It’s quite a pity that Yi Lian Kai displays his love in the midst of cruel situations that make others (mainly Qin Sang) misunderstand him. And..let’s just be honest. Up to this point, Yi Lian Kai really has no redeeming qualities besides releasing Pan Jian Chi to make the plot thicker. On the other hand, adjutant Song, who has been placed by Yi Lian Kai’s side all this time is seen as a shrewd person who goes with the flow of power, so why has he been set up? Or, is the point of view of Yi Lian Kai’s blind temper just getting in the way of uncovering the truth? As for Mr. Pan, we’ll find out just the beginning of what makes him so special.
By the way, chapters are posted every Wednesday. I will let you know if there are any schedule changes in the future. Please check the Schedule page for future reference. I hope there are no more questions on when we post.
Pls thank 12 bunches for translating this chapter!
Translation Note: Lan Po is Yi Lian Kai’s given name.
She turned around. The servant bringing tea had seen her and hence greeted her. The three men in the hall had also heard it. Yi Lian Kai was already turning around to beckon to her, saying, “Come and meet Young Master Gao and Mr. Pan.”
Qin Sang forced herself to be calm and walked over slowly, saying as she did so, “Young Master Gao brought Mr. Pan over yesterday but you happened to be out.”
“Is that so?” Yi Lian Kai was in a good humour. “The weather’s good today, we should go hunting! Qin Sang will come as well. You have no idea how much effort it took when I first taught this wife of mine how to ride, but she’s quite good now. I taught her to shoot too, just that she misses nine times out of ten.”
Gao Shao Xuan had already been feeling uncomfortable ever since Qin Sang’s entrance and these remarks from Yi Lian Kai reduced him to silence. Qin Sang avoided looking at Pan Jian Chi, merely saying, “Let’s calm down a bit. The forest was originally calm and peaceful but you’re so noisy that not even the chickens and dogs are left undisturbed.”
Yi Lian Kai laughed. “It’s just for fun so why worry?” and shouted for the horses to be saddled. Adjutant Song was most adept at arranging such matters and had everything prepared shortly before coming to report to Yi Lian Kai: “Madam doesn’t have her own horse here. Shall we let her use mine since it’s extremely docile?”
Yi Lian Kai said, “Give me your horse and let her ride mine.”
This point having been settled, Yi Lian Kai urged Qin Sang to change her clothes for hunting. Although feeling unsettled, she was afraid that refusing to go might actually arouse his suspicions and so resigned herself to changing into a hunting habit in the English style. Attendants had already led the horses out and were waiting silently in front of the house. Gao Shao Xuan had never seen her in a hunting habit before. He recalled how she had appeared at their first meeting with her air of simple elegance, then her opulent beauty at their second. Now in this third encounter she looked something like a charming heroine, once more surpassing all his expectations.
Qin Sang was hardly in the mood to enjoy herself however. Not having ridden for a long time, she struggled to find the stirrup and almost lost her balance. Fortunately Yi Lian Kai gave her a hand, saying with a laugh, “This horse is too tall so better be careful on the way back. And no crying if you should fall off.”
Qin Sang forced a smile. Seeing this teasing exchange between husband and wife left a bad taste in Gao Shao Xuan’s mouth so he turned his gaze towards the distant green mountains. Yi Lian Kai was asking, “Can you ride, Mr. Pan?” Qin Sang could not help turning round at this, only to see Pan Jian Chi smile faintly and say, “I’ll give it a try.” However, his movements as he mounted were extremely practised. Although astonished, Qin Sang was afraid lest Yi Lian Kai read something into her reaction so she tried to look indifferent. The four of them rode along the mountain path, guards with hunting gear following behind together with more than ten hunting dogs, barking and growling all the way.
Once they had reached the forest, the guards removed the dogs’ leashes. Like arrows released from a bow, the hounds bounded into the trees, each in search of its quarry. In a short while they had nosed out several wild rabbits of which Yi Lian Kai immediately aimed his gun at, fired and hit two. Several of the dogs raced over, snapping up the bloodied bodies and dropping them in front of his horse before breaking into a furious din of growls and barks. Some guards then cut off chunks of raw beef to feed the dogs. These hounds, half the height of the men and as savage as a pack of wolves, tore at the meat with champing motions. The sight made Gao Shao Xuan queasy and he had to avert his gaze. Yi Lian Kai then addressed him by his courtesy name, asking: “Shao Xuan, why haven’t you shot anything?”
