Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 55: What Are You Running For?
As someone who was raised with melodramas on repeat on the TV, his mind was jumbled up with thoughts of crazy schemes and plots.
Chen Miao Ping discreetly leaned against Xie Yu Zhi and said,
“Ah, that Ye Lu Jun Qi looks like he’s secretly in love with Second Master.”
Xie Yu Zhi’s eyes narrowed slightly and he had a moment where he thought he was hearing things.
“The fifth prince of the Liao Empire.
He keeps looking over at you, sending you secret electrically charged signals.”
Chen Miao Ping was very confident in his assessment.
Xie Yu Zhi was unexpectedly calm.
He knocked his head back to take a swig of his wine.
The corners of his mouth hooked up and he asked with a meaningful look on his face,
“You know why he’s looking at me?”
“I don’t know.”
“His two blood-related brothers were killed by me.”
The Liao Empire and Da Jin has been fighting nonstop, year after year, day after day.
The eldest prince and the third prince had both led armies onto the battlefield, only to be beheaded by Xie Yu Zhi.
When the king passed away, the fourth prince, born from a concubine, fought for his right to inherit the throne and became victorious.
This Ye Lu Jun Qi, however, was born from the queen and most likely had suffered under the new king’s rule.
Otherwise, why would the terrible job of being an emissary fall on him, when there were better candidates?
Chen Miao Ping stroked his chin, contemplating,
“No wonder why he keeps looking at you so strangely.
This could be dangerous then.
What if he wants to get revenge on Second Master?”
Xie Yu Zhi was disinterested in the conversation topic and said uncaringly,
“If he wants to get his revenge on me, you will be a target too.”
The Emperor did not seem to be in the best state of health and only said a few words to officially start the banquet before taking his leave.
Because his sons were still not mature enough, it was hard for them to take up the responsibility, and so Li Qin Wang acted as the overseer of the banquet.
Most of the officials’ attitudes towards the emissaries could only be described as a passable politeness, but Li Qin Wang was a very well rounded person.
So in contrast to the majority, he was laughing and joking with Ye Lu Jun Qi, even exchanging and toasting with alcohol, seemingly having the time of their life.
There was a flash of something in Xie Yu Zhi’s eyes as he looked upon this scene, and he subconsciously looked towards Chang Guo Gong Xie Yan Ping.
His father’s eyes were slightly lowered, paying no mind to the surroundings around him.
Spotting him like this, a few old ministers could sense that something unusual was going on, and their eyebrows furrowed, thinking over what could be going on.
Li Qin Wang was the direct uncle of the Emperor.
Although he was of direct lineage to the Imperial Family, he was always dressed very plainly and had maintained a very low profile.
To the public, all he had was a generous name and a reputation of being well trusted by the Emperor.
Even Chen Miao Ping had heard of the good reputation of this Li Qin Wang.
But for someone to be a perfect package like this, it did seem a little too perfect, in a strange kind of way.
Chen Miao Ping looked left and right and then concluded,
“Li Qin Wang’s family is certainly a wealthy family.”
Xie Yu Zhi paused for a moment and then raised his eyebrows,
“Why do you say that? Li Qin Wang has always kept on the down low.
Even his horse carriage does not have enough room for two people to sit in.”
Chen Miao Ping didn’t respond, but he thought, just considering that Zhao Si Xian, a fifteen or sixteen year old child, who could only be living under his family’s thumb, carelessly tossing out 6000 guan to buy a crystal pendant for fun.
Being able to throw around that kind of money was not normal.
Especially when compared to Liu Zhen Hu, who lost 7000 guan last time.
Look at where he is now, still lying in bed from Wu An Hou’s punishment.
But Chen Miao Ping would definitely not tell Xie Yu Zhi this.
If the other knew that he sold a crystal pendant to someone else, he’d never hear the end of it.
So he only shook his head,
“I can guess it.”
Xie Yu Zhi said,
“You can guess it? If you were really that accurate, how could you think that Ye Lu Jun Qi would secretly be in love with me?”
Chen Miao Ping sighed and then leaned back on his chair,
“Chen Miao Ping knows his knowledge is severely lacking, and his brush cannot just write peace into existence nor does he have the ability to walk onto the battlefield and win.
I am not as tall or strong as the fifth prince, so the thought of it came from my low self-esteem and lack of confidence, from the depths of my heart.”
A normal person would know, low self-esteem or lack of confidence does not exist at all in Chen Miao Ping.
But Xie Yu Zhi believed it.
He gave Chen Miao Ping a strange look and asked with an innocent expression,
Chen Miao Ping covered his face with both of his hands, looking quite downtrodden,
Xie Yu Zhi didn’t know why, but he smiled and then moved his gaze away, staring at the dancers that seemed to be flying with grace,
“Then you do have…..
quite the self-awareness.”
