Volume 4, Chapter 7: Brothers Meet

Hai Li, the second generation owner of the Hai Family Shipping Company, was Hai Zhongying’s nephew. In the year that he turned sixteen, he accompanied Zhongying and traveled to the Southern Sea, visiting various countries. Afterwards with Zhongying busy, Li personally led the convoys south and then west.

The rise of the Hai family was partly a result of Li’s efforts. Skilled in painting, Li personally drew twelve sea maps that were incomparably precise and are used to this day. In the seventeenth year of Great Yong’s Longsheng1 era, in order to reward him for enhancing the national prestige overseas, Li was anointed a marquis by Emperor Taizong. Although Li was bestowed with a noble title, his behavior did not change, sailing forth across oceans even at the age of seventy. In the fifteenth year of the Wenzong2 Emperor’s Zhaoning3 era, Li took a nap in his cabin. In his dreams, he met an old friend. When he awoke, he smiled and stated that he was about to die. Burning incense and playing the zither, he died before finishing the song. He was seventy-one.

Li’s character, although seemingly amiable on the outside, was distant and aloof inside. However, at the root of his character was honor and trust. When Zhongying died, his sons were still young. Everyone argued that Li would inevitably cease control of his uncle’s assets. Li taught his younger cousins as his own children. After fifteen years, when Li choose the most capable of his cousins as his uncle’s successor, everyone knew of his moral integrity.
Li was fond of studying the Confucian classics and was known as a scholar. Not marrying and having no children, everyone found this strange.

—Yong Dynastic Records, Biography of Merchants

When Chiji walked into his cabin in a daze, he caught sight of Daoli within, quietly gazing at him. Daoli impassively stated, “She’s no more than a little girl. How could have you taken her so seriously? You will very quickly forget her and she will very quickly forget you.”

With an aching pain in his heart, Chiji replied, “I also do not know why. Originally, I only considered her to be a troublesome little sister. However, the day before yesterday, when I saw her walk out of the Princess of Jiaping’s room, she suddenly became so dazzling. In the face of that kind of beauty, I could not help but feel distress. A phoenix bathing in fire, although beautiful, experiences bitter anguish. How unbearable it must be? At that moment, I finally understood. The entire journey, the reason I treated her half-heartedly, even going so far as to find her arrogant and willful, crafty and unruly, was because I knew that the day would arrive when we were ultimately going to part ways. As a result, I did not want to fall in love with her. I truly did not want to harm her. However, right now, she has still been seriously hurt, while I am powerless to help. Daoli, you can’t understand.”

Daoli stoically said, “No, I understand completely. One day in the past, when I was handling a matter on the young master’s orders, I once stayed within a small faction. I even got to know an innocent and kindhearted young girl. She fell in love with me, while I was also moved by her. However, ultimately, I personally killed her father and elder brother.”

Chiji’s heart stirred, remembering the important task that Daoli had handled before. After Daoli returned, he remained silent for several days, almost as if he had died. At the time, Chiji had also gone to console him, but discovered that Daoli’s eyes were completely lifeless. It was only after the young master secretly summoned Daoli that he recovered his previous spirit. From that point on, Daoli was dispatched to the Eastern Sea.

Hesitating, Chiji asked, “That girl … is she … is she dead?”

A hint of unknowable sorrow flashed across Daoli’s eyes, as he answered, “At the time, I also thought to allow her to live, to allow her to hide in a remote and desolate place, thus not affecting the young master’s plans. However, I understood that if she were to remain alive, she would very likely fall into others’ hands, becoming a tool used by others to deal with us. Moreover, she had seen me kill her father and elder brother with her own eyes. I did not have any idea what lengths she would go to in order to avenge that kind of grievous hatred. As a result, I personally killed her. I had gone on this mission filled with malice and knew of this conclusion from the beginning. However, I still fell into her constant affection. This was my mistake. Therefore, I must personally rectify this mistake. You are also the same. As long as you are able to kill her with your own hands, you can eliminate the malignant tumor in your heart. As such, you must go to Northern Han, otherwise you will never be happy in the rest of your life.”

