Chapter 10.1: Chasing the Beauty

The biggest drinking house in Chang’an was packed with customers. All the tables were filled except one huge table. Only two guests were seated around the table. One was crazy while the other one stared blankly. Although they were talking, they could not understand one another.

The crazy one shouted, “I spent so much effort but why is the result like this? Not only does Father and Mother object against Rou’er, they are adamant on me marrying the Princess!”

The blank one muttered, “Today morning, I went to look for Yin’er. However, she told me that her mother had always wanted her to marry an official. But I love my freedom.”

“I miss my Rou’er!” The crazy one was Sheng Chumu.

“Which is more important? Yin’er or my freedom?” The blank one was Du Ning.

“What must I do for my mother to agree?” Sheng Chumu was on the brink of tearing off his own hair in frustration.

“I have decided to participate in the Imperial Examination.” Du Ning elegantly poured tea.

“Rou’er must miss me so much her heart hurts.”

“Yin’er just lost her mother. I really want to protect her so I am willing to do anything she wants me to.”

Sheng Chumu was the first to step out of his daze as he gripped onto Du Ning’s collar. Du Ning’s blank face made him even angrier.

“That’s enough!” Sheng Chumu had sensed something fishy between Du Ning and Fu Yin long ago but was too lazy to bring it up. However, he did not come today to listen to his friend complain. “I am the one who asked you out and I am the one paying. You keep going on and on about Fu Yin, what is the meaning of this!”

“Let go.” Du Ning’s expression did not change. 

“I won’t let go!” Sheng Chumu bellowed, “Hurry and help me think of a plan!”

“How can I think if you are holding on to my collar like this? You still dare to say that you understand military tactics. You can’t even deal with your mother.” Du Ning shook his head. 

“Precisely because she is my mother so I am restricted. With my mother blocking me, as her son, I can’t push her aside.” No matter how frustrated Sheng Chumu was, he could not be unfilial.

“Have you heard of having pity on a parent’s heart?” Du Ning had wanted to make him think. But as he saw how angry Sheng Chumu looked and thought about his own neck, he decided to forget it. “There is another phrase. To move back onto the correct path after being led astray is extremely precious.”

Sheng Chumu repeated these two sentences to himself as he suddenly hit his own head. “Du Ning, you are amazing!” Sheng Chumu fished out a silver ingot and threw it on the table before turning to leave. “Hurry go and inform my family that I will be shaving my head and leaving human society.”

 

As Madam Sheng received the news from Du Ning, she panicked as she rushed to the temple. She caught sight of her son kneeling down as an abbot held onto a shaving blade and extended it towards her son’s head. Madam Sheng shrieked, “Stop right there!” She rushed forward and grabbed the shaving blade before flinging it into the distance. She hugged Sheng Chumu tightly.

“My son, what are you trying to do?” Since this year, her oldest son was her main focus while her other two sons were simply the side characters. She had pinned all her hopes on Sheng Chumu.

“This Madam…” Sheng Chumu held back his laughter. 

Madam Sheng stuttered in shock. “You, you, you...what did you call me?”

“Human society is too difficult. I have decided to let go of everything and separate myself from society. I will cut myself off from the six roots and no longer have parents or siblings. Sheng Chumu lowered his eyelids to prevent her from seeing through him. “Madam, please return.”

“Okay, let’s return. Men, come and tie up the Young Lord. Bring him back to the residence. Without my permission, he will not be allowed to take a single step out of his room.” 

Did he think she was a pushover? Don’t get it wrong! The real person who made the calls in the Duke Lu Residence was her, the madam of the house. Even the world-renowned Sheng Xiaojing had to help her wear her shoes!

 The servants tied Sheng Chumu up and brought him back with them.

 

In the following few days, Sheng Chumu was locked in his own residence. The front door of his yard was locked. His room door was locked. There were guards on the inside and outside of his garden, keeping watch over him.

Madam Sheng thought that if she separated Sheng Chumu from the temple, her son would calm down eventually. However, Sheng Chumu kept threatening to either castrate himself or starve himself to protest. She felt like she had grown a whole bunch of white hair just because of him. 

On this day, Madam Sheng gritted her teeth as she personally brought ten beauties to him. She asked the ten beauties to form a line in front of Sheng Chumu. She went against her own beliefs that women should be strong and seek self-improvement, they should not simply rely on their appearance.

