Once Zhong Wan had made his decision, he had a chat with Xuan Rui and the others.
Not wanting to worry them for no reason, he didn’t treat the matter as something serious. His tone proved relaxed as he said at the dining table, “After His Majesty’s birthday, I want to remain in the capital for a while.”
Zhong Wan had spoken in such a light manner, yet panic had struck the children.
His expression remained natural. “I have one to two old friends in the capital. At present, it’s inconvenient to meet with them. Once you have all left for Qian An, I want to be able to avoid others and take care of them.”
The people apart from Zhong Wan shared a helpless look. What other “old friend” did he have?
The first to react was Xuan Congxin. She wiped the corners of her mouth with her handkerchief, slowly saying, “After His Majesty sees us this time…he will probably not think of us again. There aren’t any important matters going on at Qian An. If you have matters to attend to at the capital, then just stay.”
Xuan Yu glanced at Xuan Congxin. Then his gaze fell upon Zhong Wan. In an instant, his eyes reddened. He blurted, “Why do you have to stay here?! I don’t want to be separated from you! It’s so cold here. Will you be able to handle it? Why don’t we just leave together? Just what do you have to take care of? How about… elder brother and sister leave first? I’ll stay with you. Once you’ve finished what you need to do, we can go home together!”
“Zhong Wan naturally has his own affairs to attend to.” Xuan Congxin looked down on her younger brother’s crying-at-the-drop-of-a-hat appearance. Furrowing her brows, she said, “What’s there to cry over? Stop crying! Stuff your tears back in!”
“I…” Since young, Xuan Yu had been afraid of his twin sister with a strong personality. After she had reprimanded him, he ceased his sobs, desperately holding back his tears. “Then Zhong Wan, when will you return?” he asked in a pitiful manner. “I… Can I wait for you? I, I…”
Trying to desperately grasp for straws, Xuan Yu said without thinking, “You still need to tutor me!”
“Anyone can tutor you!” Xuan Congxin frowned. “Are we unable to hire a teacher for you? You dare to keep crying?!”
Xuan Yu immediately stopped his tears from flowing, frightened to the point that he didn’t even dare to utter a word.
A sigh escaping his lips, Zhong Wan found it such a pity. If Xuan Congxin were born male, after two years he could split from the main household and establish his own branch. And then Zhong Wan would truly be at ease.
Zhong Wan shifted his gaze to Xuan Rui. Deeply concerned at heart, Xuan Rui immersed himself in his meal. A while later, he took his time saying said, “Just leave with us. If you stay here… Just as you’re worried about us, we’re also worried about you.”
Once again, Xuan Congxin drew her brows together. “Elder brother, why have you also…?”
Xuan Rui raised his head from his bowl. Stared straight at Xuan Congxin. Voice low and thick with anger, he said, “Could we just stay at the capital like that? You two have grown up in Qian An without any worries, so how could you know our household’s past crime? Those days when fear always followed us like a shadow? I don’t want to stay here for even one day…”
“Don’t worry.” Zhong Wan patted Xuan Rui’s hand to soothe him. “I won’t do anything, just—”
“Why don’t the two of you think a bit for his sake?” Xuan Congxin just couldn’t hold back any longer. “Zhong Wan is already twenty-four years old this year. Among normal families, he should already be—”
As a girl, no matter how strong she was, there were things Xuan Congxin couldn’t say aloud. Her face flushed red, and after a pause, she said, “After His Majesty’s birthday, our prince estate should be in the clear. After taking care of us for so many years, he’s bound to think of his personal affairs, right?”
Shocked, Xuan Yu asked, “What… personal affairs?”
Xuan Congxin’s cheeks remained scarlet. “Currently, His Majesty has already revoked Zhong Wan’s status as a slave.” Her voice was just above a whisper. “It’s about time for him to settle his marriage. What noble ladies are in Qian An? After he returns, he won’t be able to find anyone suitable. He wants to settle his marriage in the capital, so why do you all…?”
Xuan Congxin didn’t finish speaking her thoughts. She lowered her head and took a sip of soup. Voice nearly inaudible, she said, “After his marriage is settled… he will naturally return with his wife. So why are you all in a rush?”
Turning to look at Zhong Wan, Xuan Rui said cheerfully, “So that’s what it is? You’re trying to find us a little sister-in-law?”
Xuan Yu also looked at him, speechless. Then he collected his wits. “So that’s… what you wanted to do?”
