“What matter did mom call daughter-in-law over for?”
After Shen Yi Yao gave her greetings, she stood around two meters from the bed.
“You mean to say I cannot look for you without reason?”
Ever since the time she fainted, the old madam’s speech had become a little incoherent. It was still mostly possible to understand what she was saying, but it was just a little slurred. However, it was possible to infer her meaning.
When the Pei old madam heard the old madam speaking so aggressively, she hurriedly smiled and tried to smooth things over. “That’s not what your mom meant. Her heart just aches because you are so busy all the time. Isn’t that the case? Such a large household is dependent upon you!”
When the old madam heard the meaning behind her words being twisted, she almost flipped out.
She was about to speak up when the Pei old madam secretly pinched her. Only then did she recall that she needed to ask for help, and angrily shut her mouth.
Yan Yan had been impatient initially, but at this moment rather felt like laughing. She casually had the maids bring over two chairs and sat down, waiting to see what show these two were planning to put on. Shen Yi Yao also allowed herself to be pulled to sit down.
The Pei old madam smiled and chatted casually with Shen Yi Yao a little. She praised Yan Yan’s good looks, asked about the date of the wedding and chattered a whole lot before tearing up and describing the recent events.
Actually, Shen Yi Yao was more or less aware of what had happened to the Pei household. However, it wasn’t convenient for her to interrupt her elder so she could only pretend not to know. Since the Pei old madam was willing to talk, she would sit and quietly listen.
As the Pei old madam finished up, she became emotional. “I know we must have offended someone. If they want something, they can just say it. Why do all this!? We have no idea who we offended for them to bully our household of orphans and this widow.”
The Pei old madam continuously wiped her tears with her handkerchief. Shen Yi Yao sat docilely on the side, but didn’t say anything. She didn’t even say any words of comfort.
The Pei old madam cried while signaling the old madam with her eyes.
The old madam rolled her eyes at her. She had already said this method wouldn’t work, but her sister-in-law insisted on using this “emotional appeal”. Now she ended up being deflated.
The old madam looked at Shen Yi Yao, twisted her mouth and spoke, “This isn’t just anyone. She’s your aunt-in-law. Your uncle-in-law had a hard life and just passed away. Now that his household has encountered difficulties, you should go to your maternal household and ask the Zhenguo Duke to make a move. Find out which household is so daring as to threaten others under the feet of the son of heaven.”
Shen Yi Yao paused and raised her head. She first looked worried to express her sympathy, and then asked a few questions before coming up with a suggestion.
“I feel aunt-in-law can take that dead cat over to the Heavens Abiding Estate. Mother-in-law is correct. Who is so daring as to threaten others under the feet of the son of heaven?”
“That won’t work, that won’t work!” The Pei old madam continuously waved her hand and moaned: “Those who dare do this are definitely not ordinary people. Now that your uncle-in-law has passed away, our household has no backing. We don’t dare make an irreversible move.”
“But aren’t things already irreversible?”
These words were spoken by Yan Yan.
What were they doing back then?
Since they had come to an agreement with someone, they should have just obediently stayed indoors. It was still fine if the women started arguing, but they actually got involved in matters of the court. Wasn’t this just asking for death!?
Yan Yan knew without thinking that the person behind High Official Wu must have made a move. High Official Wu was one of the few high-ranking officials within the six ministries. Someone who was behind him was definitely not simple.
The Pei old madam’s face shriveled at these words. She wanted to say it was all due to the women quarrelling, but the Wu household had truly been bullying them intolerably!
Actually the Pei old madam also had some resentment towards the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. If it weren’t for the Yan household’s two misses, things wouldn’t have gotten to this point. But no one would have thought that a quarrel between a few girls would end up shaking the entire capital. Even the high-ranking official of the six ministries, High Official Wu, was pulled off his horse.
She naturally wouldn’t complain about what Pei Jia Yu had done. From what she understood, Pei Jia Yu had merely been the sacrifice in the struggle between the Wu household, the Zhenguo Duke and the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Therefore, she had never wanted to come here previously. However, she truly had no other choice.
