Seeing that Wei Lan and Wei Mao were very impolite to Wei Chongrong, Wei Kou gave either of them a glare; but her temperament had always been gentle and peaceful, and neither of the two younger brothers were afraid of her, so it had no effect.
Wei Kou let go of Wei Lan and Wei Mao, came over and took Wei Chongrong’s hand, saying softly: “Rong’er, it’s okay, Sister will play with you.”
Wei Chongrong nodded, not even looking at Wei Lan and Wei Mao. His character was like this. You treat me well, and I’ll treat you better, and if you treat me badly, I won’t bother to pay attention to you. If they hadn’t been the sons of the Crown Prince Uncle, he would have been rude to them a long time ago.
At this time, sensing a strange atmosphere among the boys, Princess Yuankang thought that because the elders were in the hall, they felt restrained, and said, “Ah Lan, you are the elder brother, take Mao’er and Rong’er to play outside. Kou’er, come and talk to your aunt, I haven’t seen you for a few days.”
Wei Kou was worried that Wei Lan and Wei Mao would bully Wei Chongrong and didn’t want to go, but Princess Yuankang insisted, and Wei Kou thought that there were palace servants outside, so her brothers shouldn’t dare to be too reckless. She told them a few words of warning before going to the empress and Princess Yuankang.
After Wei Kou left, the three boys looked at each other. Although they didn’t find each other pleasing to the eye, they made the same action, that is, they walked over the threshold and went to play in the courtyard.
For Wei Lan and Wei Mao, the palace servants outside could be regarded as non-existent, so Wei Mao glanced at Wei Chongrong and muttered: “Second Brother, they said he was a little wolf cub. I don’t want to play with a little wolf cub.”
The phrase “a little wolf cub” first originated from Wei Su. He was the emperor with a golden mouth and jade words, and Wei Zhao didn’t dare to argue even if he was dissatisfied. As long as the old man recognised his grandson, Wei Zhao could endure; but if others dared to say this, he would never be merciful.
Wei Mao was only one year older than Wei Chongrong; he just turned five years old this year. If he could hear the name “little wolf cub”, it was obvious that quite a lot of people were talking about Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong behind their backs. Maybe someone was even adding fuel to the fire.
It was just that Wei Zhao didn’t like to go back to the palace. Today was the first time he had come back after moving to his residence, so he didn’t know much about the situation in the palace. Wei Zhao didn’t know anything, and Wei Chongrong couldn’t have heard of it. When he heard the name “little wolf cub”, he almost exploded.
Wei Chongrong was very angry and instinctively wanted to beat up Wei Mao, but Wei Mao was about the same height as him and thinner than him. Thinking about the kindness of Wei Ming and Wei Xuan to him, he really couldn’t do it, so he retorted: “I’m not a little wolf cub, you are not allowed to talk bullshit!”
Wei Mao was the youngest son of Wei Ming and Jun Feili. He was born a little frail. He was usually the most favoured by the Crown Prince and the empress. No one has ever dared to say a heavy word to him. After listening to Wei Chongrong’s words, he immediately yelled: “You are a little wolf cub, born to the Fourth Prince and a wild man!”
“What did you say?!” When Wei Mao scolded him, Wei Chongrong could somehow tolerate it, but when it involved Wei Zhao, Wei Chongrong absolutely couldn’t bear it. He rolled up his sleeves and planned to pounce.
“Rong’er, come back! Don’t mess around!” Wei Zhao was standing by the window, and the volume of the two children talking was getting louder and louder, how could he not hear it? Wei Chongrong was very strong. After what had happened to Pei Di, you could imagine how Wei Mao’s little body might be broken to pieces by him. Naturally, Wei Zhao had to stop it. Besides, Wei Mao was a child and was ignorant. How old was he? For the sake of his elder brother, Wei Zhao still cared about his nephew.
Xie Xiu stood beside Wei Zhao, looking at him with some concern. There were a lot more unbearable things said about Wei Zhao in the major families of the Great Yan than in the palace. She opened her mouth slightly, as if to say something, but after all, she didn’t say anything.
