At this moment, Second Master had yet to wash up or change his clothes, and now he was being forced to secretly relieve himself in the forest, then he would have to ride his horse back to his residence in this very state of disorderly undress. Along the way, the more he thought about it the more pissed off he felt, if he were to go see her again, then he was no Master Long Er!
How could he have thought that that woman had feelings for him, that woman only cared about finding ways to drive him up the wall. Hmph, just let her wait and see, once she crossed the threshold into his Long Family’s household, well, he would open her eyes to the true meaning of the formidable renown of the concept of the husband as the center of the household.
T/N: "the formidable renown of the concept of the husband as the center of the household"This phrase means Fu Tsuna Megatron. I’m kidding. The phrase seems to be a joining of two well known Chengyu (four-character-idiomatic expressions), these are 一振夫纲 (Yī zhèn fū gāng) or 重振夫纲 (Chóng zhèn fū gāng) and 威震天下 (Wēi zhèn tiānxià). If analysed as separate characters, Fūgāng would refer to the Fū (husband/man) having the ability of gāng (decide the fate of his wives/concubines). The character 纲 in ancient times was used to mean 支配(to have dominance/power over), but in certain historical texts gāng would be used to mean “standards/ideals” [(夫为妻纲 - Fū wèi qī gāng) This phrase means that the husband serves as the standard/ideal for the wife, in other words, that the wife has to follow and administer to the husband in all things]. So generally, the Chengyu used would be 一振夫纲 (Yī zhèn fū gāng) or 重振夫纲 (Chóng zhèn fū gāng) which actually refer to the ‘re-establishment of the principles of the husband as center of the ‘universe’ so to speak, this is because before such ‘learned principles were introduced, society was actually more matriarchal and supposedly it was a 妻纲world (where the wife/concubines held power). This is one of the things touched on by Confucious (on the type of relationship that wives and husbands ought to have). 威震天下 (Wēi zhèn tiānxià) is more straightforward, it just means that one has formidable renown and authority over the all the lands/inspire awe throughout the country. (夫纲威震 - Fūgāng wēizhèn)
However, the undertaking of formidably re-establishing the authority and importance of the position as husband, first and foremostly required an individual to have a husband before anything could be done… And in order to become a husband to someone, said individual would have to complete the marriage rituals of the three formal bows in the marriage hall before they qualified as husband.
Thus, all Master Long Er possessed was a heart that solely yearned to strut in front of and assert dominance over his own wifey, but sadly he had neither position, relations nor standing to do so. He tried to comfort himself by saying that it was no rush, that this little wife of his was definitely crossing into the threshold of his family, and that all he needed was patience, because everything would be fine as long as he waited. All he had to do was patiently wait for that special day to come, then he would make his formal bows as the bridegroom.
Alas, poor Long Er never expected that this world would be so full of accidents and incidents.
And the day of the incident just so happened to be the day that customs required Ju Mu’er to visit the Fuling Temple to seek blessings. According to the customs of the Xiao Nation, before the official marriage both the bride’s and bridegroom’s families would have to bring their respective Eight Characters of Birth, and seek blessing before the Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), this was to ensure that their life after marriage would be peaceful and enjoyable, that they would welcome new family members (children) and new happiness, accompanying each other to the end of their days.
According to the custom, both sides were discouraged from meeting on this day, and they had to proceed with the visits on their own. This was the reason why on the day Ju Mu’er went to seek blessings, Long Er could not tag along, and only Old Father Ju and Su Qing accompanied her there, while two of the Long Family’s bodyguards stood watch from a distance.
Once Ju Mu’er finished paying her respects to Guan Yin and had completed the necessary custom, Old Father Ju suddenly mentioned that he wanted to buy incense for Mu’er’s mother, so that she could spend her days down there in comfort, so he asked Mu’er to wait for him outside.
The incense-burning at Fuling Temple had recently become one of the Capital’s most vigorous, and coupled with the fact that it was merely days away from the new year, a great many people had flocked to the temple to pray. The interior of the temple was packed with crowds, and with a thick saturation of incense in the air, as the people moved to and fro, it was impossible to completely avoid any form of accidental jostling. Due to her blindness, Ju Mu’er found it hard to move about with ease, so she mentioned that she would return to their carriage and wait there. Old Father Ju agreed to this arrangement, and Su Qing helped Ju Mu’er slowly make her way towards the carriage waiting outside.
