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Chapter 106: Traveling a Thousand Miles to Seek His Help
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Mei Gongqing
Author :Lin Jiacheng
© Webnovel

Chapter 106: Traveling a Thousand Miles to Seek His Help

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Chapter 106: Traveling a Thousand Miles to Seek His Help

When Chen Rong came home, Nurse Ping and Old Shang rushed up to hold her as they cried.

Chen Rong was already immensely exhausted. She impatiently pried them off and bade for a tonic bath to be prepared.

Feeling better after some time in the water, Chen Rong lay in the tub as she tried to relax amid the rising vapor.

She kept her eyes wide open staring at the ceiling.

She knew that no one in Chen Yuan’s family had liked her in the past and that Chen Yuan had also repeatedly schemed to give her away. Even so, she was only angry at the time, never feeling any strong hatred.

But now, to come home to this after having just received an invitation to hell only proved to her that she had wholly offended Chen Yuan’s family, and there was no possibility for further harmony or compromises.

As far as Chen Rong was concerned, that invitation must have been forged by someone in Chen Yuan’s household. Why else did Lady Ruan and Lady Li send people to inquire after her whereabouts as soon as she left for her appointment? Moreover, she had only ever offended this family.

Ruthlessness glinted in her eyes as they narrowed at this thought.

Then, she thought of Chen Yuan and Chen Sanlang’s abnormal behaviors.

But that was of little concern. Whatever act they may be putting on, she expected them to show their hands to her in a few days.

The night went on in her tossing and turning.

The next day was bright and sunny again. As she looked at the sky outside, like the people on the streets of Nan’yang, Chen Rong grew nervous about the Hu’s impending attack.

She had asked Old Shang to find out about Wang Hong and his clan’s development. After much inquiry, however, there was still no news to relay.

After breakfast, while looking at the gradually rising sun, Chen Rong who was finally in better spirit after having had some sleep called Nurse Ping over to help her get ready for an outing.

Just then, footsteps sounded.

“The master has asked for Ah Rong,” a maid announced.

Chen Yuan?

Chen Rong stood up and drew her lips into a cold smile, thinking to herself: Showing your hands so soon already?

She replied, got dressed, and then followed the maid to Chen Yuan’s courtyard.

After they entered the courtyard, she saw that both the servants and nobles alike were all hanging their heads in apprehension.

The girl walking in front of her was one she hadn’t seen before. She was also keeping her head down and just quietly leading the way.

When Chen Rong arrived at Chen Yuan’s yard, a tall and beautiful maid was waiting for her at the steps. Upon seeing Ah Rong, she dropped into a curtsy and said, “The master is inside.”

Chen Rong hummed an acknowledgement and went in.

Only two people sat in the spacious hall. The host was no other than Chen Yuan; below him was Chen Sanlang.


Upon Chen Rong’s arrival, Chen Yuan put his wine down and gave her a good look. Then he sighed and smiled at her. “You seem to have recovered your spirit after a good rest, Ah Rong.”

Chen Rong dutifully went to her uncle, curtsied, and replied, “I didn’t mean to be a cause of concern, uncle. I rested very well last night.”

Chen Yuan nodded, pointed to the seat on his right and kindly said, “Ah Rong, sit down.”

“Thank you.”

Silence pursued after she took her seat. If they wouldn’t speak, then neither would she.

At length, Chen Sanlang’s voice broke the silence. He looked at Chen Rong and lamented: “I’m sorry for being late and causing you to be frightened for days.” He looked at her guiltily. “Ah Rong, do you resent me for it?”

Chen Rong quickly shook her head. “How could I?”

She quietly hung her head in again.

Chen Yuan cleared his throat, stroked his long beard and said, “Your aunts only gave you troubles because they had listened to that wench’s provocation.” He then ordered, “This matter is over now. Don’t bear a grudge, Ah Rong.”

Chen Rong hurriedly stood up and placed her palms together: “Aye, I wouldn’t dare.”

Chen Yuan nodded and then motioned for her to sit down.

Again, he cleared his throat and said to her, “Ah Rong, General Ran seems to have a good impression of you?”

Ran Min?

Chen Rong looked up.

Her uncle was stroking his beard, appearing to be pondering his words.

Soon, he coughed yet again and looked at Chen Rong who had lowered her head back down, before finally winking at Chen Sanlang.

Chen Sanlang caught on and turned to Chen Rong to lament. “Ah Rong, did you know that the clan is in trouble?”

