TIGR Chapter 36
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 36 Coming To An End
After the relocation of the capital of Yongle, peace would last for a long time. The treatment of officials became more and more generous and it was no longer as harsh as in the Hongwu Dynasty. Up until now, the Imperial Court added a New Year’s Eve holiday to their calendar breaks so the Spring Festival and the Lantern Festival Holiday merged. Combined, they lasted from the twenty-fourth of the twelfth lunar month to the twentieth of the first lunar month, which could be said to be quite comfortable.
Lu Heng worked overtime in the past year to clear all his cases and was finally able to spend a New Year in peace. It was rare for him to be free. Reading, writing, and raising his younger sister at home, he was free to teach Wang Yanqing how to play chess. Surprisingly, he felt a hint of good downtime.
Stable days always passed quickly, and in a blink of an eye, New Year’s Day had arrived. While playing a game, Lu Heng spoke to Wang Yanqing: “Qing Qing, where do you want to do in the Lantern Festival this year?”
Wang Yanqing subconsciously replied “anything”, but then felt it was inappropriate and asked, “Second Brother, there may be a banquet in the palace during the Lantern Festival. Will it be okay in the palace if you accompany me?”
Although she had no memory of the past, she instinctively felt that the palace would be very lively during festivals. The Imperial Guards were the emperor’s personal soldiers, and Lu Heng was directly responsible for the emperor’s safety. This kind of time was often the busiest time for the Imperial Guards. Would Lu Heng delay business if he went to the city to play?
Lu Heng shook his head: “Don’t worry. There should be no banquets in the palace this year.”
“Really?” Wang Yanqing was surprised and asked, “Why?”
Lu Heng dropped a black seed and said: “The emperor himself doesn’t like noisiness, and it is rare to have leisure time, so he wants to clean up the chambers of the imperial concubines. What’s more, the Empress Dowager of Xingguo was not in good health this year. The emperor wanted to pray for the Empress, so the palace banquet was canceled.”
The Empress Dowager of Xingguo in Lu Heng’s words was the emperor’s birth mother, Empress Jiang. Emperor Zhengde had no heirs and in those days, Head Auxiliary Yang Ting, the mother of the Zhengde Emperor, and Empress Zhang searched among the many clan children and finally settled on the current emperor. Empress Zhang and Yang Ting chose the emperor. One reason was that the emperor was young, only fourteen years old at the time, far better than those adult princes — at least Empress Zhang and Yang Ting thought so. Second, the emperor was quick and eager to learn and had a reputation as a genius in the imperial clan.
Yang Ting was a scholar and naturally, he was drawn to children who liked to read. He felt that a studious child was a malleable person who could be taught to be a virtuous and wise monarch.
It was a pity that Yang Ting lost his sight. It is hard to say whether the emperor was a wise monarch, but he would obviously not become a virtuous monarch. It was true that the emperor read a lot of books since he was a child and was a wise man, but who said that a wise man was easy to fiddle with?
Yang Ting had been playing tricks for many years, but finally fell into the hands of a fourteen-year-old child. Now Yang Yingning, another elder of the three dynasties, had also fallen, and all those who were still active in the political arena had been replaced by those who were promoted by the emperor himself.
The emperor’s character was sullen and boring, he didn’t like noise, and he was not an emperor who was keen on hosting banquets. When he had this time, he preferred to practice Taoism.
Therefore, after entering the Jiajing Dynasty, the court changed from the chaos of the previous Zhengde Emperor and became depressed and dull. The Lantern Festival Banquet was canceled this year, one being the emperor’s dislike, and the other being that Empress Jiang was not in good health.
