Two five or six year old children crossed the threshold hand in hand. Yi Chongren, who was reading a book, put down the book and reached out to the two. The two children ran to their daddy and climbed onto him.
“Daddy, Baozi wants to go out to play.”
“Daddy, Douzi wants to go out to play.”
Yi Chongren patted the two children’s heads: “Ok. Go tell your big brother, daddy will bring you out to play.”
“Daddy’s the best!” Baozi kissed his daddy’s cheek, leaving a pool of saliva.
“Daddy’s the best!” Douzi pursed his lips and pressed them on daddy’s cheek, similarly leaving a pool of saliva.
After leaving their saliva, the two children got off their daddy and went to find their big brother hand in hand. Seeing the two children leave, Yi Chongren wiped his face, a faint smile appearing at the corners of his lips. Stretching, he stood up, changed his clothes, got his flexible sword, and went out. Not long after, Huo Yunkai led his little brothers over, holding one with each hand. Beads of sweat still perspired on his forehead, clearly disturbed from his martial arts practice by his two little brothers.
“Douzi and Baozi want to play. Go with them. It’s good to relax occasionally.” Yi Chongren said lightly.
Huo Yunkai nodded. At sixteen years old, he was already at the age for marriage and could be considered half an adult. His temperament had become more calm and restrained, often making people forget he was just sixteen.
“Wipe your sweat.”
Huo Yunkai used his sleeve to wipe his face: “Ok.”
Yi Chongren didn’t mention how rude his motion was, going to hold Baozi and Douzi: “Let’s go.”
The two children were extremely happy, yelling out all the delicious snacks they wanted to eat. Everytime they said something, Yi Chongren said yes. Huo Yunkai held Baozi’s other hand with a relaxed expression from being with family.
Six years, in the blink of an eye, six years had passed. Huo Yunkai had grown into an adult and the two children were now six years old. And Yi Chongren had passed thirty years of age, but the heavens seemed to want to make up for his more than ten years of hardship, not leaving any traces on his face. These six years, Huo Yunkai changed very much. If Huo Feng saw his own son right now, he definitely wouldn’t be able to recognize him. And these six years, what changed the most about Yi Chongren was the feeling of tranquility on him, a kind of tranquility that came from letting everything go and returning to his original self.
Of course, this was a time when no one provoked him. The household was full of women and children with Yi Chongren and Huo Yunkai as the only “men”, so naturally this would arouse some evil intentions in other people. In particular, Xiaoqin, whose appearance was considered first or second in the capital, was coveted by who knows how many people in Jade City Pass. Some people, unafraid of death, even fancied Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren used his sword to teach these people what was called courting death, so now, no one dared to bother them.
Once they reached the street, Yi Chongren carried Baozi and Huo Yunkai carried Douzi. Many people looked over. The lowkey and mysterious Lin family had attracted quite a bit of attention in Jade City Pass over the past two years. Whether it was the handsome Yi Chongren or the youthful Huo Yunkai, everyone paid attention to them with gazes full of curiosity and inquiry, even admiration and covetousness.
Huo Yunkai’s good mood was ruined by these people’s gazes. He naturally understood how attractive his yifu was. Shooting cold glares all around them, Huo Yunkai succeeded in scaring away some people, but some people unafraid of death still bodly stared at Yi Chongren. As for Yi Chongren, he indifferently kept walking as if he didn’t feel those gazes. Seeing that Baozi and Douzi wanted to eat some snacks, he let Huo Yunkai pay. As long as he went out with Huo Yunkai, Yi Chongren would never pay, letting Huo Yunkai take charge. Under Yi Chongren’s tempering, Huo Yunkai could be considered capable of all kinds of martial arts.
Baozi and Douzi happily ate their tanghulu (sugar coated hawthorns on a stick), and Baozi very sensibly said: “Daddy, Baozi will walk by himself.”
Once Douzi heard this, he immediately said: “Gege, Douzi will walk by himself.”
Yi Chongren put down little fatty Baozi, and Huo Yunkai put down Douzi. The two children licked their tanghulu hand in hand.
While strolling aimlessly, a small group of people rode over. Yi Chongren and Huo Yunkai immediately picked up the two children and flashed to the side of the road. Immediately afterwards, they heard the leader of the group shout: “Prince Yue has defeated Kun! Invaded the capital! Prince Yue defeated Kun! Invaded the capital!”
Yi Chongren’s heart skipped a beat and Huo Yunkai drew a sigh of relief with an ecstatic expression. But once he excitedly looked towards his yifu to say something, his heart also skipped a beat.
“Let’s go back.”
Yi Chongren’s expression and gaze changed. Huo Yunkai became agitated: “Yifu.”
“Let’s go back and talk.”
Yi Chongren carried Baozi back home. Baozi stopped licking his tanghulu, and Douzi also stopped licking his tanghulu. What was wrong with daddy?
