Chapter 133: Final Trick
Author: White Pear Flower
Proofread by Pill Bug
Jin Fengju… had nothing to say.
The smile on his face was uglier than a crying face as he nodded and coughed, “I-is that so? Yu Jie is certainly brave. Not bad really… not bad…” he looked down at his bowl of Snake Soup and thought: Brother Snake, ah, Brother Snake, I have wronged you. I sought your assistance, but who would have thought that due to a miscalculation, I have sent you directly into a wolves’ den instead? You have died an aggrieved death. A pitiful death without a corpse to bury… Oh, I supposed you are now buried in our bellies?
“Enough talking, let’s eat.” Fu Qiuning noticed that Jin Fengju’s bowl was empty. After some hesitation, she asked, “Does Lord Husband want another bowl [1a]?”
Jin Fengju paused, before nodding fiercely and said, “Another bowl.” He was truly not disgusted by the idea of eating snakes. To be honest, if he had known that snakes would be so delicious, he would have eaten them sooner. He thought: Valiant Brother Snake must be happier to be buried within my Five Viscera Temple  rather than be eaten by those who had murdered him so viciously.
Thus, with this justification in mind, he, along with Jin Changfeng and Jin Changjiao gulped down most of the soup between themselves.
While he was stuffing himself with the remains of his former comrade, he heard Yu Jie say, “Madam, Lin Sheng is waiting outside.”
“Let him in.”
Yu Jie quickly pulled the curtains aside and let Lin Sheng into the dining room.
“Greetings to the Marquis and Madam.”
Like most southerners, Lin Sheng was a sharp and intelligent person. Seeing the half-finished bowl of Snake Soup on Jin Fengju’s side of the table, he knew that he had managed to capture the Lord Marquis’ appetite.
Sure enough, Fu Qiuning beamed and said, “This Snake Soup is very well done. You did your ancestor credit. The Lord Marquis, Young Miss and Young Master all enjoyed it very much.”
“It is this lowly one’s honour,” Lin Sheng was smiling so widely that his eyes could hardly be seen. When Jin Fengju awarded him five taels of silver, he puffed up so much that it was a wonder that he did not float away. Happily pocketing the reward, he said, “So long as the Master and Madam enjoy it. Earlier, this lowly one searched around the yard and found five more large pythons! It must be Master and Madam’s luck. Right now, I am keeping them in my house. So long as Master and Madam give the order-”
The Snake Soup in Jin Feng’s mouth spluttered out. He thought: Good, good, very good. Jin Ming really did place six snakes in this yard and you people have caught all six in just a day! What kind of shocking efficiency is this? Jin Ming, ah, Jin Ming, [2a] thanks to you, I am now feeling guilty. I actually feel ashamed to be here. Do you know that the person who is suffering from shock now is your master and not the women of this courtyard? Your mom, ah, my heart nearly stopped.
This [2b] so-called young marquis, who was [2b] supposedly the most elegant and refined scholar, ended up using crude words in his mind. Though he would sometimes curse people in the privacy of his mind, he seldom lowered himself to crude or dirty words. After suffering two major shocks today, expletives exploded in his heart for the first time in 20 years.
That night, [2b] after taking out his frustration at the world by tossing Fu Qiuning about, he still could not sleep. Each time he closed his eyes, he thought of his failed trick and [2b] mourned the fact that he had lost against Fu Qiuning in a battle of wills she did not even realise was happening. Now that he had failed, and badly at that, what other tricks could he bring up to frighten the people of Night Breeze Pavilion?
Why are the nerves of the women in this place so unreasonably tough? He had a sneaking suspicion that if he released two black bears into this place, he would be presented with bear paws for dinner the next day…
No, he had to think of something more frightening to scare these people out of Night Breeze Pavilion.
Thus, he pondered obsessively over the matter the whole night.
The next day, on his way to morning court, he found Jin Ming also equipped with panda eyes. However, he could not rejoice in his servant’s suffering. Instead, with a cold snort, he said, “This master was plagued with serious matters all night and did not sleep well. What ails your sleep? You looked like you have rubbed soot around your eyes.”