In the sixteenth year of Zhengde, the emperor came to the capital from Anlu to ascend to the throne. At that time, because of identity issues, he had a lot of trouble with Yang Ting and Empress Zhang. Yang Ting asked the emperor to recognize Emperor Xiaozong as his father and Empress Zhang as his mother. This would mean he was adopted by the family of Emperor Xiaozong and Empress Zhang and would be ascending the throne as a prince. The emperor resolutely refused. He said that he could inherit the throne because he was a descendant of Emperor Hongwu and Emperor Yongle, which had nothing to do with Yang Ting. When Emperor Zhengde died of illness, and no one in the court inherited the great lineage, he was invited to become emperor. He was asked to ascend to the throne in the Fengtian Temple as emperor, moreover, he did not agree to recognize Xiaozong as his father. He instead renamed his biological parents the emperor’s uncle and the emperor’s mother.
At the critical time of the confrontation between the emperor and Yang Ting, it was Empress Jiang who pushed the crucial hand. At that time, Lu Song protected the emperor and rushed to the capital as quickly as possible, while Empress Jiang and Lu Heng’s mother, Fan, arrived in the capital a month late.
After Empress Jiang entered the city, she heard that Yang Ting was going to break up her mother and son relationship and ask the emperor to call another woman his mother. She immediately said that this emperor and the others were unsuitable, and she wanted to take a boat back to Anlu with her son. At the same time, Empress Jiang also contacted her father’s old department in private and received support from the Marquis of Wuding and other nobles. No matter how tough Yang Ting was, he couldn’t be tougher than the army. Later, Yang Ting gave in, and Empress Jiang was able to enter the palace with the title of “Empress Dowager”.
That year the emperor was only fourteen years old, and Yang Ting was the head auxiliary who had been in charge of the government for nearly twenty years. For the emperor to defeat Yang Ting, in addition to being smart, Empress Jiang’s public statements and secret support were also very important. After Empress Jiang entered the palace, the emperor had always been very filial to his mother, and as he was firmly seated on the throne, Empress Jiang’s honorary titles grew more and more, while Empress Zhang’s title was reduced again and again.
The grand ceremony ended with the emperor’s overall victory, and the head auxiliary was down two, who would mention Empress Zhang, a concubine? To this day, Empress Jiang was the Empress Dowager of Xingguo, and Empress Zhang had been reduced to a common woman.
Wang Yanqing could fully understand that since ancient times, the empress dowagers of the two palaces had not been able to get along in harmony. Empress Zhang and Empress Jiang were not of the relationship between the palace and the concubine, but of sisters-in-law of two houses. The emperor and Empress Jiang had a mother and son connection. Could Empress Zhang still fight against the palace mother?
Wang Yanqing nodded and said: “No wonder. This winter is really cold and many people are sick. Is Empress Dowager of Xingguo’s illness urgent?”
Lu Heng didn’t want to talk more about the relationship between the mothers of the two palaces, and he said with a smile: “The Empress Dowager of Xingguo has a noble body and is under the care of an Imperial Physician. She will heal soon. This year, the emperor has no intention of being extravagant, and I don’t have to enter the palace. It’s rare to be free. After a few days of the Lantern Festival, I’ll accompany you to walk around the market.”
Wang Yanqing had no objection and nodded in response.
The Spring Festival was the busiest festival of the year. The night ban was lifted three days before and after the Lantern Festival, and the whole city was a carnival. During those days, the city would be full of lanterns, and people of all ages, men, and women, could go to the street to watch the lanterns. Along the way, there are also vendors selling food, silk flowers, jewelry, and other trinkets. Shadow puppets, lion dances, and juggling were all over the street. Women did not need to guard against men and women and could go shopping freely outside. Therefore, the Spring Festival was also a good time for men and women to date. Unmarried couples who were in love, concubines and young ladies, and young girls who were in love would take the opportunity to meet on this day.
The horse-drawn carriage of the Marquis of Zhenyuan drove out of the second gate, with people shouting forward and gathering behind, as they walked down the street. But there were too many people at the Lantern Festival. Even if the guards of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion tried their best to clear the way, they were still surrounded by the crowd, making it impossible to move an inch.
