Chapter 9 … This way of thinking had supported Gu Hong Jian for a full twenty years.
Not long afterwards, it became the Winter Solstice of Wànshùn Year 31. Lin Si Ze allowed Gu Hong Jian to accompany him to head to Ying Xi Palace.
After Gu Hong Jian heard the statement akin to thunderous lightning, she asked, “Me? Why?”
Lin Si Ze replied, “You are my personal maid.”
“Aren’t I a miscellaneous palace maid from Bai Fu Palace?!” For the first time, Gu Hong Jian became aware that she was unexpectedly the fifth prince’s personal maid.
Lin Si Ze said, “You are the only one out of the entire Bai Fu Palace who would show their face.”
Gu Hong Jian couldn’t refute him. “…”
Gu Hong Jian had a bitter expression as she watched Lin Si Ze choose a set of slightly proper clothing and a black cloak. She was also fortunate to be given something from Lin Si Ze for the first time——a light green cloak.
In fact, it was previously Lin Si Ze’s, but it was now a bit small so he gave it to her.
Even though Lin Si Ze was relatively short in supplies, every year at New Year’s, things would still be sent down. Even if an unknown amount was shortchanged, this type of first-rate cold resistance cloak was generally not shortchanged much. After all, it would be hard to explain if a prince froze to death in the palace.
Gu Hong Jian withdrew her hands and feet and followed Lin Si Ze to Ying Xi Palace with trembling movements. Because Bai Fu Palace was so remote, there was no one on the road. When they almost reached Ying Xi Palace, figures gradually appeared.
It seemed as if they had merely walked two steps, yet they suddenly went from an extremely cold land of isolation to a noisy building. Gu Hong Jian was accustomed to waiting in the cold and cheerless corner as a small maid, so she naturally became extremely nervous at once. She couldn’t help but covertly glance at Lin Si. Seeing the tranquil expression on Lin Si Ze’s face involuntarily made her relax a bit.
It was as warm as spring inside Ying Xi Palace. Richly ornamented with gold and jade in glorious splendor, it was the first time Gu Hong Jian had come to such a place. She and Lin Si Ze, however, stayed in the corner.
This was also the first time Gu Hong Jian saw the legendary emperor.
His age was not small anymore, the look in his eyes blurry yet still possessing an indescribable power that deters others. Gu Hong Jian secretly raised her head for a glance before hurriedly lowering her head. That emperor, aloof and remote, had a benevolent father, filial son appearance as he inquired about a few of the princes’ lessons. Nevertheless, he skipped over Lin Si Ze as if he did not exist.
Lin Si Ze had probably become accustomed to this long ago as he kept his head lowered, eating silently.
Gu Hong Jian watched his actions, feeling very sad. Lin Si Ze quietly asked, “Where is the box I had you take earlier?”
Gu Hong Jian very carefully gave it to him.
Lin Si Ze packed a lot of food inside.
Gu Hong Jian: “…”
Lin Si Ze said, “Your reward——return to Bai Fu Palace to eat it.”
Gu Hong Jian: “…”
She looked at the other nobles, each and every one dressed excellently. She was the youngest amongst the servants, and the most unpresentable one as well. Even the nobles gave rewards, stealthily setting aside food from the dining table.
However, Gu Hong Jian thought, even if others took a fancy to me, I won’t abandon Lin Si Ze because this guy really is too pitiful, pitiful to the point he had to split his own meagre things with someone else.
And that someone else was precisely her, Gu Hong Jian.
This way of thinking had supported Gu Hong Jian to accompany Lin Si Ze for a full twenty years.
In the future, he no longer let anyone think of him as ‘pitiful,’ nor would he exclusively share his possessions with solely Gu Hong Jian.
At this time, for some unknown reason, Gu Hong Jian subtly and stealthily became concerned for another person. Even though she had scanned Ying Xi Palace, she hadn’t caught sight of that person——Zuo Ning Yan.
