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~
The newly appointed Minister of War, Li Changfu’s mansion in the capital has a small and dilapidated courtyard in the southwest corner near the servant’s room.
There were no lamps lit in the room. Outside, a rooster crowed three times, and the night watchman passed by unhurriedly. A handsome young man sat at the table, his cheek resting on his palm. His chilly gaze swept downward. “Where are you going?”
The sound is like the call of a phoenix, pure and melodious, but when it was heard, it sounded like the resonation of a suspended sentence.
“This subordinate has been negligent. Requesting Master for punishment.”
The man who was kneeling lowered his head even further, and the forehead blood from his kowtowing dripped onto the floorboards. “In the afternoon, This subordinate saw a seal of the Embroidered Uniform Guards outside the city going about their usual manoeuvres. I became anxious and chased after them.
The Embroidered Uniform Guards were the late emperor’s personal bodyguards, and they should have all left with the late emperor nine years ago.
“Did you catch up to them?” Su Huaijing asked calmly.
Xingfeng gritted his teeth, his eyes brimming with dark regret and overwhelming hatred that couldn’t be banished: “This subordinate deserves death! The seal was an imitation. I chased them outside the city and realised something was abnormal, so I rushed back immediately.”
“Ha.” Su Huaijing let out a soft laugh, as if he’d heard some phenomenal joke. After a long while, he asked in a light tone, “An imitation? An imitation seal was able to divert you away from my side. How do you expect me to trust you in the future?”
“This subordinate.….. deserves death.” Xingfeng banged his head forcefully until he collapsed to the ground. Tears wept from his eyes, and each of the words he uttered was so intense with emotion that they may as well have been dripping with blood. His limbs were cold, as if he were in hell.
Once he was aware that something was amiss, he instantly hurried back. Along the way, his heart dropped more and more deeply, and an indescribable panic surged through his body.
Only two days ago, Master had said that Li Changfu had wicked inclinations and feared that he was going to act on him. Today, he sped back to the mansion and couldn’t spot a single person within the house. In the midst of his tumult, he overheard the servants in the mansion gossiping. A strong murderous impulse nearly engulfed Xingfeng’s entire person.
How dare he…
Li Changfu, how dare he…
That is Dayu’s most honoured and noble seventh prince, the late emperor’s legitimate son! How dare he treat him like a… like a prostitute, drugging and sending him off to a brothel?!
How many brains does he have?!
Xingfeng’s anger increased, his vision became blurred, and his fingernails dug through the flesh on his palms. He kowtowed profoundly again and got up to leave: “This subordinate will kill Li Changfu now and then come back to apologise!”
Xingfeng strode to the door. As soon as he raised his body in preparation to use his light footwork skills over to the main courtyard and make his kill, a laggard voice sounded from behind him: “Hold it.”
Xingfeng paused in his steps and turned around to look.
Su Huaijing stood up and tossed something onto the table, walked to the inner room, and his leisurely voice could be heard: “There’s no urgency in killing people. At dawn, go to the streets for me and buy back some cosmetics and silk cloth.”
Xingfeng was startled. “Master, this is?”
“Purchasing dowry.” Su Huaijing lazily yawned and entered the inner room.
Xingfeng went in hesitantly and caught sight of a stack of large-denomination banknotes on the table.
Xingfeng, the former Deputy Commander of the Embroidered Uniform Guard’s Seventh Division: “?”
After he’d left, Su Huaijing stood in the inner room, lifted his hand to pinch his chin, and with a “ka“. he dislodged his lower jaw without changing his expression.
He immediately stretched out two fingers into the side of his cheek, plucked out an oil paper bag, and chucked it on the ground.
The paper package was unfurled, and two pills—one red and one black—about the size of half a fingernail, rolled out.
Su Huaijing reset his lower jaw and cleaned his hands.
From somewhere in the corner, a grey mouse made its way out. It squeaked and ran to the pills before gnawing up the black one.
When Su Huaijing saw this, he let out a laugh and even began counting down excitedly.
“Five, four, three, two.….. one, bang——”
As soon as he’d spoken, the grey mouse turned a couple of rounds on the ground, then fell to the ground with a “thwack“. It foamed at the mouth with its limbs spasming before dying. Everything happened in a blink.
