TIGR Chapter 1
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 1 Ten Years
In the eleventh year of Jiajing, the winter snow covered the capital early. It snowed all yesterday, and this morning the world was white, the ground covered in silver frost.
The servants of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion got up early to sweep the snow, their brooms scraping on the ground, making rhythmic “clusters” in the otherwise quiet courtyard.
Two maids dressed with double buns were walking down the corridor in small quick steps holding soup cups in their hands. These two maids were different from the ones that were sweeping the floor. They were the Marquis’ handmaids, they did not need to perform laborious work, they wore bright clothes, and had the luxury of high hairstyles. If they received favor, they could even wear jewelry. They lived more delicate lives than ordinary ladies.
Thus, wherever these maids went, they held their heads high with an air of dignity. The maid in the red coat and skirt lowered her voice and quietly said to her companion: “Have you heard, the wedding between the Marquis and the third miss of the Yongping Mansion has been settled for after the Old Marquis’ mourning period. Tomorrow will be the start of spring and the roads will be clear.”
The maid in the lake green vest beside her scoffed: “Isn’t this how it should be? The Marquis was only twenty years old when he inherited the title. He has both civil and military skills as well as a dignified appearance. After he was appreciated by the Marquis of Wuding, certainly Madam Marquis would want him to marry a lady from an influential family. The third miss of the Yongping Mansion is the niece of the Marquis of Wuding. The Marquises will do business again. When the Fu and Hong family marry, to everyone’s delight, they will cement old ties with marriage.”
The maid who had spoken earlier listened and pouted while walking to the Northwest courtyard: “If Marquis and Yongping’s third miss marry… what will happen to that one?”
The maid with the lake green vest glanced forward and said ambiguously: “We will have to wait and see how things take shape. She is just the daughter of an ordinary military household that no longer holds a family. The Old Marquis took her into the Mansion to repay her father’s kindness for blocking arrows from the Old Marquis on the battlefield. She should be satisfied that she can enjoy ten years of wealth in the Marquis Mansion. The Old Marquis must have been mistaken, to go as far as to let her marry the Marquis. The Old Marquis just spoke without substance. Does she really think of herself as the Lady Marquis?”
The maid in the red dress sighed as she listened: “She has lived in the Marquis Mansion for ten years, and she has been beside the Marquis from the age of seven to seventeen. A woman has several decades in her life, and she is already so old, what can she really say after the marriage.”
The maid in the lake green dress was a little unhappy for some reason, she pursed her lips and said: “And yet the Marquis can still watch her marry another man? Don’t pity her, her life is better than ours, maybe we will have to call her mistress in the future.”
“Shh!” The maid in the red dress hurriedly reminded her companion and motioned her to stop talking. A maid in a blue satin coat came out of the main room carrying a curtain, and they suddenly came face to face. The maid in the blue coat had an indifferent expression on her face, and asked: “It’s cold today, why did you girls come here so early?”
The maid with the red skirt secretly pinched her companion, and quickly put a smile on her face: “Fei Cui sister. Good morning. Yesterday it snowed and the Old Madam was worried that the Miss would catch a cold, so she specifically asked the kitchen to boil some goat milk’s soup and had us bring it to Miss Wang.”
Fei Cui glanced at the smiling face of the maid in the red dress, and as if she hadn’t heard what she had just said, she stepped aside and said: “Thank you for your hard work. Please come inside.”
The maid in the red dress kept smiling, knowing that she had caused trouble. The maid in the lake green vest lowered her head and quietly went inside to pay respect. No matter how arrogant she was, she knew that she was a benefactor of the Fu family regardless of her origin. She grew up with the Marquis, only as a childhood sweetheart, and she was afraid that she couldn’t even compare with Lady Marquis in the future. The third miss of the Yongping Marquis Mansion was well-off. After entering the mansion, she may not be able to compete with her.
Although it was not stated clearly, everyone in the Fu family of Zhenyuan tacitly agreed that Wang Yanqing could stay. The Marquis was superb, and his head lady had to be an appropriate match in merit and nobility. But after all, Wang Yanqing had been with him for many years, so it was also okay for her to stay and be a noble concubine.
