Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 138: Official Minister’s House
Possible cliffhanger warning
Night had already fallen and not a single soul was out on the streets; only the bellmen1 were passing through the streets, elongating their shouts,
“It’s a dry night, be careful of stray embers—-“
An ice cold gleam of moonlight shone across the cobblestone floor, emitting a faint glow.
A fairly long shadow was moving to the edge of the wall to prop itself up, its footsteps floating unsurely in a drunken manner.
Perhaps it had been too lazy to go around to the front door as the shadow just climbed over the wall into the small courtyard instead, heading inside with great familiarity.
Qin Ming Yue wasn’t asleep and upon hearing the movement from the door, he immediately rose up in alarm,
Xiao Feng Wu threw off his shoes, holding onto the table to stabilize himself, and smiled fakely as he said,
What, can’t even recognize your husband now?”
Anger blossomed in Qin Ming Yue’s heart.
He threw his pillow towards the edge of the bed and flipped open the blankets as if to step out and wrangle him for such impudence.
Yet, without even needing to get very close, he could easily smell the strong scent of alcohol surrounding Xiao Feng Wu and his eyebrows furrowed before smoothing out.
Coldly laughing, he said,
“Sixteenth Master, have you gone to the entertainment district, dandily having fun until now when you have come home?”
It was already quite deep into the night and for Xiao Feng Wu to come back at this time, it was indeed quite late.
Xiao Feng Wu walked over, purposefully provoking him,
“If I did, what are you going to do?”
Qin Ming Yue’s eyes sharpened at that, looking at Xiao Feng Wu with a dark expression before his smile returned and he asked,
“You want to know?”
“Not one bit.”
Xiao Feng Wu knew that if he kept going down this line, the other would become too angry.
So he immediately bent down, swooped Qin Ming Yue into his embrace with a princess hold, and threw him onto the bed.
Giggily, he leaned over as if to kiss him but Qin Ming Yue ducked left and right, not letting him touch him.
Instead, he grabbed onto Xiao Feng Wu’s collar and stubbornly asked,
“Have you gone around or have you not?”
Xiao Feng Wu pinched his butt, his eyes filled with a deep lust,
“What do you think? Would I go around to such places?”
He liked to be “clean” so he would never go to those kinds of places.
“Can’t say for certain, as Sixteenth Master, your words cannot be believed.”
Qin Ming Yue’s eyebrow slightly rose up in an arrogant expression.
In a few movements, Xiao Feng Wu took off Qin Ming Yue’s clothes, revealing half a gleaming collarbone which he began to repeatedly nibble and stroke over as Qin Ming Yue hung around Xiao Feng Wu’s neck, about to collapse into a puddle of water.
His voice was very different from normal, giving off a gentleness and softness as he breathily moaned, even if his tone was very unhappy,
“A scent of alcohol all over your body, as if you fell into a barrel of wine.
You cannot be like this next time.”
Xiao Feng Wu parted his legs, his fingers sliding down the side of Qin Ming Yue’s bright and clean face,
“Guess who I met today?”
One of Qin Ming Yue’s legs wrapped around Xiao Feng Wu’s waist, one that was skinny and lean, pale white, and without a single imperfection.
Using his toes, he touched Xiao Feng Wu on the waist, purposefully tickling him as his lips slightly hooked upwards,
“Who could you have even met? It couldn’t be the one that was infatuated with you, the daughter of the Xu family?”
Xiao Feng Wu seemed to have become a bit speechless at that and he paused before raising his eyebrow,
“No, it was my second uncle.”
Qin Ming Yue’s soul was about to fly away and so how could he really care about what numbered uncle he was talking about.
He only increased his strength to push Xiao Feng Wu to kiss him more deeply and from his scrambled mind, randomly tossed out a
“What about your second uncle……”
Xiao Feng Wu had his mind split on two things but neither were obstructed in his mind,
“What he first learned about acupuncture was incomplete.
Hearing the district magistrate say that my grandfather doted on me the most, he wanted to swindle information from me.
But I said that my grandfather would not let the teachings pass on to non-familial members and he didn’t dare utter another word.”
Qin Ming Yue’s wicked tongue licked his earlobe as his own eyes and face trembled slightly and with one glance at his eyes, no one could dare to look away,
Wherever Xiao Feng Wu touched next, it made Qin Ming Yue shiver all over.
Only then did he narrow his eyes, saying contemplatively,
“He gave me a thick, thick book of consultations and random prescriptions, asking me how I would diagnose the patient.”