Chiji was silent for some time before he said, “I understand the meaning of your words. You personally killed your beloved in order to not harbor resentment against the young master and your comrades who have been through life and death with you. What you say is true. She is the same as her elder sister, both heroines amongst women. The day that she dies will surely be comparable to the descent of a meteorite, passing away at her most splendid and brilliant. If I cannot witness it with my own eyes, my entire life will be filled with remorse. I will ask the young master to serve in the army in the northern campaign. However, I will not allow her to learn that I am also on the battlefield. It is enough that I alone suffer this pain.”

“It is best that you understand,” expressed Daoli distantly. “Now that your identity has been exposed, starting tomorrow, stay by the side of His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi. The young master has some things that he wants you to take care of.”

Finished speaking, Daoli handed over a wax pellet. Chiji took the pellet. Removing the wax, he looked at the instructions on the paper within. Then he burned it. As the ashes fell to the ground, Chiji showed a determined smile.

***

Once the ship that carried Li Xian, Lin Bi, and company arrived at the small nameless island that served as the main base of the Marquis of the Eastern Sea, the eyes of the two individuals, standing at the bow of the ship, brightened. Gazing into the distance, this little island was in a crescent shape, almost as if two arms were extending out in a hug. The island was surrounded by steep precipices. The smooth rocks were fundamentally impossible to climb. In addition, there were no covering trees, allowing the patrols on the cliffs above the ability to easily spot any intruders or invaders. At the center of the crescent was an excellent harbor, capable of allowing large ships to shelter from the elements. The Marquis of the Eastern Sea was a maritime overlord. Aside from the envoys from the major countries, those who came to participate in the wedding celebrations were either merchants who made a living via shipping or pirates who plundered oceangoing ships. As a result, there was clear separation within the harbor, as the various factions were on guard against each other. The warships of the Marquis of the Eastern Sea surrounded the island and ensured that no one would get in without permission. Even if Jing Wuji and Great Master True Compassion had come, it would be impossible for them to do as they please in this kind of dangerous location.

On the dock stood several dozen sturdy-looking men, serving in a welcoming capacity, dressed in red, festive clothing. At their front stood the little marquis, dressed in crimson wedding garb, fully displaying his martial disposition and filled with jubilation. After he had been cured from the poison, Jiang Haitao had returned to the Eastern Sea, proving that he was without rival when it came to naval warfare. He annihilated or forced the surrender of numerous pirates. Before, the Marquis of the Eastern Sea was only the largest faction on the high seas. Now, he had become the commander of all of the pirates. To attain these achievements, Jiang Haitao had contributed mightily over these last two years. Not only was Jiang Yong comforted in his old age by the abilities of his son, even the distant Yong Emperor Emeritus in Chang’an was overjoyed at this news. During the two years he had spent in retirement, Li Yuan was very regretful for failing to leave some leeway for his brother-in-law and elder sister.

Seeing the beautiful woman standing at the bow of the ship, Jiang Haitao shouted, “Jiang Haitao, under my father’s orders, is here to welcome the envoy from Northern Han, Your Royal Highness, the Princess of Jiaping!”

Lin Bi smiled slightly. Raising her voice, she returned, “Little Marquis, there is no need to be too polite.”

Finished speaking, Lin Bi walked down the gangplank and onto the dock. After the two exchanged salutes, Jiang Haitao’s gaze fell upon the figure of Li Xian who had followed Lin Bi down. An incredulous, but happy look appeared on Jiang Haitao’s face, as he cried out, “Sixth uncle!” In high spirits, he ran over and grabbed onto Li Xian’s arm. Laughing heartily, he continued, “Why didn’t sixth uncle inform us in advance that you were going to come celebrate nephew’s wedding?”

Li Xian also smiled slightly. He replied, “I’ve come in private. The Emperor doesn’t know that I have come. Don’t spread the news.”

Jiang Haitao excitedly said, “Nephew remembers sixth uncle’s help. For sixth uncle to be able to come today, Father will definitely be overjoyed as well. Sixth uncle, quickly come with me to see Father.”

