After Zhang Jia Rui went back, he searched for all sorts of excuses to punish the Zhu family.
First, he claimed that a Zhu family servant was bullying the villagers and was lawless, but when he arrested them and brought them to the government office for trial, he found out that the wicked servant was Zhu Lao Si’s henchman who had already been ousted by Zhu Zi Yu. The servant’s actions were absolutely not the Zhu family’s responsibility.
Later, someone reported that the nobility had tampered with the standard weight and hu (ancient measuring vessel) when collecting rent, and was suspected of embezzling taxes from the court. Zhang Jia Rui sent his men to investigate. The result was that the great noble Li and Wang families really were tampering with the rent, only the Zhu family were honest and respectable.
After repeatedly investigating several cases, anything related to the Zhu family and anything unrelated to the Zhu family, not only was the Zhu family’s ‘House of Benevolence’ plaque not taken down, he actually made Zhu Zi Yu’s clean reputation spread further. Zhang Jia Rui was so angry that he was sleepless for several nights. He grew deeply resentful of Zhu Zi Yu, vowing to destroy the Zhu family.
After a month of this, Qin Ce eventually returned to the capital severely wounded. If the imperial physicians hadn’t administered anesthesia to him to help clean the wound on his abdomen that was already festering, he probably would’ve rushed straight to Qing Min County.
“This box must be personally delivered to Zi Yu today.” He carefully instructed Yucheng before falling into a coma.
Yucheng didn’t dare slack off, he personally carried the box and rode a horse to the Zhu residence.
“General, quickly come in, dare I ask why you have come in such a hurry?” Zhou Yun Sheng was very pleasantly surprised to see his visitor.
“Please accept this box, Zhu Gongzi.” Yucheng placed the box on the table, a strong smell of blood spread in the air.
Zhou Yun Sheng felt his heart shift and he immediately untied the knot and opened the lid. Shockingly, there was a human head inside. Tweety and Lu-shi repeatedly screamed in fright, but Zhou Yun Sheng pressed his palms together and laughed.
This person had a Dapeng tattoo on his neck, it was the legendary leader of the Luo Shui Mountain Bandits, Wang Zhan Peng. He was also the murderer of Zhu Zi Yu’s father. Finally, the two hundred thousand catties of food were not given in vain.
Zhou Yun Sheng let out a relieved breath and smiled slightly at Yucheng, “General Yu, this kindness, I will always remember it.” After only a brief mention that day, this man had actually taken the matter to heart. After settling the imperial court, he immediately rushed to Luo Shui to get revenge for him. He even took the trouble to personally come deliver the head. For no rhyme or reason, how could he be so thorough?
Could he really be the man he was looking for?
Heart overflowing with heat, Zhou Yung Sheng suddenly pressed the sturdy man into the chair, taking advantage of the short moment while he was stunned to slip his tongue into the other man’s mouth, stirring and sucking.
Yucheng was stupefied, wanting to push back but feeling powerless. Zhu Gongzi’s kissing skill was too superb, it seemed to suck out his soul.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s soul didn’t feel the slightest bit of that familiar throbbing. Yucheng wasn’t the man he was looking for. How could this be? Zhou Yun Sheng narrowed his eyes, slowly stopping his tongue exploration. He took a few steps back and cupped his hands, “General Yu, I’ve offended you. If you please.” He thrust his hand out, indicating that the other man should leave.
Yucheng was dazed by the kiss, he actually forgot to blame and resist. When his thinking ability returned, he was already on horseback, a few li away from Qing Min County. He absentmindedly returned to the Shen Wei Marquisate with a flushed red face, licking his lips, and sat dazed by his superior’s bedside.
An hour later, the anesthesia drug’s effect gradually dispersed and Qin Ce opened his dark eyes.
“Did you deliver that thing?” He impatiently questioned.
“I delivered it.” Yucheng’s cheeks were now the color of pig liver, he stammered, “Lord Marquis, if, if a man is interested in you, what should you do?”
“Which man is interested in you?” Qin Ce scoffed.
