TIGR Chapter 59

The Imperial Guard’s Revenge

Chapter 59 Sleeping Together

Wang Yanqing vaguely heard the activity behind her, turned around, and found a group of people walking along the river bank. It was Lu Heng and his party who had gone to the mountains to check the terrain. Wang Yanqing hastily put down the stone in her hand, and said to Li Zhengze: “The person I was waiting for has come back, and we made it this far today, you should go back quickly.”

Li Zhengze saw the crowd, put away the stone in fear, and ran away. Wang Yanqing got up and unexpectedly found dirt on the corner of her skirt. She was embarrassed and hurried to clean it up quietly.

Fortunately, the large team didn’t notice her. The officials surrounded the prefect and county magistrate, passed by the willow shade, and walked straight to the village. Only Lu Heng left the team and walked in her direction.

Lu Heng led his horse and stopped under the willow branches in the dazzling midsummer sun. He swept over Wang Yanqing and asked with a smile: “What are you doing?”

Wang Yanqing’s skirt was a little messy because she sat outside for a long time, her temples were with sweat, and her snowy skin was slightly red. Wang Yanqing raised her hand to brush the stray hair on her cheek, and said: “It’s nothing.”

Her hand was about to touch her cheek when it was held by Lu Heng. Lu Heng took out the handkerchief and carefully wiped the dirt on her fingers: “I saw you playing with dirt here halfway across the river. How old are you this year?”

“It was not playing with dirt.” Wang Yanqing corrected him righteously, “I was passing on my knowledge on the art of arranging troops.”

Lu Heng couldn’t help laughing: “Qing Qing actually has this kind of talent? Why didn’t you teach me this kind of unique knowledge, but instead pass it onto outsiders first?”

Wang Yanqing said lightly: “You shouldn’t learn how to play with rocks. If you are seen by others, your will damage your official authority.”

Lu Heng finally chuckled. The sunshine in the seventh month was dazzling. He smiled softly, his figure was slender and straight, his eyes were full of bright stars, and he had the smell of lush mountains and forest on his body.

Before they came back, Wang Yanqing felt this mountain village was completely hung in mourning apparel and was located amid towering mountains and steep ridges in a terrifying silence; however, as soon as they came back, Wang Yanqing felt that this place was of green mountains and clear waters, with boundless lands filled to the brim with the force of nature and vitality.

All this changed just because of him.

Wang Yanqing looked at his dark blue official uniform, from which the flying fish was staring with a pair of copper eyes, looking back at her with bared teeth and claws. Wang Yanqing said: “Second Brother, why are you still wearing dark clothes in such hot weather?”

Lu Heng carefully wiped off the dust on her fingertips, and said: “Wearing red or purple on a walk through the mountains and forests is rather clumsy.”

Lu Heng wore scarlet clothes when riding and going to court, but most of his clothes were casual when he went out on missions. On the few occasions where he could reveal his identity, he wore blue and black official clothes. The Imperial Guard uniform was too conspicuous, and he didn’t want to reveal himself unless necessary.

At the least, he didn’t want to do foolish things such as wearing red clothes in the forest.

Lu Heng’s horse was well-trained, even if there was no lead, it did not run wild, and it quietly grazed under the tree. When Lu Heng whistled, it came over voluntarily. Lu Heng put away the handkerchief, held Wang Yanqing’s hand, and walked towards the village holding the reins in his other hand. He glanced back as he passed a tree.

Behind the tree trunk, a little boy quickly retracted his head, revealing only a pair of dark eyes, looking at them curiously and fearfully.

Lu Heng recognized that this was the child who was talking to Wang Yanqing just now, and he asked: “Who is this?”

“The grandson of Li Zheng’s family, his name is Li Zhengze.”

If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com

“Easy to say, Zhengze. It’s a good name.”

The two of them stopped talking, as this was not a place to talk, and they didn’t talk any further. It was already late when they returned to the village. Everyone drank water and ate food, and after resting for a while, they set off for Xiancheng.

It was unrealistic for so many people to stay in Hegu Village. Lu Heng had already seen the surrounding terrain, so there was no need to stay in the village anymore. It was better to go to a more convenient county government as Lu Heng has never wronged himself in clothing, food, housing, and transportation.

In the evening of that same day, Lu Heng, Prefect Cheng, and the others arrived in Qixian County and stayed in the county office. County magistrate, Tao Yiming, invited the magistrate and commander to have dinner at the best restaurant in the city, and at the same time sent people back to the county office to clean up the rooms.

