Sunday, September 30, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 20.3 - The Inn By The Cliff

The guest rooms were very simple, with the exception of a wooden bed, a table, four chairs, tea pots and cups, there were no other decorations. Murong Yun Shu tightened her lips and frowned. If they didn't run into the bandits, they would be in their vacation home in Qing Yuan. She opened the window, what she saw was thick smoke blocking her view. She was startled, she looked around and realized that this inn was built on the edge of a cliff. In addition, the room that she was in was on the cliff side.

Luckily Lu'er got the room across from her, otherwise she'd be screaming right about now. Just when she was feeling lucky about that, she heard a loud shriek coming from next door. What's more odd was it ended abruptly midway; peace was restored, like nothing had happened at all.

"Feng Ling disappeared!" Nie Qing busted through the door, there was worry in his usually cold eyes.

Lu'er rushed over as well, "Miss, I just went downstairs to order dinner. When I returned, our luggage was gone!"

The look on Murong Yun Shu's frown deepened, as if talking to herself, "Back in the days, I fasted for three days after seeing just one snake, how do you still have appetite...."

Lu'er was shocked beyond words, she patiently emphasized her point, "Miss, our luggage disappeared."

"It's just luggage, they don't worth much. As for money, we can withdraw some from the bank when we arrive at the next town."

What Lu'er really wanted to say was that there were several thousands of taels in their luggage, but she didn't think miss will think that's a big deal, so she gave up.

"Feng Ling disappeared," Nie Qing emphasized his point again. Although he was quite curious about how the snakes appeared and disappeared so suddenly, and wholeheartedly agreed with her about the fasting part, but, that's not the important point right now.

Murong Yun Shu glanced over at him, "And?"

Nie Qing was taken aback, "And we go look for her!"

"You want me to go with you?

Nie Qing frowned, "What are you trying to say?" Did she really need to be so cryptic in everything that she said?

Murong Yun Shu looked at him again, then, in a very merciful way, as though she was helping out the poor or someone who had fallen to bad luck, she said to him, "You want me to accompany you, you will have to follow my lead."

Nie Qing realized now that Murong Yun Shu was a very controlling person, whether it's regarding the "silver dollars" or when it came to matters with Feng Ling. But he's a macho man, why did he have to follow her lead? Sure, she ranked higher than him when it comes to official title, but this was a private and not official matter.

Lu'er could tell that Nie Qing wasn't going to buck, so she quickly moved to his side and whispered tohi, "Master Nie, the Murong family has always been very hierarchical. One person is the leader, the rest just follow orders; that's why all members of the Murong family are very self-centered, specially a single child like miss. She had always been more of a stubborn dictator than her dad ever since she was a child..." She paused and took a secret side glance at Murong Yun Shu and found no signs of displeasure. Feeling encouraged, she continued, "If you want her to accompany you, you have no choice but to follow her head. Besides, from my personal experience, it's always a good idea to listen to her."

After listening to Lu'er, Nie Qing suddenly remembered Murong Yun Shu's "it's my way or the highway1" when they were negotiating about the bank warehouse, leaving him with no choice at all. Back then, he was under order by the emperor and had no choice but work cooperate with her. But now, he had the option to go solo, but he found himself reluctantly decided to follow her lead. It was as though there was a voice inside of himself telling him that, "Whenever she's around, things just became easier."

Nie Qing struggled long and hard over it before he gave in, "Okay, what's the plan?"

"We sit tight," said Murong Yun Shu as she closed the windows. Her motion was relaxed and her demeanor indifferent. Nie Qing was completed baffled, wasn't sitting tight the same as no plans? Did he just misplace his trust..... while he was doubting his own decision, Lu'er whispered to him again, "Don't worry, look at how calm miss is. She's already got plans."

Nie Qing snickered, what he really wanted to say was, your miss acted indifferently all the time, who could tell whether she was pretending to be profound or truly a strategist? But he finally decided against it.

Next scheduled update: Tuesday, Oct 2 - Ch 21.1 - Debt and Injustice.

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ch 22.1 - Secret of the Earrings
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 20.2 - The Inn By The Cliff

Earlier evening, two horse-drawn carriage arrived at an inn off the side of an official road. One was posh and luxurious, the other one old and shabby. They were quite the contrast of each other.

"Patrons, c'mon inside. Dinner or staying overnight?"

As soon as Murong Yun Shu stepped out of the carriage, the server of the inn greeted her obsequiously. "Overnight, two deluxe suites."

"Four," said Nie Qing coldly, his face still pale, looking feeble.

Murong Yun Shu paused for a bit, then silently walked on. She was about to head upstairs when Nie Qing suddenly asked, "Aren't you going to register?"

"You need four rooms for yourself?" She turned around.

Nie Qing was dumbstruck, when did he say he needed four rooms for himself?

"Since you asked for four rooms for everyone, why do I need to go register?" said Murong Yun Shu  matter-of-factly, then walked on without stopped again.

What kind of logic is that? Nie Qing couldn't figure that out.

Lu'er felt bad for him, so she translated, "Master Nie, what my mistress means is, you are responsible for the bill."

"What the hell?" She was the filthily rich one.....

"You were the one who asked for four rooms!" Lu'er suggested "nobody forced you to do so" with her look.

"She said two herself."

"Right, but I belong to the House of Murong, it was only right that she pays for me. But you and Miss Feng are not, that's why mistress only asked for two rooms."

"..... is it really necessary to be so petty?" Gigolo face turned into Judge Bao face1.

"Of course!" Lu'er nodded, then looked at him curiously, "Master Nie, you don't want to have a complicated relationship with my mistress, do you?"

Nie Qing gave her a cold stare, "I'm not crazy."

