, Fu Nian relaxed his clenched fist, realizing he had lost control of himself. He quickly apologized, “I’m sorry. I have caught a chill these past few days, and I’m feeling unwell. It was unintentional disrespect.”

Chu Zhaoyi’s lips were still in the shape of the words he had tried to say.

Just because he attempted to reconcile with Ah Nian and speak to him more openly, it could make him feel physically disgusted?

The thought of this possibility left Chu Zhaoyi with an indescribable anger and unease.

“If you’re not feeling well, let the Imperial Doctors—”

The nauseous feeling overwhelmed Fu Nian again before Chu Zhaoyi could finish his sentence. Fu Nian didn’t wait for Chu Zhaoyi’s permission; he quickly stood up and hurried out of the Imperial Study.

As he reached the doorframe, Fu Nian couldn’t control his body’s reactions any longer. He involuntarily bent over, his expression filled with pain, and his body released uncontrollable tears.

These past few days, he had experienced this situation not for the first time. However, this time it was in front of Chu Zhaoyi, and he had held back for a long time, which made his reaction particularly intense.

Originally, there wasn’t much left in his stomach to vomit, and he couldn’t even bring up stomach acid anymore. But Fu Nian couldn’t control his body’s reaction and continued to bend over and retch. His eyes were bloodshot, and his teary, blurred vision made him appear more fragile than usual. His fists clenched against the pillar were slightly trembling.

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