Smiling, Li Xian agreed, “Okay. I have not met elder cousin in many years and should first reminisce. This is Lin’er, my son. You don’t recognize him, right?”

Seeing Li Lin, Jiang Haitao’s heart leapt. He knew of Li Xian’s current situation. This boy was definitely the son of Qin Zheng. However, Jiang Haitao was a broadminded and magnanimous individual. Since this boy’s mother had already died, he wouldn’t make a fuss. He said, “So it is younger cousin. Let’s bring him along to see my mother.”

At this moment, a tender and lovely voice spoke up, filled with dissatisfaction, “Lanlan is also here.”

Only then did Jiang Haitao discover the little girl standing at Li Lin’s side. With one look, Jiang Haitao was elated. Walking over, he picked up Roulan, stating, “Lan’er has also come! Does that mean Sir has come as well? Father has sent several invitations, but all were declined by the Sir.”

Pleased with herself, Roulan declared, “I came with Uncle Hai with Daddy’s approval.”

Disappointment flashed across Jiang Haitao’s eyes. After greeting Hai Wuya and Hai Li, standing behind the Prince of Qi, Jiang Haitao set down Roulan. Leading the way, he guided all the guests towards the distant wedding hall.

In the last several years, the Marquis of the Eastern Sea had taken up permanent residence upon this island. From the dock upwards, there were layers of buildings. Among them, halfway up the mountain, the largest and most magnificent hall served formerly as the conference hall, but today served as the wedding hall. A feast was arranged in the side halls on both sides with over a hundred tables to entertain the ordinary guests. In the main hall, aside from the center that was covered in red that served as the wedding hall, on each side was placed eighteen tables for the special guests. Reportedly, because the wife of the Marquis was in poor health and frequently ill, she was unable to attend the wedding. Only the Marquis was present, leading his subordinate commanders and trusted aides, beaming with happiness as he welcomed and entertained the guests. Those people experiencing happy occasions would frequently be vigorous and invigorating. The already forty-five-year-old Marquis was glowing with health and vigor. Even before the banquet had begun, he had already downed several drinks.

The most important guests in the main hall were the envoys from Great Yong and Southern Chu.

Li Kang, the Prince of Qing, was thirty-seven years old. Since the fall of the Fengyi Sect, his status and position immediately increased significantly. As Li Yuan’s third son, with the eldest son, Li An, forced to commit suicide and the second son, Li Zhi, now emperor, Li Kang’s status as the next oldest son was only below that of his father and elder brother. As for the other adult princes, the seventh prince, the Prince of Ning, Li Qi, had poor health since birth. He was not doted upon by Li Yuan and did not participate in governmental affairs. It was only after Li Zhi ascended to the throne that Li Qi was enfeoffed as a prince of the second rank. Although the Prince of Qi had been pardoned and was granted command of a large army, because of the suspicions upon him, his status had been demoted from an imperial prince to a prince of the second rank. All the other princes and princesses had not yet reached adulthood. Because of his contributions in defending the Yong territories in Sichuan, Li Kang was promoted from a prince of the second rank to an imperial prince. With this change, the Prince of Qing, who controlled the army and government of Yizhou, became one of the individuals that was second only to the emperor.

This time, he had come on the emperor’s orders to serve as an envoy to the Eastern Sea. Li Kang was extremely willing and happy to do so. He had long ago formed secret communication channels with Marquis Jiang Yong. If he could convince Jiang Yong to pledge allegiance to Great Yong, it would be an enormously meritorious contribution. As a result, Li Kang, seated in the chief guest’s seat, was chatting freely, replete with charm and cordiality. With this handsome and heroic, influential imperial prince acting like so, it caused his entire table to feel as if they were being bathed by a soothing spring breeze.