Lu'er looked enlightened, "That's true. Mistress's husband is the leader of mojiao. You wouldn't dare."

Nie Qing's eyes flickered and begrudgingly went to registered at the front desk. He thought to himself, there are more and more crazies lately.

At the same time, all the diners at one table put their chopsticks and bowls down at the same time, and quietly grabbed their weapons.

It so happened that Feng Ling caught sight of this, she looked at them suspiciously and thought to herself, "These people looked so familiar....." but she couldn't recall where she had seem them before, so she shook her head and skipped upstairs.


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1. Direct translation of the original term 小白 is "little white face", refers to pretty men that are usually kept by wealthy women. I loosely translated into gigolo. Judge Bao was a history figure in the Sung dynasty that was known for being an extremely fair judge. For unknown reasons, in historical drama he was depicted as an individual with much darker skin and a new moon shape scar on his forehead. There was word play here is also from "white" to "black" instantly. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 20.1 - The Inn By The Cliff

The one who looked to be the leader of the bandit looked over Nie Qing with disdain, then waved at him to make himself scarce, "Your cloths are worse than ours, robbing you will ruin our reputation. Go away and stop meddling, nobody is going to rob you."

Nie Qing seemed offended by the bandit's words, he gave Murong Yun Shu a stern look.

Murong Yun Shu was baffled, wasn't my fault that you dressed dowdily, what you staring at me for?

I wouldn't seem as dowdy if it wasn't for you! Nie Qing gave her another stare in displeasure. Did you really have to adorn your carriage with silver and gold? Even the silk curtain that was more expensive than his entire outfit was fitting with gold trimmings. It was as though she wanted to attract the bandits purposefully!

That was true that Murong Yun Shu was trying to draw out the bandits purposefully, but that was a month ago. She "disguised" her carriage that way for the sole purpose of luring out bandits Feng Ling and her brother at Mount Hua Tuo. Then she figured she had already spent all the money in decorating it, there was no reason for such a luxurious carriage to go to waste, so she rode it all over town flaunting and drawing attention everywhere she went...

Alright, so she was fully responsible for their running into the bandit today.  Murong Yun Shu seemed to mindlessly reached up and touched her aquamarine Chinese zither-shaped earring on her right ear. She felt the stretched strings on the Chinese zither model flickered and lowered her hand. Calmly and with a hint of overbearing attitude of a rich person,Thshe said "Go ahead, name your price."

The bandits thought they had ran into some sort of freak, but a pretty one at that. They took some time to discuss among themselves before the head of the lead bandit raised one hand and said "Five thousand taels."

Before Murong Yun Shu could respond, Feng Ling already exclaimed, "What the hell? Five thousand taels? This is robbery!"

Murong Yun Shu cast her a weak stare, "This is robbery."

Oh oops. Feng Ling stuck her tongue out in embarrassment and quietly moved to the side. It was the fault of Murong Yun Shu's elegant, business-like mannerism, it made her thought they really were in the middle of negotiating a business deal.

"Five thousand taels is a bit much. All you've done was chopped down a true, and paved a portion of a road. Throwing in labor, a hundred at most."

The bandits were shocked beyond words, did she really think this was a business negotiation?

"Yeah! One hundred taels, take it or leave it!" Feng Ling chimed in.

"Oh yeah? Let's see about that! We never claimed we are good guys!" All the bandits draw their weapons and prepared to strike.

Feng Ling immediately jumped and hid behind Murong Yun Shu, shivering she whispered into her ear, "Murong, just give them the five thousand taels. It's not like you don't own a bank."

Murong Yun Shu was irritated, "Hey! I thought you know kung fun, why are you hiding?"

Feng Ling blushed and stammered, "My brother advised me that if there's trouble in the way, I should go around it. My kung fu is only good enough for the like of Nie Qing...."

Nie Qing was just about to defend her "look at her petite size, she can't fight these roughnecks sizes of bear and tigers." But decided against it after hearing her "only good enough for the like of Nie Qing" comment.

Murong Yun Shu rubbed between her brows, she thought Feng Ling, being the only member of jianhu on the team, would be of some help. She didn't expect her to be a half ass. Then again, she should have known better. Judging by how much Feng Ling loved to stick her nose where it didn't belong, she would have meddled way sooner if she had any real abilities....

It looked at those one side would have to go down before they could strike a deal. With no other options, Murong Yun Shu signed and reluctantly raised her hand and grabbed the Chinese zither earring.

"Miss...." Lu'er stepped summoned up enough courage to step forward to remind Murong Yun Shu that now's not the time to be calm.

Murong Yun Shu ignored her. She seemed awfully relaxed whens he closed her eyes and rubbed her earring.

Her calmness perplexed the bandits and made them hesitate. Did she know some sort of magic trick that would allow her to summon some sort of spirits?

Nie Qing and Feng Ling turned and looked at Lu'er at the same time, was your mistress alright?

Lu'er was just as confused as everyone else. Her mistress was never normal, but never this abnormal...

While everyone was still puzzling over what was going on, rustling and hissing noises surrounded them. Then, a piercing scream, "SNACK!" Feng Ling jumped up and down in fear, screaming at the same time, as though snakes were climbing up her body.

"What snaked....." Nie Qing didn't finish he words. He was scared speechless, his face pale, and he started puking uncontrollably.

"Nie Qing!" Feng Ling rushed over to help out the still vomiting Nie Qing.

The bandits were just about to make fun of how cowardly the rich were, scared by merely some snakes before they realized the snaked continced to come out of the grass, cracks between rocks, and the trees. They were scared shitless.

"Snakes, all kind of snakes, so many snakes...." the bandits were in tears as they ran away.