Sheng Chumu did not even spare them a glance. “Their faces are covered in powder.  Appearances are nothing and emptiness is an appearance.”

“But didn’t you used to love beauties in the past?” Madam Sheng‘s first reaction was that her son had truly changed for the better. However, she thought about it and realised something was wrong. If even this tactic did not work, this meant that she could not change her son’s mind.

Sheng Chumu looked down in embarrassment. “Madam Sheng, you are right. In the past, I don’t know how many misdeeds I have done and how many ill-fated relationships I formed. If I don’t repent in front of the Buddha, how will I resolve this karma?”

“Okay, okay. Let’s not bring up the past. Since you have repented, why will there still be karma?” Madam Sheng blamed herself for bringing up the past.

“Only if I repent, can I reach enlightenment. If Madam Sheng does not allow me to join the monastery, I shall starve myself and not drink any water. I’d rather return to heaven as a ghost. Even a speck of dust can reside next to Buddha’s foot.” Sheng Chumu held his hands in a prayer.

As Madam Sheng was listening to him, something resembling a tornado dashed out of the room. In a blink of an eye, Madam Sheng appeared once again like a tornado blowing in.

“If you won’t accept any of these ten beauties, will you accept that Fu Rou girl?” She refused to believe this!

Sheng Chumu was bursting with happiness. However, as he lifted his head, he maintained an apathetic look. “Who is Fu Rou?”

Madam Sheng froze. “The one that you were adamant on marrying the past few days.”

Sheng Chumu made an Oh sound. “I have already forgotten all about that female benefactor.”

Madam Sheng had thought that the reason her son was torturing himself was because of Fu Rou. Who knew that her guess would be wrong.

“Love is a temptation. Buddhism is the only way for me now. Even if I die, I will persist on.” It was as if there was light emitting from the top of Sheng Chumu’s head. He got more enthusiastic as he spoke.

“You…” Madam Sheng was stunned. “You don’t even want Fu Rou anymore?”

“Nope.” Sheng Chumu was afraid that his mother was just trying to test him.

“You don’t care about Fu Rou anymore?” Madam Sheng was really panicking now.

“I have already made up my mind.” Sheng Chumu closed his eyes as he prayed Amitabha. He cracked opened his eyes slightly to steal a look at Madam Sheng. Madam Sheng’s eyes were red from crying as she stumbled out of the room. He thought that he should not go overboard. “Wait a minute! I am indebted to the Duke for raising me up. A person has emotions and I will not be heartless. How can I leave without offering an incense to the Duke? If I just leave, this will just add to my debt.” Sheng Chumu could not just let her leave like this.

Madam Sheng was delighted as she rushed back. “That’s right, it’s not good to accumulate favours.”

“In that case, before I leave, I shall find a woman and leave behind a descendent. It shall count as my repayment to the Duke for raising me.”  Sheng Chumu racked his brains to find a way to bring up his original motive.

“I will look for some beautiful ladies for you right now. You can give birth to many children. I want a lot of grandchildren!” When that time comes, maybe you will stop having ridiculous thoughts of becoming a monk.

“You definitely cannot do that! If you find another person, aren’t you forcing me to create yet another ill-fated relationship?”

“You mean --” Madam Sheng was trying to guess what he meant but was afraid that she would agitate her son if she did not get it right.

“Clothes should be new while people should be from the past. Since I already have an ill-fated relationship with the girl named Fu Rou, then there is no harm trying to revive our past.” Sheng Chumu carefully assessed his mother’s reaction as he said this.

“Fu Rou, ah…” Madam Sheng hesitated. 

“If it is not possible then forget it.” Sheng Chumu tried his best to remain nonchalant.

“Sure, sure sure! As long as you don’t become a monk... if you want her then you can have her!” Madam Sheng did not dare to object anymore.

“Madam Sheng, does that mean you allow me to bring Lady Fu Rou over from the Han Mansion?” Sheng Chumu wanted a confirmation.

“Why are you still calling me Madam Sheng?” Madam Sheng shouted, “Yes I agree! I agree!”

“But I am going to say this first. The only reason I am bringing her out is to continue the bloodline of the Duke Lu Residence. Once I have repaid you all for raising me, I will seek to find and cleanse myself once again.”