Southern Chu’s envoy, Lu Can, had a completely different style. Although he was only twenty-five, Lu Can was already the Chief Controller of Southern Chu’s armies. His expression was serene and calm, making it difficult to know his thoughts. In fact, although it was normal for Great Yong to dispatch a high-ranking envoy in Li Kang, the Prince of Qing, it was strange that Southern Chu had dispatched Lu Can. These last several years, Lu Can had simultaneously defended the Southern Chu half of Sichuan against Great Yong’s invasions and raids, while reinforcing the defenses at Xiangyang and Fancheng, and the defensive line along the Yangtze River. He was practically buried under a heavy workload on a daily basis. As the Grand General, Lu Can could be said to be Southern Chu’s foremost general. For such an important individual to leave the court and travel to the distant Eastern Sea was utterly unimaginable. As a result, many began to suspect that there were some changes to Southern Chu’s political situation.

Although Lu Can’s expression was calm, not revealing any hints for people to make conjectures, one look at the completely carefree and unrestrained manner of Lu Can’s deputy, Fu Yulun, one could jump to all kinds of conclusions. Who didn’t know that this Fu Yulun was the son-in-law of the Southern Chu Prime Minister, Shang Weijun, and King Zhao Long’s uncle-in-law? Could it be that conflict had arisen between Southern Chu’s two regents, Shang Weijun and Lu Xin? Was Lu Can sent to the Eastern Sea because he was being supplanted? With the current chaotic state of the world, who didn’t want to understand the situation, so as to avoid being implicated?

Just as the guests in the hall were chatting, the herald announced, “The Princess of Jiaping and the Crimson Clouds Princess have arrived!”

Everyone looked over, catching sight of a woman in an emerald-green dress walk in. In order to attend today’s festivities, Lin Bi did not wear her usual barbarian riding clothes that made it easier to lead troops into battle, changing instead into a splendid attire befitting of her status. She wore a light-green embroidered coat and a lake-green skirt. The gold and bluish-green outer garment denoted her respected position as a princess of Northern Han. At her waist was tied a pearl encrusted precious saber. Her deerskin shoes reminded everyone of her other status as the commander of the Daizhou army.

Everyone in the hall rose to their feet to welcome the new arrivals. Even the Prince of Qing and Vice Minister of Rites, Gou Lian, from an enemy country, were no exception. Regardless of friend or foe, this commander who defended the northern border against barbarian incursions, the female general who protected the common people and the lands of the north, was deserving of their respect.

With a smile, Lin Bi greeted everyone. At this moment, a melodious and beautiful voice drifted over. “Elder sister, is that Lu Can, Grand General Lu?”

Only then did everyone notice that standing behind Lin Bi was a young lady in red. Her beauty was stunning, as lovely as a fire. It was just that everyone had been drawn by Lin Bi’s elegant bearing and had not noticed this young lady in red following behind. Moreover, from all signs, she was not a maid. Hearing her talk, everyone realized that the herald had announced the arrival of two individuals.

Hearing the young lady’s question, Lu Can smiled. Having spent years in the military, the former undisciplined and out-of-control, mischievous youth had already become a reticent general. His eyes fell upon Lin Bi. At this moment, Lin Bi glanced at him with an apologetic smile. She said, “My younger sister is mischievous. Grand General, please forgive her.”

Lu Can bowed slightly and acknowledged, “Your Royal Highness is being too courteous.”

At this moment, the young lady in red, Lin Tong, asked with curiosity, “So you are Lu Can. I have heard that you are a formidable commander, causing Great Yong’s elite horsemen to fear to invade the south. Everyone states that in the north, there’s Long, in the south, there’s Lu, causing Yong to be apprehensive. Who could have thought that you are so young?”

Lu Can glanced at the ashen-faced Prince of Qing, Li Kang, and calmly answered, “Princess is overly flattering me. Grand General Long has two hundred troops under his command, suppressing the five hundred thousand Yong border troops. He is the foremost commander of the present age. Great Yong and Southern Chu are still friendly and have no hostilities. I deserve not the Princess’s praise.”

Lu Can was simply speaking the truth. Although in these last several years, Southern Chu did not have the strength to launch an offensive against Great Yong, Great Yong was also too preoccupied to worry about Southern Chu. However, this did not mean that the two countries did not have small-scale skirmishes. Lu Can commanded troops in an almighty fashion, ensuring that Great Yong did not gain the slightest bit of advantage. That was why his name was said in the same sentence as General Long Tingfei as a nemesis of Great Yong. However, nominally, the two were suzerain and vassal, and the relations had not been broken off. Lu Can would absolutely not admit to Lin Tong’s words. As expected, the Prince of Qing’s complexion improved upon hearing his words.

