Chapter 142 : Loss

 

Translated by Gumihou

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“Wei! Isn’t that a good thing for you? Why do you sound so disdainful? That tone of voice, it’s as though you’re implying that second brother is an idiot for deciding to pursue wealth. Are you saying that only someone who jostles for the heir position is an intelligent person?” Su Nuan Nuan felt both angry and amused at the same time as she rapped her knuckles on the table before Duan Tingxuan.

“You’re right, I’m being a muddle head. Hahaha!” Duan Tingxuan was still laughing heartily when Xiang Yun popped her head in to inquire if the servants should set out the meals. He quickly stood up, eagerly pulling Su Nuan Nuan with him as he urged, “Let’s go and have a meal first. Are you making that Flat Stone Cake today?”

“I really want to smash you flat and put you in a pot.” Su Nuan Nuan gritted her teeth. “I’m still injured and won’t be personally preparing any meals. If you’re disappointed by this go find Madam Yun or Madam Lan. It’s been some time since your last duck soup, hasn’t it?”

“Are you jealous?” Duan Tingxuan’s eyes brightened, clearly he was greatly delighted by this idea.

“I’m just making a very valid recommendation. Every word comes from my heart, just check my perfectly genuine eyes.” Su Nuan Nuan pointed at her own eyes, which saw the little marquis pouted and said, “En, your eyes are certainly genuine. I can tell that your double eye-lids are the real deal and not a make-up trick.”

“Pei! I should have known that ‘Ivory won’t grow out of a dog’s mouth[1]’.” Su Nuan Nuan spat. However, she refused to give up and continued her argument until they reached the dining table. She looked at Duan Tingxuan and squinted her eyes, “To be honest, both Madam Yun and Madam Lan both suffered from shock too. Who knows how anxious they are now, you should at least go and comfort them a little.”

“Let’s speak about this tomorrow. No matter what the reason, those two are in the wrong for leaving you up in the mountain. To be honest, Jing’er was the one who had really surprised me. She had always been the cool-headed one, I never expect her to pull off such a heroic act.”

“Justice is upheld by the people, brave are the heroines who lead the way.” Su Nuan Nuan said neutrally. When the maids started arranging the food on the table, she made to reach for the ladle, but Duan Tingxuan quickly stood up and gently pressed back her hand and said, “Let me, let me.” Then, he blinked and said, “Surely the idiom is not supposed to be that way? I thought it’s ‘Justice is upheld by the commoners, tis’ the scholars who forgot the way’?”

“Ah yes, Justice is upheld by the people, tis’ the scholars who forgot the way. Brave are the heroines who lead the way. You’re right, it does rhymes very well.” Su Nuan Nuan did not even pretend to be reasonable as she accepted the bowl of porridge from her husband. She took the first sip and was about to lean back and enjoy her meal when she spotted Duan Tingxuan looking worriedly at her. In a soft voice, he said, “Nuan Nuan, you’re sure there’s really nothing between you and Jing’er?”

[Pu-!]

With just one mouthful, an entire table of dinner was spoilt. This foodie was so angry that she was ready to kill someone. She snarled and threw herself at Duan Tingxuan, “You dare make jokes while I am eating? I’ll slaughter you! Piss me off will you? Those who waste food will face the wrath of heaven!”

It was a long time before things were calm between this couple. Su Nuan Nuan was so tired that even her hairpins were drooping. With just a smattering of sweat shining on his brow, the little marquis looked like he just had a relaxing massage as he beamed from his seat. The more first madam looked at this sight, the angrier she became. Curses, she must remain calm in the future and not be made use of by this man slut. What’s the point of this fight? He was just baiting her, she had just been baited.

The maids quickly reset the table with another load of food. This time, Duan Tingxuan did not dare to make jokes. If he spoiled another table of food, he would probably be banned from Spring Breeze Court for at least half a month.

“What were you so busy about today? Did you go and question those bandits? Find anything about who’s behind the matter?” after dinner, both husband and wife sat on the kang bed across each other. Su Nuan Nuan had just sent away all the maids before beginning her questions.

“There are some points of interest.” Duan Tingxuan sipped his tea, amusement in his eyes as he said, “they confessed that your kidnapping was a mission from the Mingyu House. Said something in the line of, if they manage to pull this mission off, they will be given control over the six southern provinces.”

“Who owns the Mingyu House? Even government officials would not dare to make such an outrageous declaration, right?”

“It’s part of the Jianghu world, you can say that Mingyu House is just one faction of the Jianghu. They are part of the six southern provinces with the authority to get rid of corrupt officials. The point of interest in this statement is: There is no way that Mingyu House would hand down such a mission. However, those bandits truly believed in what they were saying. They really did believe that Mingyu House was the one who gave them the mission.”

“Why do you trust this Mingyu House so much?” Su Nuan Nuan asked suspiciously. In her opinion, Duan Tingxuan was not someone who would just blindly believe in any kind of martial organisation.

“There’s no need for you to ask, I have a reason for saying this.”

Su Nuan Nuan was sharp enough to understand that though this House was considered a ‘gang’ it probably has close relationship with the imperial family. “I see, so, what do you plan to do next?”

“I am in the middle of getting people to investigate the bandits’ background. Nuan Nuan, do you know? You’re really lucky, these bandits skills are not low. If it weren’t for your suspicious nature and excellent cunning, they would have no problem rounding all of you up alive and slaughtering the others. If you had just been a little lax, you would not have escaped that mountain.”

“What are you saying? They are really that skilled?” Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes widened. At Duan Tingxuan’s nod, they narrowed again, “What trick are you trying to pull? I can already smell the rat you’re hiding.”