As their screams got farther and farther away, Murong Yun Shu finally opened her eyes. Coincidentally, the snakes had all returned to their burrows.

"Let's go," said Murong Yun Shu apathetically. She didn't even looked at the other frightful people as she turned and got back into the carriage.

 The crowd exchanged looks, was she going to explain to them what had just happened?


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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 19.2 - Running Into The Real Bandits

Somehow Nie Qing was able to convinced the emperor to agree to building the bank warehouse in Shang Yang, and the printing process had also commenced. As soon as the warehouse was done, the reform could be pushed out.

Once the negotiation was done, Murong Yun Shu immediately began her return trip to Jinling. Nie Qing was now her right hand man, so he was travelling with her. Feng Ling volunteered to be the second Lu'er, joining the party and helping out with errands and serving the others. Naturally, everybody knew what her real intention was. Chef Gao went to Sholin Temple, bringing with him Murong Yun Shu's "thank you note" to Chu Changge.

Sitting inside the spacious horse-drawn carriage, Murong Yun Shu fished out the hair clasp she bought the day she arrived at the capital for Chu Changge. She stared at it for a long time with an intricate look. Finally, she lifted the curtains and tossed it out. When she found out all the extreme behaviors he had in the past for a woman, she realized they were not meant to be. Their relationship would never go beyond friendship.

Luckily, so far she had only viewed Chu Changge as someone who's nice to have around to chitchat with when she's board. She couldn't care less whether he was with her or not.

The carriage was spacious, large enough for a tall person to lie down. And for someone who's of average height like Murong Yun Shu, she could totally lie down as though she was in her own bed and move around however she wanted. So she laid down and closed her eyes. She figured they'd arrive at Jinling when she woke up.

Nonetheless, some people were never meant to have a smooth sailing life and Murong Yun Shu certainly was one of them.

Murong Yun Shu was woken up by the abrupt stop of the carriage, her body flew forward, almost tossing her off. Luckily she had quick reflexed and was about to reached out to steady herself between the interior walls of the carriage. 

"What happened?" She lifted and curtain and looked outside. There she saw about seven or eight roughnecks blocking the path of the carriage. They were all dressed in grayish hemp garments with their hairs sloppily tied up with hemp strings, making them look awfully like bandits. However, what made them appeared to be even more like bandits were their cliche saying:

"We planted the trees, we paved the road; you want to pass, you must pay us!"

Murong Yun Shu simply pretended that she didn't hear them. She did not appear to be frightened at all. She exited the carriage in a leisurely manner, scrutinizing the bandits with her gaze, "How much do you want? I don't have too much on me today. If I don't have enough, just put it on my tab."

The bandits were caught off guard that not only was she not frightened, angered, or worried, but rather open to negotiation. They didn't know how to respond.

Nie Qing snickered. Nobody knew whether that was directed toward Murong Yun Shu or the bandits. Murong Yun Shu watched on as Nie Qing wanted to the "front line". She figured he had some plans up his sleeves, instead he let out a very grandeur bureaucratic jargon of "Robbing under the broad daylight? Do you know there are laws in our country?"

Murong Yun Shu busted out laughing, that was very pedantic of a top scorer in the imperial examination. If bandits would observe the law, they wouldn't become bandits in the first place. 

Find advance chapters of Black Belly Wife on my Patreon site.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Patreon Site Is Up

Dear readers. I finished setting up my Patreon site today. I don't have much in terms of advance chapter [parts] just yet but still am able to offer a 1-advance-chapter and a 3-advance-chapter tiers.

The new release schedule will be 3 times a week on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Even though I know it is inevitable that translations posted online will be stolen onto aggregate sites, when it actually happened to me, and so soon (I thought it will at least be a few months after I started), it truly felt like a slap to the face. As much as I enjoy translating, it wasn't easy doing it on the side of a demanding full time job. So it was that much more disheartening to find other sites just straight up copy paste every words that I translated, footnotes and all, onto theirs as thought they were their own work.

Many great individuals before me have tried to combat these sites and failed, and I am not sure there is a way to do it without compromising user experience, so, just to make myself feel better, should there be an edited versions and any post with footnotes, those will only be included behind the paywall of Patreon. Other than that, I will continue to post the chapter parts on my website here basing on the schedule listed above.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 19.1 - Running Into The Real Bandits

Perhaps she has just been too busy lately, or perhaps because nobody interrupted her beauty sleep, Murong Yun Shu did not wake up from her nap till the early evening and still feeling somewhat sleepy. Sluggishly she placed her feet onto the floor and lackadaisically propped her body up. She stretched while pulling the door open with both hands, then looked up into the now dimming sky and yawned.

Nie Qing stared coldly at her, looking very displeased. But who could blame him, he waited for an entire afternoon outside of the door. How could him not be in a bad mood?

Feng Ling looked at Murong Yun Shu with admiration. She and tried yet failed to be lady-like, yet others could look so elegant even when they were merely yawning....

After she finished yawning, Murong Yun Shu started walking slowly toward the gazebo. On her way there, she did not forget to tell Lu'er to bring her some snacks. And completely ignore the two person who were looking at her strangely.

"Hey, Murong, where are you going? Nie Qing waited the entire afternoon for you...." She waved her hands in front of Murong Yun Shu as though she was trying to summon her soul back.

Nie Qing was unappreciative for her help. He gave her a stare and with silent anger stormed after Murong Yun Shu. Feng Ling pouted and blink. Then started bouncing next to him, taking an occasional peek in his direction.

Murong Yun Shu listened to the footsteps behind her that were entirely out of sync, she started to think that this Feng Ling was quite a character. She never gave up no matter how Nie Qing treated her. Perhaps that was some sort of filtering system within her body that automatically filter out anything unpleasant.

