C122 – This World Is too Crazy
Zhang Chun squirmed in discomfort as the carriage suddenly struck a rock, causing him to tumble out. Fortunately, Wang Dingjun swiftly grasped his waist, preventing a potential injury.
“Huff…” Wang Dingjun halted the carriage and quipped, “Now you understand fear? It’s no wonder your family’s wealth was taken from you. You’re quite dense; even if you possessed riches untold, you couldn’t safeguard them!”
Zhang Chun’s heart still raced, impairing his ability to think clearly. He gazed at Wang Dingjun with a dazed expression.
Perhaps due to his terrified countenance or the profound sorrow in his eyes, Wang Dingjun found it difficult to meet his gaze.
In truth, Zhang Chun wasn’t entirely at fault for his fall. It was more a result of Wang Dingjun’s internal struggle. He felt embarrassed about being outdone by a youngster.
Initially, he had mistreated Zhang Chun out of vengeance, but later, he had teased him just for amusement.
Zhang Chun bit his lip, experiencing a painful awakening. He pinched his cheek and yelped, “Ouch!” Muttering to himself, “He’s still alive… It’s a relief that he’s unharmed.”
Wang Dingjun couldn’t bear to continue scaring him. He patted his head and said, “Alright, I won’t frighten you anymore. But don’t think you can take liberties with the Tang Family’s young master in the future. The Crown Princess is off-limits.”
“…”Zhang Chun’s just-recovered mind went blank again. What had he just heard? Crown Princess? Who?
“Wait… Clarify this for me. Whom did I take liberties with?” He had never even met the Crown Princess. When had he crossed any boundaries?
Wang Dingjun pushed him back into the carriage and resumed driving.
“Hey, explain properly. Even if you want to die, at least die with some understanding!” Zhang Chun yanked the door open and shouted, feeling that he had missed something crucial.
For instance, why had Tang Yue spent the night at the Crown Prince’s Palace?
Why had he been inexplicably ousted from the Crown Prince’s Palace?
And why did everyone react strangely when recalling these events?
Wang Dingjun chuckled and said, “Are you suggesting that your earlier affectionate display was an attempt to manipulate me? The young master from the Tang Family is set to marry into the Crown Prince’s Palace as a concubine next month. Consider yourself fortunate that His Highness didn’t draw his sword against you just now.”
Which man could bear to witness his wife being pursued by someone else?
Moreover, the Crown Princess is a revered figure. If a man gazes at her, he should be willing to gouge out his own eyes.
“Tang… Are you referring to Tang Yue, the young master from the Tang Family?” Zhang Chun was taken aback. Communicating with these people from ancient times had always been a challenge, as their words often seemed like a conversation between two different worlds.
Once again, he found himself struggling to decipher their conversation. The words they used felt like pieces of a puzzle that didn’t quite fit together.
“You don’t know? There’s only one young master in the Tang Family,” Wang Dingjun replied with a roll of his eyes.
“So, what’s the situation with the Crown Princess? Tang Yue wants to marry your Crown Prince?” This world was turning out to be stranger than fiction!
“You really don’t know?” Wang Dingjun pondered for a moment, realizing that Zhang Chun might indeed be uninformed. He had been imprisoned when the Crown Prince had hired him, but afterward, it seemed like the news had spread widely. Zhang Chun should have heard about it.
Wang Dingjun couldn’t help but think that Zhang Chun was exceptionally clueless.
Zhang Chun was torn between laughter and exasperation. How was he supposed to know about this? No one had informed him, and even if he had heard about Tang Yue marrying the Crown Prince, it wouldn’t have made any sense to him. Who on earth was this young master from the Tang Family?
Couldn’t they just use his last name? Conversing with people from ancient times was proving to be quite exhausting!
“Can men also become Crown Princesses? What kind of nonsense is the old emperor allowing? Did he approve of such a thing?” Zhang Chun couldn’t help but wonder if he had somehow ended up in the wrong era.
“As long as His Highness is willing and the King gives his consent, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished,” Wang Dingjun replied. With both the highest-ranking men in the country in agreement, who would dare to oppose it?
“The king… is the father of the Crown Prince?” Zhang Chun questioned, trying to piece things together.