As a result of the great number of people visiting the temple to offer incense, they had stopped their carriage quite a distance away. Ju Mu’er and Su Qing both had to walk for quite some time before they even caught sight of the carriage’s shadow. And after walking for so long, the smell of incense in the air had finally thinned out, and could not be sensed anymore, allowing Ju Mu’er to finally take in a breath of clean air. Su Qing pointed towards the forest by the side of the road and said, “Elder Sister, let’s go over to the trees to take a brief respite and catch our breath.”
Ju Mu’er agreed and the two of them began to move towards the forest. Su Qing saw a rock that was quite squarish in shape and flat, so she hurriedly ran over, took out a handkerchief and placed it on top of the rock. Just as she was about to say, “Have a seat Elder Sister”, the moment she turned her head she suddenly saw a few big sturdy men rush Ju Mu’er from behind. Their actions seemed fierce and hasty, just one look and one could tell they didn’t mean her good.
Su Qing let out a great shout of “Elder Sister”, then rushed to where Ju Mu’er was. As soon as Ju Mu’er heard her shout, Mu’er knew that something had happened, but before she could even react to it, the sturdy men were already near her. Their leader easily caught hold of Ju Mu’er, and with a hearty laugh he exclaimed, “Quick, take a look at this Eldest Young Miss, she’s caught my eye. Just in time for the new year, I ought to bring a wife home to warm my bed.”
The civilians nearby were so shocked that they scrambled to distance themselves from those people, and those female visitors that had young ladies with them speedily ran away. The few brutes burst out laughing, and they began to push and shove at Ju Mu’er, getting handsy with her. This greatly shocked Ju Mu’er, her face was already pale as a sheet, and her body had already become frozen stiff.
Su Qing had already come to a stop quite near her, but with a turn of her feet, she began to run in a different direction, towards the crowd, and shouted loudly as she ran, “Big Brother Chen, help! Anyone there, please help!”
As she shouted, a carriage sped towards them, but it turned out to be headed for those brutes.
The men manhandled Ju Mu’er onto the carriage, even as she was struggling incessantly and screaming for her life. Just then, Bodyguard Chen made it to them, he leapt into the air, unsheathed his sword and aimed directly at the leader thug who had Ju Mu’er in his grasp.
The men acted in unison to this, three of the group turned around and took up arms as they countered Bodyguard Chen’s attack. By now the other Long Family Bodyguard had also arrived at the scene, and he seemed to move straight to sever the taut connecting ropes between horse and carriage, but was also stopped by another two thugs.
Su Qing let out a shrill scream and rushed towards Ju Mu’er. Ju Mu’er heard the sound of it and in her panic tried to say, “Qing’er, quickly get away, don’t come over her, quick, run away!”
Alas, before she could finish shouting this, she had been thrown into the carriage by the head thug. Ju Mu’er’s head hit the floor of the carriage, and her bamboo staff accidentally slammed into her chin. She could not see anything, and all she heard was a chaos all around her, so she did not dare to randomly move, instead she chose to tightly clasp onto her bamboo staff. Then, she heard the sound of Su Qing screaming “Let me go!”, and more accompanying shrieks, as well as the continued sounds of combat.
One of the brutes shouted, “This little lass seems to have taken a liking to us huh, we might as well take her too, an extra one is no bad thing.” Ju Mu’er felt scared and somehow knew what was coming, but she truly did not want to believe that things would turn out that way… Unluckily, a person was dropped onto her heavily without warning, serving as proof that her fears had become reality.
Shocked, Ju Mu’er cried out, “Qing’er?”
Su Qing immediately wrapped her arms tightly around her, “Elder Sister.”
“I asked you to run, to run away, didn’t you hear?” Ju Mu’er felt a sense of dread, panic and urgency, she could not do anything at all, her blind eyes were nothing but a burden.
The carriage they were lying on began to move, and Ju Mu’er could hear the large shouts of Bodyguard Chen, as well as the mocking laughter of the other men. Su Qing’s voice trembled as she said, “Big-Big, Big Brother Chen just fell down.”
He had fallen down? Instantly all the blood in Ju Mu’er’s body turned cold with the new realisation.
The carriage sped faster and faster, and quickly the thug leader jumped onto the carriage, and slammed the door shut. The other brutes got onto their steeds, and flanked the carriage as they retreated together.
Under the plain sight of everyone there, they just captured their target and left without a second glance.
The blind girl Ju Mu’er was in danger again!
Master Long Er’s bride-to-be had been abducted right outside Fuling Temple!
It was just before the New Year, and these mountain bandits had come out to kidnap someone!
Piece after piece of information entered the city from outside at a blinding rate.
