Chapter 104: Waiting for a Hapless Hare
Chapter 104: Waiting for a Hapless Hare
“And you? Where will you be?” she asked.
Wang Hong smiled. “Me? I’ll stay in Nan’yang, of course. Could there be a bigger joke than Lang’ya Wang Qi fleeing at the mere sight of a barbarian?”
Chen Rong gave some thoughts before lowering her voice to say: “Then I’ll also remain in Nan’yang.”
Wang Hong still had his back turned to her, his posture ever the same. “Are you not afraid of dying, my darling?”
Dying? Of course she was afraid of dying.
“If my lord is not afraid of dying, Ah Rong would not dare to be afraid.”
When she did not hear his reply after some length of time, she turned around to take a look.
Standing face to face at that moment, she saw in his fixed gaze something like love… but in the blink of an eye, he had returned to his smiling mien.
At this time, a burst of billowing smoke appeared behind them, causing the dozen refugees on the roadside to turn their attention from the city gate.
They scurried backward. Even the boy retreated far away where he curiously gazed over.
Two hundred armored men came into Chen Rong’s sight. They were tall and large, and dauntless in appearance. These men must have been from the north, for each of them was the size of three refugees.
They rode forth and encircled the carriage.
Chen Rong turned to look at Wang Hong, and was reassured to see that he didn’t appear to mind these men.
One man rode out of his rank; he clasped his hands toward Wang Hong, calling him: “M’lord?”
They turned out to be Wang Hong’s guards, after all. So they had been behind us the entire time, Chen Rong thought. Only now did she realize that she hadn’t asked Wang Hong how he had looked for her alone last night. Logically speaking, his servants would never leave his side like that.
Wang Hong stepped down from the carriage and, casting Chen Rong a glance, ordered: “Wang Sheng, escort Miss Chen back to the city.”
A guard in his late twenties with a rectangular face rode forward. He accorded Chen Rong ceremony, then dismounted his horse and stepped onto the driver’s seat.
The carriage moved forth.
A few paces later, Chen Rong gazed back at Wang Hong and opened her mouth to say something. But seeing Wang Hong surrounded by his guards, smiling but distant and stern, she decided to close her mouth after all.
Her carriage gradually drove away and shortly after arrived at the gate.
The prince’s personal soldiers were blocking the gate. They were preventing the nobles from leaving the city but did not care who was entering.
Chen Rong smoothly entered Nan’yang and returned to her courtyard.
When she stepped down, she thanked the guard who was hastily turning to leave, then rushed to her courtyard, crying: “Old Shang! Old Shang!”
Her voice began to panic when no one answered even though she had called twice.
At this time, Nurse Ping’s ecstatic voice sounded inside. “Are you back, miss? Are you back?” She ran out to Chen Rong’s side, holding onto her arm to take a good look at her.
Chen Rong pried her hand away and asked, “Where’s Old Shang?”
“Lying in bed.”
Chen Rong exhaled in relief. She broke into a smile and said, “I’m glad he’s home. When did he come back?”
“Early this morning,” Nurse Ping answered. She glanced outside, leaned into Chen Rong’s ear and whispered, “The moment the gate opened at dawn, Old Shang had appeared at the store on South Street.” Her voice took an anxious turn: “He passed out as soon as he saw someone coming out. After he woke up, he kept crying for you.”
Chen Rong pressed her lips together, whispering, “Is he staying at one of the stores on South Street?”
Nurse Ping looked up at Chen Rong, stammering a long time before asking: “Miss, last night, you…”
Chen Rong could hear the worry in her voice. She immediately glared and snapped, “I’m still chaste!”
“Aye, aye, aye, you’re chaste, you’re chaste.” Despite saying so, the anxiety in her voice was evident.
At this time, it got clamorous outside.
Lady Li’s shrill voice rose amid the noises: “Is Ah Rong home?”
Chen Rong hadn’t reacted but her nurse had already paled and muttered: “I knew it, I knew it. They came last night asking for you twice. Then this morning at dawn, they came again to say your aunt has called for you. Now you’re barely home and already they’ve followed you here. I knew they wouldn’t let you off!”
Chen Rong’s heart sank upon hearing this. She thought of the invitation that had brought her into peril.
“She is home, ma’am,” she heard a maid reply.
“Oh is she?” Lady Li laughed. She sashayed in with the escort of four maids, eyeing Chen Rong once she was inside.
