TIGR Chapter 2
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 2 Qing Qing
When Fu Yue first brought Wang Yanqing into the mansion, he didn’t think about marriage and let Fu Tingzhou and Wang Yanqing grow up together. As the two children got older, Fu Yue saw them become more and more pleasing to the eye, which set his mind in a certain direction. However, Wang Yanqing’s habit of calling Fu Tingzhou, Second Brother, remained.
Both of their family names were different. No one really regarded Wang Yanqing as the miss of the Fu family, and Fu Tingzhou didn’t treat her as his younger sister. The two of them had been together for ten years. Together they were scolded by Fu Yue and together they struggled through the military grounds. When Fu Tingzhou caused trouble, Wang Yanqing would watch the door behind him. When Fu Tingzhou sat in detention, Wang Yanqing would sneak him food. Wang Yanqing could even forge Fu Tingzhou’s voice. For Fu Tingzhou, their relationship was far closer than those of the other Fu brothers and sisters.
After all, Fu Tingzhou was Fu Yue’s only blood grandson. If Fu Tingzhou was unwilling, Fu Yue would not have thought of letting Wang Yanqing stay in the Fu family. Fu Yue saw that Fu Tingzhou did not reject Wang Yanqing, and was even very close to her, so he made the decision for his grandson and settled the matter.
Fu Yue taught his grandson so well that Fu Tingzhou resembled and even surpassed his ancestors. Fu Tingzhou even dared to overturn matters that Fu Yue had decided.
Fu Tingzhou flipped through the book in his hand before casually putting it down, and asked: “Why are you reading this? You didn’t like Song’s books before.”
Wang Yanqing smiled and said: “I have nothing to do, so I am just flipping through it.”
There wasn’t anything she liked or disliked, it was Fu Tingzhou who didn’t like things.
She had been in the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion for ten years and had almost no hobbies of her own. Whatever Fu Tingzhou read, she would read, whatever new thing Fu Tingzhou picked up, she would learn. Fu Tingzhou was her whole life. Now that Fu Tingzhou was about to marry someone else, a huge chunk of Wang Yanqing’s heart was empty. She didn’t pay attention when she took the book, and she ended up choosing this one.
Fu Tingzhou stared into Wang Yanqing’s eyes and didn’t continue to ask, but instead said: “It’s cold this winter. Does your leg still hurt?”
People who practice martial arts all have pains. Wang Yanqing once fell off a horse to save Fu Tingzhou. Since then, the problem with her leg remained, and as soon as the weather turns gloomy and cold, her leg starts hurting. Wang Yanqing shook her head and said: “It’s okay. It’s been so many years, I’ve already healed.”
Fu Tingzhou reached out his hand to touch Wang Yanqing’s leg out of habit. Wang Yanqing got up to pour tea, taking the opportunity to avoid the situation. Fu Tingzhou’s hand stopped in mid-air for a moment, and without batting an eye, he withdrew it silently. He looked at Wang Yanqing for a while, and said: “How can you do things like serve tea and water? I haven’t seen you for a few days, and now you’re awkward with your Second Brother?”
Fu Tingzhou’s words sounded ordinary, but in fact, they carried more meaning. After Fu Tingzhou grew up, he rarely called himself Second Brother. He wasn’t Wang Yanqing’s older brother, so what was the use in repeating that? Every time he used his old name, he was upset.
Wang Yanqing lowered her eyes, and after a while, she said: “How can that be. Second Brother is the most confident in his affairs. Of course, I can trust Second Brother.”
Wang Yanqing looked gentle and agreeable as if avoiding him just now was an accident. Fu Tingzhou’s anger gradually subsided. He thought about the fact that Wang Yanqing had lived in the Fu house for ten years, he could hold back a little longer. Besides, she would be jealous, which showed that she had him in her heart.
Fu Tingzhou’s remaining anger dissipated. He held Wang Yanqing’s wrist and pulled her to sit down. Wang Yanqing didn’t hide this time and sat meekly beside Fu Tingzhou. Fu Tingzhou felt the white satin-like skin on her palm, gentled his tone, and asked: “I am busy with court affairs these days, and I didn’t have time to come see you. Did anyone come here to talk to you?”