The carriage could no longer go, so the ladies of the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion could only get off the carriage and walk instead. Today, Chen Shi was wearing a gold-woven official green silk jacket, a silver mouse fur skirt, a sable-fur hoop around her forehead, and a black satin-gold cloak. After all, she was unmatched in wealth. Later, the ladies of the Fu family came down one after another, all dressed up and radiant.
Chen Shi stood on the street and looked around as if looking for someone. Suddenly her eyes lit up and she waved in one direction: “Madam Yongping Marquis, over here!”
People from the Yongping Marquis Mansion turned around and saw that it was Chen Shi, so they hurried over to greet her. Madam Yongping Marquis walked towards Chen Shi with a series of daughters and said with a smile: “Old Madam Fu, what a coincidence that you are here too. Come over here and say hello to the Madam Zhenyuan Marquis.”
The Yongping Marquis had many sons and daughters. Today, the unmarried young ladies of the Hong family came out, standing behind Madam Yongping Marquis from high to low, red to green, and they were magnificent. The young ladies were used to the interactions in the social arena and said “I wish you thousand fortunes” delicately. Hong Wanqing mixed with the sisters, blushed slightly, and greeted Chen Shi: “Old Madam of the Zhenyuan Marquis, I wish you peace.”
Although there were many children in the Yongping Marquis Mansion, Hong Wanqing was undoubtedly the most beautiful among the flowers, and her clothes were obviously different from the surrounding women. Chen Shi saw Hong Wanqing at a glance, and she was more and more satisfied when she saw Hong Wanqing’s generous and decent dress and dignified and docile temperament. Chen Shi smiled from ear to ear and beckoned to a figure behind her saying: “I happened to meet the Yongping Marquis Mansion, and your brothers and sisters must also come to greet Madam Hong.”
Chen Shi said that she wanted the children to come to see the Yongping Madam Marquis. In fact, everyone knew that Chen Shi was only calling Fu Tingzhou. The girls of the Fu family understood their mother’s intentions very well. After greeting the Yongping Madam Marquis obediently, they stepped aside and stayed quiet, not competing for their second brother’s limelight.
Fu Tingzhou was on the other side directing the guards, continuously keeping an eye on the moving crowd. Today, the whole city was crowded on the street, and the fish and the dragon were mixed. Chen Shi and a few young ladies were focused on playing, but Fu Tingzhou had to ensure the safety of the females. If something like the thing that happened in the previous twelfth month happened again, Fu Tingzhou could only plead guilty to Old Marquis Fu on his own.
He was busy when he heard Chen Shi’s call. Fu Tingzhou sighed secretly, knowing that he couldn’t escape today. He turned around slowly and walked towards the bright light.
He had broad shoulders and long legs, and his face was cold and solemn. When he came over, he was not angry or arrogant, and it was as if the noisy street was silent for a moment. He walked in front of the Yongping Madam Marquis and greeted: “I hope Madam Hong is in good health.”
The female relatives of the two houses were stunned by his aura, and it was not until he finished speaking that everyone slowly reacted. The sisters of the Hong family all cast envious glances at Hong Wanqing. Hong Wanqing blushed and stood beside her mother with her handkerchief twisted. She lowered her chin slightly and refused to look directly at Fu Tingzhou with a shy and polite appearance.
The Yongping Madam Marquis looked at the man in front of her with a dashing appearance and star-shaped eyebrows, and she was extremely satisfied. The Yongping Madam Marquis asked her sons to come and meet Fu Tingzhou. After the two parties met, the Yongping Madam Marquis took advantage of the situation and said: “These girls from the Fu family are so beautiful and verdant, and I am happy to see them. It’s rare to get along with Madam Fu, so don’t be so polite between our two families. It’s better to let the children be brothers and sisters and connect the family, how about it?”
Of course, Chen Shi agreed and replied: “The Marquis is the oldest and ranks second in the family. If the Yongping Madam Marquis does not dislike it, then ask the girls to call him Second Brother.”