“Your aunt-in-law is asking for your help, what are you shirking and avoiding for? If this could be reported to the Heavens Abiding Estate, do we need you to say so?” The old madam’s tone was very ugly.
The Pei old madam wasn’t aware of it, but the old madam herself knew that her relationship with Shen Yi Yao was now only for the sake of appearances. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even bother with appearances. When the Pei old madam asked her to look for Shen Yi Yao, she had already planned it out: now that Shen Yi Yao had learned to be slippery and was no longer the same as before, they needed to suppress her with their identity and influence if they wanted her to handle this matter. As for any complaints she may have, that had nothing to do with them. Their relationship had already deteriorated anyway.
Was this the attitude of someone asking for help? Shen Yi Yao had more or less figured out that the old madam had shed all pretenses.
“Mother-in-law and aunt-in-law thinks too highly of Yi Yao. Yi Yao is merely a woman in the rear residence. How can I interfere in this matter?” Her tone was still gentle while her words were anything but. “Aunt-in-law, please forgive me. This daughter-in-law is truly powerless.”
The old madam seemed to not have heard the refusal in her words. She spoke again: “We’re not asking you to personally handle this. Go back to your maternal household and have the Zhenguo Duke handle it.”
Her casual “have the Zhenguo Duke handle it” made him sound like some laborer on the streets that anyone can order around.
Yan Yan had planned on watching the show but now she frowned. “Grandmother makes it sound so easy. If it’s so convenient, why not do it yourself?!”
“You lass, I’m speaking with your mom. Why are you interrupting? Do you have any concept of seniority?!”
Yan Yan didn’t feel like arguing with this old woman in front of outsiders. She pulled Shen Yi Yao towards the door: “Mom, let’s go. We can’t help with this matter, and neither can grandfather.”
The old madam’s face immediately turned dark.
The Pei old madam hurriedly stood up and pulled at Shen Yi Yao’s hand, saying repeatedly. “Niece-in-law, you mustn’t listen to your mother-in-law. Her mind is muddled from her illness. You also know sick people have violent tempers. No need to lower yourself to her level and bicker with her.”
The old madam gasped for breath in anger at being slandered.
“Even if you ignore everything else, our household’s old lord is Ting’er’s uncle. As the saying goes, “the uncle is the highest”. Just based on this layer of relationship, you should help out. Your uncle-in-law is already gone, and at this rate our Pei household might disappear as well.”
The Pei old madam seemed to be desperate. Despite her age, she hugged Shen Yi Yao’s arm and burst into tears.
Shen Yi Yao’s expression was troubled: “Aunt-in-law, Yi Yao is truly powerless. I’m not making excuses.”
“You must have a way. Your Shen household has been renowned for generations, and have the emperor’s ear. As long as the Zhenguo Duke speaks up, our household will be fine. Niece-in-law, treat it as your aunt-in-law begging you. I’ll kneel to you…..”
As she spoke, the Pei old madam knelt to the floor. Shen Yi Yao turned pale in astonishment. Yan Yan hurried forward and forcibly pulled the Pei old madam up.
“Grandma-in-law, aren’t you shortening my mom’s lifespan by doing so!?”
Yan Yan curled her lips in a cold smile and said: “Let me tell you this way since you still don’t seem to understand the situation. Your household should be very clear why the Wu household would marry your household’s daughter. Since you knew this was a major matter, why would you make it public instead of watching your mouths!? Fine, let’s not mention this for now. Cheating on the imperial exam has always been a major matter. Have you never wondered why grandfather-in-law was merely fired and exiled? You all must have thought someone had protected him. Since this was the case, who would that person be? You all definitely knew it was High Official Wu!”
“Based on the situation back then, High Official Wu was in a difficult spot himself. Even if he had the ability to help, he wouldn’t do that much to avoid suspicions. This makes it clear there was someone behind helping him! As an outstanding high-ranking official, who could be behind him? There are probably only a few under the heavens. Do you think our Zhenguo Duke Estate can afford to provoke them?”
Even if they could, it wouldn’t be for their sake. Who would be so bored as to get lice on themselves?! Especially since these people didn’t count for anything. They wanted to use others so they only knew to come and act pitiful and well-behaved. Oh right, and also use their identity to pressure others!
