Disclaimer: this is an abridged version of Chubby Cheeks‘ translated chapter. Please follow the link for the complete chapter, translator notes, characters lists, etc.
Chapter 84: Distrust
On the third day, when Shen Miao came to the Feng Xian Pawnshop, the Chen brothers had already been waiting for a long time.
Compared to before, both of them seemed to have changed a lot. Especially Chen Yue Shan, that bold and uninhibited air was gone and replaced by dense clouds. Shen Miao gave Chen Yue Shan and Chen Yue Hai a glance and had an idea in her heart. In all likelihood both of them had already inquired about the younger Chen sister’s information, perhaps had also personally saw her. To witness for themselves the miserable situation that their sister had fallen to was the greatest provocation for someone who was decisive in killing in the pugilist world. Otherwise, in the previous life the Chen family would not have recklessly gone forward to assassinate Prince Yu.
“Shen Young Lady.” Chen Yue Hai spoke first, “Previously Shen Young Lady said that there was a way to let the Imperial family not being able to trace the matter back to the Chen family. Is it possible to tell us brothers?”
Ji Yu Shu looked at the flowers inside his cup.
Shen Miao sighed, “I naturally want to help but just like what was said before, the risk I am taking would be great. In some ways, the Shen family is tied to the same boat as your Chen family, so if anything goes wrong, the Shen family will also suffer.”
Chen Yue Shan paused before saying, “I know that this action is forcing one to do things against one’s will, so if Young Lady is willing to help, half of our Chen family business would be given to the Shen family.”
Ji Yu Shu could not help but raise his head and look at Chen Yue Shan.
The Chen family was the richest in JiangNan, which had been fertile land since ancient times. The Chen family’s money was estimated to be much more than the Imperial family, and now to take the initiative to give half of this business to the Shen family, it must be asking a tiger for its skin.
Shen Miao saw Chen Yue Shan’s pleading expression and could not help but be in a daze. They obviously knew that even if she helped, one could not truly sleep in comfort without worries. Even so, they were willing to gamble. This could be said that the Chen sisters had such a position in the Chen family heart. In the previous life when she was imprisoned and when she was isolated in the Inner Palace, if at that time the Shen family was still around, would her parents and Elder Brother also spare no cost to save her.
“Shen Young Lady.” Seeing Shen Miao lost in thought, Chen Yue Shan spoke out to call her attention.
Shen Miao recovered her senses and smiled gently, “I will help with this matter not because of your family business but to build a relationship. In the future if there is any need for your Chen family, one hopes that one would not decline. Secondly, I also have a blood debt with Prince Yu residence and if the Prince Yu of the First Rank residence is not exterminated, there will be a day when trouble will come.” She looked at Chen Yue Shan, “Today, we are all on the same boat.”
Chen Yue Shan looked at Shen Miao. Her eyes were clear and her tone was sincere. He said, “What is Shen Young Lady’s approach?”
“If you want to take action, it is best to do it next month. Next month, Prince Yu will be marrying my TangJie over and during the second day of marriage the surroundings will be lax, so you should start it in the early morning to be absolutely safe.”
“You,” Chen Yue Shan wanted to say something but at the end he shook his head, “How could you conclude the Imperial family side in one month?”
Shen Miao glanced at Ji Yu Shu with an ambiguous smile, “You need not worry about that. The current matter of vital importance is to convene men and horses.” After pausing, she then continued, “The Prince Yu residence is not small, you must first find out the layout and on the day of execution, other than rescuing my TangJie, you must cut the weeds and dig up the roots.”
“Rest assured, us brothers know,” Chen Yue Hai said.
“One does not know what rules there are in pugilist world’s extermination of the household. The cutting of weeds and digging up of roots that I said meant that regardless of womenfolk, children or the old, or servants and concubines, there must not be one alive. The entire Prince Yu of the First Rank residence must completely become a grave.”
Chen Yue Shan and Chen Yue Hai were surprised for a moment before Chen Yue Hai frowned, “The servants and concubines are mostly the pitiful people that Prince Yu took captive.”
