☆ Chapter 94
儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
Xuanyuan Min Zhi took out a bottle of ning xiang lu and spread it over his wife’s scratched cheeks. Ning xiang lu was the panacea of the imperial clan and was very effective in healing any kind of wound without leaving any scarring. He saw her bird’s nest of hair and reached over to let down her coil before combing it again. Unfortunately, he had no experience with waiting on a person and after he had finished with her hair, he might as well have never combed it as on the contrary, it became even more messy than before.
Ruan Zhu could not throw aside his intention and pushed him away to personally brush and put her hair into a long ponytail.
He hugged her, kissing her for a while: “Zhu’er, give birth to a child for me, okay? Zong Zhi and Head Yun all already have children.”
The first time Min Zhi called Yun Shi Yi by his name, Ruan Zhu was unhappy and stubbornly waged a cold war with him for many days. Even when it was his turn in the bedroom, she refused to fulfill her obligations as a wife, making Min Zhi feel incredibly regretful. He then afterwards treated Yun Shi Yi with great respect.
Yun Shi Yi’s position as the principal husband could not be challenged and even the princes could not put on airs towards him. She would ensure the incident with Wei Rong could not occur in her family.
“A woman’s pregnancy is very difficult so let’s wait a few years. One’s life is not limited to just having children; there are many things one can do and I also want to take a break!” Ever since she had stopped breastfeeding, she had them all eat the oral contraceptive. Having another child–she did not have any such intention for the time being.
“Ai, fine then. I really can’t say no to you.”
Min Zhi took this opportunity to take advantage of her and slid his hand inside her lapel to grope about. The Heavens knew how it felt to have such an exquisite woman in the prime of her youth sitting on one’s lap; he was bewitched every time. Ruan Zhu’s breathing became unsteady from his touches and she softly persuaded him after feeling a hardness underneath her butt: “Endure it for a little longer. After a few days, it’ll be your turn. We can’t do it here; the coachman will hear.”
Min Zhi’s eyes were heated from passion and he panted: “I’m just touching and won’t go too far.”
Ruan Zhu understood it was very hard for a young and vigorous man who had just experienced the sweetness between a man and a woman to restrain himself and slid her hand into his trousers, gripping that solid and humongous member as she slowly moved back and forth.
It was hard for Min Zhi to endure his own emotions and he straightened his body in correspondence with her actions. After a moment, his eyes blazed while his face became increasingly redder as he abruptly captured her lips. His left hand wound from behind her back and under her armpit to squeeze her soft breast while his right hand lowered and covered her small hand, rapidly stroking his rod……His body trembled at the climax while a series of stifled groans spilled out from his mouth and into hers. Only then was he considered thoroughly relaxed.
“Is it a little better now?” She had continuously been dearly loved by her husbands so seeing them happy also made her happy.
“Much better, Zhu’er, do you want me to do the same to you? It’ll feel extremely good.” A smile was on Min Zhi’s face. After his body had released, he felt like he was flying.
“No need, Zong Zhi will do it tonight.” Rolling in the sheets was a luxury to them. To her, it was something common as she received intimate pleasure in their arms every time that made her feel incomparably carefree.
She was rather sympathetic to how miserable these men had it in this world where males were the majority and females were the minority. It was nearly a ten to one ratio so how many men were there that couldn’t have wives? And yet homosexuality was also illegal.
After the capital had been moved to Lan Zhou, the emperor sent down a decree, ordering a large-scale anti-vice campaign. Multiple unlicensed whorehouses that focused on male-male dealings were shut down. The ones involved were banished to a distant army post while the ones with serious offenses were sentenced to death.
Those pitiful men!
The carriage traveled for half an hour before it reached Tian Yi Pavilion, where both people got off and headed inside together.
All of the workers recognized their Boss Lady and respectfully invited her to a private room on the second floor, sending in good tea and refreshments.
Ruan Zhu remembered what had occurred in the carriage and called for a waiter to bring in water so the married couple could wash their hands.
Not long after, Yun Shi Yi returned from discussing business outside. He received a shock when he saw the sorry figure his wife cut, and opening the door, called for an assistant to buy a similar outfit from a ready-made clothing store. Finished with his instruction, he closed the door then asked what exactly had happened.
Ruan Zhu spoke of what happened in a simple manner, angering her husbands so that their faces became dark.