Long Er hastily returned to the Long Residence, the two bodyguards that he had assigned to the Ju Family were bathed in blood, and currently undergoing emergency treatment. As for Old Father Ju, snot and tears were falling freely, his hands and legs were trembling and he seemed to have lost the ability to speak clearly.
When he saw Long Er return, he immediately leapt in his direction, tightly clasping Long Er’s hands to her, but his lips quivered in vain and no words fell from his mouth. Long Er had already heard the gist of what had happened on his return journey, and truly did not have the mood nor methods to pacify the old man right now. Instead, he pushed Old Father Ju down into a chair, and told him, “Just sit down here, I’ll deal with this.”
Old Father Ju’s face was smeared with tears and repeatedly nodded his head in acquiescence to Long Er’s suggestion.
As soon as the two bodyguards had been sent back, Steward Tie had hastened to find out what had happened, and when Long Er returned, the steward stepped forward to share all the details he had found. Long Er’s face was stony, first he stopped to check on the condition of the bodyguards injuries, then he turned to ask Li Ke, “Is everyone here?”
“They’re all here, 8 have been sent out to scout and gather some information, as for the rest, they’re waiting for Second Master’s instructions.”
Long Er nodded his head, then turned to Steward Tie, “Go stop by the magistrate’s office, we need to report this, and also, try and find out if there have been any developments amongst mountain bandits and the like. Have them record everything they can find related to those cases and report it back to me. Another thing, get the magistrate’s office to send out some men, and sweep the areas where bandits have been known to be active.”
Steward Tie quickly acquiesced to everything that was commanded of him. Then, Long Er asked, “Has Third Brother come back yet?”
“He’s returned.” The one who replied this time was Feng Wu, “My husband heard about this, and he’s gone out to see friends about possible leads.”
Long Er nodded his head again, as he walked outside he gave Li Ke some more directions, “Have two teams wait here, and have the rest retreat, send out some to keep watch over the Ding Residence and the Yun Residence, we must find Mu’er by today.”
Li Ke affirmed his directions, and the entire room of people began to set about their respective responsibilities. As for Long Er, without a backwards glance, he walked straight out, rode his horse and set out for the Fuling Temple.
By now, the exterior of the Fuling Temple was almost a deathly silence, everyone had been worried about ending up as victims of abduction themselves, and had quickly decided to head home. When Long Er reached there, he instantly noticed the bloodstains on the floor. In his heart he knew that he had already reached the location of where Bodyguard Chen and the thugs had fought, as well as the place of Ju Mu’er’s abduction.
Long Er got off his horse, and walked around the entire place once. Both of the Long Residence’s informants soon caught sight of their Master, and rushed over to check in. They had received the news earlier and set out to scout whatever information they could, so they passed on what they had found out to Long Er.
According to one of the eye-witnesses of the event, those bandits had appeared from the forest, and they had merely uttered some coarse sentences about getting wives, never really mentioning any names. Nor did they mention any particular details, so it felt like they hadn’t committed those acts with a specific target in mind. After they had taken the girl, a horse and carriage had come to their aid, and they quickly fled the scene. The two informants had followed the tips given by the eye-witness, but had failed to find any usable piece of information.
When Long Er heard this, his face remained stony and he said nothing.
What sort of kicked-in-the-head-by-a-donkey-bandits would use such a brainless method like kidnapping someone from the entrance of the temple? Were they not in the least bit worried that someone would find out?
Although he greatly fancied his Mu’er, objectively speaking, her appearance was but middling, her true merits were only that aura of elegance, and her sharp wit. So many young ladies and wives came to seek blessings and happiness at this Fuling Temple, he could hardly believe that those bandits had only ever had eyes for his Mu’er from the very beginning?
Not to mention the fact that Mu’er would have been holding her bamboo staff, that symbol of her blindness, and it would have been difficult to miss. Truth be told, as Long Er, he had never heard of any situations in which bandits would choose the blind as their targets, how inconvenient would that be!
Furthermore, although the two bodyguards he assigned were not as exceptionally talented martial practitioners like Li Ke, but they had been through rigorous training, and were no weaklings themselves. Yet, these bandits had successfully injured these two bodyguards to such an extent, so it was clear that they were no ordinary bullies. However, individuals with skills like these did not choose to steal valuables or some other young ladies, but they had solely focused on taking away his Mu’er? What did they mean by this?
The more Long Er thought about it, the grimmer his expression became, he instructed the informants to continue investigating, he also mentioned that the other men had already been dispatched, and that they were to continue investigating down this same lead. If they came across anything, then they were to return to the Long Residence and report it.
The informants promptly acknowledged his order. Then, Long Er got on his horse again, and headed straight for the residence of the Ministry of Justice’s Minister Ding Sheng.
