Chapter 58.1: Sorrowful Marriage

The entire Chang’an was celebrating Grand Prince Liang’s marriage. The Lu Residence was decorated magnificently. A sea of celebratory red and lights greeted one’s eyes.

Lu Yingying sat alone in her chamber. She looked gorgeous in her wedding dress. However, her expression was cold and her eyes were like a secluded pond. It was as if she could not hear the noise from outside. She looked at the sky through the small cracks in her window. 

The sky was clear and blue. She had wished for torrential rains, hoping that she could postpone her marriage slightly. She had thought that she could face it. Only on the day of her marriage, did she know how scared she was.

Her father told her to try to follow whatever Grand Prince Liang wanted and not mind Grand Prince Liang’s absurd life. Her marriage was bestowed by the Emperor and she just needed to give birth to a son and her position would be secured. Even if she loses his adoration, her position as consort would not shake. Her brother did not tell her to be a good consort to Grand Prince Liang. He merely prepared the best dowry and wedding dress for her. All brides would be jealous of her. She knew that what they wanted was to give her the best appearance so that Grand Prince Liang would not look down on their Lu family or her.

She did not care about being married to Grand Prince Liang on paper. But she knew that this mindset of hers was too gullible. Tonight, she was going to be married to Grand Prince Liang. She has already decided to marry him but when she thought about him touching her, she trembled in fear. She could not stand the thought of being touched by anyone other than Yan Zifang.

Yan Zifang! He was ingrained in her mind and heart, making her miss him, feel hurt, hatred and sympathy. Yet she could not give up her love for him. Every moment was torturing her.

Today, as she was about to marry another man, she felt a sense of betrayal. A betrayal caused by her own self!

The door made a sound. Lu Yingying turned to look. It was Fu Yin. 

“What are you doing here?” She shifted her attention. “I have nothing to say to you.”

“I just wanted to tell you that even if you live together everyday with the one you love, your heart may still ache with pain that makes you feel like death. I am not as relaxed or happy as you think I am.” Fu Yin was also suffering. 

Lu Yingying only felt like laughing. “Will knowing that you are not happy make me happy? Actually, I wish that you could be happy.”

Two ladies were suffering at the same time. They did not know the cause of each other's pain but they were both kind. 

Lu Yingying got up and headed towards the door. “Although I don’t like you, I would rather not have anyone else be as unlucky as me. Therefore, Fu Yin, you have to be happy with my elder brother.”

Lu Yingying walked towards the door. She left her room, her family home and stepped onto the carriage. There was no turning back. All of a sudden, her gut feeling told her to lift the beaded curtains by the carriage window. 

Yan Zifang stood amongst the crowd, staring at her with an expressionless face.

Lu Yingying’s heart sped up involuntarily. However, it slowed under his cold gaze. She released her hand and the curtain beads knocked against each other. Her heart slowly settled. She was foolish. How could she have thought that he was here to stop her from getting married? Most likely, he was worried that she would not marry Grand Prince Liang and continue bothering him!

Lu Yingying took a deep breath as she turned her gaze to look at the hazy entrance of her residence. It was time for her to leave all her feelings behind. Since she could not hide from it, she could only start again from Grand Prince Liang’s residence. Whether she was lucky or not, she would bravely face and undertake the responsibility. 

 

Yellow sand and brown earth. A huge river split two different worlds. A horse galloped calmly along a tall slope beside the river. Both the rider and the horse were adorned with metal gear. Wind blew over the person’s scars, getting a feel of the high-spirit of the rider. 

Behind the rider, farms stretch over a large area as a village lay in the horizon. Smoke vapor filled the air and blood stained the ground. A battle had clearly just taken place. However, the faces of the cotton-clad farmers were one of happiness. 

It was a victory for justice. The village had suffered from numerous raids from horse-bandits and were at their wits end when they met Sheng Chumu. 

After Sheng Chumu arrived at the borders, he volunteered to guard the most difficult outpost. He requested that there must be a battle. From Tongtian Pass, Pingtu Valley, Shuiwu Slope, Jiusha Town and Xisha Mountain, he cleared the entire way. They thought that someone known to be the number one hedonist in the past would only flourish with words. They never expected to have a killing god. Sheng Chumu cleaned up the entire stretch such that it was even more peaceful than Chang’an. 