The cold breeze woke Murong Yun Shu up completely and she was ready to talk business, gently she said, "You may start presenting your arguments." She then proceeded to use the pace of an after-dinner leisurely stroll to walk around on the little path paved with quartzite. Her sight wandered aimlessly on the plants on both sides of the path, looking very carefree.

"Shang Yang is out in the boonies. It's mountainous with very limited paved roads, not to mention that it's very far away from Beijing...." Soon as the subject touched upon the Court, the quiet Nie Qing immediately took on a different personality. He was eloquent, verbose, quoting classic work copiously to articulate any reasons that could remotely support the point that Shang Yang would not be a suitable location for the warehouse. He even used feng shui1 as part of his argument.

Murong Yun Shu frowned, "Just when did Master Nie picked up the part-time job as a fortune teller?"

Nie Qing snickered, "You thought it was easy to be the top scorer in the imperial examination2?"

Murong Yun Shu's frown deepened, "I didn't know feng shui was covered in the imperial examination."

Her question made him speechless. A sullen look on his face, a few minutes had passed before he said icily, "We are talking about where to put the warehouse, why are you asking so many questions about the entrance exam!"

"To make sure you are not making stuff up!" Murong Yun Shu kept a straight face.

Nie Qing looked even more annoyed, finally he let out a snort, "The emperor has decided to build the warehouse next to the imperial mausoleum."

"So his ancestors can help guard over it?" Murong Yun Shu asked mindlessly. The nod from Nie Qing was unexpected. Murong Yun Shu frowned a little, "Master Nie, you work at the Ministry of Revenue, surely you are no stranger to business management. Our country divides into nine regions, the imperial mausoleum locates in Mt. Yangming, belonging to the Jing region. Even though it's only about 100 or so kilometers from Beijing, but it locates at the northern most end of our country and very far off from the other eight regions, particular the Min region in the Southern most end. It was take the fastest horse several months to make a round trip, let alone our transportation carts. They will practically have to turn around before the silver dollars even arrive at the destination."

Nie Qing moved his lips but did not make a sound. Obviously, he was well aware of that fact.

Murong Yun Shu continued, Shang Yang, on the other hand, belongs in the Chu region. It is centrally located and has historically played the role of a transportation hub. On the other hand, it's mountainous geography makes it easy to guard and hard to attack. It's the perfect location for a bank warehouse." She paused for a second, then looked back at Nie Qing, her temperament mild but her majesty unmistakable. Slowly, she added, "As I have said before, either we do things my way, or we don't do anything at all."

Pondered for a little bit, Nie Qing gave up, "You are a true business woman!" A hint of respect glowed behind his twisted expression.

Murong Yun Shu raised her brows. Her entire family are businessmen, wouldn't it make sense that she was one as well?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 18.2 - Fearlessness

Nie Qing snorted, "I think you are just the type who won't give up without a fight."

"There is that," said Murong Yun Shu as she picked up the pace and hasten towards the palace door.

You don't want to spend more time than necessary in a palace. The emperor might just changed his mind the next minute, have her arrested and her head chopped off. Although she didn't think whether living longer or shorter make too much of a different, but there is definitely different is a good death versus a bad one. She would rather die unknowingly from King Liang's Jr.'s Soul Snatcher than being sent to heaven by a unskilled executor wielding a dull sword.

Murong Yun Shu couldn't help but smiled when she thought about the Soul Snatcher. This King Liang Jr. must have surrounded himself with quacks. How else could he have come up with such a superfluous idea? Frankly, had he given her drugs that cause diarrhea, she may have given in already.


A few days later, an official announcement was made by the court stating that the court has approved Huifeng Bank to be the main distributor of the new "silver dollar", calling it "the number one bank" and Murong Yun Shu the Revenue Regulator, who could enjoy the benefits of a first class officer. As soon as the announcement was made, the listlessness atmosphere of the dynasty dissipated right away. Even the passersby were so full of energy, let alone the street vendors shouting at the top of their lungs.

With the court as its backer, Huifeng Bank had regained it's reputation. Bank notes with the words "Huifeng" printed on them appeared in the market like spring bamboo shoots after a shower. Huifeng Bank reopened it's door for business. "Silver dollars" were not yet in print, so Huifeng Bank's business model was the same as before. Overnight, everything returned to normal. The House of Murong returned to the rich and overbearing, most raved about House of Murong in Jinling.

But deep down inside, Murong Yun Shu understood that this is just a move planned by the emperor, the road that he laid out. If she didn't want to turn into a pawn of the emperor, and be cast aside1 when all said and done, she had better keep a watchful eye at all times, and have a plan on how to safely retrieve herself when the time comes.

Lying in a yellow bamboo recliner in the most comfortable position possible, Murong Yun Shu closed the ancient-looking book in her hands. She signed, the power of the emperor was so fearsome. It's power so absolute, no wonder so many would risk grave danger or total destruction of their reputation if they could only step on other's dead bodies and get close to the emperor.

"Miss, why are you still looking so worried when the emperor had made you an officier?" Lu'er was baffled. The post of Revenue Regulator was first class officer, same level as the Prime Minister, why wasn't miss happy about it?

"Because he has hidden agendas." That should have been a hateful statement, but coming from Murong Yun Shu, the tone was much more mild. It was as though she was merely commenting that "oh, the weather is quite nice today."

Lu'er rolled her eyes, "How could he have hidden agendas when he had assigned you to such an important post?"

Murong Yun Shu understood that no matter how she explained the complex situation in the matter to her, someone as simple as Lu'er would never get it. So she took the approach to just closing her eyes and pretended she was napping and didn't hear her. A few seconds later, she recalled the matter regarding the warehouse. She opened her sleepy eyes and asked, "Has Nie Qing returned yet?"