Shen Miao smiled bitterly, “A centipede dies but never falls down. If Gentleman Chen wants to be merciful, it would only harm the Chen family and our Shen family people would also be implicated.”
Her words were callous but a moment later, Chen Yue Shan nodded his head, “We would definitely not leave a survivor and implicate Young Lady.”
“It would be best.” Shen Miao said, “Then one wishes that both of you would be able to avenge the deep hatred and wash the Prince residence with blood.”
After speaking for a while, the Chen brothers then stood up to leave. After they left, Ji Yu Shu finally spoke, “Shen Young Lady, you are still young of age but know a lot of things. Just now I see it clearly. The Chen brothers are experienced and knowledgeable people and they actually went along with your arrangement. Shen Young Lady, it is my first time seeing such an intelligent and beautiful lady like you. One does not know if there is any opportunity in the future to take a walk with you in the outskirts on a spring day, admire the lake on a summer night, in the deep autumn…” The words in the beginning were fine but the later words were like a lecher teasing an unmarried young lady.
“Manager Ji.” Shen Miao asked, “It cannot be that you only want to say this to me.”
“Ke.” Ji Yu Shu cleared his throat, “In fact I only want to tell Shen Young Lady that the information had been created and spread into the Palace. One thinks that it would not take long for Shen Young Lady to achieve the result desired.”
Shen Miao was secretly surprised. Although she knew that the Feng Xian Pawnshop had the ability, she did not know that the action would be this fast. Presumably there were people in the Palace that were colluding. The waters of the Feng Xian Pawnshop really ran very deep.
“Thanking Manager Ji for the trouble.” Shen Miao’s eyes hung down, “When the matter is successful, the promise made with Manager Ji will be done as agreed.”
Ji Yu Shu was silent for a moment before asking in a rare serious tone, “Shen Young Lady, this one does not understand one thing.”
“Shen Young Lady represents the Shen family to do business with me, are you not afraid that there will be a day where I will want the Shen family to do dangerous things, and push the Shen family into where the wind and waves are the fiercest, making this deal not be so worthwhile?” Ji Yu Shu paid attention to Shen Miao’s expression.
Shen Miao did not blink and merely said, “As for worrying about future difficulties, it would be better to worry about the problem at hand. If there would really be such a day, one can only say that it is my Shen family’s fate.”
Ji Yu Shu spoke with some doubt, “Really?”
“It is fake.” In the secret room, Xie Jing Xing heard the discussion at the other side.
“Only Ji Yu Shu, that fool, would believe her words.” Gao Yang said, “This girl’s deceptive abilities is at the point of perfection. How is Ji Yu Shu her opponent?”
“No worries.” Xie Jing Xing said, “Once aboard my ship, it is not so simple to get off.”
When Shen Miao got up to go, Ji Shu Yu suddenly said, “Oh yes. Shen Young Lady, previously you requested of me to inquire about Young Lady Liu Ying. There seems to be some news. If Shen Young Lady is anxious, there could be a result in these next couple of days.”
However Shen Miao’s reply made Ji Yu Shu surprised, Shen Miao said, “No rush. Manager Ji can slowly search and I can slowly wait.”
After she left, Ji Yu Shu then shook his head, “Truly a lady who is more difficult to understand than Young Lady Shao Yao. At least Young Lady Shao Yao would be happy when she is given pearls. Could it be that this one will be happy if one sends her a human head?” He shuddered as he walked into the house.
In the Emperor’s study, the memorandums on the desk were stacked way high. Emperor Wen Hui sat in front of the table with the report spread out but he did not take a single look. He had already reached the age of sixty, and although he was hale and hearty, he had stepped into the passage of time. His temples had white spots and the people that were looking at him saw an elderly and old tiger.
There would always be new tigers to inherit his position.
At this moment Emperor Wen Hui’s expression was very serious. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse voice and one could vaguely hear the monstrous anger inside.
“Old Eleven really killed a guard that looked exactly alike to that assassin?”
The two black clad men in front said, “Reporting to Your Majesty, yes, the person caught was tortured. In addition, Prince Yu’s trusted aide that was captured in the residence of the Prince of First Rank had also personally admitted that a few days back there was a masked guard that was killed by the Prince of First Rank.”
