TIGR Chapter 7
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 7 Waiting
After Lu Heng left, the backcourt fell into silence again. Ling Xi and Ling Luan had left for a while and came back carrying a cup of medicine: “Miss, your medicine is here.”
When Wang Yanqing’s line of sight approached them, Ling Xi instinctively felt nervous, but then she remembered what the Commander had instructed and tried to calm down.
Now that Lu Heng had just taken over responsibilities in South Fusi. He had many people to watch inside and outside, he did not have time to idly sit around the residence. Before he left, he spoke to the remaining people in the Mansion. Ling Xi and Ling Luan just finished carefully cooking the medicine, already completing Lu Heng’s assignment.
Among the instructions, one was how to attend to the amnesia-fallen, “raised by the Lu family”, Miss Wang.
Wang Yanqing saw the medicine and did not move. Upon seeing this, Ling Xi promptly explained: “This servant has tried it in advance, this medicine has absolutely no problems. If Miss does not believe it, this servant will try it once more.”
While speaking, Ling Xi asked someone to bring a cup and spoon to try the medicine in front of Wang Yanqing. Wang Yanqing shook her head and extended her hand, saying: “Give me the bowl.”
Ling Xi was surprised: “Miss…”
Wang Yanqing said: “You all are maids that Second Brother arranged, so there won’t be any problems. I trust Second Brother.”
Wang Yanqing took the medicine cup and tested the temperature, indeed, it was just right. Wang Yanqing dipped her head and drank the medicine. Although her movements were slow, her spoon was steady and unwavering, not a little bit sloppy. The cup of medicine quickly bottomed out. Wang Yanqing put the spoon of medicine to her side and Ling Xi immediately offered candied fruit, but Wang Yanqing waved her hand: “No need.”
Ling Xi and Ling Luan glanced at each other, both feeling surprised. There was no Miss that lived inside a mansion and was not spoiled or did not cry if their fingertips were even hurt by a pincushion. However, Wang Yanqing drank the medicine in one shot, she did not resemble a typical lady at all. Ling Xi tried asking: “Miss, is there any place that still feels uncomfortable?”
Wang Yanqing fell from a tall cliff. How could she not have any problems. Everywhere on her body hurt, she did not remember anything, but instinct told her that these injuries were not fatal. The truly serious injury was the swelling on the back of her head.
Wang Yanqing lightly touched the back of her head and upon seeing this, Ling Xi reminded: “Miss, don’t use your hands to touch, the doctor said that the back of your head still has not healed. For now, you can’t perform rigorous activities, it’s also best to keep your mood as stable as possible, and you especially can’t apply pressure to irritate your wound.
When Wang Yanqing heard the maid’s words, her movements stopped abruptly, and she did not touch it again. Now that she was injured, she could not move, she could not read, she had just woken up and did not need to sleep. She was overcome with boredom and could not help turning her gaze to the maids in front of her.
Ling Xi and Ling Luan thought of Wang Yanqing’s strange position and tensed up. Ling Luan, in particular, her face had gone completely stiff. Wang Yanqing could feel that they were still nervous. From earlier, she had felt that it was weird, so she simply asked: “Why are you all afraid of me?”
Second Brother said that she came to the Lu family when she was seven years old and that she had been living here for ten years. If these maids were the Lu family servants, why were they unfamiliar with her, moreover, there was a faint feeling of defensiveness.
Ling Xi and Ling Luan glanced at each other. Ling Luan dropped her head and Ling Xi sighed, she gave Wang Yanqing her blessings and said: “Miss, these servants bow to you, we are nobodies, we dare not tell you what to do. We are afraid that we are not serving you well.”
Wang Yanqing asked: “Is it because of Second Brother?”
Wang Yanqing already discovered earlier that every person here was afraid of Lu Heng. Even so, Lu Heng had already left, and they still had not relaxed.
