Chapter 127: A demon with eminent good looks Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“Aunt, please save me,” née Wang sobbed at Lady Wang, whose reply was cold.
“If I save you, who will save my son?”
Née Wang’s sobs came to an abrupt stop. Lady Wang continued, “I’ve asked around and found out what happened. If you hadn’t cried and made a fuss, Anshi wouldn’t have taken you to the palace in the first place. Esteemed Empress’s decree only invited the first wives. Let me ask you, what kind of wife do you count for?”
Lady Wang’s temper rose as she spoke. If her son hadn’t taken this woman with him to court that day, would things have turned out so wretched? “Damned girl,” Lady Wang spat, “It’s fine if I spoil you at home, but that was the imperial palace. Did you really think a few tears and a spoiled little act there would be enough for everyone to forgive you?!”
Née Wang looked at Lady Wang with a stunned face, her cheeks stained with tears. In her memory, this aunt and mother-in-law of hers had never exchanged fierce words with her.
“You’ve not only hurt Anshi, but all the womenfolk of the Wang Clan,” Lady Wang said. “A single ‘slut’ from His Majesty’s lips ruined the future marriage prospects of all the Wang Clan’s girls.”
“A, aunt?” née Wang felt that this wasn’t right. Why was it all my fault in the end? Where had I gone wrong? Xie Anshi had been betrothed to her first from the very start, but she ended up as his equal wife instead of a proper consort and was brought into the estate via one of its side doors like a common concubine. She had borne Xie Anshi a son and stayed by his side, so what were her mistakes?
Lady Wang flicked her sleeves and left. Even the sight of née Wang made her cross now. She’d doted on this girl for nothing. If she had known things would end up like this, she never would’ve let her join the estate! Née Wang’s lip trembled as Lady Wang’s figure grew smaller in the distance, before she shouted, “Your Xie Clan will meet karmic retribution! You’ll definitely get your just desserts!”
Lady Wang’s form disappeared into the darkness at the end of the hall without ever turning back. When Xie Anshi was alright in the future, she’d ask for another good wife for her son. How could a woman like née Wang, who’d been labeled a slut by His Majesty, ever share a bed with the eldest son of the first wife in the Xie Clan ever again?
Young née Wang leaned against the bars and slid down to sit on the ground. The husband’s family wanted to disown her, while her own was planning to forsake her as well. Why were they all treating me this way? She broke into loud sobs at the thought, unwilling to accept the situation. But how could she change her fate now?
A little while later, someone knocked against the bars of her cell. Young née Wang assumed that Lady Wang had come back to take her revenge, and hastily lifted her head. Her visitor’s lips rose up into a slight smile despite the cold set of his brows. It was none other than the man she’d seen in the palace, Lou Zigui.
“How does it feel to be an abandoned wife?” Lou Zigui asked née Wang softly.
Née Wang opened and closed her mouth a few times before she started backing away. “What are you planning to do me?”
“Today née Qin left with Regional Commander Qin Xuan of the naval forces back to Jiangnan,” Lou Zigui said. “They’ll be married at the Qin Clan’s estate in Jiangnan. After née Qin married into the Xie Clan, she spent everyday crushed beneath your heel. But as things stand now, you have no one to rely on, while she’s ended up with someone who had always adored her.”
Née Wang stared blankly at Lou Zigui before she suddenly snarled, “That whore!”
“Whore?” Lou Zigui smiled. “Everyone in the world knows that the whore is you, the daughter of the Wang Clan. Didn’t your aunt tell you just then? The old and prominent families are already rejecting marriage contracts with your clan.”
Née Wang began to argue and shout. “I’ve already married, I’m née Wang of the Xie Clan now!”
“If the Wang Clan knew the proper way to instruct their daughters,” Lou Zigui said impassively, “Why would you have been labeled a slut by His Majesty?” When he finished, he peered at née Wang’s now flat stomach. Née Wang unconsciously held her stomach with both of her hands before grief overtook her and drowned her in sobs.
“You’re inferior next to née Qin,” Lou Zigui said coldly.
Young née Wang seemed like a woman possessed as she flung herself against the bars and screamed, “She’s nothing but an abandoned wife!”
“Abandoned wife?” Lou Zigui said. “Did nobody tell you that it was née Qin who officially divorced Xie Anshi? Your husband is the real abandoned one.”
Née Wang’s eyes widened as she muttered, “That’s impossible.”
“With His Majesty supporting née Qin, nothing’s impossible,” Lou Zigui said.
Née Wang stared at Lou Zigui, her eyes gradually growing bloodshot. How could that woman née Qin be better than me?
“Stop comparing yourself to her,” Lou Zigui said, his voice as cold as always. “You can’t beat her. No matter how wealthy or splendid, petty or unfortunate she might be, she has one person who will never abandon her. Meanwhile, you’re stuck here defending nothing but a useless piece of trash. Moreover, he’s not even good enough to share your trials and tribulations with you.”
Née Wang stuffed her ears, unwilling to listen any further, but she knew that Lou Zigui’s words were still right.
“You’re still of use to me,” Lou Zigui murmured. “Née Wang, I can help you.”
Née Wang dropped the hands muffling her ears to stare suspiciously at Lou Zigui. Her eyes flashed with disbelief and resentment, but also held the slightest glimmer of hope. Now that she was trapped in quicksand, she couldn’t help but wish for someone to give her a hand and pull her out.
“You still have two sons and one daughter,” Lou Zigui was like a demon with eminent good looks, poisoning and bewitching the human he’d snared in his hands. “Now that you’ve been labeled a slut and forsaken by your families on both sides, what will become of your children?”
