Title: This Husband Is Frail And Weak
Original title: 权倾天下[重生]
Author: 鱼西球球 (Yuxi Qiuqiu)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
It was at that time that Rong Tang transmigrated over. In his first two lives, he kept to the routine. After transmigrating, he hurried to enter the palace and meet with the male protagonist. That’s why, as soon as he could get out of bed, he dragged his body, which ached with each step, and entered the palace on Lantern Festival night with his parents to attend a banquet. He would also sneak into the cold palace, where the little male protagonist was, and show his concern.
Rong Tang was unconscious for three days. By the time he awoke again, the spring snow was melting away outside the house, and the air was filled with the fragrance of plum blossoms.
He lay on the bed for a while and scrutinised the plot.
This shell of a body is nineteen years old this year. According to the original plot, there are still four years before the villain ascends the throne. At the most, the longest that Rong Tang can live is until then.
This body’s original owner* has a revered position. His paternal grandmother was personally conferred by Emperor Mingzong as the eldest Princess Duanyi. His father serves the emperor, and for his meritorious contribution, he was specially bestowed with a different surname. His mother is the biological younger sister of the current empress.
(*TN: hereafter to be referred to as ‘the original owner’.)
The family is favoured by the imperial family. He is the only legitimate son and is descended from blue-blooded nobility. It’s a pity that he is frail and in ill health. In his childhood, he suffered brain damage due to a high fever, and he became a fool with only the IQ of a three-year-old child.
The original plot doesn’t contain much narrative about him. It only mentioned that in the spring of the ninth year of Qingzheng, Prince Ningxuan accidentally fell into the water on New Year’s Eve, suffered a high fever for three days, and finally died.
Rong Tang wasn’t considering doing this in this life. He plans to take good care of his body and try to live for a while before the plot collapses.
But he can’t perform this stupid character. It’s too taxing. At the moment, he can’t endure it if he talks for more than two sentences. He lacks the willpower.
Rong Tang draped himself in a large cloak and went out, carrying a stove in his hand. He stood beneath the eaves and gazed at the red wintersweet flowers blooming on the treetops in the courtyard. He asked, “When will Su Huaijing arrive in the capital?”
[Soon.] The system said, [The imperial edict has been announced. Li Changfu and his family are on their way to the capital.]
Upon hearing the name ‘Li Changfu’, Rong Tang narrowed his eyes. He stood there for a moment, then turned and entered the house.
Li Changfu is Su Huaijing’s maternal ancestor. That is to say, he is the late empress’s mother’s distant relative.
During the period when the palace was in turmoil, the seventh prince’s wet nurse desperately sent her barely-eight-year-old young master to his maternal family. At that time, Li Changfu had just happened to be visiting his relatives in the capital. Not knowing his identity, he took a fancy to several treasures on his person. He then took him back to Sichuan with him and raised him for several years. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year, when Li Changfu was promoted to Vice Minister of War, that he returned to the capital again, bringing with him the greatest villain in the entire story.
Most of the perspectives in the original plot focus on the male protagonist. Rong Tang knows that the male protagonist suffered considerable mistreatment from the palace attendants when he was a child. He also knows the thickness of the bedding on his bed. The only thing he doesn’t know is how Su Huaijing has been getting on those past few years since he left the capital.
Until the end, no one could determine from those sentences what happened to Su Huaijing when he was a child. The cold-blooded tyrant did not need anyone to pry into his childhood past.
The only memory he has is of a nightmare he often had when he was a youth.
Imperial father and the empress were strangled to death by the palace staff right in front of his eyes. The wet nurse died drinking poisoned wine. According to the letter sent back by his Crown Prince da ge*, it stated that he was about to triumph. But the next day, the borders had been breached, and he’d died beneath the hooves of the enemy’s horses. The most degenerate and eloquently talented san ge** donned his fighting armour, saying with a smile that he would take him to the hunting grounds to catch rabbits upon his return. In the blink of an eye, his head appeared under the palace gates, in the flag above a raging fire. His passionate, wandering eyes had been reduced to a dull, lifeless matter; their clear brilliance was no longer visible. Si jie*** put on ornate and splendid palace clothing before leaping off the city wall. She’d even stuffed a piece of warm lotus pastry into his hand before leaving…
(*TN: da = big, eldest, ge = older brother)
(**TN: san = third, ge = older brother)
(***TN: si = fourth, jie = older sister)
The little prince was awoken by nightmares every night.
Based on this nightmare, the expression in Su Huaijing’s eyes, his actions, and the attitude of his subordinates, Rong Tang vaguely pieced together an indistinct childhood.
He only felt distressed, but he didn’t remember too much.