When Ling Xi heard Wang Yanqing call the Commander, Second Brother, her heart felt very conflicted. Ling Xi remembered what the commander instructed and said: “I dare not, it is because this servant has not fulfilled her obligations and has not served you well. When the Miss was ambushed on the road, the Commander grew upset. He dismissed the entire group of previous servants and transferred us here. This servant is afraid that we will serve poorly, and as a result, we make frequent mistakes. Miss, please forgive us.”
Words can be false, facial expressions can be disguised, but subtle changes in the body can’t deceive. Wang Yanqing was naturally good at catching the small changes in someone’s expression, and she could also instantly match that expression to a feeling. This talent was similar to people who had a photographic memory or perfect pitch, Wang Yanqing knew expressions, and this was something engraved by instinct.
Now that she had amnesia, she was not restricted by common sense or instinctual perception, this gift became even more clear. In front of Wang Yanqing, who was an expert in reading lies, it was useless to try and pretend, you might as well not pretend, wrap the truth up and say it aloud.
So Lu Heng gave Ling Xi and Ling Luan this statement in case they had to explain why they were not familiar with Wang Yanqing and why they were agitated when they learned she had amnesia.
This statement was in line with Lu Heng’s character and also explained the strange period when Wang Yanqing woke up. Wang Yanqing thought about it for a while then accepted it. The tonic that the doctor prescribed had a sleeping effect. Not long after taking the medicine, Wang Yanqing became tired and with the maids’ coaxing, she laid down to sleep. After seeing that Wang Yanqing had fallen asleep, Ling Xi and Ling Luan let out a long sigh of relief and quickly left to arrange the venue.
The Lu family only had two sons, Lu Wen and Lu Heng, without any daughters. After Lu Heng’s mother returned to her ancestral grounds, the Lu Mansion became even more empty and cold than usual. Suddenly with the addition of an “adopted daughter” that had lived here for ten years, they needed to buy a lot of things.
Only the Imperial Guards could do something like create traces of someone living for ten years out of thin air. The traditional medicine worked wonders, Wang Yanqing slept straight until sunset. While the Lu family maids were busy transforming the site, Lu Heng was in South Fusi, slowly flipping through papers.
Guo Tao stood beside him, not daring to look at Lu Heng’s face, and said embarrassedly: “Commander, the footmen followed your orders, they were not given food or water, and they were refused all day. The footmen went to interrogate them just now, all holding whips, but they still refused to talk. Even if we serve them harsher punishment, it won’t end.
Even though Lu Heng was commanding all affairs at the moment, he was only acting temporarily as the commander. But in taking the official position, how could he not have the commanding charisma. Everyone in South Fusi, called Lu Heng, Commander.
In the eleventh month, Lu Heng assumed the temporary role of the commander of the Imperial Guards. After taking over South Fusi his first task was to investigate the Zhang Yong and Xiao Jing bribery case.
Zhang Yong was one of the famous “Eight Tigers” during the Zhengde dynasty. Although he was no longer in the Eight Tigers, he was quite a powerful court eunuch during the Chenghua, Hongzhi, and Zhengde dynasties. Emperor Zhengde made great use of eunuchs, and the “Eight Tigers” ran rampant in the palace, dominating the court. They had the final say in many reports. After Emperor Zhengde died of illness, Jiajing ascended the throne, and the Eight Tigers were finally liquidated. Among them, Zhang Yong was lucky to be alive as he switched sides at a crucial moment and assisted the court officials greatly. Later, Zhang Yong was demoted to reside in Xiaoling and manage the Xiangguang. Although he could no longer be in power, he was able to live out his years in peace. In the eighth year of Jiajing, Zhang Yong died of illness. Even so, the court rewarded his family and brothers, which was regarded a rare virtuous ending among eunuchs.
Originally, everything was going smoothly, but this year, due to a dispute over the gift ceremony, these old affairs were turned over once again. During the incident, Lu Can impeached the second assistant Zhang Jinggong for soliciting power and accepting bribes. Zhang Jinggong was not to be outdone and immediately instructed his subordinates to impeach his opponents for accepting bribes from Zhang Yong and Xiao Jing.