Wei Chongrong wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t dare to openly oppose Wei Zhao, so he had to withdraw his fist bitterly. Wei Mao mistakenly thought that Wei Chongrong was afraid of him, and smiled triumphantly at him. Wei Chongrong stared back fiercely, making Wei Mao shiver with fright. He didn’t dare to speak again for a long time.
It didn’t take long for Wei Ming and Jun Feili to arrive, accompanied by father and son Xie Bai and Xie Qiu. Xie Bai was also related to the imperial family by blood. He was the son of Wei Su’s elder sister, Princess Chongqing, and the previous Gong Song Xie Zhou. He and Princess Yuankang were direct cousins(1).
When Wei Mao saw Wei Ming, he trotted all the way over. Unexpectedly, Wei Ming didn’t hug him, just touched his head. Instead, he picked up Wei Chongrong, who was standing motionless under the eaves, and talked to him affectionately, asking and answering questions.
Wei Mao was so angry that his dissatisfaction with Wei Chongrong rose to the extreme. Their father was theirs, so why should he treat that little wolf cub so nicely? Although he was very upset, Wei Mao looked very obedient on the surface. He knew that his father loved his uncle the most and he didn’t dare to make trouble in front of him.
The atmosphere of the family banquet was very harmonious. Except for Princess Suining, who had died early, and Princess Gaochang, who had married far away, Ji Wan’s children were all here. Wei Lan and Wei Mao didn’t like Wei Chongrong, but they were very good at pleasing the empress, and the atmosphere at the table was very warm.
It was not that Wei Chongrong couldn’t pretend to be tender and obedient, but Wei Lan and Wei Mao had already taken the lead. He couldn’t lose face competing with the two brats. He simply sat beside Wei Zhao and stayed quiet. He just ate his food with peace of mind, and from time to time played the game of “you stare at me, I stare at you” with Wei Mao.
After three rounds of wine, Ji Wan said to Wei Zhao: “Ah Zhao, you are not young, and you should be serious about marrying a wife and having a family, otherwise who will help you take care of all those things in the mansion? Which girl do you like, just tell your mother, your mother will help arrange it for you.”
Wei Zhao had never considered this question, and he was stunned for a while, not knowing how to answer. Because he was a bit slow to speak, the atmosphere of the family banquet grew a little stiff.
Seeing this, Princess Yuankang hurriedly echoed: “That’s right, do you want your sister to introduce you? I’m looking for a wife for Ah Qiu, so I have all the information at hand.”
In fact, Xie Qiu was young and had a perfect family background. His mother was the emperor’s daughter and his father, whom the emperor personally gave the title of Hou Yichun, was the son of the emperor’s sister. Recently Xie Qiu had won the imperial examination. His future was limitless. There was no need for Princess Yuankang to go looking for a wife. The people who came to the door to propose marriage almost didn’t leave the threshold of Princess Yuankang and Hou Yichun’s residence. Princess Yuankang only said this to smoothen the situation so that it wouldn’t be too awkward.
With Princess Yuankang interrupting, Wei Zhao quickly pulled himself together and replied, “Many thanks to Mother Empress for her concern, but I have just returned to the capital and have many chores to attend to, so I don’t wish to consider marriage for the time being. I apologise for making Mother Empress worry.”
Ji Wan could see that Wei Zhao had no intention of marrying a wife, and with Wei Chongrong, an oil bottle by his side(2), almost all the noble families of the country might be unwilling to marry their daughters to him. After all, Wei Chongrong wasn’t a child born of Wei Zhao’s youthful frivolity, but was forced on him by the enemy monarch. The so-called “mother unknown” on the jade plate was just self-deception. There was a big difference between these two things, and there was no one in the capital who wouldn’t know the truth. There were many people at the table, and Ji Wan didn’t want to ask more questions, but she definitely decided to take care of Wei Zhao’s marriage; it was impossible for him to delay it.
Hearing the conversation between Ji Wan and Wei Zhao, Wei Chongrong remained expressionless, but his heart trembled. For more than a year after his rebirth, what he thought about most every day was the future of himself and Wei Zhao, how to escape from the territory of Fuyu, how to avoid the scourge of witchcraft, how to save the Eastern Palace family…
He had never thought that Wei Zhao would return to the Great Yan and there would be the possibility of him marrying a wife and bringing home a stepmother for him. Wei Chongrong was a little confused. He wanted to look up at Wei Zhao’s expression but felt that it would be too deliberate, so he had to bow his head even lower.