After the two of them entered the door, they did not dare look up. They vaguely caught a glimpse of a silhouette behind the Duobao Pavilion, and immediately bent down to pay their respect to Wang Yanqing: “This servant pays respect to Miss. Miss is blessed.”
After a while, a light voice sounded: “Get up.”
Her voice was very distinct. Not the crisp silver bells that the elders liked best, nor the charming and gentle ones that men liked. It was like the snow outside, clear, desolate, and undeniably calm. After hearing it once, you would never forget it.
The two maids expressed their thanks and left slowly. The maid in the lake green dress took the opportunity to sneak a glance. A woman sat sideways on the Arhat bed, her shoulders were sharp enough to cut, her waist looked like raw silk, her neck was fine, and her legs were placed on a pedestal, which made her look particularly slender. Her face was turned sideways, highlighting her superior bones, the bridge of her straight nose, her naturally white complexion, and the curve of her lower jaw into a straight line, clean and cold.
This kind of appearance was not something that any cosmetics could pile up. No wonder the Marquis liked her. The maid with the lake green dress felt disheartened, and after forcing out a kind farewell, she quickly retreated.
After the two maids left, Fei Cui’s anger could no longer be contained, and she said angrily: “These maids are really out of control! How dare those maids talk about Miss behind her back, I have to tell the Marquis and beat them!”
“They are just small maids, and they can’t leave. What’s the use of hitting them?” Wang Yanqing put down the soup spoon and wiped her hands on a handkerchief. There seemed to be a smile on her mouth: “It was the Old Madam who wanted me to hear those words. If you can handle the maid by the hand of Second Brother, can you handle the Old Madam?”
Fei Cui was silent for a while, then looked at Wang Yanqing, opened and closed her mouth. Finally, she couldn’t bear it: “Miss…”
Wang Yanqing lowered her eyes, her eyes were as calm as a lake of ice, without the slightest movement. Filial piety is too big a word, after all, family members were all just one family. Besides, Fu Tingzhou didn’t really know, right?
Old Madam could wield the power of his parents and matchmake for Fu Tingzhou, and if a wedding was decided, Fu Tingzhou would only be able to nod. She heard that the Hong’s third miss was the niece of the Marquis of Wuding. By marrying her, they would be one step closer to the Marquis of Wuding. Fu Tingzhou was very smart, of course, he knew how to choose.
Wang Yanqing placed the handkerchief on the side table and sighed softly: “The family is well-matched in status with capable, talented, and beautiful women. This is a good thing. I should congratulate Second Brother.”
Everything Fei Cai held in for the past month burst out, and tears fell: “But, Miss, you were the only one chosen as the granddaughter-in-law by the Old Marquis. You have waited for the Marquis for ten years, ten years! If the Marquis wanted to train in the military, regardless of the female precepts, you learned to ride horses and shoot arrows. If the Marquis wanted to lead the army, you dressed up as a man and accompanied him in the barracks, tumbling and crawling. How many scars has that left on your body over the years? Until now, only their families match, will that erase ten years of your dedication?”
Fei Cui wiped her tears away while protesting, as Wang Yanqing sat indifferently like an outsider. Fei Cui felt wronged that it turned out this way. How did Wang Yanqing, the rightful person, really not care?
Ten years of her youth. Since she was seven years old and taken into the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion, she only had Fu Tingzhou in her life.
It is now the eleventh year of Jiajing, the eleventh year since the twelfth emperor of the Ming Dynasty was appointed to the capital. There was a clear distinction between government and military officials, and between the scholars and nobles in the Ming Dynasty. Government officials were all obtained through the imperial examinations, so the next generation was not good at studying. If they fell, all the government officials would be lost. But military officials were inherited. For example, the Wuding Marquis Mansion and the Yongping Marquis Mansion, their ancestors oversaw the army for several generations, and they have been in the capital longer than today’s emperors.
