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~
“Oh? He actually said it like that?”
The building in the small courtyard in the southwest corner of Li’s mansion is still dilapidated, but the furnishings are a little better than before. Warm sunlight shone into the small casement window, giving off a little appearance of a middle-class family home.
Su Huaijing was reclining on the small couch and reading a chess manual. Next to him was a chess set at an endgame. After listening to Xingfeng’s report, his finger paused as he turned the page and then stood up with interest: “You heard it with your own ears?”
Xingfeng stood below. His eyelids twitched uncontrollably when he heard this.
Master wouldn’t ask the same thing twice. Asking like this can only prove that he is interested.
The last person he was interested in…
The body should be buried beneath the ground in Sichuan.
Xingfeng said, “This subordinate heard it with my own ears. Each word is true.”
Su Huaijing curled his lips. There was a look of uncertainty in his eyes, and he held back saying anything. Xingfeng didn’t know what he was contemplating; still, he kneeled down and begged for punishment. He said, “This subordinate deserves death. I failed to notice that there was someone else’s informant by Master’s side. Requesting for Master to punish me.”
Su Huaijing’s train of thought was disrupted. Upon seeing this, he raised his hand and allowed him to rise. “From last night to now, have you sifted out any suspicious people from the past night?”
When he heard this, Xingfeng revealed an anxious expression and said frankly, “This point is exactly what is suspicious. The young prince’s words were precise, and he truly kept his word. Yet this subordinate has not discovered anyone acting strangely in the past few days.”
“If you haven’t discovered it, then that’s correct.” Su Huaijing put down the chess manual and returned to place a chess piece on the chess end game. “He was lying, of course.”
“But what he said doesn’t seem to be a lie.” Xingfeng said as he frowned.
Su Huaijing raised his hand to interrupt him. He fixed his gaze on the chessboard and pondered for a moment.
In a flash, he picked up some black and white pieces using his left and right hands, then alternately made a few moves on the chessboard to resolve the end game. He gave a slight smile. “There are others aside from him. Perhaps he has other methods we don’t know of yet. This isn’t important.”
Xingfeng wanted to say that he still needed to be on guard against the young prince, but Su Huaijing moved past the topic and asked, “Has Liuyun returned yet?”
Xingfeng focused: “I received a carrier pigeon yesterday, saying that the problem in Sichuan has been dealt with. He’s now rushing to the capital and will arrive in less than two days.”
“Mmm.” Su Huaijing nodded. “When Liuyun comes back, have him investigate the matter of the Embroidered Uniform Guards. Don’t show your face in the meantime.”
The day when the Li family’s father and daughter had slipped in the drug, Xingfeng had been diverted away, no doubt because he spotted the seal of the Embroidered Uniform Guards; therefore, Su Huaijing couldn’t avoid investigating it.
“Yes,” Xingfeng said.
Su Huaijing stood up and stretched. It just happens to be the spring scenery outside the house. There was a kite flying in the sky in the northeast corner of the small courtyard, and the indistinct laughter of a girl could be heard.
Su Huaijing appeared to inadvertently ask, “How’s it over at the apothecary’s?”
Xingfeng said, “A whole furnace of medicine has been refined according to the prescription given by Master.”
Su Huaijing stared at the paper kite in the distance and said absentmindedly, “Have Bixin deliver it to Miss Biao.”
Xingfeng lowered his head and cast his eyes downward while responding with a respectful tone. When he heard the words ‘Miss Biao’, a hidden urge to kill flashed through his eyes.
Su Huaijing saw it but didn’t comment, merely waving his hand, permitting him to withdraw before reclining back on the couch.
This time, he didn’t read the chess manual. He conveniently picked up a storybook and flipped through it, messing up the chessboard with a flick of his sleeves.
This chess manoeuvre had impeded him for three days, and he utterly wasn’t able to find the most suitable way to break it, but earlier he’d hit upon an idea in just the space of a few words.
“Liar…” Su Huaijing muttered softly; an undetermined intent was noted in the smile on his lips.
All of a sudden, he was curious. If another person were to ask him, what remarkable words can Prince Ningxuan, who’d recently recovered from his widely rumoured madness of many years, utter from that eloquent mouth of his?
He was actually rather… looking forward to it.
These days, Li Panyan is very cheerful. Her father has been promoted to an official position and transferred to the north. He is rushing to the capital to report for work and cannot wait for the luggage carriage to slowly advance. Therefore, Li Changfu packed light and only brought a few sons who’d come of age with him to hasten to the capital in advance.
As the daughter, Li Panyan was able to journey to the capital with her father, all because of the proposal she’d suggested.
