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~
Before him was probably the room of some courtesan. There was a little smoke in the Boshan incense burner. Its sweet aroma made one feel hot and dry.
The exquisite, wooden antique bed was adorned with near-transparent gauze bed curtains. The perfumed air breezed around, lightly swaying the bed curtain, revealing a disorderly setting of a lot of items. At Fengyue‘s downstairs, it was a picturesque scene with flowing water, singing birds, and dancing swallows. At Fengyue‘s upstairs, there were charming ladies with red sleeves, smiling gracefully.* To live in a drunken dream and die, is nothing more than this.**
(*TN: These are lines from classical Chinese poetry. The imagery mentioned is commonly found in Chinese literature and poetry, symbolising the beauty of nature and the elegance of women. It’s a romantic and poetic expression of a serene and lovely moment.)
(**TN: This is a philosophical and contemplative expression often found in Chinese literature. It reflects the idea that life is like a fleeting dream or an intoxicating experience, and in the end, death is the ultimate outcome.)
Rong Tang had just opened the door and was met with a chilly gaze. It took him a long time to recover from the astonishment before him.
One end of the slender gold chain was tied to the foot of the bed, and the other end led along the floorboards under a table, where it went out of sight.
Sitting in front of the round table was a young man who was about sixteen or seventeen years old. He had phoenix eyes, red lips, straight shoulders, and a handsome face. In the illumination of the bright candlelights, even the top-rated courtesan of this brothel couldn’t measure up to three parts of his appearance. The style of the youth’s clothing was simple; it didn’t come across as wealthy. However, it had a different sort of beguiling frostiness.
Unfortunately, the frostiness and simplicity were ruined by the shredded cloth strips, and he more resembled a moon deity who’d been bedevilled.
The clothing wasn’t worn properly on the body but had been violently ripped by someone, and pieces became linked like rags. Once the low-grade dark-green fabric was torn, countless fluffy threads came out, but they didn’t fall off. They remained firmly attached to the body like this, as if trying to cover up the flimsy moon-white inner shirt beneath. Instead, it had the opposite effect and would only trigger waves of ravaging desire.
It was a futile attempt at crushing purity and holiness and converting frostiness into loveliness.
Rong Tang’s steps froze in place, and he was unable to react for a second.
In his previous life, he’d witnessed Su Huaijing’s disgraced expression after his scheme failed, but he’d never been disgraced like he was now.
Based on Rong Tang’s recollection, when Emperor Renshou suspected his identity and sent undercover guards to investigate, Su Huaijing was still able to stand with a smile upstairs in the Liujin Parlour. He’d raised his cup of wine and gestured below as he was illuminated by the moonlight and candlelight. He said in a warm voice, “Your lordship’s health isn’t good, and in fact, shouldn’t go to that sort of place like Fengyue House. Why don’t you come up and have a drink with this humble one? We might as well not let down the beautiful scenery and such beautiful women.”
Rong Tang snapped out of his reminiscing. He was feeling a little absent-minded when he asked the system in a hoarse voice. “Is this… real?”
[Real.] The system said.
In that instance, regret and fury surged into his heart, and Rong Tang forced himself to calm down: “In the end, what is it for?”
The system didn’t say anything, and it didn’t know how to respond.
The novel was born because of the protagonist, and heaven’s consciousness was born because of the protagonist.
As long as the protagonist’s ending is good, it’s alright. As for the villain——
In order to wreck him even further, it was permissible for the author to have arranged such an extremely absurd life for him.
After all, the villain itself is merely a stepping stone for the protagonist to tread on. The more tragic he was, the more contradictory he could be. The more contradictory he was, the more attractive he could be. The more attractive he was, the further the protagonist’s character could progress when the villain lost to him.
Having gotten along for seven years, Rong Tang understood the way the system thought. The corners of his mouth tugged, and he smiled coldly. “That’s why I said: This world is faulty.”
Rong Tang walked towards the side of the table, taking profoundly solemn steps all the way.
Su Huaijing eyed him once before withdrawing his gaze. He then closed his eyes indifferently, appearing as if he was letting him take whatever he wanted.