The county government office in Qixian County had probably never been so lively. Two superiors came to the government office at one time, and each brought a lot of attendants. So, it was a lot of trouble to clean up the room, arrange the manpower, cut the grass and feed the horses. During this period, Tao Yiming, the county magistrate, proposed to vacate the county magistrate’s house, that is, the county magistrate’s residence, to Lu Heng, but he refused.

He had a cleanliness quirk in this regard, he didn’t like to touch other people’s things, and he didn’t like others to touch his things. He would rather live in a small but clean, empty house.

The restaurant knew that the superiors were coming, so they had already cleared the place. Lu Heng, Prefect Cheng, Tao Yiming, and other officials of the state government ate on the second floor, while Wang Yanqing ate alone in a private room. To be honest, Wang Yanqing was very satisfied with the result, she didn’t have to think about other people’s expressions, and she didn’t have to worry about her persona, she could eat her meal freely.

Most of the social engagements in the officialdom were like this, three parts eating and seven parts drinking. Wang Yanqing thought that they would be in there for a long time, but she didn’t expect that it would end after a short while.

The waiter came in and respectfully invited Wang Yanqing to come downstairs. Wang Yanqing went out to board the sedan chair, and after a while, the carriers picked up the sedan chair and walked to the county government office.

Wang Yanqing was a womenfolk, and she dismounted in a different same place from the men and did not get off the sedan chair until she entered the courtyard wall. After she came out, a servant woman immediately stepped forward and led Wang Yanqing to the place where she was staying tonight.

The small county office was overcrowded at the moment, but Wang Yanqing was led to a still and quiet place. This yard had just been tidied up, the place was not big, but it was quiet. It consisted of three rooms in the front, surrounded by walls on both sides, and connected to other courtyards with ebony doors. A few clusters of bamboo were planted in the courtyard forming a small square like a chessboard.

In the courtyard, there was a path made of stones, on which there were still traces of sprinkling and sweeping water. The maid led Wang Yanqing to the door of the house, pushed open the door, and said: “Miss, this was originally a place to store documents, but the county magistrate knew that Master Lu preferred a quiet space, so he immediately ordered us to clean it up. The hot tea and hot water are all ready, Miss. Take a look, is there anything missing?”

Wang Yanqing lifted her skirt and stepped over the threshold, shaking her head upon hearing this: “No. Thank you.”

The maid wiped her hands on the hem of her skirt and said: “That’s good. There are still things to do in the kitchen, so I will leave first. If you have any orders, just call someone. Please excuse me.”

Wang Yanqing unconsciously thanked her. After the maid left, Wang Yanqing slowly walked into the room. The three rooms were not big, and they were completely incomparable to the Lu Mansion. The west room was stacked with many boxes and scrolls, and there was almost no place to stay. The main room was well furnished, with calligraphy, paintings, and chairs, and the east room was vacated for Lu Heng to make a bedroom with bedding.

All this seemed ordinary to Wang Yanqing, but for the county government, it was not easy to clean it up like this. Wang Yanqing didn’t have too high hopes for the place where she was temporarily staying. She turned around and suddenly realized something, why there was only one bed?

When Lu Heng came in, he found Wang Yanqing searching everywhere in the house, and asked: “What are you looking for?”

Wang Yanqing felt beyond words, she frowned and asked: “Why did they only prepare one room?”

There was more than one room, but only one bed.

Lu Heng responded calmly, lifted his clothes and sat down, and said: “You insisted on claiming that you were my maid today, isn’t it normal for a maid to share a room with me?”

If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com

Wang Yanqing was stunned and unable to answer for a while. Lu Heng poured tea leisurely, glanced at her unhurriedly, and said with a smile: “Why, do you want them to rearrange it?”

Asking the county magistrate to come out and tidy up a room was only a matter of Lu Heng’s words, but in this way, they could change their assumptions and be fickle, which may arouse suspicion from outsiders. Wang Yanqing gritted her teeth and said: “Forget it. Anyway, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before, so don’t bother.”

Lu Heng was drinking tea leisurely, but when he heard this, he put the teacup back on the table with a bang and lost all interest in his tea. Just as Wang Yanqing had released a burdening thought, she suddenly heard a noise coming from behind. She turned her head in surprise: “Second Brother, what’s wrong?”

Lu Heng sat upright, pulled the corner of his lower lip coldly, and said: “Nothing.”

He said it was nothing, but from the tone of his voice, it didn’t sound like it was nothing. Wang Yanqing looked at him questionably. If he was fine then why did he suddenly get angry?