This time, young née Wang didn’t shout or scream, but only looked at Lou Zigui with tears streaming down her face like a waterfall.
“Née Qin became the Regional Commander’s wife while you were cast aside,” Lou Zigui continued. “Xie Anshi will definitely remarry. When he has children with his new wife, your children, née Wang–you should be clearer than I am on the fate of concubines’ children in the Xie Clan.”
“Don’t say any more,” née Wang said in a low voice.
“Will you work for me?” Lou Zigui asked.
Née Wang clung to the bars of her cell and wept bitterly. Time seem to slow as Lou Zigui stared at her patiently from outside the bars.
“What do you want me to do?” Finally, Lou Zigui heard the words he’d been waiting for. Young née Wang wiped away her tears and spoke up in a hoarse voice.
“Two days later, I’ll send an order to free you,” Lou Zigui said quietly. “After you get back to the Grand Preceptor’s estate, someone will give you an item. I don’t care how you do it, but you’ll need to make sure the Old Madame of the Xie Clan eats that item.”
Young née Wang’s face paled. “W-what you do want me to give the Old Madame?”
Lou Zigui smiled. “You still have the mind to care about that Old Madame? Née Wang, Heaven and Earth will destroy the person who doesn’t look out for herself. Now isn’t the time for you to waste time on morals.”
Young née Wang remained silent before shaking her head. “There are people specially assigned to wait upon the Old Madame. I don’t have any way to do it.”
“So that’s it,” Lou Zigui nodded. “Then you can just pretend I never dropped by at all.”
When née Wang saw that Lou Zigui was about to leave, she anxiously cried out, “What can you give me?”
Lou Zigui stilled his steps. “With the exception of calling back née Qin, I can restore your days to their former state and have His Majesty withdraw his words, thus making you Xie Anshi’s proper consort.”
“Impossible,” née Wang shook her head. His Majesty’s words were utterances that carried great weight. How could he simply take them back?
“It was His Majesty who decreed you be imprisoned,” Lou Zigui said, “Naturally, I didn’t come of my own accord today, either.”
So this is all His Majesty’s idea? Young née Wang looked at Lou Zigui with a heart full of guesses.
“If you can leave this cell in two days, you’ll naturally see whether my words are trustworthy,” Lou Zigui said, “But remember, if you only focus on your freedom and not what you have to do, you’ll return to this prison cell all the same. By then, there’ll be no one else to help you.”
“Old Madame, will the Old Madame die?” née Wang asked with great difficulty.
“She won’t,” Lou Zigui said, “She’s old and ailing like a candle guttering in the wind. Who would be cruel enough to take her life?”
“Are you doing it or not?” Lou Zigui didn’t give her time to ask any more questions. Before née Wang could react, she was already nodding her head in agreement.
“You shouldn’t belittle yourself so much,” Lou Zigui smiled at née Wang, his tone light. “After all, you did bear Xie Anshi’s children and raised them up. It wouldn’t be good for the Xie Clan’s face if they cast you all aside just like that.”
Young née Wang’s fingers tightened around the bars, her knuckles turning white from the strength of her grip.
“You can tell my words to the Xie Clan as well,” Lou Zigui added. “However, while the Xie Clan might thank you, you’ll always be a slut unless His Majesty revokes his decree. You and Xie Anshi’s children will never have a chance to improve yourselves, either.”
“Why should I trust you?” née Wang retorted.
“Because you have no other choice,” Lou Zigui said before he turned and left. The dim, flickering lantern light cast a long shadow behind his retreating form. Young née Wang’s strength had left her body as she sank to the ground again. She wanted to cover her face with her hands, only to discover her fingers were shaking uncontrollably.
When Lou Zigui left the imperial prisons, an ordinary-looking middle-aged gaoler approached him and murmured, “Supreme Commander, Lady Wang’s already returned to the estate. Before leaving, she gave 1,000 taels’ worth of silver drafts to be split up between the prison guards.”
“Very well,” Lou Zigui said. “You’ve worked hard.”
“Supreme Commander, what about the officials of the justice courts?”
“It’s better to bother with current affairs regarding the present officials,” Lou Zigui said. “Moreover, Xie Anshi and company are imperially decreed criminals. Even if the justice court had guts, they still wouldn’t dare to release them.”
The gaoler bowed. “This humble one understands.”
Lou Zigui took quick strides out of the justice courts before mounting his horse to head for the palace. Whenever one’s parents or senior relatives passed away, their son was required to observe three years of mourning as a sign of filial piety. Astride his horse, Lou Zigui’s gaze lingered on an old lady by the side of the road.
Once Old Madame Xie dies, even a man as powerful and influential as Grand Preceptor Xie will be forced to retire from public life to show his filial piety. That way, he won’t be able to make much use of his doppelganger even if he successfully wrests away the throne.
“Hyaa,” Lou Zigui urged his horse past the white-haired old lady. The Xie Clan’s Old Madame must die. Only then can I take advantage of the chaos at the Xie Clan to take Ning Xiaoyao out of the capital.
Lady Wang rode her carriage back to the Grand Preceptor’s estate. As soon as she descended, she asked, “Where’s the Grand Preceptor?”
Sister-in-law Tang had come to receive Lady Wang and quickly said, “To reply your ladyship’s words, the Grand Preceptor hasn’t left his study since going in.”
Lady Wang felt relieved as she strolled into the estate gates. One of the Old Madame’s servant girls was waiting by the door, and quickly spoke up at the sight of Lady Wang. “Your ladyship, Old Madame wants you to see her.”
Lady Wang wiped at her teary eyes before bringing Sister-in-Law Tang with her to head or the Old Madame’s courtyard.