Chapter 195 – A Marriage Bestowed by Imperial Edict
Chen Rong’s carriage returned to Wang Hong’s residence. As soon as she stepped into the courtyard, she saw the man lazily reclining on a divan.
She beamed to see him, hurrying out of the carriage before running over.
“Qilang, Qilang!” she happily called, giggling and suppressing her triumph as she went on: “I succeeded! Those people won’t be aiming their drivels at me anymore.”
She tilted her head, her eyes bent into a line, as she waited for Wang Hong’s praise.
Wang Hong slowly turned around.
He looked at her with cloudless eyes and shook the wine in his hand. Smiling, he asked, “How was Su Jing?”
Chen Rong was stumped at first, then her lips curved and she suppressed a smile to say: “Him? I didn’t really pay attention to him…”
Before she could finish her words, Wang Hong simply nodded. He gracefully put the liquor aside and smiled: “I’m glad then… because he was knocked unconscious just now, and he’ll make an appearance on the Ninth Princess’s bed tonight.” He glanced sideways at Chen Rong with casual flirtation. “I listened and did as you told me, Ah Rong. It’s a bargain for the Ninth Princess if she were to get all ten of them. So, I gave her four aspiring ones and sent the other six to Ah Bi of the Xie House. Heh, Wang Gu and Xie Bi are likely to be cavorting in her bedchamber tonight. It’d be more fun if a few other people are added to the mix.”
Chen Rong’s eyes widened as she listened, her mouth also gaping open.
The scene on the street that day reappeared in her mind. Ah Bi of the Xie House was clearly a proud girl. Would doing this…?
“Will you be implicated?” she asked. She rushed over and looked up at him. “Will you incur the Xie House’s vengeance?”
“The Xie House’s vengeance?”
Wang Hong’s eyes curved into a graceful smile. “Am I so easily bullied? If anyone dares to try, I will pay them back.”
“There’s really nothing to worry about?”
Wang Hong looked at her, nodded and lightly said, “Aye there’s nothing to worry about.”
Chen Rong heaved a sigh of relief to receive his answer. She tilted her head and thought to herself: Silly me, Qilang is wise to Xie Bi and Wang Gu’s affair and treats her bedchamber like his own guest hall, coming and going as he pleases. He even has plans to send six naked men over… What am I worrying about when he wields such power?
After her reflection she couldn’t help but laugh: “Then isn’t tomorrow going to be very entertaining?” As her gaze shifted, she said, “Unfortunately, everyone will know that it is your doing.”
“Not necessarily. I’m a lone man, where would I find the wherewithal? Perhaps someone saw that I have fallen and is trying to frame me.”
Chen Rong looked back at him. She laughed, “Yes, I think someone is kicking the horse while it’s down. But even so, I’m afraid that those who like you, admire you, and hold great expectations for you will not tolerate this kind of thing.”
Wang Hong blinked at her, took her hand and said, “Let’s go for a walk.”
Chen Rong happily took his hand.
After a few steps, she began to chatter: “Qilang, I dreamt that my brother would die from illness next month. I didn’t actually witness it, it was my sister-in-law who told me in the dream. The doctor whom you referred to us said my brother isn’t suffering from any illnesses. I’ve asked two men to look after him just in case.”
“His Majesty spoke of you yesterday,” she added, itching to laugh as she remembered the emperor’s cheekiness. When she saw Wang Hong’s curious expression, she laughingly recounted her dialogues with the emperor.
After she told him about the ‘irritated with anger’ description, Wang Hong scoffed, “I surely am not.”
He turned his head, pursed his lips and flatly said, “Don’t say such things again.”
“Aye,” answered Chen Rong, laughing again.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Time passed quickly, and another day went by in the blink of an eye.
Chen Rong rose early the next day. She sat in the courtyard and sent four maids to listen for happenings beyond the manor’s doors.
By and by, a carriage drove into the compound.
When it passed the moon gate, it did not stop but drove straight in.
Forthwith, it pulled to a stop in the courtyard. The curtains were not lifted, but Xie Heting’s pleasing, cold voice was heard from within: “Wang Hong, come out!”
Chen Rong was startled by his call and quickly strode out.
As soon as she appeared, Xie Heting exited the carriage. He stood there in all his tallness, staring past Chen Rong, “Where’s that smiling thief?”
“You missed him, my lord. Qilang has gone out.”
“Gone? Is he running away from his problems?” He stared at Chen Rong and sneered, “That thief did a good thing and slipped fast.”
