"I've done wrong too, Fuyao," Meng Fuyao heard Zhangsun Wuji say in a low voice.
"I did not think that he would make a move on me, and at the expense of Yaocheng at that. It's my fault that you almost ended your own life." His voice sounded rather bitter, and Meng Fuyao wondered why.
'Why wouldn't he expect King De's motive? Hadn't they been aggressively fighting over the throne? No one could go easy on his opponent, and for someone so wise, how could Zhangsun Wuji not see that coming? Why, why, why…?'
Doubts circled in her mind, and she struggled to break free but to no avail. Nights of insomnia and exhaustion finally took a toll on her upon Zhangsun Wuji's return. Her endlessly binding train of thought soon set its weight on her eyelids.
Just like that, she plunged into a deep sleep, but not before processing Zhangsun Wuji's last drifting sentence, "The torment you've been feeling during this period has also been my punishment, Fuyao."
A faint yellow glimmer of warm light shone down as Meng Fuyao heard someone else speaking in a low voice, "… should we wake her up for some food?"
"… let her sleep more…"
Meng Fuyao opened her eyes and gradually gained full awareness of her surroundings.
Meng Fuyao laid motionless, a smile blossoming on her face. 'The baddie hasn't died because of me. He has returned.'
Before the table, someone turned around with a rolled document in his hand. With a beautiful smile on his face, he asked, "Slept your fill?"
Meng Fuyao sat up, looking at the yellow tinted window paper. "How long have I slept for? Why is it still morning?"
"It's the next morning already," Zhangsun Wuji answered, blowing out the candles and opening the windows. A fresh breeze blew in and onto his robe and hair, causing it to flutter.
"I've slept for a whole day and night?" Meng Fuyao exclaimed while looking at Zhangsun Wuji's back view. Noticing that his robe seemed to have gotten looser, she asked, "You haven't slept?"
"I wanted to see if you'd grind your teeth, or sleep talk, or even drool while you sleep."
"I sleep-punch people, that's a fact." Meng Fuyao smiled, letting her eyes cruise over his body again. Events-wise, he had rushed out from the coastal camp and back, mustered troops, met the enemy, and surrounded King De. Timewise, all of those happened within a relatively short period of time. King De's fall had occurred only one or two days back, and Zhangsun Wuji had already appeared. He must have thrown everything aside immediately after that to rush over to her side. He hadn't had a good rest, had he?
Meng Fuyao sprang up and ran over to him before pushing him onto her bed. "Go sleep and don't wake up until I tell you to."
"It's not time to enjoy your bed yet," he stood firmly on the ground as two men approached from the courtyard, "I have to receive these noble guests."
The "noble guests", of course, referred to Zhan Beiye and Zong Yue.
Seeing them come forward Meng Fuyao felt her head exploding as if she had seen lightning flashes in the sky. The friction was overwhelming, and it shot recklessly across the sky like fireballs.
If two were explosive storehouses, what would three be? Europe's gunpowder barrel?
Since ancient times, kings never met one another. What could the outcome of the two kings' encounter be? A king destroying a king? A king eating a king? A king slaughtering a king?
Meng Fuyao did the calculations in her head. 'No way, they're both important political figures after all, and their self-restraint, etiquette, facade, pleasantries and what not should have already been perfected. Resorting to violence due to verbal conflict was something that happened in the marketplace and not between men like Zhangsun Wuji, Zong Yue and Zhan Beiye.'
"Excuse me for not going out to receive you, noble guests." Before Meng Fuyao could complete her thoughts Zhan Beiye's laughter filled the vicinity. At the same time, while taking forthright strides over to the room, he smiled at Zhangsun Wuji. "Hello, Your Highness. The military affair must be coming along great, am I right? How could you have arrived so leisurely amid all that, otherwise? Shouldn't you be relentless pursuing the rebellious army in Mianzhou?"
"D*mn. Both are trying to turn the other into the noble guest…'
"How's our noble prince doing?" Zhangsun Wuji smiled. "Getting used to living life in Tiansha? The weather is warm and moist in Wuji, unlike in Tiansha Geya where it's dry and refreshing. It must have been hard on you, Prince. As for the front military situation, it's Wuji's internal affair, but thank you for your kind concern."
The meaning of this was akin to saying, "Great, making it clear that you're Tiansha and I'm Wuji, and that we're completely different. Then there's no need to argue about who's the guest…"
"I bought this courtyard," Zhan Beiye pointed out smilingly, "while it's unrefined, the scenery is considerably impressive. Your presence here today definitely brings light to my humble abode."
Meng Fuyao glared at him. 'You bought it? Lying through your teeth… I bought it.'
"Oh, yeah?" Zhangsun Wuji returned the smile. "It's great indeed, but since the prince is here in Wuji as a guest, you're my distinguished guest. How can I let you pay for the house? It's unacceptable of me. How about this? Pass the deed to me, and I'll get someone to seek out the house owner and pay double for it. Take it as a little gift."
