TIGR Chapter 34
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 34 To Lose
After Fu Tingzhou left, Lu Heng laughed too much and went to the backcourt to find Wang Yanqing.
Wang Yanqing was in her room and had taken off her cloak. Hearing Lu Heng coming, she put down the pen, got up, and walked towards Lu Heng: “Second Brother.”
Lu Heng took off his cloak at the door, responded lightly, and said: “Go back quickly, you’re still wearing thin clothes. Don’t stay at the door for a long time.”
Wang Yanqing was dragged into the room by Lu Heng and after the two entered the room, Lu Heng noticed the paper and ink spread out on the table at a glance, and asked: “What were you doing just now?”
Seeing the mess on the desk, Wang Yanqing hurried forward and put away the paper: “It’s nothing, recently when I held a pen, my hands were so strong that I couldn’t even write words, so I wanted to practice quickly in private.”
Wang Yanqing went to greet Lu Heng just now and forgot to clean up the table. Half of her writings on the paper were horrible to look at. Wang Yanqing wanted to hurry up and hide the waste paper, but Lu Heng held her hand and said: “We are family, even Second Brother is not allowed to see it?”
Wang Yanqing watched Lu Heng take away the waste paper, and flip through them one by one. She wanted to stop him but didn’t dare, and said embarrassedly: “Second Brother, the writing is not good. Another day, I will show it to you when I have finished practicing.”
“Your brother is not an outsider, so don’t shy away. Besides, Qing Qing looks good no matter what she writes.” Lu Heng casually produced coaxing words as he turned a few pages, and probably understood why Wang Yanqing felt embarrassed to show her writing.
Her strokes resembled two styles of characters kneading together. Sometimes they were strong and sharp, which was clearly a man’s writing style, and sometimes they were small and detailed, graceful and beautiful. She jumped between the two styles when writing, and she didn’t even know which one was right, so she felt that she couldn’t write.
Lu Heng had an excellent memory, and at a glance, he recognized that the sturdy style was Fu Tingzhou’s writing, and the other kind, upright and graceful, was Wang Yanqing’s. Wang Yanqing would have deliberately imitated Fu Tingzhou’s handwriting before, which was easily mistaken as real, but Wang Yanqing didn’t know about it after losing her memory. She followed her instinct and wrote in two completely different fonts. Was it not confusing.
Lu Heng’s heart was like a mirror, thinking to himself that Fu Tingzhou looked like a dog. How can he do such nauseous things. Brothers and sisters even learn each other’s handwriting. Could it be that Fu Tingzhou could also write with Wang Yanqing’s handwriting?
Lu Heng was reluctant to think about how close the relationship was and how long they spent together before they could learn each other’s handwriting. Lu Heng said that Qing Qing looked good no matter what she wrote, but he held a pen in his hand and tactfully ticked a few circles on the paper, then circled the words belonging to Fu Tingzhou and crossed them out: “You are recovering well, the handwriting is already close to its original. But these few words are not good. You aren’t aware of where you learned some ugly characters, which interfere with your original style of writing. This is not good. The most important thing in writing is to be self-contained and unified in style. In the future, you have to deliberately eliminate these foreign objects so you can no longer be influenced.”
Wang Yanqing listened solemnly and quickly nodded in response.
After Lu Heng crossed out the words mixed with Fu Tingzhou’s style, he finally felt at ease. As he watched Wang Yanqing’s carefully written scroll being unsightly drawn out by him, he felt a little guilty. He beckoned to Wang Yanqing and said: “Come here.”
Wang Yanqing stopped beside Lu Heng, Lu Heng dipped the ink in the inkstone, and let the pen roam around the scroll, writing the words “Wang Yanqing” unhurriedly. He handed the pen to Wang Yanqing, and said: “Write it yourself.”
Wang Yanqing took the pen, tucked the pipa inside her sleeve, leaned over slightly, and hung her wrist to write on the paper. Lu Heng stood beside her and looked at her sideways. He noticed that Wang Yanqing was imitating Fu Tingzhou’s handwriting subconsciously again, and he stopped her immediately: “Don’t be distracted, write according to your original feelings, don’t try to imitate anyone.”
After being reminded by Lu Heng, Wang Yanqing stopped stiffly. Lu Heng stretched out his hand, wrapped it around her shoulder, held her hand, and continued to write: “Write whatever you want, you don’t have to consider beauty or ugliness, or whether others like it or not. Follow your heart.”
Lu Heng held her hand and wrote a few lines. He did not exert any force on his hand and did not interfere with Wang Yanqing’s writing, but as soon as Wang Yanqing showed signs of changing her style, he would squeeze his hand. Wang Yanqing was pinched several times in a row, and Lu Heng’s voice came from behind: “If you make another mistake, it’s not your hand that Second Brother will go for.”
