The Shadow Guard is also the White Moonlight [Rebirth] Chapter 69

Chapter 69

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Fu Nian didn’t touch the dirty dishes and cautiously left the oppressive storage room. 

He returned all the old toys and drawing sets, shut the creaky wooden door behind him, and brushed off the dust from his clothes.

After another round through Hengchang Palace, confirming there were no valuable clues, Fu Nian finally exited.

Since Chu Zhaoyi was still young during his time at the Imperial Consort’s residence, there should only be traces of his early childhood here. In the years that followed, Fu Nian knew that Chu Zhaoyi had been passed around like a football, living with different families, making it unlikely for him to have left long-lasting traces in any one place.

Closing the main gate of Hengchang Palace, on his way back, Fu Nian couldn’t help but think of the doll with the large “death” character embroidered on it and the small, dimly lit confinement room.

Upon returning to Chengyuan Hall, Fu Nian had just found a shovel to clear away the frozen snow on the path when he sensed movement on the roof nearby.

He looked up and saw a figure on the roof, dressed in the standard attire of a Shadow Guard. It was evident that the person had slipped and was clinging tightly to the roof beam, trying not to fall.

Fu Nian inserted the shovel into the snowy ground with one hand and leaned against the wall, quietly enjoying this performance.

“Don’t just watch… Help me,” Chu Yao hung from the roof, trying to step on the roof tiles but repeatedly slipping.

Fu Nian approached but didn’t seem eager to help. He placed his hands behind his back, continued to look up at Chu Yao slipping and clutching the roof’s beam, his hands turning red and trembling from the effort.

The palace roof tiles were different from those commonly seen in the streets. To ensure waterproofing and aesthetics, they had a thick glaze layer on top, which made them surprisingly slippery, especially in snowy weather.

“Good Big brother! Please, help!” Chu Yao, hanging from the roof, saw that Fu Nian below was ignoring him and shouted again, “Good Big brother! Good Big brother!”

Fu Nian frowned.

Falling from such a height onto the icy ground would undoubtedly result in broken bones. If Chu Yao were incapacitated, Chu Zhaoyi wouldn’t even have a convenient person by his side.

In the end, Fu Nian reluctantly extended his prosthetic arm, indicating that Chu Yao could let go, and he would catch him.

Seeing the familiar figure descending from the eaves, Fu Nian blocked him with his prosthetic arm to prevent him from hitting the ground directly.

After steadying Chu Yao for a few seconds, Fu Nian withdrew his hand, watching as Chu Yao sprawled on the ground.

Though the fall wasn’t from a significant height and wouldn’t cause any severe injuries, it might serve as a reminder for Chu Yao to be more careful in the future, especially about climbing onto roofs in snowy weather.

“I only realized it was you after catching you. If I had known, I might have let you fall,” Fu Nian said, feigning indifference as he dusted off his prosthetic limb.

Chu Yao climbed to his feet, leaning against the wall in disgust. “If I had known it was you, I would have preferred to fall.”

“Alright, I’ll put you back up there,” Fu Nian said and started walking toward the roof. “You slipped on the sixth tile from the left, right?”

“No, no, no, please, good big brother, kind big brother!” Seeing Fu Nian’s intentions, Chu Yao quickly dropped his disdainful expression, reverted to his usual seriousness, stood up straight, and pulled a copper token from his sleeve, tossing it to Fu Nian.

Fu Nian caught it and glanced at the token, which had the character “soldier” engraved on it.

“Pass for the Western Pavilion of the Office of the Military Affairs Bureau. The Western Pavilion is a bit warmer, and His Majesty has been going there for discussions during the recent winters.” Chu Yao threw the copper token out, and then he tucked his hands inside his clothes to keep warm. 

Fu Nian looked at the pass, puzzled, “What do you want me to do with this?” 

“These days, His Majesty will be discussing how to deal with that old man who shares your last name,” Chu Yao said, pausing briefly and glancing at the notes he had copied in his hand, “Yes, your former master.” 

“Ah, so you already knew?” He had thought that Chu Yao didn’t know he was Fu Nian and had intentionally asked like that.