Dissatisfied, Lin Tong mumbled a few words before falling silent under Lin Bi’s warning gaze. Lin Tong obediently followed her elder sister and took her seat. At this table were already seated the envoys from Southern Chu and Great Yong. Even with the addition of Lin Tong and Lin Bi, there were still many open seats. However, ordinary individuals would not even think about sitting at this table. At present, the world was divided in three. How could anyone be able to compare to the envoys from these three countries?

Lin Tong glanced at the Prince of Qing. Caustically, she greeted, “Hello! Are you Great Yong’s envoy, the Prince of Qing?”

Li Kang coldly glanced at Lin Tong. He had no wish to have an argument with a little girl. That sort of behavior would be below his dignity. As a result, he callously replied, “That’s right.”

“You seem to look impressive,” said Lin Tong with a smile. “But compared to His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, you’re quite lacking. No wonder he’s commanding five hundred thousand troops protecting the border, while you are at the bottom of the well gazing up at the sky in the Hanzhong region.”

Hearing her words, Li Kang was immediately greatly enraged. He scolded, “Princess of Jiaping, please properly discipline your younger sister.”

Seated next to him, Gou Lian frowned. This young lady seemed to be extremely familiar with the Prince of Qi. Reasonably speaking, she should never have had the opportunity to meet the Prince of Qi. Although the Prince of Qi was facing off against the Northern Han army, it was rare for opposing generals to meet.

Just as suspicions grew in Gou Lian’s mind, the herald announced, “Great Yong’s His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, has arrived!”

The entire hall was immediately thrown into an uproar. No one had expected that the Prince of Qi would actually come here. Not only had an envoy from Great Yong already arrived in the Prince of Qing, and the Great Yong court would not likely dispatch two princes, the Prince of Qi held a heavy responsibility as the commander of the Yong border army. By rights, he should remain with the army, not appearing here. However, as everyone was wondering if they had misheard, the Prince of Qi’s grave and stern figure had already appeared at the entrance to the hall. His icy and merciless gaze took in his surroundings. Immediately, the hall was absolutely silent.4 Everyone believed that with this kind of majestic presence and imposing bearing it was truly the Prince of Qi who had arrived.

Although practically everyone avoided the Prince of Qi’s severe gaze, there were a few individuals who did not fear the Prince of Qi’s prestige. Lu Can was one of them. When he heard the announcement of the arrival of the Prince of Qi, he was first astonished before regaining his serenity. He only gazed placidly at the Prince of Qi, an appraising and admiring light in his eyes.

Li Kang, the Prince of Qing, had a frosty expression. He was extremely resentful towards the Prince of Qi. Not long ago, the Prince of Qi’s faction was attached to the former Crown Prince, never even taking the Prince of Qing seriously. In addition, the Prince of Qi’s deceased consort was a disciple of the Fengyi Sect. This was already enough for the Prince of Qing to hate someone with a passion.5 But what caused Li Kang to detest this arrogant and obstinate sixth brother of his was Li Xian’s unwillingness, even under the present circumstances, to give in to him. According to their statuses, Li Kang was an imperial prince of the first rank, while Li Xian was only a prince of the second rank. Li Kang was a favorite, a distinguished individual who was second to none, while Li Xian still carried the suspicions of involvement in the former crown prince’s coup d’état. However, even under these circumstances, Li Xian had never taken Li Kang seriously.

This year, when Li Zhi had ascended to the throne, Li Kang and Li Xian had both returned to the capital to take part in the ceremony. Originally, Li Kang thought that he could put their past feelings to rest based upon his status as an older brother and as a prince of the first rank. Surprisingly, Li Xian did not even spare him a single glance, let alone exhibit a shred of respect.

Because of this, Li Kang had once secretly petitioned Li Zhi, stating that Li Xian was too arrogant and unyielding. However, Li Zhi merely smiled wryly and said, “Sixth brother is the same even in Our presence. That is his temperament. It is best if third brother doesn’t offend him.”