After returning, she intentionally asked around. She learned that there was a very amazing Celestial Master who had done a divination and declared that Zuo Ning Yan had a predestined fate in the capital during her lifetime and must be kept far away from the capital until she was sixteen years of age.
Because this matter was actually somewhat absurd, rumours had spread out widely. Gu Hong Jian had also inquired into this matter, but she didn’t learn why Zuo Ning Yan couldn’t return before she turned sixteen. According to her calculations of Zuo Ning Yan’s age, she couldn’t return to the capital until Wànshùn Year 42. Gu Hong Jian felt significantly more at ease upon recalling this.
Later, upon thinking about this, Gu Hong Jian would be unable to make head or tails of her younger self’s thoughts, as she had discovered that there truly was darkness within the Will of Heaven. She had already known this from the beginning, because her high intuition told her that Zuo Ning Yan and she were as incompatible as fire and water.
The six years between Wànshùn Year 32 to Wànshùn Year 39 passed by quickly. Gu Hong Jian trained her martial arts daily, and Lin Si Ze did the same in addition to studying. The absolutely empty Bai Fu Palace was forever occupied by only the two of them.
At first, Gu Hong Jian still restrained herself when living in the lower servant quarters. Seeing how this place truly was remote and was empty of people later on, she had the slight desire to move rooms—from the relatively inferior servant quarters to the head palace maid’s quarters. To her surprise, when she brought up this request to Lin Si Ze, he immediately allowed her to move to a side chamber.
Although Bai Fu Palace was very remote, it also had master chambers and side chambers. Lin Si Ze lived in the master chamber. The side chamber was the half of the palace that was reserved for guests. For example, if two niángniangs had a very good relationship and if the empress gave her permission, another niángniang could come over and stay in the side chamber of the palace.
Or if there was an issue with the master chamber, the master could move to the side chamber to sleep.
In short, it was the master’s sleeping area.
Which was why when Lin Si Ze said such a thing, Gu Hong Jian had panicked completely—but only for a short while. She also…just moved in.
She felt that the one word to describe this would be—invigorating.
Because of her previous discussion with Lin Si Ze, however, Gu Hong Jian realized the she seemed to be helping Lin Si Ze. It seemed that as a government official, she must abandon her womanly nature first. Although Gu Hong Jian appeared to believe that even a woman could accomplish big things, and despite Lin Si Ze and Teacher Meng not discriminating against women, others were unlikely to think this way.
Gu Hong Jian followed through with her plans. If she was to accompany Lin Si Ze in the future to handle his affairs, what would others think or say if they saw a seemingly obedient little maid following behind Lin Si Ze!
Thereupon, Gu Hong Jian begun to act like a man as much as possible, even around Lin Si Ze.
After Lin Si Ze heard this, he was silent for a moment before saying, “I had always thought you were.”
Gu Hong Jian really wanted to beat him up, but she restrained herself.
Lin Si Ze would puzzledly ask, “What?”
Gu Hong Jian beamingly teased, “Lin—gū—niang—”
“You…” Lin Si Ze continued to stare at her blankly.
Gu Hong Jian remarked, “What? You are allowed to see me as a man, but I’m not allowed to see you as a woman? Whether we are brothers or sisters, it’s all the same!”
Lin Si Ze: “…”
Actually, it was not completely without reason that Lin Si Ze called Gu Hong Jian a man. After all, Gu Hong Jian’s martial arts was advancing at a pace where it was like a thousand miles had been travelled in one day. Some days, Lin Si Ze would get up early to the view of Gu Hong Jian practicing in the courtyard by chopping firewood barehanded. He would then simply stop for a moment before acting as if nothing had happened and left.
If she could chop firewood barehanded, easily lift stone tables, and get along with many of Teacher Meng’s recruits, then it was unavoidably somewhat difficult to consider her a girl.
In accordance, Gu Hong Jian probably also truly saw Lin Si Ze as a woman.