Wang Yanqing temporarily put the things in her hand aside, sat down at the table, and looked at him with a pair of bright eyes and concern: “Second Brother, what are you thinking about?”

Lu Heng also wanted to know why he was upset. He exhaled, gritted his teeth secretly, and said: “It’s nothing, I just thought of an unlucky person.”

Judging from his tone, it seemed to be someone from the officialdom. Wang Yanqing let out a sigh and stopped asking. She wiped the water stains on the table, poured tea for Lu Heng again, and said: “Second Brother, don’t think about unhappy things. The most important thing is now.”

Lu Heng narrowed his eyes, and smiled inexplicably: “You are right, I am being narrow-minded.”

“Second Brother, did you find anything by the river today?”

Obviously, he was the one who asked her to call him Second Brother at first, but now, Lu Heng was very upset when he heard her repeating “Second Brother”. He said: “There is no one now, so you don’t have to call me Second Brother all the time.”

Wang Yanqing looked back, and although there were no words, his clear and hardening eyes silently expressed his meaning: “What are you talking about?”

Lu Heng raised his eyebrows, and he also felt that his words were illogical and completely unreasonable. Lu Heng tried for a moment, but he couldn’t make up a perfect reason, so he gave up and said: “Forget it, let’s talk about it later. They probably thought that people from the capital were trash, so they took me to see several flood-prone areas.”

“And then?”

“It was a bunch of nonsense.” Lu Heng said, “Listening to the idiots’ lies was torture. I got a rough understanding of the terrain around me, so I came back early.”

Wang Yanqing nodded, her eyes revealing a thoughtful look. Lu Heng took a sip of his tea and asked leisurely: “What about you, great show woman.”

Wang Yanqing was thinking seriously at first, but when she heard his words, Wang Yanqing showed embarrassment, and said: “The situation was special at that time, so I had no choice but to make that decision…”

“You don’t have to explain to me.” Lu Heng said with a smile, “You never have to apologize for what you want to do, even to me. Your method is very good, I was almost deceived by you, but…”

There was tension in Wang Yanqing’s eyes, thinking that something went wrong. Lu Heng took a sip of tea slowly, whetted his appetite, and said lightly: “It’s just that your acting skills are too bad.”

Wang Yanqing asked: “Was it too exaggerated?”

Lu Heng nodded: “So you know it yourself.”

Wang Yanqing was a little distressed, but she really tried her best. She sighed and humbly asked for advice: “Second Brother, how should I act?”

Lu Heng opened his mouth and was about to give pointers, but when the words came to his lips, he smiled: “I haven’t studied these things, how do I know?”

If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com

Wang Yanqing’s promotion was fruitless, and she waved her hands in frustration: “Forget it, just ignore this. Brother, I think you need to see this.”

Wang Yanqing took out something from her bag. Lu Heng took it, scanned it, and asked with a smile: “How did you get it?”

Talking about this, Wang Yanqing became energetic, and she continued to talk: “When you inspected Aunt Liu’s house, I could tell that Li Zheng’s expression was off. He wiped his sweat frequently, rubbed his hands unconsciously, and looked very restless. I guessed that Li Zheng knew something, so I tried to sneak into their house. After I entered the house, I found that Lizheng’s family mother and daughter-in-law seemed to be acting amiss, so I took advantage when the mother went out and quietly provoked the daughter-in-law…”

Wang Yanqing stopped. Lu Heng held back his smile, focused his eyes on her, and nodded slightly: “I can understand that one army cannot tolerate two generals. My brother and I didn’t get along well when we lived in the same mansion, let alone mother and daughter-in-law. Continue.”

Wang Yanqing was a little surprised, she always thought that he was someone who would ask his daughter-in-law to be filial to her parents-in-law and take care of her younger siblings, but she didn’t expect Lu Heng to be surprisingly open-minded in this regard. But why did she feel that way? How could she have such a big misunderstanding about her Second Brother?

Wang Yanqing felt that she was being outrageous, and continued to explain: “I learned from the conversation with Lizheng’s daughter-in-law, Madam Wu, that Lizheng and his wife made a lot of money, but when they secretly confessed it to their grandson, they were unfortunately overheard by Madam Wu. Madam Wu felt that they were greedy for the funeral expenses given by the imperial court to the widows and orphans. When Madam Wu went out, I took the opportunity to search their house, but unfortunately, I found nothing.”

Lu Heng raised his eyebrows and admired her sincerely: “Qing Qing, you have done a lot today. As long as the people in the Imperial Guard are half as capable as you, the Ming Dynasty will be invincible.”

