Chapter 1: Broken Engagement
“Sister Shu, please return the jade scepter to me.”
Fang Hongfei’s word stunned Murong Yunshu as she entered the roomed. It took her a few seconds to react. Ten years ago, Mother Fang gifted the jade scepter, a Fang Family heirloom, to her as an engagement keepsake, and yet now, this young man demanded it back.
“As compensation, I will give you a treasured sword.” Raising his hand, Fang Hongfei signaled a follower behind him to hand an open brocade case to Murong Yunshu.
Murong Yunshu glanced over the treasured sword but declined the compensation. “No need,” she responded in a flat tone. “The jade scepter belonged to the Fang family. It’s only right that I return it back to you.”
“But when it comes down to it…I’ve still caused you a loss.”
“You don’t have to feel guilty. I’m not blaming you. I’m not taking your treasured sword because I’m worried that one day you’ll come with a kitchen knife and exchange it for your precious sword, wasting everyone’s time.”
Fang Hongfei felt embarrassment at her words. “You–What do you you mean by that?”
“Is there anything else?” Murong Yunshu raised an eyebrow.
“Then take care.”
“Sister Shu—” Fang Hongfei moved to chase her, when Murong Yunshu’s maidservant blocked his path.
Lu’er pointed toward the door. “Young Hero, the gate is over there.”
“I know that, I just wanted to …”
“Young Hero Fang, have a good day.”
“But I still haven’t–”
“Someone, send our guest off.”
“You–Fine! If your Murong family doesn’t place any importance on Mingjian Manor, you can’t blame me if we ignore you when you’re in danger!” Fang Hongfei spit angrily, leaving in a huff.
“Miss, I’m worried Fang Hongfei final words have a deeper meaning to it,” Lu’er said.
Indifferently, Murong Yunshu flipped through an account book while using an abacus with her other hand. “Let him be. What dog doesn’t bark a few times before it bites?” Her words sounded nonchalant.
“That’s right, he’s just a dog. No, he’s even worse than a dog!” Lu’er replied, anger filling her. “At least dogs don’t break off an engagement once their master passes away.”
“I also won’t be engaged to a dog.”
“Kicking a man when he’s down is a common occurrence. There’s no need to be angry.” Murong Yunshu camly calculated her accounts, as if nothing else could catch her interest.
Her mistress’ patient endurance saddened Lu’er. “If only Master was here. No one in Jinling would dare bully our Murong House or our young lady.”
At that, Murong Yunshu’s slender fingers unexpectedly stopped fiddling with the abacus. Eyes bright, she raised her head and looked straight at Lu’er. “Even if father isn’t here, no one would dare bully our Murong Mansion.” She corrected solemnly.
“Miss–” Lu’er burst into tears. Her young lady had finally grown up. She’d matured!
Curious, Murong Yunshu looked at the tearful Lu’er, then returned to her calculations. After working with the abacus for a bit, she paused again. “Go and make an appointment with a doctor. If you don’t have the means, then take some from the accounts’ office.”
Lu’er scratched her head. “Why should I see a doctor?” She wasn’t sick!
“…” Lu’er said nothing. While she didn’t have an eye disease, her emotional injuries were severe. Looking at her honorable master, she took a deep breath. Though she had grown, the young lady remained much the same. Whatever came out of her mouth continued to be startlingly unusual.
Generations of the Murong family ran banks and jewelry stores. Murong Yunshu’s father, Murong Qing, was an expert in both the legal and illegal business worlds. Under his management, the Murong family’s Huifeng banks spread all over the country, monopolizing the entire market. Favored by high-ranking officials and dignitaries, the golden letters of the jewelry store’s signboard, ‘Qian Bian Wan Yin’** became as well known.
(**T/N: translates to ‘Thousand Changes to Ten Thousand Silvers)
Before Murong Qing passed away, the Murong Mansion in Jinling stood as a symbol of wealth and power. Everyone flocked there. Only five days after his death, massive amounts of people began requesting to cash their banknotes and the jewelry store’s management fell into ruins. Everyone believed that the Murong Residence could not recover from it’s downfall. They no longer came to curry favor, flatter or offer courtesy.
Looking at it from a certain point of view, Murong Yunshun was glad it happened. When her father still lived, she rarely appeared in public. It factored into outsiders’ beliefs in the Murong’s family decline. What could a young woman who had never left her home possibly accomplish?
Those from the Murong family knew otherwise. Although she appeared weak, Murong Yunshun was worth more than ten thousand gold coins. Whether or not she was willing to use her wealth and take over the family business was the problem.
Murong Yunshu avoided troublesome things. She intended to be a lazy young lady before marriage and a lazy madam after marriage her whole life. The heavens made a joke of her, causing her to lose her father’s protection and her fiance within a week.
Her only impression of Fang Hongfei was his role as the Young Master of Mingjian Manor, as well as her future husband. If they had not met this morning, she would have sent him a hand written letter, asking him to take over the Murong House on the premise of marriage.
She hadn’t expected him to end their engagement. Had the Murong family fallen so low in the five days since her father’s passing?
Pulling up her cloak, Murong Yunshu gazed out the window at the night sky and sighed for the first time in her life.
On the 15th of each month, Murong Yunshu went to the temple to offer incense. This month was no exception. That morning, in the Murong family’s sedan, she headed for the Manyun temple. As they passed by Yue Lao bridge, a large grandiose escort procession blocked their path.
Lu’er gritted her teeth and looked out the window of their sedan. “Miss, it’s the bride escort procession for the famous Mingjia House.”
Murong Yunshun frowned and opened the curtain. “Haven’t we already annulled the marriage?” Before she had no objection to marrying Fang Hongfei but now? She would rather marry a dog.
Silently cursing Fang Hongfei for being a heartless and ungrateful man, Lu’er whispered, “They must be heading the Zhenyuan Escort Services.” All those years treating him as their family’s son-in-law went to waste!
Rumors said that the owner of Zhenyuan Escort Services (a large and prestigious escort service in Jinling), Lin Zhenyuan’s daughter was beautiful and known throughout the Jianghu as the “World’s Finest Beauty.”
Who knew if Fang Hongfei begam pursuing Lin Shui’er recently, or if he began courting her before he annulled his engagement with Murong Yunshu.