Rong Tang forced himself not to look at his face as he searched up and down to locate where the end of the chain was.
It had actually been fastened onto Su Huaijing’s leg!
It was rather short, and there wasn’t enough room. It was only enough for the distance from the bed to the table. He couldn’t even leave the room.
Rong Tang felt a surge of anger for no reason. He squatted down and tugged on the chain, hoping to snap it off, but it made a loud clanging sound. The chained man raised his eyes with a disdainful look. His voice, however, was pleasant: “My lord, you’re being too impatient.”
Rong Tang knew that he wasn’t addressing himself, but he still couldn’t suppress the burst of heat on his face. He hastily lifted his head and met his gaze. Su Huaijing lowered his eyes. He raised his hand extremely slowly and removed the tattered shirt without batting an eyelid. “Where does your lordship wish to play? It’s just that this chain is too short, and I fear we can’t have too many types of play. Requesting your lordship’s forgiveness.”
“!” Rong Tang’s eyes widened. The moment the clothes fell to the ground, a strip of cloth even strung through Rong Tang’s fingers, startling him into retracting his hand.
Rong Tang had never heard Su Huaijing speak in such a self-deprecating tone. His anger surged, and a bout of uncontrollable coughs erupted from his throat, one after another. It seemed like he would die coughing at any time.
A rare flicker of uncertainty flashed across Su Huaijing’s expressionless eyes.
Shuang Fu heard the noises, so he promptly knocked on the door and was about to come in. “Young Master? Young Master, what’s going on with you?”
“Don’t come in!” Rong Tang immediately interrupted.
He didn’t want others to see the villain looking like this.
Rong Tang hesitated on the spot before taking a deep breath. He then stood up and went to the door. Opening the wooden door to a narrow gap, Rong Tang squeezed himself out. Outside, there were still the sounds of the pleasure-seekers and merry-makers in the brothel.
Hearing these made Rong Tang’s stomach churn. He said, “Fetch me that pimp.”
He couldn’t describe why he didn’t dare to go in and face Su Huaijing. He stood in front of the door for a while, took the key for the chain from the pimp’s hand, and then re-entered.
Su Huaijing was still sitting at the table. When he heard sounds, he raised his eyes and glanced over. The corners of his lips were slightly raised, as if there were a mocking smile: “It appears that your lordship wishes to play a bit more aggressively?”
Rong Tang merely sensed that he was going to infuriate him to death. He maintained a straight face and said in a sullen voice. “You shut up.”
But this bout of anger dissipated in a wink the moment he unfastened the chains from Su Huaijing’s ankle and caught a glimpse of the torn skin and bleeding from the circular-shaped wound.
Rong Tang clenched his hands tightly, stood up, and looked straight into Su Huaijing’s eyes. “Do you want to leave with me?”
The youth was somewhat astonished and didn’t immediately respond.
Rong Tang subconsciously gentled his tone and gave the impression of intimidating a child: “There are many, many bad people outside. If you don’t leave with me, maybe something bad might happen tonight.”
“I’ll ask again: do you want to leave with me?”
The system’s disposition has been rather downcast for the past two months. It hasn’t squabbled with the host for a long time, yet at this moment, it truly cannot stand it anymore. [Since you want to save him, why do you need to scare him?]
“It’s not ‘scaring’.”
“He’s terribly smart and knows how to weigh the pros and cons.”
Sure enough, as soon as these words were uttered, within two seconds, Rong Tang saw Su Huaijing lift up his hand in front of him. But he only lifted it in a scant arc before dropping it straight down.
Rong Tang was alarmed. Millions of wrist-tendon-extraction torture methods immediately flashed through his mind.
Perhaps the shock on his face was too apparent; instead, this time it was Su Huaijing who let out a small sigh: “It’s a muscle relaxant drug.”
Rong Tang was dazed for a spell, then instantly became less tense.
It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s not some inconceivable medicine that requires sex.
He took off his cloak and draped it around Su Huaijing. “I’ll bring you to a doctor.”
Before leaving, Rong Tang helped cover him with the hood and then supported him to go out.
Shuang Fu was waiting outside the door. Just as he was about to ask something, Rong Tang said, “Take him to the medical clinic first.”
