Chapter 182: The Little Marquis’ Limitation
Translated by Gumihou
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By the time the warm exchanges were over, even Su Nuan Nuan had to admit that this couple’s acting skills were top notch. These people had to be Duan Tingxuan’s subordinates or at the very least his social inferior. To be able to speak so warmly, without even a shred of humbleness on their part, really took a great degree of acting. Anyone looking in would think they were greeting a beloved younger cousin they haven’t seen for a long time.
According to Duan Tingxuan, the plan was to become a chef in order to get closer to the target. As to who the target might be, Duan Tingxuan did not seem entirely sure yet. Apparently, he had to meet up with someone on the inside to get hold of this vital information. Therefore, the first thing he had to do now was master cooking skills.
As to why he had chosen to become a chef, naturally it was because he has Su Nuan Nuan’s unique support to back him up. To be honest, he had not really given the matter much importance. After all, it was just cooking, right? All he had to do is make food, surely this is no problem for a great genius like him to master? Why should he unnecessarily prepare himself?
However, before even one dish was finished, he had already caused two small fires in the kitchen. Finally, the little marquis understood one very scary fact: No matter how great a genius one is, one could never be perfect. Just like how Su Nuan Nuan had no talent in martial arts. The little marquis who had spent most of his life training in martial arts and military strategies could not understand his wife’s instructions: What the hell is heat control and knife skill? Also, how is he supposed to memorize all these different spices and all their different functions? Also, why are there so many different kinds of pots?
He might as well be a duck trying to understand the clapping of thunder.
Their ‘elder cousin’ Chang San’s expression became incredibly grim after suffering two portions of the ‘dark food’. He sat broodingly after a mouthful as Duan Tingxuan gritted his teeth over these two failures. Surely there’s no mountain too high and no skill too difficult for a genius like him to conquer? As long as he’s willing to work hard, Duan Tingxuan was sure he could learn to cook. He was about to rush into the kitchen again when Chang San stood up and clapped his hand meaningfully on Duan Tingxuan’s shoulder. He sighed, “Brother, ah. Enough. Nobody is perfect. This is just not your field, let’s leave it at that.
Let’s just put our heads together for a different idea, ba. I’m seriously afraid that you’ll set the whole kitchen on fire at your next attempt. If people had to come and put out a fire, an investigation would be inevitable. What are we going to do then? Surely you’re not going to put the whole venture at risk just to learn cooking? It would damage our reputation too much.”
“You don’t trust me?”
Duan Tingxuan glared angrily at Chang San. Beside him, Su Nuan Nuan sighed gustily, “Don’t quarrel with elder cousin anymore. Even I don’t trust you. Dear husband, a person should know their own limits. You better just acknowledge your own limitations. You are clearly a genius in creating poison, absolutely not suitable for kitchen work.”
With the heir’s wife backing him up, Chang San’s courage shot up several levels. He nodded quickly and said, “Little sister is right. Once the master is back, we can talk it over again. Let’s have lunch first. As for lunch… why don’t you let your wife make us a couple of dishes?”
Duan Tingxuan still refused to accept defeat and stomped for the kitchen again, but just then, Si Ping threw himself at this reckless master, risking his life to restrain his master. It would be really bad if Duan Tingxuan actually burn the kitchen down…. finally, the little marquis relented. “Fine, fine, since none of you believe me, I shall not… invite trouble.”
Seeing the little marquis backing down, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
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That evening, Chang San had to go to the front courtyard to conduct a roll call. After that, they had a family dinner together, and made some small talk before Chang San led them to the room where their ‘visiting cousins’ were to stay the night.
In the room, Su Nuan Nuan and Duan Tingxuan sat on the bed, chatting together when a faint sound of bells was heard from the corner of the room. Su Nuan Nuan jumped, and frantically looked about. “What’s that sound?”