Wang Yanqing had been living under another’s roof for ten years, how could she not understand the way of their world. She closed her eyelashes and shook her head softly: “How can that be? The Madam and the Old Madam treat me very well. Whatever the Fu sisters have, I will have as well. I often worry that I haven’t done enough to repay the Old Marquis. How can I believe the nonsense of others?”
Wang Yanqing did not deny the rumors in the Mansion. After all, Fu Tingzhou knew what kind of people his mother and grandmother were, but Wang Yanqing also clearly expressed her attitude. Fu Tingzhou was very satisfied with her decency and intelligence.
Every family had difficulties to bear and the Fu family was no exception. The Madam and the Old Madam in Wang Yanqing’s words, were Fu Tingzhou’s mother and grandmother respectively. Now that Fu Tingzhou was the Marquis of Zhenyuan, his wife would be called the Lady Marquis of Zhenyuan, and the Marquis’s mother would be called Old Madam according to etiquette. This meant that Fu Chang’s wife, Chen Shi, would never be called Lady Marquis, instead, she would immediately become an Old Madam.
The Fu family hierarchy had tall dictating principles which all started from Fu Yue. Fu Yue fought on all borders, gathering fewer soldiers, and leaving more often. There was only one son, Fu Chang under his knees, and he became careless and spoilt. Contrary to what one would expect, Fu Chang had many children. Fu Tingzhou was the second son of Fu Chang’s first wife, and there was also an elder brother before him, but at only the age of five, he fell sick and died, so Fu Tingzhou practically became the eldest grandson of the Fu family.
When Fu Yue was at death’s door, he would rather bypass his son and directly hand the title to his grandson who was barely 20 years old, than let Fu Chang inherit the position of Marquis. His dislike of Fu Cheng was very clear. Fu Yue’s superficial justification for his hatred was that, because of Fu Cheng’s crippled leg, he must not inherit nobility. There was indeed something wrong with Fu Chang’s foot, but it was usually not visible, and the injury was actually originally caused by Fu Yue.
Normally when the father died, the son would take his place. The way the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion passed inheritance was not in accordance to the Ming Dynasty laws, however, Fu Yue was the famous general of the Zhengde Dynasty. He led the army for forty years and made connections all throughout the army. He also had a decent relationship with Guo Xun, the head of the nobles, and he could greet the imperial Ministry of Rites, so the title was settled.
Fu Yue bonded with his grandson’s generation, so he bypassed his old wife, son, and daughter-in-law, and directly handed everything to his grandson. Slowly, the Fu family accumulated many grievances. Fu Tingzhou was a direct bloodline, the Madam and Chen Shi would not do anything to Fu Tingzhou, but Wang Yanqing, who was not related to the Fu family and was extremely favored by Fu Yue, had become a target.
Over the past few years, Chen Shi had gossiped a lot about Wang Yanqing, but before, when Fu Yue was alive, no one dared touch Wang Yanqing. As soon as Fu Yue died, their grievances could no longer be suppressed.
Chen Shi’s grievances were well understood. The old man himself immediately decided and acted upon his own thoughts for the family. Why was she directly ignored in matters regarding her own son’s marriage? She didn’t know where Wang Yanqing, a commoner’s daughter came from, why should she marry her son? In fact, as soon as Fu Yue died, Chen Shi immediately looked for a new bride, threw Wang Yanqing’s face to the ground, and stepped on it.
It’s not that Wang Yanqing was unaware that Chen Shi took out her anger on her. In the past ten years, she had repeatedly tried to please Madam and Chen Shi, but it was useless, and in the end, she had to give up. Although Wang Yanqing was exasperated, she was not worried, because she knew that the Marquis of the Zhenyuan Mansion was previously the Old Marquis, and now it was Fu Tingzhou, which had nothing to do with Fu Chang and his wife.
So, she was calm and unhurried, until Fu Tingzhou suddenly betrayed her, then she was caught off guard.
From the beginning, she thought that it was a mutual feeling that she and Fu Tingzhou were soulmates.
Fu Tingzhou saw that Wang Yanqing had been avoiding his gaze since he came in and knew in his heart that Qing Qing was angry. Fu Tingzhou was three years older than Wang Yanqing and had been in and out of military camps since he was a child. He was used to hearing mature jokes and had long known the situation between men and women.