“Hahaha, surely my dear wife’s nose is too sensitive? You’re even sharper than the mansion dogs.” Duan Tingxuan laughed heartily. He received a kick from an angry Su Nuan Nuan, “You dare compare me to a dog?”

“Didn’t you compare me to a cat? Earlier today you just compared me with Zhao Cai, your greedy cat.” Duan Tingxuan was feeling smug over getting his revenge. Cheerfully, he said, “Aren’t these bandits really confident with their martial skill? I’d say they’re mostly above average. Therefore, I had people investigate their background. If what they claimed is true, that they had never spilt innocent blood before, I shall spare their lives and send them to the North to form a vanguard squad in the army.

Since they are not afraid of death, and their crimes are of the death penalty kind, they will join the army as cannon fodder. If they can survive their fate and earn military merits, we will consider that as atonement for their sins. At the very least, they will be allowed to die on their boots instead of an executioner’s sword.”

“Good… good…”

Su Nuan Nuan really did not know what else to say. Duan Tingxuan’s eager voice said, “Nuan Nuan, what do you think of my decision? I was afraid that you won’t be pleased, but…”

“How black-hearted, ah.” Su Nuan Nuan interrupted Duan Tingxuan, causing his face to harden. She quickly continued, flapping her hands at him, “No, no, I understand perfectly. Court regulars are all black-bellied, cold-hearted people.”

Duan Tingxuan’s stiff shoulders wilted like eggplants left out in the frost, dispiritedly, he said, “What do you expect me to do? Surely you’re not expecting me to just let them off just like that?”

“Do I look like some idiot suffering from Buddha sickness?” Su Nuan Nuan shrugged, “you haven’t let me finish. Though this move showed just how black-bellied, scheming, and cunning your heart is, but I really like it, ah. Duan Tingxuan, you’re a genius. No wonder you’re able to stand tall within the dirty pit that is the imperial court. Though there are plenty of people who are willing to do their best to charm the emperor and empress, you’re able to stand out from them because of your black heart, scheming guts, not to mention your incredibly thick face, that is so thick that you’re able to talk shit and make people see gold…”

“Wait, wait, wait, wait,” Duan Tingxuan held up his hands to stop the torrential river like analysis of his person. “Why do I feel like there’s something not right in what you just said? Let me confirm this, are you belittling me or praising me?”

“Of course I’m praising you. Do you really think I’d put in so much effort in belittling you?” said Su Nuan Nuan in all seriousness. One fist over her heart to show how serious she was about her ‘praising’.

Duan Tingxuan, “… …”

Su Nuan Nuan, “… …”

Duan Tingxuan, “Good, since you’re praising me, continue.”

 

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The first flutter of snow indicated the beginning of winter. The next day when the windows were thrown open, cold air rushed in. The entire world outside looked like someone had thrown a white blanket over the it. Without a single person out to disturb the snow, the world outside felt muted and peaceful.

Su Nuan Nuan rubbed her face and breathed in the crisp air. The door rattled open and she heard Hong Lian’s voice, “Missy, you opened the window again. Whatever warmth in this house is getting sucked out.”

“That basin of fire had been burning all night and I’m already sticky with sweat, are you seriously telling me that I can’t open the window for fresh air?” despite what she said, she ducked her head back and quickly closed the window. She muttered, “This hothouse is just making me restless, let’s make some Snow Cream. Didn’t your master just whipped up a few pounds of milk just a few days ago?”

“You want to eat Snow Cone in this weather? Missy, are you serious?” Hong Lian really didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Su Nuan Nuan merely sniffed and said righteously, “I’m not the only one who wants to eat it. Yesterday, during dinner, your master told me to make some Snow Cream for him to take to his government office. Said that place was too damn hot with the braziers going full blast.”

Hong Lian’s lips pursed up, “The master really don’t know how to count his blessings. There are so many government offices in the Capital, how many of them are so luxuriously equipped? Even the braziers are lined with silver.”

Su Nuan Nuan laughed, “What’s to be done? Who asked the emperor to love the crown prince so much? I heard that the crown prince had lost a total of 20 catties. The emperor was so happy that he promoted two teachers from the East Palace into officers within a month. Aih! Who knows when your master is going to be promoted, I wonder?”

Hong Lian said, “Surely it doesn’t matter what the master’s position is? Who dares to belittle the master after all. Perhaps the emperor wants to keep him in this position until the crown prince ascended the throne before bestowing a promotion to him. Didn’t Missy say something about it once? Said that it’s called to confer a benefit.”

“Why is it that you remember this clearly and yet forget everything else I say?” Su Nuan Nuan could not help laughing, “Enough, enough, whether he’s promoted or not has nothing to do with me, right? As long as it doesn’t make me lose money.”

“Is it really fine as long as is doesn’t make Missy lose money? Isn’t the most important thing is for master to keep supplying Missy with ingredients?” Hong Lian chuckled, before running off.

Su Nuan Nuan’s angry voice followed her, “You wait there, you hear me? Last night your master told me that you’re old enough to be married off. I‘d asked him to find a good match for you, but it looks like I’ve wasted my effort! Humph! You just wait!”

 

[Gumihou: … I have a soft line against yuri, it’s just a preference thing, but… I really want Nuan Nuan and Concubine Jing to get together to spite that DTX, ah, ah, ah!] [1] Ivory won’t grow out of a dog’s mouth – Cannot expect good words to originate from an evil person

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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2 thoughts on “The Feast – 142 – Loss”

  1. I kind of ship Su Nuan Nuan and Concubine Jing. One’s a crafty, loafing, ridiculous but occasionally heroic woman, while the other is a traditional beauty who gets seduced by the former’s feminist worldview. Throw in how mezmerized Su Nuan Nuan is by Concubine Jing’s beauty and i find it somehow works ʕ♡˙ᴥ˙♡ʔ

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