The news of Prince Yue defeating Kun and invading the capital spread throughout Jade City Pass. And everyone believed that this news would soon spread throughout all of Southern Chu. These six years, Prince Yue’s troops had won successively. Two years ago, the new leader of the Tian Shen Sect died mysteriously, and the Tian Shen Sect completely collapsed and many of the sect’s old members became Prince Yue’s soldiers. If it weren’t for Kun hitting the country while it was down, Prince Yue would have invaded the capital long ago. Without Yi Chongren’s Hu An guards and imperial guards to counter Prince Yue, no one could fight against his army.
Soon, more accurate news spread. Prince Yue personally led his army into the capital. Empress Dowager Ru committed suicide and the young emperor was beheaded by a soldier who didn’t recognize him after he escapted the palace. Southern Chu was already in Prince Yue’s grasp. The five hundred thousand soldiers from Kun suffered heavy losses from the battle, the monarch of Kun surrendered, and Kun agreed to become a vassal state of Southern Chu, ceding six cities. Amidst inner and outer troubles, Prince Yue won Southern Chu and defeated Kun. The call for Prince Yue to ascend the throne grew louder and louder as the common people believed that Prince Yue would bring them a golden age.
Compared to the sound of firecrackers going off outside, the atmosphere in the Lin manor was dim. After letting Xiaoqin take away the two children, Yi Chongren summoned everyone. Huo Yunkai hadn’t been so panicked in a long time. Yifu was too calm, so calm he seemed indifferent.
“Prine Yue has won.” Yi Chongren said flatly, and everyone nodded. This was the result they long expected. Looking at each of the aunties and sisters that had accompanied him for so many years, Yi Chongren said: “Back then, you were persecuted by the two guards and forced to leave the capital. Now that Prince Yue has won the world, it’s time for you to return to glory.”
“Ruhai, what are you saying?” Auntie Zhang wasn’t happy, “We are all a bunch of old ladies with a foot in the coffin. What return to glory. Once old brother, Huaiqiu, and the others return, we’ll all live together here.”
“Yes, yes.” Everyone agreed. Although glory was great, after experiencing life and death, normalcy was all they wanted.
“If that’s what you all want, then let’s speak again once old brother and the others return or send a letter.” Yi Chongren looked towards Huo Yunkai, and Huo Yunkai immediately said: “I want to stay with Yifu. Douzi can’t leave you either.”
“I won’t return to the capital.” Yi Chongren cut off Huo Yunkai’s hopes with one sentence. The blood drained from Huo Yunkai’s face. Yi Chongren held back his reluctance and said: “I finally left the capital. After leaving that place, I won’t return. You are Prince Yue’s heir. Your father has already become the owner of the world. You will likely become the crown prince, so you must return to the capital. Douzi must also return to the capital.”
“Yifu! You are the savior of Douzi and I, and the savior of my father. I can guarantee that father will definitely receive you with due courtesy! Can you bear to leave Douzi?” And me.
Yi Chongren tightly gritted his teeth. How could he bear to leave Douzi. Douzi and Baozi had never left his side, and the two children still slept by his side every night. He wasn’t the two children’s biological father, but he genuinely treated them as his own sons. But, even if he can’t bear it, he must bear it!
Taking a deep breath, Yi Chongren stood up and coldly said: “I’ve made my decision. If you really see me as your yifu, don’t make things hard for me.”
Not giving Huo Yunkai the chance to reply, Yi Chongren walked away. Huo Yunkai’s blood seemed to freeze instantaneously. Before that person left, he shouted without thinking: “Yifu! Can you really bear to throw away Douzi and I?!”
Yi Chongren stopped his footsteps, and with his back facing Huo Yunkai, ruthlessly said: “I’m not your biological father.” After saying this, he left with big strides.
Huo Yunkai wanted to give chase but Auntie Zhang stopped him. Auntie Zhang winked at the others and everyone quietly left. Huo Yunkai’s eyes were red. He, who hadn’t cried since he was eleven, let tears well up in his eyes. Yifu didn’t want them anymore, didn’t want him and Douzi anymore.
Auntie Zhang pulled Huo Yunkai to a seat and patted him: “Maizi, ei, Yunkai ah, don’t blame your yifu. The capital and the palace are all places that hurt him, you must understand him. Also, everyone thinks he’s dead, so if he returns to the capital, someone will definitely find out his identity. He has so many enemies. He has finally found peaceful days, so how could he be willing to return?”
“He doesn’t want Douzi and I anymore.” Huo Yunkai’s nails sunk into his palms.
“It’s not that he doesn’t want you, he can’t want you. After your father ascends the throne, you and Douzi’s status will be worlds apart from us. Even if you are willing, your father, the court, and the people of this world definitely won’t let you recognize him as your yifu.”
“He’ll always be the yifu of Douzi and I!”
