This is a part of . The reason I’m translating from the start is related to content. For more info click on the page and read the note at the bottom.
Chapter 1: Broken Engagement
"Junior sister Shu, give me back the jade ruyi."
Just as she arrived at the drawing room, Murong Yun Shu heard those words coming from Fang Hongfei. She was startled for a few seconds before she managed to react. The jade ruyi was the Fang family's heirloom. Ten years ago mother Fang had gifted it to her as an engagement token. Now he came by himself to demand it back…
"As compensation, I'll give you a treasured sword." Fang Hongfei raised a hand, motioning for the attendant behind him, who was holding a big open brocade case, to hand it over to her.
Murong Yun Shu swept her gaze over the treasured sword, but didn't receive it. She said indifferently, "No need. The jade ruyi originally belonged to the Fang family. Returning it to you is a matter of course."
"After all it's me…causing you a loss."
"You don't have to feel guilty. I'm not taking your precious sword not because I'm blaming you, but only because I'm worried that one day you'll come with a cleaver to exchange for this treasured sword and waste everybody's time."
Hearing her words, Fang Hongfei was deeply embarrassed. "You… What do you mean by that?"
Murong Yun Shu raised her left eyebrow, asking leisurely, "Is there anything else?"
"Then take care. I won't see you out."
"Junior sister Shu…" Fang Hongfei was about to chase after her, but he was blocked by Murong Yun Shu's personal maid.
"Young hero Fang, the exit is that way." Lu'er pointed at the gate as she spoke.
"I know that, I wanted to…"
"Young hero Fang, have a good day."
"I still haven't…"
"Someone come see the guest out."
"You… Good! Since your Murong House doesn't put my Mingjian1 Manor in your eyes, in the future don't blame me for ignoring you in danger!" After bitterly spitting out this sentence, Fang Hongfei left in a huff.
"Miss, I'm afraid there's a deeper meaning behind what Fang Hongfei said when he departed," Lu'er said with a heavy heart.
Without any worries, Murong Yun Shu flipped through an account book with one hand and worked the abacus with the other. She spoke firmly, "Let him. Which dog doesn't bark a few times before biting?"
"That's right, he's just a dog. Wait, no, even dogs are better than him! A dog wouldn't come to break off an engagement immediately after the master passes away." Lu'er was full of righteous indignation.
"I also wouldn't get married to a dog."
"Kicking a man when he's down is a very common phenomenon, there's no need for resentment." Murong Yun Shu kept her indifferent appearance as she concentrated on her calculations. It seemed like nothing could interest her aside from the account book.
Her mistress' way of enduring in silence saddened Lu'er. "Ey, if master was still around, who in Jinling would dare bully our Murong House or our young lady…"
Hearing that, Murong Yun Shu's slender fingers paused over the abacus. She slowly raised her head and her pair of bright eyes stared fixedly at her as she spoke in a serious tone, "Even if dad isn't around, there still won't be anyone who dares to bully Murong House."
"Miss…" Lu'er burst into tears. The young lady finally grew up, she grew up2!
Murong Yun Shu cast a sidelong baffled glance at the bawling Lu'er, then lowered her head to continue doing the accounts. After working the abacus a few times, she paused again and said, "Go see a doctor. If you have no money, take some from the accounts office."
Lu'er was clueless. "Why should I see a doctor?" She wasn't ill!
"……" She had no eye disease, but her internal injury was very heavy. Lu'er gazed at her honorable mistress and sighed deeply. Even if she grew up, it was still the same young lady. Whatever she said was extraordinarily out of this world.
Murong House ran banks and jewelry stores. Murong Yun Shu's father, Murong Qing, had a hand in both the legal and illegal business worlds. Under his management, Murong House's Huifeng banks were spread around the whole country, practically monopolizing the entire market. The jewelry stores 'Qian Bian Wan Yin'3, that had their signboard engraved with golden letters, enjoyed a great reputation everywhere and were favored by nobles and high officials.
Before Murong Qing passed away, Jinling’s Murong House was a symbol of wealth and power. The main hall was always bustling like a marketplace with everyone rushing in like ducks. Within five short days after his death, the banks received a massive amount of requests to cash in on bank notes, the jewelry stores were gloomy and completely deserted. Everyone believed that Murong House would decline from now on, without a chance of recovery. Nobody came to curry favor, flatter, or offer courtesy again. No one wanted to be associated with them, lest they get cheated out of money.
