the bed.

Ah, right. 

Before he lost consciousness, Sui Yan suddenly thought of something that Duan Zhisu had said to him in the past.

He had asked, “Wanggui, are you willing to believe in me?”

That year, Duan Zhisu had looked lost as he blankly gazed at Sui Yan. His frightened appearance had made him seem frail and desperate.

The young Sui Wanggui had never seen Duan Zhisu like this, and without any hesitation, he nodded. 

“Of course I believe in you.”

Of course….

I believe in you.

But what have you done with my trust? 

It snowed heavily for many days, and by New Years Eve, icicles were hanging off the buildings eaves. Under the bright sunlight, the sparkling snow that had collected on the roof started to melt, and it slowly dripped down the crystal-clear icicles.

Early in the morning, Sui Xun tied his cloak around his shoulders, adjusted his collar, frowned, and turned his head to ask, “He still is not awake?”

Haitangs face was full of worry, “Yes, Genius Doctor Jun said that Little Young Master caught a cold when he came back that night and that it will take a while for him to get better. Little Young Master also needs to be taken care of for a few days before he wakes up.”

After Duan Zhisus birthday banquet, Sui Xun had been busy handling the end-of-year affairs in the military. He had come home to take Sui Yan into the palace but was surprised to find that Sui Yan was still sick. 

Sui Xun waved away the hand Haitang stretched out to adjust his girdle and said, “Why didnt anyone tell me that he was this sick? Let the carriage wait for a bit. Ill go take a look.”

Haitang hurriedly acquiesced.

Sui Xun quickly walked towards Sui Yans eastern courtyard. Before entering the door, he could already smell a bloody medicinal scent. He pushed open the door and entered, only to crash into someone.

Jun Jingxing took a few steps back. When he saw that it was Sui Xun, he hurriedly bowed. 

Sui Xun knew that Sui Yan had found a traveling doctor to stay with him, and he did not mind Jun Jingxings presence. However, once he looked down at the blood-stained handkerchief in Jun Jingxings hand, Sui Xuns gaze turned cold, and he asked, “Didnt you say that hes just sick? Why is he bleeding?”

Jun Jingxing hurriedly explained, “This is just the clotted blood that was spat out. It is not a big problem.”

Sui Xun glared at this quack doctor.

Jun Jingxing rushed to carry a water basin out of the room to draw some fresh water. 

Sui Xun ignored him, thinking that he would invite an imperial physician to take a look at Sui Yan later today. As he thought about this, he walked towards the bed in the inner room and was taken aback when he saw Sui Yans pale face.

He had only been sick for a few days, but Sui Yan was already emaciated. His eyebrows were furrowed as he rested on a soft pillow. His face was deathly pale, yet his lips were an unnatural shade of dark red.

Sui Xun quietly sat at the edge of the bed, used his hand to feel Sui Yans forehead, and called, “Wanggui?”

Sui Yan whined. His lips moved as he said something in his sleep. 

Just then, Jun Jingxing entered the room with the hot water he had drawn and looked at Sui Xun in embarrassment.

Sui Xun frowned and soaked his handkerchief in the water before using it to gently wipe off Sui Yans sweat. He asked, “When will he wake up?”

Jun Jingxing thought about it and answered, “In two more days.”

“Two days……” Sui Xun rubbed his forehead, agitated, “Can it be any faster?” 

Jun Jingxing had the urge to roll his eyes, thinking, Your brother did not get an ordinary disease. He was poisoned, and he is blessed just to survive. Do you still want it to be faster? If you want him to die faster, I can definitely do that.

But Sui Yan had urged him not to tell others before losing consciousness. Jun Jingxing had uncharacteristically listened, and he had told everyone that came to visit Sui Yan that it was just a cold.

It was getting late, and Sui Xun was in a rush to enter the palace. He couldnt stay for much longer, so he spoke to Jun Jingxing before he left, his heart full of worry.

It was New Years Eve and the Heaven Worship Ceremony. 

Traditionally, this ceremony was held on New Years Eve. A ceremonial altar would be constructed in the palace, upon which red candles would be placed. Sky lanterns would be hung over the southwest part of the altar. In the late morning, the emperor and the crown prince would climb onto the altar to burn wooden tablets carved with auspicious sayings and pray for timely snow and bountiful harvests in the coming year.

Along with hundreds of civil and military officials, Sui Xun watched the emperor burn incense and worship his ancestors. However, his mind was full of thoughts about how Sui Yans illness was much more severe than he had imagined.

As he moved to kowtow towards the emperor, Sui Xun absentmindedly misstepped. Duan Mingchong, who had just stepped down from the altar, looked at him weirdly before whispering, “General, return to your position.”

Sui Xun finally came back to his senses and frowned as he returned to his ceremonial position and knelt. 

He seemed so preoccupied that even Duan Zhisu, who knelt far away, noticed. When the Taihe Bell rang, Duan Zhisu couldnt resist the urge to ask Song Xian, “Is Wanggui still sick?”

Song Xian lowered his voice, “Your Highness, you have to be silent during the ceremony.”

Duan Zhisu could only sit back down.

The tedious ceremony lasted for most of the day and only ended at noon. 

Sui Xun was in a rush to visit Sui Yan, and after speaking with a few colleagues, he briskly walked out of the palace.

As he exited Chengan Palace Gate, Duan Zhisu suddenly stopped him.

Sui Xun turned around and saw Duan Zhisu, so he bowed.

Duan Zhisu seemed awkward as he spoke, “Is Wanggui sick? He didnt even come to the ceremony today.” 

Sui Xun answered, “Yes, he caught a cold because he forgot to put on his cloak when he left the banquet that day. The doctor said it is not serious and that he will wake up in a couple of days.”

Duan Zhisu let out a sigh of relief and forced a smile, “That is good. I will visit him in a few days.”

Sui Xun acquiesced, bid his farewell, and left.

Song Xian walked out from behind, looked at Sui Xuns hurried steps, and frowned, “What happened?” 

Duan Zhisu said, “He just got a cold.”

Song Xian hesitated.

The two walked side by side back to Duan Zhisus manor. Halfway along, Song Xian could not resist the urge to comment, “Your Highness, why do you think Sui Wanggui drank that glass of wine for the crown prince? As far as I know, he and the crown prince do not know each other that well. Do you think he knew something?”

Duan Zhisu froze. 

Song Xian continued, “You and I both know what was mixed into that wine. Although we dont know which deadly poison it was, but according to Sui Wangguis intentions……”

Duan Zhisu lowered his voice, “Shut up.”

Song Xian fell into silence, but the anger in his eyes did not fade.

Duan Zhisu took a deep breath and said, “This matter was caused by my poor consideration. I will visit him in a few days and explain everything to him. Dont tell him any nonsense. Sui Wanggui seems clever and transparent, but his thoughts are deep. If you say something that you should not, he might end up hating us.”

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