He was at the last stop -- Dongzheng Pass. After going through his “relentless” pursuit, today was finally the last day. They were going to clean up everything perfectly and not leave a single horse bandit behind.

Sheng Chumu looked at the river rushing by, a saying rose in his heart -- Vast and hazy reeds, white dew appears as frost. That person is somewhere across the water. He had already escaped to such a far away land and was constantly fighting battles day and night. He made himself so busy that he did not even have time to sleep. But why does the image of Fu Rou keep on appearing in his mind? Must he crack his skull open with a rock before he could stop thinking about her?

“General, we have caught a deserter.” A soldier ran forward and handed an identification tag to him. “His name is Ye Qiulang.”

Just in time. Now there was something to distract him. In the end, when he reached the village house, they not only caught Ye Qiulang, but his lover, Yan’er, as well. 

“You became a deserter for a woman?” When Sheng Chumu said this, he found it awkward.

Ye Qiulang did not pay attention. “I grew up with Yan’er but the court sent me for military service. When I thought of becoming a soldier, I would have to fight. When I fight, the chances of dying is high. When I left, I told her not to wait for me and to find a nice man to marry. Our hometown is so far from the borders. She is a weak lady and I never thought that she would come all the way here.”

Yan’er cried, “This is not his fault. I am the one who asked him to leave with me.”

Ye Qiulang argued, “No, I was the one that made the decision. I will take responsibility for my actions.”

“Bastard!” Sheng Chumu suddenly became furious. “Drag Ye Qiulang out and cane him 100 times!” This couple stung his eyes. Weren’t they like him and Fu Rou in the past? Not caring about anything and willing to go far away for love. 

Yan’er jumped up and protected Ye Qiulang, preventing the soldiers from dragging him away. “I did not come all the way to the borders from my hometown just to see him get beaten to death. Without you, I will not go anywhere!” She turned back sharply, her gaze filled with sorrow. “General, why are you so cruel? Don’t you have someone you like as well? Don’t you wish to spend the rest of your life with her?”

Sheng Chumu suppressed the feelings that were threatening to erupt in him and replied coldly, “I can’t answer your question. But there is someone that can answer it.”

He took big steps out of the house and asked the soldiers to push Ye Qiulang and Yan’er out. He pointed in the distance at a woman and a child who had just been murdered. “Every man has to support and protect his country and home. If everyone were selfish like you, forgetting their duties and only thinking of deserting to spend the rest of their days peacefully, what would happen to this village? What would happen to Great Tang? Tell me. Are you all in the wrong?” What Fu Rou said in the past wasn’t wrong. Seeing it from another point of view, he finally understood how selfish he had been!

Ye Qiulang knelt down in guilt. “I am in the wrong. I am willing to accept the punishment.”

Yan’er did not look good either. “General, I am willing to take half of the 100 hits.”

Ye Qiulang became anxious. “General, do not listen to her. This had nothing to do with her.”

Sheng Chumu’s expression did not change. “Cane Ye Qiulang 100 times.”

Ye Qiulang breathed a sigh of relief. He walked to the side and lay down.

After a solid 100 hits, Ye Qiulang did not move. Tears were streaming down Yan’er’s face. Sheng Chumu’s fists were clenched. The greatest taboo in the military was desertion. It affected the troop and as the leader he could not ignore military rules for his own selfish reasons, even if he was once as foolish as Ye Qiulang. 

The soldiers came to report that they were done with the punishment. 

Sheng Chumu asked. “How is he? Is he still alive?” He could only wish that the heavens would help Ye Qiulang. 

“He is still alive but he has lost consciousness.”

The soldiers' reply allowed Sheng Chumu to breathe a sigh of relief. He seemed to recall something as he turned to Yan’er. “I have punished Ye Qiulang but I have not punished you. We are lacking a person to clean and do miscellaneous tasks. You shall help to wash uniforms and take care of the sick and injured. You shall work as your punishment.”

Yan’er was touched. “Thank you, General! I will go and take care of the injured now. Thank you, General!”

Sheng Chumu did not say anything more and left the scene. Ye Qiulang was luckier than him and found a girl that truly loved him. All he got was cold emotions. Fu Rou was even more flippant than a willow tree. He could give up everything for her but she won’t give up everything for him. That was the reality!

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