is girl is really petty.
At that time, I was just scared and spoke thoughtlessly.
She’s still upset over it!”
Xiao Pingzhang drank the medicine, rinsed his mouth and said with a smile, “Miss Lin doesn’t seem like a petty sort of person.
Maybe it’s because you talk too much and annoy others.”
The heir of Chang Lin was of course only joking with his brother, but at that moment, Lin Xi was truly a little upset.
She had known since she was a child of the chain that bound the two of them.
She also knew better than anyone else what shifu had been thinking about these past few days.
The first night after Xiao Pingzhang was clear of danger, Li Qianzhi had pretended to casually ask her about her first impression of Xiao Pingjing, and over the next few days, he constantly found opportunities to ask her the same question several times, which exasperated Lin Xi.
On her deathbed, her mother used her remaining strength to tell her, “If you marry into a military family, you’ll send him to battle and live your days filled with anxiety.
Mother knows this best.
The wealth and power of the prince’s mansion would eventually disappear, like the clouds and mists.
Mother only hopes that in future, you…..you will find someone with whom you could grow into a ripe old age….”
Lin Xi never forgot her mother’s words, and used this as a reason to ask shifu not to reveal her identity.
But no matter what she said, she knew in her heart that her mother’s so-called inviolable wish was nothing more than an excuse.
She actually didn’t mind if her future husband went to the battlefield.
The real reason for her avoidance was because she didn’t want to get married in the first place, least of all into a cold and rigid prince’s mansion.
From when she was a child, she had been learning about medicine and medical treatment from her shifu.
From the time she treated her first patient to the time to the time she was qualified to take on a position in the medical hall, Lin Xi had always known what she wanted.
It wasn’t a husband or children, nor a calm and stable life.
All the more it wasn’t status, wealth, or the admiration of others.
All her happiness and satisfaction stemmed from pursuing her medical studies and improving her medical skills.
She wanted to experience more untreatable diseases, and travel the world to learn about different plants.
Entering a noble family was like being consumed by a deep ocean, let alone one belonging to a seven-pearled prince.
Lin Xi couldn’t imagine what it would be like being married into such a prominent household, to be like other women, living out her life in her husband’s shadow.
Compared to this resistance deep in her heart, the second son of Chang Lin’s nature and moral character, and whether or not she found him charming, all of these were trivial matters.
Returning to the small courtyard where she was residing alone, Lin Xi shook off her gloominess, calmed herself down and adjusted the patient’s prescription in consideration of his latest condition.
Before she knew it, the sky was dark.
Li Qianzhi had just returned after taking leave of his old friend and seemed to be in a good mood.
He had a serious discussion with his disciple regarding Xiao Pingzhang’s prescription and during this time, he made no mention of the second son of Chang Lin, nor did he try indirectly to persuade her to reveal her identity as he had been doing for the past few days, making Lin Xi relax a bit.
During their meal, the old master picked out topics his disciple was interested in, and spent a long while discussing medical treatments with her before diverting the conversation to Datong Prefecture.
“The recent crisis faced by Ganzhou originated at the rear end of the river section where the shipwreck happened.
Because of this disaster, our Fufeng Hall also lost five physicians, which makes me worry about how we can support our branches in Datong Prefecture.” Li Qianzhi looked at Lin Xi’s serene face under the light of the lamp, and adopted a consultative tone as he said carefully, “If we talk about being careful and calm in handling matters, none of the disciples I brought along can compare to you.
Now that the heir’s condition has stabilized, how would you like to make a trip to Datong on my behalf to handle the aftermath of the accident?”
Lin Xi was naturally deeply troubled by the death of the hall’s medical officers and physicians in the shipwreck.
She didn’t think twice and standing up, she cupped her hands and said, “Lin Xi will obey and act according to shifu‘s plans.”
Li Qianzhi smiled, and pressed down against her arm, urging her to sit down.
He then said, “This is a serious matter.
Naturally, His Highness Prince Chang Lin will also send someone to investigate.
If there’s anything you can do to help, you must do your best.”
Lin Xi stared blankly at him for a while, feeling a little puzzled.
“The prince’s mansion is sending his own people.
How could they not be careful and just receive anyone? Why would they need need any help from our medical hall?
Li Qianzhi shook his head.
“For such matters, merely making an observation would be unlikely to yield any results, nor would it be a good idea to send someone over from the north bearing the military banner.