As they exited Fengyue House, there happened to be a group of young men dressed in brocade finery coming out of the Liujin Restaurant and laughing as they made their way over here.
Rong Tang’s eyes darkened a little, and he tugged at Su Huaijing’s clothes to prevent others from seeing his face.
There was charcoal burning inside the carriage. Once they entered, did Rong Tang feel the bone-piercing chill dispel somewhat. He bent to warm himself by the fire. When his hands were heated, he then yanked off Su Huaijing’s hat.
Under the brim of the clinker hat is a slightly flushed face. His natural skin tone was fair, and the red spot resembled a radiantly beautiful peony in bloom. It presented a soul-captivating appearance.
Rong Tang was a little fearful. He suspected that the muscle relaxant also included medicinal ingredients that would cause discomfort and even gradually lose reason. Su Huaijing was likely terrible uncomfortable. Occasionally he would emit unbearable groans, but most of the time he would endure it, gritting his teeth and not making any sound.
Rong Tang was worried that he would bite his tongue. He urgently took out a new handkerchief, folded it a few times, and coaxed him to open his mouth before stuffing in the handkerchief: “Hold on a bit more. We’ll arrive soon.”
Su Huaijing abruptly lifted his head. For a brief moment, his gaze possessed a murderous intent, but it quickly vanished, and he discreetly lowered his eyes.
Rong Tang’s back was instantly soaked, and he felt like he had just died again.
Even the system couldn’t resist persuading: [Host, I think this time, your choice is very imprudent.]
Rong Tang stooped to warm his hands and noiselessly shifted his neck away from Su Huaijing’s line of sight: “At least he’s never attempted to kill me.”
The system went mute for a while.
After dying in his first life, the system used its authority to investigate and confirmed that the villain wasn’t aware of Rong Tang’s death. After being killed by the male protagonist in his second life, Su Huaijing even ordered for him to be buried.
It’s necessary to know that Su Huaijing is a merciless person. It’s normal for anyone who falls into his hands to be skinned and have their bones removed. If they died, their corpses would be dragged out and whipped.
Presumably, Rong Tang was the only person who clearly opposed him but didn’t actually die because of Su Huaijing. Instead, he was someone who took proper care to arrange his post-death matters.
It wasn’t long before they arrived at the medical clinic. The doctor wasn’t happy to be woken up in the middle of the night. He frowned after checking Su Huaijing’s pulse, then fed Su Huaijing some medicine, pricked him with a needle, and urged Su Huaijing to take care of it himself before fuming and leaving. Right then, Rong Tang was certain that the muscle relaxant had included some stimulants.
Rong Tang was sitting outside the room where the doctor’s usually saw his patients, waiting for Su Huaijing. Shuang Fu was extremely capable. No matter what the circumstances, he was able to produce hot tea for his eldest young master.
As such, Rong Tang warmed his hands with hot tea as he sorted out what happened today.
This matter ought to have happened in his previous lives. Based on Rong Tang’s previous timeline, he would now be figuring out a way to help the male protagonist get out of the cold palace, and he hadn’t yet paid much attention to the movements of the other princes.
He merely caught wind that the second prince had joined the morning court to attend state affairs. His constant presentations of asinine proposals provoked Emperor Renshou’s ire and very nearly drove him back to the Imperial Academy to re-attend lectures.
However, suddenly one day, the second prince seemed to have broadened his views. Not only was he able to scrutinise current social issues on many matters, but he’d also obtained a few decent political achievements, which delighted the emperor.
Rong Tang didn’t dwell on it too much at the time. Only when he’d randomly heard Rong Zheng once speak of the second prince’s frequent visits to the Wukang Bo Manor of late did he begin to pay attention.
According to the original plot, the first time Su Huaijing appeared before the readers was in the Wukang Bo Manor Rebellion case.
Rong Tang inexorably sensed that there must certainly be some connection between the two. All one hundred and twenty-eight members of Wukang Bo’s household died unexpectedly, but the younger Lord Wukang Bo was nowhere to be found.