“This servant suffers from fright, ah.” Jin Ming pulled a bitter face and said, “Master, perhaps you do not know, when I bought those snakes home two days ago, my woman accidentally saw them and was so frightened that she fainted right away. Yesterday, this servant was plagued with worry, what if Second Madam Ning and the two ladies were also frightened by these snakes to the point that they fainted?
Master, this servant had thought over the matter. It is this servant’s fault, I should never have bought those large snakes and so many of them! This lowly one should have just bought two small snakes to scare them a little. No matter what, Madam is a noble daughter from a great family, Yu Jie, a slim and delicate girl, as for Aunt Yu, she is more gentle and even-tempered that any woman this servant has ever seen…”
As Jin Ming spoke, his sharp servant’s intuition picked up on his Master’s strange expression. His master looked strangely… angry? He hurriedly stopped speaking and worked his mind over what he had said before carefully saying, “Master, you… is there something wrong? Could it be that… that those snakes had really frightened Madam sick?”
“Frightened them sick? You wish!”
The weather was warm and Jin Fengju was feeling irritable, which was why he was walking to the palace with Jin Ming without taking the sedan chair. Seeing Jin Ming’s rapidly paling face, he spat on the side of the road and snarled, “Let me tell you, those six snakes that you bought were eliminated in barely half a day in that courtyard. One of them had already been turned into Snake Soup and served at the dinner table. I, your master, even had two bowls before realising that I have eaten my own comrade. The rest of the army had been rounded up and now awaiting their sentence at Madam’s leisure to be turned into soup. You say that you should not have bought the large snakes? If you had released two tiny snakes into the courtyard, Qiuning, Feng’er, Jiao’er and those two gentle and delicate women you’re feeling so sorry for would have complained that the snakes are not big enough to make a full meal and wished for bigger snakes to plague their land instead.”
Jin Ming was really confused!
“Master, s-surely that can’t be right? Y-you say that Second Madam Ning and the rest actually saw the snakes and… instead of being frightened, they caught them and ate them? How… how can this be? Master, is this servant dreaming?”
“How I wish you are indeed dreaming,” Jin Fengju sighed a long sigh, then shook his head. “It is true, Qiuning told me that they had been eating snakes for over six years now. All snakes that dare poked its head around that courtyard had all been eaten by those ladies. Aih, it is also my [2a] mistake for throwing them there. Who would have thought that without a source of income, [2b] instead of appealing to the kindness of the Old Madam or myself, Qiuning would turn to killing snakes to make tonic soups for the children?”
“To… to think that Second Madam Ning would… this… what a heroine, ah.” Jin Ming’s eyes were wide as he tried to reconcile the thought of those three weak and delicate women with the brutal action of killing and eating snakes.
“Quick, help me think of a way. What other ways can we employ?” Jin Fengju frowned seriously, “I still do not wish to have people dress up as ghosts to frighten people. People could really be frightened to death. Come now, can’t you think of a way to frighten them out of that place?”
Jin Ming swallowed. He thought: Even snakes are caught and eaten by them, what else could frighten them, ah? After a long time, he ventured to say, “How about… leeches? Ah, but leeches could bite and suck people’s blood, what if they injured Madam and the children…”
A cold snort from Jin Fengju cut him off, “You think snakes don’t bite people? What happened in the end? Didn’t they end up in a soup? If you dare release a few dozen leeches, what if I come to dinner one day and be served a large bowl of stewed leeches? You want this master to not eat for a few days, do you not?”
Jin Ming stared at his master with wide eyes. He mumbled, “S-surely not? Surely Madam and the Young Master and Young Miss can’t be so… frightening?”
Jin Fengju snorted again. He then raised his head and sighed a long sigh before lamenting, “Then, have you ever imagined that any of them would eat snakes? I heard that when Yu Jie found the large python, her eyes flashed with light and she even drooled.”