Yan Yan hadn’t forgotten that the people she hated most were all related to the Pei household. First there was the reckless Concubine Pei who was now at the Qingpu Nunnery. Then there was Yan Qian, as well as that person who relied on her old age.
The Pei old madam went limp and sprawled on the floor, her face deathly grey.
People who even the Zhenguo Duke couldn’t provoke. She didn’t dare to think about it….
“You damn lass, just say it if you don’t want to help. Where’s all this coming from!?” The old madam scolded angrily and hurriedly called the maids to help her sister-in-law up.
Taking advantage of this opening, Yan Yan pulled Shen Yi Yao with her and left.
When they walked out, they ran into Yan Ting at the doors. It wasn’t clear how much he had heard.
He looked at Shen Yi Yao with a complicated gaze before brushing past them. The sound of the Pei old madam’s crying sounded out, along with the old madam and Yan Ting’s comforting voices.
“Mom, let’s go.”
Shen Yi Yao nodded.
The mother and daughter didn’t remain and left the sounds of crying behind.
The Pei old madam couldn’t stop her tears. The old madam also wiped away her own tears and said: “Old two, is what that damn lass said the truth? Did the Pei household really offend someone they couldn’t afford to provoke?”
Yan Ting’s expression was withered. He remained silent for a while before nodding.
He had just left when he recalled his mom couldn’t afford to be overstimulated. He was afraid his aunt would say something to make his mom’s condition worse and thus turned back. He didn’t expect to witness the previous scene.
The old madam also started panicking, “What should we do? What can we do now?!”
She was truly anxious. They were the last of her older brother’s blood. If anything happened, her brother would have died with grievance!
Thinking of her older brother who died away from home by himself, the old madam felt a sharp uncontrollable pain in her chest. She clutched her chest and opened her mouth wide, seemingly unable to breathe. Her face was completely red.
Yan Ting saw this and had a huge shock. He hurriedly grabbed the medicine from the cabinet on the side and helped the old madam take it. Then he gave her some water and helped her ease her breath before the old madam recovered.
She sat there for a moment before she covered her face and cried, crying for her pitiful brother!
“What should we do….”
The old madam’s veins were visible on her arms and she was extremely thin. Her face was covered in wrinkles. At some point, the tender and well-maintained old madam had vanished. She had become old.
Yan Ting couldn’t bear to see this and involuntarily said: “Mom, don’t worry. Your son will think of something.”
“What can you come up with? Someone even the Zhenguo Duke cannot afford to provoke. My son, how can you afford to do so!? This is the end of my Pei household!”
“Mom, don’t forget. Your son also has a backer. Don’t panic. Your son will go find out who the Pei household has offended and see if there is anything we can do.”
The old madam recalled that her son was part of Senior Concubine Xu’s faction. The Zhenguo Duke couldn’t do anything, but perhaps Senior Concubine Xu could? This thought was like a lifeline to her. She tightly squeezed Yan Ting’s hand, and continuously asked him to come up with something. They couldn’t let the Pei household die out.
Yan Ting looked at the worried old madam who wasn’t even able to speak coherently.
He abruptly closed his eyes and slowly nodded.
How could Yan Ting be quick in taking such a difficult step?
Right as Yan Ting was struggling with himself, something major happened the next day.
Someone died in the Pei household.
The one who died was the third branch’s third lord.
Early in the morning, a scream sounded out from the third branch’s residence.
The Pei household’s people flocked over and found the third lord dead in his study. He was sitting upright behind the desk with a smile on his face. However, he was bleeding from his seven orifices and his eyes were wide open in death.
On the desk, under the ink slab was a letter with his handwriting. There were only two rows of words, stating that he had nothing left to live for and thus sought his own death.
This was to say the third lord committed suicide?
No one in the household believed it. Just yesterday, the third lord had got into a fierce argument with the second lord over wanting to leave the household. The two brothers almost came to blows. How could he commit suicide the next day?!
Everyone’s eyes couldn’t help but turn to the second lord.
The Pei household’s second lord’s eyes were vacant, looking extremely hungover.
