Chapter 190: Tracking

Translated by Gumihou

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Lu Feng Yu looked pleased with himself. The Duke of Ping’s downfall was one of his work, and just happened to be a test for Su Dong Lou’s loyalty too. As he continued to plan and scheme, the thought that Su Dong Lou was actually Duan Tingxuan’s best friend never crossed his mind. For the sake of gaining their trust, Su Dong Lou had acted independently on his own, not letting even half a hint of what was to happen, even to Duan Tingxuan. It was only once the major business was over that he allowed a few careful threads of clues to leak out. Which was enough for the little marquis to act on.

“What of the second point?” King Xiangyang had not forgotten that Lu Feng Yu said there were two points of discrepancies.

“The second point is…” Lu Feng Yu lowered his head. Suddenly, he looked up and gritted out, “My Lord, I truly do not believe that a woman from a duke’s household and the An Ping heir’s wife would actually be so lacking in moral integrity. My Lord, you haven’t seen it, that woman, she… she was a complete shrew…”

Ah, so it’s this. King Xiangyang laughed and waved his hand dismissively at Lu Feng Yu’s point. He said indulgently, “Teacher Lu, you must have really suffered today. Have you forgotten what happened to the Slaughter Dog Gang at Pushan Temple? The report was that this woman single-handedly instigated an entire group of woman and slaves and basically made a fool of the whole Gang. Though the Slaughter Dogs were a bunch of loosely affiliated thugs, how could a group of women and slaves simply take them on so easily?

From this report alone you can tell that this woman is not simple. Moreover, this king heard that the woman held the most power at An Ping Mansion. From an abandoned wife to someone who held the whole of the mansion in the palm of her hand, there’s no way she can achieve half of that without being a little shrewish, no? Therefore, I feel that the second point is moot.”

Lu Feng Yu shook his head, “My Lord, you can say this because you weren’t there. If you have actually seen her, your suspicion would disappear…” he trailed off at King Xiangyang’s doubtful look and remembered his own reputation as Jiang Nan’s most extreme foodie. He lowered his head and said despondently, “If My Lord feels that this lowly officer’s judgement is compromised, how about My Lord personally take a look? To be honest, this lowly officer is also afraid that my opinion is compromised. If My Lord could give a second opinion on this lowly officer’s behalf, it would be a great relief.”

King Xiangyang fell silent for a long time. Finally, he said, “It’s just a lowly kitchen maid. If you’re suspicious, we can just get rid of her. Surely there’s no need to make such a big fuss?”

At once, Su Dong Lou said, “My Lord must not be hasty. This cook can’t be killed off just like that. Su Dong Lou is already frustrated about not gaining My Lord’s trust. If My Lord has that cook assassinated, if he ever finds out, he might lose his trust for My Lord and switch his loyalty towards the imperial family.”

“It’s just a mere cook, surely the impact wouldn’t be so severe?” King Xiangyang unconsciously shifted in his seat. Instead of reassurances, Lu Feng Yu nodded quickly, and added, “My Lord please do not forget. Many great wars began over seemingly small matters. My Lord had just advised this lowly official to think thrice before acting. Would My Lord please be cautious, ah.”

“Alright. If that’s how it is, this king shall accompany you to have a look at this cook of yours. We’ll see if she’s the real thing.” King Xiangyang slapped his thigh as he made his decision. What his number one trusted aide said made sense.

It was only much, much later that he regretted making this decision.

 

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“Really, even after coming to Jiang Nan, we still haven’t seen any action from the other side.”

Su Nuan Nuan sighed gustily as she strolled beside Duan Tingxuan through a bright little alley one morning. She was really dissatisfied with the current situation.

Isn’t life just too peaceful? When other people transmigrated, they immediately faced all kinds of challenges, sweeping down their opponents like wheat with a sharp scythe, but she? How many transmigrators are as useless as she? The second wives and concubines at home were all chugging along happily enough with no big scenes of shouting or drama that she could enjoy. At first, she had thought that a change of scene would invite more drama in her life. With Duan Tingxuan being a major Male Character type, he should attract trouble wherever he went, she might even be able to witness him do something awe aspiring… instead, all she did was cook all day, every day. Not that she had anything against being a cook, but she objects fiercely against being a mundane cook! Where is the excitement? The spy scenes? If she had known that life would be so boring she would have just stayed back at An Ping residence and continue to enjoy life as a first madam.

“Don’t be so anxious. I’ve told you before, didn’t I? Those books are bad for your brain, even now you think you’re a character in a book. Life doesn’t happen like novels where everything is at a knife’s edge and could be solved in a flash.” Duan Tingxuan gently comforted his wife.

While Su Nuan Nuan could acknowledge his way of thinking, the fact that she was actually a transmigrator into a novel was an unshakeable fact, ah. How was she going to reconcile reality and expectations? Moreover, a combination of herself with Duan Tingxuan was probably doomed from the start. She might as well give up on hoping for something interesting to happen.

“You’ve been gallivanting about with the manager these past few days. Have you managed to uncover any more clues about Lord Long’s death? Anything at all?” Su Nuan Nuan sighed again. She knew that Duan Tingxuan did not actually have the opportunity to investigate the area where Long Pingzhang was last seen, and only asked out of frustration.

“Didn’t I tell you before? I have a feeling that somebody is watching me. Therefore I dare not move about too carelessly.” Duan Tingxuan shrugged. When he noticed that the alley was coming to an end, he complained loudly, “Really, it’s so rare to get a free day. Do you have to drag me out here just to look at Jiang Nan’s scenery? I say, what kind of scenery could you find at a marketplace anyway? Could they be compared to our master’s garden?”

