Sandy's Read Receipts
Translations, Reviews and Other Written Worlds
With my foot not fully healed, and no hurry to reach Luoyang, we dawdled along the road and rested at many stops, as if we were on an excursion.
Wei An was brooding because Wei Jue had shooed him away, instead of allowing him to stay and watch the battle. He was an expert at two things, making machines and pretending to be dead. Ah Yuan and I strived to raise his spirits by playing with him, yet we failed each time, turning the entire journey boring.
Of course, terrible at being bored, I pondered over many things in the carriage.
Compared to six months ago when I had left Laiyang to get married, I wasn't anxious when leaving the Wei camps. From Wei Tan's and Wei Jue's manner, I realized I had a firm foothold in the Wei Clan, at least temporarily. It was time for me to return to business.
I didn't know if Li Shang's trip to Jiangnan went smoothly, and the lack of news from him worried me. I had planned to return within a month when I had first left Yong Capital to pay respects to my ancestors. But now, that was impossible. It has been over two weeks since I left Huaiyang, and even if Li Shang and the others return to Yong Capital, they wouldn't know my whereabouts. I planned to mail a letter to Yong Capital once we reach Luoyang, delivering it to Li Shang's house in Ah Yuan's name. If he had returned from Jiangnan, he would definitely reply.
While going out and traveling by carriage was fun, finding decent lodgings was hard. Half of the villages in war-torn Henan were desolate; it was a miracle to stay in shabby houses if we don't reach a town by nightfall.
We arrived at a village by sunset and stopped to rest because the nearest town was dozens of miles away.
Only a few families lived in the village, and when the poor villagers saw the arriving troops, they hid in their houses in fear and shut their doors tight.
Luckily, the Sergeant leading our group was knowledgeable. When he approached a house to explain, and offered them rice and food, they cautiously opened their door. The Sergeant asked the 200 soldiers to repair the houses before dark. Wei An and I stayed in the house, while the others camped out. The villagers relaxed and rejoiced when they discovered the soldiers were harmless, even helpful.
The soldiers unearthed a kitchen stove in the ruins and used it to prepare meals. But at dinnertime, Wei An was missing. After a quick search, they found him in a house, repairing a Huchuang for a handicapped Elder.
"Why does Fourth Young Master do carpentry?" Ah Yuan murmured.
I smiled and nodded to the Elder, "Fourth Brother-in-law, dinner is ready."
Wei An wiped his forehead sweat, "I'm not hungry, Eldest Sister-in-law eat first."
I noticed the Elder, already uncomfortable to see so many of us, becoming more awkward.
"This Young Master," he cupped his hands to Wei An, "Why don't you eat first; this Huchuang is enough for me."
He shook his head: "I'm not hungry."
I was in no hurry; nothing mattered to Wei An more than his work. I allowed the soldiers to return first, except two or three who remained to hold torches, shining on Wei An as he continued to hammer.
On our way back, Wei An appeared embarrassed.
He whispered, "Eldest Sister-in-law, are you hungry?"
"Not too hungry."
He didn't speak again.
"Why did Fourth Brother-in-law repair the Huchuang? It's not a machine, you could have just handed it to a soldier."
He bowed his head and muttered, "No."
I side-eyed him: "No what?"
Wei An stared at me, "Eldest Sister-in-law, I met that Elder when I was trying to find wood, and I had a hammer on me." He paused and hesitated before continuing, "My paternal grandfather used to be lame too; he treated me and my brother well."
Paternal grandfather? I froze before remembering that the grandfather he was referring to was Wei Qian, the Supreme Commander in the earlier Court, retired at sixty.
My heart softened somewhat: "Do you miss your grandfather, Fourth Brother-in-law?"
"Yes. He could sword-dance and even narrate stories."
I smiled, "What stories did he tell you?"
"A lot. Mostly stories of the Seven Warring Kingdoms. "
As expected of the father of the formidable Wei Jue.