Emperor Wen Hui closed his eyes and threw his hand violently. The paperweight on the table flew out and clattered as it broke into a number of pieces. After a moment he laughed out coldly, “Old Eleven, Zhen really underestimated him.”
There were numerous eyes and ears in the Palace. Concubines, officials and the Empress used these eyes and ears to survive in the Palace. Whoever was able to gather more information would gain the decisive opportunity to win. The Emperor was no exception. Only when his eyes and ears were everywhere would he be able to sit more securely on this dragon seat.
Initially when he heard from the spies that Prince Yu of the First Rank had killed a person who looked like the original assassin, Emperor Wen Hui could not believe it in his heart. The Imperial family’s feeling was thin and he had stepped on all his brothers’ corpses to end up in his Imperial position. He only left the eleventh Prince Yu aside, because Emperor Wen Hui always remembered that dangerous night where Prince Yu used his body to block the assassin and ended up drenched in blood.
Initially, Emperor Wen Hui’s good treatment of Prince Yu was just because of the gratitude for that lost leg, but since then it represented the fact that Emperor Wen Hui still had affection and kindness. When sitting in the position of an Emperor, the feelings behind everyone’s treatment of him were no longer pure, even his sons were filled with a calculating heart. But Prince Yu was able to remind Emperor Wen Hui that there was still someone who could ignore safety and block a sword for him, and that he still had a close brother.
But now, this was like the greatest joke. Apparently that act was just a scene arranged by this ‘close brother’. Emperor Wen Hui suspected that Prince Yu’s leg injury was also fake.
What kind of plans to seize the throne Prince Yu must have, so that he had concealed one’s strength and bided one’s time for so many years? Emperor Wen Hui felt furious and insulted.
To be betrayed by a trusted person, not only would that trust be gone, but doubts would also be intensified. Now that Prince Yu’s devotion had become a false front, the seed of doubt immediately grew into a towering tree.
“Send people to guard Prince Yu residence. Zhen wants to see what kind of tricks he wants to play.”
Gao GongGong lowered his head and looked at his toes, but his heart sighed slightly. Troubled times. Troubled times.
As the days passed, it seemed that nothing was happening in the calm Ding capital. With the approaching new year, people were busy purchasing items and even the poor seemed to have some faint joy.
But no matter how happy the days were, there would always be people who were not happy.
In the Palace, Prince Li was walking along the gardens with Prince Xiang.
In the faction of Prince Li were Prince Xiang and Prince Chen whose forces were weak and who bowed before Prince Li. As compared to the Crown Prince’s power, where Prince Zhuo and Prince Jing were the tip of the spear, Prince Li was taking the route of doctrine of the mean. His learnings were not the most outstanding, his Consort Mother was not the most favored, yet he was able to organize things very slickly. No matter whether it was court officials or brothers, they were willing to give him face but in private they felt he was an out and out smiling tiger.
“Sixth Older Brother, these days, one heard that Imperial Father treats Royal Uncle very coldly,” Prince Xiang spoke.
“You have also heard it.” Prince Li had an easy going attitude as he chatted with Prince Xiang, “Imperial Father had always valued Royal Shu greatly. A few times, Royal Shu had a request and had entered the Palace, but Imperial Father unexpectedly declined with the excuse of being busy with state affairs.”
There was once a time when Emperor Wen Hui had a consort with a powerful maiden family whom he favored. But when she offended Prince Yu, Emperor Wen Hui did not even say a second word and banished the favored consort to the Cold Palace. This sudden change in attitude was thus detected by everyone.
“But why is this so?” Prince Xiang was puzzled, “For so many years, no matter what Royal Shu had done, Imperial Father did not even blame him at all. One also did not hear anything about the matter with Royal Shu these days.”
“Do you know what it is that Royal Uncle entered the Palace to request from Imperial Father?”
Prince Xiang shook his head.
“Seventh Younger Brother.” Prince Li patted his shoulder as if he was an older brother admonishing one’s insensible younger brother, “One must pay more attention to the things in the Palace. With such honesty of yours, Sixth Brother would have to worry about you.”