Chen Rong couldn’t allow others to censure Wang Hong. She immediately frowned and said in displeasure, “Young master Xie, is it right to come to someone’s home and curse him like this?”
Xie Heting raised his head and coldly replied, “Then you should ask what that grinning thief has done?” He gritted his teeth and yelled, “Su Jing only talked to you briefly but he sent him off to that filthy place. Why is that bastard so petty?!”
It has happened already?
Chen Rong acted as though she was shocked, exclaiming, “Pardon?!”
Xie Heting narrowed his eyes at her. “Didn’t you know? Wang Qilang gave Su Jing to the Ninth Princess out of jealousy.”
His aggressive arrival, his icy tone combined with his aura made people feel guilty despite themselves.
He made Chen Rong feel guilty, at least.
She bit her lip, lowered her eyes and said with a light smile: “You’re being rash, young master Xie, how do you know that it was Qilang?”
“Pooh!” Xie Heting coldly spat. “The world may not know Wang Qilang, but I do. In the past he was so famous that he had to be mindful of things. But now he is completely lawless.” He stared at Chen Rong and demanded, “You didn’t tell that smiling thief about my being on good terms with Su Jing?” This wasn’t a question, it was affirmation.
Chen Rong nodded stupidly under his pressure.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Xie Heting harrumphed and muttered to himself, “With that bastard’s competence, he would know without you telling him. He’s smart enough to come up with thousands of ways to solve this problem, but he chose to offend me instead. The unscrupulous bastard.”
Having said this, he took a piece of yellow cloth from his sleeve and tossed it to Chen Rong. When Chen Rong caught it, he coldly told her, “I’ve requested an imperial decree from His Majesty. You, Madam Grand Chamberlain, will wed Su Jing a fortnight from now.”
Chen Rong’s mind exploded as soon as she caught the imperial decree. She gawked at Xie Heting motionlessly, unable to find her own voice.
Without waiting for her to react, Xie Heting flapped his sleeves and jumped onto his carriage. When the vehicle turned around, his icy voice rang: “Tell Wang Hong I’ll tear his mask off if he so much as think about attempting an assassination.”
He went away having left this sentence for Chen Rong.
Chen Rong didn’t react until Xie Heting had gone far away. Her face was flushed with anger. “Xie Heting, who do you think I am?!” she yelled after his carriage.
Just when she thought he could not hear her or would not answer even if he heard her, Xie Heting’s chilled voice rang out from the carriage: “You are Wang Hong’s woman. Since he makes me unhappy, I won’t let him be happy!”
Chen Rong stared after his carriage, wondering whether she should chase the glacial bastard down and fling a whip at him.
While she was red with anger, Wang Hong was still not home. The streets were growing livelier and livelier outside.
As she listened to the commotion, Chen Rong waited for a long time for her maids to return and, too irritated by the granted marriage, she gritted her teeth, changed into a male outfit, put on a hat and left with two guards without using a carriage.
As soon as she turned onto the road, Chen Rong found that today was livelier than usual. In the past, horse-drawn carriages occupied most of the path, but now streams of pedestrians took to the streets. If it weren’t for her clever idea of walking, she wouldn’t be able to move at all in a carriage.
After walking for a while, she saw a man who had just finished a long conversation. She stepped forward and bowed to him, asking in a raspy voice: “Good sir, what has happened here? Why is it so clamorous?”
The man turned to her, grinned and said, “Don’t you know? How can you not know when it’s such big news!”
Chen Rong shook her head in honesty.
The man smiled, stroked his sparse beard and said, “Then do you know Ah Rong of the Chen House, the amorous nun who was named Grand Chamberlain by His Majesty?”
How did she get involved?
Chen Rong’s mind was in turmoil, she gave a quick nod and asked, “Aye, what happened to her?”
“Her? Didn’t everyone say that she was humiliated by the Hu? They’re wrong, all of them. She wasn’t humiliated at all. Motherfuckers, that woman is more beautiful than Yin Lihua, why would the Hu let her go? Let me tell you, she’s out of this world beautiful. Tsk tsk, that natural charm of hers is a prime catastrophe waiting to happen. If it weren’t for her, would the celestial Wang Qilang have behaved so poorly? Would he have rather given up his great future for her?”
Seeing Chen Rong listen patiently, the man shook his head and said, “But then again, Wang Qilang isn’t royalty. He has said himself that the chief position of the Wang clan is a piece of rotted meat. He prefers women to power, so what of it.”
Chen Rong grew a little impatient to hear this. “Can you hurry and get to the point?” she urged.