It was a great crime for officials to collaborate with eunuchs. Zhang Jinggong’s attack triggered a huge riot, and the political parties in the court were in chaotic warfare as more and more people were drawn into the incident. Like a snowflake, impeachment papers flew atop the emperor’s desk. The emperor was furious and demanded a strict investigation. The Imperial Guards immediately began to pick out individuals and they imprisoned many officials by association, among them, there was no lack of high officials. Moreover, what was known as the cabinet’s back garden, the sacred place of all scholars, the Imperial Hanlin Academy took the worst hit.
Now, those who were corrupted, not corrupted, those who collaborated with inner court eunuchs, and those who were wronged, were all investigated under Lu Heng. If Lu Heng could adequately investigate this case, it was only a matter of time before he would rise from a temporary commander to an official commander.
It had been ten days since the emperor sent this case and no headway had been made. The literary officials were confident that the Imperial Guards would not dare do anything to them. Every one of them were nipped to the extreme, but none had spoken outside of the occasional nonsensical confessions. Lu Heng quickly scanned the confessions. Nothing was useful and he did not bother to look again, conveniently throwing it into the wastepaper basket.
Who didn’t know the matters in the bureaucracy. The salaries of government officials in the Ming Dynasty were meager, the court was full of civil and military men who depended on these jobs to make a living. In order to protect himself in his later years, Zhang Yong gave many benefits to officials in power. Lu Heng knew very well that as those people were taken to prison, one by one, he was taking all of Zhang Yong’s money.
Bribery existed all over the court, but no one would openly admit it. The Imperial Guards must make great contributions, as the civil servants must also pursue their future. Many people in prison were the subordinates of the head auxiliary, Yang Yingning. With Yang Yingning, the Imperial Guards did not dare do anything. As long as they did not confess, they would shoot to the peak of their careers and reputations when they left, but if they admitted to having dealings with Zhang Yong, not only would they be out of luck, but they would also implicate their teacher’s family.
Yet they are not foolish, how could they agree to such a loss-making transaction.
Lu Heng took out a list from the drawer. It was the people who were arrested and imprisoned, with their property and assets recorded next to them. Lu Heng scanned the lists of names. He undoubtedly knew how corrupt and how much money these people probably held, but there was no evidence.
Zhang Yong was a former eunuch and was very familiar with the methods used by the Imperial Guard and spy agencies. All of his gifts were very clean, and the Imperial Guards could not catch any obvious evidence. Lu Heng’s eyes quickly flitted across the list, when his eyes crossed a particular name, he tapped his knuckles on the paper and said: “Zhao Huai, the Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Rites is cowardly and weak, most useless. Right when he falls asleep at night, take him out for separate interrogation and leave him to hang for half an hour before sending him back. Do this back and forth repeatedly, be sure not to let him touch the rice or water, and don’t let his eyes shut for even a moment.
After hearing this, Guo Tao shivered. Commander’s methods of torturing people were superb. This ability was called an effortless victory, a murder committed invisibly. Guo Tao was about to respond when he suddenly remembered that Zhao Huai was a student of the Head Auxiliary, Yang Yingning. The Commander alone targeted Zhao Huai…
After Lu Heng finished speaking, Guo Tao did not move for a long time. Lu Heng swept his eyes over quietly and when Guo Tao met his eyes, he broke out into a cold sweat. He didn’t dare think anymore so he quickly lowered his head to accept the order: “As you wish.”
Lu Heng threw the roster back in place, looking at the strength in his hands, proportionate to his dislike of this group of people. Fighting with wit and courage every day, Lu Heng felt that he was getting old quickly. He was in a poor mood and began to think of something happy. Lu Heng asked: “The thing I wanted?”
