The Shadow Guard is also the White Moonlight [Rebirth] Chapter 98

Chapter 98

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“It has been a while,” Fu Nian chuckled awkwardly, and then he felt uncomfortable as he adjusted his short blade at his waist and tightened his fur coat.

“Senior Brother, the longsword you forged for me fell into the lake last time. I wanted to retrieve it the next day, but it unexpectedly snowed heavily overnight, and the lake froze, so I…”

Fu Nian didn’t let him finish and immediately understood what had happened.

Taking in his junior brother into the palace was like experiencing the joys and challenges of raising a half-grown child. “Go to the Imperial Attendants Bureau and have the blacksmith make you a new one. The expenses will be recorded under my name. If you’re punished, just endure it and be careful not to incur a harsher punishment from Instructor Chu for slacking off.”

“But that sword felt so comfortable to use. If it’s left untouched in the harsh winter, it will surely become unfamiliar and inconvenient to wield.”

Fu Nian: ….. 

He treated his Fuguang blade like a beloved wife, and it seemed his junior brother was equally attached to his sword. A strong resemblance within their sect.

After some contemplation, Fu Nian reluctantly agreed, “You go ahead with your training, and after you’re done, come to the backyard of Chengyuan Hall. I’ll help you retrieve it.”


“Yeah,” Fu Nian replied in a somewhat muffled tone.

He couldn’t understand why his junior brother was so happy even after being punished. 

However, it was a good sign that he seemed to have moved past the shadows of the Distant Moon Sect.

Back at Chengyuan Hall, Fu Nian found a long fishing net in the storeroom. He reinforced the handle and made the net pocket more secure. After the modification, he tested it with a longsword to ensure the fishing net and bamboo handle could withstand the weight of both the sword and a twenty-jin weight.

Not long after completing the modifications to the worn-out fishing net, Fu Nian heard light and agile footsteps approaching the door.

He quickly put on his outer robe to hide the protruding belly and then opened the door for Fu Bie and Chu Qianqi.

Under the snowy sky, Fu Bie stood at the door, sweating heavily. “Senior Brother, we– we’ve finished our punishment.”

“Perfect timing. The net is ready. Where did the sword fall?”

“Follow me, Senior Brother.”

Fu Nian followed him to the artificial lake behind the main drill ground.

Due to the snowfall, the surface of the lake had frozen, but it wasn’t completely solid underneath. Visible to the naked eye, a longsword laid at the bottom of the lake, its blade’s gleam slightly dulled.

Fu Nian mumbled to himself, “How did this happen?”

“…?” Fu Bie scratched his head without answering.

“I initially thought of chipping through the ice and swimming down to retrieve it. But the instructor stopped me, saying that the lake’s surface was freezing rapidly, and going underwater recklessly could lead to accidents.” 

Fu Nian didn’t respond and began to chip away at the ice with his Fuguang Blade.

After creating a large enough hole, he placed the charcoal basin he had brought on the shore to ensure that the lake’s surface wouldn’t freeze too quickly.

Fu Nian had plenty of experience retrieving things from the depths of a lake. 

When he was younger and in the royal palace, Chu Zhaoyi had been the type to throw things into the pond whenever he got angry. It served as a way to vent his frustrations without causing any permanent damage to the items. However, it had been quite a challenge for Fu Nian. Especially considering that Chu Zhaoyi viewed him as a thorn in his side, even when he wasn’t angry, he would deliberately throw things in and order Fu Nian to retrieve them. On one occasion, they were in the northern borderlands, and the pond was exceptionally deep. After nearly suffocating while trying to retrieve something from the bottom and realizing the risk involved, Fu Nian had learned to use tools instead of going underwater.

He successfully pulled up the heavy longsword, but his sleeves inevitably got wet in the process.

While loose sleeves were great for warmth, Fu Nian wasn’t used to them. He frowned as he looked at his soaked sleeves.

Returning to Chengyuan Hall in wet clothes would surely lead to questioning from the eunuchs and reports to Chu Zhaoyi. “Can I borrow the charcoal basin from your room?”

“You can, but the charcoal fires in Chengyuan Hall burn brighter. Why doesn’t Senior Brother go back?” Fu Bie said while helping Fu Nian wring out his sleeves.

“Going back… would result in a scolding,” Fu Nian replied, quickly coming up with an excuse. “Your sister-in-law is also working in Chengyuan Hall. If I’m seen there, it’s inevitable that I’ll be subjected to some nagging.”