“This matter is not considered finished with just that.” Xuanyuan Min Zhi’s indifferent voice radiated with a righteous coldness that would not allow any objection. It was an imposing manner that could only come from one in a high-ranking position and it was unable to be diminished by the tribulations he had gone through before.
Yun Shi Yi got up and opened the door, letting the attendant standing by at attention in front of the door to find Yun Shan. Yun Shan was currently his capable assistant and managed the majority of the Yun clan’s projects. After he entered, he bowed respectfully towards the three people in the room and said–“Greetings to Eldest Young Master, Mistress, Your Highness”–then respectfully retreated to wait for his master’s instruction.
“Xiao Shan, go to each merchant in the city and pass them this message–we will no longer be doing any business with Shun Tian Hall’s Magistrate Liu’s family after today, no exception. Do not sell them foodstuffs, silk, or various daily necessities. Anyone who does business with them will have to answer to me, Yun Shi Yi. Henceforth, the Yun clan will no longer provide them with any goods and will refuse any further dealings with their family.”
Yun Shi Yi’s tone was indifferent yet it carried all of his force. After he had returned to Lan Zhou from the capital, he had fought a resounding battle over foodstuffs, and not only had he earned a considerable sum, he had also gained fame. His reputation in Lan Zhou’s business community had soared and he had even recently partnered with several merchants in building greenhouses. It was unknown how many merchants relied on his enterprise, and the current Yun Shi Yi had enough power to ruin a high-ranking member of the imperial court.
“May Head be at ease, this small one will immediately convey the message.” Yun Shan smiled in response and thought in his heart–Mistress was currently the imperial consort of two princes so unless those merchants had eaten a leopard’s gall, how would they dare to not listen? He retreated after performing the rites, treating Ruan Zhu especially respectfully.
“I invited a pastry master who had retired from working in the palace to Tian Yi Pavilion. Have a taste of his work. Unfortunately, the osmanthus flowers were dried in autumn; if they were fresh, the pastries would be even better.” Yun Shi Yi picked up a small piece of osmanthus cake with his chopsticks and placed it in front of his wife’s mouth. This flower cake had a very rich osmanthus fragrance–moist and spongy, sweet and tasty–and it was a food that she had always loved to eat.
Min Zhi resignedly sat on Ruan Zhu’s other side and drank his wine. He knew that as long as Yun Shi Yi was present, there was nothing for him to do. After he had been sorted out by his wife the first time, he no longer dared to exceed his place.
“It truly is a master’s craftsmanship as it is indeed very tasty.” The cooks in Guan Ju Villa were all master-level, but everyone had their own specialty. In return, Ruan Zhu also picked up a piece of the abalone he loved to eat and placed it into his mouth.
“Zhu Zhu, I also want to eat.” Min Zhi looked on with envy.
Ruan Zhu sent over a soup dumpling filled with lamb over to his lips. Min Zhi yet felt that eating the food his wife personally picked out for him was completely different from the foods he chose himself and especially savored this bite.
At this time, a shop attendant knocked on the door and entered, bringing the newly-purchased clothes with him. It was not too costly yet still simple and elegant, matching very well with her tastes. Raising her eyes to survey her two husbands, she saw that they were also looking her up and down with shining eyes.
Her lips pursing up in a smile, she properly bolted the door then changed in front them. The two husbands came over to help and inevitably gained some small profits in the process.
When Xuanyuan Zong Zhi arrived, Ruan Zhu’s clothes had already been properly put on and her previously-messy hair had also been combed into a neat topknot by Yun Shi Yi.
“Why did you return alone? Where is my younger sister Ruan Yu?” Ruan Zhu took off his large, black wool cloak and used a towel to wipe his hands before pouring a cup of hot tea and handing it over.
“She said she did not have the face to meet people as she was covered in injuries and went home to treat them. She still plans to go to Ci Ji Hall in two days.”
She still wants to go to Ci Ji Hall? The lass seemed to have come into contact with a demon.
Zong Zhi took the proffered cup and took a sip, his eyes full of affection for his wife: “The behavior of the magistrate of Shun Tian Hall was of holding the imperial clan in contempt. He is a fourth-rank high official in charge of Lan Zhou so under normal circumstances, I do not have the power to punish him, but I will report this matter to Emperor-Father. Based on the degree of doting Emperor-Father gives you, he should act after full consideration of the the situation. But no matter what, I will not let the magistrate have an easy time; his days as the magistrate of Shun Tian Hall are numbered.”