Chen Rong rounded her eyes at Chen Sanlang and anxiously asked, “Has something happened?”

Seeing that she was concerned about the clan, Chen Sanlang began to smile before quickly putting on a frown. “Aye, something terrible has happened,” he woefully replied.

He stood up and paced the room while saying to his cousin: “I don’t expect a young lady like you would know this. Life has been difficult this year. With so many of us arriving in Nan’yang, even the cost of feeding the horses amounts to the cost of feeding a few hundred refugees, let alone the cost of room and board.”

At this juncture, he looked toward Chen Rong’s bewildered face and chuckled. “I’ve forgotten that Ah Rong is just a young lady. You only need to enjoy the clan’s finance while thinking about your fashionable clothing and sumptuous meals. How would you know any of this?”

Chen Rong maintained her bewildered look, but she was inwardly sneering: You sound as if I’ve received so much help from you people. I pay for all of the expenses in my courtyard, why wouldn’t I be aware of this?

“Ah Rong, you know the Hu will lay siege to the city,” Chen Sanlang added after a brief pause. “If we are fortunate, we might endure for six months and drive them back. But if we are unfortunate, we might be under attack for a year or two only to lose in the end. I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Chen Rong softly hummed to show she was listening.

“Ah Rong,” Chen Sanlang murmured after a sigh, “you didn’t know this, but not too long ago, the clan had spent a large sum of money to acquire some food supply. Unluckily, news arrived a few days ago that our cavalcade had been robbed by the Hu when we were passing by Ximing.”

Chen Rong was surprised to hear this. The Hu had robbed their food cargoes? But what was the use of telling a girl like her?

Chen Sanlang obviously knew what she was wondering. After looking to Chen Yuan, he briefly deliberated and continued with the story: “Our people happen to know that General Ran is also nearby. With his valiance, it would be child’s play to seize the grains back.”

He paused, struggling to say these next words: “But when we looked for General Ran, we were prevented from seeing even his shadow. It was like that every time we tried… Ah Rong, I heard that General Ran is very good to you. It seems only you can shoulder this task.”

These words were indeed difficult to say. She, an unwed girl, was actually being asked to travel such distance to see a man!

Chen Rong inwardly sneered having understood the whole story now. She slowly looked up at Chen Sanlang, blinked, and ventured: “But Ah Wei is also acquainted with General Ran, why doesn’t the clan send her?” She paused and then dipped into a whisper: “And you would’ve helped a good match.”

She had barely finished when Chen Sanlang blurted, “If she was useful, we wouldn’t need to look for you.”

Chen Yuan gave him a warning glare.

Knowing he had slipped, Chen Sanlang immediately put on a harmless smile. He went to Chen Rong, sighed and said, “Ah Rong, I know asking you to do this is disadvantageous to your reputation. But this is an exceptional time, the Hu will attack Nan’yang before we know it. If we were to have a food shortage, the first to starve would be you girls.”

He paused, and then seemingly said in passing: “I heard there had been cities where even women and children were killed for food due to famine…”

His voice was low and unintentional, but it was just enough for Chen Rong to hear.

At this time, Chen Yuan impatiently said to Chen Sanlang, “Enough already.” He then turned to Chen Rong and cut to the chase: “Ah Rong, go and make preparations. It’s best to leave this evening.”

He was so resolute that he gave her almost no room to refuse.

Based on the fury he had directed at Lady Li and Lady Ruan, she could see how important this matter was to him.

She had known they wouldn’t let her refuse.

For that reason, she said nothing more and just stood up to give them a curtsy and head out.

“Where are you staring off to? Go and make arrangements for Ah Rong’s escorts!” Chen Yuan snapped at Chen Sanlang who was still staring after Chen Rong’s departing figure.

“Aye, father.”

Chen Rong returned home. After telling her servants what had happened, she turned and went into her room.

Behind her, Nurse Ping was struggling to contain herself. “That means the clan has relented! They must have decided to give you to General Ran. Isn’t this wonderful? This is so wonderful!”

She wasn’t alone in her celebration. Even Old Shang and the other servants lit up at their young mistress.

It was only a few days ago that Chen Rong had spent a night outside the city and come back at dawn with the escort of the Wang House of Lang’ya. They didn’t say how they had met her or did they offer to explain that Ah Rong of the Chen House was still chaste.

