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~
Rong Tang said he wanted to bring lotus pastries, but after thinking about it carefully, he brought a few more types.
Su Huaijing was guarded, and if he acted too intentionally, it would result in more losses than gains.
The land prices in Songjing Lane, where Li’s mansion is located, are very expensive. Most of the neighbours are court officials. This is an indication of Li Changfu’s ambitiousness for an official career.
Shuang Fu went ahead and knocked on the door. It took a long time for the gatekeeper to answer. When he came out, he was stunned for a moment after noticing the luxurious carriage, then nodded and bowed. “May I inquire which lord is calling?”
Shuang Fu: “Prince Ningxuan.”
The gatekeeper hastily apologised with a smile and said, “This lord has come at an unfortunate time. Today, my master has gone to Wukang Bo’s residence to attend a banquet and won’t be back for a while. Why doesn’t this lord return to your abode first? Once Master is back, I shall inform him, and he will pay you a visit in the future.”
It was a good thing that Li Changfu was away. Rong Tang didn’t want to have any contact with him. Hearing this, he got off the carriage. Shuang Fu understood and said with a straight face: “My young master is the Prince of Ningxuan, conferred personally by the emperor himself. Do you think a lowly gatekeeper as yourself can tell him to return, and he would simply return like that?”
The gatekeeper panicked. “This…”
Rong Tang made a fist with one hand and moved it next to his lips to cough wearily a couple of times, and he said warmly, “My health isn’t good. I would like to borrow your residence to rest and ask for a glass of water. I think Excellency Li would not refuse if he were in residence.”
Not only would he not refuse, but if he knew that Prince Ningxuan had come to visit him in person, Li Changfu might even sweep the floors to welcome him.
The gatekeeper hesitated for a moment, then stepped aside to make way. “Then, my lord, please come with me.”
“Thank you.” Rong Tang lowered his head and replied.
After passing the screen wall, the gatekeeper wanted to escort him into the living room, but Rong Tang paused on the cobblestone path. He raised his hand and pointed to a small courtyard in the west, asking, “I wonder which master of the mansion lives there?”
The gatekeeper’s expression changed, and he said, “It’s the residence of the family’s biao young master.”
Rong Tang nodded. “In that case, I must bother this little bro to take me there.”
As he spoke, he inclined his head and threw Shuang Fu a look. Shuang Fu retrieved a few pieces of silver change and handed them to the gatekeeper.
The gatekeeper immediately beamed from ear to ear, “My lord, please follow me.”
This courtyard is adjacent to the back door. The last time he sent Su Huaijing back, the carriage was parked in the back street. When he walked into the courtyard this time, he saw no one.
Rong Tang originally wanted to wait for him, but as soon as he walked into the house, he was stunned for a moment.
Li Changfu’s official position in the influential families of the capital does not seem to be high in the eyes of people such as Wang Xiuyu. But no matter how low he is, he is still a fourth-rank official.
Emperor Renshou himself gained the throne through rebellion, so he was even more aware that he needed to use both kindness and authority to prevent his subordinates from having different intentions.
Consequently, not only was the salary of Dayu’s officials not meagre, but on the contrary, it was rather impressive, not to mention the “ice tribute” and “coal tribute”* presented by local officials every year. Although Li Changfu has just entered the capital, he is by no means so shabby that he can’t even furnish the residence of his own nephew.
(*TN: “Ice Tribute”: This referred to the presentation of ice from areas where it was naturally available, often in northern regions with cold climates. Ice was a valuable commodity in ancient times, especially for keeping food and drinks cool.
“Coal Tribute”: This involved the offering of high-quality coal, typically from regions with abundant coal reserves. The coal was used for various purposes, including heating and as a source of energy for various industries.
Both ice and coal tributes were significant because they provided essential resources to the imperial court and symbolised the contributions of different regions to the central government. These tributes were part of the complex tribute system in ancient China.)
But as far as Rong Tang could see, it couldn’t even be compared to Shuang Fu’s bedroom.
An old four-fold screen divides the inner and outer rooms. There is a narrow bed in the inner room, which is suitable for a teenager of about thirteen or fourteen years old to lie on. An adult would need to curl up when lying on it.