Wang Yanqing was suddenly nervous. If he didn’t squeeze her hands, would he squeeze her neck? She was distracted when someone squeezed her waist. He didn’t exert any force, but Wang Yanqing was startled. She wanted to avoid him subconsciously, but Lu Heng circled her shoulders, preventing her from dodging: “Concentrate.”
He held the back of Wang Yanqing’s hand with one hand and the other on Wang Yanqing’s waist. The threat was clear. Wang Yanqing stiffly wrote half a piece of paper, and slowly regained the feeling of writing. Lu Heng was reluctantly satisfied and was finally willing to let go of Wang Yanqing’s hand.
She immediately let out a long sigh of relief, and then felt strange. If it wasn’t for Second Brother’s reminder, she would not have realized that she was imitating another unconsciously.
Why was that?
Wang Yanqing put down the pen and put away the messy paper in embarrassment: “Thank you Second Brother. I am so old, and I still need my Second Brother to accompany me to practice calligraphy.”
Lu Heng slowly withdrew his hand, feeling that this kind of thing could be done a little more. Lu Heng said randomly: “What else are you going to do with your brother? I also taught you when you were learning calligraphy.”
Wang Yanqing completely lacked that memory, and asked curiously: “Really? But I don’t seem to have learned the charm of Second Brother at all. Who did Second Brother learn his calligraphy from?”
Lu Heng walked to the Arhat bed and sat down. He straightened his sleeves and said: “I learned Chinese characters a long time ago. At that time, I was still in the Xing Monarch Mansion, and I studied with the emperor.”
|| An Arhat Bed (罗汉床) is a type of ancient Chinese furniture that functions as both a couch and bed.
Wang Yanqing paused, unable to ask any more questions, and said with a smile: “No wonder Second Brother writes so well.”
Lu Heng waved his hand and motioned for Wang Yanqing to sit. He slowly poured the tea and the water gurgled into the porcelain cup. The hot mist was thick and steamed in the air as the flowers and birds on the cup seemed to come alive. Lu Heng asked casually: “Fu Tingzhou was crazy today, did he scare you?”
Hearing that name, the smile on Wang Yanqing’s face faded, and she replied softly: “It’s okay.”
Her attitude changed very obviously and Lu Heng sighed for Fu Tingzhou when he saw it. Fu Tingzhou didn’t think even think about his food and tea in his worry for her and even said that as long as she could come back, any conditions were open. Wang Yanqing, however, avoided Fu Tingzhou and frowned when he mentioned him.
Moreover, all these changes were Lu Heng’s masterpieces.
Lu Heng didn’t think it was too much to watch the excitement, and even thought maliciously, if Fu Tingzhou knew that his adoptive sister would no longer obey him, but instead regarded him as an enemy, how wonderful would the expression on his face be? When Lu Heng thought of that day, the blood in his body began to heat up in excitement.
With a smile, Lu Heng put the teacup in front of Wang Yanqing and said: “Don’t be angry, Qing Qing. Today that lunatic offended Qing Qing and I will use tea instead of wine to apologize to Qing Qing on his behalf.”
Wang Yanqing hurriedly said: “Second Brother, Fu Thief is the villain, what does it have to do with you? How dare I ask Second Brother to make amends.”
“You deserve it.” Lu Heng held Wang Yanqing’s hand and said: “It was my negligence that let him break into the house and disturb you. Don’t worry, there will be no such thing in the future. If you don’t drink, then you won’t forgive your brother?”
Wang Yanqing couldn’t resist Lu Heng, so she had to take a step back, pick up the tea cup and say: “Second Brother’s words make me feel ashamed. How could I blame Second Brother for such a trivial matter?”
Lu Heng’s heart moved slightly, and he said with a half-truth: “What if it was a big matter?”
However, Wang Yanqing shook her head and said very firmly: “Second Brother would never do me wrong. Even if there was, it would be for my own good.”
Lu Heng smiled at Wang Yanqing and lowered his head. As he drank tea, his eyebrows and eyes were hidden behind the fog, sos he couldn’t see his real expression clearly.
When she was nice to a person, she was sincere and reckless. Unfortunately, he was a liar.
After Fu Tingzhou came out of the Lu Mansion, his expression changed astonishingly. The servants of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion hurriedly greeted him and asked: “Master Marquis, what’s the matter with you?”
Fu Tingzhou’s chest was filled with the suffocation that he had nowhere to vent. He scolded “don’t follow”, grabbed the reins, turned on his horse, and lashed the horse with a heavy whip. The date-red horse neighed, let go of its hooves, and galloped. The guards of Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion hurriedly chased after him and shouted: “Master Marquis, where are you going?”