Wang Yanqing shook her head, she was very self-aware about this: “I took up the status of a woman, and I just pretended to be innocent. If I was replaced by a man in that home, Madam Qian and Madam Wu would definitely not go out. The Imperial Guards under Second Brother each have their own strengths. None of us can replace the other, we can only do our things well.”

Lu Heng didn’t even notice it himself, but there was an indescribable trace of pity in his eyes. What Wang Yanqing said was not bad, handling a case was not the work of one person. The investigation, arrest, interrogation, and writing of documents were the result of everyone’s contribution. If someone under him took credit while being arrogant and self-satisfied, he would definitely beat him up, but for Wang Yanqing, he hoped that she would be more arrogant and selfish.

Lu Heng stroked her hair and said: “You’ve done a good job. There is really no substitute for you when it comes to questioning.”

Lu Heng suddenly praised her, making Wang Yanqing very embarrassed. She lowered her head shyly, but there was a smile on her face: “It’s good that Second Brother doesn’t dislike me. In the afternoon, Madam Qian and Madam Wu both fell asleep, and Li Zheng’s grandson, Li Zhengze, was playing alone under the eaves. In other words, I took advantage of the child. I did a little trick, and the child admired me so much that he wanted to worship me as a teacher. I asked him to exchange his most valuable thing and I thought he would find the money hidden by his grandmother, after all, Madam Wu said Madam Qian had secretly told Li Zhengze…”

Lu Heng found that it was always easy to laugh when he and Wang Yanqing were together. He clenched his fist to cover his lips and coughed amusedly: “Qing Qing, although this kind of matter was under the control of the governor, the Imperial Guard is more or less in the name of patrolling law and order. You shouldn’t talk about this kind of thing in front of me?”

She was honest like a criminal who was explaining the process of the crime. Lu Heng thought to himself, how could she be so cute?

Wang Yanqing had no choice but to seriously defend herself: “Even if he took it out, I wouldn’t touch it.”

She was done for, she, even more, resembled one. Lu Heng held back his laughter with great difficulty and said with a smile: “I know. It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone else, keep talking.”

Lu Heng took the stance of someone who would not report her to the officials. Wang Yanqing gave him a dark look, and said: “In the end, he ran outside the door, dug out a pile of stones under the willow tree by the river, and gave me the one just now.”

If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com

Lu Heng already fully understood her logic: “So, you played with him under the tree all afternoon for clay?”

Wang Yanqing corrected him seriously: “It’s a stone.”

“Okay, a stone.” Lu Heng quickly corrected himself and asked, “Where did he find these stones?”

“In the river.”

Lu Heng nodded, then slowly stroked the teacup with his fingers, and stopped talking. Wang Yanqing looked at him for a while, then quietly asked: “Second Brother, have you figured it out already?”

Lu Heng was quite helpless: “I’m honored that you think highly of me, but it’s only been a day.”

Wang Yanqing responded with some disappointment. She looked at the densely packed files in the west room, and asked: “It just so happens that there are files in here, why don’t we go through them secretly?”

Lu Heng looked towards the west room. There was no light on, and there were many files piled up together, like a giant monster. Lu Heng withdrew his gaze with just one glance and said: “Forget it, there are too many, I won’t be able to go through them all by tomorrow. With a beautiful woman by my side, why should I leave a warm and fragrant gem and go to the cold room to look through the files?”

Wang Yanqing frowned, feeling that the matter was very difficult: “Then what should we do? With such a big incident in Hegu Village, the local governor should have dealt with it seriously, but the county magistrate drove them out several times. Could it be that there is something wrong with magistrate Tao?”

Like an all-knowing database, Lu Heng said upon seeing this: “Tao Yiming was renowned in the fifth year of Zhengde, a native of the Qingyuan Prefecture. His family was poor, and he failed in the general examinations, so he gave up on the entrance examination and became an official. But he had no relatives to support him, nor did he have a teacher to support him. Even if he wanted to join a certain faction, he would not be accepted. Therefore, his luck was not very good. After twenty years in the court, he is still a county magistrate, and the places where he works are mostly poor and remote villages, without much money.”

Wang Yanqing understood that this was a person who changed his destiny by studying, but even then, he could not completely change. Wang Yanqing pondered Tao Yiming’s life carefully and she suddenly realized something was wrong. She asked: “Second Brother, Tao Yiming is only a county magistrate from the seventh rank, how do you know him in such detail?”

Even if the Imperial Guards collected information, there were so many high-ranking officials in the capital, there were too many first-rank officials for him to keep an eye on. How did Lu Heng happen to see Tao Yiming’s information?