Wang Dingjun sighed and withdrew into the carriage, saying, “Don’t speculate like that. If someone hears you, it could lead to trouble.”
Zhang Chun quickly muffled his words, whispering, “I didn’t mean anything by it… But don’t you find it unusual for a man to marry another man?”
Wang Dingjun halted the carriage once more and turned to Zhang Chun with a stern expression.
“What… what are you doing? What did I say wrong?” Zhang Chun retreated to the corner of the carriage, realizing he had made a mistake. He couldn’t act as decisively as Wang Dingjun in such situations.
“It’s not uncommon for men to love each other. There are many instances of men marrying one another. You’re friends with the Tang family’s young man, aren’t you? Can’t you accept such a reality?”
Zhang Chun hastily shook his head. “Of course, I can! I was merely curious. I didn’t think such things would occur within the royal family.”
Unlike Tang Yue, Zhang Chun was less informed. He believed that in ancient times, people were more conservative and traditional.
Wang Dingjun nodded, saying, “That’s for the best. Otherwise, you might not be welcome at the Crown Prince’s Palace in the future.”
Zhang Chun suppressed his excitement, realizing that he might not need to keep his future relationships secret. He had not anticipated such a favorable outcome.
Tang Yue had been quite secretive about this important news. It seemed reasonable upon reflection, as it couldn’t have been easy for him to announce his intention to marry.
“Hey, can you turn back? I haven’t congratulated Brother Tang yet. Regardless of anything, I should extend my congratulations,” Zhang Chun requested. Now that he understood the situation, he was no longer afraid of Crown Prince Zhao. At worst, he would just avoid Tang Yue.
Crown Prince Zhao must have a broad-minded outlook to marry someone against societal norms and expectations. Zhang Chun wondered what Tang Yue’s thoughts were. Perhaps a ruler could forgo the traditional conventions of having multiple consorts and prioritize other aspects of leadership?
Zhang Chun had often boasted about having multiple wives and concubines, but his views on relationships had undergone a significant shift. Maybe he had underestimated his own adaptability and his mother’s influence, which led to changes in his sexual orientation and personal preferences.
Zhang Chun often mentioned having multiple partners, but when it came to emotions, he had become more selective. Perhaps his mother played a more significant role in shaping his attitudes than he initially thought, leading him to embrace his new orientation and develop certain preferences in relationships.
If his spouse intended to father children with other women in the future, he would prefer to lead his life with those assets.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Zhang Chun himself was entirely inexperienced in this regard. Although he had never engaged in any intimate relations with anyone in his previous life, he was certain of it without the need for confirmation.
Wang Dingjun couldn’t be bothered with him and carried on driving the carriage toward the western direction. After about half an hour, the carriage came to a halt in front of a substantial residence.
“My place?” Zhang Chun vigorously rubbed his eyes and cast a suspicious glance at Wang Dingjun. He had a sneaking suspicion that he had been led to some remote and eerie mansion, with sinister plans of disposal in mind.
Wang Dingjun hopped off the carriage and surveyed the surroundings. He nodded and replied, “Based on the address provided, this is the correct location.”
Zhang Chun clung to the carriage’s door and hesitated to step out. “It’s fine if it’s isolated, but it looks so rundown. How can I possibly live here?”
Standing on the carriage and taking in his surroundings, he noticed that the house was quite spacious, enclosed by large walls. However, the entrance was damaged, the nameplate had fallen off, and the stone lion guarding the door had been the target of multiple graffiti artists. A foul odor wafted from a distance.
Wang Dingjun forcibly pulled him out of the carriage and ushered him inside. “Even if you possess wealth in Ye City, you might not be able to acquire such an expansive estate. You can settle here.”
“I’m by myself. I only need a modest abode with a couple of rooms. Living alone in such a colossal mansion will give me nightmares!”
Zhang Chun took a step inside the entrance, but before he could fully enter, he spotted a dark blur darting past him. Startled, he leaped behind Wang Dingjun.
“What on earth was that?”
“Meow…” A small black head emerged from the tall grass, sporting pure black fur and golden eyes. It fixed its gaze on Zhang Chun and Wang Dingjun, assuming a defensive stance.