I reflected on what His Highness might mean and concluded that he is likely to send someone to scout around first.” Li Qianzhi smiled as he explained, “Our medical hall may not have any authority or power, but we’re at least familiar with the area, so we can always be of some help.”
Lin Xi had momentarily stopped thinking about Xiao Pingjing, and agreed to this after considering awhile.
“If the government of Datong Prefecture is truly involved in this matter, then the prince’s mansion will need to familiarize itself with the local underground.
If too many new faces suddenly appear, it would arouse suspicions.”
Seeing her nod her head, Li Qianzhi said no more.
Instead, he repeated his instructions on how to handle matters in the aftermath of the shipwreck casualties before making his way to the inner courtyard where Xiao Pingzhang was recuperating.
Because he was taking medication, Xiao Pingzhang took long naps intermittently throughout the day.
At this time, he was wide awake and conscious, and was just at that moment perusing through military reports that Dong Qing had brought him.
The moment he saw the old master enter through the door, he hurriedly stuffed them under his pillow.
Li Qianzhi hid a smile.
After checking his pulse, he chided, “The greatest worry when it comes to recovering from an injury is that if it relapses continuously, it will become chronic, then all the effort would have been wasted. Shi zi is a very thorough person, so how is this principle something shi zi does not understand?”
Xiao Pingzhang had always been mild and gentle in temperament, and he also knew that Li Qiaozhi had good intentions, so he did not argue, but merely bowed his head as he listened.
But as soon as the old master turned around to leave, he couldn’t resist it and immediately removed the reports, looking through them with careful consideration.
He had already suspected there was some abnormality at the battle in Gannan while he was defending the city, and reflecting on it during these past few days of quiet has given him greater clarity.
It was widely known that the Ganzhou Battalion was directly under the heir’s command, and could be considered Chang Lin Army’s most elite force so it was impossible that Da Yu was unaware of his hasty advance to the garrison.
Looking at the northern border as a whole, Gannan should clearly not have been where they prioritized and concentrated their main force.
However, apart from their false 2-day attack of Meiling, the Da Yu imperial army had focused their entire force on attacking Ganzhou, as if they already knew that supplies to the city had already been cut off, which was as good as reducing their military strength.
But how could the enemy have known about the shipwreck within Da Liang’s borders?
A crackling noise came from the burning wick of the lamp on the small table by the couch, rousing Xiao Pingzhang from his thoughts.
Suddenly, he noticed his father standing by the door, and hurriedly sat up as he called out, “Father.”
Xiao Tingsheng stepped in, his gaze stopping on the military reports in his son’s hands as he said disapprovingly, “Your recovery is more important than rushing to read these reports!”
Xiao Pingzhang smiled.
“Your son is no longer sleepy after having slept for so long and is too idle.”
Xiao Tingsheng walked to the couch and sat down.
Adjusting the quilt, he tried to keep his tone mild as he asked, “I heard from Pingjing that you traveled overnight to Lang Ya Pavilion to see him before heading to Ganzhou?”
Xiao Pingzhang slowly pursed his pale lips and lowered his eyes.
After he had regained consciousness, he had found the Lang Ya pouch under his pillow.
It may be assumed that his father was already aware.
Met with his silence, Xiao Tingsheng looked away and continued to sit with him in silence, neither pressing nor questioning further.
This child had been a perfectionist since he was a boy, but behind all the perfection in the world lies great pressure and gruelling self-control.
As a father, he didn’t want to add even the slightest bit of burden on to his eldest son.
“You’re naturally aware that I went there not just to see Pingjing…..” After a long moment of silence, Xiao Pingzhang finally raised his head and removed the Lang Ya pouch from under his pillow.
“I asked the old pavilion master a question, and this was his answer.
Has Father read it?”
Xiao Tingsheng’s eyes were tender, and he shook his head gently.
“I already know everything.
There is no need for me to read it.
What’s important is you….after learning this, how do you feel?”
Xiao Pingzhang stared blankly, his eyes filling with tears.
How do you feel? After leaving Lang Ya Pavilion, his thoughts were in a turmoil.
He wanted to think about it, yet also didn’t want to think about it.
It wasn’t until the arrow pierced his chest, narrowly missing his internal organs, that he realized he actually didn’t need to think too much.
If he had died, he would never be able to see his father, Pingjing, or his beloved wife whom he had waited seven years to marry.
Then what would have been the purpose of all this obsession with the past?
“Your son already understands that what happened in the past is not important.” Xiao Pingzhang propped himself up and threw the pouch he was holding into the brazier by the bed, watching on as the flames consumed it.