Chen Miao Ping drew his hands away from his face in response to that,
“Whatever the pot, fits whatever the lid.
We’re similar, and we fit pretty well.”
Xie Yu Zhi narrowed his eyes and snorted lightly,
“I knew you were pretending.”
The two of them were whispering with each other, catching the attention of Xie Yan Ping.
His glare was growing in intensity and rage as they kept talking, and with a solemn voice he scolded the both of them,
“If you are eating, then eat.
If you are drinking, then drink.
What is the matter with you two, gossiping more than women?”
Xie Yu Zhi was fired at when he was just sitting there so innocently, and he discreetly gave his own glare at Chen Miao Ping.
He bowed his head to Xie Yan Ping and acknowledged his mistake,
“As father teaches me so.”
Chen Miao Ping also followed along,
“This son-in-law knows his mistake.
It was my blunder, as this is my first time coming to a banquet like this.
I didn’t know a lot of the rules, and I wanted to ask Yu Zhi, making him have to keep conversing with me.”
Xie Yan Ping, seeing him protect Xie Yu Zhi, felt very satisfied and pleased inside his heart.
So how could he really find fault with him? He thought that even though this weak boneless chicken of a man, Chen Miao Ping, couldn’t lift up a sword, he was not that bad after all.
The banquet with its music and dancers continued on without a pause, right up until the very dark of the night descended upon the palace.
At the end of the banquet, the Royal Consort of Brightness had suddenly used the reason that she was homesick for her family to ask for His Majesty’s grace, allowing Xie Yan Ping into the inner Palace for a reunion.
Because of this meeting, Chen Miao Ping and the others could only leave by themselves.
Walking down the long, long palace walkway, Xie Ping Zhi kept trying to talk to Xie Yu Zhi, presenting the image that he very much respected his elder brother to everyone around, collecting a very good reputation to his name.
Xie Yu Zhi hated being used for someone’s agenda, and he said to Xie Ping Zhi,
“I still have things to do.
You head back with the servants first.”
Xie Ping Zhi hesitated,
“But elder brother, the roads are slippery in the dark.
You also have a disability, so we should go back together……”
Seeing Xie Ping Zhi not listening to him, his voice turned frosty and sounded more frozen than Antarctica, cooling down the entire atmosphere around them,
Why are you speaking so many useless words?”
Xie Ping Zhi’s face turned vicious for a second and his eyes twitched before his face turned pale white.
He even specifically looked at Chen Miao Ping, as if he just experienced the greatest unwarranted scolding, and then left after some stuttering and hesitation.
It was not a good thing to slip his fingers into this kind of pie for family drama.
The entire time this was happening, Chen Miao Ping was looking at the stars, at the moon that was high up in the sky, anything above his head in the dark blackness of the night.
Xie Yu Zhi turned his head, and seeing Chen Miao Ping like this and not speaking, he looked out at the endless road ahead and asked,
“Do you think that I am very mean, that I bullied him?”
Chen Miao Ping chuckled,
“How could that be bullying? You didn’t hit him nor did you yell at him.”
Chen Miao Ping was normally a fast walker but right now, he had purposefully slowed down his steps, walking side by side with Xie Yu Zhi.
He held onto Xie Yu Zhi’s arm and said,
“I don’t care if you bully him, but if he bullies you, that I must care about.”
Xie Yu Zhi paused in shock and looked at him very strangely.
However, he smiled after repeating that to himself.
There was warmth in his voice as he said,
“He is not born from the same mother as I, so our relationship is naturally already off kilter.
Add on his ambitious heart, and him always fighting with me every chance he could since we were children, I don’t have the patience to hold a conversation with him anymore.”
Chen Miao Ping understood,
“If even blood related siblings can have a terrible relationship, how could two babies that crawled out from two different wombs? But with these kinds of people, you shouldn’t provoke them.
Otherwise you need to beat him down, until he has no strength or ability to fight back.
You never know what kind of schemes they could come crawling back with otherwise.”
“You sound like you have quite the experience.
Is your family the same as mine, having a brother born of the same father but a different mother?”
Chen Miao Ping pointed at himself and then laughed like an idiot,
“My father doesn’t like me, and my mother doesn’t love me.
The times I have seen my mother aren’t more than the fingers on my hand.
Where could I find siblings?”
He himself really didn’t believe that he was pitiful, but those words that dropped onto Xie Yu Zhi’s ears had that flavor.
Xie Yu Zhi dropped his arms and his sleeves fell down, covering his hands.
In the darkness of the night, he discreetly held onto Chen Miao Ping’s hand and asked him with a quiet voice,
“You are always like this, smiling so much like an idiot.
Have you never felt pain aching in your heart before?”
Chen Miao Ping thought about it and said,
“Maybe when I was young, but I felt like there was no use.
Whoever made me unhappy, I exact my revenge on them.