There was no response from the person in front, only the sound of hooves as they clattered away. The servants of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion looked at each other in dismay, not knowing what happened to the Marquis. Why did he talk to Master Lu, and why did he become like this after he came out?
Fu Tingzhou didn’t want to go home, talk, or pay attention to anyone. He galloped out of the city and ran for an hour in the dry and cold wind before finally feeling awake.
Fu Tingzhou raised his head and stared blankly at the sky. The fields were vast, the clouds were dense, and the world was so big. How small were people?
Fu Tingzhou sat atop his horse and stood in the wind, staring at the rapidly changing clouds in the sky for a long time, until he lost consciousness and no one came to him.
In the past, when he was in a bad mood, he would throw away his servants and stay alone. But every time, no matter where he hid or how secluded the place he went, Qing Qing was always the first to find him.
But this time, no one would come.
There was once a time he didn’t think anything special about it. Many things had been owned for too long and he took them for granted. When she was lost to him this time, Fu Tingzhou realized that it was so difficult to find someone.
The world was so big. Where was she?
Fu Tingzhou didn’t return to the Marquis Mansion until it got dark, and as soon as he entered the door, the servant of the Marquis Mansion rushed to greet him: “Master Marquis, you are finally back. The servants said that you rode out of the city as soon as you came out of Master Lu’s house. The Old Madam sent people to look for you. Where have you been?”
Fu Tingzhou had no intention of speaking at all, so he responded casually: “I was bored in the city. I just went out for a walk.”
After Fu Tingzhou finished speaking, he was about to go back to the room by himself, but the servant quickly stopped him and persuaded: “Master Marquis, today is Chinese New Year. The Old Madam and a few ladies are gathered in the Old Madam’s house and are waiting for you.”
Fu Tingzhou just remembered that today was New Year’s Eve, a day for family reunion. Fu Tingzhou did not have any festive celebrations, but as the backbone of the Marquis Mansion, it was also his duty to accompany his female relatives to feel at ease.
Fu Tingzhou was full of exhaustion and planned to go to the Old Madam’s residence to go through the motions. At this moment, Fu Chang, Chen Shi, Fu Chang’s favored concubine, and several young masters and young ladies were all in the house. It was rare for Chen Shi to be in charge and she was very happy to bring everyone together to celebrate the New Year this year. But the house was booming, and the most important person in the Marquis Mansion was missing — Fu Tingzhou.
When everyone heard that Fu Tingzhou went to Lu Heng’s Mansion, they didn’t dare to dissuade him, and they were lively in the house. But seeing the time pass by little by little, with the relationship between the Fu family and Lu Heng, the New Year’s greetings shouldn’t be so long, right? Chen Shi waited left and right to see no one, and finally, she couldn’t hold her breath and sent someone out to inquire.
Only after questioning, did she learn that Fu Tingzhou had come out of Lu Heng’s Mansion very early. He didn’t let anyone follow him and rode out of the city on his own. The servant didn’t dare to tell Chen Shi, so he quietly went back to the Mansion and waited, thinking that the Master Marquis would be back in a while. Unexpectedly, when the sun slanted westward, the Marquis could not be seen returning to the Mansion, and the people below couldn’t hide it, so he told the truth to Chen Shi.
When Chen Shi heard this, she was both angry that the servants lied to her, and that Fu Tingzhou did not give her face and respect. Of course, she didn’t dare to go to Lu Mansion to ask, so she sent people to look outside the city. She must get Fu Tingzhou back. However, Chen Shi sent several groups of people out and found nothing. Chen Shi was so angry that the atmosphere in the Old Madam’s house became stiff. Several ladies born of concubines did not dare to stay in front of the first Madam, so they found excuses and went to the wing to talk.
Finally, when it was time for dinner, Fu Tingzhou came back. When the ladies of the Fu family heard the servant’s report that “Master Marquis is here”, they breathed a sigh of relief and hurried to the main room to cheer up.
Although Fu Chang was of high rank, Fu Tingzhou was the real master of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion. Fu Tingzhou’s attitude was directly related to their days in the Marquis Mansion, dowry, and even their future husband’s family. For the ladies of the Fu family, pleasing their elder brother was more important than pleasing their father and first Madam.
Several ladies rushed to the madam’s room and at the moment, the room was already packed with people. Fu Tingzhou sat in the center of the room, greeting his grandmother and parents indifferently: “This child is not filial, which makes grandmother, father, and mother worry. After the New Year’s Eve dinner is over, my mother will start the banquet directly, you do not have to wait for me.”
“How can that be?” Chen Shi disagreed, “New Year’s Eve dinner is only to be eaten when the whole family gathers together. Master Marquis is back, you should go and set up dinner.”