“That is the point,” said the man, glaring at her.
Chen Rong stared back at him.
At this moment, a voice inserted itself from the side: “Speaking of Wang Qilang, it is such a pity. He could rescue the Grand Chamberlain from Murong Ke with barely a few thousand men. His wit and bravery are unparalleled. What a shame that such a man doesn’t work for the court and serve his people.”
Chen Rong’s patience drained further upon hearing him.
All of a sudden, a clamor developed ahead and a voice shouted loudly: “Major news, major news!”
Chapter 196: Chen Rong’s Death
“The Wang-Xie pair is indeed amorous!” the man yelled as the crowd turned their heads.
Surrounded in the center, he exclaimed triumphantly: “Guess what amorous things they were doing? Hahaha. Ah Bi of the Xie House and Lord Wang Gu were caught playing in bed with six other boys.”
Whispers rose as soon as these words were spoken. The world they lived in was lustful and absurd. It was common and proper for both royalty and aristocrats to be impassioned in front of an audience. And yet, the Wang and Xie families were a bit different. Almost every direct descendant from these families had had a collection of poems passed down to the world. When they participated in conventions, their talents of the four arts were the target of envy. Their temperament and poise were even more impressive.
For these reasons, love affairs that were abundant among other noblemen were rare in these two houses. What’s more, the betrothal between Ah Bi of the Xie House and Wang Hong and Wang Gu was at the heart of everyone’s attention.
People burst into laughter. One person shouted: “Now that’s interesting. No wonder Wang Qilang doesn’t want her anymore.”
“Aye, aye,” others joined in at his reminder.
“Ah Bi of the Xie House and Wang Gu are indeed an amorous and merry pair.”
“Haha, Wang Qilang likely knows that Ah Bi of the Xie House is a wanton, so he did the lovebirds a service by letting them be together.”
Amidst these cries, the people who spread the news conveniently omitted the fact that the merry young men who were with Xie Bi and Wang Gu were originally a gift from the Emperor to Chen Rong… After Chen Rong was rescued, Wang Hong’s reputation spread at an unimaginable speed. Unlike the stern scholars, the commoners did not condemn Wang Hong’s preference for romance over justice. Even though there was some criticism in their hearts, the most important news for them is that Wang Hong could defeat the most powerful war god among the Hu and he could therefore save the empire.
Thus, subconsciously, they wanted to protect Wang Hong and Chen Rong, whom he loved.
At this moment, a voice yelled: “What’s more, I heard that the Ninth Princess was also caught entangled with three young men in rollicking fun.”
This time the whispers grew louder. The man’s voice was loud but his words were soon overwhelmed… What was wrong with a princess sleeping with a few men? Who among the princesses hadn’t done so in the last few centuries?
Amid the laughter and the commotion, people were still talking about the amorous tales between Xie Bi and Wang Gu, and the stories became more and more outrageous.
Chen Rong listened for a while and slowly smiled: Judging from these rumors, Wang Hong’s image has completely turned around. There are some who call out the origins of the six pretty boys, but they are quickly drowned out. It seems that the commoners are in support of Wang Hong while in jest of Xie Bi and Wang Gu’s scandal.
With her guards in tow, she wove through the crowd for an hour, listening to the spread of the rumors. After listening for a while, she turned her head and said, “Let’s go back.”
The three walked back to Wang Hong’s mansion. Just as they were entering the residence’s alleyway, a voice suddenly called to her, “Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
It was a very familiar voice.
Chen Rong turned around.
She saw a carriage parked in the shadowed part of the alleyway. At this moment, a woman raised the curtain and exited the carriage, walking towards her.
She had a pretty face, but her hair was tousled and her dress was rumpled. She looked rather imprudent for the nobles who minded their appearances.
It was the Ninth Princess.
As soon as she saw her, Chen Rong subconsciously looked behind her and was relieved to see one lone guard standing beside the carriage. Like Chen Rong, her two guards were also relieved.
The Ninth Princess walked to stand in front of Chen Rong.
She raised her head to regard the other girl. Her eyes were grave, much more serious than they had ever been each of the previous times they had met.
Staring straight at Chen Rong, the Ninth Princess asked with a pale face: “It was his doing, wasn’t it?”
“I know he would do this kind of thing, you don’t need to hide it.”
Chen Rong blinked and asked in confusion, “What are you talking about, Your Highness?”