After saying this, Fu Nian clenched his fist. It wasn’t just nagging; ever since Chu Zhaoyi found out about his pregnancy, he had become excessively overprotective. If he knew about it, Fu Nian would likely lose what little freedom he had left, as Chu Zhaoyi would insist on a Gonggong following him everywhere.

“You have a wife?” Fu Bie paused for a moment.

“I told you about it before.” Fu Nian’s tone remained calm. Once they were inside the warm room where the palace guards rested, he hung up his dripping sleeves on a rack.

“But you didn’t mention they’re working in Chengyuan Hall…” Fu Bie scratched his head.

He couldn’t help but wonder why his senior brother, with his financial means, would make his wife work as a palace maid, especially considering that he wasn’t the type to exploit his wife for labor and could easily afford to support them. Why would he choose to have her work as a servant in the palace?

Fu Bie didn’t understand.

“I thought your wife was living in senior brother’s household… Anyway, which palace maid is she? So we can show her some respect when we meet her, and I can say a few good words about you, Senior Brother, to avoid you getting scolded.” 

Fu Nian: “….”

He looked at his junior brother and Chu Qianqi’s curious expressions but didn’t answer. 

It wasn’t that Chu Zhaoyi forbade him from speaking; in fact, if he wished, Chu Zhaoyi would openly announce his pregnancy to the world an his empress.

However, as a member of the Shadow Guards, he was supposed to maintain a certain distance from his lord in front of others.

“Senior Brother! Just tell us who she is?” Fu Bie couldn’t help but press further, while Chu Qianqi displayed obvious curiosity but didn’t dare to overstep boundaries by asking.

Fu Nian didn’t provide a direct answer. Instead, he said, “Instead of being curious about who she is, help me think of ways to minimize the punishment. You’re good at softening up the instructors before punishments, aren’t you?”

Fu Bie didn’t pursue the topic any further. “It’s simple. Just be humble. Extend a hand and don’t hit those who smile at you. If you show a little more patience, act a bit coquettish, she definitely won’t scold you. After all, when she scolds you, it’s because she’s worried about you. She wouldn’t really push you onto a dead-end path.”

Fu Nian remained silent.

It made sense.

This junior brother had earned trust at the Distant Moon Gate in the past and now managed to elicit pity from him. A large part of it was his personality—sweet-talking, playful, and capable of feigning weakness when needed. But he also excelled in martial arts and never faltered in critical situations.

“If your wife scolds you, just cough to divert her attention, or if that doesn’t work, say you have a headache or a leg ache and don’t want to listen to her. Deplete her anger first, then apologize, and finally, send a gift. That should smooth things over,” Fu Bie suggested.

Fu Nian glanced at him and said, “You seem quite knowledgeable.”

Fu Bie grinned naively.

Fu Nian didn’t say anything more. After all, his junior brother was at the age when romantic feelings were just beginning to bud. With his good looks, it was not surprising that he had interactions with palace maids and eunuchs of the same age. He wasn’t bothered by his newfound interests.

The guards’ chamber had a lively fire, but Fu Nian’s thick clothing remained damp after sitting by it for a while.

After a short time, a Gonggong came to summon him, saying that it was mealtime. Considering the day’s first snowfall, Chengyuan Hall was serving chicken soup hotpot.

As he walked back to Chengyuan Hall, his wet sleeves had frozen stiff.

Before reaching the hall, the fragrant aroma of food reached his nostrils.

“Ah Nian!” Chu Zhaoyi put down the book when he heard footsteps.

“Your Majesty,” Fu Nian nodded slightly and found a seat farther away, feeling nervous.

Before he could even sit down, Chu Zhaoyi noticed his frozen sleeves. “What happened to your sleeves?” Chu Zhaoyi asked, concerned.

“It’s nothing—” Fu Nian began, but Chu Zhaoyi’s large hand had already grabbed his sleeve.

In an instant, the man who had joyfully called him “Ah Nian” a moment ago had a dark expression. “Today, a palace maid said that she saw Fu Bie looking for you. What did your good junior brother make you do this time?”

“He dropped his sword into the lake. I chipped away the ice to help him retrieve it…” 

It was Fu Bie again.

Mentioning Fu Bie made Chu Zhaoyi inexplicably irritated. He couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable about how willingly Ah Nian, who he cherished, would dive into the water on a snowy day to salvage things for others. He said, “Couldn’t you have a Gonggong do it? Must you personally help him salvage it? Not to mention your condition… Just talking about how cold it is today, and you’ve been feeling the cold lately. Who taught you to go diving in the snow to salvage things?” 