Nuan Nuan knew that this was her husband’s signal to get into character, and immediately replied, “We are already out now, enough with this nonsense already will you? Didn’t I tell you to just sleep at home, you’re the one who wants to come out.”

Duan Tingxuan muttered, “What are you talking about? How can I be at ease with you out by yourself? Whatever, whatever, I don’t care anymore. Just buy your things and go home. I still want to sleep.” The moment they stepped out of the alley, he whispered, “We’re being followed.”

Has the main drama finally begun?

Su Nuan Nuan consciousness sparked, she could hardly control the tremble in her body. She had to take a couple of deep breathes to control her heart rate before loudly declaring, “Fine. But, I want to stroll around first now that we’re out. If you’re afraid of a bit of exercise, you can go home first.” Then, she whispered, “How’s my performance?”

“It’s fine if you act natural.” Duan Tingxuan said, then he shrugged. “But, don’t be too wordy. Have you familiarized yourself with the roads here? I say that I’ll come with you, and you keep telling me to go away. What if you get lost?”

“Pei, pei, pei! ‘A dog’s mouth clearly don’t spit ivory[1]’, how could I get lost? What kind of nonsense is this? You just follow me. If I really get lost, I’ll just sell you off.” Su Nuan Nuan immediately got into character. A glare from Su Nuan Nuan made her meaning clear: There’s nothing wrong with my performance, you had better not ruin our act.

What kind of joke is this? Humph, I shall let you experience this little marquis’ performance. Duan Tingxuan puffed up his chest and laughed heartily, “Anyone can tell that you’re bad at doing business. If you can really sell me off I’ll be the first to salute you.”

A little [pu chi] escaped her, but Su Nuan Nuan did her best to suppress her laughter. She glared at Duan Tingxuan, made her way down the main road heading east. Behind them, what looked like a pair of brothers gave each other a glance before reaching up to wipe their sweat. Curses, isn’t this woman too incredible? Or was that man too useless? How odd, why would His Lordship be interested in these people, ah? Why do we need to follow them about?

 

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“There’s no one behind us anymore.” Whispered Duan Tingxuan to Su Nuan Nuan as they neared the market place.

“Are they done with their snooping?” Su Nuan Nuan sighed. She was actually feeling a little regretful. The peaceful days were too long, it would be nice to have a bit more excitement in her life, ah.

“En, they’re gone, we’re now being observed by some people in a carriage.” Duan Tingxuan did not disappoint his wife. He leaned down to mutter close to her ear, “So, you can still continue to act.”

“Just scram.”

Su Nuan Nuan was so angry that she stomped at the little marquis’ foot, her face red with anger: Damn this rascal, how dare he make fun of her. Your skin is itchy, is it? Want me to kick you, is it?

The people seated in the carriage were none other than King Xiangyang and Lu Feng Yu. For the sake of observing others without being seen, a beaded curtain covered the carriage window.

“She certainly is violent and shrewish, kicking and stomping at her husband as she likes. I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for him.” King Xiangyang muttered.

Lu Feng Yu narrowed his eyes and said lightly, “Su Dong Lou did say that her husband feared her like a tigress. I didn’t believe it at that time, but looks like it’s true. That man must have said something coarse, causing Ms. Wang to explode like that.”

King Xiangyang nodded repeatedly, “The husband is partly to blame too. How could he just laugh it off when kicked like that? How cheap is his face?”

Lu Feng Yu smiled, “My Lord might not know, but a lot of these henpecked husbands would not admit to being powerless or humble. Instead, they’d beautify their situation by calling it ‘Sincere Love’ or throwing out sayings like ‘A Man Who Fears His Wife Will Become Rich’. Well? My Lord has seen it with your own eyes. Do you believe this lowly official now? There is not even a trace of acting in their interaction. I believe this is how they interact normally. The heir of a noble house surely won’t tolerate being treated like this? No matter how eccentric the An Ping heir and his wife are, their acting can’t be this well coordinated and natural, right?”

 King Xiangyang lowered his head and muttered to himself before shaking his head, “It’s still too early to make any conclusion. While it’s just a rumour, word has it that the An Ping couple normally interacted this way. In fact, our informer from the An Ping residence also mentioned that Duan Tingxuan had trouble acting against that shrewish wife of his.”

Lu Feng Yu said, “My Lord’s words made sense. The success of our plan hinges on too much. We can’t be too careful, failure could be the death of us. Let us continue our observation.”

Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan had no idea that the people observing them was King Xiangyang himself. However, this did not limit their enthusiasm for their acting. For Su Nuan Nuan, this was more than just acting. After living the stifling life of an heir’s wife of a noble house, this lively 20th-century girl immediately reverted back to her original nature. With her as the foil, the little marquis’ acting soared to untouched heights. He’d basically transformed into a movie emperor as he happily pranced around Su Nuan Nuan as she picked out vegetables at the market place.

“Just look at this yam, the skin is smoother than bamboo and thinner than my wrist. Your asking price for this thing is too ridiculous, 3 bronze coin for just one, do you still want your face?”

Su Nuan Nuan was crouched by a mat covered with various yams and potatoes as she bargained spiritedly with the seller. This really took her back to the times where she browsed through the markets in her past life, happily quarrelling over the price of ingredients.

“Lady, what’s wrong with yams being thinner than your wrist? Are you buying potatoes or yams?” the seller dressed like a regular peasant farmer with quick-witted eyes. He was not shy to defend his goods from bargain hunters.

 

[Gumihou: Hahaha, bargaining, let’s bargain! Ahahaha!]

 

 

[1] A dog’s mouth clearly don’t spit ivory – Good things don’t come out from a bad source

 

 

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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.

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