“How was the magistrate’s daughter dealt with?” Min Zhi interrupted to ask. Zong Zhi was unlike him–he was only a minor fifth-rank official from the Hong Lu Department, but Zong Zhi was a high official in court that was in command of the most elite troops of the imperial army and had to conform to the rules when dealing with many things. He indifferently said: “If there is nothing you can do about it, I can take care of it. I won’t be too ruthless–I just want one of her eyes and one of her ears.”
Zong Zhi sampled his tea and did not respond. The meaning was–you can handle it however you like; I do not have a differing opinion.
“Then what about Wei Jia?” Ruan Zhu asked.
“Wei Jia will surely receive heavy punishment. Not only me, even the magistrate despises him completely for stirring up the situation. When I left the stone bridge, the magistrate was in the middle of telling a subordinate to send Wei Jia to a brothel next to the Lan River.”
“I do not have too much ill will against the magistrate; on the contrary, I am thoroughly disgusted with Wei Jia. No decent person would act the way he did–of not thinking to repay back kindness after they’ve received someone’s grace yet actually hit the person when they’re down. Sending him to a brothel, that is also good, but that person knows some methods of pleasing women and I do not wish for him to be involved with someone and inflict another disaster on them.”
Min Zhi slightly smiled: “In order to sever his daughter’s feelings, the magistrate specifically ordered people to carve Wei Jia’s face. He is now extremely hideous and the cuts are so deep that even ning xiang lu can’t cure it.”
Disfigurement? Ruan Zhu was stunned silly and suddenly thought of the Ruan Ju whose appearance had been ruined by a single slash of Min Zhi’s whip. She asked: “Has there been any news recently from Da Jue Mountain about Ruan Ju?”
“Ruan Ju is dead; she died a few days after arriving at Da Jue Mountain. A woman with an appearance like a demon who also cannot give birth–leaving her alive is squandering food. The supervisor had gifted her to the criminals who were excavating stone and she became a corpse in the span of a few days.”
Due to a characteristic element of their bloodline, the Wei clan had a common habit of retaliating towards those who treated them with benevolence! However, Ruan Ju’s death was not one bit wrong.
“Why is Wife not saying anything? Have you perhaps become softhearted?”
“No, I remembered a story.” Ruan Zhu remembered a joke she had read before on the internet in her past life and slowly explained it: “There was a man who, every time he met a beggar on the side of the road to his home, always gave him five taels of silver. Afterwards, he got married and he only gave him two taels of silver; the beggar didn’t say anything. Then later again, he had a child, and only gave the beggar one tael of silver each time. The beggar finally asked him what happened? He answered that he had a child. The beggar became extremely angry and said, ‘How could you use my money to raise your wife and child?'”
The three men all looked at one another, each one of them finding it ridiculously funny.
“Big Brother Yun, Big Brother Lu, Min Zhi. I believe a sheng of rice brings gratefulness while a dou of rice brings hatred; sometimes we treat people too well. They then will actually believe the assistance to be heaven’s law and earth’s principle and as soon as we are no longer willing to provide them with help, their gratitude turns into hostility. The Wei clan is a perfect example of this.”
All three men were nodding their heads and Yun Shi Yi added: “What happened with the Wei clan can also be considered a lesson. In the future we must remember them so that similar circumstances must not occur again.”
Ruan Zhu thought about the deaths of Fifth Concubine-Father Lin and his two children that Ruan Ju had caused. That kind of death that she had could be considered her getting off easy. Whoever the Wei family followed, they would meet with misfortune. During the time they had been in the Ruan residence, the Ruan clan was perpetually in a state of commotion. After they left, they caused the deaths of Fifth Concubine-Father Lin and his two children, and Wei Jia had followed the magistrate’s daughter, dragging her father into a whole heap of trouble and perhaps even his position was unable to be saved.
Thinking of Ruan Zi Xu, Ruan Zhu felt a bit of longing. How luxurious was that word ‘father’ to her in her past life? It was only from Ruan Zi Xu that she felt a father’s love. She sighed with sorrow: “I don’t know when Papa can come back to Tian Chu?
She had long thought of herself as Ruan Zi Xu’s biological daughter and Ruan Yu as her biological sister.
Yun Shi Yi thought for a moment then opened his mouth, directing his words towards his wife: “I am planning on crossing the sea and going to Persia.”