“Father was born in such sorrowful and difficult circumstances, yet was still ultimately able to put it aside, and focus on present responsibilities, so why can’t Pingzhang? I think I understand Father better now…..”
Xiao Tingsheng felt his chest brimmed over with warmth.
“I remember when you brothers were young, you both had completely different temperaments.
Pingjing was free and unbridled, fearing neither heaven nor anything on earth, and he was the favourite of both the previous emperor and His Majesty.” Patting his eldest son on the back of his hand, he deliberately raised his voice as he said, “But in your heart, you know that now matter how that rascal is regarded, you’ve always been my favourite.”
He deliberately raised his voice further at the last few words.
Xiao Pingjing, who had just arrived at the door, spoke out as he knocked on the door frame with the side of his forehead, “Old man*, you obviously heard me coming yet must still say such things.
After so many years, are you worried that I still don’t know that you’re biased?”
*This sounds a little rude in English, but in Chinese,老爹 (lao die = lit.
old dad/father) is affectionately used here
Xiao Tingsheng raised his eyebrows and said rebukingly, “Comparing you to your brother, how can I not be biased?”
Seeing his brother bend over with pain while laughing, Xiao Pingjing quickly stepped forward to rub his back soothingly, taking this opportunity to wink surreptitiously at him.
Observing the eagerness in his brother’s eyes, Xiao Pingzhang suddenly felt a little bad.
Actually, sending Pingjing to Datong Prefecture was something both father and son had already discussed the day before.
They had also divided the work.
The old prince would ask for Fufeng Hall’s assistance while he deliberately tried to string his brother along in order to suppress his lack of restraint and impatience.
But feeling bad aside, this move at least appeared to be effective.
“Da ge, have you spoken to Father?” Xiao Pingjing felt a little anxious when his brother remained silent with his lips pursed.
Xiao Tingsheng cleared his throat and wore a stern look as he said, “Alright, stop disturbing your brother already.
He had just sung your praises a moment ago, so I have already given you permission to go to Datong Prefecture.
But this matter is different from your usual fooling around.
Since you sincerely want to do it, you’d better do it well.”
“Father, please rest assured.
There will always be flaws when it comes to man-made schemes.
I will not let Father down.
“Xiao Pingjing raised his hand, holding a shiny arrow tip that had somehow appeared between his fingers.
“No matter who the investigations finally point to, no matter his rank or his reasons, for hurting my da ge in this manner, he will not get away with it.”
Xiao Pingjing’s eyes as he stared at the shiny arrow tip were fierce, startling both Xiao Tingsheng and Pingzhang.
Both of them knew this child’s temperament better than anyone else.
He had never shown any enthusiasm for so-called “official matters”, and avoided them as far as possible.
He had so proactively insisted on personally rushing to Datong Prefecture this time only because the life and death situation in Ganzhou had well and truly stepped on his bottom line.
A bottom line that was shared by the three of them, father and sons.
After a moment’s silence, the old prince suddenly smacked Xiao Pingjing’s head and said reprovingly, “The supplies to the front line could have been cut off because someone in the country had colluded with the foreign nation.
This makes it a serious matter for the court, which is why they are investigating it closely, but from the way you rascal say it, this has become Chang Lin Mansion’s personal grievance?”
Xiao Pingjing rubbed his head as he retorted stubbornly, “I don’t care for these high-sounding words.
As far as I’m concerned, although this is an official matter, it is also, without a doubt, a personal grievance! It is absolutely a personal grievance!”
As Xiao Tingsheng grabbed a tea cup from the side and flung it at him, Xiao Pingjing shielded his head with his arms and fled through the door.
On the couch, Xiao Pingzhang smiled reluctantly as he said, “Father, why are you kicking up a fuss? He’s turned out like this because he’s been in Lang Ya Pavilion for so long.”
Xiao Tingsheng laughed bitterly as he shook his head.
Turning around, he looked at his eldest son’s pale lips, his eyes veiled.
“But that rascal is not completely wrong.
Whoever did this better not think of getting away with it.”
I don’t know about you all, but one of the things I loved about NIF2 were the poignant moments between the brothers, and father and son(s).
I’ve always known how NIF2 was different from NIF, but coming straight from NIF, the difference couldn’t have been more stark.
From the get go, because it is set in the present moment, without the sadness and darkness of the past weighing it down, the relationships take on a very different light and have a different poignancy.
I like how it’s the same author, the same world, yet so different in flavour and emotional weight, yet no less deep.
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