In chapter 174, Ah Rong and Wang Hong attend a welcoming banquet at the Prince of Nan’yang Estate. The Prince of Nan’yang tries to curry her favors and sends Zhang Xiang to bring treasures to her after the banquet ends. Zhang Xiang then reminds her they are acquainted through her cousin Chen Sanlang, and asks if he can serve her. She becomes disappointed that she had once wanted to marry this man. He looks like a righteous person but he readily works for someone like the Nan’yang Prince and readily submits to a scandalous woman like her. Which means he wouldn’t hesitate to use her (give her away) to advance himself if they were to marry back then. She dismissed him and then asks Wang Hong’s retainer to buy properties in Mo’yang with the money the Nan’yang Prince has just sent. We pick up in chapter 175.
After the Wang servants received Chen Rong’s order, they turned to look at their master.
Wang Hong was still quietly looking at Chen Rong at this time. He withdrew his gaze and carelessly nodded.
With his consent, what happened next followed the natural course. They left the same day with three hundred boxes of money.
Chen Rong met up with her servants who had stayed behind in Nan’yang. As she expected, the land and stores she bought had steadily increased by more than ten times since the Hu retreated.
She knew this was just the beginning. In her memory, properties in Nan’yang would increase another ten-fold in a decade. Her initial purchases would eventually be worth a hundred times more.
If nothing unexpected were to happen, she would never need to worry about money anymore.
Wang Hong was nowhere to be seen the next several days. Chen Rong reckoned the brat must have left to investigate the truth behind Moyang’s siege.
Along with his disappearance went also the majority of the Wang guards. Besides the servants who left to buy land in Mo’yang, only ten remained with Chen Rong at this moment.
Nan’yang was still full of songs and merriment.
Chen Rong quietly listened to the lyrics in the distance from her carriage. She looked at the sunset sky and said, “Let’s visit the Chen estate.”
The Chen estate used to be filled with streams of people coming and going. Now it was terribly deserted. Right, the masters weren’t here and the servants were only looking after the houses, so it couldn’t be as lively as it had been.
After Chen Rong announced her identity to the doorman, her carriage drove to the courtyard where she once lived.
The gate wasn’t closed.
Chen Rong stepped down, pushed the heavy gate and went inside.
Despite being tidied, the courtyard was vacant. The grass in the corner had grown knee-length.
Chen Rong stood dazedly for a while. The house in Ping flashed before her eyes, then it morphed into Ran Min’s house from her previous life. By the time she shook herself, Chen Wei and Chen Qian seemed to be sitting in the courtyard laughing and teasing.
Chen Rong closed her eyes and sighed, “What’s not ours will never be ours.”
The guards followed her in when they saw her enter. She waved her hand and quietly said, “Leave me alone for a while.”
When she got to the steps, she reached out and pushed the door to the main hall.
When it opened with a sway, Chen Rong’s foggy eyes saw Nurse Ping’s smiling face. She blinked again to see it was only a dangling cobweb.
With a low sigh, Chen Rong closed the door and continued inside.
She passed through the hall and the adjacent rooms and went to her bedchamber.
It was just like she remembered it besides being a little dusty. It must have been a while since someone came by to clean.
Chen Rong went towards the bed. When she heard footsteps behind her, she startlingly woke up from her trance and frowningly asked, “Didn’t I say not to follow me?”
As soon as she said this, a gust of wind suddenly blew past. She shivered and turned her head to feel a sharp pain in her neck. Her eyes went pitch black and she fainted on the spot…
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Chen Rong was awakened by the morning breeze.
When her eyes blinked open, they were greeted by a golden sun just risen from the east, shining down across the sky and earth. Upon a closer look, the leaves on the poplar tree a hundred paces away were still covered by glistening dew.
Taking in a breath of the fresh and chilly air, Chen Rong slowly felt around her.
Almost as soon as she moved, a magnetic male voice sounded: “Are you awake?”
Chen Rong shuddered.
She propped herself up and turned to look at him.
She saw a man with his back to her. He was seemingly young, with a beautiful and toned figure. He was looking down as he carved a piece of wood with the blade in his hand. Through the flying sawdust, she could only see his thin lips.
This person was wearing a bronze mask, blue in color, vintage in style, and extravagant in design. Under the grim mask, his beautiful jawline and those thin lips portrayed a mysterious beauty.
Chen Rong blurted out at his sight: “Murong Ke?”
The man slowly placed the wood carving down and turned to look at her.
He had a pair of deep, bottomless eyes. Ran Min’s same bottomless eyes had the oppressive flame of hell. His, on the other hand, were as welcoming as the vast sea.
“Ah Rong of the Chen House, it’s been a while,” the man smiled as he regarded her.
He was clearly wearing a mask, but Murong Ke’s smile was like a late spring breeze.
“Aye, it has been a while.”
Chen Rong, too, offered a smile. She slowly sat up and lazily combed her fingers through her tangled hair.