Chu Yao smirked, “Of course. You’ve kept me investigating Xi Wangfei and that person named Lian’s elopement for so long, and the rewards have been meager. If I still hadn’t known who you were, I would have been too ashamed not to commit suicide.”

Fu Nian put away the pass. Before leaving, he added, “I wondered for a while why His Majesty, with his keen insight, took so long to see through me. It turns out this matter was handed over to you for investigation.”

With that, Fu Nian ran out of Chengyuan Hall without looking back. He heard a very “polite” greeting from behind, inquiring about the health of many non-existent relatives, but he didn’t pay it much attention.

When he arrived at the Military Affairs West Pavillion, Fu Nian discreetly concealed his presence, making sure not to be noticed by the ministers, including Chu Zhaoyi, discussing state affairs.

Although the voices during the meeting were not loud, Fu Nian still blocked out any political content, as was his habit, despite wearing the uniform and badge.

He only knew they were discussing how to capture Fu Zhen but not what would happen afterward, so he didn’t particularly care.

During the meeting, Fu Nian occasionally heard Chu Zhaoyi coughing, indicating that his health was still not good.

Fu Nian regretted not engaging in conversation with Chu Yao earlier and using soft words to ask Chu Yao about Chu Zhaoyi’s old illness.

However, upon second thought, he realized that even if he had asked Chu Yao, he probably wouldn’t have told him. It seemed more profitable to exchange a few taunts.

It wasn’t until it was pitch dark outside, and lamps were lit inside the chamber, that Fu Nian saw the two ministers slowly leaving, and Chu Zhaoyi finally had some rest.

“Li Gonggong, what kind of tea is this?” Chu Zhaoyi took a sip from a tea cup filled with an unknown liquid and asked in a hoarse voice.

“The imperial physician said you should pay attention to your daily diet. This is a specially prepared medicinal tea. It may taste a bit worse, but it’s good for your health.”

Chu Zhaoyi’s expression softened slightly as he listened. “The imperial physician, huh… I thought Ah Nian had brewed this for me.”

Fu Nian: ?

He heard that sentence loud and clear, and he couldn’t help but clench his fist.

Li Gonggong replied, “If it had been Lord Fu who brewed it, I would have informed you in advance, allowing you to prepare yourself mentally.”

Fu Nian: …

No wonder that day, Ze Wang advised him to “stay away from kitchen smoke and take care of your health.” It turned out to be for this reason.

Chu Zhaoyi finished the tea in one gulp, put down the cup, and began reading the documents that had just been delivered.

As he flipped through the first page, he paused, “Chu Yao has left the palace?”

“Yes, Lord Chu has gone to Xi Wang’s residence to continue handling the matters related to the Lian and Qiao families. However, before leaving, he arranged for someone else to be on duty by your side. If you’re not comfortable with that, he can be called back—”

“Having someone on duty is sufficient,” Chu Zhaoyi interrupted, “I was wondering why there was no movement all day. It turns out Chu Yao wasn’t on duty. When he returns, make sure he learns to walk quietly; younger generations are usually more discreet.”

Hearing this somewhat indirect praise, Fu Nian nodded in agreement.

Looking at Chu Zhaoyi from top to bottom, he could see his straight nose, well-proportioned features, and his posture as he diligently reviewed the documents.

…Growing up in that kind of environment and becoming a just monarch in front of others as an adult was not an easy feat.

“Ze Wang will come to continue discussions with you after dinner. For your evening meal, would you like to…”

Chu Zhaoyi interrupted, “I’ll have dinner here in the West Pavillion. I’ll also stay here for the night. It’s closer to the morning court hall, and walking back and forth in the cold is too harsh. Cough, cough, cough, cough, cough—”

After clearing his throat, Chu Zhaoyi added, “By the way, who has been coming in to administer medicine during the nights these days?”

On the ceiling beams, Fu Nian paused for a moment, subconsciously holding his breath.

Li Gonggong hastily replied, “Your Majesty, it’s the night attendant, Hong Er. She has recently entered the palace and has been learning etiquette under the guidance of her aunt at the Inner Servants Bureau. She was lucky to be assigned duty here in the Chengyuan Hall. If she doesn’t perform well, she’ll be replaced tonight.”