Gao Shao Xuan replied, “I’ve never enjoyed hunting. I’m just accompanying Master for a ride today.” Yi Lian Kai laughed heartily and said, “Like father like son – both of you speak your mind.” Gao Shao Xuan returned smilingly, “Master is also the same.”
They rode for a while more in the forest and shot some wild rabbits and fowl. Yi Lian Kai, impatient for some bigger game, went on first and alone into the deeper part of the forest. Qin Sang, unused to riding, soon fell behind. Gao Shao Xuan had stopped for a drink of water. Only Pan Jian Chi was left riding silently beside her. The guards were not paying them any attention so she seized the chance to ask him in a low voice, “Why don’t you leave?”
Only then did Pan Jian Chi look at her. However, he did not answer, merely bending down to tighten his saddle. By now, Gao Shao Xuan had already caught up with them so Qin Sang had to smile and say to him, “Young Master Gao, you ride well. Did you learn from your father?”
“No, I picked it up from friends when I was abroad.”
As this led Qin Sang to enquire after foreign customs, Gao Shao Xuan found himself in conversation with her, with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he was happy that they could converse freely, on the other there were things he could only keep to himself. Qin Sang too had worries of her own. In the course of conversation, both of them had slackened their pace and allowed the horses to slow to a walk, resulting in their falling behind for a while. At this moment, a disturbance was heard in the thicket ahead. The sharp whinny of a horse, raised voices, cries of alarm from their companions. It appeared that Yi Lian Kai’s horse had suddenly taken fright – he was pulling hard on the reins but the horse was rearing up in agitation, threatening to unseat its rider. Even as the stupefied riders watched, the frightened horse wheeled around and came galloping towards the company.
The horse was a blur as it galloped past several guards, racing towards Gao Shao Xuan and Qin Sang. The suddenness of it all held them both frozen in place. In that very instant, a single rider rushed out from the side, flinging himself at the runaway horse and digging his hands into the bridle. The animal gave a long whinny and reared up, but the rider held on and was almost dragged from his own horse. Now both horses were neighing furiously and rearing up, but the rider only held on grimly to Yi Lian Kai’s bridle. The latter, whose seat was excellent, seized the chance to clamp his legs against his horse’s flanks, with the result that the animal began to jump about frenziedly. The other rider, having been flung off his own horse, still had one foot caught in the stirrup and seemed to be in danger of being torn in half by the two animals pulling counter to each other. There were cries of alarm but he held on and kicked free of the stirrup; then he was hanging almost in mid-air as the runaway horse did its best to toss him loose before galloping them all into a big tree. A respite which Yi Lian Kai seized – pulling hard on the reins whilst the guards swarmed over, some helping with the reins, others grabbing the horse’s legs. At last it was subdued and Yi Lian Kai could dismount to a stunned audience. Adjutant Song kept enquiring if he was hurt to which Yi Lian Kai shook his head; turning around he espied Pan Jian Chi still gripping the horse’s bridle and called out, “Do let go of the horse, Mr. Pan.”
For it was Pan Jian Chi who had rushed out earlier to stop the horse. His hands had been scraped raw by the bridle and when he finally loosened his grip, blood streamed freely down his wrists, making for a ghastly sight. Being flung against the tree had also given him gashes on his face. Several guards hurriedly led the horse aside whilst Adjutant Song ordered others to tend to Pan Jian Chi’s wounds. Gao Shao Xuan had already dismounted and unhesitatingly placed a hand on Qin Sang’s bridle as if he feared that her horse too would suddenly go into a frenzy. Yi Lian Kai turned round and saw her, face ashen, sitting mutely in the saddle with one hand pressed to her chest like a badly frightened child. Pity stirred his protective instincts and so he strode over and reached up to carry her down.
As a rule, Qin Sang would have disdained any such intimate gesture made so publicly but just then she was too shocked to make any demur at his gently lifting her down. She stood pale and silent by his side, as though still trying to recover from the shock. He could feel her trembling slightly and couldn’t help asking, “Scared?”
