Yu Huang Rong opened his eyes and looked at her dejectedly. “What way would that be?” If they could think together and maybe come up with a way to make it work, he’d gladly take that even if it was complicated or dangerous for him. He just didn’t want Zhang Shi Lan to get hurt.
“Aren’t you friends with His Majesty? Then ask him to issue a decree.”
Yu Huang Rong stared at her in stunned silence. That’s … That really was a very simple way. As the emperor, Luan Xin naturally had the power to decree a marriage. Even their families wouldn’t be able to say anything and could only bow their heads and accept it. “If it’s so easy … Why haven’t we done that from the very beginning?” Actually, why hadn’t Luan Xin proposed this as soon as he told him about Zhang Shi Lan?
Madam Yan crossed her legs and raised her brows at him. “Do you really need to ask that? Have you forgotten what I told you in the beginning? Even if His Majesty decreed it, that just means that your families will allow Zhang Shi Lan to marry you. Your family would still insist that you marry a second wife. They still wouldn’t treat him well enough. Is that what you want for him?”
Yu Huang Rong lowered his head and furrowed his brows. No, naturally, he didn’t want that. “But they think of him better now. Maybe … it could work out?” After all, they hadn’t originally known him. Taking in an unknown man as your son’s wife was one thing. Taking in a person you held in high regard and accepting him should be easier.
Madam Yan didn’t say anything. This General Yu, he was obviously smart enough to understand the situation himself. He didn’t need her to point these things out. He was just clinging to his hope.
Yu Huang Rong also kept quiet, slowly thinking things through. “Even if they don’t accept him immediately, isn’t there the chance that they’ll do so in the future? As long as Zhang Shi Lan is able to make a good impression …”
Madam Yan gave him the time to think things through before she leaned forward, crossing her arms on the table. “Yes, there is a chance for that to happen and it is something that I’m counting on. But you also know how long that will take. With you not here in the capital, Scholar Zhang would have to suffer quite a bit first. But I guess both of you might prefer that over putting him in danger.
“Unfortunately, you seem to have forgotten one thing: For rendering meritorious service in fighting back the enemies on two sides of the country three decades ago, General Yu, Yu Bao Tong, was rewarded by the late emperor. What was it that he got as a reward back then?”
Yu Huang Rong’s eyes widened imperceptibly. “The late emperor promised him one favor. Even exempting somebody from death wouldn’t be asking too much. You think that my father would use that favor to oppose this decree?”
Madam Yan leaned back, not needing to nod. What else would the General use it for if he hadn’t done so in three decades? He didn’t expect anyone from his family to rebel anytime soon, did he? “That is to say, His Majesty issuing the decree would be an easy way but it is one that could be countered just as easily. You have to force your family to accept Zhang Shi Lan as your partner. Otherwise, there is no way this will work out.”
“Hence the ambush.”
Madam Yan nodded and motioned with her hand. “It’s actually simple: Your family is indeed used to you getting into dangerous situations. That is also one of the reasons why they want you to marry. But … It would be different if they are afraid that this danger is not coming from our Chen country’s enemies this time. If they are afraid that the danger was actually coming from somewhere above …”
Yu Huang Rong furrowed his brows. “You want to pin this on to His Majesty’s head.”
Madam Yan shrugged her shoulders. “Your father may have that favor from the late emperor but do you think he would be willing to use that just to exempt you from marrying somebody if he is afraid that the emperor might already be out for your life? I don’t think so.”
Yu Huang Rong grimaced. Her thoughts were quite good just that … “My father also saw him grow up. I don’t know if he’d buy into it if His Majesty suddenly wanted to assassinate me.”
“He doesn’t have to fully believe it. He just has to be wavering.”
Yu Huang Rong didn’t feel well but still nodded. “Alright, I think I can make that work. So what exactly is the plan for the ambush?”
Madam Yan gave a smile, happy that she had finally managed to convince him. “I’ll let you work this out on your own. You’ll certainly be much more proficient at this than I am. What is important is that there have to be people around that can witness it and the person that saves your life has to be Zhang Shi Lan. Also, you know your father best. If there’s a way to make him believe more that this might have to do with the emperor, then take that into consideration as well. You can clear the matter up afterward but for now, it’s best to make them cautious.”
“Why he does it have to be Zhang Shi Lan?” He didn’t worry about any of the other things. Anyway, who would have an interest in assassinating him? If it wasn’t the emperor, then who would? Everyone else would just wait for his return to the border and then take their chances.
“Because that’ll make a beautiful love story, ah.” She raised her hands and shrugged once more. “That’s to say, it’s the cherry on top. Having Zhang Shi Lan rescue you will make people notice that there might be something more between the two of you. If you want to make sure of that, you can even act out some play with you being very worried after he’s hurt.”