Su biao xiong was so beautiful that he was almost enchanting. Ever since she was little, Li Panyan knew that if she didn’t hold him tightly in her hands, he would be a scourge in the future.
Early on, he’d caught the eye of many sons from merchant families in Sichuan. Even when the provincial governor, who was over fifty years old, had come to their home as a guest, he’d taken an interest in him with just a distant glance, to the extent that he even hinted for Li Changfu to deliver Su Huaijing to his house.
Her father was hesitant at the time, but Li Panyan felt that since he was beautiful and since the Li family had raised him for so many years, repayment was warranted. However, the governor had countless concubines and was far away from the imperial capital. If they send a young man there, what benefits can the Li family get in exchange?
She advised her father to wait. At that time, Su Huaijing was only fifteen years old. Although his features were beautiful, he still bore a little immaturity. Nowadays, how could there be someone as captivating as a water lily about to bloom in the morning dew?
The facts proved that she’d bet correctly.
The customs of Dayu’s people were open-minded, and it was terribly normal for a distinguished family in the capital to keep two male concubines in the back. Even amongst the current emperor’s harem, there is a Yutao Pavilion situated within, which houses dozens of male attendants.
Li Panyan didn’t wish for her father to exert himself and send Su Huaijing into the imperial palace. That would be too uncontrollable. But to gift him to the distinguished family of an official while seeking their protection wasn’t actually hard to do.
Moreover, the younger Lord Wukang Bo was exactly the permanent home she had chosen for herself. If her father’s official position hadn’t been low-ranking and their resources unstable, she wouldn’t have come up with the idea of first sending a biao xiong as a male concubine and then later marrying into the Wukang Bo household as the younger lord’s official wife.
She would have biao xiong mediating in the back house and her father to depend on at the front. When you think about it, it wasn’t a tedious matter. After all, ever since she was a child, biao ge has always listened to her very much.
It was precisely because of this that she didn’t feel the least bit guilty when she took the plate of pastries to Su Huaijing’s room.
Li Panyan raised her eyebrows very happily. Girlish thoughts were written on her face as she looked forward to the future with an innocent-like countenance.
“Aiya, I’m tired. You all continue to fly it. Don’t let it fall.” She held the kite string in her hand and handed it to the side. A maid immediately took it over.
Li Panyan sat at the stone table in the pavilion. Tea had already been poured, and the temperature was just right. Li Panyan drank half the cup, and her eyes scanned across the yard.
The house that had just been purchased hasn’t been completely cleaned up. There is only this chosen corner of the yard that can be counted as having pleasant scenery.
She suddenly remembered that when she was younger and had followed her father to the capital to visit relatives, she’d seen a large house.
Strolling through a corridor, there was a carved wall of stone and mountains. Koi carp were swimming in the pond, resembling shimmering gold. In the summer, lotus flowers adorn green leaves. Even the serving maids looked like fairies.
When she thought of this, Li Panyan began to disdain this small courtyard of hers even more and even became fussy with the maid who was waiting on the side.
“I haven’t seen you before; are you new here?” she asked.
Bi Xin bowed her head in response and respectfully refilled the tea cup that had been placed aside: “Replying Miss’ question, the housekeeper bought this slave from the broker house the day before yesterday to serve Miss.”
Li Panyan’s eyes brightened and shifted a little, and an impalpable sense of arrogance surged within her.
The entire family had rushed to the capital and, naturally, didn’t bring many servants along. Not to mention, the servant girls who had been waiting upon her since childhood relied on her benevolence. All regarded themselves as part-masters of the Li Mansion, without any discipline or manners at all. How can there be such a person in the capital who’d come from being trained in the broker house and had such a sense of propriety? Even her replies are so respectful and measured, and she still knows how to refer to herself as ‘slave’ when talking to her master.
Once Li Panyan was pleased, she felt that the cup of tea was more fragrant than the earlier one. She slowly savoured most of it and asked, “What’s your name?”
Bi Xin calmly eyed the tea cup and said, “This slave has entered Li’s house, and is therefore Miss’ servant. Requesting for Miss to bestow a name.”
A smile immediately spread across Li Panyan’s face. “Then let’s call you Xiao Tao*.”
(*TN: xiao = little or small, tao = peach)
Bi Xin also smiled: “Thank you, Miss, for the name.”
Xiao Tao. This is pretty good. The medicine Master refined is called Peach Blossom Facade. In a sense, they complement each other.
If one consumes Peach Blossom Facade for seven consecutive days during the first half of the month, their appearance will improve day by day—just like the peach blossoms blooming on the branches in spring—so beautiful that people can’t take their eyes away. But flowers do not bloom every day. Once the flowering season passes, they begin withering, which is also rather terrifying.