To a certain extent, Murong Yun Shu was happy about that. Her natural disposition was calm and she wasn't fond of crowds. When her father was still alive, she rarely showed her face in front of people. That was also one of the reasons that outsiders were confident Murong House would decline. How could a sheltered young lady, who never took a step out of the house, support a business?
However, the people of Murong House knew that this seemingly delicate young woman was very business-savvy. The only issue lay in whether or not she wished to take over the family business.
Murong Yun Shu really wanted to avoid troublesome things. Her whole life, she only wanted to be a lazy young lady before marriage and a lazy young madam after marriage. But the Heavens cracked a joke on her, making her simultaneously lose the protective umbrella of both her father and her husband within one week.
She didn't have much of an impression of Fang Hongfei, only aware that he was the young master of Mingjian Manor and her future husband. If it weren’t for this morning's meeting, her hand-written letter would have probably already been in his hands, asking him to take over Murong House on the premise of marriage.
She truly didn't expect him to come and break off their engagement. In only five days, he already didn't want to be related to Murong House because of their unstable situation?
Adjusting the cloak on her shoulders, Murong Yun Shu gazed at the night sky outside the window. For the first time since birth, she sighed.
On the 15th each month, Murong Yun Shu would go to the temple to burn incense. This month was no exception. From very early in the morning, she was sitting on the soft bearing Murong House's crest, heading for Wanyun temple. When they reached the old moon bridge, they encountered a large and grandiose bride escort procession on top of it, that obstructed their way.
"Miss, it's Mingjian Manor's bride escort procession." Lu'er spoke through gritted teeth as she leaned toward the window of the sedan chair.
Murong Yun Shu frowned, then lifted the window blinds to ask unhappily, "Isn't the marriage already off?" She didn't have an opinion about marrying Fang Hongfei before, but now…she would rather marry a dog.
"They must be going to Zhenyuan Escort Services4." Lu'er whispered, cursing Fang Hongfei on the inside. Heartless, ungrateful man. Treating him as the family's son-in-law for all those years was in vain!
Zhenyuan Escort Services was a prestigious and highly recognized escort business in Jinling. Rumors said that the boss, Lin Zhenyuan, had a daughter as pretty as a flower. She was appointed as 'Jianghu's5 finest beauty'.
Who knew whether Fang Hongfei got together with Lin Shui'er after he broke off the engagement, or much earlier than that.
Disdain flashed in Murong Yun Shu's eyes before she put down the blinds and sat straight once again. "That's none of our business. Proceed."
"But they've stopped in the middle of the bridge, blocking the way."
After a few seconds of grumbling, Murong Yun Shu suddenly spoke to Lu'er from inside the sedan chair, "Go tell Fang Hongfei that good dogs don't block people's path. Make him follow their example."
"…Miss, you're getting meaner and meaner." Yet she quite liked the present young lady. She was more like an ordinary human like that.
"Mhm. If he won't let us pass, I can be even meaner."
Lu'er's expression changed from delight to worship. With her chin up and her chest out, she moved toward the enemy camp. "Young hero Fang, our young lady said that good dogs don't block people's path. Unless you want to be called a vicious dog, quickly make way."
Hearing that, Fang Hongfei's face turned green. He didn't mind the little maid in front of his horse, but directly rode toward Murong Yun Shu's sedan chair. "What is this about?"
Murong Yun Shu didn't get off the sedan chair, speaking indifferently from behind the blinds, "I'd also like to know."
"Don't act stupid! I already knew you wouldn't willingly accept breaking our engagement. If you have a condition, just open your mouth and say it. I can certainly meet it."
"You think I've come to cause trouble?"
"You still want to quibble?"
Murong Yun Shu shook her head, finding the situation laughable. "You can seriously meet any condition?"
"As long as you agree to make way and can guarantee not to disturb my wedding."
Hearing these words, Murong Yun Shu felt like laughing even more. She'd seen people believing themselves infallible, but she hadn't seen a dog believing himself the recipient of a one-sided love. Even among dogs, he still stood out!
"I'm afraid you cannot afford the thing I want," she said slowly.
Fang Hongfei looked up with a smile. "What a joke. Is there anything in this world that I, Fang Hongfei, can't afford!"
His smiling expression suddenly stiffened as Fang Hongfei heaved, "You…"
"Can you afford it?"