Because they had said nothing, people had had to guess. Talks shuttled across the estate. Some said Ah Rong had encountered the refugees and gotten raped, meeting the Wang House and receiving their help by chance. Others said she was meeting her lover and was already carrying his child.

The stories were endless.

Listening to such stories, her servants had felt that their mistress had better to ask Wang Qilang to accept her as a concubine. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that the clan would relent and that General Ran might ask to marry her. They only hoped that before these rumors could reach Ran Min’s ears, Chen Rong’s fate would be sealed with marriage.

As she packed, Chen Rong looked at Nurse Ping bursting with joy beside her. She dropped her gaze with a pensive expression.

She had barely finished packing by the time Chen Sanlang came to find her.

He brought her to the square where fifty to sixty guards stood waiting alongside several carriages. Chen Sanlang waved the tallest guard over, pointed at Chen Rong and ordered: “Li Cheng, remember well. No matter what happens, you must protect your mistress. Come back if she is safe, but there’s no need to return to Nan’yang should anything happen to her.”

“Aye,” the man named Li Cheng solemnly replied.

He turned his head toward the troop and shouted: “Brothers, do you hear what the master said?”

“Aye!”

Chen Sanlang nodded.

He turned around to look at Chen Rong.

“Ah Rong, these people will be at your beck and call. They are all extraordinarily skilled. Rest assured, they will bring you safely to General Ran.”

Chen Rong dutifully curtsied to him. “Aye, third brother.”

Chen Sanlang sighed and added, “I had wanted to send you off, but I’m swamped with work and cannot extract myself.”

You mean you know the journey isn’t safe and you’re afraid of misadventure? Chen Rong smirked but kept saying: “Don’t worry about it, third brother.”

After Chen Sanlang said a few more words, he looked at Chen Rong, gave some thought, leaned in and said, “Ah Rong, if General Ran still wants you, you ought to accept. I’ll explain to the clan.”

Chen Rong looked up at him in surprise. “What about Ah Wei?”

Chen Sanlang furrowed his brow, waved dismissively and said, “Ah Wei is a lady, but so are you. You don’t have to yield to her when it comes to marriage.” Despite saying this, his eyes could not hide contempt when he looked at her. Does she really think General Ran would want to marry her? He’ll take her as a bed maid at most. (1)

房中人 This is not a concubine. This is a maid whose duty also includes sleeping with her master.
Chen Rong lowered her eyes and, shortly after, gave him a curtsy.

Chen Sanlang said another thing or two, waved his right hand and ordered, “Go and Godspeed to your return.”

“Aye.”

The cavalcade set off.

Chen Rong brought Nurse Ping to sit with her. As she lifted her curtain, she saw Chen Wei standing under a willow tree and dazedly staring after her. Her face was now skin and bones, her eyes welling with tears.

When she met Chen Rong’s eyes, Chen Wei bit her lips and made little effort to conceal her hatred.

Chen Rong withdrew her gaze and drew the curtain down.

The city of Nan’yang remained shrouded under a morbid atmosphere. Because of what had happened with the Wang House of Lang’ya, travelers were now only allowed in but not out.

Nevertheless, when Chen Rong’s cavalcade left the city, she saw Li Cheng holding something up while saying: “We’re on His Highness’s official business.” The polearms withdrew and gave way to them.

Chen Rong stopped looking and secretly sneered: No wonder Chen Yuan was in such a panic. The Prince of Nan’yang also has a share in that shipment.

Her carriage drove out of the city.

Seeing Chen Rong looking around, Li Cheng rode to her and respectfully said, “Don’t worry, miss, we’re taking a smaller road this time and won’t be running into any refugees. We may not even run into any barbarians if we are careful.”

Chen Rong nodded, then bowed from her seat and softly said, “Sir, our safety hinges on you, please act with prudence.”

Li Cheng scratched his head and boyishly grinned at the flattery, saying: “Don’t worry miss, I would be careful even for myself.”

He turned his head shouting: “Faster.”

The cavalcade turned onto a smaller road after thirty miles outside of Nan’yang just like Li Cheng had said. The rugged road was difficult to navigate, and was muted in desolation. The day went by with only the sound of rolling wheels and the guards’ chatter and laughs.

This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com

In the blink of an eye, three days had passed.

Throughout this time, their team traveled during the day and camped at night. Because it was winter, there were few wild animals around, and their journey was surprisingly smooth.

By noon, the cavalcade rerouted back onto the paved road.