"Is it so." Intrigued because my Father was also fond of telling me stories of the Seven Kingdoms, I asked, "Who did you like in the Seven Kingdoms? The Four Lords? Bai Qi? Oh, you must have liked Mozi more......"
I peeped around, but when neither Ah Yuan nor the escort soldiers looked shocked, I realized they didn't recognize Lord Longyang.
"Fourth Brother-in-law," my smile twitched as I whispered, "why do you like Lord Longyang?"
He looked at me: "What's wrong with Lord Longyang? He is an excellent swordsman, with both martial arts and strategy."
"Many people have martial arts and strategy."
He scratched his head, "But Lord Longyang has a pleasant-sounding name, I only remember him."
After dinner, I asked Wei An: "Since you pity that Elder, why not add two wheels and make that Huchuang a wheelchair?"
"I wanted to, but we can't find wood for wheels here."
"I can gift this wheelchair to the Elder; what do you think, Fourth Brother-in-law?"
Startled, he peered at my foot: "But what about your injury, Eldest Sister-in-law?"
"It has almost healed. We will reach Luoyang tomorrow, and I don't need the wheelchair on the road. If I am still uncomfortable after we reach Luoyang, you can make me a new one."
He contemplated for a while, before nodding in agreement.
"Furen." Ah Yuan watched Wei An's retreating figure and asked me puzzledly, "Why did you just give away the wheelchair?"
I smiled, "Ah Yuan, do you think that many people with mobility issues exist these days?"
"After years of war, besides citizens, the fighting disabled many soldiers."
I nodded, "So, it will be huge if we can sell the wheelchairs."
"Sell wheelchairs?" Shocked, Ah Yuan asked, "But only Fourth Young Master knows how to make them. Even if he agrees, is it proper to involve him in business matters?"
While I too worried over that, I smiled, "We can always figure something out. My idea is tentative; success or failure is uncertain."
Although my Mother was from Luoyang, I have never been there.
In the past, my Mother used to tell me about Luoyang's scenic landscape. As she praised its temples and palaces, she pointed out the most lively areas, and even which well water could apparently make you beautiful. As I listened, I used to think it was the best region besides Chang An.
Of course, with even Chang An ruined, it was impossible for Luoyang to escape unscathed.
The carriage sped across the moat's drawbridge and rumbled through the city gates. Through the carriage window, I saw the wide streets and neat buildings, modeled from famous cities. Yet, many buildings seemed neglected, the grand palace's roof was missing, and black scorches covered its tall walls.
"Furen." Ah Yuan, who was also looking out the window, asked, "I wonder if your two aunts and Lord Qiao are still in Luoyang?"
I remembered I had two aunts and an uncle in Luoyang, nobles I had met in Chang An.
After the Fu Clan's accident, I never saw them again. Similar to the former glory, my relatives had long disappeared, like smoke and clouds in a gale.
Consoling myself that it was fortunate my mother didn't have to know these, I lowered the bamboo curtain.
Although damaged, many people still lived in Luoyang. An endless stream of pedestrians walked the streets as the carriage traveled further. As we passed through the west side, I saw a large market bustling with action.
The Wei Clan's former Residence was in the city's north, surrounded by several large mansions. When the carriage halted in front of the Residence, the Steward and his servants were waiting at the front steps.
As I examined them, I noticed them all dressed as household staff.
Back in Yong Capital, I had learned that Wei Zhao had a concubine in Luoyang, surnamed Xu. I felt it was proper that this Concubine Xu hadn't come out to greet them. She wasn't the principal wife, and I wasn't the Residence's master either. It would have been embarrassing if she had come outside to greet me and I didn't recognize her.
"Greetings, Furen," the Steward bowed to me and said respectfully, "you have traveled a long journey; food and warm baths are ready. Inviting Furen to please enter."
SANDY'S READ RECEIPTS
Beginning as an avid reader, I am translating novels with the help of machine translation and online dictionaries.
SUPPORT ME ON KO-FI
If you are enjoying my work and translations, consider donating to help run the website! Thank you for your support!
SUBSCRIBE FOR NEW CHAPTERS