Prince Xiang smiled shamefully, “I follow Sixth Older Brother and Sixth Older Brother is smarter than me so whatever Sixth Older brother says, it would be so.”
“I heard that Royal Uncle entered the Palace to request on the matter on the Shen family.”
“Shen family.” Prince Xiang suddenly saw the light, “Could it be that Royal Shu angered Imperial Father because of the matter with the Shen family?” He thought for a while before saying, “But Royal Shu is marrying the Di daughter of the Second household of the Shen family. Imperial Father could not be furious just because of the Shen family’s Second household.”
“That is correct.” Prince Li said meaningfully, “But Royal Uncle requested to marry the Di daughter of the First household of the Shen family, Shen Miao.”
“So it was like this.” Prince Xiang understood clearly, “If Royal Shu wants to marry the Di daughter of Shen Xin, one fears that he has committed Imperial Father’s taboo. But how did Royal Shu want to marry Shen Miao? Previously did not he want to marry Shen Qing? Such a sensitive thing like this, Royal Shu would not be this muddled.”
“I also do not know.” Prince Li shook his head, “Even though Royal Shu had overstepped the bounds of propriety these years, this time it was excessively absurd.”
“Imperial Father would certainly not let Royal Shu marry Shen Miao. But this time Imperial Father did not explicitly say it to Royal Shu but instead avoided meeting. It seems like there is a warning of sorts.”
“Probably it is that his patience had whittled away.” Prince Li smiled bitterly, “It is better for both of us not to talk about these things as it has nothing to do with us. These days Imperial Father does not look too happy, one must not show up and displease him.”
“Sixth Older Brother is right.” Prince Xiang nodded.
After they left, a person slowly walked out from the depths of the garden, it was Prince Ding, Fu Xiu Yi. He looked at the disappearing back of the two and thoughtfully murmured, “Shen Miao.”
In the top floor of the Lin Jiang Xian’s pagoda, Ji Yu Shu placed the letter that Gao Yang had finished reading into the burning charcoal.
“The information has been spread out and Emperor Wen Hui is also suspicious towards that old dog. That old dog has crushed its own foot while trying to manoeuvre a rock and did not even know it.”
Gao Yang shook his head, “It is better to be careful. Nothing can go wrong now.”
“I know.” Ji Yu Shu touched his nose. “What is Third Older Brother Xie doing that one cannot even see him?”
“Which day is he not busy?” Gao Yang suddenly sighed, “Do not know if his character is right or wrong.”
“I believe Third Older Brother Xie.” Ji Yu Shu said, “Third Older Brother Xie has such great ability, what are you worried about? He had planned it for so long that even if it was not successful, there is no problems with retreating without any harm. Gao Yang, you really have a heavy mind. Look at our Third Older Brother Xie, even though there so many things in his heart, he is still natural and unrestrained. This is then considered a man!”
It was evident that Ji Yu Shu was Xie Jing Xing loyal follower, that even the meaning between the lines were filled with worship of Xie Jing Xing. Gao Yang rolled his eyes, “Bootlicker.”
“Who is a bootlicker? What’s more, one needs to see the boot to lick it, if it is deserving for me to do so.” He looked sideways at the other person, “Unlike you, whose boot I would not lick even if you went down on your knees and begged me.”
Gao Yang smile warmly, “Is it so? Then in the future do not come over to take medication for whatever reason. Even if you beg me, I will not prescribe any.”
Ji Yu Shu immediately changed the direction of the conversation, “Actually, I previously thought that the youths in the Ding capital are all embroidered pillows, good to see but not good to use and only Third Older Brother Xie is a man. But now I actually admire another person. Other than Third Older Brother Xie, there is someone who is considered a young hero in Ding capital.”
“Oh, you still admire others. How refreshing.” Gao Yang said in a lukewarm attitude, “Who is able to enter your old powerful eyes?”
“It is Shen family’s Young Lady, Shen Miao!” Ji Yu Shu slapped his thigh, “Damn, I have never seen such a daring young lady! Even dared to scheme against the Imperial family and towards Prince Yu residence, a residence of a First Rank Prince that she wants to get rid of it all at once.”