Xie Xiang’s mind was keen and delicate. Seeing that her grandmother and her uncle were a little unhappy, she hurriedly changed the subject and talked about interesting things about herself and her brother. Xie Qiu was very insightful and joined her. Wei Xuan and Wei Kou also echoed from the side, so the matter was left alone.
Except for Wei Chongrong, Wei Mao was the youngest. He had always been a picky eater. He left the table early and ran outside to play. Seeing that there was a precedent, Wei Chongrong spoke to Wei Zhao and slipped out as well, intending to get some fresh air in the courtyard.
Who knew that Wei Chongrong would be unlucky enough to bump into Wei Mao as soon as he went out. Seeing that Wei Ming wasn’t there, Wei Mao pointed at Wei Chongrong and yelled: “Little wolf cub, don’t be too proud! You think that my father loves you, so you can show off your power in the palace. Let me tell you, neither Grandfather Emperor nor Grandmother Empress like you. They want to pass you to Second Uncle for adoption, and then marry a wife to Fourth Uncle. By then, no one will want you, hahaha…”
“What did you say? Say it again!” If Wei Zhao wanted to get married, although Wei Chongrong was a little unhappy, if Wei Zhao himself agreed, he wouldn’t object, and he would treat that woman with all the respect she deserved, but what did it mean to pass him for adoption?…
Wei Chongrong knew that the “Second Uncle” Wei Mao mentioned was Wei Ming’s second younger brother and Wei Zhao’s second elder brother, and his second uncle, the late Wang Zheng Wei Xu.
In Wei Su’s harem, Consort Xin Shangguan Ling’s origin was second only to Empress Ji Wan. She was the daughter of the concubine of Shangguan Hong, the previous Gong Yue. Wei Xu was only three years younger than Wei Ming. When he was born, although Ji Wan had already become the empress, Wei Ming had not yet been officially named the Crown Prince. Wei Xu had strong family support behind him – even though the family of Gong Yue wasn’t as strong as the family of Wang Changning, the three brothers Shangguan Ao, Shangguan Yi, and Shangguan Xiang were not idlers. The two families were evenly matched and were bound to fight – so some people speculated that a bloody storm in the harem was inevitable.
In fact, such a guess had never become a reality. Wei Xu was born frail and sickly, and as soon as he was born, he was judged by the imperial doctors to be unlikely to live to adulthood. Even if Consort Xin had once had thoughts of competing with the empress, they had vanished in the face of her frail son.
Thanks to Consort Xin’s elder brother Shangguan Xiang, who was an extraordinary medical expert, Wei Xu stumblingly reached his twenties and married a wife, but unfortunately, died without leaving an heir.
Wei Su’s treatment of the harem and his children had never been very careful. Only the most outstanding concubines were remembered by him for a few years, and if their parental family was strong, he would still have some respect for them after they fell out of favour, otherwise they were completely forgotten. Among the many imperial sons and daughters, apart from the eldest Princess Yuankang and Wei Ming, only Wei Zhao was favoured because of his resemblance to Jun Lin. Fortunately, since Consort Xin died early, she had left a good impression on Wei Su, and her elder brothers were all capable, so Wei Su had some pity for Wei Xu, even though he didn’t dote on him.
Wei Xu died young without a son, and no one inherited the title. Wei Su intended to give him an heir under his name, so that he could have someone to burn incense for him in the future. However, none of Wei Xu’s brothers had a suitable son to give away for adoption and this matter dragged on to this day.
First of all, Wei Ming was the son of the empress, and Wei Xu was the son of the concubine. There could be no such thing as the Crown Prince’s son from the main wife being passed for adoption as a son to Wang Zheng. However, the Crown Prince and Lord Consort were deeply in love. The Eastern Palace had no concubines, so it was unrealistic to expect the Crown Prince to give birth to a concubine’s son. Then there was Wang Lu Wei Xiao. He and Wei Xu were both sons of concubines, and his eldest son could inherit his title but there was no restriction on the other sons. It was a pity that Wei Xiao was married for six years, and only had his first son last year.