Qin Ming Yue bit his shoulder and continued to ask,
“And then? Did you say no?”
Xiao Feng Wu came back to his senses then and smiled as he said,
“I don’t have a good grasp on the illness so what could I say? I just pretended not to know and he looked quite disappointed.”
Qin Ming Yue lightly poked his head, angry that he was so dumb,
“You, oh you.
He’s an imperial official now and he has numerous ways to make you open your mouth.
If you don’t say anything now, who can say what will happen in the future.”
Xiao Feng Wu grasped onto his finger and kissed it a few times.
He buried his face into the crook of Qin Ming Yue’s small and dainty neck, quietly moaning before nuzzling a few times,
“He has some feelings of shame towards the Xiao family so he will not force me.
Besides, he’s going back to the capital the next day so he does not have much time to waste.”
The two of them intertwined together a bit longer before letting go.
Qin Ming Yue was like a cat, lazily yawning as he hugged onto Xiao Feng Wu.
One hand was swatting him on the back lightly without any rhyme or reason and perhaps it was because he was a singer, his syllables were elongated as if they were scratching at his ears,
“You haven’t suffered much since birth.
Your callous attitude should really be changed or you’ll suffer greatly.
This was still your second uncle.
If it was someone else, they’d have dropped you right into jail.
Imperial official, these are words that mean they never speak reason.”
Xiao Feng Wu didn’t reply, only biting at Qin Ming Yue’s earlobe before the alcohol got to his head and made him fall into a deep sleep in his embrace.
When his eyes were closed, he was still so handsome, a prince stepping out of a fairytale.
Qin Ming Yue’s eyebrows furrowed in distaste, disgusted by the heavy scent of alcohol that surrounded his body but he was also not very willing to push him away.
Annoyed, he lazily kicked at the sheets and then fell asleep with him.
The next day, Xiao Lin Ru walked around all the apothecaries in Yan Cheng, accompanied by the district magistrate.
Since word had spread that he was looking to buy medicinal herbs for the Imperial Empress and people were looking for any chance to advance themselves, there were quite a few rare and precious treasures being offered.
Ginseng, bird’s nest were not even considered rare when red sage2 that had been passed down in families for centuries were being brought out.
“What a pity, oh what a pity.
Such good medicinal herbs, ruined just like that.”
Qian Lang-zhong was sitting right by the entrance, watching as carts and carts of medicinal herbs were being carted away.
So hurt he was by the sight, he couldn’t even take out his smoking pipe.
But Xiao Feng Wu thought that he just looked jealous from head to toe, purely just envious.
In the afternoon, Xiao Lin Ru came back to Hui Chun Tang for Xiao Feng Wu once more, but this time, he said nothing, only reminiscing over alcohol and speaking of words that had been hidden deep inside him.
“After a hundred years, who knows if I can be buried with my ancestors.
The imperial palace is one filled with turbulence, a place where you cannot just simply take a stance in any camp.
I had first committed a mistake, and since then, every step I take has been another mistake, making me unable to pull myself out.
Thinking about it now, there was some reason and logic when your grandfather had asked to retire and pull the entire family out from the palace.”
Xiao Lin Ru drank cup after cup of alcohol and then said to Xiao Feng Wu,
“The Imperial Empress is about to give birth and I must head back to the capital tomorrow.
Who knows when will be the next time I return.”
Xiao Feng Wu rubbed over the cup lid as he said,
“Actually……when normal wives give birth, it is a normal thing for the baby to be in the wrong place, and it is not that there is nothing at all that can be done to help.”
Xiao Lin Ru shook his head,
“If it were that simple, then that would be great……”
His voice lowered by quite a few degrees as if to say it to Xiao Feng Wu and as if he was talking to himself,
“When the Imperial Empress was still the Royal Concubine, she had forced herself to come out on top by getting pregnant with a secret technique.
The baby had then stolen all of the energy from the mother, causing both bodies to have low blood and air flow.
For her to have survived this long, it has not been easy.
I had originally thought to use Cui Chan Tang3 to induce an early birth, but who knew if her body still contained any of the original medicine she used.
I did not dare to use any prescriptions with aggressive ingredients, only able to keep her alive rather than healing her.”
Xiao Feng Wu finally understood why Xiao Lin Ru had been kicked out of the Xiao family now.
When Lao-tai-ye had still been at the imperial court, he had very strictly forewarned the family that they could not join in any battles between the concubines.
