Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 40: Kneeling in Punishment
Once the last word came out of his mouth, silence swept through the courtyard.
Stunned out of his mind by what Xie Yu Zhi just said, Chen Miao Ping thought, kill someone? He couldn’t kill a person.
He reflexively looked at Chun Qiao, but he was only greeted with the sight of her soul leaving her body from shock.
Her eyes were dazed and it looked quite like she was already dead.
That golden dagger was lying quietly on the ground and it was glimmering under a beam of moonlight which gave it a bit of a bloodthirsty aura the more you look at it.
Seeing that Chen Miao Ping was not moving, Xie Yu Zhi questioned him,
“What, are you unwilling?”
Chen Miao Ping thought in his heart, not exactly, but he felt like this type of question presented the same dilemma as the question that asked ‘If your mother and your wife fell in the water at the same time, who would you save first?’
He hesitated as he reached out, but the moment he was about to touch the dagger, he withdrew his hand.
Standing up under the heavy gaze on him, he said,
“Today is our wedding night, a joyous celebration between you and me.
It is not lucky to see any blood being spilled on this day.
Second Master, if you do not mind, we should discuss this issue on another day and let her go instead.”
Ignoring his excuses, Xie Yu Zhi shifted his body and stared intensely at that elegant face,
“I have been on the battlefield since my youth, and I can’t even remember the number of people that have died by my hands.
There was never a time where I needed to pick a date to do it.”
Xie Yu Zhi had made a name for himself when he was young.
His skills in calligraphy, poetry, fighting, everything was above that of the average man.
At just sixteen years of age, he led the troops to conquer their barbarian neighbours and came back victorious.
Since then, he had never lost a battle, which made him very admirable and desirable to many women.
One could even say that there was no one in this generation better than him.
Yet while everyone thought that there was no stopping to his path to greatness, no one could have expected that an incident would occur and cause his downfall.
With a seemingly bright future from his growing victories collected under his sword in the name of the emperor, he had a straight path upwards, towards the title of the greatest in the imperial court for authority and power, just below the emperor.
But during the conquest of Dong Xia, Xie Yu Zhi would fall into an enemy’s trap.
Because of this, his right leg has since been crippled.
For two years he has never left the mansion and his mood became more volatile, changing at the drop of a hat.
If one looked at it closely, one could understand, but unfortunately, the focus was and always has been on the results, never the journey.
It didn’t matter why his mood was always changing, his name was still associated with cruelty and evil because of the change in his personality after Dong Xia.
Chen Miao Ping had not moved as his brain was rapidly turning on its gears, trying to find a way to get out of this unscathed.
However, Xie Yu Zhi’s patience seemed to come to an end.
He interlaced his fingers and calmly threw out another landmine,
“And if I said, between the two of you, one must die today?”
His eyesight was like a snake slithering around Chun Qiao’s neck and slowly stopped on Chen Miao Ping.
Each word was pronounced clearly and slowly as he said,
“Will it be your death…… or will it be hers?”
Of course it would be hers.
Chen Miao Ping stared at that dagger for a moment and then turned to look at Chun Qiao.
His eyesight went back and forth between the two, as if wondering if he should do it.
He did not know that the way he looked at Chun Qiao was as if he was looking at someone who was already dead.
His eyes were so emotionless that it was more terrifying and scarier than any eyes of hatred could ever be.
Chen Miao Ping was really a handsome man, a man with the kind of handsome looks that was rarely seen walking on this earth.
In the presence of his face, the moon would feel as if it suddenly lost its luster.
Yet at this moment in time, Chun Qiao could only see the hand hidden in his sleeve.
The hand had a very distinct bone structure, a hand that she could tell was very used to holding a calligraphy brush.
It was a hand that made one wonder if holding a sharp knife would be as habitual as holding a brush.
This man was so ruthless, so heartless, with the ability to change his face faster than you could turn a book.
One moment he was singing to her with promises of love that could encompass over every surface of this earth, with light praises of heart wrenching love, and in the next moment, he would become a stranger to protect himself.
He would, in the next second, kill her.
He would absolutely kill her……
Chun Qiao’s eyesight began to waver.
She was shivering nonstop with cold sweat dripping down her back.
Chen Miao Ping seemed to sense something and he looked at her, as if that hand in his sleeve was about to move —
She only heard a “wong” sound, and her brain immediately snapped.
As if the shock gave her so much immense suffering that all logical thought was stripped away, she suddenly became crazy and lurched forward to grab that dagger.
Shrieking as she stabbed towards Chen Miao Ping with it.
The nearby servants became frantic, their shrieking screams like a mismatched choir.
Chen Miao Ping did not expect that this woman would suddenly go crazy and he immediately wanted to run away from her.
Perhaps he had knelt for too long as in this moment, his legs would not stand up and he could only use his hands to block in reflex.