“Pity.” Su Huaijing spoke softly, his gaze landing on the red pill.
As soon as the lotus pastry entered his mouth, he knew that someone had drugged it, so he hurried into the inner room to make preparations before the drug took effect.
Two pills. One pill is a highly toxic poison, and the other is a knockout drug mixed with hallucinogenic grass.
In this life and death, he initially wanted to see what kind of revolting temperament that idiot Qin Pengxuan had before prescribing the correct medicine for the illness.
As for the muscle relaxant’s remedy, Su Huaijing simply had no intention of neutralising it.
He knew that Li Changfu had evil notions and had been dropping by the houses of all the officials in the capital these days, trying to get hold of a backer for himself. However, Su Huaijing really didn’t expect that this good uncle of his would come up with the pathetic idea of giving his nephew to a man as a concubine. It was truly an eye-opener.
Though the move was pathetic, it presented him with a way in which he could act at his discretion. If he could make use of this opportunity to enter Wukang Bo’s manor——
Su Huaijing glanced at the remaining pill on the ground again, then turned and walked towards the bed.
He took off his outer clothing. A waist tablet was hanging inside. Before leaving, the radiantly beautiful young prince had assertively unfastened it from his person and handed it to him, along with the banknotes.
It is about the size of a palm, made of golden cedar wood, the top engraved with cloud patterns and sunrise and the words 福寿如意* on the bottom—all to symbolise boundless wealth.
(*TN: A common Chinese expression that can be translated to “May you have happiness, longevity, and everything as you wish”. It’s often used as a wish or blessing for someone to have a happy, healthy, and successful life.)
Rong Tang—this chess piece that had never been on his chessboard—had emerged as the only variable tonight.
A sickly person who coughs three times for every step has been seized by a sudden impulse to head to a brothel and broaden his horizons?!
There is no such happenstance in this world.
When Rong Tang returned this time, he fell unconscious for another three days. When he woke up, the sky outside had just darkened. Waiting by his side was Shuang Fu’s younger brother, Shuang Shou. Seeing that he was awake, he brought over a bowl of dark-coloured decoction: “Young Master, the doctor urged that once you wake up, you should drink a sedative.”
“Where’s Shuang Fu?” Rong Tang asked.
Avoiding his look, Shuang Shou only handed over the medicine to him. Rong Tang’s brows knitted, and he made an effort to sit up. “He’s been called away by Madam?”
“Young Master, you’d better drink the medicine first,” Shuang Shou said.
Rong Tang felt annoyed. He took the medicine bowl, raised his head, and tossed it back in one go. His voice had become a little hoarse from the bitterness, and he asked again, “Where’s Shuang Fu?”
In the end, Shuang Shou knelt down with a plop: “Young Master, your body isn’t well and needs convalescence. We dare not trouble you with the servants’ matters.”
Rong Tang suddenly felt a little mad, yet he couldn’t tell whether he was angry at this body of his, which frequently toppled over, or at evil feudalism’s strict social divisions that rendered people unable to speak properly.
“Fine, you take a break. I’ll look for him myself.” Rong Tang struggled to get out of bed, but his legs gave in as soon as they landed on the ground. Shuang Shou hurriedly got up to support him.
Rong Tang threw him a cold look: “Take me to see Madam.”
“Take me there!” Rong Tang said sternly and had to use his master demeanour to pressure him.
While he was talking, a woman’s voice rang from outside the house: “Tang’er is awake? Did you drink the medicine?”
Rong Tang rushed to the door, “Mother.”
Wang Fei is not yet forty years old, and she is the matriarch of a powerful family. Even at home, her hair is adorned with pearls and emeralds, radiating her own elegance. Her countenance bears the determination and steadiness of one who has managed a household for many years. However, the instant she saw Rong Tang, she softened, and her gaze warmed. She quickly walked over and tugged Rong Tang to the bed.
“Why are you up? The wind is so blustery outside. You don’t even know how to persuade Young Master.” Wang Fei’s gaze swept to the side and landed on Shuang Shou.
Rong Tang called out softly, “Mother.”
In his past two lives, he’d done everything with a clear conscience in order to save the male protagonist and the world. But he’d forgotten that in this world, there will inevitably be mothers worrying about their children.