At ten years old, Wang Yanqing arrived when he was just becoming aware of the relationship between men and women. When he was a child, the two of them took naps in the same room. Wang Yanqing had grown up right in front of him and had become more and more beautiful. From a little girl, she became a young lady with sharp posture and jade bones. If he didn’t have feelings for Wang Yanqing, he would be afraid that something was wrong.
A rash youth could merely marry the woman he liked, however, a marquis had many other things to consider in addition to their feelings.
Nowadays, there had been a lot of uproar in the Imperial Court surrounding the etiquette system, and anyone related to the Yang courtyard had been liquidated one after another, everyone in the court was at risk. However, because of his repeated support for the emperor, the Wuding Marquis, Guo Xun, skyrocketed and prospered in official affairs. He had become the leader of the generals who could withstand the Imperial Cabinet.
The government and military generals were natural enemies. Fu Tingzhou did not have to benefit from both sides. On the Imperial Court, there was no way that both sides would get what they want, they would only die faster.
He needed Guo Xun, and Guo Xun needed him too. It was a win-win situation and expressed through his marriage to the Yongping Marquis Mansion.
The Madam of the Yongping Marquis was Guo Xun’s younger sister. When he marries the Yongping Marquis’ daughter, he would officially join Guo Xun’s party. As for who the daughter of the Yongping Marquis was or what Miss Hong was like… it didn’t matter at all.
As long as it was a living person, it was enough to lift the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion.
Fu Tingzhou admitted that it was unkind of him to do things this way, but the adult world was ugly in reality. Fu Tingzhou slowly stroked a thin callus on Wang Yanqing’s finger and said: “A few days ago, another group of the Yang party was found out by the Imperial Guards. Emperor Long was overjoyed and asked Lu Heng to temporarily take the post of commander and take charge of the affairs of the southern town of Fusi. That man Lu Heng… is a mad dog. There is nothing in the dynasty that he dares not bite, and only the Marquis of Wuding can compete with him. To protect the Marquis Mansion, sometimes I have no choice but to engage in some matters. Qing Qing, do you understand?”
Wang Yanqing’s heart became cold. She knew that there was no way to change this marriage, and she had completely given up.
Wang Yanqing’s fingers were ice cold, and after a while, she whispered: “I understand.”
A smile formed on Fu Tingzhou’s face, he knew that his grandmother and mother would not understand, the maids in the inner house probably could not understand, even Miss Hong herself would not understand, but Wang Yanqing surely understood.
As for whether Wang Yanqing was willing or not, Fu Tingzhou didn’t want to investigate.
At this point, there was no need to discuss Wang Yanqing’s role. Fu Tingzhou knew that he let Qing Qing down but, he was sure. He subconsciously believed that no matter what he did, Wang Yanqing would forgive him and wait for him in the same place forever.
Where else could she go? In the capital, she only knew him, but many outsiders knew her. After all, she was very beautiful and very attractive.
Over the years, people had constantly asked about Wang Yanqing, but they were all stopped by Fu Tingzhou. So much so that they claimed Qing Qing was raised as his younger sister and they just wanted to be his brother-in-law. At the time, Fu Tingzhou was angry to the point of laughter, overestimating their abilities, imagining the impossible, whether Qing Qing was betrothed, what did it matter to them?
After all, Fu Yue understood his grandson. Fu Tingzhou had regarded Wang Yanqing as his private property since he was ten years old. A birthday gift from his grandfather. She appeared in his world on the day when he was in his worst mood, and she would always be his. Others dreamed, thinking they could meddle.
Fu Tingzhou felt that his fingertips, which were as pale as the palm of his hand, were as cold as snow. In his heart, he felt pity, but he rarely violated his own principles, so he comforted her: “Qing Qing, don’t worry, one person in the Mansion won’t affect your position. Ease your mind.”
For a noble’s child, like Fu Tingzhou, a wife was a wife, and a lover was a lover, both were completely different things. After he marries and the third Miss Hong enters the mansion, he would give her the dignity of Lady Marquis and support her in case of trouble, but Wang Yanqing wouldn’t be within reach of Lady Marquis.
He hoped that the third lady would not be stupid enough to meddle with Wang Yanqing. He needed a political banner but did not want to change his state of life at all, especially his relationship with Wang Yanqing.