Looking at Chen Rong’s wrinkly outfit and tangled hair, she laughed and narrowed her slanted eyes, shrilling: “My my my, if it isn’t the audacious Ah Rong who had dared to go to Mo’yang to die with her lover.” She walked to Chen Rong, made a turn about her, and clucked her tongue: “How bold you are. Last time you disappeared for several days and then made a fool out of your elders with your lies after you returned. This time it’s early morning yet your clothes are unchanged and your hair is uncombed. Tsk tsk tsk, there’s also a lingering smell of a man on your body.” She made an exaggerated sniff: “It seems that the little girl cannot contain herself for a few days without a tryst, now that she knows the taste of a man!”
These were harsh and humiliating words!
Chen Rong suppressed her anger and was about to speak when Lady Li waved toward the four maids and ordered: “Seize her!”
The four women immediately took two steps forward and surrounded Chen Rong, reaching out to grab her.
Chen Rong eyed Lady Li, flicked her arms and threw the maids off. “Ma’am, my every movement is being watched these days. Please tell them to move, I can walk myself!”
Her voice had barely faded when Lady Li broke out laughing.
Her laughter was both shrill and haughty.
Once she had had enough, she stared at Chen Rong and mockingly said, “Do you still think that you’re under the Wangs’ protection? Tsk tsk tsk. Ah Rong, you must not have known, your Wang Qilang is being targeted by both the barbarians and the Prince of Nan’yang. Even Wang Yi who tried to escape this morning with his private guards is now under the prince’s control. Even if he hadn’t been controlled, you had rejected his offer in front of everyone that night. How important do you still think you are?”
With the smug face of a villain, Lady Li shrilly laughed as she ridiculed: “The exalted Wang House of Lang’ya is full of cowards. Tsk, they’re nothing compared to our Chen House of Yingchuan.”
Chen Rong’s heart sank as she listened. She could tell from her voice that she was deferential to the Nan’yang Prince but disdainful of the Wang clan. Had something happened at home? Had Chen Yuan completely sided with the prince?
In a good mood, Lady Li stopped her taunting and waved her hand again. “Seize her!”
Several maids grabbed Chen Rong’s arms and held her down by the shoulders.
The wheels in Chen Rong’s brain rapidly turned.
Yesterday’s invitation was clearly meant to kill her. Even though she didn’t know who had done it, she knew she had only ever offended this family!
Lady Li’s behavior and expression were much too arrogant! Something was amiss!
Making a quick decision, Chen Rong shook her shoulders and pushed the two maids away to retreat backward.
Her resistance caused Lady Li to scream: “Blasphemy, blasphemy!” Then she loudly ordered, “You, get her.”
She was pointing to the two guards who had just crossed into the yard.
Chen Rong knew these guards. They had come as part of Lady Ruan’s dowry. It had been with their competent escort that Lady Ruan was able to reach the south safely.
Chen Rong stopped when she saw the large guards, and her own nurse and servants huddling in a corner screaming and crying for help.
She ceased her futile struggle.
The two guards in front of her stopped when they saw that she did not try to run anymore. At the same time, the four maids swarmed Chen Rong and cuffed her hands again. They pushed her to thebfront and yelled, “Let’s go.”
Just like that, Lady Li sashayed out in front, spewing insults along the way as they marched Chen Rong to Lady Ruan’s courtyard.
Before long, they had entered Lady Ruan’s courtyard. The moment they got to the main hall, a maid gave Chen Rong a shove and caused her to stumble forward. “On your knees!” a stern voice spoke.
Chen Rong did not kneel.
She raised her head to stare at Lady Ruan, her eyes unfathomable. “Madam, even if the Wang House in Lang’ya has discarded me, General Ran will undoubtedly remember me. I don’t imagine our strife to be so great that you must detain me with so much fanfare.”
Once again, Lady Li shrilly laughed the moment she finished talking. “Don’t tell me you’re still thinking of protecting your reputation? Hahaha, you stayed outside an entire night. Who knows how many men you’ve slept with. Still has the audacity to blame us for detaining you with fanfare.”
At once, Chen Rong’s face was purple with rage. She whipped around glaring at Lady Li.
“Slap your mouth!” Lady Ruan softly admonished.
Lady Li first halted before her face reddened. She slowly lifted her hand and lightly slapped herself, crying: “Madam!”
Lady Ruan didn’t bother to look at her. She sipped her tea and unhurriedly said, “The Chen family prides ourselves in generations of gentility. The peasants may say these vulgar things, but you may not.”
Lady Li quickly bowed her head saying: “Aye Aye,” and gave herself a few light slaps.
Lady Ruan turned toward Chen Rong.
A hint of a smile appeared on her round and pampered face as she stared at the girl.