Finding it hard to express what he wanted to convey, Zhong Wan looked at the three children and forced a smile. “How do you want me to put this…?”
Although curiosity enveloped Xuan Congxin, due to her status as a girl, she could not say much. She could only faintly mention in a round-about-manner, “Anyway… which family do you have your eye on?”
“Is the little sister-in-law pretty?” asked Xuan Yu, excited.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Zhong Wan could only make the best out of a bad situation, awkwardly saying, “They’re pretty…”
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Zhong Wan felt wronged but could not utter a word about it. He tried his best to smile. “It’s not like that… I don’t think they’re that old.”
“But she’s also not young,” muttered Xuan Congxin. “You… Why did you choose someone so old?”
A hollow laugh spilled from his lips. “I’m also not young anymore, and they… have a youthful appearance.”
Astonished, Xuan Rui blurted, “You’ve met her already?!”
Zhong Wan regretted saying anything. He grunted in acknowledgment, the urge to bite himself to death strong. Why on earth did he weave such lies…? Whatever he said couldn’t fool them!
A light flashed in Xuan Yu’s eyes. “Then tell us how tall she is!”
Gloomy and regretful, Zhong Wan said without thinking, “A bit taller than me.”
“Huh?!” Xuan Yu cut an extremely startled figure. “Taller than you?!!”
The expressions of Xuan Rui and Xuan Congxin also abruptly changed.
What kind of girl did Zhong Wan find?!
“Oh, no.” Zhong Wan clenched his fists, knuckles glowing white. “They’re… about the same height as me. I… I don’t find these things important.”
“As long as you’re happy.” Xuan Congxin stared at Zhong Wan, a complicated look on her face. She couldn’t help but ask, “Then…how is her temperament?”
At such an old age and tall stature, this person must be outstanding if she could capture Zhong Wan’s heart. Or perhaps she had a good temper, gentle and considerate?
Zhong Wan’s emotions grew unstable and moody, bubbling with the urge to kill at any time, about to go crazy at any minute.
If he actually answered them truthfully, he feared that Xuan Rui, Xuan Yu, and Xuan Congxin would rather die than let him remain in the capital.
Just what kind of monster did Zhong Wan fall for…?
Zhong Wan forced himself to hold on. “They have a really good temperament.”
The three children shared a look. They thought it was fine as long as Zhong Wan was happy.
After finishing their meals, the four people each had their own thoughts. Then they made for their respective chambers.
Zhong Wan let escape a sigh of relief. He chuckled twice, stepping foot within his own courtyard.
As soon as he had entered his room, Yan Pingshan, the steward, followed him in.
“What is it?”
Zhong Wan sat by a fire pan. With a pair of metal tongs, he grabbed a lump of coal from his hand-held brazier and placed it in the fire pan by his feet. He pushed and poked at the coal within, blowing lightly at them. Shortly after, the fire pan heated up.
Yan Pingshan shut the windows and door. Whispered, “According to our people, one would fear Third Prince won’t make it.”
Zhong Wan drew his brows together.
Ever since Third Prince had been born, he was sickly and frail. To drag on for thirty something years was already difficult. But why was it only now that he had encountered a problem…?
Yan Pingshan was very anxious. “At most, he could survive for a few more months. It could occur after His Majesty’s birthday… Otherwise, if the funeral arrangements occur before it, then we won’t be able to leave.”
“You’re right…” Then Zhong Wan asked, “What did the imperial physician say?”
“The imperial physician said that if he is able to survive until the spring, then he would be able to recover.”
Zhong Wan sighed. “So this means he won’t be able to live past the spring… That’s either right at the beginning or end of the emperor’s birthday.”
Yan Pingshan couldn’t help but complain softly, “He just can’t choose a right time.”
“It’s certain that the emperor knows. In this way, would the festivities and banquet of His Majesty’s birthday still be held?”
“Of course.” Yan Pingshan laughed in contempt. He spoke even softer. “Right now, Third Prince can’t even swallow a mouthful of congee without struggling. Yet the emperor doesn’t seem broken-hearted at the slightest. What ought to be done would be done. Just in these past few days, he invited all the imperial clan members to entertain them for dinner, eating until full and sleeping until rested. No one is enjoying life as much as he is.”
Worry enveloped Zhong Wan. If it’s like this… then that meant the people of Prince Qian An’s estate would be stuck in the capital for another few months.