The Ninth Princess sadly smiled. “It was him. He doesn’t like me, he only likes you. He didn’t care about my betrothal, but he cared that you were hurt by your nephew’s murder at the hands of my men. Isn’t that it?”
When Chen Rong heard this, her expression became cold and silent.
The Ninth Princess’s lips were also pale, and she said numbingly: “It wasn’t enough that he threw those people on my bed, but he had to light incense as well? My chastity… taken by four people… It wasn’t enough that he doesn’t like me, but he had to hurt me like this too?”
Chen Rong’s expression remained uncharitable. “Your Highness, you regard human lives as trash. All you’ve lost is your virginity. I don’t see what the fuss is about?”
“You don’t see what the fuss is about? How dare you compare me to those untouchables?!” The Ninth Princess looked skyward to laugh, and tears rolled down. “I saved my virginity for him until now… How could he treat me like this? Ah Rong of the Chen House, how could he do this to me?”
Chen Rong’s face remained unsympathetic. She stared at the Ninth Princess and thought with hatred: Losing your chastity was light punishment. If I could, I want to banish you and let you know the pain of those untouchables.
Chen Rong’s indifference gradually calmed down the excited Ninth Princess.
She stretched her hand and pressed it on her chest for a while, and when she raised her head again, there were no tears in her eyes, only hatred. She bitterly stared at Chen Rong and sadly muttered, “If he is ruthless, then don’t blame me for being cruel. Wang Hong Wang Qilang, I want you to live in agony for the rest of your life.”
Her voice was very low. Chen Rong could only see her lips move, and only heard a few syllables. She didn’t understand what she said specifically.
After speaking, the Ninth Princess’s stare at Chen Rong grew fierce. Almost suddenly, her right hand flicked and a cold dagger shot out from her sleeve.
In the dark alley, the cold light instantly blinded Chen Rong’s sight.
Chen Rong was startled, and she backed away reflexively. The Ninth Princess charged forward. Her lurch was extremely fast and fierce, and she was skilled in her movements, which had apparently been practiced numerous times.
The princess charged at Chen Rong and got to her side. At the same time, her right hand made a sweeping motion as her dagger swung out in an arc.
The flash of light was like lightning, extremely fast, fierce and accurate.
The two guards standing at the back made a simultaneous shout. They rushed out frantically and threw themselves at her to stop the princess’s hand.
But it was too late, everything was too late.
This translation belongs to ha mster428.
The princess’s every action at this moment had been practiced more than a thousand times before. Furthermore, her blow was delivered with a deep hatred. She saw all of Chen Rong’s possible reactions whenever Chen Rong tried to dodge and matched her every step.
Each time the dagger was swung, its cold flash cut through a piece of Chen Rong’s outfit. Each time the wind whirled, something fell to the ground, either hair or fabric.
Chen Rong staggered three steps back, and then perspired cold sweat: The dagger held in the princess’s hand is extremely sharp, this weapon is of the highest quality.
Just as Chen Rong retreated, the Ninth Princess suddenly lurched like a dragon to her side. Then, she drew the dagger in her hand and thrust it at Chen Rong’s chest.
While thoughts flashed across Chen Rong’s mind, a biting chill made contact with her skin.
At this moment, a small stone suddenly flew out from the other side of the alley and from a corner that was out of reach of both guards.
The stone was small and didn’t carry much force. It hit the dagger but could only knock it slightly sideways. Then, with a clang, the dagger was thrust into Chen Rong’s right chest.
Blood gushed out like a fountain.
The Ninth Princess acted extremely swiftly. Once she succeeded, she decisively took a few steps backwards. She coldly beheld Chen Rong, who was looking down at her wound and wanting to take the dagger out but didn’t dare to. “Go ahead, pull it out. My dagger is coated with poison anyway.”
The two guards had just reached Chen Rong’s side when they heard such a sentence. Their faces blanched in an instant.
The dagger is coated with poison?
Chen Rong’s face blanched. She swayed, as if she could fall down any minute now.
The Ninth Princess triumphantly looked at her and her guards. “How is it?” she asked with a smile. “You’re despairing now, aren’t you? Ah Rong of the Chen House, take a good look around. Oh, I forgot to tell you, this poison is called Wuyousan (sorrow-free powder). Those who have been poisoned can live on normally for another month.”
She leaned closer and said with a soft laughter: “I want Wang Hong to slowly watch you die.”
Having said this, she straightened herself and contemptuously leveled her eyes at the two angry guards behind Chen Rong. She smiled, swayed her hips and said, “What? Do you want to kill me? Do you want to bite my head off? Come, don’t be afraid, I’m just a princess. At most your family will be buried along with me, none of this will lead to your nine kinships being exterminated.”