“Zhu Gongzi. He just kissed me.” Yucheng covered his face and muffled out, “I didn’t even find it disgusting, I even wanted it to continue. Lord Marquis, am I doomed? If only Zhu Gongzi was a Ger, I’d immediately marry him. I wouldn’t have to be so confused right now.”
Qin Ce almost catapulted up from the bed, his cold gaze turning into a sharp blade, cutting into Yucheng’s exposed skin. Yucheng was so frightened by his gaze that he stammered, “L-Lord Marquis, what’s wrong with you? Why are you glaring at me like that?”
“Why would he want to kiss you? Did you not tell him that I asked you to send that box?” Damn this guy, he robbed his credit again! Last time for guarding the Zhu mansion, now for destroying the bandits!
“I didn’t have time to say it before Zhu Gongzi kissed me.” At this, Yucheng suddenly came to a realization, but then he saw the Lord Marquis kicking the door open and heading out in only a robe. In a blink of an eye, he couldn’t even find his silhouette.
Zhou Yun Sheng was still distressed about his lover’s whereabouts when a gatekeeper informed him of Marquis Shen Wei’s visit.
Marquis Shen Wei … Little Black? What’s he doing here? While he was pondering, the travel-worn looking man had already arrived at the hall, a thin black-colored robe casually draped over his shoulders, and his white inner garments stained with blood. His handsome face was filled with ferocious wrath.
“You should know that the reason why the Zhu mansion was saved last time was because I gave the order, and I personally plucked the head of the Luo Shui bandit for you.” He strode up to Zhou Yun Sheng and stretched out his arms to trap him in between, his eyes were burning bright.
“So?” The intense smell of tobacco hit his face, making Zhou Yun Sheng feel somewhat dizzy.
“So, the one you should thank and fall in love with is me, not Yucheng; The one you should kiss is also me, not Yucheng. If I ever find out that you’ve kissed someone else, I’ll pull out that person’s tongue.” Qin Ce leaned over and blocked the young man’s slightly parted red lips as he spoke.
At the touch of their tongues and the blending of their fluids, a familiar trembling sensation spread from their bodies to their souls, a myriad of bright fireworks blossomed in their minds. It felt as if they’d obtained all the feelings of joy and satisfaction the world had to offer. The two clung to each other, constantly changing angles to deepen the kiss. A quarter of an hour passed before they reluctantly parted, connected by a sliver thread.
“It really is you!” Zhou Yun Sheng sighed contentedly, then his face darkened, questioning, “Aren’t you already engaged to Zhang Shu Lin?”
“When was I ever betrothed to him?” Qin Ce wiped the powder off his lover’s forehead and repeatedly kissed the bright red dot.
“The rumor has been spreading for a long time, they say that Zhang Shu Lin is the Lord Marquis’s future wife. Isn’t the reason you’re holding the Zhang family so high to pave the way to marry Zhang Shu Lin? Why are you still coming to mess with me? F#ck off!” Zhou Yun Sheng kicked at the other man.
Qin Ce leaned forward with a shameless expression, explaining, “I’ve already cleared that up with the Zhang family, and the reason I made such a big show of giving gifts is to show that I, Marquis Shen Wei, know how to repay kindness. Kindness is kindness, love is love. I’m not going to lose out on a lifetime of happiness for kindness. Zi Yu, you’re the only one in my heart, and even if you were a man, I would still feel the same about you and have no regrets. If you don’t believe me, you can dig out my heart and take a look.”
He grabbed his lover’s hand and intentionally or unintentionally covered his gauze wrapped wound.
When Zhou Yun Sheng saw the blood, he immediately forgot his anger and quickly made Tweety get the medicine box. Thus, Qin Ce naturally stayed overnight.
After wrapping around each other for half a month, Qin Ce finally left to prepare for the wedding. That’s right, Zhou Yun Sheng had promised to marry into the aristocracy and become a Marquisate’s official wife. What pretenses could there be between husbands who have been together for several lifetimes? Every moment together should be cherished, otherwise, in the next reincarnation, there’s no telling where that man would wonder off to, or with whom he would have unclear relations.