Qin Sang had almost started to nod her head, before she changed it to a light shake. The frightened horse was still being held down by the other guards. It was whinnying its distress and kicking out wildly, as if struggling to get to its feet. Adjutant Song cursed and said, “Damn you, you ought to be shot!” He then pulled out his gun and pointed it at the horse.
He had just cocked the gun when Yi Lian Kai grabbed the gun barrel, forced it upwards and with a resounding “bang”, the gun discharged into the sky. Adjutant Song stared blankly at him for a moment before uttering, “Master.”
Yi Lian Kai kept his grip on the gun. In a calm voice, he issued an order, “Remove the saddle.”
The guards hastened to obey and without bothering to undo the reins, cut away the entire saddle. Yi Lian Kai had not moved from where he stood. He cast an eye over the saddle then walked up to turn it over with with the toe of his boot, studying it further. Suddenly he said flatly, “Cut the lining open.”
The guards promptly laid the saddle flat and carefully cut the bottom layer open, exposing the interior. There was a collective gasp at the glinting sight of numerous fine needles. Each as thin as a cow’s hair, these long needles had been hidden inside the saddle. Along the way, they had eventually pierced the saddle and been driven deeply into the horse’s back. Little wonder the animal had suddenly gone mad from such a cause.
Adjutant Song stood dumb and staring. Yi Lian Kai bent down to inspect the horse. Its entire back was studded with pinpricks of blood from the needles. He took his time. Finally he straightened up and turning to Adjutant Song, asked, “What do you have to say for yourself?”
The question, a bolt from the blue, drove Adjutant Song to his knees stammering in fear: “Master… I… I… I didn’t know… I really didn’t know…”
“Your horse, your saddle.” Yi Lian Kai was now holding his whip and lightly slapping it against the spurs of his boots. “How do you explain it?”
Adjutant Song was on the verge of tears. “Master… I really don’t know…”
“You’ve been with me for some time and I’ve always treated you well. Why did you do such a thing?”
Adjutant Song could only repeat himself fearfully, “Master, I truly didn’t know!”
Yi Lian Kai gave a little laugh then said, “Since you don’t know anything, why keep you around?” He then added carelessly, “Guards!”
Two guards stepped forward. Yi Lian Kai pointed to Adjutant Song and said, “Tie him to the back of the car and cut him loose only when he’s dead!”
Gao Shao Xuan and Qin Sang had seemingly cried out at the same time. Qin Sang’s voice especially seemed to have lost its usual soft melodiousness. Gao Shao Xuan glanced at her. She was extremely pale but her voice was calm as she said, “Lan Po, would you listen to me, please? Human life is beyond value so how can you simply condemn him without first investigating the matter?”
Yi Lian Kai looked coldly at her. “Spoken like a woman!”
“Lan Po!” Qin Sang saw the guards move forward and her expression changed, “You’re just abusing your power!”
Yi Lian Kai sneered, “So what if I am? Which of the precepts* says you have the right to interfere?”
TL: *He’s referring to the work ‘Admonitions for Women’ by Ban Zhao which served as a guide to behaviour for women.
Qin Sang was very angry herself but knew full well that once Yi Lian Kai was in a temper, she was powerless to stop him. Instead she looked almost pleadingly at Gao Shao Xuan. He had been longing to speak out against Yi Lian Kai’s treatment of his adjutant, even if it was an internal matter for the Yi family and not for an outsider like himself to interfere. Upon catching Qin Sang’s look, he understood her meaning. In the heat of the moment, he forgot his caution and stepped forward to say, “Master, this man may be vile, but please take into account his years of service and investigate thoroughly before you decide on his punishment.”
As arrogant as Yi Lian Kai was, he couldn’t blatantly disregard Gao Shao Xuan so he gave a little smile and said, “You have a point.” Then his expression hardened and he said, “Do I have to repeat myself?”
The guards didn’t dare to contradict him and hastily brought some rope. Although Adjutant Song kept crying out that he was innocent, they ignored him and stuffed his mouth with a thick wad of hemp leaves before tying him up tightly.
Yi Lian Kai was no longer in the mood for hunting. “Have the cars brought round here to pick us up.”
Translated and edited by 12