The Fu family made its fortune in recent years, but their ancestors were also military officers. They made military achievements in the generation of Fu Tingzhou’s grandfather, Fu Yue, and were awarded the title of the Marquis of Zhenyuan by the former emperor Zhengde. For this reason, the Fu family always fell short in front of older families in the capital, such as the Marquis of Yongping and the Marquis of Wuding.
However, no matter how shallow the Fu family was, it had nothing to do with Wang Yanqing. Originally, according to her status, she would have never been able to access these generals and nobles in her life.
Military status had been passed down from generation to generation and it was the same for soldiers. A soldier and a non-commissioned officer, however, were as different as night is from the day. Wang Yanqing’s ancestral home was in the Datong Prefecture, and she lived in a military household. The males of the Wang family were born to be soldiers. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all died in battle from Datong to Mongolia.
In the twelfth year of Zhengde, the Marquis of Zhenyuan, Fu Yue, was transferred to Datong as the commander-in-chief. Wang Yanqing’s father, Wang Cong, was gradually appreciated by Fu Yue because of his agility and courage. In an attack, Wang Cong died in battle blocking Fu Yue from arrows.
After they defeated the Mongols, Fu Yue’s military merits led him to be transferred to the capital. Because of his military service, Fu Yue was really fond of Wang Cong who died for him. Fu Yue was deeply hurt after the event, and he sent someone to Wang Cong’s hometown to comfort Wang Cong’s widow.
However, he didn’t know until he got there that during the years Wang Cong had left home: His wife, Shen Lan, died of postpartum physical deficiency. To support her granddaughter, her mother, Li, went down to the farm at an old age. She fell and died of illness in the early spring. There was only one seven-year-old girl left in the family — Wang Yanqing.
At the border, there were many orphans like Wang Yanqing, but when the situation stood right in front of Fu Yue’s eyes, he couldn’t ignore it. After his men returned to the capital and Fu Yue provided his debriefing, Fu Yue pondered for a while and decided to adopt Wang Yanqing.
By means of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion, it was not a problem to raise a little girl. But if he didn’t step in, this child would die out there.
When Wang Yanqing was seven years old, her fate changed drastically. She lost her last relative that year. With the help of her neighbors, she finished the funeral arrangements for her grandmother. After that, their ancestral land was occupied by distant relatives, but regarding who would adopt Wang Yanqing, the topic was kicked around like a ball, and no one was willing to take responsibility.
A group of strange people came to see her, and after a while, the group came back and brought more wealth and manpower. They put incense on Wang Cong’s grave and said that they would take Wang Yanqing to Beijing.
The faces of the relatives suddenly changed. All the surrounding eight townships knew that there was blue smoke coming from the ancestral tomb of the Wang family. Wang Cong was appreciated by the nobles, and Wang Yanqing was going to the city to enjoy his blessings. The villagers didn’t know who the Marquis of Zhenyuan was, they only knew that he was a very high official in charge of all the troops in the Datong Prefecture. The cruel uncles and aunts turned deceptive one after another, scrambling to rob Wang Yanqing, cheat her of her status and send their own daughters in.
|| The “blue smoke” refers to luck and good fortune.
Although Wang Yanqing was only seven years old, her life had long taught her that relationships changed like the temperature and that she needed to weigh up words and observe their expressions. She didn’t leave a penny for those so-called relatives, and silently followed Fu Yue’s troops to Beijing, where she knew nothing.
At that time, she didn’t know what kind of world she was going to enter. She knew that in this world there were poor and rich people, officials and farmers, but she didn’t expect that the class gap would be so large.
After entering the Xuanwu Gate to Beijing, everything along the way was prosperous and bustling, things she hadn’t dared to imagine. She giddily followed along with the carriage turning left and right, until finally, they drove into a mighty and powerful residence.
When Wang Yanqing got out of the car, she was so frightened by the scene in front of her that she didn’t dare say a word or take a step. A great family, not arrogant from prestige. The attendants bowed and walked around. All the sweeping women were dressed better than the village chief’s family. Is this where she will live next?
When Wang Yanqing was at a loss, a young man’s voice suddenly came from behind her: “Who is this?”