Although she had not groomed herself and her hair was tousled, such a smiling Chen Rong, once sat up, carried a certain grace, elegance, and superiority only highborn aristocrats possessed… But of course, her poise was nothing in the eyes of the Wang and Xie. One could even say it was pretentious. After all, Chen Rong’s poise came from practice rather than from within.
Nonetheless, she was only facing a Xianbei tribesman.
Murong Ke gave her a good, appreciative look. With eyes that smiled behind his mask, he spoke, “Even to this day, my soldiers still talk of Ah Rong of the Chen House who, in her white dress, rode out in the front to join the battlefield. Even my brothers and sisters deeply admire you, wishing they could have witnessed your aplomb. You came and went so fast that I hadn’t had a chance to take a proper look at you that day. Thus I especially invite you here today to continue our unfinished affair (1).”
前缘 qianyuan – predestined ties, love from a past life etc.
His low voice fluttered like the passing spring breeze.
This voice and demeanor of his… no wonder the Jiankang nobility couldn’t help but praise him even though they knew well that their people were being massacred by the Xianbei tribe.
“Continue our unfinished affair?” Chen Rong chuckled. “My dearest lord Ke, you deliberately sneaked into Nan’yang and abducted me here, all so that you can continue an unfinished affair?” My dearest lord Ke was the nickname girls gave the young general Murong Ke. Chen Rong sounded like a tease when she addressed him by this name.
She covered her beautiful smile, which radiated like the sunlight even if it was also sarcastic.
“But of course,” Murong Ke laughed. He waved his hand and signaled to his soldiers to bring food and wine. “I heard you are very close to my two good friends, Ran Min and Wang Hong… I, Murong Ke, am a Hu. If I can use simple methods, then I won’t waste my time complicating matters.”
Chen Rong understood now.
He was using her as a bait to lure Wang Hong and Ran Min.
He must have placed people in Nan’yang. Once he knew of her arrival in the city, he took the opportunity to act… The Hu were different from the Jin in this way. The Jin nobility would never kidnap a woman as a threat to someone else.
Barbarians would always be barbarians. Even if the Xianbei aristocrats had learned much from the Jin scholars, innate superiority and self-respect simply cannot be learnt.
Although Chen Rong was contemptuous of him, she wasn’t stupid enough to provoke him. She rose and faintly said, “If my dearest lord Ke had invited me here, then you should show me some courtesy. Call your maidservants here to help me wash up.”
Her words were full of imperiousness.
Murong Ke did not lose his temper. He laughed and waved his right hand. “Take the young lady to her tent and serve her well.”
Voices of several Han women answered him. Chen Rong turned around to see four women dutifully standing behind her. These women were all attractive, demure, and beautifully clothed. However, their gazes and movements were stiff, with fears that couldn’t be erased. They were clearly Han women who had been captured by the Hu.
Chen Rong was startled as she glanced at them. Only now was she fully awake and fully comprehending the situation she was in.
She had fallen into the hands of the Hu.
The heavens were so ridiculous. She had just gotten properties and hope, but now in a flash she was pushed into perils.
She had really fallen into the hands of the Hu.
Within a short time, the nearby soldiers’ laughter, the horses’ whinnies, the rustling wind… all were spinning and drifting into the distance.
Feeling Chen Rong’s discomfiture, Murong Ke’s mouth curved into a smile. He went to stand behind her, speaking in his magnetic yet gentle voice: “Don’t be frightened, Ah Rong. You’re my special guest.” After a pause, he added, “I reckon it won’t be long till your dearest Mr. Ran or Mr. Wang come to take you home.”
His charismatic voice slowly broke Chen Rong from her trance.
She smiled, straightened her back, and didn’t look back as she said, “Do you think that Han heroes are like your Hu people, that they would surrender their goals just for a woman?”
“My dearest lord Ke, you’ve wasted your effort in playing the scoundrel this time.”
Having said this, she smugly sauntered away.
The Han women hurriedly followed her out.
Chen Rong was led to a tent right beside the commander-in-chief. When she passed by, Hu soldiers would from time to time holler and point at her.
“Help me clean,” she said, as soon as they entered the tent.
The servants brought a water basin, a towel, and a bronze mirror to her.
Chen Rong sat down and looked into the mirror. The girl gazing back at her was still as beautiful as a flower in spring. Her gaze swept up to her raven hair where a golden pin was lodged. She relaxed at its sight.
While the servant girls helped her with the grooming, Chen Rong knitted her brow in turmoil.
Nobody knew better than herself what weight she carried. Ran Min would never jeopardize things for a flippant woman like her. As for Wang Hong?
Chen Rong shook her head. He is the Wang House’s golden child, how can he take such a risk? Besides, I’m only a woman he is casually having fun with in his leisure. What am I compared to the country’s welfare and his own safety? Nothing, not anything at all.
Nurse Ping and Old Shang were perhaps the only ones in this world who cared about her. Her brother may love her while she stood in front of him, but he would soon forget her once she was out of his sight.
Chen Rong took a deep breath and stopped her wandering thoughts. Through gritted teeth, she told herself: I can’t sit and wait to die. It hadn’t been easy to get to where I am. I can’t just give up like this.