It wasn’t until his last life that he had some genuine interaction with Su Huaijing and got a glimpse of the past that was never stated in the original plot. For the first time, Rong Tang had huge doubts about the system’s mission.
It was also at that time that the system shut down his authority.
Yet the system right now could clearly make out what he wanted to do, but it didn’t bother to question him or stop him.
Rong Tang couldn’t help but think that this ought to be the revolutionary friendship that had been cultivated over the years. In this world, only this occasionally short-circuiting and foul-tempered ball of light knew that he had transmigrated over and over again.
Rong Tang smiled as he entered the house. The original owner’s father was the only royal relative with a different surname in this dynasty. It was now the Spring Festival, and there are numerous people paying visits. There are banquets every day. Only his small courtyard could be considered quiet and wouldn’t be disturbed by others.
Rong Tang had been on home rest for over a month. Everyone in the capital knew that Prince Ningxuan had recovered from his mental illness. During this period, even the empress once purposely came over to visit her nephew.
This afternoon, the weather grew warmer. Rong Tang was leaning on the couch, reading a book, when he heard the system call out to him: [Host].
[Li Changfu has made a move.]
Rong Tang paused, then instantly smiled. For the first time, a faint light that didn’t appear gentle flashed across his eyes.
He summoned Shuang Fu: “Go and call the second young master over.”
Shuang Fu was dumbstruck, and a tinge of anxiety flickered in his eyes as he looked at Rong Tang. Rong Tang smiled and said, “It doesn’t matter; just go and invite him.”
The original owner was Duke Ningxuan’s sole legitimate male heir, as well as the main heir that had been personally conferred by the emperor. Since he’d been dim-witted for many years, he hadn’t posed much of a threat to his two brothers from concubine mothers. However, during the period when he recovered from his mental illness, the second young master and the third young master, together with their concubine mothers, had secretly inquired about it on more than one occasion.
They openly pronounced that this was the good fortune of the duke’s palace, but privately, they wished that his death would come soon enough.
The second young master, Rong Zheng, procrastinated half an hour before arriving. Rong Tang sat on the couch and was the first to smile when he saw him: “Er di*, how’s your homework coming along these days? Do you think you’re hard-working?”
(*TN: er = second, di = younger brother)
Rong Zheng inwardly felt somewhat disdainful and vexed. He wanted to say, You halfwit, still have the gall to ask me about my homework. Where do you get your guts from? But he responded, “I appreciate da ge for keeping me in mind. This didi* will have to share His Majesty’s and father’s burdens in the future. I don’t find studying strenuous.”
(*TN: referring to himself.)
Rong Tang continued to smile, as if he didn’t hear the sarcasm in his words: “That’s good. Previously, I heard someone say that er di hasn’t been going to the Imperial Academy to attend lectures these days and instead has been dropping by Fengyue House every day. I suppose that was just some made-up story?”
Rong Zheng’s complexion paled in an instant, and he stared at Rong Tang in disbelief. After a moment, he said in a low voice, “I don’t know where da ge heard these slanderous gossips from, but these days, when the second prince attends court, he would occasionally invite didi to discuss national affairs in the private room of the Liujin Parlour opposite Fengyue House. It’s possible that someone might have seen and babbled some rubbish.”
Fengyue House is Dayu’s most well-known brothel, but Luijin Parlour is a bona fide, legitimate restaurant. Naturally, the two cannot be placed on par with each other.
Rong Tang poured himself a glass of water. “Just with you alone?”
Rong Zheng felt uncertain but replied, “Indeed, it’s not just me alone. The second prince is a magnanimous and sociable person and with many relatives and friends. Several juniors in the capital would also participate.”
Rong Tang nodded, lifted his gaze, and threw him a look. “Such being the case, presumably our father is also aware?”
Rong Zheng was taken aback, not expecting that this halfwit had become this smart.
Duke Ningxuan is in the emperor’s inner circle. The family’s juniors and the prince have an imperceptibly weak family relationship because of Eldest Princess Duanyi. Being familiar with the prince when he was younger can be inferred as having a close relationship with the emperor. But now that the second prince has entered the court to administer the affairs of the state and the legitimate son of Duke Ningxuan is often ill and won’t live long, the duke’s palace will very likely fall on Rong Zheng’s shoulders in the future. For him to be thus close to the second prince is to be a vague representation of the duke’s palace’s position.
Emperor Renshou is mistrustful. This wasn’t a good thing from Duke Ningxuan’s standpoint.
But Rong Zheng was reluctant to admit a mistake, and despite this, he didn’t change his words: “Of course, naturally.”