Wang Xiuyu* had died due to accidents in both lives. Rong Tang had devoted himself to the male protagonist and didn’t even save this mother of his, who wholeheartedly regarded him as her son.
(*TN: For those who are confused, Wang Fei is the title i.e. Princess Consort, Wang Xiuyu is her name. Many characters are referred to by either depending on the context.)
So there was indeed some truth in what he’d said to Su Huaijing that night.
In this lifetime, most of the mission would not be able to be completed, but after his death, this world can still exist for at least five or six years. If Wang Fei can live until then, hopefully Su Huaijing can treat her a little better.
Wang Fei came back to her senses. Once she saw Rong Tang had gotten on the bed and tucked in the quilt, she dismissed the servants. She sat on the bedside to half-reproach and half-admonish: “Mother knows that your innocent heart is essentially pure and virtuous, but sometimes you treat the servants too well. Their hearts will become unruly, and they won’t sincerely take care of their master.”
Rong Tang let out a sigh again: “Shuang Fu and Shuang Shou are very sincere to me.”
Wang Fei threw him a scathing look, and Rong Tang took the opportunity to say, “Mother, Shuang Fu, he’s…”
Wang Fei stopped him: “I know what you want to say. Both Shuang Fu and Shuang Shou were granted by the eldest princess. I can’t beat, scold, or punish them, but mother is really angry. They’ve been serving you since you were a child. Knowing full well what kind of body you have, how could he still bring you to such a filthy place as Fengyue House…”
Rong Tang: “I, myself, wanted to go there.”
“You’ve remained at home all year round and have never been out since you were a child. How would you know about Fengyue House? I think it was one of the lads who went fooling around, came back, told you nonsense, and you listened and went!” Wang Fei raged.
For a moment, Rong Tang felt helpless. He considered that Rong Zheng was quite smart. No one in the whole palace knew that he’d followed him to a brothel.
But this was a good thing: it reduced many inconveniences.
Rong Tang saw that Wang Fei was fuming and softly suppressed a few coughs. Wang Xiuyu’s temper immediately abated. Only distress remained on her face: “My son…”
Rong Tang weakly raised his hand and grasped the back of Wang Fei’s hand. “Mother, it was really me that wanted to go.”
Wang Xiuyu frowned. “Why would you think to go to that kind of place?”
Rong Tang said, “My beloved was there.”
Wang Xiuyu was stunned. The room instantly fell silent, and there seemed to be a very soft sound above her head. Before Rong Tang had the chance to ask, he heard Wang Fei force herself to calm down and then she asked softly, “Which young lady is it? How many patrons has she received? If you are truly like her, mother will help you——”
“It’s not a young lady.” Rong Tang said.
There was a moment when Wang Fei’s expression turned blank, and the way she looked at Rong Tang abruptly grew very complicated. For a minute, she struggled, but ultimately succumbed to the sincerity of motherly love: “It’s not an issue if it’s a young man; it’s not shameful. It’s just that it’s not safe outside. Mother actually worries that you go out to meet this person at ease. Why don’t I redeem them for you, and you look after them in your courtyard?”
There was another soft sound from the roof. Rong Tang subconsciously raised his head and heard a cat meow.
His mood had been disturbed by this movement. By the time he reacted, he inwardly felt a little dissatisfied.
When Wang Xiuyu, the noble daughter of a prestigious family, married Rong Mingqiao, he wasn’t Duke Ningxuan. The year she gave birth to the original owner, it was a difficult birth, and she subsequently fell ill. All means were employed to keep mother and child safe, but it damaged her uterus, and she could no longer bear children. Fortunately, she has her family background as her bulwark and hasn’t been overly trampled over by the concubines for so many years.
The original owner wasn’t a halfwit from birth. In the beginning, he was merely in fragile health. The year he turned nine, exactly during Dayu’s upheaval, he probably saw something that caused him nightmares every night and three days of high fever. By the time he regained consciousness, he’d become a fool.
After so many years of struggles, protecting and nurturing him to adulthood, until finally, he wasn’t halfwit any longer. They said that the apple of Wang Xiuyu’s eye wouldn’t survive. Never mind that he’s fallen for a youth from a brothel; even if he wanted the royal descendants from the imperial palace, Wang Xiuyu could very possibly prostrate herself all the way to the entrance of Fengqi Palace to beg the empress for sympathy.