But it was at this exact moment that Xie Yu Zhi suddenly threw something out of his hands, instantly hitting the wrist of Chun Qiao.
She yelled out in pain as the dagger dropped with a clank onto the ground.
“It seems like you don’t need to pick anymore.
She has already chosen the road herself.”
Xie Yu Zhi gave a glance to the side, and a guard immediately went forward to subdue Chun Qiao.
Her hair was very ruffled and in disarray, while her person was crying and laughing, in an obvious state of madness.
Chen Miao Ping felt like something was stuck in his throat, and after taking a few deep breaths, he felt his throat slowly loosen up.
He thought to himself that he had just preserved his life with great difficulty after transmigrating and he really can’t lose this second chance at life.
He steadied himself and lifted his eyes to look at Xie Yu Zhi, hands in a bowing gesture, saying with gratitude,
“Thank you to the Second Master for saving me……”
Xie Yu Zhi did not acknowledge him.
Looking at him in silence, the corners of his mouth tugged up as he said, as if he was mocking Chen Miao Ping,
“Was it worth it for this kind of woman?”
Worth it to gamble your hard earned name and future, worth it for me to become a laughing stock on your wedding night, worth it for you to hesitate on picking up the blade?
There seemed to be a moment where light was not reflecting in his eyes, but Chen Miao Ping could understand.
For anyone who saw their partner on the night of their wedding fooling around with another woman, their heart was most likely more dead than ash.
Chun Qiao was quickly taken away and the surrounding servants had already left in the span of a breath.
In no time, Qu Feng Courtyard was empty except the two and their closest personal aides.
It was then that an elderly maid, a Mo-mo1, entered.
She was followed by two younger maids, who looked like they were ranked fairly high amongst the servants.
But that Momo bowed before Xie Yu Zhi and quietly said,
“Gong-Ye2 is waiting at Dian Yun Pagoda for Second Master.”
Hearing this, Xie Yu Zhi nodded his head in acknowledgment.
Chen Miao Ping felt a bit weirded out however, as the Momo had given him a deep look before leaving, and he couldn’t help but analyze what it meant……
Was it because the original host was too terrible that his father-in-law needed to kick this son-in-law out?
That can’t happen.
In the modern era, Chen Miao Ping was a useless piece of junk, only knowing to eat, drink and have fun.
Here in the ancient times, he couldn’t do any of the fine arts and he definitely didn’t have any martial arts skills.
If he was to be kicked out, the only thing he could do was starve to death.
Given that that’ll mean he’ll be on the bad side of Chang Guo Gong, he would not be able to get any footing as an imperial official, to be part of the imperial court.
If it became like this, would he have to be a prostitute, selling his body to keep living? No no no no, that can’t happen.
Seeing Xie Yu Zhi stand up from the chair, as if to leave, Chen Miao Ping quickly climbed up from the ground clumsily, yelling out after him,
“Second Master! Second Master, wait wait!”
Hearing this, Xie Yu Zhi paused his footsteps and slightly turned his head around to look at him.
His eyes were as cold as ice.
He was attractive even with the coldness, but this attractiveness was toned down by the surrounding pessimism from these past years.
Chen Miao Ping was his exact opposite; his eyes were swirling with life, with action.
Even those living in the deepest hidden alleyways would say that the Flower Seeker must be so handsome that it was out of this world.
His outer appearance must be so handsome that if he was seen by people who are stone-hearted or cold blooded, they would be melted away.
The day he was riding on horseback through the streets after the examination results came out, his reputation was so grand that it made every building full to the brim, dramatically decreasing the widespread name of the first rank examinee and seducing far too many girls in the capital.
Meeting his eyes, Xie Yu Zhi’s face was like a blank slate, patiently waiting for him to continue.
However he only heard Chen Miao Ping say,
“Second Master was right in saying that I would not be able to do it……”
These words immediately made Xie Yu Zhi look colder and he was prepared to turn around and leave.
But Chen Miao Ping was faster and blocked his path,
“I can’t do it, that is the truth, but that is not because I have feelings for her.”
Xie Yu Zhi didn’t want to listen and his lips spit out two words coldy,
Chen Miao Ping’s feet did not move and he continued to say,
“Chun Qiao is a person of irrelevance.
Miao Ping only sees her as a passing guest, a clear wind, a floating cloud, never to have any ties.
I have never killed someone with my own bare hands in this life.
Regardless of the reason, if I do really kill her today with my hands, I will never be able to forget her for the rest of my life.
Why then, would I need to do such a thing?”
Seeing that Xie Yu Zhi was not moving, Chen Miao Ping smiled and said,
“Miao Ping is not willing to remember such an irrelevant person for life.”
And then he opened his palm where quietly there lay a beautiful translucent jade amulet.