But in his previous life, Rong Tang had once accompanied the protagonist to the Nanfeng House to probe for information. He caught sight of a young man, all skin and bones, at a concealed entrance to a prostitution house who very much resembled the younger Lord Wukang Bo, Qin Pengxuan.
He wasn’t certain at the time, but now that he thinks back, it should be the case.
Li Changfu was someone who harbours evil intentions and would do all sorts of contemptible things for the sake of a high position with a high salary. If he truly wanted to establish himself after having just arrived in the capital and delivering Su Huaijing to Qin Pengxuan’s bed, it wouldn’t be surprising.
[Host, what are you thinking of?] The system asked him.
Rong Tang’s brow furrowed: “Tonight, I’ve removed him from Fengyue House; thus, Li Changfu would have offended Qin Pengxuan. If I just let him go back like this, wouldn’t it be like the lamb entering the tiger’s mouth?”
[You want to keep him out of sight?]
“No,” Rong Tang said.
Su Huaijing had a blood debt, so it was naturally impossible for him to conceal the former. The thought of persuading him to abandon his hatred had also never crossed Rong Tang’s mind.
Wu Kangbo was powerful and held a high position, and he’d offended his eldest son. It would be terribly difficult for anyone in the entire capital who would be willing to take Su Huaijing under their wing.
Rong Tang lifted his gaze and looked at the vacant veranda of the medical clinic.
He wants to protect him.
He wants his lifetime to not turn out so rough and tragic.
Compared to the male protagonist, he always liked Su Huaijing more.
If it wasn’t because he was bound to the system, Rong Tang felt that he would have considered Su Huaijing a pup instead of that heartless and ungrateful so-called protagonist.
If the ending cannot be altered, at least he can allow himself to do as he pleases for once, right?
He wanted to give him a walking stick, one that would not be censured even if he offended the influential officials, and one who could walk about honourably in the imperial harem.
A voice sounded from the back of the hall. Rong Tang turned his head. His face was still perpetually pale, as it was when he was sick, and there was a little sorrow lingering between his eyebrows.
Su Huaijing stopped in front of him and lowered his gaze to stare at him. Rong Tang deliberated for a while, then asked, “Do you perhaps want to be married to me?”
After a pause, he added seriously: “Three matchmakers, six betrothal gifts, and a palanquin with eight carriers. Be my Ningxuan palace’s lawful prince’s wife.”
The people of Dayu are unrestrained by convention. A hundred years ago, there was a male empress. The emperor and empress were deeply in love and were endlessly envied by people during that time. From then on, it was common for the families of high-ranking officials and dignitaries to wed several male concubines.
It’s just that a male concubine is still considered low-ranking within the household and, what’s more, cannot have children. Once he loses his lord’s favour, he won’t have any opportunities for advancement in this lifetime.
But male wives are different. With regards to the marriage—from the wedding ceremony rituals to ancestral worship—both parties follow the orthodox customs. Male wives who’ve entered the family genealogy do not need to be confined to the back house. They are still able to study, attend school, attain scholarly honours or official ranks after passing the examination, and even participate in the imperial court to deliberate on state affairs. They are no different from ordinary men.
It’s just that this sort of situation rarely happens.
After all, not many wealthy families are willing to let their descendants marry a man and bring him home.
Su Huaijing paused in his tracks, clutching the robe he’d just changed into in the carriage. He cast his gaze downward at the person sitting in the chair.
In the past four hours, he’s experienced the most bizarre thing since that unfortunate event nine years ago.
He should have known that there wasn’t a person in this world that could be trusted, and he shouldn’t relax his vigilance around anyone. As it happens, the plate of dim sum that Li Panyan brought over had a piece of lotus pastry in the centre.
He’d met the younger Lord Wukang Bo before. He’d been vulgar and crude since he was a child. Strictly speaking, he still had to call him ‘biao ge’.
When the person in front of him appeared, he realised that over these intervening years, his body had been consumed by sensual pleasures and thoroughly ravaged by venereal disease. This is the biao xiong* he’d known in his childhood. He could only cough with each step, and every sentence he spoke looked as if it had been squeezed out of his lungs.
(*TN: another form of address for maternal elder cousin brother.)
In fact it wasn’t?
Duke Ningxuan’s palace?
