The stormy seas of the Jiang Hu resurged but did not affect the merriment pervading all levels of society in the week of the New Year. The days of eating, drinking, and visiting friends and relatives passed so quickly that in the blink of an eye, most of the New Year had already come and gone.
After the third day of the Lunar New Year, an endless stream of people visited the Luo Senior Official’s residence to give New Year’s well wishes. While the Luo residence busily welcomed and sent off visitors, it also busily watched over Sixth Young Lady Fu’s “antics.” A girl who had been taken care of by others since childhood had set her heart on learning housework. This could only result in her tiring herself out, troubling others, and inviting laughter at her attempts.
After Luo Wei’s sickness, his first trip outside of the residence came about because the Sixth Young Lady Fu dragged him to leave. They arrived at the temporary official’s residence that Ning Fei’s family was staying at. This official’s residence was one that Luo Zhi Qiu ordered his steward to find for Ning Fei, and it was only a street apart from the Senior Official’s residence.
Lady Wang, Ning Yuan, and Ning Li were happy to see Luo Wei bring someone over. Only Ning Fei became alarmed at the sight of Fu Wei following behind Luo Wei, but for no reason at all he also felt a bit happy.
“This is my sixth cousin,” Luo Wei introduced Fu Wei to Lady Wang.
“Hello auntie.” Fu Wei gave a crooked curtsy to Lady Wang.
Wei Lan had been dragged away by Ning Yuan to mess around with spears and clubs. Ning Li brought Xiao Xiao to look at some snacks Lady Wang had made. Qi Zi and the guards from the official’s residence walked around to see if there was any work to do, such as sweeping floors or carrying buckets of water. Even if there wasn’t work they’d find something to do.
Luo Wei and Ning Fei sat in the main hall, watching Fu Wei awkwardly but sincerely conversing with Lady Wang.
“Women who are a bit naive won’t have bad intentions,” Luo Wei whispered to Ning Fei.
Ning Fei didn’t reply, but the corners of his mouth turned up.
Playing around like this, half a day passed. Lady Wang looked at the sky. Seeing that it wasn’t early anymore, she wanted Luo Wei to stay for dinner. Fu Wei didn’t wait for Luo Wei to answer before agreeing. It wasn’t clear if it was because Fu Wei’s love for a person would extend to all those involved with him, but her heart was full of good opinions about Lady Wang.
Luo Wei looked at Fu Wei nodding her head. He had just wanted to open his mouth and agree when he saw one of Luo Zhi Qiu’s stewards enter from outside.
“Young master.” The steward walked to the front of Luo Wei, and then bowed as he spoke. “His Majesty urgently called for the Prime Minister to enter the palace. The madam doesn’t know what happened, and wants the young master to hurry back to the official’s residence.”
After hearing the steward’s message, Luo Wei did not bat an eyelid before saying, “It’s just a feast at the palace. Really, mother is using such an excuse to have me go back. What would happen if I miss eating medicine for just one day?”
Lady Wang heard Luo Wei mention medicine, and recalled that this young master maintained himself through these herbs every day. She hurriedly said, “Young master should still hurry back to the official’s residence. The medicine can’t be missed for even a single day.”
“It seems my cousin and auntie have hit it off.” Luo Wei stood up. “So have her help out auntie here. These past few days she’s tormented the cooks at our residence. It just so happens that auntie can observe the results of her couple days’ practice.”
Lady Wang felt slight hesitation. Was it fine to leave a young unmarried lady here like this?
Luo Wei saw through Lady Wang’s misgivings. “Maiden Fu is from a general’s family and doesn’t pay particular attention to those sorts of things.”
“Then Miss Fu, would you like to stay?” Lady Wang asked Fu Wei, who had already secretly cupped her fists in thanks in Luo Wei’s direction.
“Yes,” Fu Wei immediately affirmed. “I have nothing to do if I go back anyway.”
“Then you just stay here and accompany Auntie,” Luo Wei said. He paid his respects to Lady Wang and then Ning Fei escorted him in leaving.
After exiting the main hall, Ning Fei whispered to Luo Wei, “Yun Qi, I want to ask you something.”
“What’s the matter?” Luo Wei stopped and asked.
Wei Lan was waiting and saw Luo Wei and Ning Fei speaking. He stepped back a few paces and stood down.
Ning Fei said, “Have you already done something to Ming Jian Villa?”