Lu Heng said in his heart that she was not stupid. He finished drinking the tea and said: “I didn’t know him before, and I didn’t even know Cheng Youhai. It was covered at the drinking table just now.”

Wang Yanqing let out a soft oh, and finally understood why Lu Heng agreed to have dinner with them. Wang Yanqing felt shocked, raised her eyebrows, and asked: “There were so many people at the dinner table, and Tao Yiming is not stupid, he wouldn’t tell his whole story. How did you ask him?”

This was too simple for Lu Heng, he said casually: “He didn’t need to say it. Judging by his conversation, clothing, and demeanor, it is not difficult to infer his family and experience. As long as a person shows up, there are flaws in every aspect.”

Wang Yanqing was amazed. In terms of observing people, Lu Heng was also invincible.

Wang Yanqing asked seriously: “Then what should we do next?”

Lu Heng looked at her with a smile, and also said in a sincere voice: “Sleep.”

The tip of Wang Yanqing’s eyebrows twitched. She thought she had heard him wrong, but she and Lu Heng looked at each other and she gradually realized that it was true.

Wang Yanqing was silent, not sure what Lu Heng was going to do again. Lu Heng glanced at her and said clearly: “I’m not lying to you, this time it’s true. You don’t want to sleep because you are afraid of delaying the investigation, or are you worried about me?”

Wang Yanqing didn’t know whether she was being exposed or wronged, and said angrily: “No.”

“That’s great.” Lu Heng raised his chin toward the bed and said, “It’s getting late, you should go to bed.”

Lu Heng calmed down when he saw Wang Yanqing’s face slowly flushing with his own eyes. Lu Heng couldn’t bear to embarrass her after all, so he spoke before she opened her mouth: “But you are sleeping away from home, so be more careful. Don’t change your clothes tonight and don’t sleep too hard, be more vigilant.”

If you are enjoying the novel, please support this translation and get direct access to new releases by reading it at the translator’s original website: https://justforfuntrans.com

Wang Yanqing let out a long sigh of relief. She wanted to say this just now, but she was afraid that Second Brother might misunderstand. Fortunately, Second Brother thought of this too.

Feeling relieved, Wang Yanqing went to the room to get ready to sleep. Sitting alone in the main room, Lu Heng looked at the porcelain cup in his hand and sighed softly after a long time.

The evening breeze outside the window was faint, and the moonlight melted away. The sound was so soft that it seemed to be an illusion.

After washing up, Wang Yanqing loosened her hair and lay on the bed with all her clothes on. Afraid of embarrassment, she blew out the lights in the room before going to bed, leaving only a wall lamp in the corner.

She closed her eyes, and time seemed to be distorted in the darkness. After an unknown amount of time, footsteps could be heard faintly around her, followed by a familiar breath. Wang Yanqing woke up from the vague drowsiness in an instant. She opened her mouth and tentatively called: “Second Brother?”

When Lu Heng heard this address, he felt even more uncomfortable. He responded, his voice flat and indifferent, without any emotion.

Seeing that it was indeed him, Wang Yanqing closed her eyes again in relief. When Lu Heng found out that Wang Yanqing was going back to sleep, his heart went quiet for a while.

He didn’t know whether to thank her for trusting his character or to hate her for being close to her real second brother.

Lu Heng blew out the last light. He was still hesitating just now about whether to come in to sleep or go to the east room to deal with the night, but after hearing Wang Yanqing’s words, he suddenly changed his mind.

She called out Second Brother in her sleep and immediately fell asleep with peace of mind. If he let go of this opportunity again, wouldn’t there be something wrong with him?

Lu Heng was lying in his clothes and he didn’t plan to sleep all night. How could he sleep when another person was lying so close to him and could sneak up on him at any time? So in theory, going to bed and going to the east room to read books, ended in the same result.

But when he really laid down and listened to her long and shallow breathing, Lu Heng unexpectedly found that it was not as repulsive as he imagined. In Lu Heng’s twenty-third year, on an ordinary summer night, he lay on an uncomfortable bed in a strange mansion, and suddenly he was shaken by what he had believed in the past.

He always thought that he couldn’t trust people, that he could never sleep peacefully next to another person, and that marrying a wife was just another place to act. He wasn’t willing, so he always avoided marrying a wife. He thought that this would be the case, but in fact, he hadn’t ever tried.

It seemed too arbitrary to draw a conclusion so early.

Lu Heng was thinking about his own life arrangements when he suddenly heard a strange noise coming from outside the window. Almost at the same time, Lu Heng suddenly opened his eyes.

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