She turned her head and saw a proper young man, about ten years old, already slender and tall, with a dignified appearance. The person beside her switched attitudes and said flatteringly: “Second young master, this is the orphan girl adopted by the Marquis.”
The young man carefully stared at her for a while, then he finally appeared to come to his senses, and asked: “What’s your name?”
“To the Second young master, her name is Wang…”
“I didn’t ask you.” The young man shot an indifferent glance at the servant, and raised his chin to Wang Yanqing: “Let her speak.”
Although he hadn’t been introduced yet, Wang Yanqing already understood the situation. She bowed her head and obediently replied: “To the Second young master, my name is Wang Yanqing.”
It seemed that it was rare for the young man to meet a peer, so he personally took her to see the Marquis of Zhenyuan. Later, Wang Yanqing learned that the young man who led her was Fu Yue’s grandson, Fu Tingzhou. Although everyone called him the Second young master, he was the only living male among the grandchildren, and everyone recognized him as the crown prince. The Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion was so lively that day because it happened to be Fu Tingzhou’s birthday.
Later, Fu Tingzhou joked that Wang Yanqing was a birthday gift from the heavens. It just so happened that he was in a bad mood and came out to relax. When he turned around, he saw Wang Yanqing.
Fu Yue was very happy to meet Wang Yanqing. Wang Cong was about the same age as Fu Yue’s son, and he was clever and likable. In his heart, he had always regarded Wang Cong as his child. Unexpectedly, Wang Cong’s daughter was so purely cute, and not as naughty as Wang Cong.
Fu Yue had been in the military all his life, enforcing with harshness and speed. His voice could be heard outside the camp when he trained soldiers. When he first saw such a soft little girl, his heart thawed. It happened to be that Wang Yanqing was about the same age as Fu Tingzhou, so Fu Yue put the two children by his side and raised them himself.
Regarding this, there was actually another matter. Fu Yue had been fighting year-round away from home, and he had not returned for several years. Fu Yue’s son, Fu Chang, was spoiled by his old wife. Later, he moved to the capital and became the son of the Marquis. Slowly, he got himself into a bad situation.
After Fu Yue was transferred back from Datong to the capital, he saw his son playing around with women and gambling, and he flew into a terrible rage. But at that time Fu Chang was almost thirty years old. What kind of transformation did he expect? Fu Yue yelled and cursed, but he couldn’t fix anything, so he simply ignored it. He concentrated on raising his grandson instead.
It had been getting difficult for him to fight these years, but he couldn’t hand over the huge family business to a family of losers. Fortunately, Fu Tingzhou was still young, and there was still time to teach him.
It was at this time that Wang Yanqing came to the Fu house. Fu Yue let Fu Tingzhou and Wang Yanqing grow up as siblings and personally taught them to read, study and practice martial arts. In his spare time, he took Fu Tingzhou to visit his colleagues and comrades, who were not soft-hearted at all. Wang Yanqing knew her position very well. She was the daughter of Fu Yue’s subordinate, and she differed greatly from the Fu family. Fu Yue helped her constantly and kindly raised her beside him, but she understood that Fu Yue was teaching his grandson, she was just secondary.
Therefore, Wang Yanqing studied very seriously, she learned whatever Fu Tingzhou learned, and never complained. When Fu Tingzhou went to the military grounds to practice martial arts, the maids would say that Wang Yanqing was a young girl, there was no need to suffer these activities, but Wang Yanqing persisted without saying a word.
The Wang family was a military family and had served in the army for several generations, so marriages were difficult. They often married within their small circle of military families. Wang Yanqing’s grandmother and mother were all daughters of military families. The Datong Mansion was one of the nine important border towns guarding the capital that fought with the Mongols year-round. The people were fierce, regardless of whether it was men, women, or children. One moment they could be plowing with their hoe, and the next raising a knife to fight, even the daughters carried bravery and strength in their blood.
Wang Yanqing grew up among turmoil, and was far more mature than her peers, she endured the hard physical work that the noblewomen in the capital saw. In the first few years, it was to please Fu Yue, then in the later years, it was for Fu Tingzhou.