Wiping away his tears, Huo Yunkai stood and left. Even if he becomes the emperor, yifu will still be his yifu! After running away, Huo Yunkai didn’t go find yifu. He had a deep understanding of yifu’s temperament and knew it definitely wouldn’t change. What should he do? What could he do to make yifu change his mind? Huo Yunkai made himself calm down. He had to think of a solution. He had to think of a solution before yifu left. He had a feeling that yifu would definitely quietly leave them.
“Daddy, what’s wrong?” Douzi said worriedly, hands holding daddy’s face.
Baozi was also worried, but he didn’t dare to speak. Carrying the two children, Yi Chongren kissed Douzi’s forehead and forced down the sadness of parting to say: “Nothing. Daddy’s thinking of something.”
“Daddy, Douzi will be good, Daddy don’t be sad.”
Although Yi Chongren was trying to hide it, Douzi could still see his daddy was sad. Yi Chongren’s eyes felt hot, and he forced himself to smile towards Douzi: “Douzi and Baozi are both so good. How could daddy be sad?”
“Daddy, did Baozi become fat again?” Baozi was being forced to lose weight by his nanny became scared. Baozi was just like the buns he was named after, fat and round.
Yi Chongren was amused by Baozi, but his heart became even sadder.
“Baozi isn’t fat. Daddy likes Baozi like this.”
“Douzi also likes.”
Douzi didn’t forget to state his stance. He didn’t really understand why his nanny didn’t want Baozi to eat too much. Once he heard daddy and Douzi say they like his fat self, Baozi patted his chubby stomach and laughed. Baozi laughed so Douzi also laughed. The children were the easiest to satisfy, the easiest to make happy. Yi Chongren looked at the smiling faces of the two children, heart hurting like never before.
In the capital, Huo Feng, who had occupied the palace, didn’t shout in excitement or feel as unburdened as expected. He still had an important matter to complete. Xu Baicai, He Jia, and Ruan Xingian discussed everything with him before the attack on the capital. Huo Feng tasked his four subordinates and their followers with dealing with the aftermath. He quickly packed his backs as if he was leaving.
“Your highness, Lord Yuan seeks an audience.” A guard shouted from outside.
“Quickly let him in.”
Putting a few hundred taels of silver in his bag, Huo Feng walked out of the former emperor’s bedchamber. Yuande bowed towards Huo Feng out of courtesy and said: “Prince Yue, the land is settled. This old minister can’t live up to your trust. This old minister wishes to ask Prince Yue for a favor.”
Huo Feng particularly admired and trusted these old ministers.
The corners of Yuande’s eyes were a bit wet as he said with a muted voice: “Chongren has suffered a great grievance because of us and shouldered too many responsibilities that didn’t have to be carried by him. This old minister implores Prince Yue to let the common people of this world know of Chongren’s loyalty and Chongren’s grievances. This is what we all believe in our hearts.”
Huo Feng supported Yuande up and said in a low voice: “Even if you didn’t ask, I would still do it. I owe him more than one life. I’ve already ordered people to draft a decree to clear Yi Chongren’s name.”
“This old minister thanks Prince Yue for his grace!”
Yuande, the former prime minister Zhang Deyuan was so moved that he wanted to kneel, but Huo Feng stopped him.
“Old prime minister, please tell me where he is.”
Hesitation appeared on Zhang Deyuan’s face. Chongren wouldn’t want to let his highness know. Huo Feng saw this and immediately said: “If you don’t say, I won’t investigate. Right now, this world belongs to me. I will definitely find him. Old prime minister, I won’t make things hard for you. I only want to thank him face to face.”
Huo Feng used both carrot and stick. No matter what Zhang Deyuan said, he would think of a way to find Yi Chongren’s whereabouts. Six years, he had waited for six years. Seeing Prince Yue’s determined expression, Zhang Deyuan said: “Can Prince Yue promise this old minister not to make things hard for Chongren?”
“I promise! I’ve already packed my bags. I want to personally go see him.”
Zhang Deyuan was very surprised. No longer hesitating, he revealed: “Chongren is in Jade City Pass. Lin manor.”
Huo Feng’s eyes widened with obvious surprise and excitement. Letting go of Zhang Deyuan, he turned and rushed into the bedroom to grab his bag and strode out, saying: “I will go find him now!”
“Your highness, this subordinate will go with you.” Zhang Huaiqiu stood at the door to the bed chamber with Ruan Xingtian by his side. Zhang Huaiqiu said: “Chongren isn’t willing to return to the capital. If your highness insists for Chongren to return to the capital, you must find a way to convince him.”
Huo Feng’s eyes turned dark and he threw his pack to Ruan Xingtian: “I will make him return to the capital obediently.”
Zhang Huaiqiu furrowed his brows. Without further delay, Huo Feng left the palace and walked to the stables. Ruan Xingtian and Zhang Huaiqiu followed him. Seeing his highness’s congenial footsteps, Zhang Huaiqiu thought his father made a foolish decision. Chongren would definitely be furious.