儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
No matter how many times she was teased by her husbands, she never grew tired of it. Waves of pleasure attacked her body and all of her words failed her at this moment. Apart from the constant spasms all over her body, she didn’t know how to do anything other than grip their members with each hand. Mind blank, she curled up in the bed, delicately gasping for breath, finally uttering after a while: “Nuan Chun, you should shave.”
Nuan Chun rubbed the stubble on his chin, not understanding why Eldest Miss always made the men by her side shave. What man on earth didn’t let his whiskers grow? Actually, Ruan Zhu didn’t forbid them from having facial hair; she liked them leaving some above their lips so they’d be as handsome as someone like Li Xun Huan[a], both cool and dashing, with a manly air.
“Zhu Zhu, one more time, okay?” Yun Shi Wei’s lips left his wife’s chest and rested against her ear. His fingers replaced where his mouth just were and gently fondled.
Ruan Zhu lowered her head to stare at the rough and large hand at her bosom, her mind still hazy: “Second Cousin, you’ve gone silly. You haven’t come yet, right?” She tilted her head to study the object in her hand–Eh? That’s not right, it’s Nuan Chun’s......Looking to her left, she very earnestly said: “Second Cousin, you really are silly. It really hasn’t come out yet! Be good and listen. We’ll talk after Older Sister finishes you off this time.” She pulled them both over and stroked them with each hand.
Yun Shi Wei didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and raised his hand to pet his wife’s head, pampering and helplessness in his eyes: “Little fool, I’m asking you if you still want it.”
“You’re the fool! What man asks a woman do they want it when they haven’t come yet! Or is it that you want to do it yourself? Don’t tell me you never did it all of these years and can’t take it anymore?” Ruan Zhu giggled. Because she had drank alcohol, her cheeks were even more visibly tender and charming and magnified her seductive appearance. Yun Shi Wei sucked in a breath. Peeling off her little hand, he straightened his back and rubbed his rod against her face.
Ruan Zhu sensed her face had become a little damp–a little bit of liquid had leaked out from his member. She turned her head and opened her mouth......Feeling uncomfortable with this position, she spit it back out and flipped over so that she was kneeling with her left hand on the bed while her right hand held Yun Shi Wei’s waist as she buried her head between his crotch and took him into her mouth again......
Shi Wei’s body violently straightened and thrust forward, but seeming as if he had considered it would injure her mouth, his movements soon slowed.
Nuan Chun used the towel to carelessly wipe his body twice before positioning himself behind Ruan Zhu. He rubbed her snowy buttocks and saw her dripping pink petals......Gasping for air, he pushed his long member forward, opening her small hole, and entered without any hesitation......
Zong Zhi arrived at Yi Zhu Cottage and entered the bedroom to see this exact scene. His eyes fixedly stared at the white derriere raised high and the two swaying mounds on her chest. Striding over, his two large hands caressed his wife’s bright and clean butt a few times and then moved down to squeeze her two breasts.
Right at this time, Min Zhi and Jing Yan simultaneously entered the bedroom. They hadn’t reached the bed yet......Yun Shi Wei glanced at the several men and frostily said: “Go bathe, all of you.”
Having been a general for several years and gone through life and death on the battlefield, his words were commanding. But the men were not intimidated by his imposing manner; rather, it was because they knew their wife’s habits that they could only covetously stare at that titillating body before turning around and entering the other room.
Zong Zhi’s desire had already ignited and he appeared the most reluctant to leave, fondling her for another good moment while giving her kiss after kiss: “Wife, wait for me to return.” Saying that, he got up and went to bathe.
Nuan Chun’s eyes were scarlet and the speed of his movements became even more urgent. He suddenly cried out: “Eldest Miss......Eldest Miss......” His body quivered as he thrust a few more times before hugging the snowy buttocks that was pasted to his abdomen, panting for air.
Shi Wei had also reached his peak. Pulling up his wife so they were face to face, he kissed her lips while prying apart her slender and long legs......Supporting his pillar that had long been swollen to its extreme, he abruptly entered her and started to violently pound her. “Zhu Zhu......Zhu Zhu......” Yelling out a few times, he tightly held the dainty body.
