Left alone, Jingyan buried himself in a growing collection of books and lost track of time.
The next few days passed in the exact same manner.
Many times during the days, Jingyan 's mind wandered back to the night he spent hours in Su Zhe 's embrace. He was tempted to visit again, but he was sure his house was under even tighter supervision after Tong Lu 's suicidal escape. He craved Su Zhe 's presence and comfort, but he didn 't dare to hazard leaving his rooms.
The jade flute, which he kept under the layers of his cloak and clothes, was a reassuring reminder along with a vase of plum blossoms in his bedroom. Jingyan could never catch the deliveries in action, but the vase of flowers was always replaced before they began to wilt. Jingyan suspected that it was Fei Liu, but the flowers were always left without a word and no trace of how they got there.
The best times to read memorandums and reports that Jingyan shouldn 't have was at night, when most of the servants were asleep and he was left alone with a single candle. He sat in his guest reception room, next to two bowls of burning coal, flipping through an account on Fan Dou 's invitation into the Hua court and how the man quickly rose to power through several successful business strategies.
Midway through, a gust of frigid wind blew out the candle.
Unable to read anymore, Jingyan laid the text down on the table next to ...
... middle of paper ...
...he man 's finger was on his pulse for only a few seconds before Yuan looked up again.
"When I last saw you, your internal energy was powerful but unharnessed and suppressed by Astarsis," noted Yuan. The man released his hand, gently guiding its fall back to his side. Then Yuan stepped back and bowed, "This time, it 's destroying itself - consuming parts of itself."
Jingyan 's eyes narrowed. He knew of, but didn 't understand, the teachings of internal energy and the various secretive techniques that circulated as expensive whispers in Liang 's Jianghu. According to the murmurs, there were Jianghu techniques that attacked with invisible blades, that allowed humans to stay underwater for days, taught disciples to wield forces of nature - all due to masterful control of internal energy.
"We can discuss that another time," said Jingyan. "Let 's talk about your father."
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