Hearing this title, Fu Tingzhou quickly frowned, and said abruptly: “I’m a small person with low authority, how dare I be so abrupt? Ladies, just call me by my name.”
Hong Wanqing felt a little regretful, and they couldn’t really call Fu Tingzhou by his name, so they had to step forward and give Fu Tingzhou their blessing: “This girl greets the Marquis of Zhenyuan.”
A series of Marquis Mansion daughters greeted together, but Hong Wanqing was the most conspicuous of them, both in terms of clothing and manners. However, Fu Tingzhou didn’t pay attention to her, he just avoided them and paid his salutations. He returned a half-greeting without any disturbance.
He didn’t look at her at all and Hong Wanqing couldn’t help but be disappointed, but she noticed that Fu Tingzhou didn’t look at her other sisters either. Hong Wanqing was relieved instantly. Fu Tingzhou was respectful, and he didn’t glance at so many young women, it was obvious that he didn’t care about bright colors. What did you want from such a good son-in-law?
Although everyone saluted together, everyone’s eyes were on Fu Tingzhou and Hong Wanqing. Hong Wanqing couldn’t hide her shyness, while Fu Tingzhou stood straight on the side. His face was always calm, but she couldn’t see any emotions. The Yongping Madam Marquis told her that unmarried wives were like this. Fu Tingzhou was so cold, which showed that he had no intention of being with other females. So in the future, her daughter would not have to be angry about concubines when she married. This was a good thing.
The Yongping Madam Marquis thought like this as if she had seen the future. The smile on her face deepened, and she warmly greeted everyone to go to the front and look at the lights.
Fu Tingzhou thought he would be able to leave as soon as he dealt with the situation, but he didn’t expect that as soon as the team dispersed, everyone would stand in his path and push him and Hong Wanqing together. Fu Tingzhou frowned secretly, but it wasn’t over yet. Hong Wanqing was hit by someone and fell in his direction. Fu Tingzhou could only calm down and hold Hong Wanqing.
Hong Wanqing stood blushing and thanked in a low voice: “Thank you, Marquis of Zhenyuan.”
Fu Tingzhou was tall, standing a lot taller in the crowd which didn’t affect his sight at all. He squinted his eyes and looked at Chen Shi, feeling very unhappy in his heart. But in front of everyone in the Yongping Marquis Mansion, he endured and said: “Third Miss Hong doesn’t need to be too polite.”
Finally being able to talk to him, Hong Wanqing’s face was shy, and she said as delicately as a mosquito: “And last time, thank you Zhenyuan Marquis for saving my life.”
It’s okay if she didn’t say it, but Fu Tingzhou’s face turned completely cold as soon as she said last time. Hong Wanqing was fine, but Qing Qing was missing. Fu Tingzhou would rather if Wang Yanqing didn’t push him away, so he would take the arrow himself.
Fu Tingzhou said indifferently: “It was I who caused the Yongping Madam Marquis and the third Miss to be frightened. I should apologize, I dare not be thanked by the third Miss.”
“The Marquis of Zhenyuan’s words are too outrageous.” Hong Wanqing lowered her head and with Fu Tingzhou’s height, she was not aware of Fu Tingzhou’s expression at all. She was still immersed in secret joy, and said: “Marquis of Zhenyuan, I think the lights in front are good, let’s go over there to check it out.”
Fu Tingzhou didn’t want to go, he wanted to take the opportunity to retire, but when he looked around, Chen Shi and the Yongping Madam Marquis had already left, and he couldn’t throw a woman into the crowd. Fu Tingzhou had to be patient and accompany her to the other side to watch the excitement.
At this moment, on another road, Wang Yanqing was standing in front of a lantern stall. She was wearing a thin white Chinese buttoned jacket over her coat, her cuffs were decorated with gold rims and her outer cover was rabbit fur than armor. Leading down to a red horse-faced skirt decorated on the bottom with fine Zhijin pearl beads and covered with a gold rim. All kinds of lights shone on her body, reflecting each other, dazzling and incomparable.