Shi Wei continued to kiss her, from his wife’s lips down to her soft breasts......Lifting his head, he saw that her eyes were actually closed and she had already fallen asleep. He had been ascetic for so many years so how could only doing it once satisfy his craving? But looking at her sleeping face, he didn’t have the heart to continue: “Forget it, I’ll let you go for tonight and have you make it all up tomorrow.” Seeing the basin on the floor, he got out of bed and went over to clean himself.
Nuan Chun had already wiped himself clean and grabbed another fresh towel to attend to his mistress.
By the time Zong Zhi and the other two men had finished bathing, the uninterrupted affection in the bedroom had already ended. They could only glance at each other and bitterly laugh while picking up the clothes scattered on the ground to properly put on.
Zong Zhi stopped beside the head of the bed and leaned over to kiss the little red mouth for a while before directing at Yun Shi Wei: “You can have her for a few nights. When the time comes, I will demand it all back.” Turning to call at the other to men, they left Yi Zhu Cottage.
When Ruan Zhu woke up the next morning, she discovered the sun had long risen. She felt the other side of the bed with her hand but there was no one. As a consequence of her hangover, she had a splitting headache and with regards to last night, couldn’t recall any of it. She only dimly remembered there had been some ooxx after Yun Shi Wei had carried her back, but as to who it was with, she had no impression.
Nuan Chun had continuously been keeping watch by the bed. Seeing his Eldest Miss had waken, he called for Xiao Si to bring over hangover soup while he went to freshen up his mistress.
Once freshened, Ruan Zhu put on a purple smoke gauze cheongsam embroidered with small flowers and drank the hangover soup that Nuan Chun offered her before reclining against the chaise lounge. When she felt her mind had become a little clearer, she asked: “Where’s Second Cousin?”
“Second Master Yun is practicing marksmanship in the rear courtyard, saying he would come see you in a little while. The two Highnesses have gone to morning court and Mister Jing Yan has gone to the Department of Agriculture.”
Yun Shi Wei never lazed around in bed and would get up when it was time. He also had the habit of exercising in the morning and never missed a day despite wind or rain.
Nuan Chun had servants carry the morning meal inside. There were four appetizers to whet one’s appetite, two light pastries, and one bowl of rice porridge.
Ruan Zhu ate very little as recently, she was trying to lose weight. After giving birth to Bo Zhao and Yu Ze, she discovered her weight had increased by ten catties[b] and insisted on dieting every day. Her husbands didn’t really comprehend what their wife was doing. To them, women were attractive when they were a little plumper. How exquisite was the sensation when touching that soft and tender, dumpling-like flesh? Losing weight was simply going against the natural order of things and not appreciating what the Heavens gave you.
Finished with the meal, Ruan Zhu headed towards Fu Rui Hall, where Ruan Zi Xu was staying. There was something that she wanted to clearly ask him. She had wanted to question him yesterday, but seeing how everyone had been so full of cheer, she hadn’t known how to bring it up. Yun Shi Yi was the worry and longing in her heart, and she had been unwilling to reveal her thoughts in front of so many people.
Ruan Zi Xu was currently accompanying his several grandsons, distributing the trinkets and toys he had brought back from the foreign countries he had visited. Seeing his eldest daughter enter, he called for Xiao Wu to bring over some boxes and presented them for his daughter to see as if they were treasures. “These are the sapphires I had bought in Persia. Among them are some that I had people make into jewelry. If Zhu’er does not like them, you can take the remaining ones and forge them into styles that you prefer.”
“Pa’s taste is very good. These styles are so unique and so pretty. Daughter really likes them.”
She picked out a random necklace and Ruan Zi Xu put it on for her. The blue light reflected off her clean skin, creating a sight that was unspeakably stunning.
Ruan Zi Xu happily praised: “My daughter is the most beautiful. I just knew you would like this jewelry.” Seeing his daughter wanting to take the necklace off, he rushed to say: “It looks very nice. Just wear it! Yu’er also has her share and I have already asked Xiao Liu Zi to deliver it. There are still many rare and strange trinkets in the Ruan residence inside the city. Wait until tomorrow when we enter the city and you can pick whatever you fancy.”