"Yes, I heard he just got back from the Ministry of Revenue. You want to go look for him?"

"Can you go tell him not to come and bug me?"

"... How do you know he is going to swing by?

"I am guessing." Yesterday he didn't like the idea when they talked about building the warehouse in Shang Yang. He must have went and reported to the emperor today. Murong figured the emperor probably objected to that idea as well. So he must have returned to try to convince her. Even though she's quite draconian when it comes to business and would never let him convince her, but it's always a hassle when someone's nagging next to her when she's trying to nap.

Just as expected, shortly after Nie arrived shortly after Murong dozed off, only to be stopped by Lu'er.

Lu'er stammered, "Master Nie, Miss tends to get up from the wrong side of the bed. I don't think it's a good idea to wake her. You know, when someone who rarely gets upset gets upset, it could be quite awful." Lu'er remembered the one time she had witnessed that, she had wanted to dig a hole and bury herself to avoid being torn apart by Miss's ghastly stare.

Nie agreed that it probably would not be a good idea to upset Murong. After all, this was the woman who even threatened the emperor. Surely she would have no hesitation in taking care of a court official. It didn't take him long to come to the conclusion, "I will wait for her."


1. The original saying was 飞鸟尽、良弓藏,狡兔死、走狗烹. Direct translation means when all the birds are gone, the bow and arrows are put away; when the wicked hare is dead, the hound gets eaten [by the owner]. In short, it means one might be cast aside, or worse, gotten rid of, once your usefulness is up.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 18.1 - Fearlessness

Murong Yun Shu was not surprised by the request at all. Marriage has always been used by the royal as a political tool, not to mention that cousin had already brought it up once. Nonetheless, she did not want to sacrifice herself. "Peasant girl is afraid she won't be able to comply," she replied decisively, without hesitation.

The emperor did not expect her to decline the offer. From many perspective, this is more a blessing, yet she declined with such determination. This somewhat annoyed him, he frowned and said with displeasure, "Then I can't grant you your request either."

Hearing this, Murong Yun Shu secretly sighed, looking resigned, she hesitated for quite a bit of time before she said, "My lord, peasant girl did not come here today to negotiate terms with you. Whether you grant me my request or not, Huifeng Bank is still property of the Murong House, we won't let other infringe upon it, not even you."

The emperor was enraged, "If you continue to be so disrespectful, I just might sentence all your 9 degree of relatives to death!1"

Murong Yun Shu still looked indifferent, as though she has already accepted her fate, in a very calm tone, she said, "The crown prince is also part of my clan." As though to say "we can all die together."

Owing to the pressure from the empress dowager, the royal family had never openly acknowledge the existence of the Murongs as part of the imperial relatives; neither did the Murongs ever saw the need to claim their relationship with the royal family. For the last four years, the Murongs had been complacent at their status in the business world and never step foot into politics. But at the end of the day, the Murongs are the crown prince's only relatives, getting rid of the Murongs would be like destroying the crown prince's alliance, and that was not a desirable outcome for the emperor, at least not currently. Empress dowager's side of the family was too powerful in the dynasty, as well as deeply rooted. If the emperor didn't want the empress dowager to gain control of the state affair should he pass away2, then it's vital to make sure Murong House stuck around until the crown prince establish his status.

Murong Yun Shu understood this only too well, which contributed to her fearlessness. "Peasant girl was not trying to go against your majesty's wish. Unfortunately, I am already engaged, so I would not be able to comply." Even if you have the winning hand, it is still vital to know when to recede, sometimes receding is the better strategy to get ahead. "If my lord has any doubts about peasant girls, please send a court official to accompany me on this matter." After all, the only reason the emperor wanted her to marry the crown prince was to make sure she would remain loyal.

Just as she had expected, soon as the emperor heard that he could send someone to monitor the progress, his anger began to subside, and ready to meet her half way. With his virile voice he said, "Okay, Bishop Nie will work with you on the currency reform issue."


Stepping out of the imperial study, Nie Qing looked like his mother had just died, he said coldly, "You know, the court will never let bank responsible for the release of "silver dollar" remain in private control. It's a matter of time before the government takes over Huifeng Bank."

Murong Yun Shu lifted her hand to block out the fiery sun, walking forward she said, "I know."

"Then why did you put up a pointless fight? All you were doing was making Murong House a thorn in the emperor's eyes. Sooner or later, he is going to get rid of you."

"Master Nie," Murong Yun Shu paused, she cocked her head and looked at him, quizzically she asked, "You sure seem genuinely concerned for me?"

Nie Qing seemed embarrassed, turned his head and said, "You are reading too much into this."

"Oh yeah?" Murong Yun Shu raised her brows, then turned her head and started admiring the flowers on the side of the road, she continued, "If I don't fight back when I could, how could I face all my Murong ancestors in a hundred years."

1.  In ancient China, when a major crime was committed, usually against the emperor, not only the offender was sentenced to death, anyone that's related through "9 degree" were also sentenced to death. The exact definition of "9th degree" were debatable, one interpretation was the individual himself, then 4 generations up (father, grandfather, great grand father and great great grand father) and 4 generations down (you get the idea). Another one is 4 degree from the paternal side (aunt's children, sister's children, daughter's children), anyone directly related (parents, siblings, children), and 3 degree from the maternal side (maternal grand parents, and mother's brother), and 2 degree from the wife's side (wife's parents).
2. 垂帘听政 - The original term used here means "listening to the court behind the curtains". In the old days, women were not allowed attend court, where the officials made reports to the king. So a few times in Chinese history, mothers or grandmothers of very young kings will listen in on the court behind curtains. Meaning the actual power lied with these women rather than the young kings.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Black Belly Wife Ch 17.2 - Awarded Marriage

Murong Yun Shu smacked her own forehead, did he think the bard was well versed in the art of iron head? Even if the bard could survive a few more smacks, she would not have the mental capacity to relate her message to King Liang.