His most venerated maternal aunt family’s fool-of-a-cousin?
“Why?” Su Huaijing curled his fingers a little and asked aloud.
The prince’s neck was so slender that it would break if he wrung it. He gave him a chance to explain.
His hoarse voice startled Rong Tang. He instinctively poured a cup of tea and pushed it in front of him. “You should be able to tell that my health isn’t good. Mother has always hoped that I would settle down and get married. But whomever I choose, with this appearance of mine, I’ll only ruin the girl and her family——”
Before he finished speaking, Rong Tang began coughing violently. With trembling hands, he brought the teacup in front of him to his mouth. As soon as it entered his lips, he frowned in response to the cold. He moistened his throat slightly to quell the tickle in his throat. When he spoke again, his voice sounded hoarser than Su Huaijing’s.
“I’ve just recovered from a serious illness and am still not completely healed yet. My family wants to discuss with me a marriage proposal to ward off bad vibes, but they fear that I won’t last past this year and die. I honestly had no choice and only wanted to ask you.”
Rong Tang raised his head, and the moisture from his coughing clouded the rims of his eyes. On the table, a red candle flickered, illuminating his pale complexion and making him resemble a newly-departed spirit who’d died tragically in this medical clinic. The spirit blinked and softly pleaded, “Do me a favour, alright? Just now, I saved you once, didn’t I?”
Su Huaijing frowned and didn’t respond. Rong Tang pondered again: “Don’t worry, this body of mine can’t do anything improper to you. The chronic illness is difficult to treat, and I’ll only live for three or four years at most. I also possess some land deeds, a house, and some shops. After I die, you can take the property and be married or get married to someone else.”
This sounds exactly like a ‘meat-pie-falling-from-the-sky’ type of wonderful circumstance. Anyone else would have been swayed by him.
Yet Su Huaijing remained motionless as he stared into his eyes. The chilliness in his gaze still lingered, coupled with a callous, murderous intent: “What do you want me to do?”
When he heard this, Rong Tang sighed inwardly.
After a long time, he silently leaned down and politely moved the tea cup towards Su Huaijing. He fawned, speaking in a gentle tone, “I fell in love with you at first sight. Before I die, I want to see more beauty.”
Su Huaijing lifted his feet, and he walked away.
“Wait! Wait!—cough cough—”
Rong Tang anxiously shoved away his chair and stood up. His complexion became a little ruddy, appearing somewhat annoyed. “Fine! I’ll be honest. I have two younger half brothers and several younger paternal cousin brothers in my family who’ve bullied me since I was a child. They’ve always been eyeing the properties in my possession and eagerly hope I die early so that the assets are left to them. I’m so filled with rage that I want to find someone to help me teach them a lesson.”
“What about your parents?” Su Huaijing glanced back at him.
Rong Tang dipped his head and stared at his toes as he said something as if he were mumbling to himself.
“What?” Su Huaijing couldn’t hear clearly.
Rong Tang fumed, “I’m going to die soon!”
Su Huaijing was quiet for a while.
Rong Tang seemed very depressed after he’d said that. He sat down again, held the cup of tea he initially wanted to give Su Huaijing to warm his hands before taking a sip, and said in a faint voice, “I’m someone who is going to die. Mother has me as her only son, but Father has many sons. When I’m gone, there’ll be no one to support my mother. I dare not let her offend my didis on my account.”
“That’s why I sought you out. Firstly, I want you to help me teach those didis of mine a lesson. Secondly, I hope that after I leave, you can help me carry out my filial duty to my parents, but not like a daughter-in-law. You can just treat yourself as half a son of my mother’s. Thirdly……”
He hesitated, then raised his eyes to look at Su Huaijing. His voice sounded like a mosquito, but it could be heard clearly: “I believe that if what happened tonight can occur once, it can occur a second time. It’s obvious you’ve been drugged and dragged out, seeing you like this. You’re to be sold in any case; wouldn’t it be better if you’re sold to me? At least I’m a good person.”
The author has something to say:
Don’t fret. In three lives, the gong has never been touched by anyone before, including in the original plot. Both gong and shou’s bodies and minds are in harmony 1v1!!!