There was a soft couch, which is slightly longer than the bed, that had been placed by the window in the outer room. Judging from the position of the bedding, Rong Tang had reason to suspect that Su Huaijing had been sleeping on the couch these days.
The window papers were old and worn, with several holes in them. Even though it was the second month, the capital is about to experience a cold snap, and nights are still chilly. He would catch a cold easily if he slept like this.
An indescribable blaze surged in Rong Tang, and his steps picked up. When he walked to the couch and lifted the quilt, he instantly became even angrier.
It’s damp and thin!
The original plot contains very little description of the villain, but there was a narrative that mentioned Su Huaijing carrying out some circumstances that led to Li Changfu being dismissed from his official post and investigated. A group of people in the comments section were disgruntled and scolded the villain for having no conscience. No matter how wrong the uncle is, he still fed and raised him for nearly ten years. If it weren’t for Li Changfu, where would he have the chance to bide his time while hiding his capabilities?
Li Changfu is a nasty person as well as a cannon fodder. The readers hoped that he would die, but they wished that he would be killed by the male protagonist. Upon learning that it was the villain who’d be in the spotlight, it was unexpected, and they felt outraged. Rong Tang was quite baffled.
Back then, he wasn’t certain why the main villain would condescend to deal with a little cannon fodder. But ever since Fengyue House, Rong Tang’s only thought was that this man mustn’t be discharged from the blame, even if he died ten thousand times.
Compared with drugging, harsh treatment doesn’t seem to be anything.
——Provided that Rong Tang wasn’t cognisant of the matter when Su Huaijing was a child, he’d readily given Li Changfu a night-luminescent pearl worth ten thousand gold as a remuneration for raising and sheltering him.
It wasn’t mentioned in the original plot, but, all of a sudden, he didn’t dare to think about how much hardship Su Huaijing had to endure in order for the villain to grow up to be increasingly evil and even more broken.
Rong Tang was enraged, and his heart faintly throbbed with pain. He walked around the yard a few times before striding out and asking the servant, “Where is biao young master?”
Say nothing of the Li family servant; even both Shuang Fu and Shuang Shou were alarmed. They looked at each other and exchanged glances.
When had they ever seen their young master look so irate? It resembled a beast whose reversed scales* have been touched or a wolf whose cubs have been stolen—a most intimidating sight.
(*TN: “reversed scales” or “逆鳞” (nì lín) is a term commonly used to describe the scales of a dragon in Chinese mythology and folklore. These scales are believed to be unique and special, often serving as a dragon’s weak point or vulnerable area. The concept of “逆鳞” suggests that harming a dragon’s scales or acting against its wishes or nature would provoke its anger or retaliation.)
Rong Tang coughed a few times, his brows furrowed somewhat, and hints of his irritation leaked out.
He let the servant lead the way to bring Shuang Fu to locate Su Huaijing. Then he asked Shuang Shou to run some errands for him.
Yet, the system—which hadn’t made a sound all this time—inexplicably felt that it seemed to be witnessing the original host again. Audacious, reckless, and full of vigour. Despite being trapped in a shell that can depart this life at any time, it cannot block out his dazzling light.
The host has not said it out loud these days, but really… it’s just too wretched. His soul is locked—zombie-like and feeble.
Even it found it unbearable to continue watching.
In the Shangwen Pavilion of the Li Mansion, the newly hired private tutor was giving a lecture. The servants had arranged two rows of six low tables, and the children of the Li family were listening to the teacher’s lecture. Li Panyan was also sitting among them.
She still feels that sending Su Huaijing to the younger Lord Wukang Bo’s bed was doing him a good turn. Moreover, her father’s attitude towards Su Huaijing has been much better these days. As a matter of course, she assumed that the plan was successful, and as such, the pattern of her getting along with Su Huaijing had more or less returned to normal.
——It seems that what she sent over that day was not a drugged pastry but a platform for carps to leap over the dragon gate*.
(*TN: This references the famous Chinese folklore where carp—a type of fish—swim upstream in the Yellow River against challenges to reach the top of the waterfall called the Dragon Gate. If they are successful, they are said to transform into dragons. This transformation from carp to dragon symbolises success, accomplishment, and personal growth through hard work and overcoming obstacles.)