Luo Wei glanced at Ning Fei, and then spoke with some astonishment: “You still contact Ming Jian Villa?”
Ning Fei shook his head. “Two days ago, Ming Jian Villa’s eldest young master came to find me.”
“Eldest young master?” Luo Wei continued in low tones, “Zi Zhou should say that his big brother came to find him.”
“Ming Jian Villa and I have nothing to do with each other,” Ning Fei clarified. “Us three siblings have never been registered on the Ning family tree. Yun Qi should know this.”
“Then what did that eldest young master come to find you for?”
“He wanted to ask Yun Qi’s men to show mercy.”
“Did he beseech you?”
Ning Fei smiled disdainfully. “It turns out that when that person bows his head, he’s no different from an ordinary person.”
“Ning Shu Ying is your father. Even if it’s for Zi Zhou, Yuan Er, and Li Er, I also won’t go too far.”
“Yun Qi, Ming Jian Villa has operated in the Jiang Hu for a hundred years. One Qi Lin Villa cannot deal with Ning Shu Ying. If you show mercy, it will be even harder to deal with him.”
Luo Wei tried to distinguish the genuine and the fake from Ning Fei’s words. “Zi Zhou, that is your biological father.”
Ning Fei faced Luo Wei and suddenly let loose a laugh in self-mockery. “Yes ah, that’s my biological father. Am I wicked beyond redemption to say what I said?”
Luo Wei gave Ning Fei’s shoulders a pat. “Just take it as something you don’t know about, as something that has nothing to do with you.”
“Yun Qi. If you lose, what will Ning Shu Ying do to our family?” Ning Fei asked seriously.
“That eldest young master came without promising you benefits?”
“I’ve never believed Ning Shu Ying’s words. I only want my family to live. So Yun Qi, you don’t need to have misgivings about me. Just don’t let my mother know. Her days now are peaceful. I don’t want her to hear about Ming Jian Villa’s matters again.”
“Then Yuan Er and Lin Er?”
“They only know that Ning Shu Ying is the villa master, and that’s all.”
Luo Wei looked at the two rascals standing together with Wei Lan. “Zi Zhou, just go to Yun Guan with peace of mind. That’s a border station. As long as you fight together with them, you have the opportunity to distinguish yourself. Being bestowed a wife and sprouting an offspring is no vain delusion. If you can forget Ming Jian Villa, then forget it. I know what should be done.”
“Many thanks,” Ning Fei replied.
Luo Wei laughed and shook his head, then called out to the two little rascals behind him: “Yuan Er, Lin Er, I’m leaving. Come and see me out.”
Ning Fei stood at the main gate, his brother and sister each hugging one leg of his. Luo Wei’s sedan chair turned into the lane in front, and Ning Fei only then picked his little sister up and brought his little brother Ning Yuan back into the residence. Ning Shu Ying. Thinking of this name, Ning Fei would wonder why he was Ning Shu Ying’s son. He had always served as a slave or servant in the Ming Jian Villa, and he submitted to suffering supercilious looks. But why, at last, did he have to know that he is Ning Shu Ying’s son?
“Father will formally marry Lady Wang and bring her into the household. The courtyard has already been prepared for her. At that time, you will be the impressive sixth young master of the Ming Jian Villa. Ning Yuan and Ning Li will also be a young master and lady of the villa, respectively. No one will dare criticize you again.”
Ning Fei thought of what the eldest young master of the Ming Jian Villa said to him two days ago and laughed grimly and incessantly. The supposed benefit Ning Shu Ying extended to their family was the status of a concubine. Ning Fei had already perceived the emperor, could enter and exit the Senior Official’s residence at will, and had witnessed true power, majesty, riches, honor, and luxury. After setting upon a real battlefield, how could Ning Fei still have the Ming Jian Villa’s existence in his eyes? If Ning Shu Ying could only be a passing nightmare to their family, then it was fine to let Luo Wei do as he wished.
Ning Fei looked at Ning Yuan at his side and Ning Li in his arms. He looked at the lovable and silly girl supporting the beautiful woman, figure faintly visible in the distance as they headed towards the kitchen. This criminal charge could well be borne by him, Ning Zi Zhou, alone.
Thank you Iris for the Ko-Fi :* :* :*
Additional R:DSAT draft chapters posted on Patreon! Have been super lazy about putting up additional chapters there but all is in order now