Chapter 64: No Choice But to Self Deceive
Translated by Gumihou
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“That’s different, ah. You’re a visitor to the palace while King Xiangyang actually lives there.”
“It’s not like he lives within the inner palace. He has his own mansion within the palace grounds. Do you really think that people who live in the palace will have easy access to the inner palace?” Duan Tingxuan rolled his eyes. However, after some consideration, he had to admit that it was actually quite improper to have the King popping in and out of the inner palace to visit the previous empress. On the other hand, better not say anything about this to Nuan Nuan or she might develop some weird ideas about what went on in the palace.
“Oh, is that so? Very well, let’s return to the original topic. So, what happened next?”
“What else? Once the dowager empress passed on, King Xiangyang petitioned the to leave the palace. Since then, he had never set foot into the Capital. Quite a lot of people suspect that some sort of disagreement must have happened between the emperor and the king, but I get the impression that the emperor was prepared to let bygones be bygones, and did not even reprimand the king. While there might have been some minor infractions, it can’t be anything too bad.”
“So, you never bothered to investigate what this ‘minor infraction’ was?” Su Nuan Nuan was even more curious now, she had always been extra interested in the back stories of the historical television dramas .
“Do you think I have nothing better to do than poke around minor things like this?”
The little marquis rolled his eyes. Tonight, he had rolled his eyes more than he had in a whole year. Well, there’s no helping it, Su Nuan Nuan just have this unique talent of making him helpless with anger.
“How could you not be curious? That’s not logical, not logical at all, ah. Looks like the people in ancient China really aren’t as curious as all that.” Su Nuan Nuan muttered under her breath, she still have enough presence of mind to keep her voice down so Duan Tingxuan couldn’t hear her properly.
“What are you talking about?” as expected, the little marquis edged closer inquiringly.
“Nothing, I’m just talking to myself. Please don’t avoid the matter anymore, let’s seriously consider whether the emperor’s fainting fit has anything to do with King Xiangyang.” Su Nuan Nuan tapped her fingers on the table. Duan Tingxuan was a little exasperated by this insistent behaviour, why she insisted on hounding after this matter? He had to redirect her, otherwise they’d be here until daybreak.
“There’s nothing much to think about. It’s all guesswork at this point. The emperor is perfectly fine, so how could there be any problem? When King Xiangyang was in the palace, their relationship was pretty good. While it’s impossible to say that King Xiangyang had not been cultivating relationships for nefarious reasons, we can’t actually say that it was completely innocent either.”
Duan Tingxuan said mildly, however there was a faint sense of killing intent in the air. One could tell that if this King Xiangyang had evil intent, the little marquis had no problem taking the man down.
Su Nuan Nuan tucked her chin in her hand as she examined the situation through her modern, historical drama goggles, and said slowly, “It’s not like the emperor has no heir, if anything happens, the throne won’t go to this little brother. Not with the crown prince and several other adult sons. As you’ve said, they’re all excellent in their own field of expertise, so unless a huge disaster were to happen, the throne won’t fall to him.”
“I said it already, it’s all speculation only.” Duan Tingxuan said gloomily. “It’s been 10 years since King Xiangyang has set foot into the capital, even the cabinet ministers were busy praising him as a virtuous king who knows to keep out of the way. However that’s all rubbish, do we even need him to step back for a prosperous and peaceful country? Moreover, if there were no evil intention behind him, is there any need for him to cover his tracks this way? Isn’t this evidence of a guilty conscience?”
“Also, what was the point of taking such risk getting his hands on army provision? People don’t act like this unless they have some kind of hidden agenda. Unfortunately I have no evidence of his foul play, nor could I locate any of the hidden threads that connect him to this matter. Therefore, in the end, it is all guesswork.”
Su Nuan Nuan finally looked up and nodded in realization, “I understand, it’s possible that this King Xiangyang had never caught your attention until my father’s incident. Moreover, you have to be extra careful when investigating this king, it’s not like you can tell the emperor that you’re investigating his imperial younger brother after all. However, I think you must have dropped a hint about this matter to the empress. She’s your aunt after all. You’re the first person she sent for when the emperor fainted. I say, didn’t she have the crown prince to depend on? Isn’t she relying on you too much?”
“Hehe, my dear wife has really gotten a lot sharper lately. However, even if I hadn’t let the empress in on this matter, she would have still relied on me. Not only the empress, even the other princes and even the crown prince viewed me as a reliable man, or do you think that my ability is all faked?”
“Fine, fine, there’s no need for you to keep tooting your own horn.” Su Nuan Nuan smirked. After such a long speech, Duan Tingxuan patted his stomach. It felt like he had worked up some space within his belly, and sat down facing the bowl of meatballs. In a flash, the little marquis heroically demolished the final bowl of meatballs.
Su Nuan Nuan was really worried about the matter. Whether they could revive the Duke of Ping’s social status depended on whether they could take down King Xiangyang after all. She was doing this not for the sake of Su Meng Nuan, but for the Duke of Ping’s entire family who had suffered under a great injustice. Su Nuan Nuan really wanted justice for them, not to mention, if the Duke of Ping could regain their former social footing, she would also have her maiden family to depend on if anything unexpected were to happen, right?