Even without the factor of the family reunion, the Marquis Mansion would not have dinner before Fu Tingzhou came back. Fu Tingzhou was the Marquis of Zhenyuan, and all of them had to rely on Fu Tingzhou. Who would dare sit when the Master was absent?
However, what Fu Tingzhou couldn’t bear to hear the most right now was “reunion”. Chen Shi was in full swing, setting up the meal. Fu Chang’s face was flushed and enjoying the flattery of the concubine’s room. Several ladies of the Fu family were also surrounded by the Old Madam, talking with voices like silver bells. No one remembered at all that Wang Yanqing’s life and death were still unknown.
Maybe, it was not necessarily that they didn’t remember, but they didn’t care.
Fu Tingzhou watched these people having a lively New Year’s Eve. The more they laughed, the colder his heart became. It was as if a thorn had been stabbed deep in his heart. It was usually invisible, but every time he took a breath, the thorn would dig deeper, and finally converge into a fine and long pain that pressed him to the point of suffocation.
However, Chen Shi wanted to sprinkle salt on his wound and said with a high voice: “Master Marquis, you are finally back. Just now, the Marquis of Yongping sent New Year’s gift boxes. Come and see, I heard that these gift boxes were prepared by the third Miss Hong.”
When the people in the room heard this, they looked at Fu Tingzhou and smiled together. Fu Tingzhou sat in the center of sight, but he didn’t feel the slightest joy. He didn’t even smile and said indifferently: “I see, let’s put it aside. Tomorrow I will go to pay New Year’s greetings to the Marquis of Wuding and the Marquis of Yongping, and I will talk about it when that time comes.”
The maids were beaming with the gift box, and when they heard Fu Tingzhou’s words, they were all stunned. However, the Master Marquis really didn’t mean to be curious at all and didn’t even glance at them. The maids were embarrassed and quickly retreated with their things in their arms.
Chen Shi didn’t take it seriously, and still happily talked about the marriage proposal: “After February, your grandfather’s grieving period will be over, and you can marry the third Miss Hong. Third Miss Hong was of noble birth, virtuous and filial. After passing through the door, she will surely be a good mother.”
Fu Tingzhou sat in his seat and listened to Chen Shi talk happily, thinking that his grandfather didn’t look down on this couple, and he really didn’t wrong them. It’s just that they didn’t have the eyesight. Could he say this kind of thing publicly?
Fu Tingzhou interrupted coldly: “Grandfather has not yet passed his grieving period, so I am not to feast or marry. Mother be careful.”
Chen Shi felt soft nails one after another and finally felt that Fu Tingzhou was in a bad mood. She looked at Fu Tingzhou’s face in astonishment. After thinking for a while, she suddenly realized, and consciously understood the reason why Fu Tingzhou was not in high spirits: “Master Marquis, are you thinking about the court? Blame me, you went to Master Lu’s mansion today. You must have discussed a lot of serious things and I have been pulling you to talk…”
When Fu Tingzhou heard that name, he was really in a bad mood, and said coldly: “It has nothing to do with him.”
“It’s not Master Lu?” Chen Shi was surprised. She patted her chest and deliberately showed off to the concubine next to her, “That’s good. This Master Lu is not easy to get along with. He was the one who revealed the corruption case some time ago, right? Many people in the capital were raided, and in the end, even the Head Auxiliary was not innocent, which was really scary.”
The female relatives didn’t know much about the struggle in the court, but they all had lingering fears about the house raiding incident some time ago. The women complained for a long time, but no one dared mention Commander Lu. Even if this person was only two years older than Fu Tingzhou, he was now a third-rank official. He had the power to enter and exit the Imperial Palace, and from the point of view of choosing a son-in-law, this was a much better young talent than Fu Tingzhou, but there were no female relatives in the capital who wanted to marry him.
Even if Chen Shi intended to show off, she only had a little knowledge of the court, and soon she had nothing to say. In the end, the topic of the womenfolk still fell to eating, drinking, and having fun.
In a few days, it will be the Lantern Festival. The only chance for the female family members to go out and play in an open and honest way. The four young ladies of the Fu family were all waiting for this day. Chen Shi received a hint from her daughter and asked Fu Tingzhou: “Master Marquis, do you have any plans for the Lantern Festival in a few days?”
||The Lantern Festival (上元节) falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month of every year. It is a big celebration to generally honor deceased ancestors. There are grand celebrations, lanterns, glutinous rice balls, fireworks, and more.
“Plans?” Fu Tingzhou listened, baffled, “It’s just an ordinary festival, what are your plans?”
|| Author’s Note:
Lu Heng: You don’t have plans, but unfortunately I have a lot.
|| Translator’s Note: Dun Dun Dun….