There were no women who disliked precious stones and Ruan Zhu naturally accepted happily: “Thank you for the present, Papa. These gems are really pretty.” She sized herself up in the mirror for a bit, feeling very satisfied, but this mirror was really a little bit too small: “This mirror is smaller than one’s palm. Later, I’ll have Xing Yun head to Hua Nong Yin Glass Workshop to bring over a large one. It’s something from our own family and of little value so use it as you like.”
The style of Fu Rui Hall was simple and unadorned. When the residence had been designed, she hadn’t known where would be best to place the mirror and had forgotten about it as time went by.
Ruan Zi Xu took back the mirror for a look, his face a little embarrassed: “Speaking of this mirror, there is a history behind it. I had originally spent quite a bit in Persia to buy it and something as small as this was three thousand taels of silver. Nevertheless, I bought a few more and the seller gave me a discount.”
That expensive! Ruan Zhu found it unfathomable: “The manufacturing costs for an identical mirror from Hua Nong Ying Glass Workshop only requires less than two taels. Pa, you’ve been cheated. Besides, why buy it in Persia? You can just take some as you please from home.”
Ruan Zi Xu’s expression was awkward: “I did not know in the beginning. It was only when I had finished my purchase that I heard the mirrors were sourced from our Tian Chu. At the time, I had been incredibly astonished as I had originally wanted to bring them back for my daughters. Now, I can only resell the majority of the mirrors now. Fortunately, not too much is lost.”
As if she had recalled something, Ruan Zhu grabbed her fathers arm, her eyes brimming with tears: “Papa must have heard about Eldest Brother while traveling. Where is he? Has he run into any trouble? Why hasn’t there been even the slightest bit of news?”
Ruan Zi Xu used his sleeve to wipe his daughter’s tears: “It is all right, it is all right. Your Eldest Cousin is doing very well. Although I did not run across him, I did hear about him. Do not worry, sit down first and slowly listen to Papa.”
Ruan Zi Xu let the wet nurses lead his grandchildren, who were amusing themselves, outside before starting to speak of matters concerning Yun Shi Yi.
That year, he had started his west-bound journey from Mongolia, but using the land route was extremely arduous. With caravans full of several hundred people, they had rode the finest camels, trekked through the land, camped outdoors, and passed through several dozen countries before finally reaching Tian Zhu[c] over a year later. Taking the land route was extremely slow so even though he had headed west before Yun Shi Yi did, Ruan Zi Xu only arrived half a year after him. Then, he had stayed in Tian Zhu for several months with his companions before setting off towards Persia; thus, by the time they arrived there, two years had already passed.
“I first sold off a portion of my merchandise in the surrounding countries and then sold another share upon arriving in Tian Zhu. Very quickly, I heard there had been a large Chinese-Turkish fleet that had arrived in Tian Zhu as early as half a year ago, but unfortunately had left several months before I arrived. They only knew the person commanding the fleet was surnamed Yun. Ai, at the time, I had yet to know that he was precisely Shi Yi. If I had known it was him, I would have chased after him no matter what. Afterwards, I departed for Persia, only to hear that the Chinese-Turkish fleet had remained there for nearly two months.”
“And then?” Ruan Zhu impatiently questioned him: “What direction did Eldest Cousin’s fleet sail towards? Was it towards the east or to the west?”
“I heard they were heading east, going towards Da Qin.”
Going to Da Qin–that was but an extremely distant destination, ah! At this time, the ancient Suez Canal had long been abandoned and the new waterway was not opened until the eighteenth century. Wanting to reach Da Qin in this era required detouring around the Cape of Good Hope in the southern part of Africa.
Ruan Zhu dazedly sat back down. Why on earth was he so persistent? Was he not concerned about his family back home?
At night, Ruan Zhu brought up this matter with Yun Shi Wei.
Shi Wei contemplated for a moment, then began: “I understand Eldest Brother’s worries. Zong Zhi is the Prince of Qi, Min Zhi is the Prince of Yong, Jing Yan is a son of the prime minister’s family yet the one who is the principle husband is actually a commoner. Zhu Zhu, what do you think Eldest Brother feels? How would outsiders talk?”