"Do thank your boss for me!" said Murong Yun Shu as she walked out of the room.

"Our boss doesn't accept verbal gratitude," replied Chef Guo in a mischievous way.

Murong Yun Shu paused and raised her brows, acknowledging his words. She walked over the room next door to look for Lu'er. After a while, she returned with a sleepy and confused Lu'er and handed a letter to Chef Guo.

"Is this for the boss?" teased Chef Guo.

"Yes, written gratitude."

"That's not what I meant...." Chef Guo was slightly baffled.

"I know, but it is what I meant." said Murong Yun Shu in a very matter-of-fact way.


It was when the group started walking out of the brothel and headed toward Nie Qing's place for the night when they realized they were missing one member of the party.

"Where's Nie Qing?" asked Murong Yun Shu.

Feng Ling looked to the left and the right and couldn't find her sweetheart. Suddenly her eyes widened and she started running back while shouting, "That creep! He must have been distracted by some working girls!"

Murong Yun Shu was stunned, did Feng Ling not have eyes or just have very bad eye sight? Did she not notice the devastated look on Nie Qing when he was entering the brothel with them?

Right when she was finding it amusing, she heard Chef Guo mumbling next to her, "That's pretty impressive of Nie Qing, he could still enjoy the ladies even after the bard had hit his acupuncture point..."

Murong Yun Shu stared into the sky wordlessly. Had Feng Ling heard that comment, she probably would chop his head off and serve it with alcohol.


With Nie Qing leading the way, Murong Yun Shu was able to enter the palace smoothly without further hindrance and arrive at the outside of the imperial study.

"Department of Expenditure Minister Nie Qing, Murong Yun Shu, enter the imperial study to meet with the emperor!" Announced an old man who exited the study. Then he added, "Master Nie, the emperor is not feeling well, don't talk for too long."

"Thanks for the tip."

Nie Qing was his old stone cold self. Murong Yun Shu felt that he would make a very good judge, always playing it by the book, always a stuck up look on his handsome, gigolo-like face. He just didn't look like anyone who worked with money day in and day out.

The imperial study basked in a majestic gold tone, giving it a very solemn feel. A peasant is not allowed to look at the emperor directly, so Murong Yun Shu lowered her head slightly, remaining a mildly humble posture, in a leveled tone, she greeted the emperor, "Long live my king."

"You may stand."

"Thank you, my lord."

Qie Ning merely bowed slightly, "Your majesty."

"You may stand, Bishop Qie."

"Thank you, my lord."

Murong Yun Shu observed the interaction between the two of them quietly and a sense of understanding smile flickered in her eyes. This Department of Expenditure Minister wasn't doing too bad.

"Murong Yun Shu," said the emperor. His voice was full of vigor, didn't sound unwell at all.

"Peasant girl is here."

"If I accept your request and let Huifeng banks control the release of 'silver coins', what would you say?

"Will your majesty grant  me my request?"

"I am asking you a question!"

Murong Yun Shu smiled lightly and slowly responded, "If your majesty won't grant me my request, then the question will be moot."

"You need to answer me first, I will then decide if I am going to grant you your request."

"Please forgive this peasant girl for not being able to your majesty's question."

"How dare you!" The emperor was slightly irritated.

"Please do not be angered, my lord," continued Murong Yun Shu, "The Royal Administration decided to reform the currency, using small face value 'silver coins' instead of real silver and gold in the market. Theoretically this will benefit both the country and the peasants, but whether this will work in reality, nobody knows. Hence peasant girl is not able to guarantee any kind of return for your majesty."

"Then why are you so adamant about retaining controlling right of the bank?"

Murong Yun Shu continue to keep her head lowered, in a mild mannered way she replied, "Because peasant girl does not wish her family business to be ruined in someone else's hand. Whether this works out or not, the House of Murong and the bank will live and die together."

Her speech gave the emperor the pause, eagle sharped eyes measured her for a long while, then said, "Okay, I'll let you have it, but I have a condition."

"Do tell, my lord," Murong Yun Shu listened attentively.

"Marry the crown prince."

Black Belly Wife Ch17.1 - Awarded Marriage

"Not bad,  not bad. You recognize me at such a young age. Little girl's got a bright future in front of you." Guo Que De was very pleased. He has been living a reclusive life within the Mojiao sect for many years, he did not expect someone junior of him would recognize him.

Feng was flattered by his comment, she shyly stuck her tongue out, "My dad had brought you up occasionally. Thirty or so years ago, you traveled jianghu with just one pot, your were infamous for your nefariousness. Your ability to cause trouble in jianghu exceeded that of brother Chu!"

"Oh, you even knew that!" Guo Que De was ecstatic. Back in the days he had so much prestige! Little girl has such bright future, bright future indeed. "Who's your dad?" he asked.

"Feng Yan."

"What? How did that old bastard Feng Yan ended up with such an adorable daughter?!" After the shocking revelation, Guo Que De ignored everyone else, walked over to the side and pounded his chest, tormenting over the fact that the divine spirits didn't leave Feng Yan with no descendant.

Seeing this, Murong Yun Shu was speechless. Guo Que De, indeed, lived up to his name. He certainly lived up to the expectation of the person who gave him his name. Perhaps, that was the expectation from the very beginning. similar to parents who named their son "Epic", certainly they would have rubbed his head passionately and said to him, "Son, be sure to grow up to be a man with epic achievements." Or in Guo Que De's case, his folks probably rubbed his head and said, "Guo Que De, be sure to grow up and commit all sorts of immoral crimes."