The teacher was talking about “The Doctrine of the Mean” today. She felt very tedious listening to it, so as she sat on her seat, she drew with a brush, while Su Huaijing knelt on a rush cushion nearby, grinding ink for her.
This dynamic of their interaction had persisted for several years. In the beginning, Li Panyan used the pretext “This way biao ge can attend school with us, and he can also sit for the imperial examination in the future!” to deceive him. Subsequently, she naturally bossed him about without even giving so much as an excuse.
Bi Xin’s teeth itched as she watched from outside the house. How she wished she could walk straight in and stab Li Panyan to death with a poisonous needle. It was better than seeing her master being bullied like this.
Bi Xin’s eyes were red with anger, but she still stared fixedly into the house until there was a burst of noisy footsteps from outside the courtyard. She restrained her expression and turned her head to look.
Outside the moon gate*, a young man with a soft, jade-like face and an aura like the bright moon was surrounded by people. He was wearing a deep red overcoat and a rabbit fur collar. This manner of dressing was not in line with the solar terms, but it made the colourful flowers all around that had bloomed early fade in comparison.
(*TN: Refers to a circular or arched gate, typically found in traditional Chinese gardens and manors.)
Bi Xin watched wide-eyed as he walked impatiently to the end of the corridor and glanced in through the window. At that moment, she actually felt that the fury on this man’s face was several times more intense than her own.
Rong Tang was very mad. Exceptionally mad. Extremely, exceedingly, incomparably mad.
He didn’t care that this place was someone else’s residence. He was an unsolicited guest. He walked straight to the door, shoved it open, and interrupted the teacher’s lecture.
“This prince wasn’t aware that Excellency Li’s family was in such dire straits; even the master has to do the work of grinding the ink!”
He was livid to the point of boiling. Even his tone had increased at the same time. His low body temperature heated up until his face finally gained a little more colour.
Rong Tang walked over to the side of Li Panyan’s table, hauled Su Huaijing to his feet, and stood in front of him to protect him. The movement was quite profound, causing ink to splash onto Li Panyan’s face. She exclaimed softly: “Ah!”
Rong Tang eyed her coldly, then kicked her desk over. Before the teacher could scold him, he preemptively said, “A gentleman’s behaviour is to cultivate one’s character through calmness and one’s virtue through frugality. Sir, you lecture but don’t teach students to study the value of beginning with caution; instead, you have allowed a spirit of ease and enjoyment to pervade the classroom. What is the intention?”
The fifty-year-old gentleman was instantly taken aback by his question. He huffed his beard and glared at him, pointing at him with shaky fingers and sputtering “You-you-you” for a long time without any following response.
Rong Tang was still incensed and said in a low voice, “Our Dayu has inherited the tradition for hundreds of years. Now is a good time when the people are prosperous and powerful. People with lofty ideals hope to study literature and practice martial arts to serve the country in return for being nurtured. Sir is learned and ought to be more than aware that strong young men make a country strong. Yet you turn a blind eye to unfairness, ignore injustice, allow students to bully relatives and friends, forgive students’ frivolity, and privately think that it’s fine if they don’t heed this lecture!”
Having said that, he turned around. Li Panyan had already stood up to glower at him from the side. She was covered in dark ink, and her beautiful face was extremely ugly in Rong Tang’s eyes.
He couldn’t even bother to talk to her and only said coldly, “If Miss Li doesn’t want to use her hands, I don’t mind hacking them off for you.”
Li Panyan’s face paled instantly.
Rong Tang looked around in the study hall at the Li family children who were getting restless and said clearly, “Someone come.”
Four bodyguards rushed in from outside the house. Rong Tang grabbed Su Huaijing’s hand and walked out, his voice cold: “Wreck it for me.”
Bi Xin, who was outside the room, watched the entire incident from beginning to end. Her eyes were redder than before. If it wasn’t because she needed to be mindful of the master’s plan, she would have wanted to storm before Rong Tang and kowtow twice to him.
Casting a profound look at Su Huaijing, Bi Xin wiped her face before presenting a worried and panicked expression as she went into the room to help Li Panyan, hoping in her heart that she would drop dead right away!
