Carrying the heavy letter in his sleeve, Jiang Yan walked back to his seat with shaky steps. He didn’t dare to even take a glance at Huan Yuan, for he was scared to see the blame, resentment, and accusation on his face; any of these emotions would hurt him.
After Jiang Yan were the other five. Chu Yu handed the letters to each of them personally, and very warmly gave them appropriate encouragements, as if she were a generous person that just rose in position. Those who didn’t receive recommendations also saw hope in this; some even seemed eager.
But one of the people at the banquet, although quaint and elegant, had a mournfully pale face, and his eyes were as cold and distant as a ghost’s.
This person was Huan Yuan.
He was surrounded by a splendid spring scene, but Huan Yuan felt he was in midwinter; all the white apricot flowers turned into ice and snow in his eyes.
Originally, he had thought that even if the princess found out about his plan and he failed, the most he could receive was death. He didn’t expect that Chu Yu would take such an action: she didn’t want him to die; she wanted him to be deserted, abandoned, and betrayed by everyone.
He didn’t care about failing, but he cared about Jiang Yan.
Until now, he still remembered, that in the old days in Rong Zhi’s pavilion, he and Jiang Yan had been in the same room for a period of time, but neither talked to the other. Until one day, when the two were looking for books, they happened to both reach for the same one. Looking to the other person, they couldn’t help opening their mouths:
Broken into pieces falling to the ground…… Everything was gone forever.
Done with the arrangements for the six people, Chu Yu felt much more relaxed. She raised her cup, and subconsciously glanced towards Huan Yuan’s direction, wanting to see his expression. When her gaze landed on his face, Chu Yu was a little shocked. Although she came up with the whole plan, she didn’t expect that Jiang Yan’s betrayal would be such a hard blow to Huan Yuan.
Even though she felt a little sorry in her heart, if given another chance, Chu Yu still wouldn’t change her decision. After all, she had to do this. She wasn’t the true Princess of Shanyin, and she couldn’t control the whole situation or leisurely fix everything easily, so she could only seek another path and separate them.
When the banquet dispersed, Chu Yu specifically let Jiang Yan stay. She toasted him three farewell cups, and smiled: “The King of Jianping has always liked literature and books. He is also a young man, so at his place, you would definitely be like a fish in water. Here I wish you the best luck and a life of success.”
At this time, everyone had already left. Only Jiang Yan, Rong Zhi, and Chu Yu’s personal guard Yue Jiefei were left beside her.
Hearing Chu Yu’s words, a thousand feelings surged in Jiang Yan’s heart. Now, he didn’t even know if he hated Chu Yu or was grateful to her. But Chu Yu had given him kindness and help was the indisputable truth.
Abruptly swallowing down a cup of wine, Jiang Yan’s cheeks started blushing. He lowered his head and begged, “Princess, after I leave, please do not punish Huan Yuan. This person has stunning talents, which even I am far from matching. If…… It would truly be such a pity.” He guessed that Chu Yu probably already knew about their conspiracy, or she would not have used such means to separate them. With a guilty heart to Huan Yuan, Jiang Yan came to beg mercy for him from Chu Yu.
Chu Yu smiled, “Don’t worry about this. If I really wanted to punish you two, there would be no need for going through all this trouble. You probably also realized, that I purposefully let you make a choice in front of a crowd, forcing you to forsake Huan Yuan. Will you blame me for doing this?”
Jiang Yan’s expression was perplexed: “I don’t know.”
Chu Yu lifted up her cup and sipped some wine. The wine of this time contained little alcohol, plus it was mild fruit wine, so she completely drank it like drinking juice: “You’re very honest. If you immediately say you won’t blame me, that would be a plain-out lie. I have my reasons for doing this. Do you still remember the time when you were framed and cast into prison? Although that person was at fault, have you reflected on yourself?”
Instantly, Jiang Yan became a little unhappy, “I didn’t do anything wrong, why do I need to reflect on myself?”
Chu Yu sighed: “Why did that person frame you, out of all possible people? And all your former colleagues, none of them spoke up for you. Wasn’t it because you failed epically on the social level?”
Seeing Jiang Yan pause, Chu Yu continued, “There is a saying, called the strongest is the easiest to break; if too hard and rigid, something would be easy to break. I absolutely have no intention to make you mix with the corrupt officials, but at the same time of preserving your virtuous and noble self, you also need to learn to socialize and establish relationships. Without a few friends, it would be hard for you to have a smooth and successful career.” She smiled comfortingly, “I am not trying to persuade you anything, only hoping that at some times, you might recall my words. Sometimes, submission and compromise aren’t disgraceful; overly caring about unnecessary things would instead harm you.”
Jiang Yan gazed fixedly at Chu Yu for a long time, then solemnly raised his cup: “Thank you, Princess, for your teachings.” Although he didn’t agree with Chu Yu’s words, he could feel that Chu Yu was sincerely trying to help him.
Chu Yu smiled, and also raised her cup, but discovered that her cup was empty. She let Rong Zhi pour her some more wine, but there was not a trickle left in the flagon either, so she simply set her cup down, “I did this today because I wanted to grind your elan a bit, so that if you once again meet hardships after today, you will encounter less setbacks. Your talent is stunning, and there’s a good prospect for a bright future for you. The better days are in the future; the past can all be viewed as smoke and dust.” By saying this, although Chu Yu had started with the intention of buying support for herself, she also couldn’t bear to see this gifted scholar fail due to his overly unyielding personality. But as she talked on, she became more and more earnest and sincere.
Smoke and dust?
Jiang Yan watched the apricot flowers falling to the ground in the distance. Could he really, treat everything that had happened here, as the smoke and dust in the past?
After those words, all that was to be said were already spoken. Chu Yu slowly stood up, then as if suddenly remembered something, tilted her head to look at Jiang Yan, and spoke softly, “The most deeply depressing thing, is no other than parting.”
Yue Jiefei had no knowledge and understanding for poetry or literature, but when Rong Zhi and Jiang Yan heard Chu Yu’s words, they couldn’t help being shocked, and wonder why Chu Yu would suddenly say so. But after they each thought about it in their hearts, both were moved.
The most deeply depressing thing, is no other than parting. This sentence seems plain and simple, but really spelled out all the feelings of farewell. Some things, the first person who said it would be a genius, but the second would only be considered a copycat. No one had ever described separation like this before; so when the two heard this, they both felt refreshed. They had no idea that Chu Yu was just reciting from her textbook.
Jiang Yan himself was very skilled at writing and composing poems, and his understanding of poetry was also pretty good. As he repeated this sentence in his heart again and again, his expression became more and more amazed. This sentence fit his feelings and thoughts so well! He didn’t know why, but for some reason he felt an indescribable intimacy with this sentence. As if something was sprouting in his chest, but missing something.
But he was also sure, that he had never read or heard this sentence before.
When Chu Yu said this sentence, she had in mind the idea of probing Jiang Yan, to determine if he was or was not the one in history. After she said it and saw the two’s expression, she suddenly realized that she had neglected a detail. Damn it.
Even if this Jiang Yan was that Jiang Yan, with his current age and experiences, there was no way he could think of this sentence. To put it simply, she stole a sentence that Jiang Yan was going to write out sometime in the future.
Crap crap crap, she really didn’t do it on purpose.
Chu Yu shrugged.
But now that things were already like this, and now that she had already stole Jiang Yan’s work, she couldn’t say, oh, this is the poetry you would write in the future, I just said it out in advance now to return it to you. So she could only pretend to be calm and smile, letting Jiang Yan think about however he wanted to.