Chen Rong’s guards drew sharp breaths to hear this. They gritted their teeth, but just as the princess said, they did not dare to take another step.
At this moment, Chen Rong made a slight movement.
Her blood dripped as she struggled to walk to the Ninth Princess.
Raising her increasingly pale face, Chen Rong’s beautiful countenance was radiating a smile.
The Ninth Princess was also smiling to see her approach. But her smile was triumphant and pleased. She even took a step forward as she stared at the faltering Chen Rong.
The Ninth Princess stood before Chen Rong, leaned in, and breathed on her face as she softly laughed: “Ah Rong of the Chen House, are you filled with hatred, regret, and anguish? Let me tell you, my royal brother would at most confine me for half a month for killing a so-called Grand Chamberlain like you… Ah yes, when I visit your grave next year, shall I tell you how many months Wang Hong’s love for you lasted? Haha, would you like to take a guess right now? My guess is that he will have found a new lover within six months, if that.”
At this juncture, the princess’s voice abruptly stopped. Three horrified screams wailed as she looked down.
She lowered her eyes to see the dagger lodged in her chest. It had been lodged in Chen Rong’s flesh just moments ago. But now, it had been pulled out by Chen Rong and inserted into her chest at lightning speed. Although not with great strength, it was inserted so deep that only the gold handle remained seen.
It was Chen Rong’s turn to smile.
She smiled weakly, her paling face as beautiful as a new bloom. A light movement of her right hand caused the Ninth Princess to cough a mouthful of blood. She raised her head and breathed onto her face, whispering: “Did you forget to investigate me, Your Highness? I, Ah Rong of the Chen House, have committed murder before. You are so naive! How can you get this close to an adversary who has seen blood on her hands?”
Seeing the Ninth Princess gaping as blood frothed at her mouth, Chen Rong smiled: “Did you think that even if you were to kill me, no one would be able to do anything to you? Sorry to disappoint… but I take my vengeance personally.”
At the moment these words were said, the Ninth Princess coughed up a mouthful of blood.
Looking at the princess whose eyes were quickly dimming, Chen Rong weakly yelled: “Call someone. Call someone here as a witness… so that Qilang can avoid any fallout.”
Her guards quickly understood what she wanted. They looked at Chen Rong with tears in their eyes and raised their voices at the same time: “Murder! Is there anyone? There’s been a murder —”
Their shouts spread far, and the street was busy again at this moment. All of a sudden, numerous footsteps were drawing near, getting closer and closer to them.
The loud footsteps made the ground vibrate, but to Chen Rong’s ears, they were ringing farther and farther away.
She was losing too much blood. Chen Rong slowly covered her wound: I can’t fall, I can’t fall yet.
As if a century had passed, Chen Rong’s throat dried up to the heat she felt around her. She forced her eyes open to stare at the Ninth Princess who was standing upright with the help of her guard. “Your Royal Highness, the Ninth Princess…” she weakly said with a smile.
As soon as she announced this title, a burst of exclamation started around them.
Chen Rong could no longer hear anything. A cold smile accompanied her words: “You had stabbed me, so I used your dagger to return the favor…” her voice weakened and all her strength quickly faded at this very moment.
Slowly, Chen Rong leaned back amidst everyone’s scream of horror. She fell into an embrace.
With wide and scattered eyes, she looked at the hazy face and outstretched her bloody hand to gently stroke it. She moved her lips, murmuring: “Qilang, Qilang…I was the one who killed her, it has nothing to do with you. You don’t have to seek revenge for me, don’t cause trouble for yourself.”
As soon as she finished, her hand dropped to the side.
The young man who held her lowered his handsome, bloodstained face. This person was Xie Heting. At the time Chen Rong fell, he had unconsciously rushed out from the crowd and caught her before her guards could.
Looking down at a sallow and close-eyed Chen Rong, Xie Heting momentarily stared at her. He closed his eyes whereupon a tear rolled down and his voice hoarsened, no longer so glacial and frigid. “Wang Qilang, you are right. Compared to this woman, the chief position of the Wang House is but a piece of rancid meat.”
Hi, sorry for another late update. For any old timers who are still around and remember me talking about house hunting in 2013, well I finally got myself a house eight years later and omg it’s like having a second job (that bleeds money instead of making money hahaha). Thanks for your patience. I’ll try to get another update in around the holidays but “try” as always is the operative word 🙂