This chapter has been brought to you by me, Vivie and Adnana.
郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
王妃 wang fei: princess consort
府 fu: compound or estate; junwang fu: prince’s estate/compound
本王 ben wang: literally “this wang/prince”; illeism used by princes
Chapter Thirty-Six: Fake Gentleman
The matter of Xian Junwang Fei being wounded by the Imperial Brother-in-law who let his horse run amok quickly spread through all of Jing. Because the Imperial Brother-in-law had been arrogant in his conduct before, many people had been discontent with him. Now they heard thisperson had done something even more outrageous: he had shocked Xian Junwang Fei’s carriage and wounded Xian Junwang Fei’s forehead, which caused Xian Junwang to be extremely distressed.hey also heard that when the Imperial Brother-in-law went to apologize, he had looked down on others and when he left the junwang fu, he even kicked the stone lion at the gates. This was extremely outrageous and meant that he even looked down on the people of the Imperial Family.
The stone lions represented the face of a family. Families without status could not put out stone lions. Even if they did, there were many details and protocols. This Imperial Brother-in-law was great. He carelessly kicked another family’s prestige. What was this if not arrogant?
Among the prestigious families, the Fang Family was a noble one that only rose up because of their daughter. Calling the Fang Family “nobility” was due to the Emperor and the Crown Prince. Otherwise, no one would even look at a family like this that had no manners.
There were no secrets in Jing. Everyone saw Fang Cheng De’s speech and actions. The Imperial Family members in Jing felt that Fang Cheng De had gone over the line, and were dissatisfied with both the Fang Clan and the Empress. Right now, the memorandums that were criticizing the Fang Family increased, but Qi Long Emperor had pushed all of them down. This caused the members of the Imperial Family to be even more discontent. Right now, this Imperial Brother-in-law dared to treat Xian Junwang so. When the Crown Prince succeeded the throne in the future, how would they—these members of the Imperial Family who couldn’t be considered as prominent—live? could the members of the Imperial Family such as they who did not have such high status life? Would they have to live under the power of the Fang Family? Where would the respect and dignity of the Imperial House be?
Maybe it was because he knew that the Imperial Family members were dissatisfied with this matter that Qi Long Emperor sent a decree in front of the court punishing Fang Cheng De a few days later. The decree did not mention what the Fang Family had done in the background, only criticizing Fang Cheng De for letting his horse run free and harming the innocent. He was sentenced to losing his wages for three years, and was demoted from a first rank marquis to a third rank marquis. He was ordered to reflect inside his home and could not leave the compound.
This decree was very strict at first impression, but if one thought carefully, they would find that this was really nothing. Fang Cheng De still had the marquis title. Even if he was demoted in rank, it would just take a few words from the Emperor to restore his previous rank.
This kind of punishment would not be as pleasing as beating Fang Cheng De in front of the palace a few dozen times. The Emperor’s actions were just done to act for those common people who did not understand politics, and were not an explanation for the Imperial House.
Yan Jin Qiu was not surprised at all by the Emperor’s decree. Because no matter how capable the Emperor was, he had a fatal weakness—the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince was not a wise person, was proud and greedy. But he was the only son of the Emperor. The Fang Family was the maternal family of the Crown Prince. If the Fang Family fell, then if the Crown Prince succeeded the throne, he would have a hard time in the future. So the Emperor had to protect the Fang Family because the Fang Family was the Crown Prince’s maternal family and on his side. Fang Cheng De was useless, but his two children, just over ten years old, were hardworking and intelligent. When the Crown Prince succeeded the throne, they would be at an age when they could enter the court and would be good helpers for the Crown Prince.
Thinking about this, Yan Jin Qiu smiled coldly on the inside. So what if the two Fang children had talent? Young children were not set in their personalities. Also, it was unknown if the Emperor could really manage to survive until then. It was uncertain if a crown prince who still did not have any children and had a bad reputation could really establish himself on the throne.
“Junwang Ye, the spies who made their way into the fu have been found.”
“Take them to the dark room.” Yan Jin Qiu lowered his face and closed the book he was reading. A sliver of a smile came onto the corner of his mouth. “Ben wang will have to question these people well.”
The person who came to report lowered his head more. “Yes.”
The underground passageway to the dark room was actually very bright. Embedded on the wall at every few steps were night pearls that shone with a warm light, and all kinds of luxurious decorations. If people accidentally came into this place, they would only feel that this was the place where the junwang fu stored its precious metals and expensive artifacts. They would not connect these things to something else.
When the passageway reached the bottom, there was a little room that was not very small yet not very large. There were all kinds of precious treasures inside that could dazzle and blind people’s eyes. In the place where the light was brightest, Yan Jin Qiu’s subordinate walking behind YJQ’s tapped on a brick that seemed like the others. Even the sound of tapping was not any different. He then pushed the brick down three times, and then the thick wall at the side slowly opened to reveal a slightly dim passageway.