Rong Tang felt that this wasn’t good, but if he wanted Su Huaijing to enter the palace honourably, then he had no choice but to first manoeuvre stepping stones into place. He needed to scare the living daylights out of Wang Xiuyu.
He lowered his gaze in silence, pursed his lips, and calmly clenched the bedsheets with his fingers, appearing very disappointed.
Wang Xiuyu suddenly panicked a little. She couldn’t be bothered by her matriarchal demeanour and said frantically, “Tang’er, don’t be upset. Just tell mother who’s caught your eye. Mother will definitely find a way to settle that family for you. You mustn’t distress yourself, no matter what, and hurt your health.”
Once he noticed that the rims of Wang Xiuyu’s eyes were turning red, Rong Tang realised that this dose of medicine was just enough and could be withdrawn.
He shook his head, raised his eyes to look at Wang Xiuyu, and said softly, “It’s not that.”
“He is the Minister of War, His Excellency Li Changfu’s nephew from his wife’s side, Su Huaijing.” Rong Tang said.
Wang Xiuyu was startled for a moment, and when she reacted, she visibly breathed a sigh of relief.
The Minister of War was only a fourth-rank official, and she had never heard of Li Changfu. Presumably, he was a minor official who’d just been promoted and transferred over. In addition, he was a nephew from the wife’s side. If he truly married into the palace, the Li family ought to burn incense to thank their ancestors. There is no possibility that they wouldn’t agree.
Wang Xiuyu picked up the handkerchief and dabbed the corners of her eyes. Her tone was solemn: “You scared mother to death. It’s good that they are an unblemished family. Mother will help you send the betrothal gifts and bring him into our home. It’s just that you said you went to Fengyue House to find the Li family’s young master. I fear you won’t be well-behaved in the future. Mother is afraid that you’ll suffer injustices.”
“He’s not the young master of the Li family,” Rong Tang said seriously. “His name is Su Huaijing.”
“Fine, the young master of the Su family.” Wang Xiuyu said, willingly repeating, “But I’ve never heard you mention this name. How did you meet him?”
Rong Tang said inwardly: ‘He’s not the young master of the Su family; he’s the prince of Dayu, the future emperor’. But when Wang Xiuyu asked this, he had to quickly carry on.
“Mother, do you recall, in the early years, the Duke Xianguo’s manor opposite my grandmother’s house?”
Wang Xiuyu’s expression changed slightly, and she subconsciously glanced outside the folding screen. She replied, “What do you mean?”
Rong Tang: “Li Changfu is a distant relative of Duke Xianguo, and Su Huaijing is the same. When I was a child, I lived at my grandmother’s house for a while and happened to meet Su Huaijing, whose family fortunes had declined and who had come to seek refuge with his relatives. When he was young, I merely thought he was good-looking and talented. He is younger than me but much smarter, and I was envious of him.”
Rong Tang appeared downhearted when he said this. Wang Xiuyu’s heart ached, and she squeezed his hand.
Rong Tang gave a soft smile: “Later, when I heard that the duke’s manor was in turmoil… This son discovered that the first person I thought of was him.”
“He’d travelled to the capital to seek refuge with his relatives because his family was in ruins. It wasn’t certain whether or not he could’ve survived such a disaster, and I originally wanted to ask mother to bring him into our home for me.” Rong Tang’s brows furrowed unconsciously. “But during those days, I had nightmares for a long time, and when I awoke, I’d very nearly forgotten everything. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I accidentally discovered that he’d followed Excellency Li, who was also in the capital at the time, and returned to Sichuan together.”
Rong Tang was weak and rarely spoke so many words in one breath. When he talked about his childhood, Wang Xiuyu’s tears began flowing, and the earlier anxiousness she’d felt about referring to taboo topics had dissipated.
She said dejectedly. “That explains why I recently heard your courtyard’s Chunmei say that you often talk about Sichuan.”
Rong Tang was a little surprised. He didn’t expect there to be this additional assistance, but he didn’t show it on his face and said, “I just want to bring him back. Mr. Li may be a good official, but after all, his household is flourishing with many people. It’s difficult to plant crops in Sichuan, and it’s not as prosperous as Jiangnan. Moreover, they lack a prominent position in the capital, and yet they are raising a child who has lost his parents without any incentives. I’m always worried that he might be mistreated.”