Lu Heng stood one step behind her and accompanied her to light lanterns. He seemed to be staring at the lantern stand, but when someone squeezed past, he looked back accurately and swept towards the other lightly. The person who came by was frightened by his eyes, and left in a daze, not daring to approach again.
Almost at the same time, Wang Yanqing also picked out a lantern. She turned around and showed Lu Heng the glazed lantern: “Second Brother, do you think this lantern looks good?”
The glazed lantern was made into an octagonal palace lantern. The lantern inside rotated slowly, and the light passed through the colorful glaze, as if it was underwater, it was clear and hazy. She was very beautiful with this lamp and Lu Heng nodded with a smile, with no sign of the dangerous appearance just now: “The light with Qing Qing is very beautiful.”
Wang Yanqing glanced at him angrily with a smile on her lips, her eyes wandered, and she said: “Then this one.”
Ling Xi went up to pay the bill, and then automatically returned to the back, becoming invisible in the blink of an eye. Lu Heng and Wang Yanqing still looked as comfortable and light as two people taking a stroll. Wang Yanqing swept toward the crowd, but could not find any trace of Ling Xi. She felt a little apologetic and asked: “It’s a rare holiday today. Won’t they be too tired to follow along like this?”
“No.” Lu Heng held Wang Yanqing’s wrist, and took her forward as usual, “For them, this is nothing.”
Is it? Wang Yanqing didn’t have time to ask and was pulled away by Lu Heng. The lights on this street seemed to be extraordinarily bright, and the surrounding lights were dazzling. Walking through it, Wang Yanqing was dressed in a white velvet jacket, as bright as a fairy concubine, and people who came and went couldn’t help but pay attention. Many people were eager to move to her, but when they saw the man next to the beauty, they gave up wisely.
Lu Heng was wearing his normal clothes today, and he was also observing the grieving period. His colors were very plain, except for a jade around his waist, there was no other decoration. But for the people who walked in the Imperial Guards all year round, even if they didn’t have their flying fish suit and the embroidered spring sword, their invisible murderous aura is enough to scare thieves away.
Lu Heng was tall and fair, and today he dressed in plain clothes again. The colorful lights were reflected on Lu Heng’s body, and there was a sense of the setting sun melting gold and the morning sun shining in the snow. But his beauty was full of deterrence, like a snow leopard of legend standing high with power, showing off his pattern, while no one dares to question his ferocity.
The two walked side by side in the splendid lanterns. It was not known whether the ten block street was a painting, or if they were the painting. Lu Heng noticed that there was a fortune-telling booth across the street, and he thought that such a good opportunity to get extra points should not be missed. So Lu Heng said to Wang Yanqing: “Qing Qing, do you still remember that stall? Last year, you asked for a Qian here. They said that you would recruit bad people and it was not appropriate to discuss marriage. Sure enough, you met Fu Tingzhou. You can’t take it jokingly this year, I’ll take you to ask for another Qian.”
In fact, Wang Yanqing had no impression of this at all, but what Lu Heng said had a reason, a result, and it was a decent thing, and such a thing vaguely appeared in her mind as if she had really experienced it. Wang Yanqing nodded, and Lu Heng took Wang Yanqing to the stall, thinking that with his ability to think fast, he couldn’t come back with just anything. As long as he wishes, he could shape the result he wanted from the Qian.
When the stall owner saw that there were distinguished guests, he quickly nodded and bowed. Wang Yanqing glanced at the stall owner secretly, wanting to see the stall owner’s expression. He didn’t seem to know them. But Wang Yanqing suddenly thought that a year had passed, and it was normal for the stall owner to forget after seeing so many customers. She no longer delved into it and lowered her head to concentrate on the Qian.
With a snap, a bamboo slip fell out. Lu Heng didn’t look in a hurry, he picked it up leisurely and asked with a smile: “Qing Qing, what are you asking for? Is it still marriage?”