That way, I’ll be happy again.”
Xie Yu Zhi couldn’t help but shake his head as he smiled.
The two of them chose not to take the horse carriage and instead slowly walked back together, under the gaze of the moon.
They talked a lot on the way back, such as when Xie Yu Zhi was sixteen years old and forced to head onto the battlefield with Chang Guo Gong.
The night before, he had hid in his tent, afraid and scared, quietly crying to himself.
Chen Miao Ping, for all his life, had always been lazy and never chose to do anything.
Since he was small, his biggest dream was to have his own house and never having to feel like an outsider, staying at someone else’s.
Every tiny detail, all the little moments in their life, they exposed themselves to each other as they strolled back to the estate.
When they were close to their home, Chen Miao Ping looked as if he just remembered something and asked,
“Why did the noble consort suddenly ask father-in-law to stay behind? She usually seems so steady and dutiful.
It couldn’t be something urgent, could it?”
Xie Yu Zhi didn’t reply with a straightforward answer,
“The one calling for my father doesn’t have to be her, does it? Perhaps it was someone else?”
Chen Miao Ping didn’t understand,
Xie Yu Zhi let go of him and walked forward by himself.
His clear cold eyes had a quiet smile in them,
“I won’t tell you.
Whatever you guess will be whatever it means.”
Xie Yu Zhi didn’t say directly that there was a deeper meaning to all this.
There was no such thing as normality with affairs associated with the Heavens’ family.
To call for Chang Guo Gong, with the power of the military might that he holds, something must be brewing underneath.
Thankfully, Chen Miao Ping was not a curious person by nature, and so he did not keep asking.
The emissaries from the Liao Empire were not in a rush to leave, and a few days later, they even presented livestock and jewelry as a gift to the Emperor, making him very happy.
In reply, the Emperor ordered Li Qin Wang to take them around and show them the lifestyle of the people from Da Jin.
Whenever Chen Miao Ping would pass by the street where Chun Xiao House was stationed as part of his patrol, he could always see the entire roster of emissaries crowding around there.
“That group from Liao! Their bodies carry the stench of meat, the enemies of fresh fragrances, paired with actions of violence and roughness.
All the sisters in this building could burn a never ending fire with their frustrations and hatred because of them.
Li Qin Wang is an absolute bastard, sending them all to Chun Xiao House everyday.
Are we the only entertainment house in this capital? There’s Lian Yun Ge next door! What about Xue Yue Gou Lan? Do they not have any beautiful ladies on the south side?
“Alright, fine, come, but can’t they follow the rules? What kind of place do they think this is? Think they can just point fingers and say names, demanding to see the top ladies of this house? Do they think that as long as they have money, there are no rules they have to abide and that they can sleep with any woman?!”
In the bright and early morning, there was no one on the streets and the girls in the entertainment houses were not awake.
It was just the perfect timing for Chen Miao Ping and his gang to patrol the streets.
Qian Tong was leaning against a railing, listening to his old friend, Ruo Yun, venting out all her frustrations, and she didn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
She couldn’t even help rolling her eyes, even after all that venting and uncaring of her image.
One could see from her face and posture how much she despised those foreigners.
Qian Tong laughed,
If you are in need of money, come find me.
Don’t force yourself to service those animals.
It should be fine after hiding for a short while.”
Ruo Yun gave his face a good washing with her spit in response,
“I asked you to buy me a hairpin a few days ago and you didn’t even have money, using it all up on alcohol.
If I depend on you, this old lady can die of starvation! Does your waist not hurt from standing all day and jibber jabbering! Puh!”
Chen Miao Ping didn’t know how to respond and only said,
“If they do dare to cause trouble, come report it.
Other people may choose not to do anything, but I can definitely try.”
Ruo Yun’s face immediately switched upon hearing this,
“Chen Da-Ren, your words are so much more soothing to hear.
Of course, that is the difference of being an official.”
And then she turned around to grab some snacks wrapped in an oil sheet from her room.
She threw it down from her balcony to drop it onto Qian Tong,
“Everyday you don’t even eat a proper meal, only knowing how to drink alcohol.
Take this and roll as far away from here as you can!”
An opposite to the sound he made when he was hit with the bag of snacks, Qian Tong was bursting with joy from her attention.
For the rest of the patrol, he could be seen with an idiotic smile on his face, staring at that bag.
Chen Miao Ping took this all in with his eyes and smiled,
“If you do like her, save up for a couple of years and then go and release her.”
Qian Tong sighed upon hearing him,
“Da-Ren, you don’t know.
She bears a criminal sentence from her ancestry, being labeled as an untouchable1.
She can’t be released.”
Chen Miao Ping hummed an acknowledgement,
“So it was like that……”
Drifting slowly on the lake, entertainment ships were setting sail in a signal of the coming night.