But Zhang Jia Rui had also not stayed idle in this past half a month. He’d ordered men to inquire about the secrets of the Zhu family in every direction, intending to settle Zhu Zi Yu. Hard work always pays off, he really did dig up an astonishing secret. A maidservant that had been kicked out of the Zhu family unexpectedly claimed that Zhu Zi Yu was a Ger, he had a small sindoor between his eyebrows which was usually covered up by powder.
Recalling Zhu Zi Yu’s unusually beautiful face, Zhang Jia Rui was almost completely convinced. He ordered someone to throw a bucket of water in Zhu Zi Yu’s face while he was strolling through the wet market. He even sent an old woman to rush out and wipe his forehead clean, revealing the sindoor. The onlookers immediately started spreading the gossip.
Thanks to the preaching of some dedicated people, it took less than a day for this story to become well-known. Zhang Jia Rui timely stepped in to propose a marriage for Zhu Zi Yu. The marriage candidate was the same infamous gambler that had not only bankrupted the Zhu family in the original drama, he had even tortured Zhu Zi Yu to the point where death was preferable to living.
When the matchmaker led the gambler to the door, Zhou Yun Sheng welcomed them in with a big smile. As soon as they sat down, no one had even started speaking yet when a gatekeeper reported, “The Marquis of Shen Wei has arrived.”
“H-How could the Lord Marquis be here? What is the relationship between the Lord Marquis and the Zhu family?” The matchmaker had only heard about the good relationship between the Zhang family and the Marquisate, but they didn’t hear that there was also a friendship between the Zhu family and the Marquisate. Otherwise, how could Official Zhang try to punish Zhu Zi Yu like this?
“You’ll find out when he comes in.” Zhou Yun Sheng cupped his tea cup and slowly skimmed the floating tea froth. He didn’t mention personally going out to welcome in the guest. Since Zhang Jia Rui was so eager to court death, he had no plans to stop him. If not, how could an old woman get so close to his body?
Qin Ce ordered the hundred and twenty sets of dowries to be taken into the warehouse then strode into the main hall. When he saw the man sitting upright in the host seat, he immediately walked over to kiss the crown of his head. His always cold eyes were filled with deep love and warmth.
The matchmaker and gambler stared blankly at this, finally, they felt chilled to the bone, like they had fallen into an ice hole. It turns out, the real hidden gem was not the Zhang family, but the Zhu family! It seems that this Zhu Zi Yu was the true wife of the Marquisate.
“Who are they?” Qin Ce raised his eyebrows and looked towards the two people.
“One is a matchmaker, the other is the husband Official Zhang handpicked for me. You didn’t know? A few weeks ago, the Zhang family wanted to buy the mountain to the west, but I didn’t agree. So now they want to grab my marriage, trying to cleanly pull out my Zhu family by the roots. I also don’t know who first started constantly accusing me of being the village tyrant, saying that there’s no such thing as a rich benevolent man, but now, looking back……” Cutting himself off, Zhou Yun Sheng laughed disdainfully.
Hearing this, Qin Ce became furious, he brought Zhou Yun Sheng’s hand to his lips and kissed it, snorting coldly, “What Official Zhang? If I’m happy, he can be Official Zhang, if I’m not happy, he’s less than nothing.” After saying this, he pointed to the already paralyzed with fear matchmaker and said, “Pass this message to Zhang Jia Rui, say that I, Qin Ce, can help push him up to the clouds, but can also beat him down into the abyss and make him behave himself.”
The matchmaker repeatedly nodded, and was about to leave with the arm support of the gambler, when Zhou Yun Sheng coldly said, “This insignificant thing dared to propose marriage to my Zhu family, how imprudent! Someone, come disable his hands!” It was these hands that had repeatedly pushed Zhu Zi Yu into circumstances worse than death, so why keep them?
The gambler screamed in terror until he lost his voice, but Qin Ce burst into unprecedented laughter. He waved his hand at the guards while kissing his lover’s delicate cheek. Two guards neatly held down the gambler and severed the tendons in his hand.