Ruan Zhu raised her grief-filled eyes towards him: “But I don’t care about that at all, ah!”
Yun Shi Wei told her: “You see, Zhu Zhu, there are many things a man must do. Giving their wife children, living well for their family and also living with dignity–even if one suffers, all men would be willing. Zhu Zhu, you don’t understand; this is a man’s responsibility.”
Ruan Zhu seemed to have somewhat become aware: “Then, going to the battlefield was also a responsibility, right?”
“If I have children in the future, they will surely live a harder life compared to Bo Yu and Bo Ya because they will feel inferior as I come from a background without any honor or future prospects. I am currently successful, but Eldest Brother isn’t yet. He is a businessman, and merchants of all dynasties and courts have been looked down on. He would have to invest more and go through much greater hardships in order to make an achievement in this field.” He held his wife against his chest and lowered his head to kiss her: “I led the Zhu Ri army back in advance not long after the imperial army broke through the Red Eyebrow’s hold because I kept thinking about you. The main army still needs another month before they can victoriously return. After that time, officers will be bestowed rewards based on their accomplishments and I will, at the very least, be made into a second-rank high official. Zhu Zhu, I didn’t cause you to lose face and Eldest Brother won’t either.”
“Ai, you’ve both worked hard.” Ruan Zhu faintly sighed.
“Zhu’er, what Eldest Brother and I do is for the Yun clan and also for our shared children. You do not need to unnecessarily blame yourself.” Yun Shi Wei hugged his wife and fondled her soft mounds, inevitably becoming adventurous and uncontrollable. He smiled: “Last night, you were so drunk that I couldn’t satisfy my craving. I should ask for compensation now.”
Ruan Zhu felt his crotch, her expression emotional: “Second Cousin, I will properly wait upon you tonight.”
The next day was a day of rest for the court and with the exception of Jing Yan who was still working, Zong Zhi and Min Zhi were both home.
Yet an imperial edict from the Emperor arrived. This edict came quite suddenly and was for her several husbands.
Zong Zhi led the household in kneeling as the official from the Ministry of Appointments read out the edict.
When everything had been read out, Ruan Zhu remained bewildered. What was going on with the Emperor? He seemed to especially like handing out promotions when he had nothing better to do? Her family’s Second had been given the position of a second-rank deputy of the Privy Council[d], which could be considered pretty good.
But in addition to his duties with his original post, Zong Zhi had also been given the responsibility of giving council in political affairs. This was not an insignificant position. Though he was not the prime minister, there was not much difference.
As for Min Zhi, he had been promoted from a fifth-rank officer of the Hong Lu Court to a high-ranking officer of the Da Li Court[e].
The Emperor had bestowed all of this to her husbands and had similarly not forgotten about her. Towards this, Ruan Zhu was quite satisfied–at least it wasn’t a reputation with no substance. She had been given three thousand fiefs situated along the banks of the Lan River. How much profit could be gained from this? No one was afraid of having too much money.
She didn’t discern why the Emperor had lost his mind to so abruptly confer these positions to her husbands, but the two princes in the her family seemed to know why. In private, Zong Zhi questioned Min Zhi: “Father-Emperor wants to use official positions to oppress the Yun brothers. What do you think of this?”
During the several years he had been putting down the rebellion, Yun Shi Wei had generated quite a track record. Based on the conduct he had always displayed in Lan Zhou, by the time Head Yun returned from his travels, he would inevitably obtain great honor and glory. If the Emperor wanted to repress the Yun clan, then he could only give his sons even better and higher official positions. At that time, under the pressure of public opinion, it was possible Yun Shi Yi would be forced to withdraw from his position as principal husband.
Min Zhi expressionlessly side-eyed him: “The one being forced to be the heir isn’t me so why the hell are you asking me this? I don’t care about your business, but if you hurt Zhu’er, I won’t let you get away with it.”
Zong Zhi’s face cooled: “I care about Zhu’er more than you.”
Min Zhi snorted and no longer responded. In fact, he had his own worries–Prime Minister Sima of Nan Ling was chasing after him. If he was unable to persuade him, he would then approach the Emperor to drag him back to Nan Ling. There was absolutely no way Prime Minister Sima would relinquish his power and return empty-handed.
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