Guo Tao was taken back when he heard this, what did the Commander want? Lu Heng looked toward him with a pair of amber-colored eyes that held an odd smile. He especially resembled a hunting cheetah calmly watching the loud sheep play. Guo Tao suddenly remembered, he tapped his forehead and answered: “Oh, that’s right, the thing you requested Commander, I have brought it.”
Guo Tao took out a book from inside his sleeve and straightened it out before respectfully placing it on the table. Soon after, he quickly excused himself and left. After the silence in the room was restored, Lu Heng calmly picked up the information on the desk.
A female relative, what secrets could there be? It didn’t take long for the Imperial Guards to finish gathering information on Wang Yanqing. Lu Heng turned page by page, and the farther he looked back, the more surprised he became.
She actually learned a lot of things as a child. Practicing martial arts was not something that could be learned by a touch of the lips. Practicing ‘three-nine in winter’ and during the ‘three hot periods in summer’ was seriously suffering.
|| The numbers here are translated directly from Chinese as they emphasize the extent of hardship she endured for her training. So basically, she is incredibly talented and Lu Heng is intrigued.
Wang Yanqing’s experience was quickly read over. Rather than comment on her daily life, the rest of the notes were from the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion surveillance records. After all, Wang Yanqing was just an adopted daughter, insignificant in everyone’s eyes. Imperial Guard agents took great pains to record Fu Tingzhou’s every word and action while very few pens were used on her.
Even with just a few words, it could be seen that her whole life revolved around Fu Tingzhou. When Lu Heng scanned a private conversation between Fu Tingzhou and Wang Yanqing, he couldn’t help but click his tongue.
On one hand, Lu Heng disdained Fu Tingzhou for looking like a very heroic and masculine person while unexpectedly calling her “Qing Qing” in private. On the other hand, he inwardly sighed, Fu Tingzhou had revealed something.
No wonder her expression was hesitant when he called her “younger sister”. It turns out that Fu Tingzhou did not usually call her younger sister, but Qing Qing.
After Lu Heng finished reading Wang Yanqing’s information, he took note and stored it in his mind. In his line of work, he had long ago developed a highly retentive memory, on top of his naturally smart tendency.
He was able to accompany the emperor for so many years, not only because of his childhood friendship with the emperor as playmates. Emperor Jiajing was high-class and demanding, those who could stay beside the Emperor for so long were far advanced and sly.
Lu Heng thought about what would happen next and felt rather interested. Later, he will be playing the role of “Elder Brother”. Everything that Fu Tingzhou said and did in the past ten years will have all been done by him.
Wang Yanqing’s matters were only a pastime, Lu Heng quickly threw away the book and left to handle the other official documents in South Fusi. When he was reading, he lost track of time and when he finally returned to his senses, it was already dark outside.
The winter night was pitch dark and cold. From South Fusi, Lu Heng walked home while thinking about other matters. After he entered the door, servants carefully followed, leading his horse away and running errands. No one dared make a sound and disturb the Commander while he was in deep thought. Lu Heng relied on his instinct to walk back. When he reached the master courtyard, he found the inside bright with light and suddenly he was awakened.
Why is someone here?
Seeing that Lu Heng stood motionless, the servant promptly stepped forward and said: “Commander, Miss Wang insisted on waiting for your arrival, we tried to persuade her several times, but Miss Wang refused to return.”
This was instructed by Lu Heng during the day. From now on, everyone in the Mansion was to address Wang Yanqing as “Miss” and treat her like his younger sister. If anyone dare spill, the whole family will sell them out immediately. Everyone in the Lu Mansion followed along from Anlu. Although there were not many, they kept their mouths shut. Lu Heng only had to explain it once and they would follow through thoroughly, layer by layer.
Only then did Lu Heng remember that he had picked up a “foster sister”. He raised his eyebrows feeling frustrated, but his body’s instinctive alert response gradually dissipated.
He was used to coming and going alone, and suddenly there was someone else waiting for him, unexpectedly, it felt good.