This sentence had caused Li Kang to immediately understand. Unless Li Xian died, it would be impossible for him to gain the advantage over Li Xian. Seeing the respect and reverence of the military commanders and important court ministers towards Li Xian, while disaffected and distant to him, Li Kang’s bitter hatred of Li Xian grew increasingly grievous. For what reason was this unfilial and rebellious individual so arrogant and yet able to properly suppress him from above? This question was the resentment that Li Kang hid in the deepest depths of his heart.

However, in front of so many outsiders, Li Kang would naturally not reveal such hatred. Even in the Yong court, he would only reveal the slightest hint of his discontent. Li Kang once again rose to his feet. Forcing a smile on his face with difficulty, he said, “Sixth brother, you’ve also come. Have you come with the Emperor’s edict?”

Li Xian glanced at Li Kang, coldly replying, “I have come as a private citizen. What need do I have for an edict? If third brother has doubts, you can go back and ask the Emperor.”

Seeing him so insensitive, Li Kang’s face immediately froze, almost as if he were going to explode with anger. Gou Lian promptly tried to smooth things over, stating, “Prince of Qing, there is no need to worry. The Prince of Qi is here merely because of the depths of his familial affection. Presumably, the Emperor will not blame him.” For him to speak in such a manner, he seemed to suggest that the Prince of Qing was worried that the Prince of Qi would offend the emperor by leaving the army without approval due to brotherly affection.

Li Xian glanced at Gou Lian, actually giving him face. Li Xian said, “Third brother, there is no need to worry. When I go back, I will submit a memorial to the Emperor apologizing for my offense.”

So speaking, Li Xian revealed a languid smile. Then, in a forthright and imposing manner,6 he took a seat. At this moment, everyone in the hall finally relaxed, and could not help but exclaim in admiration at the weighty, baleful aura exuding from the Prince of Qi. It was truly rarely seen. Of all the generals who commanded troops, Lu Can was carefree and calm,7 possessing the bearing of a scholarly general; the Princess of Jiaping had a natural calm that caused everyone to be filled with admiration; while the Prince of Qi carried the acute aura of death and battle. To be able to see the three sit at the same table made this trip truly worthwhile to many who saw them.

Although everyone had relaxed somewhat, they could still feel an oppressive atmosphere. With the arrival of the Prince of Qi, no one at his table could relax and enjoy the banquet. Just as everyone was finding the situation awkward, a bold and unconstrained hearty laugh roared from the rear hall. A voice came booming, “What? Sixth brother has also come?”

All who heard it knew that the Marquis of the Eastern Sea, Jiang Yong, had arrived. In the Eastern Sea, aside from the Prince of Qing, Li Kang, the only other individual who could address Li Xian in such a fashion was the Marquis himself. Sure enough, a middle-aged man of about fifty in a set of crimson robes walked out of the rear hall. His hair and beard were the color of ash. His expression was hale and hearty, and he possessed skin that was slightly darkened. As he walked, he seemed to do so with the breeze. The guards behind him seemed unable to keep up with his pace. Arriving at the table, Jiang Yong hoisted up Li Xian and said, “Good sixth brother! Your older cousin hoped for your arrival! Without your righteousness and loyalty, that nephew of yours not only wouldn’t be able to marry, his life would have been lost long ago. Come, come, this time, I’m going to definitely have your nephew and niece-in-law properly thank you for your great kindness. Don’t worry about your Great Yong’s envoys being unpopular here, you’re different! Aside from pledging my allegiance, as long as sixth brother has any requests, feel free to say them. I, Jiang Yong, will definitely not fall short.”

Jiang Yong’s words deeply frightened many people in the hall. Looks of concern even appeared on the faces of Lu Can and Lin Bi. If the Prince of Qi were to ask that the marquis cease cooperating with Southern Chu and Northern Han, then what could be done?

Before the Prince of Qi could respond, the herald, in an untimely fashion, announced, “Hai Family Shipping Company: Hai Wuya and Hai Li have arrived! Young Miss Roulan has arrived! Young master Li Lin has arrived!”