Ruan Zhu was alarmed and gripped his hand: “Why do you have this plan?”
Although the Tang dynasty’s Gao Xian Zhi was defeated in the Battle of Talas, it did not signify the end.[a] After Tian Chu was founded, they sent another large army to besiege the area, and in view of the lessons from the previous defeat, summed up their experiences, established formidable support and backing, and several years later, obtained a major victory. That was only several centuries after Tian Chu had been established and the Middle East had yet to become fully Islamic. Persia and the Arab Caliphate still existed. Though they had also gone through rises and falls of kings and development, they still retained their original ethnicities and cultures.
Yun Shi Yi gently caressed his wife’s hand as he slowly replied: “What maternal uncle said was right; we should take advantage of our bodies still being young and fit to see more of the world. I wish to establish a trade organization, organizing several dozen large ships to bring aboard Tian Chu’s specialties–silk, tea, porcelain……There is also Zong Zhi’s Hua Nong Ying Glass Workshop’s mirrors and glass tools. In short, as long as they can be sold, they all must travel across the sea to Persia. It may be possible to sell a portion of it as we pass through Tian Zhu, then afterwards is Persia and Da Si. If possible, I would also like to go to Da Qin, but it is a little too far and the trip must wait until multiple years in the future when the art of navigation has been completely developed.”
Don’t tell me the age of navigation had shifted ahead in arrival and the initiator was Yun Shi Yi?
Ruan Zhu slowly stood up and hugged his head: “If you must leave, I can’t stop you. However, you have to make extra preparations–the ships must be sturdy and durable and be able to resist the stormy sea.”
Yun Shi Yi forced a smile: “Wife, be at ease. I will definitely make comprehensive preparations.”
“There are many pirates in the high seas that specialize in hijacking traveling ships. Big Brother Lu……” Ruan Zhu looked towards Zong Zhi, her eyes full of hope: “Doesn’t the imperial court have a navy? Is it possible for them to escort the merchant ships……?”
Awkwardness showed in Zong Zhi’s eyes: “Emperor-Father will absolutely not agree to that. Doing work for merchants will cause the dignity of the imperial clan to drop.”
“It’s not work, it’s……” Ruan Zhu shook her head then lowered it as she arranged her train of thought: “It’s a beneficial arrangement for both sides as we can use the endeavor to support the people. The merchants need the naval escort for their safety and they can pay for it like paying taxes. As for the navy supporting the merchants, it can serve as training purposes and can also relieve the imperial court of their military expenditure. It is a move with multiple benefits. The merchants benefit, and so do the imperial court and the imperial navy. During that period, there may be soldiers whose lives are sacrificed in battle, but the merchants must pay to appease the family of the victims. Actually, I feel soldiers are not afraid to risk their lives; instead, they worry that if they’re gone, there will be no one left to provide for their parents and children, so if this back part can be solved, the soldiers would throw themselves onto the battlefield with all their effort.”
Zong Zhi was astonished: “Wife, you think so well. Each taking what he needs; using a battle to support a battle; these are concepts that no one had ever thought of before–you are the first. How were you able to come up with such a good method? It is very reasonable and Emperor-Father will surely be delighted and willing.”
Min Zhi hugged his wife’s slender waist from the back, joyfully adding: “My wife is a treasure.”
Ruan Zhu smiled: “It’s good that it’s useful. This way, one can be safe on the sea.”
Yun Shi Yi stood up and snaked his arms behind her so that she was pulled entirely into his embrace. Lowering his head, he placed a kiss on those red lips and finally lamented after a good while: “That time when I had wed and brought you to Lan Zhou, I just knew that the choice was correct. The you at that time was only fourteen; the years have flashed by before my eyes and you are now seventeen years of age. After a few more years, Wife, let’s have another child!”
Returning to Guan Ju Villa, after a few days, the new year quickly approached. Ruan Zhu was currently rushing to prepare new clothes for her several husbands as well as the gifts for each household.
At this time, the small palace eunuch, Xing Yun, came to report that Magistrate Liu of Shun Tian Hall had come with his daughter to beg for forgiveness.
[a] The Battle of Talas was a clash between the Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang dynasty in Talas (modern Kazakhstan) that resulted in the latter’s loss and marked the end of Tang westward expansion. (Wikipedia) Gao Xian Zhi was the Korean-born general for the Tang dynasty. (Wikipedia)