“Continue calling her. She’s quite meticulous in her work. If not for seeing the medicine bowl in the morning, I would hardly have noticed that someone had fed me.” Chu Zhaoyi finished speaking and put down the documents in his hand. “Hong Er… Pick a brightly colored silk from the new tribute for her. It will make her look more spirited when working in front of me.”

Fu Nian, perched on the ceiling beams, listened and tapped his leg prosthetic.

It seemed that his skills in administering medicine were indeed good. He hadn’t awakened the light sleeper. However, the mouth-to-mouth method was truly torturous.

During the night, Ze Wang came to discuss matters concerning Fu Zhen with Chu Zhaoyi for a while. 

This time, their voices were loud, and Fu Nian found it difficult to avoid listening in.

He could only discern that the old scoundrel had deceived not only him but also Chu Zhaoyi and Ze Wang while impersonating Fu Nineteen.

Chu Zhaoyi and Ze Wang thought that the old scoundrel had long since died.

As for how the deception had been exposed, Fu Nian didn’t quite understand. He only gathered that Chu Zhaoyi and Ze Wang had discovered the “new sect leader” didn’t seem right before him.

He was the only one who had innocently returned to the Distant Moon Sect and realized how he had been fooled all along.

Hearing that he wasn’t the only one deceived, Fu Nian suddenly breathed a sigh of relief, feeling that he might not be as foolish as he thought.

Around the middle of the night, close to the time for administering medicine, Fu Nian finally descended from the ceiling beams and quietly slipped out of the chamber. He acted as though he had just arrived here and still didn’t know his way around.

The professional palace maids and eunuchs were the same familiar faces, currently in a small tea preparation room in the corner of the West Pavillion, pouring medicine into a pot.

“Sister Hong Er, why aren’t you happy about His Majesty’s sudden promotion…”

“Of course, I’m not happy. It’s not like I did these things; I’m just worried about getting exposed…”

Approaching them, Fu Nian overheard the palace maids’ hushed conversation.

He silently circled around to the door.

Only when he stood in plain sight did one of the palace maids notice him. “Im— Imperial Guard Lian!”

“Mmm. Let me take over,” Fu Nian didn’t say much, taking the tray with the medicine.

“Im— Imperial Guard Lian, His Majesty asked about it today…” Hong Er tried to explain, “I didn’t seek credit, but…”

“I understand. If His Majesty rewards you, accept it. As I mentioned before, I’ll take the blame, and you’ll get the credit. No need to worry,” Fu Nian said and then swiftly left, holding the wooden tray.

“Sister Hong Er, he’s really kind to you…”

“What are you saying?”

“In fact, the prosthetics look quite handsome, and he already had a good-looking appearance…”

“But I feel like he really wanted to feed the medicine…”

The West Pavillion was much smaller than the sleeping palace. Fu Nian carefully squeezed through the door and knelt by the bedside.

With one hand holding the medicine pot and the other clutching a pre-prepared anti-emetic agent, Fu Nian tasted the bitter medicine as he brought it to Chu Zhaoyi’s lips.

This time, he didn’t manage to get it close.

Suddenly, he felt a strong hand firmly gripping his neck, pinning him down on the ground with force.

“——!” Fu Nian didn’t resist, and the medicine he had in his mouth was forced out. He quickly suppressed the urge to cough.

“These days, I’ve been feeling that something’s not right. With the medicine bottle, I couldn’t have failed to notice it completely… What kind of obscene book or strange master taught you to feed medicine like this? Did the Aunt never taught you such etiquette—” 

“Cough, cough, cough, cough—” Fu Nian, who had his neck pinched, was already feeling uncomfortable from the medicine, and he couldn’t help but cough.

The medicine flowed along his lips and onto the large hand that was pinching his neck, as well as onto both sides of his temples. 

Hearing the sound of a male cough, Chu Zhaoyi was startled for a moment. 

As if he had been electrocuted, he quickly withdrew his hand. 

“Ugh—” Fu Nian felt the restraint on his neck released and quickly turned his head outward to relieve the urge to vomit.

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