“Back in the royal palace, didn’t I often swim in the snow and dive underwater to salvage your things?” Fu Nian interrupted before Chu Zhaoyi could finish, asking in return. 

After asking, he felt Chu Zhaoyi noticeably stunned. 

His eyes blinked rapidly, clearly not expecting him to suddenly bring up this old matter. The chopsticks in his hand almost dropped to the ground. 

Fu Nian suddenly realized that his previous words seemed like he was bringing up old grievances and complaining to Chu Zhaoyi.

He quickly lowered his head and said, “I didn’t dive in; I used a fishing net. My sleeves accidentally got wet from the river water, and then they froze. My inner clothes didn’t get wet, so I didn’t notice.” 

Just now, when Fu Bie said that he should “soften up,” it was because Chu Zhaoyi was scolding out of concern, not because he actually wanted to scold him. 

“…And you, why are you so fierce all of a sudden?” 

No, that wasn’t right; he was supposed to “soften up.” After the words came out, Fu Nian regretted it. 

Chu Zhaoyi paused for a long time, then put down his chopsticks stiffly, looking a bit awkward. His voice softened, “No, no, I wasn’t being fierce. I was just worried about you getting cold. Come on, let’s take off your wet clothes first.” After saying this, Chu Zhaoyi sent a palace maid from outside to help. 

Fu Nian was a bit dazed. 

Chu Zhaoyi’s sudden gentle tone made him feel uncomfortable. 

But then again, perhaps what Fu Bie taught him about “softening up” really worked.

After changing out of his clothes, the hotpot was already bubbling with steam.

Having been hungry for most of the day and now faced with hot, steaming food, Fu Nian couldn’t resist and began to eat heartily. He devoured the food like a squirrel hoarding supplies, and his cheeks swelled up from all the food he was consuming.

Surprisingly, after the meal, Chu Zhaoyi didn’t scold him further and didn’t pursue any matters related to his “good junior brother.”

With the first snowfall in the capital, Chu Zhaoyi, who was usually busy with state affairs, finally had some leisure time.

After the meal, while everyone else was seeking warmth and respite from the snow, the palace gardens were relatively empty. Chu Zhaoyi mentioned that he wanted to take a stroll in the rear garden to enjoy the tranquility.

Although it was referred to as the “rear garden,” it was essentially a rock garden created from peculiar stones collected from various regions of the Nine Provinces. 

The capital was situated on a plain, so there were no real mountains to speak of.

As they walked through the palace gardens and ascended the stone path leading up the hill, Fu Nian felt a sudden grip on his hand.

Instinctively, he assumed a defensive posture, but upon seeing that it was Chu Zhaoyi, he relaxed.

“…I want to apologize to Ah Nian,” Chu Zhaoyi whispered after a prolonged silence. “Back in the Wang Mansion, I had a terrible temper, was dissolute and unrestrained. I owe you a lot.”

Chu Zhaoyi paused for a moment when he reached this point.

At that time, he had taken advantage of Fu Nian’s absolute compliance with him. No matter what he did, Fu Nian wouldn’t get angry and would continue to adore him as always. He had committed many things… that made Fu Nian unable to let go. 

Diving into the ice-cold water to retrieve items on snowy days was just the tip of the iceberg. Back then, he enjoyed watching Fu Nian hurt himself and sacrifice for him. It felt like the hole in his heart couldn’t be filled. 

When he grew up and realized that something was wrong, it was already too late. 

“…,” Fu Nian didn’t respond, nor did he move his hand, allowing Chu Zhaoyi to lead him like this. 

Indeed, the young emperor who had once been willful and spoiled had grown up. He now knew how to apologize and understand others. 

However, what Fu Nian feared more than apologies and understanding was not being “used” by Chu Zhaoyi.

“Especially when it was discovered that you were pregnant, my attitude was also problematic. I didn’t make time to be with you, which made you worried and unhappy,” Chu Zhaoyi confessed.

“It wasn’t because Your Majesty wasn’t with me,” Fu Nian responded, seizing the pause in Chu Zhaoyi’s speech.

“Then why?” 

Before answering, Fu Nian looked around and confirmed multiple times that there was no one around. “Ever since Your Majesty returned, you no longer entrust important tasks to your subordinates. You worry that the dragon’s son won’t allow me to take on significant responsibilities, and I can understand that. However, every night, you’re still restless in your sleep. You’d rather be restless than allow me to comfort you up close…” 

“…Your Majesty, I want to be of use to you. As long as you’re willing, you can use me however you like.” 

After saying the latter half of his sentence, suddenly, the restraint in his hand tightened a bit more.

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