The two who had arrogantly walked in left in a sorry state. All the villagers witnessed this. The matchmaker didn’t dare delay, they immediately ran to the county magistrate’s office and described the events from beginning to end.
Zhang Jia Rui was stunned, he immediately returned home to let Zhang Shu Lin think of a way out. After all, Zhang Shu Lin was the Lord Marquis’s savoir, it was very unlikely that he would kick a benefactor in the teeth.
Zhang Shu Lin’s heart was bitter, but for the sake of his younger brother’s future, he had no choice but to run to the Zhu family to find Marquis Shen Wei. The gatekeeper refused to let him in, so he could only wait around the corner. It wasn’t until early the next morning that he saw an exceptionally handsome man walk out with a satisfied expression.
“Little Black, wait.” He quickly ran over.
“Who are you calling?” Qin Ce asked in a heavy voice.
“Lord Marquis, please wait a moment, I have something to say.” Zhang Shu Lin immediately changed his address.
“But I have nothing to say to you. All what is owed to the Zhang family, this Marquis has already paid it back in full. This Marquis gave you guys money, land, and even honor. As long as you were content, you definitely could’ve lived a smooth and carefree life. Unfortunately, you were so greedy that you set your sights on my wife. After my wife refused to sell his land, you actually tried to rob him. And when you failed to rob him, you schemed against his marriage. You wanted to push him into a pit of fire. At the start, you flaunted yourself as a saint, but you acted like this after you gained power, no need to make this Marquis feel nauseous. Go back and tell Zhang Jia Rui that this Marquis will never forget this!” Anyone who dares to rob his wife would be killed without mercy!
Zhang Shu Lin was rendered speechless by the rebuke, and could only look on helplessly as the other man quickly left.
Zhang Jia Rui was waiting at the village entrance. His expression was warped one moment, and he clutched at his hair the next, his intestines green with regret. When he saw his older brother’s dejected expression, he immediately resembled a deflating ball, limp all over.
He should have anticipated it, with Zhu Zi Yu’s extraordinarily beautiful face and carefree and proud temperament, how could Qin Ce resist?
“Big Brother, what should we do?” He cried out like a child; how could he still have the least bit of a county magistrate’s prestige?
Zhang Shu Lin was also shocked; he could only comfort himself that Little Black wouldn’t be so cold-blooded.
But in fact, Qin Ce was a very cold-blooded man. All his gentleness was devoted to Zhou Yun Sheng. You could touch him, but if you touched his lover, you would have to suffer his crazy revenge.
Zhang Jia Rui the country magistrate was soon involved in a corruption case before his position was even stabilized. He was not only imprisoned, his scholarly honor was dismissed, and he was forever blacklisted from official posts. Zhang Shu Lin sold off the family property to mediate relationships and finally redeemed him out of prison. But the Zhang family lost its wealth and its reputation was thoroughly ruined. Everywhere they went, they were cursed at. People claimed that Zhang Jia Rui was a heartless official who entrapped honest people and oppressed the citizens, he deserved to end up like this. They also said that good men really had good rewards, Zhu Gongzi was able to marry the Lord Marquis, the Heavens are truly watching…….
The Zhang family could not hold their heads up at all in Qing Min County, so they had no choice but to move to a faraway region to start over. But they had no foundation, no connections, and no money, how could life be so easy? Whenever Zhang Shu Lin thought up a good money-making idea, it was swiftly robbed away as soon as he got started, and things were often made deliberately hard for him. This finally made him realize how lucky he was to have meet a kind landlord like Zhu Zi Yu.
Zhang Jia Rui’s ambition was very high, but his character was sorely lacking. After his official career road was cut off, he felt hopeless and quickly spiraled into a deep depression. He even picked up drinking, gambling, and other bad habits, completely becoming a local ruffian.
The locals always shake their heads when they talk about him.
Dapeng- a giant bird that transforms from a Kun giant fish in Chinese mythology
Lord Marquis- Hou Ye
real hidden gem- The best translation is “real knowledge is not showy”, but it was kind of weird to fit in. The point is, the Zhu family was truly hiding its strength
matchmaker– lit. translate to iceman, idk why iceman=matchmaker
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