Tome of Troubled Times - C.70: Cui Wenjing

Tome of Troubled Times

C.70: Cui Wenjing

Cui Yuanyang did not say anything about it in the end and only said, “Father is appreciating the flowers at the pavilion in the back garden. I think...he’s also waiting to meet you, Big Brother Zhao.

Zhao Changhe raised his head to look at her. Her expression, which had been exceedingly easy to read so far, was now like it was shrouded in mist. All her thoughts were concealed.

However, she was still full of smiles. After seeing Zhao Changhe finish his milk and pastries, she was very ladylike and lightly lifted her skirt as she stood up. “I’ll bring you over, Big Brother Zhao.”

After Zhao Changhe got up, Cui Yuanyang naturally led him out of the building by his hand.

Zhao Changhe, on the other hand, felt that this was a bit unnatural. He turned to look at both sides of the corridor. “If you hold my hand here...”

Cui Yuanyang replied indifferently, “Whether I should or should not hold your hand, we’ve done it so many times. There is no need to deceive others or ourselves. Whether I’m here or elsewhere, I’m still Yangyang.”

Zhao Changhe’s pursed his lips and did not respond.

Cui Yuanyang led him along leisurely and said, “Actually, I’m not in a very good mood.”

Zhao Changhe asked, “Because you found out who the spy is?”

Cui Yuanyang sighed. “Big Brother Zhao, if you could be a little bit dumber, you’d be so much cuter.”

“Like you?”

Cui Yuanyang earnestly nodded. “Yes. Like me.”

Zhao Changhe broke out into laughter.

Cui Yuanyang continued, “Of course, if you became dumber, you wouldn’t be able to break through all sorts of hardships with me like a god. How troublesome. Why be smarter to outsiders, and act a little dumber around me?”

Zhao Changhe did not know if he was being objective, but he suddenly felt that this girl in front of him was beginning to know how to talk.

What do you mean by outsiders? Who are the insiders?

He returned to the main topic. “So who on earth is the spy?”

“My third brother, Cui Yuancheng.”

“The second son of the first wife?”


Zhao Changhe remained silent. This was her biological brother, her true blood brother from the same father and mother. He actually tried to take his harmless sister’s life, all to ruin Cui Yuanyong’s name with the failure to protect her. To make things worse, there was also no guarantee that doing such a thing would help him take Cui Yuanyong’s place.

It was no wonder the Cui Clan’s response to all of this was sluggish, and why even as an assassin tried to take her life, they still did not know of the situation. Furthermore, the people who pursued Cui Yuanyang all had a certain level of organization. This meant that the spy pulling the strings had some high position. This was not something a powerless bastard or the son of a concubine could pull off.

If Zhao Changhe was in Cui Yuanyang’s shoes, he would be crying at this moment... Perhaps she had already cried for a long time last night?

“How...will they deal with him?”

“Father has locked him in the dungeon. For now, they won’t do anything to him. I heard that my mother hasn’t stopped weeping. She says that they must have got it wrong, that he was framed.”

Zhao Changhe shook his head. It was hard to say.

Cui Yuanyang smiled once more. “However, I don’t hate him.”


“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to meet my honorable and righteous Big Brother Zhao.”


“Y’know, I felt a lot of regret.”

“Regret for what?”

“For not choosing the first choice and leaving with you to Jiangnan and Mobei.” As Cui Yuanyang said this, her voice gradually became softer until Zhao Changhe could no longer hear her. She did not let Zhao Changhe hear her say, “Perhaps, we’ll never have such a chance anymore.”

Zhao Changhe did not need to hear the later half of her sentence, however. With just the first part, he could already fully understand the young lady’s feelings.

He tightly pursed his lips, not knowing how to reply.

Cui Yuanyang suddenly stopped. “We’re here.”

Zhao Changhe looked ahead. It was filled with beautiful flowers; countless of them were in bloom. A limestone path meandered across, covered by the trees and flowers. Zhao Changhe did not know how far it stretched.

“I won’t go with you...” Cui Yuanyang smiled then lowered her head bashfully. “I’m afraid that it might not be convenient for me to hear what you guys want to talk about.”

After saying this, she turned around and ran off, disappearing like a wisp of smoke. She ran behind the corner of the veranda and stared back. Her gaze was filled with what seemed to be annoyance...or hatred? Zhao Changhe could not make it out.

He stood there and watched. Only after that light green skirt disappeared beyond the veranda did he enter the garden in silence.

How strange. I didn’t feel such an indescribable feeling when I bid farewell to Xia Chichi.

Deep within the garden, a stream flowed amidst the jingling of bells. Between the flowers, trees, and pond were the upward-arching eaves of a pavilion where a man stood, quietly gazing at the water.

Zhao Changhe walked up. There was a table in the center of the pavilion. It had wine on it. There were no servants present.

Cui Wenjing continued looking at the stream, not turning his head. He casually told Zhao Changhe, “Sit. I heard you like to drink. Pour yourself some wine.”

Zhao Changhe did not sit down, but walked to his side and watched the waters with him.

This action was extremely impolite. Of course, if he was really arrogant enough to sit there and drink wine, it would have also been very rude. However, that fit with his boorish image. It was hard to describe what he was doing now that he stood shoulder to shoulder with Cui Wenjing.

Cui Wenjing glanced at him, a little bit surprised. His gaze landed on the scar on Zhao Changhe’s face before pulling back. “What identity do you have that allows you to stand shoulder to shoulder with me?”