“You have not seen her actions from before.” Gao Yang scoffed. Previously, when Shen Miao burned down her own ancestral hall, Gao Yang felt that Shen Miao was really a madman. At the first glance upon seeing such actions without fear of one’s life, Gao Yang initially had the mindset of watching a show as he was certain that with Shen Miao’s rampage, she would not live for long. He did not expect it was him who judged incorrectly. In every seemingly reckless event, she would be the final winner of it.
Gao Yang felt very strange. People view themselves as exquisite porcelain and, unless it was the last resort, would not risk one’s life. But Shen Miao treated herself as the hardest rock and opponents like porcelain, and in a fight she loses nothing but the porcelain is all smashed into pieces.
Gao Yang felt Shen Miao was much more dangerous for it. And towards a potential enemy, the best was to kill her before she could grow in strength. But… Gao Yang was somewhat rueful. What Xie Jing Xing had said was correct. In her plans, there was never any ‘accidents’.
Gao Yang thought mischievously, if there was a day where he could see Shen Miao panic stricken and become dumbfounded because of ‘accidents’, how happy would he be.
“Previously did she do any brave deeds?” Ji Yu Shu asked and then nodded, “Formidable Great General’s daughter, it is normal to be brave. Even though she does not have any martial art skills and was not brought up by Shen Xin’s side, no one would dare to bully her with this temper.”
“In short, I think that this Shen Miao is worthy to be considered a friend.” Ji Yu Shu seriously said, “In addition to my ability to see appearances, she would definitely become a beauty in a few years’ time. An intelligent and beautiful young lady like this, how can I, Ji Yu Shu, miss?” He exposed a romantic smile, “I have decided, other than Young Lady Shao Yao, she would be placed in my heart. From now onwards, other than Young Lady Shao Yao, she is considered my intimate female friend.”
Gao Yang simply turned his head away to not look at this stupid fool.
And at the moment the ‘intimate female friend’ of Ji Yu Shu was looking for something.
“Younger Sister, are you picking out things to gift Shen Qing for her dowery?” Shen Qiu scratched his head and asked.
Shen Miao had in a safe a portion of things that the Emperor had bestowed and was searching for something. Finally she picked out a jade pillow that felt smooth and cool to the touch.
“Could it possible that Younger Sister picked this to gift to Shen Qing?”
As the day was approaching, the entire Shen family started to worry about Shen Qing’s marriage. A few days back, Shen Yue actually asked Shen Miao what was she gifting to Shen Qing and was coincidently overheard by Shen Qui. But one did not see Shen Miao do anything and thought that she finally remembered about the matter today.
“This?” Shen Miao picked the jade pillow and shook her head. “No.”
“Oh.” Shen Qiu asked, “Does Younger Sister wish to use it? This jade pillow looks not bad.”
This jade pillow was called ice silkworm pillow. In her previous life, after she entered the Palace, Shen Xin gave it to her as part of her dowry. Much later, Mei Furen said that her health was not good and insisted on having this pillow of hers. At that time the ice silkworm pillow had been given to Wan Yu. Wan Yu did not comply and quarreled with Mei Furen and broke the jade pillow into pieces. Fu Xiu Yi severely punished Wan Yu and shortly after, the news of the marriage with the Xiong Nu came.
Now thinking about it, the past might be old dreams but they were still able to break one’s heart.
“Younger Sister.” Shen Qui called out worriedly when he saw Shen Miao keeping quiet.
“This is for me to gift another.” Shen Miao said, “As for Eldest Sister’s additional dowry, if Eldest Brother has time then help me to casually pick a few things. If Eldest Brother does not have time, it is the same to let Gu Yu buy.”
“Oh.” Shen Qiu mumbled. Only when Shen Miao walked out the room he then patted his head, “Silly me. I forgot to ask Younger Sister who she was giving the jade pillow to.”
Outside the room, Jing Zhe also asked, “Young Lady will be giving the pillow to whom?”
Sending charcoal in a snowy weather could gain a faithful ally. The technique of managing people was what she learn from Fu Xiu Yi.
To the younger Chen sister with a chaotic mind, soothing the nerves was undoubtedly a good thing.