In addition, Wei Zhao was in Fuyu, and Wei Shi was underage, so they couldn’t be counted on. There was no suitable one among the emperor’s grandchildren; the Wei clan might have had children of the right age, but the emperor wasn’t happy with that and would rather wait and see than let someone take advantage of the situation.
Four months ago, Wei Zhao returned with his son. Wei Su originally was dead-set on not recognising Wei Chongrong, but Wei Zhao, equally dead-set, forced him to, and Ji Wan persuaded him that Wei Chongrong could be considered a concubine’s son, so it was okay to recognise him, just in time to pass him on to Wei Xu. In this way, Wei Xu would have an heir, and Wangfei(3) Zheng would have someone to rely on for the second half of her life. Wei Zhao would get rid of his burden and it would be easier to discuss his marriage, so it would be a win-win situation. Wei Su thought for a while, and admitted that the empress’s words made sense, so he reluctantly recognised Wei Chongrong, and forced Wei Zhao to give him a different name from the other imperial grandchildren.
Neither Wei Su nor Ji Wan thought about what Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong would think about the adoptionion, or whether Wangfei Zheng would be willing to accept an heir of unknown origin. In their minds, none of this mattered, and what they did was definitely for everyone’s own good.
Let’s talk about Wei Zhao first. According to Wei Su’s original intention, he wanted to send Wei Chongrong far away, so that he and Wei Zhao would never see each other again in this life. In this way, those rumours about Wei Zhao would have always remained just rumours, and no one would be able to confirm them. For Wei Zhao, it would probably be the best thing. But Wei Zhao disagreed and resisted to death, keeping Wei Chongrong and adding countless troubles to himself and the imperial family.
After passing Wei Chongrong to Wei Xu for adoption, Wei Zhao could still see him, but Wei Chongrong, on the other hand, would pick up the title of the wang for nothing, and Wei Su couldn’t think of any reason for them to object. As for Wangfei Zheng, who had been widowed for many years, it would be nice to have a nephew who could be adopted. Was she qualified to choose?
Wei Mao saw Wei Chongrong staring straight at him. Except for the previous sentence, Wei Chongrong couldn’t speak anymore. Wei Mao thought Wei Chongrong was frightened by him, and said proudly: “I said you will soon be the little wolf cub that no one wants. Second Aunt is terrible, she is really scary…” Wei Mao hadn’t met Wangfei Zheng many times, and Wangfei Zheng was also kind to her nephews and nieces, but Wei Mao was afraid of her, so afraid that he didn’t want to see her. He always felt that her eyes were creepy and terrifying.
Wei Chongrong wasn’t afraid of Wangfei Zheng, but he didn’t want to be given to her and Wei Xu as a son. He didn’t want anyone except Wei Zhao. All along, Wei Chongrong had no sense of belonging to the Wei family. In his previous life, except for Wei Zhao who ignored him, Wei Su who rejected him, and Wei Yang who used him, Wei Chongrong had never seen anyone else in the Wei family. After being reborn, his relationship with Wei Zhao was slowly cultivated over time. He felt affection for Wei Ming and Princess Yuankang because they treated him kindly, but he himself didn’t have the self-perception of being a member of the Wei family.
Wei Xu died before Wei Chongrong was born, and their lives had never intersected. For whatever reason, Wei Chongrong couldn’t accept that he was going to be a son to Wei Xu, whom he had never met.
Did Wei Zhao know about this? What did he think? Did he think that doing so was a good arrangement for Wei Chongrong? After all, staying by Wei Zhao’s side, he would never be an heir. In the future, he would only be an ordinary family member. Once he was adopted, he would immediately be a wang, the same as Wei Zhao.
But in that case, he would no longer be Wei Zhao’s son, and he could no longer call him father. When he saw Wei Zhao, he would have to be like Wei Xuan and the others and call him Fourth Uncle. He didn’t want this, absolutely not.
- Hehe, more incest, get used to it
- Derogatory, a child from the previous marriage
- The wife of the wang; also can be translated as Princess, but different from a princess that is the emperor’s daughter, like Princess Yuankang