This was truly the case. Out of Pei Nan’s three sons, the second lord was the most useless. Dining, wining, whoring and gambling, he didn’t lack for any. In the past he had restrained himself because his father was still present. After Pei Nan was exiled, the second lord became like an unbridled horse. He was rarely at home and would be messing around outside all the time.
These days the chaos in the household was mostly due to him. He owed the casino a large amount of money. They had sent someone over demanding repayment, holding a receipt stamped with his fingerprint. Everyone in the household turned pale with fright. It turns out the second lord had borrowed a total of ten thousand taels. Because he delayed in repaying it, the interest accumulated and the amount was now almost thirty thousand taels.
Thirty thousand taels?!
This wouldn’t have been out of the question for them previously. However, after Pei Nan’s exile, they had no source of income for several years. They would have to sell everything they had to come up with this amount. This was also why the third lord wanted to leave the household. Since the household had reached the end of the road, they didn’t want to get dragged down with him.
The second lord saw everyone looking at him and waved his hands in panic, “Why are you all looking at me!? He’s my brother. Even if we argued, I wouldn’t do something so vicious. Furthermore, I was in my own pavilion last night, and never came to the third branch!”
This was also true. The second lord was a sheep in wolf’s clothing and was also timid. Otherwise, his younger brother wouldn’t be able to argue with him.
The second madam verified his alibi. “Yesterday after they argued, the second lord never went out. He was at the main residence, but after arguing with me he went to Concubine Rong.”
Concubine Rong also confirmed it, saying the second lord didn’t leave her place until coming here now. He had also just woken up. The maids in her room also confirmed this. It truly had nothing to do with the second lord.
Then who could it have been?
The second lord seemed to have thought of something and started shaking all over, his teeth chattering. “Could it be the people who sent the dead cat….”
After a moment of silence, crying and screams sounded out. Everyone turned deathly grey and shook all over.
“This is truly trying to wipe out our family!”
The Pei old madam wailed. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she fainted.
The Pei old madam came once again to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
She cried the entire way over and charged into the Rongan Hall. She fell to her knees in front of the old madam.
“Sis-in-law, my third son is dead. Our Pei household is about to be wiped out…..”
The old madam couldn’t take the shock and fainted once more. When she awoke, she could no longer even speak. She merely looked at Yan Ting and cried.
“Mom, don’t worry. I will definitely find a way to protect the Pei household.”
Yan Ting was rigid all over as he nodded.
His current emotions could no longer be described with words.
He had never been a noble person, but he was currently facing something he had never wanted to face for the sake of others. Actually it wasn’t for their sake. He wouldn’t care if his uncle’s household was wiped out. However, he understood his mom’s worries. Even if Yan Ting was loyal to no one else, he was unable to ignore his mom’s plight.
“What a rare visitor. Why did the Weiyuan Marquis suddenly remember a lowly person like myself today!?”
Yan Ting’s breathing became rushed. “You don’t have to incite me with your words. I’m here because I have something to say!”
Behind the desk, Xu Xiang Rong wore an indigo robe with dark patterns, a white jade cap on his head. He looked dignified and aloof. His features were ordinary but his aura was not. Merely sitting there made others not dare take him lightly.
He slightly raised his hand gracefully, “Take a seat and speak.”
Yan Ting sat in the chair next to the wall. A servant served tea. Xu Xiang Rong lifted his teacup and used the lid to lightly stir the suds. The rising steam obscured his face.
“You’re looking for something in the Pei household?”
Xu Xiang Rong froze and then laughed lightly. He put his cup down and nodded candidly. “Yes.”
“What do you need? I can go tell the Pei household’s people and have them offer it voluntarily. Can you let them off?” Yan Ting’s expression was rigid and he had a hard time speaking up.
“Don’t tell me you aren’t aware they are my uncle’s family!” For some reason, Yan Ting’s tone was aggressive.
“The Pei household is your uncle’s family?”
Initially, Xu Xiang Rong truly didn’t know this. Only after his servants reported that Yan Ting had been rushing about for Pei Nan’s sake did he realize there was this layer of relationship.
He couldn’t help but be overjoyed.
“I never bother with these minor things and leave everything to the servants. Despite this, why should I let them off? You should know those ants made me lose High Official Wu. You are surely aware how important he was to us?”
