TIGR Chapter 6
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 6 Greengage
Wang Yanqing raised her eyebrow when she heard the two words “Second Brother”. She looked like a drowning man without anyone to rely on, who grabbed a piece of driftwood but always felt that this driftwood really was not the way to get back to shore. Lu Heng sat beside the bed which put them extremely close to each other now. Wang Yanqing stared into his eyes and hesitantly repeated: “Second Brother?”
“Yeah.” Lu Heng’s eyes were as gentle and clear as a lake. As if her hesitation deeply hurt him, “you don’t even remember me?”
Lu Heng’s expression was so sincere, that Wang Yanqing was somewhat ashamed facing this kind of emotion at such a close range: “No, Second Brother, I just…”
Lu Heng covered Wang Yanqing’s hand, he tightened his lean yet powerful palm, silently and firmly holding Wang Yanqing: “It’s okay, you don’t need to explain. I already heard about your condition. Amnesia is not your fault. You are wary of everyone, and this is normal, how could I blame you?”
The hollow of his palm was warm and solid, making people unconsciously want to depend on him. Since Wang Yanqing had woken up, her blank and panic-stricken heart seemed to have found an anchor. She unconsciously leaned towards him: “Second Brother…”
Lu Heng wore a smile and gently stroked her hair. He arranged her hair on the side of her face and said with relief: “You will be okay. It was because of my carelessness. I did not protect you well enough which caused you to be ambushed and lose your memory.”
Wang Yanqing heard this and asked: “That’s what happened?”
“It’s a long story.” Lu Heng’s fingers slid from the side of her face, finally landing on the back of Wang Yanqing’s hand. His hand was much larger than hers and when their hands were drawn together, he easily encircled her delicate jade hands. He casually caressed the inside of her wrist and asked: “Do you still remember your name?”
Wang Yanqing shook her head and Lu Heng said: “It’s okay, I remember it all, I will tell you our story.” My name is Lu Heng, right now I lead the Imperial Guards, temporarily acting as the Commander. Your name is Wang Yanqing, you are the daughter of the military Wang family in the Datong Prefecture. When you were seven years old, your father, Wang Cong, died in battle. In the same year, on the tenth day of the fifth month, your grandmother, Li Shi, died of illness and you became an orphan. Your ancestral land was invaded by your relatives, but they did not want to take you in. At that time, my father was in the Datong district directing the battle, unable to stand what was happening, he took you back to the Lu family. You came to the Lu family when I was twelve years old. You and I always knew each other, like ‘greengages and bamboo horses’, not as brother and sister, more than that.
|| ‘Greengages and bamboo horses’ is a Chinese idiom that represents the innocent playfulness of children. It translates to childhood sweetheart, and the title of this chapter refers to this idiom.
I rank second in the family, so you also followed them and call me, Second Brother.”
Lu Heng’s voice was soft and tranquil and carried a feeling of nostalgia that even Ling Xi and Ling Luan believed to be true. The highest level of lying was telling the truth. Wang Yanqing’s life experiences were real, Lu Song’s military position was also real, but the Northwest defense was so long that he could not have met Wang Cong at all, so why adopt an orphan from the Wang family?
Moreover, a decent day for the Imperial Guards would require their knives to taste a lick of blood. Lu Song’s wealth was mediocre, but he was cautious. He would never bring a stranger’s daughter back to the Lu family for no reason. However, Lu Song was dead and Wang Yanqing did not know this. She was touched by Lu Heng’s words and felt some vague and muddled sensations in the depths of her mind.
She did not see the slightest hint of a lie on Lu Heng’s face and was confirmed by her own feelings of sadness and gratitude. Wang Yanqing then had no doubt and immediately accepted that this was her second brother: “Second Brother, then why do I have amnesia?”
Lu Heng sighed, a look of guilt appeared in his eyes, and he said: “It was because I was no good. Recently, because I took charge of the situation with the South Cheng troops, I had some conflicts with the nobility. Those people were bold and reckless, and they actually set up an ambush during your route to give incense. That day I was in South Fusi and I did not accompany you. I didn’t expect…
Lu Heng paused and pursed his thin lips lightly. His eyes were deep as if he blamed himself. In turn, Wang Yanqing comforted Lu Heng and said: “Second Brother, don’t blame yourself. There are a thousand days to be a thief but for a thousand days, you could not protect against a thief. They deliberately schemed, and they would have found an opportunity. Am I not fine?”
Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing and smiled, his amber eyes narrowed slightly, becoming more and more like a glass of wine, leisurely enticing: “Yes, fortunately, you are okay.”
After Wang Yanqing discovered that she had been in a coma, the only people she saw beside Lu Heng were maids. Wang Yanqing’s heart grew nervous, and she tentatively asked: “Second Brother, why didn’t anyone else come to see me? Did I cause trouble inside the Mansion?”
Everybody in the capital said that Lu Heng had a black heart and black hands that would suffer retribution in the future. Lu Heng knew how people cursed him in the streets, but he did not in the least care. He still continued in his own way, forcing confessions and framing people at will. When he was lying to Wang Yanqing, his eyes did not waver at all from the beginning to the end, but at this moment, hearing Wang Yanqing’s words, even a heartless person like him felt bad.
She did not even remember her own name, but instinctively looked for favor in the Mansion’s mistress. How did the Fu family treat her all these years, that a seventeen-year-old girl had to live so cautiously?
Lu Heng squeezed her hand and used his actions to embolden her: “This year, my father passed away, and my older brother and mother both went to our ancestral home to observe mourning. Originally, I was also going to go, but the emperor took my situation and ordered that I did not need to observe mourning. I would remain in the capital and continue to work, so you and I both stayed. Now there are only two of us in the Lu Mansion. I am often away from home. If there is anything, you can make your own decisions. You don’t need to worry.”