If this rascal dare to provoke her, she could just pack her bags and return home. From Su Meng Nuan’s attitude alone, she could tell that this woman was a spoiled and beloved daughter with plenty of influence in her hands.
Naturally, she must never let Duan Tingxuan sniff out her thoughts. Since the matter was like this, she had to admit that this person was not the useless man that she had imagined, he was actually pretty broad minded, especially considering all the things Su Meng Nuan had pulled in the past. While it’s impossible to actually mind read someone, she still have to guard her thoughts well in order not to let him catch on her backup plans and just let him continue pursue the matter on her behalf… it’s better to be safe than sorry after all.
Every time this thought crossed her mind, Su Nuan Nuan felt her cheeks reddened with shame. She had the feeling that though she said nothing, Duan Tingxuan must have some inkling of what she was really thinking, but was currently not saying anything.
In the end, though this man normally liked to steal her food and picked fights with her, when it came down to serious matters, he could actually be quite dependable. The more she saw of him, the more outstanding he became. Su Nuan Nuan had previously dreamed of spending her life with this kind of man, who would have thought that she would immediately achieve this dream the moment she transmigrated. However, as luck would have it, she could not really allow herself to feel anything for this excellent man, no matter what she can’t be tempted. She instinctively knew all this and had treated the Duan Tingxuan as a scum male to avoid burning herself against his flame. Self deception was the most effective defence, sometimes.
… please read this at kitchennovel.com …
News of what happened following the emperor’s fainting fit came quickly. After thorough examinations and consultations with the imperial doctors, three days later they finally had a diagnosis. The emperor had suffered a minor heart attacked, which had sent him into a minor coma. Luckily, it was not too serious, as long as he was careful with his food, he should regain his health soon.
Imperial concubines and palace officials who had been wringing their hands over this matter could finally set down the worry in their hearts. Even Duan Tingxuan heaved a sigh of relief. Though the news was not well known, the fact that Duan Tingxuan had been sent hither and thither by the palace had caused a mild tremor of worry through the mansion. However, since the little marquis had the backing of both the empress and the trust of the crown prince, one could say that his future would be quite secured once this crisis passed. Within the celebratory air of the mansion, hatred crawled within the hearts of Liu Min and Duan Tingye, though they forced themselves to present a cheerful face, ‘swallowing both blood and teeth’ after taking this metaphorical punch in the face.
With the crisis over, Duan Tingxuan took a break and spent the day resting at home, he was now hanging around Chun Feng Court awaiting lunch when he suddenly remembered that Su Nuan Nuan’s request for milk. He inquired, “Hey, you requested a whole lot of milk last time, saying that it’s for some kind of cream thing we’ve never seen before. Just what is that? How come I’ve never seen anything? Is it not done yet? Isn’t it too long? Isn’t it taking longer than wine making?”
Su Nuan Nuan was swaying slowly in her rocking char, fanning herself as sweat beaded on her forehead. She said lazily, “I was planning to make cream with it, but all that milk had been made into snacks. Now that I think about it, making cream was just asking for trouble, snacks made with cream will go rancid in just one day in this ridiculous weather. What’s the use of wasting my efforts like this? I really can’t believe you still remember that, are you actually a greedy cat?”
As she spoke, Zhao Cai came trotting in, the scruffy looking cat from before had plump up a lot. Thanks to its daily bath, its fur shone in the sunlight. Even the little marquis could not help but admire it, even as he crossly said, “You treat Zhao Cai better than you do me, you are always feeding it meat and fish, you even personally bathe that thing. Even a dignified heir like me could not be compared to that cat, what would people say?”
Su Nuan Nuan ignored him, the fan waving getting slower as she grew sleepier, suddenly her eyes shot open. An unexpected weight had fallen onto her stomach, she blinked and saw Zhao Cai staring solemnly back at her. With a small shriek she slapped at the cat, “Go away, get off me now, you fatty! Don’t you know how hot your fur is? I’ll suffocate!”
It was not quite an exaggeration, there was no such thing as short sleeve clothes in this era, especially not for women. Even the thin clothes women wore were extremely stifling, moreover, with Duan Tingxuan popping in an out all the time, how could Su Nuan walk around less than fully clothed? Right now with the sweat sticking to her back and pooling around her neck, Zhao Cai felt like a hot stone on her stomach.
“Are you an idiot? Look at you, you can hardly move that fan on your own, what’s the purpose of being so stubborn? Just call Cong’er or Hua’er over to fan you and sleep already, why don’t you?” Duan Tingxuan’s voice grew sharp with concern, unable to see her suffer even from something as minor as excessive heat. He looked at Su Nuan Nuan’s stubbornness with some helplessness, just what was she thinking? What’s the purpose of being stubborn over something so minor?
In answer, Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes, she finally lifted Zhao Cai and set him down. With a cold snort, she said, “Do you think Cong’er and Hua’er won’t feel hot in this kind of weather? If I make them fan me while they remained hot, how could my heart bear it?”
[Gumihou: This is a class gap, ah]