Feng Ling, on the other hand, tugged on Nie Qing's sleeve and said, "See? Someone said I am cute."

Nie Qing rolled his eyes at her, what a fool!

Feng Ling pouted, the squatted down in search for antidote.

"Guo qian bei didn't happen upon us, did you?" said Murong Yun Shu calmly, dragging Guo Que De back from the middle of his profane rampage.

"The boss sent me!" Guo Que De became normal again as soon as the sect leader who was even more immoral than him was mentioned, "Oh yeah, madam, please stop referring to me as qian bei, the boss won't like that. Please call me Chef Guo, it's how the boss calls me too."

"Sure, Chef Guo," said Murong Yun Shu smoothly. She was glad he didn't ask her to call him "Chef Immoral", plenty of times in her life she has insulted people implicitly, but rarely explicitly. She would have a hard time addressing him as "Chef Immoral".

"Have you been follow us this whole time?" asked Murong Yun Shu.

"Ever since you entered Beijing."

"So you were the second man in black?"

"I sure was. Originally, I was going to mess around with you by pretending to be an assassin to see how brave you are. I didn't expect to run into a real assassin." Embarrassed, Guo Que De poked the back of his head with the backside of his pot, chuckling like a child.

"What happened to the assassin?"

"I took care of him."

"Where's my maid?"

Guo Que De chuckled and pointed to the room next door, "Soundly asleep in the room next to us."

"Thank you."

"Haha, you are welcome, you are welcome. Protecting madam for our boss was an honor for us."

Murong Yun Shu lifted her eye brows in response to his words, "Us?"

"Oh yes, since the day you began your journey, anyone who happened to be in the path of or usually hang around Beijing all received 'black wind command' from the boss. We must protect madam at all cost." Guo Que De flexed his neck and whispered, "Madam, please don't tell boss about the assassin, if he ever found out I accidentally let the assassin placed his sword on your neck, I am sure he'll chop my head off and serve it with alcohol."

No wonder their journey was so smooth, Murong Yun Shu felt a pang of appreciation in her heart, the corners of her mouth lifted slightly. It took her a few seconds to return to normal and said, "Don't worry, I won't let him chop your head off and serve it with alcohol."

Guo Que De felt very grateful. Chu's ancestors must have collected a lot of goodwill, that's why he was able to have such a kind wife.

"It's too bloody to be eaten, it's better to dig a whole and bury it."

"....." just when he was wondering there was no way Chu's ancestros would have collected such good will!!

"No worries, my brother is amazing in medicine, you won't get sick." Feng Ling chimed in cooperatively.

Guo Que De gave her a stare, "So not cute!"

Feng Ling was eager to defend herself, "but I was only telling the truth..."

Nie Qing gave her another stare, that's exactly why I called you a fool!

The bawd awaken right at this moment. She opened her eyes and saw everybody, suddenly realized what had happened and tried to get up. Another strike to her head with the pot put her out again.

Black Belly Wife Ch 16.2 - Moral or Immoral

Finding out about "Soul Snatcher" cause Murong Yun Shu to be paralyzed in fear; the shaking in Feng Ling's voice has further confirmed her fear. Jianghu was, indeed, a very scary place for the commoners.

"Can your brother cure me?" asked Murong Yun Shu. Sai Hua Tuo was a world renowned doctor.

Feng Ling frowned and shook her head, "My brother failed to cure sister Xi when she was poisoned. That's why brother was enraged with him and trapped him in Mount Hua Tuo, made him change his name, and banned him for practicing medicine."

Chu Changge had once.... done so much for his lover? Murong Yun Shu felt a strange stirring in her chest, a slightly unpleasant feeling that she couldn't describe. Murong Yun Shu spent a few minutes to suppress the odd feelings and turned to look at the bawd, "How can I get the antidote?"

"King Liang Jr. has the antidote, that will be his decision."

"How much time do I have without the antidote?"

"Could be a day, could be a year, or a second. In short, it could happen anytime with no signs, and you won't feel a thing."

Murong Yun Shu has came to accept that, smiling, she said, "That's like not being poisoned at all? Nobody knows when they are going to die."

The bawd was stunned, she was starting to see why King Liang Jr. wanted to capture her alive. There was definitely something special about her, just being around her gave you the feeling of peacefulness.

"I think it's in your best interest to convince King Liang Jr. to give the antidote to Murong," said Feng Ling, staring at the bawd angrily. "You look like you've been around for a while. I'm sure you have heard of the incident three years ago when the Mojiao sect wiped out the House of Tang overnight. If brother Chu wiped out the House of Tang three years ago for sister Xi, he will wipe out the House of Liang for Murong."

Murong Yun Shu was a little bit startled, Feng Ling's words made her aware of the lunacy of Chu Changge that she had never seen before. She has always heard of Chu Changge being labeled as a villain but never understood why. All she saw was an arrogant and unruly scofflaw.... turned out, she has seen too little of him.

When a person is drowning in despair, they will demonstrate one of two extremes: one is to complacently accept their fate; the other is to get angry and try to fight it. The first kind achieves enlightenment; the ladder loses their heart and turns into villains. And Chu Changge, for sure scoffed and abandoned the first option, and proudly watched himself turn into a villain.

At that time he must have been so devastated that he wanted to destroy the whole world, which was why he risked declaring war with the entire world. Murong Yun Shu lowered her eyes, she felt a pang of unexplained disappointment.

"Hrm! The House of Tang is a jianghu clan, which is why the government did not interfere. King Liang is the emperor's descendant, with military support. If Chu Changge wipe out the House of Liang, the government will surely not standby." The bawd scoffed, "Chu Changge won't have the guts to touch the Liang's!"