Along the way, the biting cold wind buffeted against him, today was turning out to be an exceptionally cold day. Long Er mercilessly forced his steed to gallop faster, but every stroke of the whip seemed to be lashes on his own heart, making him breathless because of the pain.
The thought of Ju Mu’er’s pout whenever she was displeased with him, the unrestrained look of glee whenever she got away with poking fun at him, and also that appearance of hers that was so very clearly arrogant yet she tried to cloak it in docility and meekness… All these scenes flashed across Long Er’s mind.
Long Er’s face was so cold, it felt like ice now, but his heart was the opposite, a raging blue-hot fire. He wanted to inflict tens of thousands of cuts on all the culprits behind her kidnapping, to have them chopped into tiny pieces and fed to the dogs.
Ding Sheng was quite surprised by Long Er’s arrival, but this time, Long Er was in no mood for insincere pleasantries. He got straight to the point, “My bride-to-be was kidnapped outside the Fuling Temple today. I am here to ask Young Lady Ding a few questions.”
Ding Sheng immediately knew that this was no small matter, and he was well aware of his own daughter’s actions a few days ago, when she had slapped Ju Mu’er and even threatened her, so he quickly instructed for someone to go into the rear courtyard to have Ding Yanshan brought here. Then, he called for some tea to be served, and cordially asked Long Er to take a seat. He carefully inquired the details of the event, and promised that he would lend some of his men to join the search.
Just then, Ding Yanshan came out, and when she caught sight of Long Er, there was no sign of her previous excitement or happiness, instead she appeared a bit restless. She looked at Ding Sheng, then back at Long Er before asking, “What has Second Master come here for?”
Long Er immediately cut straight to the chase and asked, “Mu’er has been kidnapped by some people, is it your doing?”
Ding Yanshan was momentarily fazed by this, and when she finally reacted, her mouth fell open as she exclaimed in surprise, “How could this have been my doing? I don’t know anything about this.”
Ding Sheng quickly recounted the summary of the event, then added, “Since Shan’er has no relation to this event, then it is good that we clear things up now.”
Ding Yanshan loudly said, “Of course it has nothing to do with me, how could I have any dealings with mountain bandits, to say nothing of having them do such an atrocious thing.”
Long Er scoffed, “Young Lady Ding is being too humble, that day you had two streetworms lay their hands on Mu’er, and you even instructed someone to pour a bucket of dirty water on her. A few days ago you even did things yourself, in such a formidable manner, weren’t you the one who personally told her to ‘wait and see’? And yet here you are today, telling me that you have no such capabilities.”
Ding Yanshan was greatly saddened by his sarcastic ridicule, and she instantly shot to her feet with a swoosh. Her face was completely red, and she loudly exclaimed, “Those things were merely tiny evils, but to kidnap someone or kill them, those are things I would never do. I don’t know any mountain bandits or thieves, those streetworms were just servants that I instructed to dress up, I didn’t get anyone to kidnap that wicked wench! If I was so evil and heartless, then why would I bother with kidnapping her, killing her would be so much more straightforward…”
“Shan’er!” Ding Sheng shouted, clamping a hand over her mouth to stop her from saying anymore.
Ding Yanshan hastily closed her mouth, bit into her lip but did not dare to make eye contact with Long Er. Instead she said, “Either way, I dare to vow that I don’t know anything, any sort of binding vow will do. I didn’t do this, I don’t know anything at all.”
Long Er coldly stared directly at her, then after a moment’s pause, he stepped two steps closer to her, and growled out, “You’re the wicked wench!”
Ding Yanshan’s body instinctively trembled, and she turned to look at Long Er. Her eyes were getting red quickly, and her tears were already flowing. Ding Sheng was quite displeased with what Long Er had just said, and was about to call him out for it, but then Long Er added, “And you’d better pray that this incident has absolutely nothing to with any one of the members of the Ding Residence.”
The pure unbridled hatred in his eyes was too much for Ding Yanshan to bear, and she buckled under the pressure, loudly shouting, “You’re just too much!” After she shouted, she reached out for the teacup on the table and threw its contents in Long Er’s direction.
The tea spilt over Long Er’s chest, but he remained unmoving, continuing to coldly stare at her. Then, he lowered his head, took out a handkerchief to wipe away the tea leaves on his robes, and spat out one last sentence before turning to leave.
He had said, “I don’t like just any random young lady who throws tea at me.”
A/N: This chapter has been edited, the later parts have been brought forward.
The next chapter will be today’s new update parts.
End of Chapter