Neither Madam Yu nor Madam Zhang could find any peace after they came back from the matchmaking pavilion that day. Instead, their worries even seemed to grow. What should they do about their son’s marriage? Madam Zhang was at least able to talk things through with her son. Madam Yu, on the other hand, didn’t even see him. When she returned home that day, her son had already vanished. She found out that he had been to the palace but that was all. He didn’t return in the next few days either and she only heard about him when he went out to meet with two of the people that had participated in Madam Yan’s first event.
Madam Yu really wanted to run over and drag him back home by the tip of his ear but she knew that she couldn’t do that. Thus she could only complain to her husband but that didn’t have much of an effect either. He only told her to let him be and that he’d come home when he felt like it.
Needless to say, Madam Yu wasn’t reassured at all. This was about their son’s marriage! His marriage! Whether or not they would get a daughter-in-law and any grandchildren would depend on this!
Regardless of how hard she tried, her husband didn’t budge though and didn’t go to search for their son so she could only silently continue to complain while she had to wait for their son to return home. When he did, she’d definitely give him a piece of her mind!
Yu Huang Rong could imagine what would await him if he went home so he didn’t bother to do so in the first place. After his meeting with Zhang Shi Lan and Ming Ru Shui, he went into seclusion again, training his sword arts. Zhang Shi Lan knew how to have a message delivered to him so if he found somebody else they could have a meeting with, he would be able to tell him so. As for anything else … Well, he didn’t really need to see anybody and he was pretty sure that Luan Xin would have his ways of finding out where he was if he needed something.
In this way, another week went by until Zhang Shi Lan finally contacted Yu Huang Rong. He had found another person they could meet up with who happened to be the son of a friend of his father’s.
Yu Huang Rong happily went to the meeting and bid goodbye with a heavy heart afterward. When they parted, he gave Zhang Shi Lan a look, indicating that he should better find another person to meet soon. Even though he was working on his skills incessantly so that he had something to do, it was still unbeatable to be separated for this long.
Really, if he could, he would speed up the process and get married right next week. Unfortunately, there was no way that could happen so he could only return to his seclusion and hope that Zhang Shi Lan would have another idea on how to meet.
Once again, it took a few days until he heard from him. This time, the person in question was a scholar again. Contrary to Zhang Shi Lan whose aspirations lay more in finding a place in the Academy or maybe teaching children, this person wanted to get a position at court and was thus eager to meet the younger General Yu. After all, every connection you had might one day be able to help you. Thus he had readily agreed when Zhang Shi Lan asked him if he would be interested and happily conversed with the two of them for several hours, trying to impress Yu Huang Rong who nodded absent-mindedly and spent his time admiring the way how Zhang Shi Lan poured the tea so elegantly or folded his hands in his lap, glancing at his face from time to time.
Even up until the time they bid their farewells, their guest didn’t notice any of the furtive glances and was just happy that he had been able to meet General Yu and maybe leave him with a good impression. He felt that if he used this well and made sure that this relationship dried up again, he would benefit greatly.
Yu Huang Rong actually had trouble remembering that person or anything he had said. His whole head was filled with the way Zhang Shi Lan looked and moved and how melodious his voice had sounded when he injected a sentence here or there. Ah, he couldn’t wait to see him again!
Indeed, it only took Zhang Shi Lan another few days to find yet another person he could introduce to Yu Huang Rong. It was somebody he had previously met at the Academy. This person was a little different from the other scholars though in that he didn’t like to just debate but wanted to be involved in the matters of the studies as well. As far as Zhang Shi Lan described in his letter, this person was interested in medicine and was running a small pharmacy where he would sell medicine but also administer some treatments to patients to further his studies.
Reading the letter, Yu Huang Rong hadn’t been able to help but shake his head. Zhang Shi Lan was really putting in a lot of effort. The people he found for him were truly inconspicuous. A friend of his family, somebody who might have an interest in meeting him or someone who might be of use to him in that he might be able to give him some pointers on how to care for his men better when they were injured on the battlefield …
Neither of these men was very close friends with Zhang Shi Lan either although they had a good relationship. When things became public later on, they might be able to get a bit of the story behind everything but it wasn’t necessarily the case. It could very well be that they might instead think that Zhang Shi Lan had tried to curry favor with Yu Huang Rong while feelings had just naturally blossomed with time.
In that manner, Yu Huang Rong met a row of people before finally, the Academy’s late-summer literary competition arrived. Yu Huang Rong hadn’t brought the matter up with his father yet and he didn’t want to return home either. Thus, on the evening before the event, he hurried to the barracks where his father was training the soldiers and invited himself in with a smile.
“Father! I haven’t seen you in a long time. You look fabulous!”
The older General Yu glanced up at his son and wrinkled his lips. Looking fabulous? Was that the only thing he had to say after running away for so long? “Your mother’s looking for you.”
Yu Huang Rong’s smile grew strained. “Father … Didn’t I go to the matchmaking pavilion? It’s not like I can do anything about how Madam Yan is doing things. What am I supposed to do about that? Go and talk to her? As if she’d listen to me!”
General Yu shook his head and sighed. “So what am I supposed to do about that? Go and talk to her? As if she’d listen to me!”
Yu Huang Rong ground his teeth. He also knew what he had said, his father didn’t need to repeat it! Alright, he did admit he should have at least clued his father in when he vanished from home. That way his father could have found a good excuse before his mother noticed that he was gone and left on his own. Then he wouldn’t have needed to suffer through her constant nagging. He probably deserved this kind of reaction.
Yu Huang Rong awkwardly cleared his throat and then inched closer, putting on an ingratiating smile once again. “Father …”
The older General Yu furrowed his brows. “Stop talking like that! Are you coming home or not?”
Yu Huang Rong raised his brows, his gaze darting about. “Well … I guess I’m coming home. Then again, you see there is this event at the Academy tomorrow and I kind of promised Zhang Shi Lan that I’d go there.”
General Yu huffed. “Did you promise that, yes? Well, good for you that you have friends. I already heard all about it from your mother!”
Yu Huang Rong still kept up a smile and inched even closer. “Father, actually, I promised him that I’d bring you as well. You see he’s been doing a lot for me these last few weeks and I feel that I should pay him back. He will be there with his father so I felt that if I brought you along, then I’d seem much more sincere.”
General Yu wanted to scold his son but finally stopped. “That event at the Academy … when will it start?”
Yu Huang Rong’s face lit up. “Right in the morning! They first gather to write some calligraphy and recite some poets or something and then there’ll be tea in the afternoon and the real competition as far as Zhang Shi Lan told me. I guess there might be some wine involved in the evening so it could get really late.”
General Yu rubbed his chin and pursed his lips as if in thought. “Well … Since he helped my son gain a foothold in the capital city again, I probably shouldn’t be ungrateful. Yes, yes it might be better to go there and give them face. That’s the right thing to do.”
Yu Huang Rong’s face lit up. Ah, he just knew telling his father that there would be a way to get away from his mother’s nagging would get him his help! Now, he only had to hope that his father would be behaving nicely. Well, even if his father wasn’t always polite, he would also know how to act in front of these people.
“Well, then I guess we’ll return home together today.” Anyway, he had to return today to fetch himself some clothes that he could wear for the event. After all, he couldn’t embarrass his husband-to-be.