Li Cheng rode to Chen Rong’s carriage and said while looking ahead: “I had thought it would take five more days. But it looks like we’ll arrive in Ximing tomorrow morning.”

Chen Rong lifted her curtain to look to the barrenness ahead. “Is General Ran in Ximing? Then he must be nearby?”

Li Cheng hummed his reply.

He turned to look at Chen Rong’s vague features behind her veil, praising her: “Miss, what a fine example you make. You do not say a word even though it must be hard on you.” He paused and then murmured, “Other masters and mistresses are even fussy about their meals. They make it tiring and time consuming for all of us.”

Chen Rong smiled without answering.

They rushed away at full speed with the reminder that Ximing was just ahead, and especially when they began to see refugees and a few Hu from time to time.

In the evening, Chen Rong and everyone else ate some dry food and quickly went on.

A full moon hung in the clear sky tonight.

After consulting with Chen Rong, Li Cheng decided to continue through the night and stop to camp only after they arrived in Ximing. After his order was passed down, the guards lit torches and urged their horses ahead.

Li Cheng was apparently knowledgeable in militarism. He ordered each guard to hold two torches and tie ten more to each carriage. All of a sudden, a few dozen people had turned into a few hundred. They rushed through the night, their rumbling hooves no longer cautious.

Two hours later at midnight, Ximing’s tall city walls appeared before their eyes.

The guards erupted into cheers, their hollers carried to the distance by the wind.

Li Cheng likewise smiled at the sight of the city. He waved his right hand, shouting: “Set camp.”

“Aye.”

They were used to pitching tents, having spent most of their time in the wilderness. Everything was in order in less than a quarter of an hour. Chen Rong and Nurse Ping’s tent was placed in the center.

After her tent was set, Chen Rong bent down to go inside. She watched Nurse Ping occupying herself with lighting the incense and making her bed. Then, looking at the moonlight spilling into the tent entrance, she whispered, “Nurse.”

“Aye, miss?”

Nurse Ping turned to look at Chen Rong when she didn’t hear an answer.

“Miss, what is it?” she called again at the sight of a pensive Chen Rong.

“Tell me, nurse, if General Ran still wants to marry me, should I accept his offer?”

This was the first time she volunteered to talk to Nurse Ping about this.

Overjoyed, Nurse Ping threw her work aside, ran to her and happily said, “Of course you should, of course you should.”

“Really?”

“Of course. Heaven will spite you if you keep rejecting such a good thing!”

Chen Rong slowly turned to look at the doorway that was dusted over by a silvery light. She didn’t move for a very long time. Just as Nurse Ping was running out of patience and wanting to speak, she heard Chen Rong hoarsely say: “Whenever I think of him now, there is neither hate nor resentment. Sometimes when I try to recall him, even his face has become blurry… Which is great, because I have finally let it go… But him, he’s so noble and extraordinary that even a princess isn’t good enough for him. When will it ever be my turn? I know myself, once I recognize my feelings, I won’t tolerate a grain of sand in my eyes. I won’t be satisfied as his honored concubine let alone an ordinary concubine. If I see him with his wife, I will be driven mad with jealousy… Nurse, since I’ve forgotten my hatred for him, does that mean I can marry him? Is this unhappy ending the only way can I get the peace I want?”

At this juncture, Chen Rong slowly turned around to look at her nurse.

Nurse Ping was blinking her small eyes in puzzlement.

“What are you talking about, miss? You keep saying ‘he’ this and ‘he’ that. I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

The nurse looked up at her mistress, coaxing her: “Why don’t you tell me again?”

“Never mind if you can’t understand,” said Chen Rong, dismissively.

She turned away staring at the silvery light on the ground.

Nurse Ping watched the contemplative Chen Rong and thought that she couldn’t look lonelier. It was an eternal loneliness that would last a lifetime and into eternity, the loneliness of someone who could only confide in herself be it joy or heartache.

Nurse Ping hurt for her. She hastened to put on a smile and almost spoke if not for a series of hooves arriving outside.

They came with a dreadful rumble and eerie air.

Laughter halted to the sound of the fast approaching gallops. At once, Li Cheng shouted: “Take arms and mount your horses.”

“Aye, aye.” Nervous answers and neighing simultaneously returned.

Chen Rong got up and went out to see that all the guards had finished tidying up, now riding into their ranks.

At the same time, a dozen knights had come to within 200 paces of them, lurking in the darkness ahead.
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