In the wake of the announcement, the Hai uncle and nephew entered with smiles on their faces. Behind them was a vivacious little girl, pulling along an unwilling little boy. Aside from Lin Bi’s and Li Xian’s entourages, everyone was dumbfounded. What was going on? When did the herald start announcing children?

Little Roulan’s whirling eyes took in the stupefied8 looks on the guests’ faces. She discontentedly said, “Why are you glaring at Roulan? Little brother Lin, these people are quite rude! Help me teach them a lesson.”

Li Lin gloomily glanced at the guests, coldly replying, “Are you an idiot? Who out there can I beat?”

Little Roulan seriously took a look. Somewhat vexed, she stated, “It is a bit challenging … They are all a lot bigger than you. It would be good if big brother Jun was here. He definitely could have helped me vent my anger.”

Li Lin resentfully voiced, “Your big brother Jun isn’t all that big himself. I don’t believe that he’ll be able to help you vent your anger. Just wait. When I’ve grown up and become a general, I’ll help you vent your anger.”

Rubbing her nose, little Roulan mumbled to herself, “Big brother Jun is really quite formidable. Whenever Daddy bullies me, he’ll always help Lanlan tell on Daddy.”

Afterwards, little Roulan slowly lowered her head, her voice carrying the sound of tears, as she said, “Boo hoo, Lanlan hasn’t seen big brother Jun in a long time. Daddy has even prohibited me from writing to big brother Jun.”

Raising her head, she gazed at Li Lin and asked, “You can help me bring a letter to him, correct?”

Li Lin was in a tough spot. Seeing that everyone’s suspicious eyes were looking on with hilarity, Li Lin very fiercely replied, “All right. I agree, okay?” Li Lin’s expression became even more depressed. Earlier, Roulan had pleaded with him for a long time. However, feeling embarrassed, Li Lin had said that he couldn’t go to Chang’an and deliver the letter, and could only harden his heart and refuse. He didn’t expect that Roulan would choose this moment to force him to agree. Disliking being the focus of attention, Li Lin could only agree. In his head, he wondered if it was possible for the military messengers to deliver the letter for him.

With these two children playing around, everyone’s states of minds finally relaxed. It wasn’t clear who, but someone began to laugh. That person was swiftly joined by everyone else in the hall. The atmosphere in the wedding hall lightened significantly.

Li Lin blushed scarlet, staring daggers at Roulan. Roulan ignored him, walking forward with pride written all over her face. Pulling on Jiang Yong’s robes, she said, “Uncle Jiang, Lanlan has come on my daddy’s behalf to offer congratulations.”

Jiang Yong did not know whether to laugh or cry, as he declared, “Good! Uncle has already heard. Little Lan’er, do you want to go to the back and take a look at your new sister-in-law?”

Roulan promptly nodded her head. Jiang Yong gestured with his hand. Two maids standing to the side hurriedly came over, leading little Roulan towards the rear hall. Li Lin frowned. Raising his head, he glanced at his father. Seeing Li Xian nod his head lightly, Li Lin followed behind Roulan. Everyone only assumed that this little boy was together with Roulan. As such, no one paid him any mind and allowed him to follow Roulan inside.

Footnotes:

隆盛, longsheng – lit. grand magnificence
文宗, wenzong – lit. the cultured ancestor; likely Li Zhi’s grandson by Li Jun and Roulan
昭宁, zhaoning – lit. manifest peace
鸦雀无声, yaquewusheng – idiom, lit. crow and peacock make no sound; fig. absolute silence, not a single voice could be heard
恨之入骨, henzhirugu – idiom, lit. to hate somebody to the bone; fig. to hate someone with a passion
大马金刀, damajindao – idiom, lit. big horse and golden saber; fig. forthright and a grand manner
神闲气静, shenxianqijing – idiom, lit. possessing the leisurely calm of an immortal; fig. carefree and calm
目瞪口呆, mudengkoudai – idiom, lit. eyes and mouth fixed; fig. stupefied, bewildered

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