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Chapter 45 Divorce

Without realizing, he had already unconsciously grabbed her hand, using so much strength it was as if he was going to crush her bones into dust. Wrinkling his eyebrows, he glared at this extremely arrogant woman as countless needs seemed to stab into his chest and leave behind deep, bleeding holes. It wouldn’t take his life, but it was a long and torturous pain, accumulated over days and months in his five viscera and six bowels and in his bones. She said he was a beast?! Heartless? He had also always believed that he could treat anyone heartlessly, but at this moment, he was extremely disappointed with himself! In front of this woman, his thirteen years of efforts could not even compare to the ten days she accompanied him. If it were anyone else that betrayed him, he would have come up with thousands of different ways to torture them.

Man Yao coldly looked back at him, “What does Prince Li want?” She raised her other hand, peeling off his fingers one by one, her expression as stubborn as ever as if she was using all of her strength.

Zongzheng Wuyou suddenly felt he lost all strength in front of this woman, what should he do? This was a completely strange feeling that he had never felt before.

“Seventh Brother…” The Ninth Prince barged in like a tornado. He felt the atmosphere was off the moment he stepped in the great hall and immediately slowed down, sticking his head in first to take a look before slowly walking through. When he saw Man Yao, he was stunned and proceeded forward with large steps. Slapping his jade-bone fan excitedly against his hands, he yelled, “Li Yue?! It’s you? I’ve spent so long searching for you! You have no idea, I haven’t had a good day of rest because I’ve been trying to find you, I’m going to die of exhaustion! Aye, it’s so good to see you, I can finally have a good night’s sleep!” He prattled onwards without caring about the reactions of other people, reaching a hand out to pat Zongzheng Wuyou’s shoulder. Yawning, he spoke, “Seventh Brother, I’m finished over here, I’m going back to my residence to sleep.”

Finished, he turned around and left. Other than the sounds of his footsteps, the hall was unusually quiet. He suddenly stopped, remembering something and his eyes widened as he whipped around and ran back. Pulling Man Yao’s red wedding robes every which way, he looked at her, then looked at Fu Chou who was wearing the match set of wedding robes. Looking at his Seventh Brother’s ice-cold glare and complicated expression, he was stunned before finally hoarsely voicing, “Li Yue? You, you…why are you dressed like this? Don’t tell me, you, you’re actually Qiyun’s Princess Royal Rong Le??” Actually he didn’t even need to ask, the answer was obvious.

The onlookers were even more shocked, Li Yue? The Ninth Prince called her Li Yue? They rushed over to take a closer look at this woman’s face before realizing that the “Li Yue gongzi” known to be more beautiful than women was actually a woman to begin with, and the rumored female that was ugly beyond compare at that! No wonder Prince Li came today. But, hold on, there’s something wrong with this situation. She already moved into Prince Li’s residence, so why did she pick General Fu? Also, that day in the great hall, Li Yue gongzi was also present, so who was Princess Rong Le?

Man Yao expressionlessly glanced at the Ninth Prince, her silence taken as affirmation.

The Ninth Prince held his head and wailed, “Why didn’t you say so earlier? If I knew before, then I wouldn’t have had to take those hundred beatings!” He frustratedly stamped his feet on the ground. His heart was stifled because those one hundred beatings were for nothing!

Zongzheng Wuyou frowned and shot a glare at him. When those two ice beams shot over, the Ninth Prince immediately quieted down and stiffly walked over to stand behind him.

Man Yao twisted away from Zongzheng Wuyou’s grip and turned around to face the calm Fu Chou, ordering Ling’er, “Bring over brush, ink, inkstone, and paper.”

No one knew why she wanted the four treasures of the study(1) all of a sudden. Could it be that she wanted to compose a poem even under these circumstances? The surrounding people were curious.

Ling’er didn’t dare to ask any question and left to complete her task. After a while, the items were set on the table. Man Yao didn’t say anything and went to personally grind the ink, her actions smooth and well-practiced. A drop of ink splashed on her hand and slid down following the contours of her fingers, leaving behind its trace like a tear from an unknown person. Now that she’s arrived at this step, she could no longer turn back. Reminiscing about the past twenty years of her life, it always seemed to be within the control of someone else. She was also pushed along by her fate, walking on the path set for her, without being offered any choices.

The Ninth Prince couldn’t contain his curiosity and leaned over, questioning, “Li Yue, what are you doing grinding ink? Are you going to paint? How about you paint me? This prince is like a jade tree in the wind(2), handsome, and elegant…very worth being painted…” He straightened his shoulders and gave a spin, showing off his supposed qualities. Before he could finish his spin, he met Zongzheng Wuyou’s eyes and immediately stopped, changing his tune, “Actually you should just paint Seventh Brother, he’s…more handsome than I am.” This sentence was said with much reluctance.

