“I must return to Yangxian,” Sun Quan said. “My brother has no need of
me at the meeting.”
“…Nor me,” Sun Kuang said.
“You should neither of you be so bitter,” Lady Chen suggested. “In so many ways, your contributions as statesmen will matter more, and your brother Lord Sun is all too aware of that.”
“I know, Lady Chen, but can I help wishing that I was a hero like Ce?” Sun Quan replied honestly. “Everything that I have said before, it still stands.”
Lady Chen nodded respectfully.
“…I must retire,” Lady Wu said. “I am weary… even the joy can drain the spirit.”
“Farewell for now, Mother, Lady Chen, Brother,” Sun Quan said as he got to his feet and bowed to each person in turn. “I hope that we will soon have those peaceful times that we so often allude to, so that we can be together like this always.”
Lady Wu smiled, and Sun Quan retreated.
“…I need to retire as well,” Sun Kuang sighed. “Everything feels like a chore for me nowadays.”
“Save your strength, ‘Little Marquis’,” Lady Wu replied gently. “The best days are yet to come.”
Sun Kuang paid respects and retreated; Lady Chen then turned to Lady Wu and said, “Are you not feeling well again…?”
“People get sick, dear sister,” Lady Wu replied. “The entire nation is sick: my sons will be the ones to make everything better.”
Bofu went to Daqiao, who was being attended to by her sister Xiaoqiao, a
doctor and two maidservants.
“…Lord Sun,” Xiaoqiao hailed.
“No need for formalities,” Bofu replied warmly. “How’re my wife and the little tigresses…?”
“Mother and children are strong,” the doctor said.
“Just what I wanted to hear!” Bofu replied as he knelt by Daqiao, who was cradling her daughters protectively. “I just hope that I don’t end up with two little Shangxiangs, because the one we have is enough!”
The room was filled with smiles.
“…As pretty as their mother, as strong as their father,” Bofu whispered as he touched the hand of one of his daughters. “Will there be more…?”
“Heaven willing, a million,” Daqiao replied.
“…We’ll do our best…!” Bofu chuckled softly.
Within an hour, Bofu was overseeing another meeting, this time with his senior
officials - Lü Fan, Sun Ben, Sun Fu, Sun Yi, Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, Gu Yong,
Zhang Zhao, Zhang Hong, Wu Jing and Xu Kun.
“We should speak quickly and return to work,” Cheng Pu said.
“Where’s Gongjin…?” Bofu asked.
“He’s on his way,” Lü Fan replied. “No Sun Hè…?”
“The poor man needs a rest,” Bofu said. “Yes, I know that applies to us all, but-”
“We should really be back at our posts, Lord Sun,” Cheng Pu said.
“And you will be soon enough,” Bofu insisted. “For a grey-haired old man, you really do have a lot of enthusiasm.”
Cheng Pu smiled and said, “I’m not rising to it.”
Bofu grinned and turned to the serious Lü Fan, who said, “We’ll throw everything we have at Huang Zu, as we’ve discussed before: Cao Cao’s being cautious, which means that we have nothing to fear from the north, and Liu Xun is no longer a threat. Hua Xin’s being uppity, but-”