Rong Tang then smiled: “In that case, when er di goes to see the second prince tonight, how about you take me with you?”
“Why is that?” Rong Zheng was puzzled.
Rong Tang: “As with Father’s position, since I am the heir apparent, I should take responsibility, isn’t that right?”
Rong Zheng’s face had swelled to a purplish-red colour, but he couldn’t refuse.
It was nighttime. The lights in Liujin Parlour were brightly lit. When you lean on the railing, you can see Fengyue House across the street, which is extremely lively with people coming and going.
The second prince was furious today. This morning, he’d been annoyed by those old fogeys when attending court, so he intended to go to Fengyue House in the evening to amuse himself and to relieve his bad mood.
But this idiot, Rong Zheng, actually brought his da ge along!
If it were someone else, the second prince would have disregarded him and just brought him directly into Fengyue House, but as it happens, he couldn’t do that with Rong Tang.
Duke Ningxuan is his father’s official and confidant. Rong Tang is his legitimate son, and furthermore, with the empress’ relationship, his status in Dayu is somewhat higher than that of those less-favoured princes in the palace.
If the empress found out that he’d brought Rong Tang into a filthy place like Fengyue House, she might make life difficult for him in front of his imperial father.
The younger Lord Wukang Bo, who was sitting next to him, kept urging him to drink, trying to cool him down.
In the midst of the awkwardness, Rong Tang lightly coughed a few times, stood up, clasped his fists at the second prince, and apologised: “This subordinate is physically inadequate. I fear I have to withdraw first. I hope for Your Highness’ forgiveness.”
The second prince’s expression instantly brightened. He stood up excitedly and spoke with concern: “Biao ge’s* health isn’t good and shouldn’t have come out in the first place. I’ve been inconsiderate and have caused biao ge to move about so much. Someone, come and send the prince back home.”
(*TN: Form of address for maternal elder cousin brother.)
Rong Tang smiled and said, “Thank you, Your Highness. I’ve brought a guard with me. I don’t dare to trouble Your Highness. I hope Your Highness won’t tell Aunt about tonight’s outing—to prevent her from worrying.”
The second prince immediately became even happier. Inwardly, he thought, no wonder the empress praised Rong Tang in front of his imperial father every day since she’d paid a visit to Duke Ningxuan’s residence. This person is indeed sensible.
The second prince naturally acquiesced, and the entire room full of officials’ sons stood up to see him off. Before Rong Tang went out, his gaze lingered calmly on the younger Lord Wukang Bo for a moment, and then he smiled at the second prince: “I’ve asked my manservant to prepare two jars of twenty-year-old Nuerhong* as an apology. I request for Your Highness to taste it before leaving.”
(*TN: A type of Chinese wine.)
The second prince smiled even more: “I dare not disregard biao ge’s kindness.”
Rong Tang then made his way downstairs.
Shuang Fu, who was waiting downstairs, saw him coming and drew open the sedan curtain. He said, “Young Master, let’s return home.”
“No need.” Rong Tang raised his hand. “Head to the opposite for a while.”
“Ah… ah?” Shuang Fu’s mouth gaped.
The brothel was on the opposite side. Shuang Fu pondered, gritted his teeth, and cautioned, “Young Master, you… your body… in fact, you shouldn’t go to that kind of place.”
An indescribable, undetermined feeling continued to linger within Rong Tang’s heart. He was momentarily taken aback when he heard this, but laughed out loud instead: “Don’t think nonsense. I’m going to look for someone.”
Shuang Fu bore a creased expression as he followed behind, muttering, “Even if you’re looking for someone, you shouldn’t come here aaa…”
Rong Tang no longer heeded him and set foot into the brothel. Concerned that the second prince and his party would soon catch up, he sought the pimp directly. He had Shuang Fu hand over a piece of silver and asked, “Excellency Li informed this lord that he would prepare a gift for me?”
The pimp was dazed for a moment before hastily nodding: “My lord, you’ve come just in time. The person has just been delivered. Follow me.”
A coldness flashed through Rong Tang’s eyes. His hands clenched at his cuffs as he followed the pimp upstairs.
There was a lock on the door. Before Rong Tang could get irate, the pimp fished out a key and said with a smile, “This young gentleman has an appalling temper. He keeps trying to run away. We had no choice but to lock him up.”
Rong Tang threw him an impatient look and told Shuang Fu to toss him a piece of silver.
The pimp immediately smiled and said, “Then, my lord, please enter. This servant will take my leave.”
“Hold on.” Rong Tang instructed, “Don’t let anyone come and disturb me.”
The pimp gave a dubious smile: “This servant understands, this servant understands.”
Rong Tang tightened his fists, then stepped inside.