Zongzheng Wuyou’s mouth twitched, more lines formed on his forehead.

Man Yao shook her head silently. Originally such a heavy and gloomy atmosphere was disturbed by him, she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She sighed and stopped her movements, picking up the brush nearby and turned to face Fu Chou. Under the gaze of everyone around them, she spoke in an unusually calm voice, “General, please.”

Fu Chou was stunned for a second before realizing her purpose and walked to the front. Looking at the hand holding the brush, darkness settled in his eyes and he didn’t move.

Man Yao stretched out her hand, “The grand marriage between the two countries has been thrown into disarray. Because this is due to Rong Le, I will naturally accept the responsibility and the consequences. General does not need to contemplate any further, you can just write the xiu shu(3).” Her face was void of expression and her voice was void of emotion. In this era where the husband was treated as heaven, a woman who was given a divorce letter would never be able to find happiness, only able to grow old alone. As such, her incomprehensible actions caused the surrounding people to look at each other in shock. If it were a common woman encountering such a situation, they would definitely be breaking down in sobs, kneeling down and begging for forgiveness. Who would be so foolish as to ask for their husband to divorce them?

Fu Chou gazed into her eyes which were clear without any ripples. It was as if him divorcing her was just par for the course and would not affect her at all. He frowned, resentment sprouting within his heart as he reached out to take the brush from her. However, even after a long time, he did not touch the ink.

The rain outside slowly stopped and there was a layer of humidity everywhere. Man Yao was as calm as ever, she didn’t bother to rush him. This time even the Ninth Prince was quiet as he stole a glance at Zongzheng Wuyou only to see his usually cold and dead eyes sparkling with a little light. He finally had a different expression on his face, seemingly like the expectant gaze of love.

Time passed by ever so slowly. Fu Chou suddenly threw away the brush in his hand and grabbed the paper laying on the table, ripping it into shreds. The onlookers were shocked. The gentle expression made its way back onto his handsome face again. He gently caressed her forehead and gave a kind smile, “Who said this general wanted to divorce you? Did you forget what I said to you on the way here? After the ceremony, I am your husband, the person who will accompany you for the rest of your life. No matter what happens, I will share the burdens with you.”

Man Yao’s heart trembled, her gaze no longer steady. She was clearer than anyone of the consequences she brought upon Fu Chou today. In this day and age, what did that mean for his life? It was humiliation; even if he divorced her, he would not be able to erase the humiliation. In addition, the pride he had as a man would become a joke amongst everyone. For a moment, she did not know what to say, only feeling that the man whose hand was holding hers right now, was very warm.

When these affectionate actions unfolded in front of Zongzheng Wuyou, he felt something pricking his heart. He clenched his hands into fists, the veins on the back popping out, almost ready to explode at any moment. He gave a cold laugh and in a flash, he arrived right next to them, pulling the woman away. He spoke in a harsh voice, “General Fu’s love is as deep as the sea, how moving. However, even if General doesn’t mind, benwang minds. How can benwang‘s woman marry someone else!”

Caught off guard, Man Yao fell into Zongzheng Wuyou’s arms. His entire body was as hard as steel so her whole body turned numb from pain. When she returned to her senses, she tried to push him away, but his arm was firmly holding her waist in place, not allowing her to move. She angrily raised her head and violently shoved her hand against his chest, at the area where it was easiest to rile someone up, yet his face was as cold and expressionless as always. Man Yao was dumbfounded for a moment.

Fu Chou dropped his smile. When he became expressionless, that handsome face became abnormally cold, “Prince Li, please let go of my wife! I don’t care what relationship she had with Prince Li before, but now that the Emperor has bestowed this marriage, and everyone has witnessed our bows to heaven and earth, we have become husband and wife. For what reason does Prince Li have to keep clinging on to us? Yang daren, you’re the person in charge of this engagement, do tell, Princess Rong Le…is she not my wife?”

Yang Wei trembled. When he saw that something went wrong with the marriage alliance, his heart was already hanging on by a thread, and now that the general directly called him out, his entire being turned numb yet he could not disagree, only saying, “After finishing the bows to heaven earth, the ceremony is completed and…becomes…becomes husband and wife.” He shrunk his neck, his voice becoming smaller and smaller to where even he struggled to get out the last few words because Zongzheng Wuyou’s stare was as cold as the eighteenth level of hell. Even if they were far away from each other, his blood still froze.