With one glance one could instantly tell that it was a high quality product, one that you could not buy on the streets casually.
Just when Chun Qiao wanted to stab Chen Miao Ping, Xie Yu Zhi had used such an item to hit her wrist.
Unfortunately from the impact, it had fallen onto the ground and was now broken into two pieces.
Chen Miao Ping said,
“This pendant has been carved with Second Master’s name, and since it is something you once wore as an accessory, it must be something precious to you.
It is most unfortunate that it is broken.
Once Miao Ping can find a good craftsman to fix it up, I will return it back to Second Master.”
If a man has a good looking skin on his skeleton, almost half the women living in this world would fall under his shoes.
Adding on generosity, a caring heart, and an intuitiveness, another half of the remaining half of the women would fall for him too.
Now, factor in his honey filled mouth and a gentle but steely backbone, packaged all together like this, at most there would only be one out of every ten women that would not fall for him.
It could be said that there was a reason why out of the numerous and uncountable examinees, out of all the talents that had gathered in one place for one thing, Chang Guo Gong’s family would choose him.
Hearing this Xie Yu Zhi looked him deeply in the eyes and then finally said,
“Things that have been broken, I have never wanted again.”
Chen Miao Ping did not mind his words and even had the thought to negotiate,
“Then, in the future when something better is found, Miao Ping will buy Second Master a new one.”
And then he slightly moved aside, reopening the road for Xie Yu Zhi to walk again.
Seeing him discreetly and naturally slip the broken jade into his embrace, Xie Yu Zhi seemed to want to say something, but he did not open his mouth in the end.
He only slightly glanced at his own knees and then limped away, one slow step at a time.
Not long after he left, one of the head maids of Qu Feng Courtyard, Ren Dong, suddenly came back holding a tray in her hands.
She bowed towards Chen Miao Ping before saying,
“This is the medicine Second Master has ordered us to give to Gu-Ye.
Hot water has also been prepared inside for you.
Gu-Ye, please enter the house now.
This maid will help you apply the medicine on your knees.”
Chen Miao Ping was surprised when he heard this and then shook his head,
“No, that won’t be necessary.
I can do it myself.”
He received the tray from the hands of Ren Dong and stepped inside the house.
He closed the door behind him and took a look at the decorations which, judging just from a glance, must be worth tens of thousands of gold.
He couldn’t help but lightly chuckle, the emotions reflecting in his eyes unclear and deep.
Chen Miao Ping leaned against the door, as his hands interlocked with each other, feeling very satisfied in his heart and silently thanked the heavens.
I am very grateful to you, for gifting me such an object.
Handsome, tall, rich and a person that is too easy to deceive.
Please look over me and protect me from being kicked out of this son-in-law position by my father-in-law.
Having such a big event happen this late at night, Chang Guo Gong Xie Yan Ping obviously received word about it.
But he took into consideration the fact that Xie Yu Zhi is grown up and could not be considered a child anymore.
He decided to leave it in Xie Yu Zhi’s hands to deal with on his own.
To be quite honest, Xie Yan Ping really wanted to kick out this worthless and useless son-in-law who married into their family.
But this marriage was bestowed with blessings by the emperor himself and no matter what, it was not something that can be changed on a whim.
Besides, if word of this incident got out, their reputation would start to crumble.
The only thing they could do was blame themselves for not knowing the person clearly beforehand and mistaking a wolf as their son-in-law.
Dian Yun Pagoda was the usual office of Xie Yan Ping where he would take care of all the official documents and other work.
On a regular day, without his permission no one could enter, but Xie Yu Zhi was an exception.
Xie Yu Zhi walked into the office and the sight of Xie Yan Ping sitting behind the desk, with the candle light dimming slowly, greeted him immediately.
There was no indication of how long Xie Yan Ping had been here.
He reported on everything that happened tonight and was only scolded in return,
Xie Yan Ping was angered to the point of helplessness and knocked on the desk with force,
“You let Chen Miao Ping kneel for so long and out in the open.
If it ever became known, are you not publically slapping him in the face? He may be willing to bend over and apologize now, but can you promise that he is not just hiding the growing hatred in his heart? What kind of man does not cheat? You should have just sold that worthless servant off.
Would Chen Miao Ping have stopped you otherwise or make a fuss? You allowed something like this to happen, turning a perfect match into a hate filled relationship.
This is absolutely foolish!”
Xie Yu Zhi did not say that he had originally planned to kill both of those bastards and only lowered his eyes saying,
“Those who betray me, must all die.”
Xie Yan Ping was born from and lived entrenched in martial arts, so his temper was quite explosive.
He immediately slammed down on the desk and stood up,
“As your father, I know that you have held hatred in your heart ever since you were betrayed by your subordinate in Dong Xia.
But you have to look at the situation and timing with clarity.
Today is not the same as yesterday.