Madam Sheng was finally starting to see that her son was truly determined to leave human society. She started to see Fu Rou as her only hope. “Son, you can’t do that. After all, she is still an honourable, gentle and beautiful lady. How can you leave her alone after making her give birth to your children? Son, Buddha teaches us to be kind. You have to treat her well for her entire life.”

“We can talk about this in the future.” Sheng Chumu pressed his palms together acting indifferently. Internally, he was jumping with joy.

 

Consort Han stood in front of the embroidered screen as she looked at the peony. The peony looked as if it had just bloomed. It appeared life-like, seeming to sway in the wind. It was placed directly across the door, seeming to mirror the garden outside. She could not help but reach out to touch it as she gasped in amazement. 

“This has been embroidered well.” She hid her appreciation for it as she maintained a neutral tone. “There is an important meeting in the residence today. Place this screen at the main entrance where the noble guests will enter. It will brighten the place up.”

The biggest event in Chang’an was happening. It was time for the Crown Prince to pick a Crown Princess. Both the Emperor and Empress Zhangsun were focused on this matter. Currently, the palace has already predetermined two ladies. One was Lu Yunji’s daughter and the other was Sun Tan’s daughter. They were both not bad and the decision was up to the Crown Prince.

The Crown Prince and Prince Han had the same father and mother. They were both Empress Zhangsun’s children and had always been of the same mind. Hence, the Han Mansion was designated to be the place where the choosing of the Crown Princess was going to be held. On this day, in the name of hunting, Prince Han invited the Crown Prince out of the palace. Consort Han then invited the Lu family and the Sun family to bring their daughters along.

Consort Han was just about to ask Fu Rou what kind of reward she desired before she caught sight of Sheng Chumu poking his head through the door. He looked extremely happy. She guessed that her mother had given approval and she no longer had to show Fu Rou an attitude. She asked Fu Rou to leave. 

As soon as Fu Rou stepped out of the door, she was pulled aside by Sheng Chumu.

Sheng Chumu entered Fu Rou’s room and he told her how he managed to get his mother’s approval. Fu Rou felt slightly bitter-sweet when she heard how Sheng Chumu even went to a temple and threatened to become a monk. She was glad that he did not misplace her trust in him. The two of them interlocked both their hands, with emotions flowing heavily between them. All of a sudden, they were interrupted by two sparrows. 

“Did you manage to see?”

“Yes, I did. So the reason why Elder Brother went crazy was because of this beautiful lady.”

“Beautiful lady? I want to see too, let me see.”

“Keep quiet, if Elder Brother finds out that we are here. We are dead.”

Sheng Chumu laughed awkwardly at Fu Rou as he walked silently to the door. He suddenly pushed the door open. The sparrows, no, his two brothers, fell flat into the room.

Sheng Chumu’s lips turned up in an artificial smile as he tugged his two brothers’ ears. “Since we are brothers, what is there to be modest about? Just walk right in to have a look.” He introduced them to Fu Rou. “This is Chuling and that is Chujun.”

The two brothers shouted in synchrony, “Nice to meet you, Sister-in-law!”

It was the first time that Fu Rou was meeting them. They were all stunning in their own ways and their personalities were different as well. Chuling seemed composed and quick-witted. On the other hand, Chujun looked lively and clever. It was today that she could make the judgement that although the three brothers were famous for being hedonists, they were simply big playful men. Their personalities were not bad.

“Who is your Sister-in-law? What glib tongues. No wonder your Elder Brother says that you all are devious and only know how to flirt with girls.” Therefore, Fu Rou spoke to them casually, causing them to feel closer to each other, like a family.

“That’s not right. Today, we are here to visit Elder Brother and you, Sister-in-law.” Sheng Chuling raised his eyebrows playfully at Sheng Chujun. Sheng Chujun added on. “That’s right. We are also here to see the future Crown Princess.”

“Crown Princess?” Sheng Chumu asked curiously.

“Elder Brother, recently you have been so into leaving the family, shaving your head and starving yourself that you have lost touch of the new developments in Chang’an.”

“The Crown Prince is choosing a Crown Princess. She will either be from the Lu or Sun family.”

Fu Rou’s eyes widened. Lu Yunji was already behaving like he owned the place. What will happen if his daughter becomes the Crown Princess?

“Lu Yunji, that monkey. He can continue dreaming!” Less was needed to say about Sheng Chumu. With his old and new hatred added together, he was definitely not going to let Lu Yunji get what he wanted.

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