Zhang Chun peeked out from behind Wang Dingjun and made a face at the black cat. He glanced at the overgrown grass in the courtyard and felt like crying but had no tears left.
“Perhaps it’s best not to venture further. If we disturb a snake’s nest, we might not make it back.”
“Where could snakes come from in this winter?” Wang Dingjun unsheathed his sword and cleared a path ahead as he advanced.
Unable to proceed alone, Zhang Chun had no choice but to follow behind Wang Dingjun. As they passed through the front yard, the house’s grandeur slowly came into view.
Zhang Chun couldn’t help but sigh in amazement, envisioning how magnificent and opulent the mansion must have been in its prime. Now, decades of exposure to the elements and neglect had reduced it to a mere shell, leaving room for Zhang Chun’s imagination to run wild.
“The former city lord departed long ago, and it seems no one has cared for this estate since. The servants had no oversight, so they pilfered items from the mansion and fled.”
Zhang Chun couldn’t help but think about how tough it must have been for Wang Dingjun to grow up in such circumstances. The old mansion had a few loyal servants who had remained faithful.
On their recent return to Qinyang City, Zhang Chun had generously compensated the remaining servants and dismissed them. He didn’t dare keep them close, fearing they might have a change of heart within days.
The room was in slight disarray, with shattered porcelain and tiles strewn across the floor. However, the furniture remained intact, and a litter of kittens lay on the bed. Startled by the newcomers, the kittens scurried under the bed.
“We should arrange for someone to clean up here. With some repairs, it can still be habitable.”
Zhang Chun rolled his eyes at Wang Dingjun and inquired, “Can I go stay at the crown prince’s residence?”
Once he sold this place, he could purchase a smaller house within the city and acquire three or four slaves. Then he could live as a prosperous man until his days were done.
While human trafficking contradicted his moral values, he had always been adaptable. He believed he could get used to it over time. Furthermore, he had no intentions of mistreating or harming innocent people. Following Wang Dingjun might lead to a better life.
Wang Dingjun took the lead, exploring the courtyards in front of them. Over the years, nothing of value had remained, and the wooden furniture that Zhang Chun had deemed valuable had little market value here.
As they ventured deeper into the mansion, they encountered less damage. Occasionally, they spotted intact pots and pans. The house was cleaner, but clothing, fabric, and cotton had all disappeared.
“Why has no one occupied this place in all these years?” Zhang Chun had barely finished speaking when several young men emerged from a room, brandishing sticks and eyeing them warily.
Zhang Chun couldn’t help but berate himself inwardly. What they say about “speaking too soon” seemed to be true.
“Who are you all? Do you know this is the Loyal and Brave Marquis Prefecture? Leave immediately!” Wang Dingjun positioned himself in front of Zhang Chun, obstructing his path.
At that moment, Zhang Chun finally let his guard down. Sometimes, trust between people was as simple as this.
The group of men, observing Wang Dingjun and the young Zhang Chun, exchanged glances for a moment before cautiously advancing with their wooden sticks.
“Huh, the Loyal and Brave Marquis Prefecture? This place has been abandoned for years. It’s an ownerless estate. What right do you have to call it the Marquis Prefecture?”
“They’ve been living here discreetly since they occupied this place. Occasionally, they’ve had to fend off intruders. To avoid drawing attention, they’ve chosen to reside in the innermost courtyard, leaving the front yard overgrown with weeds.”
Wang Dingjun drove his iron sword into the ground, folded his arms, and stared them down. “Do you want to accompany me to the authorities to verify this? A mansion of this size must be recorded by the government, not to mention it was once Lord Hou’s residence. It seems you’re just a group of refugees trying to claim a noble’s house. You don’t know what’s good for you!”
Zhang Chun looked at Wang Dingjun’s back and suddenly felt the guy’s presence had grown larger. His aura exuded an imposing dominance, akin to a leading character in a TV drama.
He had always seen Wang Dingjun as a guardian of the Crown Prince’s Palace, forgetting that he also hailed from a prestigious family. He was the embodiment of a rich second-generation official, likely pampered and supported by others since childhood.
It was a stroke of luck to escape unharmed after provoking someone of his stature.