For Xiao Lin Ru to have stolen family techniques to help the Royal Concubine and induce a pregnancy, he had already betrayed the rules set down.
Xiao Feng Wu had a rough idea what method he had used,
“According to the teachings, if this had created a child, the baby must be forced out by the fourth or fifth month or otherwise there would be no end to the problems to come.”
Xiao Lin Ru still shook his head, closing his eyes as he said quietly,
“The mind cannot control the heart.
I had originally said so but the Emperor had no son and if it was a male, he would be the future Emperor, so how could the Imperial Empress be willing.
No matter what, I could not do anything, exhausting all that I know to just barely manage to keep the pregnancy alive.”
Xiao Feng Wu thought about it, then this was just the fault of Xiao Lin Ru himself and simply what he deserved.
He knew that the harem of the Imperial Emperor was a troublesome pool of filth and yet Xiao Lin Ru was willing to do anything to get in and wander through.
He immediately lost all sympathy and rose up, giving a courtesy bow before leaving.
The next few days, it was calm.
It was only when Xiao Feng Wu was consulting at a wealthy family’s manor that he saw someone familiar being kicked out of a casino.
The man who was kicking the other person out was hitting his stick on top of the cobblestone, loud knocks ringing out.
As he looked down at Xiao Feng Ming condescendingly, he said,
“Man, maybe you should get your money in order before coming back.
You’ve been here for three days now and haven’t won even once.
I have never seen such bad luck on a guy before.
Go wash off your negativity at the temple.”
Amongst the sixteen young masters and ladies, there were still fifteen of them besides their decapitated brother.
Xiao Feng Ming as the seventh was addicted to gambling.
When Xiao Lao-tai-ye was still alive, he was still able to hold him back but when the Xiao family was no more, Xiao Feng Ming no longer cared nor had anyone to hold him back.
He had now accumulated a mountain of debt in the neighbouring town and come back to hide back at Yan Cheng.
Xiao Feng Wu evidently had no goodness in his heart to help him and purposefully hid himself far away, choosing to walk in the small alleyways.
Yet who could have thought that Xiao Feng Ming had such sharp eyesight that from one glance he could spot Xiao Feng Wu and, ignoring the casino’s helper’s yells, he immediately climbed back up from the ground and rushed to chase after him in a craze,
“Ack! Sixteen! Sixteen! Don’t run away Sixteen!”
Yan Cheng, this place was not very big nor was it very small.
If you want to meet up, then sooner or later, you’ll bump into the one you want to meet; you can run all you want but one day you won’t be able to avoid them.
Xiao Feng Wu was not really trying to hide from him either and so seeing Xiao Feng Ming chase after him, he helplessly stopped his footsteps.
Xiao Feng Ming had gotten married quite early in his life but because his gambling addiction was out of control, his wife had just taken their child with her back to her maiden family and so he was now alone.
Seeing Xiao Feng Wu, he did not feel any shame and hugged him very familiarly as he said,
“Look at you, what are you hiding from me for? As brothers what is there that can’t be seen? You are now able to make a living, you should give your brother a hand.
I had just been worrying over having no place to stay.
Let’s go, bring your brother back to your home.”
Xiao Feng Wu thought that this man was even more shameless than himself and shrugged his arm off.
He yawned and said,
“I am just one small man being kept at someone’s house.
Qi-ge4, you’re quite handsome in your own right and you can just find a random rich, young wife to hook up with.
What expensive food could you not eat then that you would still be worrying over not having a place to stay?”
Xiao Feng Ming shook his head like a pellet drum.5
Besides his addiction to gambling, he didn’t have many other bad habits; he wasn’t one to be a womanizer.
With a medicine bag on his back, Xiao Feng Wu returned back to Hui Chun Tang, followed by a shameless someone, giving Qian Lang-zhong quite a fright.
His smoking pipe dropped onto the table, causing quite a lot of ashes to fall out .
De Gui quickly used a wet cloth to clean it, fearing that it would light the table on fire.
Qian Lang-zhong pushed him away in distaste and said to Xiao Feng Wu,
“Young man, what do you mean by this? Will you let this old man live instead of bringing your entire family over?”
Xiao Feng Wu perfunctorily said,
“He’s here to help you.
As long as you give him a meal and a place to live, it will be fine.
Hoh, he can handle a lot more hard work than I can.”
At his words Xiao Feng Ming gave a “heh heh” before rolling up his sleeves and saying,
“So you were here at Qian-lao’s6, Sixteen.