Sixteen-year-old girls love being beautiful, and they’re filled with thoughts of jealousy and scheming. It was better if she died straightaway than to give her inflated hopes that would plunge her into endless despair, which was more painful.
Didn’t she come up with this devious idea because her master’s appearance eclipsed hers?
Now that the Li Mansion has offended the younger Lord Wukang Bo and their beloved unbetrothed daughter’s appearance is becoming increasingly stunning day by day, who knows which choice His Excellency Li Changfu, who is wholeheartedly fixated on his official career, will make when it comes down to it?
“I’m tired; assist me to return inside and rest.” Li Panyan instructed.
Bi Xin compliantly helped support the young girl’s slender hands and walked slowly along the garden path that was being renovated to the west wing, where her master resided, with a sense of ruthless elation in her heart.
Duke Ningxuan’s palace.
The weather has been fairly good recently. Ever since Rong Tang fainted the first time, his health has improved a little, so he had Shuang Shou move the soft couch into the middle of the courtyard. He basked in the sun as he directed the servants to repair the house.
If Su Huaijing was to move in, he should at least spruce up the small courtyard to be more suitable and commence with a lot of preparations throughout.
On this day, Rong Tang was in the courtyard inspecting the four treasures of the study* that Shuang Fu had bought. A servant outside the courtyard announced that Si Mo, the eldest maid of the duke’s chambers, had arrived.
(*TN: writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper.)
Rong Tang was stunned for a moment. When he came to his senses, he heard her say, “Young Master, Her Royal Highness, the eldest princess, invites you to go to the princess’ palace.”
Eldest Princess Duanyi is not of royal blood, but she is the most revered female elder of the Dayu imperial family.
As early as sixty years ago, the third emperor before Emperor Renshou, who was also Emperor Renshou’s grandfather, went out on a cruise one year and saw a white tiger with extremely smooth fur of unmatched quality. He was so captivated that he abandoned his retinue and rode alone, pursuing it into the wooded mountain.
In the end, he somehow lost his way. Not only did he fail to catch the prey, but he was pounced on by the white tiger and almost became the beast’s meal. Duanyi, who was eight years old at the time, miraculously appeared. Without saying a word, she pulled out a dagger, stepped forward, and stabbed the tiger directly in the eye, saving the emperor from the tiger’s jaws.
The emperor was grateful for Duanyi’s life-saving grace and admired the little girl’s courage and keenness. Upon learning that her parents had died and that she had subsisted by living and hunting in the nearby mountains and forests, he promptly took her in as his adopted daughter and raised her in the imperial palace.
Family solidarity in the Tian family was rare. Duanyi was bullied by princes and princesses in the palace when she was younger. Only Emperor Mingzong relied considerably on this jiejie*. Mingzong was only fourteen years old when he ascended the throne. Duanyi had just entered into an engagement with the eldest son of a powerful general. But because she worried that her younger brother would be humiliated by ministers in the court, she broke off the engagement on the grounds of mourning her late father and used her female presence to represent Mingzong in his socialising and meandering in order to clear his path for the future.
(*TN: older sister)
When Emperor Mingzong was twenty years old, he established a firm foothold in the court, and the emperor’s sovereignty was unchallengeable. Princess Duanyi, who was twenty-five years old, turned around and got married to the top scholar of the imperial examinations. Subsequently, she went home to be a wife and mother and never got involved in the affairs of the court again. Having a sense of propriety about when to advance and retreat, she is worthy of her reputation as a lady Zhuge*.
(*TN: Zhuge Liang, often referred to as “诸葛亮” (Zhuge Liang) in Chinese history, was a renowned tactician, known for his wisdom and strategic thinking.)
It was not until Mingzong was thirty-five years old that the emperor suddenly died of a serious illness in the palace. When the late emperor ascended the throne, the court was in turmoil. Empress Dowager Zhang travelled throughout the night to the eldest princess’s mansion to have a discussion by candlelight. Consequently, this female prime minister was invited to come out of retirement and strive to protect the emperor.
It can be said that Princess Duanyi has contributed integrally to Dayu’s current prosperity.
But since the new emperor ascended the throne, the eldest princess has been contentedly residing in her inner chambers, enjoying her remaining years. In the past two lifetimes combined, Rong Tang has not seen her in person more than five times, let alone been spontaneously summoned by her like this.
He stood up slowly and asked, “Do you know what’s going on?”
Si Mo whispered, “I heard that it’s regarding the matter of Young Master’s marriage.”