This was the truth, but Lu Heng concealed part of it. Lu Song passed away in the eighth month this year, but Fu Yue died in the second month. The times did not match. Moreover, the rest of the Lu family did not just return to Anlu for mourning, but more to stay away from disaster.
After all, the Commander of the Imperial Guard was an under-the-table job. Fu Tingzhou’s family members were all retaliated against, not to even imagine what could happen to the Lu family. Taking advantage of the emperor’s trust, the Lu family left without delay, otherwise, they would not have been able to go.
Wang Yanqing could not remember what happened previously, but she felt deep inside that an elder very important to her passed away this year. Lu Heng said that his father died this year, and again, the times seemed to match up. Wang Yanqing let go of her last thread of doubts and held no grudges against Lu Heng.
When Wang Yanqing heard that there was no mistress inside the Mansion, the expression on her face unconsciously relaxed a little and her mood also became more comfortable: “Auntie and the Elder Brother went home to observe mourning, it’s a shame that I am not able to attend to them, left and right.”
“You are not a maid. My mother does not lack people beside her.” As Lu Heng spoke, he glanced at Wang Yanqing with a sneaky smile, “I stayed behind in the capital alone, but you are only thinking of accompanying Auntie, not your Second Brother?”
Wang Yanqing blushed at his words and thought to herself, when did Second Brother become so smooth-talking. She was slightly startled, thinking this intention was odd, but when she recalled carefully, the person in her mind was fuzzy from beginning to end, it seemed that he was Lu Heng and like this.
Wang Yanqing was somewhat uneasy, the place held by Lu Heng seemed to be burning up. She tilted her head which pulled her hair, avoided the question, and changed the topic: “Second Brother, who did you offend, are you in danger?”
Even though she lost her memory, she still worried about him. Lu Heng found that the feeling of raising a younger sister was nice. He smiled softly and said: “It’s not that I offend people, but rather, they offend me. If you gave them ten more nerves, they would not dare ambush me. Your accident was truly unexpected. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again.”
Since Lu Heng came in, he had always carried a gentle smile on his face, showing every possible consideration. Wang Yanqing felt that he had a good-natured temper until this moment when he spoke those words wearing a smile, though the edge in his eyes could chop people up into pieces. Only then did Wang Yanqing realize that Lu Heng did not seem to be the good-natured type she thought he was.
An indescribable feeling came into Wang Yanqing’s heart, Second Brother was cruel to others, but he had been gentle with her. She did not remember anything after she woke up, only that she had a Second Brother and that he was the most important person in her life. Now that she had seen Lu Heng’s attitude towards her with her own eyes, Wang Yanqing’s heart became more and more moved. She promised herself then, that she would treat Second Brother as best as she could.
Wang Yanqing held onto this thought and asked: “Second Brother, who plotted against you?”
Sometime while Wang Yanqing and Lu Heng were talking, Ling Xi, Ling Luan, and the other maids retreated outside the screen. Hearing Wang Yanqing’s words, the room fell silent for a moment. Then Lu Heng’s steady voice rung out: “The Zhenyuan Marquis, Fu Tingzhou.”
Wang Yanqing slightly tilted her head and carefully thought about this person, but her mind was still blank. Lu Heng stared at Wang Yanqing’s eyes, and after pausing for a long moment, he unhurriedly asked: “Why, do you remember something about him?”
Wang Yanqing shook her head, her eyes were clear and innocent: “I can’t remember anything.”
Lu Heng watched Wang Yanqing and thought to himself, what man could resist such pure eyes? Watching Wang Yanqing, he felt tickled and had the strong urge to touch her face, which he did: “You don’t need to worry, that fool won’t get another chance.”
His fingers were a little rough and Wang Yanqing felt tickled. Smiling, she moved away, caught his hand, and said: “Second Brother, don’t make trouble.”
Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing’s glossy and shiny eyes and smiled softly.
That blockhead, Fu Tingzhou, really won’t get another chance.
After Lu Heng sat with Wang Yanqing, he felt refreshed and in a good mood. He let go of Wang Yanqing’s hand, smiling, and pulled a blanket over her. He got up and said: “There are still matters to be dealt with in South Fusi. I will leave first, then come back to accompany you tonight. If you feel uncomfortable, just call the doctor. Take care of yourself, okay?”
When Wang Yanqing saw Second Brother’s thoughtfulness, her heart fell back into place, no longer as helpless as when she woke up. She nodded, eagerly looked after Lu Heng, and said: “Second Brother, don’t worry, you can go, I will be fine.”
Lu Heng said a few more things before exiting past the curtain. After he left Wang Yanqing’s courtyard, the smile on his face rapidly faded and his eyes flashed ice-cold with a hunter-like glint.
Footman quickly followed behind Lu Heng, held up their hands, and greeted: “Commander.”
Lu Heng’s face remained unchanged, and he said faintly: “Go investigate what Wang Yanqing has done in the past few years, where she has gone, what she has said, and report it all.”
The Imperial Guards did intelligence work. Every day, countless secrets passed through Lu Heng’s hands. They knew which servant the king at the border of the earth slept with, they knew it all, not to mention, the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion’s one adopted daughter.
After Lu Heng finished his explanation, he strode out. The gatekeeper had already prepared his horse. Lu Heng mounted and neatly held the reins. He snorted and the corner of his lip rose into an ambiguous smile.
This was getting more and more interesting. Fu Tingzhou, the game has just begun.
|| Translator’s Note: If you are wondering what a greengage is, think a green apple crossed with a plum. Does anyone know if it tastes good?