“A signal.” Duan Tingxuan hehe-ed and pulled her away from the bed. Next, he lowered the bed curtains and turned off the light. He fiddled with some mechanism in the dark and the entire wall next to the bed soundlessly opened up. Within the opening was a faint light, showing a set of stone stairs leading down.
“The heck!” Su Nuan Nuan could not help exclaiming. She thought she had fallen into an ‘Inspirational Novel’ when she woke up at Mei Yue Lou. But then that stupid lightning happened and she had to move into the inner court and thus experienced the ‘Back Stabbing Inner Court Life’. Unexpectedly, this Jiang Nan trip ended up turning into ‘Ancient Spy Drama’, complete with secret passages, secret meetings and secret identities. Just what kind of novel has this sister cross over into, ah? Surely there are too many different kinds of genres by now?
All this was brewing in her head as she carefully followed Duan Tingxuan down the seemingly endless underground secret passage. Eventually though, the secret passage opened up into a wide secret room. However, this secret room was nothing like the ones on television. Instead of being gorgeously decorated, this secret room only has four bare walls lit by candle flames. The only furniture in the secret room was a round table and four stone stools. On the table were the paraphernalia for tea and a few plates of snacks.
Seated at the table was a young man dressed in white, about the same age of Duan Tingxuan. His eyes glittered under a pair of sword like eyebrows, his form elegant and handsome. His black hair half done up in white jade hairpin, the rest draped elegantly down his shoulders. He looked leisurely and at ease, keeping with Su Nuan Nuan’s impression of what a wuxia novel character should look like.
At the sight of them, the young man stood up and cupped his hands in salutation, “After years of parting, the heir’s elegance has not changed, how commendable…”
He hadn’t finished speaking when Duan Tingxuan impatiently broke in with a wave, “Enough with this, we just saw each other last New Year at the Capital. Also, what’s all this about heir this, heir that. Just call me Tingxuan like before, this is your elder sister-in-law.”
The young man in white stiffened, and said with a grim face, “If I do not watch my manners before my sister-in-law, what kind of shock would this give her? What happened to your dignity as the heir? Don’t tell me you’re like this all the time at the mansion?”
“Hehe, I’m even more casual than this at my estate. Ask Nuan Nuan if you don’t believe me.” Normally, a man would not speak their own wife’s name in front of others outside of their own estate. It looked like Duan Tingxuan was really close to this young man.
“Really?” the young man still looked a little wary. “Why have I never seen this wilful side of you before? Have I misread you all this while?”
“You haven’t.” Duan Tingxuan said seriously, “I am not a wilful person, but when wilful, I became inhuman.”
“En, this is how your sister-in-law describes me. So, you should know what kind of person your sister-in-law is.”
“… … what… what kind of person? Is she also someone who… when wilful, became… inhuman?”
“I’m going to beat you up.” Duan Tingxuan’s face turned black. “How dare you say such disgraceful words before me? Oh, I don’t really care what you say in front of me, but how dare you say such things before your sister-in-law? Is your skin itchy?”
“Please excuse me.” the youth in white quickly saluted Su Nuan Nuan. “If good sister-in-law must know, this younger brother’s temperament slips into bad habits quickly, but struggles to keep his manners. With Brother Tingxuan in front of me, I could not help myself…”
“Enough.” Duan Tingxuan snapped. Then, he turned to Su Nuan Nuan, “Nuan Nuan, this is the much vaunted leader of the Mingye House, Su Dong Lou.”
Su Nuan Nuan had not spoken a word as the two of these idiots degenerated into an increasingly difficult to follow argument. She had just fallen into a stupor, thinking only ‘I’m so tired of this’ when she shot into attention. Shock was clear on her face, “What? He’s the leader of the Mingye House? No, that can’t be true.”
“And why not?” Su Dong Lou blinked at Su Nuan Nuan. “Sister-in-law, do you really think I don’t have it in me to be the leader of Mingye House?”