Meng Fuyao held onto her tummy as she was about to burst out laughing. 'You're throwing rocks at your own feet, Zhan Beiye. The deed is with me.'
Zhan Beiye questioned with an unfazed expression, "Are you hinting to me that Tiansha Nation is weak and that I can't even afford this house, Your Highness?"
Zhangsun Wuji also responded with an unfazed expression, "Are you then hinting to me that Wuji Nation is poor, and can't even afford a meager gift to your nation, dear prince?"
Meng Fuyao stood in between them both, quickly feeling puffs of invisible smoke rising. She hurriedly raised a palm and intervened. "Stop, stop. He bought this house but transferred the deed to me. Since this is the case, hand me the silver. Double. Thanks."
Zhangsun Wuji let out a faint smile and replied gently, "Since that's the case, you'll get it naturally." He pulled her and gave Zhan Beiye a polite bow. "Thank you for saving her life." He then gave Zong Yue a simple nod, adding, "And thank you for protecting her."
Zong Yue spoke in a voice even calmer than Zhangsun Wuji's. "Fuyao and I aren't strangers, so there's no need to thank me. In fact, I brought her to Wuji, so I'm responsible for her." He smiled warmly at Meng Fuyao, causing her to shudder. "Even if it's not for our friendship, Your Highness, I can't possibly stand by and watch her suffer when she's holding onto a personal belonging of mine."
Meng Fuyao was speechless…
'How ruthless of him… quiet but fatal when attacking.'
Zong Yue had found out a long time ago that Meng Fuyao had his belt but chose to keep quiet, only using it at a purposeful moment.
Meng Fuyao kept her eyes on Zong Yue, no longer daring to look at the other two men. 'Aish, they are all ruthless people. I mustn't have dealings with any of them in future or I might just die unknowingly one fine day.'
As Meng Fuyao whined inwardly, Zong Yue was already approaching and grabbing onto her hand. "Time for treatment. I've invented a new medication so you can try it."
No one who cared about her would ignore the physician's words, and the two men weren't exceptions. Zhan Beiye threw Zhangsun Wuji a glare without entering the door while the latter simply raised his brows and smiled as Zong Yue led Meng Fuyao away.
Meng Fuyao couldn't break out of Zong Yue's grip. It was actually his first time touching her. 'Whatever happened to his clean-freak nature?' She hoped for a relapse and for him to then cast her aside in contempt. That way, she would also be free from the unreadable gazes of the two men behind.
Aish, no one had expected Zong Yue to emerge champion from this three-way battle. Meng Fuyao pursed her lips, thinking about how great it was to be a physician. 'Health is always a priority that no one can argue against.'
The moment they settled in the inner room, War God Zhan started firing cannons again.
Glancing over at Zhangsun Wuji he asked, "I heard that Your Highness had led the big eastern troop to battle Yang Mi. Strange, isn't the eastern war still ongoing? How did the troop reach inland? Or the so-called mischief by Gaoluo was simply a screen you created to dupe King De into treason?"
Meng Fuyao's heart thumped loudly. That was her suspicion as well. Zhangsun Wuji had left hurriedly due to Gaoluo's mischief, but from then till the time she attempted suicide, there had been no news of Gaoluo being suppressed. King De, who was supposed to be in the eastern line had instead appeared inland. All those details made it hard not to point Zhangsun Wuji out as the orchestrator of "Gaoluo's Mischief". The war between two lines, causing King De to take opportunistic action… was it all Zhangsun Wuji's plot?
Zhangsun Wuji lifted his teacup and gave its content a little blow. "Where have you heard it? That the war is still ongoing?"
Zhan Beiye was stunned for a moment. It was true that he hadn't heard that the war was over, but it was also true that he hadn't heard that it wasn't over. After some thought, he smiled. "True, whether there had been a war and whether it is truly over or not is all up to you. I just pity those who were kept in the dark and those who had almost lost their lives."
Zhangsun Wuji placed his tea down and laughed. "The prince is known to be righteous and straightforward, but you've surprised me today."
"Are you saying that I'm beating around the bush?" Zhan Beiye asked, sitting upright. "I actually think you're better at this than I am, but since you feel otherwise, I'll show you what being direct is. What I meant was: Look at her. Look at Fuyao, Zhangsun Wuji. What has she become?!"
Suddenly agitated, he threw the cup in his hand toward the window, causing it to shatter and the tea to spill everywhere.
"I have no time to argue with you, Zhangsun Wuji! Let me ask you this: Since you're unwilling to let her go, you have to take on a man's responsibility! What has she gone through? She would've ceased to exist if I had been just a second late. Where were you then? It's fine you borrowed my troop since it was for Fuyao anyway, but who are you to judge that it is enough for a happy ending? Is it alright to just run off and leave her to face everything alone?"