"You...." Feng Ling didn't have a retort, she was anxious and aggravated.

Murong Yun Shu laughed and said to the bawd, "I suggest you not to make up stuff in the future, keep in mind that words can bring troubles." Her tone as calm as always.

The bawd roared, "Do you really think Chu Changge will antagonize King Liang for you?" Even though it was meant to be a sarcasm, Murong Yun Shu could tell the bawd desired Chu Changge to antagonize King Liang.

Murong Yun Shu gave her a deep, meaningful look. "He won't antagonize King Liang for me; however, if he had the intention, never mind King Liang, even if we are talking about the crowned prince, he will be able to do to them as he pleases," said Murong Yun Shu in a casual, understated manner.

"Let's see if he's indeed as audacious as you claimed, marching to House of Liang to save you and all!" said the bawd through gritted teeth, her eyes twinkled with excitement.

Murong Yun Shu couldn't help but to take another look at her, her gaze aimlessly ended on the top of her head. She paused, her eyes sparkled, the corners of her mouth rose, "Oh, you are so confident that you can take me away?"

"Stop being so arrogant! I, Feng Ling, is here... Oh..." Feng Ling abruptly clutched her chest and frowned, "You poisoned me?"

"I thought you are Sai Hua Tuo's little sister. Surely you can handle a little poison," said the bawd, laughing wickedly.

"Who said Sai Hua Tuo's little sister must know medicine? You run a brothel, do you entertain customers too?" Feng Ling snarled back.

Infuriated, the bard lifted her arm to strike her, but her arm was intercepted mid air and she fell onto the floor awkwardly.

"Sir Nie Qing is finally acting like a man," said Murong Yun Shu, mocking him while smiling.

What did she mean "like a man"? I am a man! Nie Qing snorted coldly, towering over the bawd and instant killed her with his eyes. He reached out his hand to her, "Antidote."

"I don't have it!" said the bawd while leaping up and hitting Nie Qing's acupuncture point.1 "I was reckless earlier, did you really think you are good enough to ask me for the antidote?"

Nie Qing stood with straightened back, staring at her angrily.

Murong Yun Shu let on a small smile, reached out her slim finger and pointed above the bawd head, slowly she let out the words, "Well, what about him?"

The bawd turned and lifted her head, but was hit by the bottom of a pot and loss consciousness before she could react.

"Qian bei2 is so skillful!" Murong Yun Shu clapped and cheered.

"All because the pot is of high quality," a old man over 50 years of age leaped down from the beam, didn't show any signs of being out of breath.

Feng Ling got a good look at the newcomer, her eyes widened, unbelievably pointed at the old man and cried out, "You... you are magic chef Guo Que De3!"

Murong Yun Shu busted out laughing when she heard his alias, who's so immoral, to give someone such an immoral name?


  1. If this is your first wuxia (martial art) novel, it is commonly depicted in wuxia world that you can hit specific acupuncture points on someone's body and causing different effects on the person. The most common ones being incapacitating an individual or taking away their ability to speak. 
  2. "Qian" mean "before" or "previously", "bei" is a "generation. "Qian bei" translates into "previous generation" or "predecessor". Its a term used to respectfully refer to someone older.
  3.  "Que De" means immoral in Chinese. Also the title of this chapter. 

Black Belly Wife Ch 16.1 - Moral or Immoral

Outside of Bai Hua Brothel, two large, poofy lanterns lit up the entire brothel street. Working girls with heavy make up out there welcoming and seeing their guests off looked like they are glistening.

As soon as Murong Yun Shu and her party of three arrived at the front door, working girls with quick response approached them attentively, and welcomed them inside.

"Please come inside, gentlemen," they voices sweet like honey.

Murong Yun Shu, seemingly in a relaxed state, entered in a leisurely pace. Feng Ling, a smile on her face, bounced into the brothel after Murong Yun Shu. Nie Qing, with a serious look, flung off the hand resting on his shoulder and reluctantly stepped inside.

As soon as the bawd caught sight of Murong Yun Shu, his smile was immediately replaced with shock, "How did you...." come in from the outside?

Murong Yun Shu, looking as relaxed as usual, never slowed down her pace, "You know Kung Fu too, so you should have heard of the 'Gods appear and devils vanish'1."

The bawd was even more surprised now. She followed Murong Yun Shu incredulously, her mind fill with questions. According to her source,  Murong Yun Shu was not familiar with kung fu at all...

Murong Yun Shu arrived at the room she was staying at and found it ransacked. Obviously the bawd and the man in black were not working together.

"So who do you work for?" asked Murong Yun Shu as she settled down in the master seat. Nie Qing and Feng Ling flank her sides like her bouncers, as though they are carrying out interrogation in court.

"King Liang Jr.," the bawd wasn't afraid to tell the truth. She was just very confused, Murong Yun Shu knew there were traps set for her. Any other person would have ran away as far as they could, but she came back to interrogate her? Maybe... just maybe, Murong Yun Shu wasn't as vulnerable as she made out to be.

"What does he want from me?"

"To take you to the Shu Province."

Murong Yun Shu smiled to herself, "King Liang wants me dead, King Liang Jr. wants me live. It seems like King Liang Jr. has much better foresight. King Liang's best bet is to become King Father after King Liang Jr. becomes crowned king."

Nie Qing became more displeased after hearing that. Imprudent and insolent were some of the terms that crossed his mind.

The bawd was delighted, "If I knew you'd be so cooperative, I could have saved the trouble of giving you the Soul Snatcher.2"

"You gave her the Soul Snatcher?" screamed Feng Ling, looking mortified.
  1. Idiom. Mysterious appearing and disappearing out of thin air."
  2. A kind of poison.