If they are not blood related, who will scrape out their hearts and souls for you?!”
The moment he mentioned Dong Han, the atmosphere in the air became solemn and tense.
Xie Yu Zhi had been a budding, talented youth and that battle was easily in their favour.
But who could have expected that a trusted subordinate would betray them and reveal all their meetings and other information? Ultimately this led to an army of more than ten thousand walking into the enemy’s trap where literally fighting with their lives on the line was the only way to escape.
The hot blooded spirit in him was suddenly frozen over in that moment of time, and his youth and ambition was grinded into nothingness by the two years of being bedridden from his injuries.
Even more than that, however, was his inability to trust another person again.
Seeing that Xie Yu Zhi did not speak up, Xie Yan Ping suddenly sighed.
He slowly sat back down on his chair and muttered,
“When your big brother Heng Zhi died in his youth, I, your father, was left with you as my one and only main son.
You are quite like your mother, with a personality just as stubborn as hers.
You like men, which as your father I have acknowledged.
You didn’t want to marry another man as his wife, your father, I agreed.
To pick that Chen Miao Ping as your husband, your father, I have also agreed.
What else do you want……”
Here in the capital city, it was nothing unusual to be in a relationship with another man.
A lot of officials had kept men on the side, but even if they did marry a bridegroom, they would at least marry another female concubine in order to produce offspring, to continue their ancestors’ lineage.
No matter whether it was the imperial family or the average commoner, this was the norm.
Chang Guo Gong knew that Xie Yu Zhi would not allow his husband to do such a thing, and so he picked Chen Miao Ping, the kind of man that could be easily controlled.
He even went as far as to ask the emperor to bless their marriage to shut the mouths of the people.
But reality proved that no man cannot not cheat.
And whether they admit it or not, the marriage was already set in stone, which meant that they will have to accept it as fate.
Xie Yan Ping tiredly closed his eyes and waved his hand in the air.
“Call the maids to bring a soft cushion.
You yourself go kneel for half a Shi Chen outside.”
This was for the good of Xie Yu Zhi, as after all Chen Miao Ping was the Flower Seeker.
In front of the servants today he knelt for a full Shi Chen, which must have fueled the grudge he would very likely be harboring in his heart.
If this incident was passed onto the ears of the emperor, it would not reflect well on their family.
Punishing Xie Yu Zhi to kneel for half a Shi Chen should at least give some face back to Chen Miao Ping.
If this was ever leaked out now, others would only think that the family elders wanted to punish them both and laugh away all other thoughts.
Xie Yu Zhi did not move and pursed his lips, silently showing some of his headstrong stubbornness.
Chang Guo Gong lifted his eyes to look at him and asked in a light tone,
“Do you feel wronged?”
And then didn’t wait for an answer before saying,
“It’s natural for you to feel wronged.
Who as a human has not felt this way? But this road is the one that you yourself have chosen to walk down.
For the face and dignity of this family, no matter what, you will continue to walk down that path for me!”
Xie Yu Zhi finally had a reaction to that, and it was unknown whether he took this lesson to heart or not, but he slightly raised his hands and bowed, saying,
“Thank you, Father, for your lesson.”
He slowly limped out of Dian Yun Pagoda, pushing aside the cushion passed on by the servants and knelt down right in front of the courtyard, on the road paved with rocks.
His small and skinny silhouette stood very straight, as if he was a stalk of bamboo.
Xie Yu Zhi did not care about his legs as one was already disabled.
What was the matter if he crippled the other one?
The servants all around were hustling through but did not dare to mock this master.
Even so, it did not stop the gossip sweeping through the estate.
Not long after, it was passed onto Chen Miao Ping’s ears.
“What? Second Master has been punished to kneel?”
Chen Miao Ping had just finished taking care of his wounds and upon hearing this, the pants that were rolled up became loose.
Ren Dong furrowed her eyebrows and looked very worried,
“The maids were passing along the message saying that Second Master had somehow made Guo Gong very mad and is now kneeling under Dian Yun Pagoda.”
*1 Mo-mo: a way to call an older/more elderly maid, or a female servant who is fairly old and works fairly high up in status in comparison to the other servants.
To be called Mo-mo, they are mostly the ones that have been at their job for a very long long time and they are higher in status than the younger maids.
Depending who their specific master/mistress is, the more higher tiered they can be (so if it was a Mo-mo of Chang Guo Gong, she would be higher in status than any other possible older Mo-mo from within the Chang Guo Gong estate for example).
There’s also quite a bit of other factors, but you can think of it as by status and age (higher + older) as who gets determined to be a mo-mo.
*2 Gong-Ye: a way to call in response to Chang Guo Gong like Second Master.
Can be used for any male head of the household, one that is the most respectable usually (-Ye as a suffix can be used by itself for a male who’s older)
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