Rong Tang clutched Su Huaijing’s hand as he strode towards the Li Mansion garden. He was so furious and distressed that he didn’t say anything for a long time.
Su Huaijing followed him all the way. Occasionally, Rong Tang’s hair drifted in front of his eyes, along with a light blue headband.
He narrowed his eyes.
This is his second time seeing this prince.
The first time, he’d anxiously and distressingly broken into the courtesan’s room in Fengyue House without any warning. After seeing that he was safe and sound, he seemed to have released a sigh but also appeared to be inexplicably angry. He’d taken the initiative to ask a doctor to undo the effects of the drug on him, and then uttered a lot of half-truths and half-falsehoods to trick him into getting engaged.
At first, Su Huaijing merely considered him a variable, so he asked Xingfeng to increase his monitoring of him.
This clinker variable was really a person with poor health. After returning from Fengyue House, he’d been unconscious for three days. It made Su Huaijing ambivalent, and he could not resist questioning what his intentions were.
These few days, he’s been hearing news about him from Xingfeng: The prince told the wang fei that he was taking a wife. The prince had tidied up a side room with the best light in his courtyard. The prince wanted to paint the walls, turning it into a pepper room*, but was stopped. The prince ordered craftsmen to build the most luxurious furniture. The prince almost bought out the books from all the major bookstores in the capital…
(*TN: a pepper-mud mixture painted on the walls to preserve warmth and provide a pleasant aroma.)
He was clearly too weak to even exit the door, but he seemed to be making full preparations for Su Huaijing’s ‘entering the household’.
Su Huaijing couldn’t figure him out, but it didn’t really bother him. After all, based on his plan, Duke Ningxuan’s palace was much better than Wukang Bo’s mansion. If someone personally delivered a springboard, he had no reason not to follow it through.
Just go with the flow.
Today is the second time they’d met. It hadn’t been easy for this ailing person to come out, but he still endured the hardships of the long journey to come and see him. He’d even flown off the handle in a burst of temper. The matters that Su Huaijing himself deemed trivial and had long gotten accustomed to had enraged him so much that he had to smash the whole room in order to assuage his anger.
Li Changfu was a utilitarian; therefore, the teacher he’d hired was naturally not up to par, with mediocre knowledge and poor character. For over half a month, he’d been acting pragmatically to make use of Su Huaijing to his advantage.
Su Huaijing doesn’t take it to heart. He has individualised revenge methods for everyone who has bullied him. In two days, Li Changfu will receive the news that his family was robbed by bandits of their money and goods on their way to the capital. Li Panyan will also be sent to the younger Lord Wukang Bo’s bed by her thirsty-for-gains father.
Qin Pengxuan is lustful and never satisfied with what he has. He may favour and cherish Li Panyan for a period of time. But once the effect of the Peach Blossom Facade wears off, a concubine like her, with no name, no status, and no male offspring to back her, would only live in misery and slog for the rest of her life in an environment like Wukang Bo’s household.
He has a plan for everyone and has anticipated each person’s outcome with a clear mind. Therefore, even if he is targeted or bullied, he can remain calm and not get exasperated.
However, there is someone who obstinately continues to barge in, stands before him honour-bound, protecting him like a little hen protecting her chicks, and kicks up a fuss like a little firecracker, as if he were more enraged than himself. He suddenly found it interesting.
The hand holding his was warm and cold. Even though he was dressed so thickly, he was still so cold. He was squeezing his hand so tightly, but it didn’t warm him up in the least.
Su Huaijing even thought with a playful curiosity that this captivating little prince might be unconscious for three days when he goes back today.
Still, it can be considered that he got so worked up for his sake.
Su Huaijing emitted a light laugh. He flipped his hand, grabbed Rong Tang’s wrist, and touched his pulse with two fingers. He asked in a warm voice, “Why are you so angry? Are you going to marry me and bring me into your household? Why do you care about them?”
A pear blossom tree bloomed within the dilapidated courtyard of Li Mansion. Su Huaijing stood beneath the tree. His tone was clear, light, and gentle as he looked at him and smiled: “Hmm? Husband?”
The author has something to say:
Tangtang, your husband is so aggressive! ! ! Be a tad wary!