Vastly different from Gu Hong Jian’s arrogant and despotic character, Lin Si Ze was fairly reserved—anger, happiness, emotions in general, they were always buried into the depths of his heart, never revealed. Although this was because he had grown accustomed to enduring silently, Gu Hong Jian saw it as him having the temper of a girl—a demure temperament.
It was probably because of this, however, that their relationship could be described as ‘advancing by leaps and bounds.’
At this phase in life, a boy would like very much to play with a ‘boy’ of the same age. Lin Si Ze’s brothers were very terrible, and Gu Hong Jian’s appearance undoubtedly just happened to occupy this brother position.
Although Lin Siu Ze liked to pretend to be an adult, appearing very serious to Gu Hong Jian, he was fundamentally different from his past self. He had already begun to trust Gu Hong Jian, willing to exchange ideas with her and even wanting to accompany her to sit in the gardens and chat about random things during times of leisure. If the weather was fair, the two of them would bring astronomy books and look up at the night sky and try to identify the stars.
Lin Si Ze would test Gu Hong Jian on what she learned every week. Most of the time, Gu Hong Jian could not pass. Whenever this happened, Lin Si Ze would sigh deeply and mention several books that would explaining what she didn’t know to Gu Hong Jian. During the occasional times when Gu Hong Jian passed, Lin Si Ze would reward her with a pat on the head. Even though Gu Hong Jian would harshly say—“What are you doing patting me on the head?”—she would do nothing to dodge or evade. In her heart, she would secretly burst with joy.
Lin Si Ze’s genius surpassed others; but even though he could already write many beautiful poems, he never sent a single one to the emperor. Gu Hong Jian had seen several, and though she couldn’t understand what Lin Si Ze had written, she always felt completely overwhelmed and believed that if the emperor read them, he would certainly change his view of Lin Si Ze as this worthless son and value him.
When Lin Si Ze heard Gu Hong Jian’s thoughts, he simply said indifferently, “I have already become used to being ignored. If I was suddenly valued, as far as I am concerned, this is actually something bad instead.”
Gu Hong Jian understood. This was called ‘concealing one’s strengths and biding one’s time,’ so she didn’t speak of it anymore.
Afterwards, Teacher Meng began to let them look at military strategy and tactics. Even if he spoke of military strategy and tactics, however, all of it could also be applied to palace affairs.
That time, Lin Si Ze was already fourteen years of age, the beginnings of his tall and unyielding handsome future self appearing. The baby fat on his face had also begun to recede and reveal a few lines hidden in its depth. Gu Hong Jian, however, grew faster than Lin Si Ze. In Wànshùn Year 39, Gu Hong Jian was taller than Lin Si Ze by no less than half a head.
Sometimes, Gu Hong Jian practiced martial arts on the edges of the flower gardens to make the lower level more stable, and Lin Si Ze would have to look up at her whenever he came over to talk.
Gu Hong Jian was very much pleased with herself and would occasionally reach out with her hand to compare the top of his head with her height, hinting that she was taller than him. Lin Si Ze would immediately leave with a dark face, flinging his sleeve out as he left. Gu Hong Jian would then burst into a hearty laugh.
At sixteen, Lin Si Ze became increasingly calmer, but he was still very easily provoked into anger by Gu Hong Jian. Having met when they were six, Gu Hong Jian had learned, apart from martial arts, to be absolutely unrestrained with Lin Si Ze.
Even though Lin Si Ze got angry, however, he never became truly unhappy.
After all, that year he was only sixteen. The only one accompanying him was Gu Hong Jian. He was unlikely to want to drive her away because this person sometimes angered him.
He trusted her, just as she trusted him. At this time, they only had each other. They were master and servant as well as each other’s best and only friend. He was her young teacher, teaching her to read and study. She was an aggressive, strangely powerful girl who taught him how to strengthen his body to its peak. Both teachers and friends, it was hard to part with each other.
(starry eyes) Sweet?
(replies to own question) Sweet!