Regarding Prince Yu’s estate, these past few days, Yu She’s mood had been terrible.
Originally, he had wanted to pick out mistakes in Lin Si, and capture the latter again, imprisoning him in Dali Temple for two days. But a few days later, Lin Si seemed to have vanished out of thin air. Lin Si had hidden in Fourth Prince’s estate for multiple days without ever showing himself.
Yu She did not know Lin Si had been ordered by Zhong Wan to not make any movements. He only thought that that mute was his natural enemy. When he wasn’t searching for him, he would appear before him. When he was searching for him, he’d be nowhere in sight.
Impatient, Yu She said, “If I can’t find his shortcomings, then I can’t capture him? There’s no need to find an excuse. I’ll just seize him directly!”
Steward Feng said in a mocking manner, “If we capture him without a reason, one would fear it would offend Fourth Prince…”
“Am I afraid of offending him?”
Steward Feng paused. That’s right. Your honored self even dares to offend the emperor, so what could you be afraid of?
Like this, Lin Si just wanted to leave the estate and take a breath of fresh air, when the people of Prince Yu’s estate threw a sack on his head and took him away.
Yu She sat in the seat of honor, looking down at Lin Si from above.
Seven years ago, after Zhong Wan had left, Yu She did not have a relationship with Lin Si at the start.
Yu She did not take care of Lin Si, nor did he make trouble for him. They coexisted in harmony.
Until Lin Si recklessly investigated Yu She’s background.
At that time, Yu She truly wanted to kill him.
Even after Xuan Jing caused havoc at Dali Temple, Yu She still did not change his mind.
Since Xuan Jing dared to investigate his background, if he did not teach the former a lesson, then it’d be the same as waiting for his own death.
“If it weren’t for…” Yu She glanced at Lin Si. And he did not finish what he was saying. Instead, he ordered with an indifferent tone, “Bring them over.”
The servant lifted countless torture instruments, throwing them before Lin Si’s eyes.
“You should be clear about my tactics…” said Yu She slowly. “Don’t tell me I can’t rush to indiscriminately punish you by myself. This rule does not exist here. I will ask you one thing. You can refuse to answer. But then I will use each of these torture instruments on you one after the other.”
Yu She was well-versed in the way of interrogation by torture, not at all in a rush to act. Rather, he summoned an old bailiff of the yamen who was adept at employing punishment. And he let this person place each of the tens of torture instruments in front of Lin Si, preparing them in advance as an initial display of strength.
Dali Temple’s punishment equipment were of much better quality than those of the Ministry of Justice. One hour later, the old bailiff finished placing the equipment. Yu She leisurely sipped his tea. “Don’t worry. I have a lot of time.”
Lin Si looked at the torture instruments. Raised his head to look at Yu She.
Yu She finally paid attention to Lin Si. “What is Zhong Wan’s childhood name?”
Tone serene, Yu She said, “Don’t tell me you don’t know. You two grew up together, so I won’t believe it.”
He set the teacup down. Shifting his gaze to one of the torture instruments, he said, “You don’t want to talk? That’s fine. I’ll speak first…Do you want to know how this is used? I’m pretty free today, so I can take my time explaining it to you…”
Lin Shi trembled faintly. Yu She narrowed his eyes.
Using much effort, Lin Si raised a hand, pressing it to the ground.
Yu She stared at him, gaze full of distrust.
Two servants pressed Lin Si down on the ground. It was quite inconvenient to move. Yet he lifted his hand, expending much effort to tap his fingers on a puddle of hot pepper water. And on the limestone slab before him, wrote out two characters: Zhong Wan’s childhood name.
Afterward, he kowtowed.
Not a word escaped Yu She’s lips.
A while later, he said, “Does your master Zhong Wan know you’re this loyal?”
Shame colored Lin Si’s face. He lowered his head and did not respond.
Yu She glanced at the torture instruments in the room, finding it complicated to express his thoughts…
What was the point of using up one hour to set out so many pieces of old punishment equipment?
“Very good. You’re ready to give and take.” After a long time, Yu She said, “You can leave.”
Once again, Lin Si kowtowed. And he left.
Glossary and Character Page <- updated 2/12/20.
Oh my god, this whole time ZW was talking about YS when describing the girl he wanted to marry LOLOLO.
And LOL that huge display of power and threat just to get ZW’s childhood name… what are you doing Yu She XD
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