Yu Huang Rong furrowed his brows. “I thought he wouldn’t get hurt.”
“Mn.” Madam Yan nodded as if it wasn’t a big deal. “Naturally, he won’t. He still has to look as if he was hurt though. That shouldn’t be too difficult for you to arrange, should it?
“Anyway, just make it look touching. There has to be some panic when he saves you and then if you can cry a bit because you think he might die in your arms, that would also be very good. You know how the capital is: Even if you don’t say a word afterward, it will not even take a week and everybody knows what is going on between the two of you.
“Your family would probably want to scold you but they won’t be able to do anything to him considering that he just saved your life. Throwing him out and being ungrateful that really wouldn’t be good for their reputation, would it?”
Yu Huang Rong smiled wryly. To be honest, he wasn’t sure if his family would care about their reputation very much. His father didn’t regard himself as a cultured man. He wouldn’t have any trouble pretending to be even more coarse than he usually was and scolding his son in public to make him give up on any ridiculous notions.
His mother was a bit more concerned about her reputation but that wouldn’t help much. Between losing their reputation for being ungrateful and losing their reputation for her son bringing another man home, one could go figure what she thought of as worse. One thing couldn’t be changed afterward while the other thing was something that would be spread as a rumor for a while but could also be taken care of. They could reward that young man but then refuse the marriage for the sake of the bloodline. What could people do? Sigh that it was very regrettable for the young man who had fallen in love and was even willing to throw his life away?
Yu Huang Rong’s eyes widened and he stared at Madam Yan. “You want to …” He didn’t even know how to say it. “You want people to talk about it so that everyone will know about the story and will feel that it wouldn’t be good for Zhang Shi Lan to … not marry me?”
Madam Yan smiled happily. “I knew you were a smart man, General Yu. That’s precisely it. Your family can be brought over with the fear of what His Majesty would do. But Zhang Shi Lan also has his family, ah. We have to do something about them. As far as I know, Zhang Shi Lan’s mother is a very affectionate person. She’s very close to her son and seeing him suffer because he fell in love with scum like you … she wouldn’t be able to take it.”
Yu Huang Rong opened his mouth but didn’t know what to say. Was she really scolding him to his face right now?
Madam Yan raised her hands in defense and looked as if she hadn’t meant anything by it. “I’m just saying. That’s what people would think: That you were fooling around with a poor scholar’s heart and then dumped him after he was even willing to throw away his life for you. What would you call that if not a scum?”
Yu Huang Rong didn’t know how to argue with that. “Well … I guess there’s some truth to that. But will it be enough to convince his family?”
Madam Yan very honestly shook her head. “It won’t. But she will likely consult me about this. After all, she already knows me quite well by now since she’s been coming over to the matchmaking pavilion to meet all these women and their families. Saying a few words to her, it isn’t too difficult.”
Yu Huang Rong raised his brows. “And you think a few words will be enough to convince her?” He really doubted that.
“Normally, that might not be the case. But at that time, she already had her son almost die for you. And then he’ll be at home and depressed because you are unwilling to see him. As a loving mother, will she really be alright not worrying about him? She won’t. So these few words are just to make sure that her thoughts tip in the right direction.”
Yu Huang Rong rubbed his face. “I don’t know too much about his family. If you say that it will work, then I can only hope it will. His father …”
“His father is a little trickier. But he’s also a little softhearted with his son. Zhang Shi Lan has achieved what he wanted him to. He has become a scholar and his conduct is very good. Having one thing about him that isn’t as great should be alright. Even if he doesn’t believe so in the beginning, I’m sure his wife will help us persuade him.”
Yu Huang Rong gave a hum. The thing that’s wasn’t good about Zhang Shi Lan … that was him, wasn’t it? Well, never mind that. “I guess you thought it through well enough. There’s nothing else I can see. I’ll go to the palace today to speak with His Majesty then.”
Madam Yan nodded. “Do that. I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with a good way to implement this plan together.”
Yu Huang Rong stared at her, not getting up yet. “Why are you so sure that he’ll help me? Just because I said that we were friends?” Even Zhang Shi Lan had had trouble accepting that. Why was she so different?
Madam Yan smiled happily. “Well, there’s no disadvantage for him, is there? Even if he wasn’t your friend, it would still be very beneficial to him.”
“Because … he could just kill me instead of my sweetheart in the supposedly fake ambush?”
Madam Yan furrowed her brows at him. “No, because this plan will leave you without any descendants and you’ll still owe him a favor.”
Yu Huang Rong leaned back and raised his brows. Indeed. Even if Luan Xin wasn’t on his side, that would indeed be the result. He would owe him this time and if he was only married to Zhang Shi Lan, then he wouldn’t have any children so the Yu family with two generations of outstanding Generals would come to an end. That really was too sly.