“You’re too young,” Su Nuan Nuan eyed him up and down: This chap should be about 22 or 23 at most, right? No matter how lazy a writer of wuxia novel is, surely they wouldn’t just slap a Jack Sue character onto her path like this, right?
“Ambition has nothing to do with age.” Su Dong Lou said with a lofty laugh. Su Nuan Nuan muttered, “Becoming a leader has nothing to do with ambition. I’m sure there is at least one ambitious guy in every ten wuxia character. Speaking of which, didn’t those Slaughter Dog guys also wanted to take over the wuxia world too?”
“Ahem, ahem, of course, aside from ambition, this little brother’s luck it not bad.” Su Dong Lou laughed awkwardly. Then, he pointed at Duan Tingxuan, “Sister-in-law, isn’t this man next to you is just as outstanding? Surely you shouldn’t so surprised by this younger brother’s achievements.”
Su Nuan Nuan eyed Duan Tingxuan for a moment. She hesitated for a moment, before finally resolving herself to say, “That is… not untrue, but, he does have a good father.”
Su Dong Lou aside, even Duan Tingxuan was shocked silly by this statement. A long moment later, Su Dong Lou finally confessed, “That is… if we are to put things this way, this younger brother’s father is… not bad either. He is the previous leader of Mingye House.”
This time, Su Nuan Nuan was the one in shock. She stared at Duan Tingxuan, then at Su Dong Lou. Finally, she muttered, “Looks like the past and the present are the same, all men relied on their father’s prestige to get ahead, ah.”
“What do you mean rely on father? Nuan Nuan, enough with your nonsense, ah. I reached my current position all through my own hard work and merit, you know?” Duan Tingxuan’s head was covered in black lines. “If all we had to do is depend on our father, then why is it that among all the noble sons of my generation, only I am able to influence the imperial court so easily?”
Su Dong Lou cast a look at this braggart. Looks like this guy’s bad habit of blowing his own trumpet hadn’t changed at all. Even if you could really influence the imperial court as easily as you say, these are words that you should let others say for you, you know?
Su Nuan Nuan looked at her husband carefully, then winked cheekily and said, “En, indeed. Compared to all those other noble sons, you certainly are blessed by heaven. In addition to having a good father to rely on, you also have an excellent aunt.”
“Puu…” Su Dong Lou laughed out loud. He patted Duan Tingxuan comfortingly. “Brother Duan, you’ve always talked about how clever sister-in-law is. Sure enough, her wit is not one bit exaggerated. She’s even more incredible in person. Come, come, let’s set our jokes aside and sit. We have much to discuss.”
Duan Tingxuan had intended to clear his name from any dependency on any aunts when Su Dong Lou made his suggestion. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he and Su Nuan Nuan sat down on the stone stool. In a serious voice, he asked, “Have you managed to discover the truth in Pingzhang’s matter?”
Su Dong Lou, too, appeared serious. He sighed and said, “All clues seemed to lead to King Xiangyang, but all witnesses had been silenced. The body must have been pushed off a cliff, we only found traces of it. Not enough to lead us anymore. I can only make educated guesses, nothing we can use in court.”
“Did King Xiangyang not reveal anything to you at all? Looks like he’s still wary of you.” Duan Tingxuan frowned, “After so long, he still refuses to trust you?”
[Gumihou: Dun, dun dun! Here comes my other favourite Su character! No relation with Su Nuan Nuan though. He’s actually related to Duan Tingxuan… I think…]
Also, I’m sure everyone knows who Duan Tingxuan’s aunt is, right? If not, you may consult the character list for more information~
 Jack Sue – The male counterpart of Mary Sue. He goes by a different name in the English language, Gary Stu etc. This guy is super ordinary looking, but super popular with the opposite sex. Status is ordinary, with a mysterious past, IQ above everyone. Very powerful… you know what, I’m going to end it here. Basically, he’s a wish fulfilment character.
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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