“How could that be!” Wang Yanqing glared at Lu Heng inwardly and said, “I asked for Second Brother.”
When Lu Heng was thinking about what Qian to ask for, he only thought about the other. Their brother and sister bond indeed held deep emotions. Lu Heng turned over the bamboo sticks while thinking, and saw the words on the back.
Jing Hua Shui Yue has no substance. Don’t trust the person in front of you.
|| Jing hua shui yue refers to a Chinese idiom. The direct translation is “flower mirror water moon” which is better represented in “flowers in a mirror and the moon reflected in the lake”. This refers to the deception of beauty and an unrealistic rosy view.
The corners of Lu Heng’s lips stopped, and the smile in his eyes faded for an instant. He raised his head and swept towards the stall owner coldly.
Did this person know him? Was this deliberately set here? But he and Wang Yanqing came here at will. How did they know that Lu Heng would pass by here?
Lu Heng had experienced a lot of scheming, and when he saw a coincidence, his first reaction was conspiracy. The stall owner was originally thinking that another deal was done, but when he raised his head and met Lu Heng’s eyes, he was startled and couldn’t even speak.
Seeing that Lu Heng’s expression was wrong, Wang Yanqing hurriedly asked: “Second Brother, what’s the matter?”
In the blink of an eye, Lu Heng had carefully swept the stall owner’s fingers, skin, clothes, and soles of his shoes. Various traces showed that the person was not skilled in martial arts, and there were no weapons under the stall. Lu Heng took the Qian bucket and saw that the wood was ordinary, and that there was no hidden mechanism.
Was this a pure coincidence? But why did words of such nature fall out? Wasn’t this just talking about him?
Wang Yanqing saw that Lu Heng suspected the stall owner at first, and later ruled it out, but Lu Heng’s face did not show ease and instead became more solemn. What was going on? Wang Yanqing was surprised and reached out to pick up the bamboo slip in Lu Heng’s hand.
Lu Heng dodged back slightly with his hand, and Wang Yanqing raised her eyes and looked at Lu Heng fixedly. Lu Heng wanted to prevent her from being more suspicious, so he smiled reassuringly at her and said: “This Qian is not allowed, you must not believe it.”
Wang Yanqing looked at him silently: “But you said just now that I asked for a Qian here last year, which was very accurate, and I shouldn’t take it jokingly this year.”
Lu Heng could hold fire, but he never expected that the fire would bend back and arch to him. The meaning of this sign was too straightforward, Lu Heng couldn’t even mold it if he wanted to.
He could only watch Wang Yanqing take the bamboo slip, lower her eyes, and carefully read the words above. Lu Heng kept staring at Wang Yanqing’s eyes, as her eyelashes moved, and she quickly finished reading.
Lu Heng’s heart also tightened, would she become suspicious of it? It stands to reason that with so many people around her, she may not be able to think of him at once.
Lu Heng thought quickly, and Wang Yanqing had already put down the bamboo stick. She thought to herself that Second Brother had really been in the Imperial Guards for a long time. If he didn’t like the Qian, he would immediately not permit it, and the ones that were beneficial to him would be dissipated immediately. He also said that she could not distinguish between solving cases and life. From her point of view, Second Brother’s life was completely encroached upon by official duties.
Wang Yanqing was thinking about how to tell her Second Brother when a faint “Qing Qing” was heard from the crowd.
She turned back subconsciously.
Outside the layers of lights, Fu Tingzhou had accompanied Hong Wanqing to come and watch the lights. Hong Wanqing had raised lanterns again and again and when we was bored waiting, he looked around, and accidentally swept across a soft and beautiful silhouette. Fu Tingzhou saw what could only have a supernatural explanation, and shouted absently: “Qing Qing?”
He thought he had made a mistake again, but this time, the woman heard his activity and turned back. When Fu Tingzhou saw her face, it was like being struck by lightning for an instant.
Translator’s Note: Thank you so much for your patience, it means a lot! Enjoy 🙂