The injury on the back of Wang Yanqing’s head had still not dissipated, she should not be moving about much, but Wang Yanqing was determined to wait for Lu Heng. In her subconscious mind, she felt that this was something she ought to do. Second Brother had not returned, it was only natural that she waits.
Ling Xi and Ling Luan tried to convince her twice and discovered that Wang Yanqing regarded this as normal, so they did not dare convince her more. If they talked more, they could make more mistakes, if they talked less, they would make fewer mistakes. Since advising again would only expose the situation, they had no other choice but to stay quiet.
After all, Wang Yanqing was injured, and she could not help but feel sleepy waiting late at night. She was in a drowsy state when she abruptly heard the sound of footsteps outside. Wang Yanqing suddenly woke up and instinctively stood up: “Second Brother.”
Her voice was happy, but because she stood up so abruptly, the wound on the back of her head finally tore. After standing up, she now felt terribly dizzy. Lu Heng entered just in time to see this scene and immediately said: “Don’t worry, I’m back. Why have you still not helped Miss?”
Ling Xi and Ling Luan stepped forward while Wang Yanqing felt faint and supported her arm so that Wang Yanqing would not collapse on the floor. She propped her head up and resisted the dizzy spell in front of her. When she swayed, unbalanced, she suddenly felt a pair of slender and powerful hands grip her arms. Her fluttering body seemed to find a point of strength and slowly returned.
Lu Heng helped her sit down. When he saw her pale face, his voice became serious: “You have an injury on your head, you can’t move around a lot, why are you so careless?”
Wang Yanqing leaned on the armrest, finally able to see things in front of her. Her face was as white as paper, but she still said in a low voice: “I wanted to be the first to see Second Brother.”
She could not keep her breath, her voice was weak, and she sounded pitiful. Lu Heng glanced at the warm food beside him and didn’t know what to say: “If you are injured, go back and rest by yourself. What are you waiting for me to do? Have you been without a meal?”
As Lu Heng spoke, his gaze swept towards Ling Xi and Ling Luan who were startled and quickly crouched down. Wang Yanqing held Lu Heng’s arm and said: “Second Brother, don’t blame them. After I woke up, I had dinner. It was me who insisted on waiting here for you.”
Wang Yanqing took responsibility for herself, and Lu Heng could not let this happen again. Lu Heng looked at Wang Yanqing’s small face that was as big as his palm. It was obvious that she was tired, yet she used all her power to keep her eyes open. He said helplessly: “South Fusi is different from an ordinary government office, I can’t tell when I will be back. There are people to serve you, and you can’t starve me, you don’t have to wait in the future.”
“They are them, I am me, we have always been like this.” After Wang Yanqing finished speaking, she muttered under her breath, “don’t think I don’t know, if I don’t wait for you, you won’t bother to eat at night.”
Lu Heng indeed was going to do just that. He returned late at night when it was cold and dark, how could he still be in the mood to eat? But this fool had been waiting for him the entire time. If he did not come back tonight, would she have waited the entire night?
Moreover, listening to her, she had waited for Fu Tingzhou like this for the past ten years. Lu Heng thought to himself that this guy, Fu Tingzhou was really lucky. That day he only shot him with one arrow, and that was letting him off too lightly.
Although Lu Heng thought this way, unconsciously, his facial expression softened. Originally, he thought that it was very troublesome to have people waiting on him, regardless of what he did. He loathed the feeling of being restrained, but at this moment, Lu Heng felt that it might not be that bad.
No matter what happened, there would always be a place in the world with a light on, waiting for him to come home for dinner. It brought such relief, even if the person she was waiting for was not actually him.
Thinking of that, Lu Heng’s hand slightly froze, but he recovered quickly. He sat across, holding Wang Yanqing’s fair and soft hand, just like a model elder brother who could not be more exemplary in this world. He softly asked: “Qing Qing, are you feeling better now?”
|| Translator’s Note: I’m back! Thank you all for waiting patiently, you all mean so much!