Jin Ming’s leg softened and he nearly collapsed to the floor. After a long time, he muttered despairingly, “Master, you have no other options. You must release the ghost. So long as you do not make this servant play the ghost.”
“Even if you are willing, it cannot be done,” this single line from Jin Fengju allayed Jin Ming’s fears. His master continued to mutter, “What if Qiuning does not believe in ghosts and ordered those servants to surround you with sticks? If you can’t escape, they would beat you to death, [2c] perhaps turning you into an actual ghost in that place as you died a wronged death.”
“… Master, this… do you think… surely Second Madam Ning and the ladies… surely they do not eat human meat?” Jin Ming’s legs were trembling so much that he could not escape his master’s kick.
“What nonsense are you saying? Just because Qiuning eats snakes, you can’t dishonour her like this. If I hear anything like this again, I shall have your lips sewn shut.”
“Yes, yes, yes, this servant has misspoken. Only, Master, where are you going to look for these ghosts?” Jin Ming lightly slapped his own mouth even as he beamed ingratiatingly at his master.
“I believe I shall have to get help from the bodyguards,” was Jin Fengju’s answer after a long thought. The bodyguards he mentioned were the people who accompanied him during his errands as the Imperial Envoy. Although they were not stationed at the Duke of Jing’s estate, they could be mobilised by Jin Fengju at any time. More importantly, this team of fewer than 100 people were all qinggong experts, people who could leap over walls and trees easily. Which was why Jin Fengju decided to let this little errand fall on their heads.
Immediately, Master and Servant begin to discuss the finer details of their scheme as they made their way towards the palace.
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After court, Jin Fengju invited a tall and slender bodyguard called Yang Ming to a meal. This person was one of the most skilled at qinggong, thus the perfect candidate to play ghost. During the meal, he outlined his plan to Yang Ming. At first, the bodyguard refused. What kind of joke is this? You want me to play ghost and frighten your sweetheart a little? It is one thing if your plan works, but what if she dies from fright? Would this young master take responsibility? Of course not!! He, the bodyguard, would be blamed! Isn’t it too much of a black pot to carry?
However, Jin Fengju was not one to give up so easily.
The usually cool and calm Marquis suddenly began to eloquently describe the atrocities that Fu Qiuning and her two confidantes had committed against Comrade Snake. Eventually, Yang Ming was convinced. After all, he thought: If these ladies were not afraid of catching and eating snakes, surely they would not be too frightened of ghosts?
It was with this thought that he finally accepted this high-level mission with a to-die determination to succeed at all costs.
On the appointed day of the scheme, Jin Fengju went back to the estate to discuss the finer details of their prank. He wanted to meet up with Yang Ming to discuss his ghostly costume. After all, the one he was playing a prank on was his beloved. What if it was too realistic and he actually really frightened Qiuning out of her mind?
In the end, after much discussion, Yang Ming was the one who grew frightened of freaking someone out and stammered, “Young Marquis, perhaps… it is better for this subordinate to not show up at all. What if this subordinate just make some flapping sounds behind the Madam, and make audible ‘huu~’ sounds along with a few shadow tricks? That way, it would not be too frightening.”
Gumihou: As mentioned in the previous chapter, this ‘Prank Arc’ was meant to be a light-hearted and fun way for JFJ and AR Qiuning as well as the readers to tee hee~ together. Oh look, JFJ is so sweet, he didn’t want FQN to be too frightened. Just frightened enough to get his way~ How adorbs~
 Deleted stuff:
[1a] Deleted extra comments about ‘JFJ eat rats too, surely snakes are fine~~?’
 Add Details:
[2a] Add details to reveal JFJ’s hobby of deluding himself into thinking he’s a good person
[2b] Add details to remove author’s whitewashing of JFJ
Especially the bit about still being awake and thinking about his failed trick. He was not sorry about the trick, he was sorry that it failed and failed miserably at that.
Gumi very kindly exposed this scummy nature of his.
[2c] Add this comedic line
 Five Viscera Temple
Basically, inside his belly to nourish his heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys
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