"Of course-" Fang Hongfei quickly shut up, staring at the sedan chair blinds in angry humiliation. A while later, he finally choked out a sentence, "What do you want in the end?"
"To go to Wanyun temple," Murong Yun Shu replied.
"To go to Wanyun temple. Your bride escort procession is too spectacular, obstructing my way."
"…You didn't come to steal away the groom?"
"Young hero Fang is joking. The men in this country haven't gone extinct yet, why would I need to steal you away?"
"Murong Yun Shu!"
"Young hero Fang, if there is nothing else, I'll ask you to make way. Missing your auspicious hour is a small matter, but ruining my plan to seek god and worship Buddha is a big matter."
She was speaking softly, but listening to her got him steaming in rage.
"Murong Yun Shu, you're too arrogant!"
Regarding those words of 'praise', Murong Yun Shu accepted them with pleasure. "People in the Murong clan are all like that. As the former son-in-law, young hero Fang ought to know best."
The more composed and leisurely she was, the angrier Fang Hongfei got, but he didn't dare act rashly. Old institutions die hard6; before finding out Murong House's remaining forces, it wouldn't be good to enter a direct conflict.
Turning the horse around, Fang Hongfei entered his own procession and raised his hand to give orders, "Move to either side and make a path."
Before long, the majestic bride escort procession opened up a path in the middle, wide just enough for a sedan chair to pass through. With everyone arranged to both sides, it seemed as if they were greeting some exceedingly important personage.
"Miss is quite mighty." Lu'er laughed secretly while she walked.
"It's not like it's the first time." Murong Yun Shu didn't think it was worth being pleased about at all. She had passed through the deliberation hall of the current emperor. At that time, hundreds of civil and military officials were lined up on both sides. This small demonstration couldn't compare.
Although what happened on old moon bridge was a misunderstanding, the misunderstanding was big. Not even three days later, the matter of the young lady in charge of Murong House blocking the marriage sedan to steal away the groom had spread in every street and alley of Jinling.
"Miss, it was definitely Mingjian Manor's people who spread the rumor!"
"That Fang Hongfei is really too hateful, he went too far!"
"Miss!" Lu'er feigned anger and grabbed the account book from the table, holding it close in her arms. Retreating two steps back, she said, "Everyone is scolding you for not abiding by the traditional woman's ethics! How can you still be so calm?!"
Murong Yun Shu looked at her helplessly, throwing the brush aside to ask, "Are they right to scold?"
"Of course not."
"Then why should I care?"
"Because they're not right, we need to fight back! Getting scolded in vain is too unfair."
"Then how should we fight back in your view? Cutting his throat, digging out his eyes, or breaking his four limbs?"
"…Miss…you're quite ruthless."
"It's you who said to fight back."
"I didn't mean for you to take human life as grass!"
"It's helping people eliminate evil."
"Put down the account book and go call the housekeeper over."
Just finished speaking, the housekeeper hurriedly ran into the study and cried out while gasping for breath, "Miss, a huge problem!"
Murong Yun Shu's eyes darkened. "What happened?"
"Mojiao's7 people came…came…"
Hearing the word 'Mojiao', Murong Yun Shu's heart suddenly shivered. Murong House had never had any misgivings with Mojiao's people in the past, and there was no enmity between them. Why would they come for a visit?
"What did they come for?"
"Came…came…" The housekeeper stammered for a while before saying with a miserable expression, "Came to propose marriage."
Notes: The primary reason I decided to pick this up is the MC’s sass. That’s all. Not edited. Hopefully there aren’t any huge mistakes that hinder the reading experience. If you notice anything, you’re welcome to write it in the comments and I’ll fix it.
Literally, Famous Sword ↩
In the sense of ‘grow in power, emerge in a towering position’ ↩
Literally, Thousand Changes to Ten Thousand Silvers ↩
It’s a business that provides escort/bodyguards to clients ↩
Tempted to translate is Martial world, but it’s not exactly that.
Wikipedia: Over the centuries, “jianghu” […] gradually became a term used to describe a sub-society parallel to, and sometimes orthogonal to, mainstream society. This sub-society initially included merchants, craftsmen, beggars and vagabonds, but over time it assimilated bandits, outlaws and gangs who lived “outside the existing law” ↩ Original idiom: a centipede dies but never falls down ↩ Literally, Demon Teachings or Evil Sect ↩