He paused, then said in a low voice, “This son can’t bear to see him wronged.”
Wang Xiuyu’s heart almost dissolved from the pain. She never expected that her son was actually the deeply-enamoured sort.
Before it was over, Rong Tang added, “My health isn’t good. When I heard that he’d returned to the capital, I initially wanted to watch him from a distance and just discern that he was fine. So I secretly sent someone to follow him and punctually inform me of his whereabouts every day. I couldn’t go out, and I could only hear that he was doing well. Wherever he passed by somewhere, I would go there too. Someday, if… it wouldn’t be too much of a regret, cough cough——”
Wang Xiuyu quickly poured him a cup of hot tea and said in a hoarse voice, “Tang’er, no need to say more. Mother will negotiate the marriage for you.”
“Don’t—I have to finish.” Rong Tang held his hot tea and said, “He conducts himself properly and is not the sort of person who would casually go in and out of brothels. Mother is the person who loves me the most in the world. I don’t wish for you to misunderstand him.”
Rong Tang: “I only received the news that afternoon. Li Changfu has entered the capital again, and his mind is filled with plans to ingratiate. In order to plot a good advancement for himself, he didn’t hesitate to throw his nephew into it. He even ordered someone to drug him, and once he succumbed, he was sent to the brothel. He wanted to gift him to a certain young master of an affluent family! Luckily… luckily This son went there in time, so his crafty scheme did not succeed.”
Rong Tang was furious; his complexion surged to a bright red, then quickly turned pale again. His mood was grim when he spoke: “That’s right, he’s merely a distant nephew, and the mourning period has already concluded long ago. I can’t say for sure how much kindred blood is left in his body. I hate myself for being stupid for so many years and for not being able to bring him into our home fast enough.”
Wang Xiuyu’s mood fluctuated as Rong Tang related the story. At this time, she was crying on one hand, feeling distressed on the other, and holding onto a little anger.
It wasn’t that she felt sorry about what Su Huaijing had experienced; instead, she was distressed by these longing and fluctuating emotions of her son’s. She was also vexed at the ignorant and stupid-like-a-pig Li Changfu. These stepping stones. If Tang’er truly wants it—just based on how much he cares about that family’s nephew—as long as Rong Tang says the word, can she still not figure out a way to deal with it?
But it had troubled Rong Tang to move around and toil for no reason, to the extent that he’d even fainted in the brothel! It was utterly hateful!
Wang Xiuyu relaxed and consoled: “Mother will make the decision for you and bring this person back. From now on, protect him well, and he will not suffer any mistreatment ever again.”
Unexpectedly, when he heard this, Rong Tang had a lonely expression as he shook his head: “I can’t protect him.”
Wang Xiuyu was slightly startled. Rong Tang said, “Only the Duke’s palace can protect him.”
Wang Xiuyu realised something, and her face grew agitated. She opened her mouth to speak, but Rong Tang straightaway interrupted her. After talking for too long, his lips became paler, and he looked like he was beyond cure. Anyone who saw him knew that this person would not survive long.
Rong Tang’s voice was very soft: “I want to give him a status.”
“Mother, listen to me.” Rong Tang said, “I know what condition my body is in, and I also know that my family has always wanted to find a family for me to marry and ward off bad vibes, but now I…”
He bit his lower lip, seemingly somewhat embarrassed: “In my current state, I’m destined to leave no heirs. This son is unfilial and has already failed my parents’ grace in birthing and raising me. I don’t want to offend any young lady’s family. Besides, my heart already belongs to someone. If the warding-off from the marriage can truly flush away the illness from my body, I’ll feel happy just looking at him in the future. If not, after I leave, I won’t have concerns in my heart when I reach the netherworld. I won’t worry whether or not he will be bullied, and I won’t be discontented when I leave.”
“This son begs mother. I wish to request that mother send betrothal gifts on my behalf and seek to marry Su Huaijing as the lawful wife of Prince Ningxuan.” Rong Tang raised his eyes and stared fixedly at Wang Xiuyu. At some point, his eyes were filled with tears. His tone wasn’t loud, but it was extremely resolute: “I only want him.”