Singers and musicians were singing and playing their music at the head of the ships, lightly calling to the desires and dreams of people as the sounds spread their gentle and sweet tunes to far away.
But what should be a normal boisterous night at Chun Xiao House was filled with tension and frigidness instead.
“Just a prostitute from a brothel.
What is the point of labelling different tiers between prostitutes? As the royal fifth prince of the Liao Empire, can I not even have a woman?”
Ye Lu Jin Qi slammed the table and unsheathed the sword from his waist, brandishing it at the old madam who was hugging the floor in fear,
“You say that they can’t take customers, but I just saw a man go into her room.
Today you either let Lady Xue Yi come out and accompany me, or you send that man out right here, right now!”
A lady quickly came forward to help the old madam stand back up.
The madam held a handkerchief to her chest as she pretended to be very calm as she explained,
“There are rules that must be followed.
Xue Yi is a poetry girl.
If the fifth prince likes her, then you must coax her for her affection.
This is how you can become a chosen one.
I have operated this Chun Xiao House for more than ten years, and there have been numerous officials and ministers coming in and out.
I have never seen such a man who breaks the rules like this with his authority!”
And then she looked towards Li Qin Wang,
“Wang-Ye, please speak with reason.
Has this servant told any lies?”
Li Qin Wang slowly stroked his beard, and his expression was emotionless as he spoke,
“They are guests from far away and important ones at that.
Prince Ye Lu is a very important member of the emissaries that His Majesty has specifically asked to treat with regard.
To ask Lady Xue Yi to accompany him, is not that big of a deal.”
The old madam felt her heart break, knowing that this old fox didn’t want to get involved with this issue.
She could only curse at how snakes and mice belong in the same dark hole, of how thieves and bandits come from the same home.
But no matter what, she was still firm on not letting Xue Yi come down.
Xue Yi was hiding in her room, and her eyes looked like they were burning with an inner fire.
She gritted her teeth, as if she finally made her resolution and was about to head out when she was blocked by a scholarly looking man,
“No! You can’t go out! If you do, what those animals would do to you…..”
“But I can never just not care about the rest of my sisters in this place!”
Xue Yi threw him off and then opened the window,
“Those people from Liao are blocking the road downstairs, and they will recognize you.
It’s not too high here, so go.
Quickly jump, run away and never come back!”
The man was not willing to leave, but Xue Yi was in a frantic panic and slapped him to make him move,
“I used everything I had to foster your studies, for you to attain a ranking, for what? All for you to do something to repay the country, to not let you die under the blades of those dogs of Liao! Go now! If you don’t go, I will die right here in front of you!”
The man’s eyes reddened and he yelled out sternly,
Xue Yi could do nothing else,
“Go! Run away quickly.
Find City Warden Inspector Chen Da-Ren.
Perhaps he can save me.
But if it can’t be done, then that is my fate.
Chen Miao Ping was already heading back home after the end of his shift, which was later than usual as he had become very busy, dealing with the many incidents resulting from the arrival of the Liao foreigners.
He had never expected to see a disheveled man run straight at him in the dark of night.
Chen Miao Ping couldn’t tell if he was a guy or a girl, as all his hair was in a disarray.
It was also a terrifying sight to behold when a dark and weirdly shaped man was running straight at him, emerging from the darkness.
At this time of night, the chime to clear the streets had already been rung, so except for the busy night area at Ping Kang Road, there shouldn’t be anyone walking on the streets.
Chen Miao Ping himself was very scared of ghosts and seeing this figure was causing his heart to drop and made him hurry his footsteps to move faster.
But that person behind him was increasing his speed to match Chen Miao Ping’s.
When Chen Miao Ping turned around to look, his mind blanked out except for a “Mommy!” ringing through, and his heart started to pump like it was escaping out of him.
He ignored all logical thought and just ran for his life.
*1 untouchable: For most of the dynasties (as always, lots of differences between dynasties) those called untouchables are not considered as normal citizens.
They’re considered to be of a lower status than a normal citizen, and usually cannot marry a normal citizen or anyone higher, almost like a servant but even less than a servant.
They have many restrictions, such as the categorization/title is transferred down the generations and cannot be changed.
They cannot join examinations, can’t be an official, can’t own land, are never able to turn over a new leaf.
Usually this status is given to those who supported the wrong side before an emperor inherited the throne (so as in an enemy) or those who opposed the Emperor/committed heinous crimes against the Emperor (and the state) (but again, depends on the dynasty).
Hmm… I’m translating near the very end of the volume now, and except for some particular moments for a minor cliffhanger like this one, this volume seems to be resolving most of the conflict within one chapter.
So perhaps, no warnings will be issued, but we’ll see what Plum thinks as that’s what I always based this of off (Can’t ever trust my own judgment (●′▾‵●)⁺ )
Hope you had a great weekend, and a good start to your week!
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