Lin Shu survives, and, with a certain amount of salutary brow-beating, finds a purpose in doing so that moves him to enter the world again, seek out his loved ones, and start walking a meaningful path forward with them. Drama with Adorable Romance, I-3
For a long time, or what might have been a long time, he was afraid he’d failed, each time he woke. He woke weak, groggy, never able to rouse to full awareness, and he knew that sensation from a decade worth of illness, fought stubbornly against it, as he always had, to push his thoughts past the fog to grip on the world again.
This time, though, he could never force himself past the cloudy uncertainness of almost-dreams. And what did that mean, if not failure, to fall ill again before his last task was done?
Lin Shu and Nihuang settle into life at court, in the field, and in Jingyan’s home while Lin Manor is repaired. The rest of the court may need a few stiff drinks to recover from the process, especially once a complex political scandal breaks in the middle of it. Drama with Politics and Porn, I-4
Now Jingyan returned his gaze, steady and serious. “Even though you hoped to be done with being the strategist, after Prince Qi, my brother’s, and Lin’s and Chiyan’s names were restored?”
For a long moment, he was silent, because that had been true. “I did finish with it, though,” he said at last, slowly. “And I returned to my old self, my own world, long enough to die there. I thought that would be the end of it, and I still believe I was right about that. This,” he swept a hand around, at the palace, at the ministers and officials and ladies moving through the halls and gardens, each intent on their own ends and ambitions, and the three of them in the middle of it all, “this is what comes after that end, another new life.” He gave Jingyan a tiny smile. “Now, what I can do, all that I can do, is for you and with you, nothing held back. That’s as it should be, and I have no wish to be done with it.”
Jingrui is finding himself drawn back toward a military position, after fighting at the northern border, and Yujin follows along, as he always has, despite his own reservations. Along the way, the two of them get into trouble, politics, and eventually a deeper understanding. Drama with Politics and Romance, and also a Sprinkle of Porn, I-4
Very few of Yujin’s reservations had ever held up in face of Jingrui’s smile. Not when they were little and stealing sweets off Aunt Jing’s table (with her amused connivance, Yujin had realized years later); not when they were a little older and Jingrui had dragged Yujin everywhere after their glamorous, if also sometimes alarming, older cousins; not when they’d come of age and Jingrui hauled Yujin out onto the roads to wander the country with that very same smile. He could barely imagine leaving Jingrui’s side, at this point. So there was really nothing else to do but elbow him back until they managed to shove each other into the shallows, laughing.