Fu Tingzhou inherited his grandfather’s abilities. He was tall and strong, with sharp eyebrows and starry eyes, determined and unwavering, and because he was born in the capital, he was more intelligent and keener than Fu Yue. Even in the Noble Circle of Tibetan Dragons and Tigers, Fu Tingzhou was praised by everyone as a “talented field commander”. Fu Yue was very satisfied with his grandson. At the same time, to take care of his subordinate’s orphaned daughter, he once privately said that he would let Wang Yanqing marry Fu Tingzhou.
Fu Yue didn’t just say this to repay the kindness. As Wang Yanqing grew up, she became more and more beautiful, she was empathetic, smart, and sensible. She could bend bows and shoot arrows, read and write. Was this not better than those delicate and timid noble daughters? Fu Yue saw with his own eyes how the two children had grown from little peas to full-fledged young individuals, and he clearly knew whether or not they were suitable for each other.
Fu Yue left two commands before he died. One was to bypass Fu Chang and pass the Marquis position directly to Fu Tingzhou, and the other was to allow Fu Tingzhou to complete the marriage as soon as possible without waiting for the mourning period.
In fact, anyone with a discerning eye could see that Fu Yue’s second article referred to Wang Yanqing. But after Fu Yue was buried, Fu Chang and his wife changed their minds. They pretended not to know what Fu Yue meant and told Fu Tingzhou about their plans for marriage with great fanfare.
Fu Yue said that there was no need to observe the mourning period, but his children and grandchildren couldn’t overstep tradition. Fu Tingzhou was still not allowed to feast, have fun, or indulge in marriage during this year. They couldn’t settle a marriage, but secretly, Fu Chang and his wife scouted around, finally taking a fancy to the Yongping Marquis Mansion who had just returned to Beijing for debriefing.
The Marquis of Yongping was previously stationed in western Sichuan and had not decided upon a family for his third daughter’s husband, the two families hit it off immediately. Fu Tingzhou secretly went to the Yongping Marquis Mansion and when he came back, he agreed. The third miss of the Marquis of Yongping was overjoyed to have a good-standing husband. The Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion arranged a social connection with honor and nobility while the Marquis of Wuding gained a talented field commander. Everyone was very happy, except for Wang Yanqing.
Fu Tingzhou wanted to marry the Yongping Marquis’ daughter, what about her?
Since the death of the old marquis, Fu Yue, Wang Yanqing’s position in the Fu family became awkward. Now that the Marquis Mansion had openly arranged for Fu Tingzhou, she didn’t even want to engage in small work. These gossiping maids were merely trivial compared to the overarching situation.
Fei Cui complained for the Miss, but after she finished crying, she really didn’t know what to do. Wang Yanqing’s grandfather and father both died in battle. She had no brothers. As soon as the old master died, she had no one to support her. What more, even if the Wang family had uncles, what right did they have to speak in front of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion?
To put it bluntly, because of Wang Yanqing’s status, she could only serve as a concubine in the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion, everything was based on social background.
Fei Cui sat sniffling as Wang Yanqing remained silent, sitting quietly like a painting. Fei Cui’s heart was unsettled, and she left the room looking for justification.
Wang Yanqing sat alone in the room, reading books, learning calligraphy, and studying military tactics as she had done countless days before. She didn’t know how long she was sitting there before a gust of wind brushed the door and a shadow sat down in front of her, naturally taking away the item in her hands: “<The Book of Tiger Seals>? It’s already the end of the year, and you are still reading this?”
Wang Yanqing tightened her fingers, she raised her head and tried to face him with an unblemished smile: “Second Brother.”
|| Translator’s Note: Hi Yall! I just joined the justforfuntrans team and this is my first book. Please let me know if there was anything I missed. Thanks for reading the first chapter! I hope you are as excited as I am for the next chapters.
|| Also, for the first 100 amazing people here, clarification: The “Marquis of Wuding” is a separate and important Marquis in the Imperial Court who Fu Tingzhou will gain a direct connection to after the marriage with Yongping. Spoiler, he is also called Guo Xun. Hope that helped!