You should’ve said so earlier and I’d have been here earlier.”
Everyone in the Xiao family was decently skilled at the medicinal arts.
If he had not bumped into Xiao Feng Wu today, he had planned to find a living somewhere.
Xiao Feng Ming brushed open the curtain to take a look at Qian-lao who was looking over a patient.
He was greeted with the sight of a hunter with a long, long scratch wound on his back and whatever had happened, it had broken his arm out of its socket, rendering him unable to sit or lay down on his back and making him groaning in pain with every movement.
Xiao Feng Ming reached over to check his bones and shook his head,
“Ack, ah, broken.
Will have to reset it.”
And then after he finished checking out the injury, he found the correct spot with pinpoint accuracy and with a bit of strength, a faint crack could be heard before the hunter’s arm was set back in place.
The man was also one who could endure pain, enduring the snap without making a sound.
After testing his elbow with a few movements, he weakly said,
“Thank you, physician.”
Xiao Feng Ming waved his hand,
Just remember to give the money for snapping your bone back into place later.”
Behind the counter, Xiao Feng Wu was currently counting money, and in all honesty, he could have already saved up five hundred taels.
But he was loose with money and never could keep saving in mind with the cost of his spending forever more than what he could earn.
But now, with the savings from the last few days, he had finally saved up about four hundred.
Seeing just a few more patients and it should be enough.
At that time he could tell that monster to scram or he’ll always be fearful knowing that it was clinging on to him.
Xiao Feng Wu felt that he suffered such injustice these few days, looking at all kinds of illnesses from rotting flesh to endless bleeding, and so sickened by the sights that he could not stomach food, all because of this system.
Qian Lang-zhong looked to his left and to his right, feeling that they were indeed from the same family; these two brothers only had money on their minds.
Thanks to Xiao Feng Wu’s referral, Xiao Feng Ming settled down at Hui Chun Tang just like that.
Only, whenever he had some money on hand, he would not be able to hold himself back from heading to the casino, hoping to get a big break.
Then when he lost it all, he’d come back just like nothing had changed, so much so that Qian Lang-zhong could not stand the sight anymore.
Qian Lang-zhong: “The end of the world, it’s the end of the world.
How could this happen at his young age.
Look, look, he’s gone again in the middle of the day to the casino! Winning not even once, how could he not have stifled his desire by now!”
Xiao Feng Wu rested his legs on the table, looking like a thug as he said,
“He’s an idiot of course.
Even when the house cheats, he doesn’t even see it.
Let him keep losing as it’s not even your money.”
The moment he finished his sentence, a sudden frantic yelp came through the door and immediately Xiao Feng Ming ran back inside as if he was about to pee himself,
“Oh no! Oh no! Sixteen, quick, pack up your stuff and run! There are soldiers being sent to capture us!”
These words came so suddenly that it made everyone helpless.
Xiao Feng Wu stood up with a clang, feeling an immense sense of dread.
With furrowed eyebrows, he asked,
“What’s going on?!”
Xiao Feng Ming was heaving uncontrollably from his run and his face was completely pale.
He pointed at the door but couldn’t get a word out.
He patted himself hard a few times before he finally said,
“I……I just went to the casino and found that soldiers were randomly grabbing people.
Si-jie, Wu-jie, Liu-di and also Jiu-di and Shi-di have all been captured!”7
Qian Lang-zhong and De Gui stopped what they were doing at that,
“What is the point of capturing you all?!”
Xiao Feng Ming was about to blow up from anger, almost hiccuping as he stomped on the ground,
“If it wasn’t that useless bastard Xiao Lin Ru! The Imperial Empress was about to give birth and was suffering in immense pain, yet he could not do a single thing.
The Emperor decreed that if he could not save the mother and the child, the Xiao family would all have their heads chopped off and now the officials are all out to capture us!”
And then he quickly packed up his money before preparing to sneak out the back.
Yet the soldiers had arrived just in time to bump right into him on his way out, and with a kick to the stomach, he lay on his back, unable to get up.
The one who was leading the troops was Jiang Ping An.
When he saw Xiao Feng Wu, there was a regretful expression on his face and he gave a courtesy bow before saying,
“Physician Xiao, we will have to trouble you to come with us.”
Xiao Feng Wu used his handkerchief to slowly wipe off the sweat on his palms and looked up at him with dark black eyes,
“Xiao Lin Ru had been cut from the family records a long time ago.
By all accounts, he is not of the Xiao family lineage anymore, so naturally there is no reason for us to be implicated.”