My daughter’s benefactor? My daughter’s husband? Or...the crown prince?

“A guest,” Zhao Changhe answered casually. “A guest has arrived, yet the host doesn’t even turn to look at him and continues to look at the water. The Cui family is a clan of immense repute. So as to prevent you from being denounced as rude, I can only stand here with you like this.”

Cui Wenjing grinned, turned around unhurriedly, and gestured for him to sit. “I have some things on my mind and acted discourteously for a moment. I hope that you will be magnanimous enough to forgive me. Please, sit.”

Zhao Changhe sat down and took the initiative to pour Cui Wenjing wine.

Cui Wenjing watched him pour wine with interest and suddenly asked, “You’ve learned proper etiquette?”


Even though I’ve never learned the etiquette of your world, nor have we studied the same books, I really am an educated person by any standards.

The air of a scholar was something rather distinct.

As Zhao Changhe mixed in with the bandits, that scholarly air about him became less and less prominent. However, when confronting an entity like the Cui Clan, that air would naturally reveal itself. This was what made Cui Yuanyang feel that her impression of him had shattered. Zhao Changhe was not as boorish as these people made him out to be.

Of course, Cui Wenjing had a different idea as to why this was. “Someone from the Zhao House shouldn’t have been able to study etiquette.”

Zhao Changhe’s hand came to a gentle stop, and he placed the wine pot by the side. “The Zhao House is right next to the Luo Family Village. It’s not as out-of-the-way as people think.”

“So it’s normal for people of the Zhao House to work in the Luo Family Village, or for people of the Luo Family Village to stay at the Zhao House?”

Zhao Changhe did not answer.

Cui Wenjing looked at the wine in his cup and suddenly said, “Last night, I didn’t intend to intervene. I wanted to wait for the assassin to kill you first. I was confident that I would be able to save my daughter at the same time.”

“I know,” Zhao Changhe replied calmly. “That way, I would’ve died at the hands of that assassin from the Snow-Listening Pavilion, while you would have been just one step too late. To your deep regret, you would have only saved your daughter...and spared yourself some major headaches.”

“Do you hate me for it? You risked your life to bring my daughter home, yet you were met with such a response....”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t have done anything better. So I understand... In the end, you still intervened and saved us. What you were thinking beforehand is not important. But there’s something I’ve told Yangyang before. Understanding is only meaningful when it’s mutual.”

“Equal seniority is the precondition for mutual understanding, regardless of whether it’s with me or Tang Wanzhuang,” Cui Wenjing said indifferently. “It’s the same for every clan. One’s attitude toward a son-in-law living at their wife’s parent’s house cannot be the same as the attitude toward a son-in-law from a family of equal standing. Anyone would have done what I did. If you were in my position, I’m confident you’d do the same. That’s why I’ll ask again. What identity do you have that allows you to drink with me?”

With Cui Wenjing’s attitude, he was just short of saying “I’ve been backed into a corner by the Tome of Troubled Times. Now, there’s no other way to settle the matter between you and my daughter. The only thing we can decide is whether you’ll actually marry her, or if you’ll just live with her. If you’re the crown prince, it’ll be the former; if you’re just a bandit, then the latter. I’m waiting for your answer.”

Zhao Changhe suddenly thought that Cui Wenjing’s current attitude showed that he knew he was not the crown prince.

If he was actually the crown prince, then Cui Wenjing would be able to speak freely. He hesitated so much because he was clear that Zhao Changhe was a fake. After all, to support a counterfeit and push him to the throne, the investment Cui Wenjing would have to make was enormous. Was the Cui Clan willing to involve themselves so deeply in this matter?

This was why Cui Wenjing wanted Zhao Changhe dead. His death would mean the end of all these troubles.

However, after discovering that Zhao Changhe had studied and learned etiquette, he felt like there was once again something interesting about all this.

Perhaps he is beginning to lose confidence in his original judgment that I am not the real deal...

Thus, he wanted Zhao Changhe to reveal by himself that he was the crown prince. It would be best if he could take the initiative and show him a token of identification.

Zhao Changhe thought for a moment and suddenly shook his head, laughing.

Cui Wenjing sat there quietly and watched him, not saying a thing.

Zhao Changhe finally sighed. “That’s why I said understanding must be mutual. No one has ever considered what I think. Maybe only Yangyang has ever thought of this. She’s the only person that has ever thought of the problem from my perspective...”

Cui Wenjing said indifferently, “It wouldn’t hurt for you to explain clearly.”

“Bringing Yangyang back is something I did because I wanted to. Since I undertook this task until now, I have never had any thought of getting together with her, and I most certainly have never thought of using her as a tool to acquire the Cui Clan’s power.”

Zhao Changhe stopped for a moment, then said softly, “I have a lover... Even though I have no idea if she’s forgotten me yet, before she tells me we’re strangers, I must wait for her. Yangyang is very cute; the Cui Clan is truly grand. Naturally, she’d be a great wife and your help would allow me to rapidly rise up in the world. That is all true. But it’s also something that I, Zhao Changhe, have never once wanted.”

Cui Wenjing’s eyes narrowed.

Far away, on the porch, Cui Yuanyang was leaning against the banister. She sighed softly as she raised her head and looked at the shifting clouds in the sky.

The source of this c𝐨ntent is fre𝒆w(e)bn(o)vel