Going down slowly through the passageway revealed the true secret room. Torture tools that emanated the smell of blood, a slightly damp ground, the enormous beast in the corner with an open mouth whose eyes were made from night pearls—it seemed extremely vicious in the dim room. No one would think this was the air hole for the secret room.
The spies were chained up by their ribs. The height they were dangling from was just the slightest bit higher than their own height. If they did not want their ribs to hurt from being hurt by the metal hooks, they had to go on tiptoes. But having lost a lot of blood, they did not have enough energy to persist long in that position. When they used up their energy, the metal hooks would once again pull at their wounds. After the cycle repeated, this tormented them to the point that they wanted death. They desired to have someone come and kill them with a blow to end their suffering.
“You all are good men who will not show any expression on their face. These metal hooks must not pose a difficulty to you.” The secret room was slightly humid and hot. Even the smell was not very good. The subordinates behind Yan Jin Qiu lit up some incense and put out ice as though this was not an interrogation room but Yan Jin Qiu’s study.
“You fake gentleman, just do as you will, do not waste words.” The oldest person spat out blood and spittle in Yan Jin Qiu’s direction. His voice was both discontent and full of hate. “I wonder how many people in Jing know the honored Xian Junwang is so vicious and ambitious. Does your beautiful Xian Junwang Fei know of your other face?”
“You don’t have a say in matters about ben wang’s woman” Yan Jin Qiu smiled thinly at these people and did not show any fury. He walked forward and pulled at the metal hook. The face of the person who had spoken twisted up in pain. Yan Jin Qiu’s smile grew. “You do not need to say if ben wang is fake or not. Can you spies really call other people fake?”
Maybe it was because the wounds were too painful that the older spy did not speak. The other spies seemed to become timid and did not speak.
“What, are you all dumb?” Yan Jin Qiu used the fan in his hand to tap the metal hook holding onto the bone. Then he disdainfully threw the fan to the side and started to use a handkerchief to wipe his hands. “Since you are all hard to crack and are not willing to confess, then you can all hang here. Ben wang just loves to admire you loyal dogs.”
As the blood of these people dripped onto the ground, the smile on his face increased as though he was looking at a beautiful picture scroll. “Take good care of these good dogs.”
After admiring the pained states of these people, Yan Jin Qiu walked out of the secret room in a good mood. When he returned to the study, he bent his head and saw a bit of dirty water on his shoe. He frowned in disdain. “Someone, come. Ben wang needs to bathe.”
Hua Xi Wan’s wound slowly recovered as she rested on the bed for a few days. She could finally get out of bed to move. She first looked around her own yard and teased the myna bird in the cage hanging in the corridor. “Where did the servant responsible for the myna go? This water is slightly dirty.”
“Zhang Le’s family came to pay for his contract. I heard that he went back home to get married.” The steward came forward and said, “Because he left yesterday, there was no time to find a servant who knew birds to take his position.”
Hua Xi Wan turned to look at this steward who seemed extremely honest. Then she continued to tease the myna. “Really?”
“Really, really, really?” The myna flapped its wings and copied the words.
A thin layer of sweat appeared on the steward’s back.
“Since the person has left, then try to arrange for a new one to come as soon as possible.” After playing for a while, Hua Xi Wan did not have any more interest. “I think that this bird is interesting. Take care of it. It would be pretty good to play with it to while away the time on some days.”
“This small one will remember.” The steward instantly retreated in order to arrange this. When he had gone quite a distance, he turned back and saw Junwang Fei was still standing in the corridor. Her face was expressionless, and one could not see what her mood was like.
Bai Xia frowned. A few days ago, this servant called Zhang Le had talked about his family of several generations to them. He had said there weren’t many people left in his family. His only sister had died. Who had come to pay his contract?
Returning to the room, Bai Xia said this to Hua Xi Wan and saw her mistress’ expression shift slightly.
“Since someone has come to pay his contract, only relatives would be willing to do such a thing.” Hua Xi Wan quickly recovered. “He is just a rough labor servant. Do not spend much attention on him. Let’s just hope that he will have good days in the future.”
Bai Xia complied and did not speak further about this. On the second day, she asked around about the servants in the inner and outer compound who were gone, and appeared much more composed. She had obtained the names of these people and what they had done. After reporting to her mistress, she saw her mistress’ expression become even stranger.
Ever since Hua Xi Wan married in, she knew that Xian Junwang Fu was not as simple as she had imagined. But ever since she married into this Xian Junwang Fu, there was no way she could go back. She had to pretend to not know what she did. Only people like this could live more easily.
Hong Ying saw Bai Xia’s and Mistress’ expressions were not good and did not understand what happened. However, when she moved around, she became even more careful.
When it was night, a servant came to report that Junwang Ye was coming later to have the evening meal. Hua Xi Wan did not ask anything else but had the people from the Food Room prepare some dishes like Yan Jin Qiu liked.
If she meddled in too much, what could she do if she activated this junwang ye’s berserker mode?
Translator Ramblings: Oh Hua Xi Wan, you think that your husband might be on the edge of a cliff … … he’s stepped off a long time ago.