This time, Wang Yanqing did not have anything else to say. Fu Tingzhou wasn’t worried, Qing Qing was smart, and she would understand. Because he mentioned someone just now, Fu Tingzhou recalled something troublesome. His look turned cold and he said to Wang Yanqing: “Be more careful now, don’t go out if you have nothing to do.”
Wang Yanqing felt that something was amiss with Fu Tingzhou and asked: “What’s wrong?”
Fu Tingzhou sneered, his eyes darkened: “Nothing, a mad dog has just been causing problems.”
To stir up Fu Tingzhou’s mood, Wang Yanqing quickly guessed anything and asked: “Is it the Imperial Guards?”
Fu Tingzhou sighed and admitted: “It’s Lu Heng. Something happened to the south Cheng military division, and he may trouble the Fu family soon.”
It did turn out to be the Imperial Guards. Wang Yanqing immediately understood and stopped asking. It was not wise to say bad things about the Imperial Guards. If he wasn’t in the Mansion and surrounded by his own people, Fu Tingzhou would never have said this.
Although they were both from long generations of military leaders, the nobles and the Imperial Guards ran in two completely different circles. Fu Tingzhou was the son of a high-ranking official in this circle. He was born into a title-holding family, where all the men had served in the army. They had known each other since they were young. As for the Imperial Guards, they oversaw inspection and arrest, in other words, they sued nobles and government officials for shady accounts. The two groups had always been like water and fire.
Nobility was like that. Even if the children might not have mutually known each other, they were enemies since they were born. After that, if one pitted against the other then the other would trouble him. You didn’t need to ask why. The nobles and the Imperial Guards were natural enemies. Although Wang Yanqing had never seen Lu Heng, he had a well-known reputation in Beijing. The common people may not have cared who the Chief Auxiliary or Marquis was, but by no means could they not know the Imperial Guards.
Lu Heng was only 22 years old this year and he had already gained the authority to command, which was really terrifying. He was not the same as Fu Tingzhou, a child of nobility who grew up in the Imperial City. The Lu family originally inherited the Imperial Guards in Anlu, but by the time Lu Heng arrived, it was the sixth generation, and they were already quite powerful. Surprisingly, there were able to engage in a high-risk occupation like the Imperial Guard for six generations without falling out. Clearly, the heavens destined the Lu family so that they would produce capable people.
Lu Heng was a capable man who seemed to be in all the right places at all the right times. Following the heirless Zhengde Emperor, he was there when the Xing Monarch arrived in Beijing to ascend the throne, soaring into the sky.
Speaking of the relationship between Lu Heng and the Emperor, we must first start with the Zhengde emperor. The Jiajing Emperor now was not the heir of the Emperor before, instead, he was a younger cousin because the Zhengde Emperor left no children and had no brothers of his own, the title of emperor fell on Jiajing. The Lu family lived in Anlu for many generations, they managed the city defense and trained soldiers. Later, the Jiajing Emperor’s father, Xingxian Monarch, was sent to Anlu. Lu Heng’s father, Lu Song, was transferred to the Xing Palace as a bodyguard, and Lu Heng’s mother, Fan, also entered the palace as a nursing mother. She raised who was then the Crown Prince and now the Emperor. Lu Heng had been in and out of the royal palace since he was a child because of his family. He and the Crown Prince were partners in crime who played together growing up. Their relationship was like Fu Tingzhou and Wang Yanqing’s.
When he was still young, the Xingxian Monarch died of illness and passed the throne to his son. Two years later, like a pie would fall from the sky, the Emperor title fell to the young Xing Monarch. The Xing Monarch entered Beijing to be proclaimed emperor and changed his name to Jiajing the next year. The Lu family then came to the capital to serve as the emperor’s close guards. Lu Heng’s father had average talents, but Lu Heng was a stubborn and ruthless one. He came to the capital at the age of eleven and had passed the highest imperial military service exam at the age of eighteen. In just four years, he continuously made great achievements and had risen rapidly in official positions. He was twenty-two years old this year, and he was already the acting commander of the Imperial Guards.
Even if he was placed in a high position at his young age, what was even more terrifying was that the Emperor trusted him.
If he was watching Fu Tingzhou, it would be really troublesome.