Xiao Feng Ming, held captive by a soldier with a cloth stuffed in his mouth shook his head aggressively at his words, displaying his agreement.
Jiang Ping An sighed and said,
“When the Emperor is angry, who cares if they are cast off or not from the family lineage.
I am just following the district magistrate’s orders and when he says we have to take them all, we just have to go out and capture them all.”
After that, he glanced around and quietly said to Xiao Feng Wu,
“I’ve heard the district magistrate say that this is not set in stone yet.
Xiao Da-ren is currently being held at the imperial palace and perhaps he could save the Imperial Empress.
Bring a few taels of silver with you and when you are in there, I can let my brothers close their eyes, close their eyes, so you don’t have to suffer much inside.”8
When you’re thrown in jail, torture was part of the standard treatment.
The present Emperor couldn’t be considered a wise one and looked after the Imperial Empress like a precious treasure.
If there was any hint of an issue, one single move could result in a hundred lives on the line and the Xiao family would only be one of the many casualties.
Xiao Feng Ming had truly never thought that such a troublesome event could hit them out of nowhere and his legs were boneless from fear.
He knelt on the ground, crying uncontrollably, but as his mouth was stuffed with cloth, he couldn’t make any noise.
There was no emotion to be seen on Xiao Feng Wu’s face as he only put down the cloth in his hand and walk over to kick Xiao Feng Ming once,
“No one’s dead so what are you crying for.”
Jiang Ping An shook his head and signalled for his brother-in-arms to take them away.
Hui Chun Tang immediately quietened down with De Gui as confused as ever.
He looked left and right, left and right, before panicking and asked Qian Lang-zhong,
“Master, what should we do now?!”
Qian Lang-zhong lowered his head and didn’t speak for a long while.
He only knocked his smoking pipe on the floor and said,
“The Xiao family, what kind of trouble have they stumbled upon.
Lin Ru is indeed so foolish.
Why be so greedy for power and status in the first place when he’s gotten into so much trouble to implicate his family today.”
!!!! Sorry for the wait! As some of you might have read from the status update page, I had some… technical difficulties lol so this chapter release turned out to be a day late （；´д｀）ゞ Plum and I rushed it for today so hopefully everything is good : ) We’re very close to the end now (and to the end of the novel, just 2 more volumes left..
(；′⌒`)), and it’s been a crazy and wild ride since the very beginning! I hope you all are still enjoying the novel and I hope to see you all at the end of the journey
*1 bellmen: To be a bit more accurate, specifically men who signal what time it is.
Usually it’s groups of 2 that patrol the streets in the night where 1 holds a gong and another holds the hitting stick and they would knock on the gong as they passed and they usually hit 5 times a night, once every hour where the fifth knock is usually when the roosters start crowing(apparently 7pm, 9, 11, 1 am and 3 am and each is a different way of hitting the gong such as one slow, one first three times, one slow three fast, etc.).
Usually accompanying their walks are their shouts which is as they say in the sentence after but also things like please close your windows, the cold season is here, close your doors, sleep early, wake up early, keep in good shape, etc.
*2 red sage: Supposedly red sage in English and it does makes sense that it’s red as “blood” is literally in the first part of the word but for some reason the plant being used in most Chinese sites i found were purple instead of red, although the actual part itself does look red:
*3 Cui Chan Tang: Literally “force birth soup” and when later they mention “aggressive ingredients”, it’s to mean like anything from poisonous/toxic to taxing medicine or medicine that will cure you but make your body much weaker and/or more easily to succumb to any other illnesses, something perhaps like curing poison with poison but you don’t know if the “new” poison will kill you instead rather than curing you hence why the second uncle was so hesitant to take any risk.
*4 Qi-ge as in seventh brother
*5 pellet drum: A child’s toy, still quite fascinating to me haha, but it looks like this and with the two little balls on the side it’s a like a drum and flips back and forth: )
*6 Qian-lao: in this call, Qian is the name and lao is as in… something like “elder/old/senior”.
Like saying or calling an elder with great familiarity but not really in the most respectful way.
Instead of like an acquaintance/less senior person to a more senior person/elder, it’s more like almost on the same level/rank or “closer” type of people/friends.
*7 Siblings like ranked: fourth sister, fifth sister, sixth brother, ninth brother, tenth brother
*8 “close your eyes” is to imply that they will “close their eyes” to whatever illegal deeds they are doing and ignore that you are bypassing a law.
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