Zongzheng Wuyou shut his eyes, his cold voice resounding, “Yang Wei, lift your head and look at benwang. What you just said. say. it. again. Benwang didn’t hear it just now.”

Yang Wei’s whole body was shaking as his limbs turned soft and his forehead was slick with cold sweat. It was already hard enough to stand up, where could he find the courage to repeat it. He could only stutter, “This, this…”

Fu Chou frowned, a dark glint flashing across his eyes. When he swept his gaze over the hall, everyone couldn’t help but take a step back, afraid that he would call one of their names next. The Prince Li right now was like King of Hell’s Yama, no one dared to provoke him. Even the Crown Prince Zongzheng Xiaoren’s eyes were trembling.

The Ninth Prince let out a laugh, “Did General Fu and Li Yue complete the ceremony? How come I didn’t see it, did you guys see it?” He was the definition of a rogue! But this was the Ninth Prince’s style as always. When the people heard his question, they couldn’t nod or shake their heads, so they could only pretend to not have heard anything.

The corner of Zongzheng Wuyou’s lips hooked up into a slight smile. Seizing the chance that he was distracted, Man Yao gathered up her inner force and wrestled out of his grip, retreating back next to Fu Chou, “Ninth Prince does not need to exert any more effort. Regardless of whether you admit or not, it will not change the fact that I and General Fu have already completed the ceremony. Prince Li, don’t forget that two months ago when I first entered Jing, you were the one who ordered the servants to shut the gates of residence, rejecting me at the doorsteps. In the great hall, you once again rejected me as your wife. When you insulted me, it was like a sword stabbing me over and over again.”

She remembered all of these so clearly, so why didn’t she remember those days they spent together, when he let down his guard and treated her so gently? Why didn’t she remember how every day, they would drink tea and converse together? Zongzheng Wuyou’s heart was squeezed in pain and he clenched his fists even tighter. Fiercely meeting her gaze, his voice was laced with anger and coldness, “So you wanted to take revenge, coming up with schemes to get close to benwang so that when benwang finally fell for you, you would decide to marry someone else in order to attack benwang‘s pride and dignity…is that right?”

Man Yao’s smile held self-mockery. What deep grudge they they hold between each other that was worth her sacrificing her lifetime happiness to seek revenge? She sneered, not bothering to explain or care about what he thought, “However Prince Li thinks…it’s up to you.”

This kind of careless attitude could attack someone’s pride even harder than any sort of cold words. Zongzheng Wuyou could no longer maintain his calmness as flashes of hurt flickered in his eyes. His heart was trembling in pain. He suddenly was suspicious of the woman in front of him, did she ever have feelings for him?

“Leave with me.” He coldly spat out these three words and grabbed her hand. Man Yao instinctively avoided him and Fu Chou immediately raised an arm between them, asking, “Where is Prince Li trying to take my wife?”

Zongzheng Wuyou narrowed his eyes, “Benwang already said that she is not your wife! Scram.”

Fu Chou continued to smile without mirth. He didn’t remove his outstretched arm, having no intention of retreating, “Whether she is my wife or not is not up to Prince Li.”

The two people were in a deadlock, one a general in command of the army, and the other was the prince favored by the Emperor. This is the second time they had gone head to head for the same purpose. The atmosphere in the hall immediately turned cold, even people’s breaths turned into frost. Silence surrounded them.

Zongzheng Wuyou suddenly waved his hand, “Leng Yan.” Like a ghost, Leng Yan immediately appeared inside the hall along with at least twenty other people.

A violent wind began to pick up, shaking down countless branches and leaves from the trees. When these people appeared, a strong killing intent appeared as well, covering the entire residence. Each person’s hand wielded a sword, the steel blinding and as cold as winter as if they were an army risen from the depths of hell, thirsty for fresh blood. The seven people in the front wore red demon masks that covered only half their face. The color that resembled fresh blood was reminiscent of the river of death in hell.

Someone in the crowd suddenly yelled, “Wu Yin Lou’s Seven Devil Asuras(4)?!!”

(1) 文房四宝 (Four treasures of the study): Refers to brush, ink, ink stone, and paper

(2) 玉树临风 (yu shu lin feng): lit. a jade tree in the wind; it’s usually used to describe a man that is both handsome and talented

(3) 休书 (xiu shu): Letter of divorce given by the husband to the wife (you can think of it as basically the husband throwing away the wife)

(4) 修罗七煞 (xiu luo qi sha): There’s no direct translation for this so I had to improvise the best I can.