Thinking of Lu Heng, Fu Tingzhou’s face became gloomy, and his good mood was swept away. Fu Tingzhou patted Wang Yanqing’s hand and said: “I’m just reminding you that there is nothing wrong, so you don’t have to worry. Do you want to go out and relax? You haven’t been out in a long time.”
Wang Yanqing looked at him quietly. Just now, Fu Tingzhou said not to go out if you had nothing to do. Sure enough, in a moment Fu Tingzhou said: “Don’t worry, I will be with you. My mother made an appointment at the Dajue Temple to offer incense together and offer a lamp oil to my grandfather.”
When Wang Yanqing heard the last part and knew she couldn’t refuse. She paused and asked: “Who did the Old Madam make an appointment with?”
Fu Tingzhou’s eyebrows furrowed, he rarely felt embarrassed: “The Yongping Marquis Mansion.”
Wang Yanqing’s heart suddenly felt cold. Since Fu Tingzhou came in, she felt like she was being dunked into an icy lake. Now, she was pushed underwater, incapable of catching her breath.
What was Fu Tingzhou thinking? Did he want her to her meet her future mistress in advance, or did the Yongping Marquis Madam feel uneasy and want to beat the concubine on behalf of her daughter?
Wang Yanqing was quiet for a while, then suddenly pursed her lips into a smile: “Second Brother, it’s rare for you to see Sister-In-Law. Husband and wife will meet each other. What am I going to do, be a pain in the neck?”
Before Wang Yanqing finished speaking, she felt her wrist being painfully pinched. Wang Yanqing’s face grew hard, she didn’t cry out in pain, nor did she yield.
This was the first time that Wang Yanqing had shown such clear displeasure, and Fu Tingzhou was also angered. He brushed off his sleeves, stood up, and said condescendingly: “The day after tomorrow Qing Qing, don’t forget.”
After speaking, he didn’t care if Wang Yanqing’s wrist was seriously injured or not, he turned and left.
The forceful sound of footsteps faded away, and he was so immersed in anger that he didn’t even notice. That day would be Wang Yanqing’s birthday.
Wang Yanqing turned her face and looked out the window at the white snow that was trampled into black ruin, and she suddenly broke down into tears.
The Marquis was obviously displeased when he left. Wang Yanqing didn’t call anyone in for a long time. The maids were silent, and no one dared to enter the house. Wang Yanqing didn’t know how long she had been sitting there, withering and waiting for the tears to dry out until her eyes hurt before she stood up and walked toward the Bisha cabinet.
Practicing martial arts for many years finally proved useful. Wang Yanqing opened the cover without a sound. She calmly wrapped her clothes and broken silver in her bag, and she was so calm that she even scared herself.
Perhaps, she had already rehearsed this situation in her head and practiced it countless times, so now she could do it mechanically without thinking.
At the end of the day, the Fu family was truly kind to her. Without the Fu family, she would not have been able to study or learn martial arts. Her father saved the Old Marquis’ life, and the Old Marquis gave her ten years of stability. That kindness was repaid a long time ago. As for her liking Fu Tingzhou, it was unexpected, but when such a man appeared in her life, strong, heroic, indifferent, and ambitious, how could she not like him? But no matter how much she liked him, she wouldn’t become a concubine.
The relationship between her and Fu Tingzhou had been uncultivated up until this point in time, it was best to let everything stop when things were going so well. At least in the future, looking back from old age, everyone would be young and beautiful.
Wang Yanqing packed her valuables, and when she drew her route and placed the notice down for her family, she hesitated.
Once she took this step, she would never be able to come back. During her time in the capital, she and Fu Tingzhou held feelings for ten years, and there was no way to back out of it.
She didn’t regret it, but she had never reconciled with it. The maid was right. A woman would have multiple decades in her life. She left behind her fine youth in the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion. Now she fled without even seeing the face of her opponent. It was cowardly, really.
She at least wanted to see what the woman who could tempt him looked like.
Wang Yanqing gradually let go and pressed the packed bag into the bottom of the trunk. She was not a weak boudoir miss. She knew very well how to secretly escape from the capital. If she wished, she could even leave now. But she held the last trace of weakness in her heart. She compromised with herself, thinking that if she came back from Dajue Temple and saw the true face of his future wife, she would leave.
Just think of it as her last goodbye to the capital and this weird aristocratic world.