Yan Ting’s expression immediately turned ugly.
The atmosphere congealed. Yan Ting was extremely embarrassed. He was about to stand up when Xu Xiang Rong’s tone changed. “It’s not impossible for me to let them off. However, I would need a convincing reason. You, are you able to give me such a reason?”
He hid a smile as he looked meaningfully at Yan Ting.
Xu Xiang Rong waved his hand agreeably and interrupted him, “I thought you knew that I was despicable long ago. I will use any means to get the things I want!”
He stood up and walked in front of Yan Ting. He said quietly: “Did you know? You avoiding me during this time made me very unhappy!”
He bent over and reached out his hand to stroke Yan Ting’s face.
Yan Ting instinctively avoided it, but unfortunately he was seated and Xu Xiang Rong was standing above him. He was stuck in place so how could he avoid it? Xu Xiang Rong’s hand still touched his face. He lightly rubbed his face, making Yan Ting feel nauseous.
“You’ve gotten thinner….”
Yan Ting only left the private residence after it got dark.
He was about to get on his horse when a servant came over and handed him a cloak.
“Lord Yan, the lord heir had this lowly one deliver you this cloak. The weather is cold and the wind is strong. The lord heir has also prepared a carriage. Would you like to take it instead?”
Yan Ting movements were sluggish and the humiliation on his face was barely hidden.
He didn’t even respond to that person. He got on his horse and galloped away, his appearance and actions wretched.
Concubine Lan hadn’t seen Yan Ting in a very long time.
She was currently like an invisible person in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Apart from raising the fifth young master, she never went outside.
She was low-born and had no backing. Having suffered a major loss at the madam’s hands, she had learned whom she could provoke and whom she couldn’t. The madam didn’t bother with her so she could only hope Yan Ting would provide some shelter for her.
A concubine naturally knew how to get in a man’s good books. These days Yan Ting had been busy so she had someone send over nourishing soup every day. However, the lord marquis never gave any response so she became nervous. Hearing that the lord marquis had returned to his study, she personally brought over the soup today.
The servants knew Concubine Lan was favored by the lord marquis and didn’t stop her.
Concubine Lan put on a gentle smile. The moment she walked in, an ink slab was hurled in front of her, splashing her with ink.
Concubine Lan stumbled in fright and fell into Man’er’s arms behind her. The two didn’t dare raise their heads as they staggered away supporting each other.
The next day, Yan Ting personally went to the Pei household.
Seeing the Pei old madam, he asked her to hand something over.
The Pei old madam ordered the people at home to turn everything over before finding what he wanted.
If she had known that this was what they were looking for, she would have long since handed it over.
But who would have thought those people were looking for a Buddhist scripture?!
Yan Ting didn’t know what was special about this ordinary looking scripture. He even flipped through it a couple of times but didn’t discover anything. However, since that person requested it, he found it and handed it over to him.
It turned out that Pei Nan was a rather crafty one. He was made to take the blame that time and ended up being fired and exiled. The reason High Official Wu protected him was because Pei Nan revealed he had some blackmail on him.
The marriage between their households was also to placate the exiled Pei Nan.
While they placated him on one side, they also sent someone over to get information out of him. After a lot of effort, they finally found out that it was hidden in this book of scriptures.
The Wu household had yet to find this thing when the situation got out of hand. After High Official Wu fell, Xu Xiang Rong learned about this matter.
Xu Xiang Rong never did things normally.
Others cared about their image and there were things they weren’t willing to do. However, for Xu Xiang Rong, the ends justified the means. If it weren’t for forcing Yan Ting, he would have long since gotten his hands on it. The third lord also wouldn’t have died tragically.
After the Pei household handed the thing over, nothing else happened to them as expected. They were both overjoyed and sorrowful.
After the eldest branch’s father and son brought Pei Nan’s body back for the funeral, they used the excuse of bringing the coffin back to his hometown to leave the capital.
The Pei household is done with. The old madam is half-done. The remaining half will be dealt with slowly.
Yan Ting has been corrupted. It’s kind of like those domineering CEO plots where the female lead has to sacrifice herself for various reasons…..