All Under Heaven – Chapter 21

"Why do those who do evil live well, and those who are righteous will never have a good ending!”
The Embroidered Uniform Guards were upright and principled but Zhao Su wasn’t clear on what type of person Liu Shouyou was. He only knew what he had heard from his teacher Dai Gongwang. And Dai Gongwang only knew that although Liu Shouyou was from an influential family. Later when Lu Bing died, the Emperor did want the Lu family in charge of the Embroidered Uniform Guards anymore so he promoted Liu Shouyou.

Long ago when Dai Gongwang was living in the Capital he had even known Liu Shouyou, but they didn’t know each other very well so he only told Zhao Su – Liu Shouyou will be there for small matters but for serious matters, it’s better not to bother him.

The meaning was as follows: Liu Shouyou was someone who seemed like a stand-up guy usually and you could approach him about small matters. But when there was a serious issue, he wouldn’t help, and you shouldn’t even hope that he was like his predecessor Lu Bing, who would protect the high-ranking officials and had respect for the righteous. Afterall, Lu Bing had the backing of the Emperor whilst this was not the case for Liu Shouyou.

When Liu Shouyou wasn’t managing the Embroidered Uniform Guards, he was usually at home.

The person who had summoned Zhao Su to Liu Manor, immediately had a servant welcome him in and lead him to the Garden Pavilion for tea.

The window of the Pavilion was open, three sides were surrounded by water, there was only one side that had a passageway which was what Zhao Su had just walked on to get there. There were potted plants all along the two sides, each time the wind blew, a fragrant scent blew over to refresh one’s mind. The Pavilion’s foundations were built on top of the water.

Zhao Su stood in front of the window for a bit enjoying the view. He heard someone coming and turned his head to take a look. This person was wearing green robes, and was in the prime of his life. This person had a pair of awe-inspiring eyebrows, and it was evident at first glance, it was someone who was used to giving the orders.

Zhao Su cupped his hands together and bowed: “Zhao Su greets Liu da-ren.”

Liu Shouyou laughed heartily: “Shaoyong, no need to be so courteous. Your teacher and I are old friends. I even heard that you got first place in the Fujian Provincial exam. Such a talented youth, I presume you’ll do very well in the upcoming exam! Come, sit!”

The two of them sat and exchanged some plaisanteries, Liu Shouyou knew that he wouldn’t have come without reason and Zhao Su didn’t want to beat around the bush.

“I have a small matter that I need da-ren to help with.”

He then proceeded to explain quickly the situation of Zhao Nuan being taken to the Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial prison, and finished by saying: “To be honest, my xiongdi hasn’t achieved any scholarly honour, he is just a commoner. He has absolutely nothing to do with Yu da-ren, but he is still young, and became attached with maiden Yu which made him act impulsively. Please could da-ren be magnanimous and let him out!”

No one could have expected Liu Shouyou’s face to completely change colour: “Zhao Nuan is your xiongdi?”

“Yes, we’re from the same clan.”

“Ah, Shaoyong, unfortunately, this is not something I can decide.”

Zhao Su rashly said: “Da-ren, why do you say that?”
“You just said that it was a small matter, but do you know what trouble your xiongdi has stirred up?”

Liu Shouyou shook his head: “He said to the officials of the Imperial Court of Judicial Review that Yan da-ren framed loyal and righteous officials to keep them quiet. He also said even if Yu Che was guilty, it shouldn’t affect his entire family – and anyone who has a conscience would try to speak out for them. To be honest, if he had said this in private then it wouldn’t have mattered, he isn’t an imperial official. No one would hold it against a commoner, but the Chief Justice of the Imperial Court of Judicial Review, Wan Cai is a good friend of Yan Maoqing so he naturally regarded it as a slander and put him in Imperial Prison.”

Seeing Zhao Su speechless, he smiled bitterly: “Your teacher and I could be considered as having a good relationship, but I really can’t help you with this situation. If I let him go, and Yan da-ren instigates an investigation, I as the Commander of the Embroidered Uniform Guards would have unending troubles.”

The most important point was that Zhao Su didn’t have any influence or power, Liu Shouyou would never go against Yan Maoqing for Zhao Su. The only reason he explained so much was out of respect for his teacher, Dai Gongwang.

Zhao Su forced out an understanding smile: “I understand your difficulties, before I had no idea that he had caused such a big fuss, so I overstepped a little, please forgive me da-ren.”

Liu Shouyou also smiled: “There’s no harm done by those who are not in the know. You don’t need to be too worried, the situation with your xiongdi isn’t counted as life-threatening, maybe he’ll be let out one day!”

The implication was that Yan Maoqing and Wan Cai might not have noticed and were not threatened by such an insignificant person such as Zhao Nuan but it also meant that Zhao Nuan would have to wait in prison.

The Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison was a place where water and fire never entered, it was full of grievances, it was gloomy and cold with cruelty on every corner. How could Zhao Nuan survive in a place like this? Even if he wasn’t sick, he’d probably get sick being locked up in there.

“Da-ren, I’d like to see my xiongdi, would that be possible?”

Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison.

Zhao Nuan had been there for half a day, but he already felt like it had been a year.

He was huddled up in the corner of his cell hugging his knees to his chest, listening to the noise of iron chains being dragged slowly across the floor. Blood curdling screams were travelling into his ears making him shiver. His surroundings were gloomy and cold, the torch’s flame on top of the wall flickered to and fro, bringing a ghostly aura. A fly wouldn’t be able to escape this place, it reeked of desperation and despair.

For the first time in his life, he knew the real meaning of fear.

He remembered when he was younger, he’d get chased around and hit by his father with a rattan cane, then he’d complain to Zhao Su about it saying that he had suffered unspeakable misery. Zhao Su would laugh and say to him he still had suffered for real, a situation that would make him wish for death.

He finally encountered it.

In this Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison where even the Ministry of Justice had no right to intervene, they have countless ways to make people be in so much pain that they no longer want to live, or to keep you hanging on your last breath, but unable to die.

Although Zhao Nuan was only being held there, and had not received any punishment as of yet, he was anxious the whole time, in this kind of environment, there was no way to not be anxious. For someone like Zhao Nuan, just an ordinary civilian who had never really experienced any hardships, this was even harder to bear.

But what he regretted, wasn’t standing up for the Yu family, but the fact that he had not thought about his own abilities before going ahead with it. Being stuck in there, he didn’t know how worried Zhao Su would be right now, and he didn’t even want to think about if his father found out back in Fujian…

Suddenly, he heard the quick pace of footsteps approaching.

Closer and closer.

Zhao Nuan’s heart was jumping with each step, he couldn’t bear it any longer and stuck his out to take a look, meeting a pair of eyes.


He suddenly threw himself against the door, he didn’t dare to believe his own eyes: “How, how did you get in here!”


Zhao Su glanced at him coldly, then turned to the Embroidered Uniform Guard who had led him there and said, “Thank you, Li da-ge!”

He took out some loose silver coins and placed them in the hand of the other.

Although he had connections to Liu Shouyou, he thought doing this wouldn’t hurt.

The Embroidered Uniform Guard patted Zhao Su on the shoulder and said in a friendly tone: “Lao-di, no need to be so courteous, Lui da-ren has already told us, so you don’t need to worry!”
Zhao Nuan was stunned.

Waiting until Zhao Su had entered his cell, he finally found his voice: “Shaoyong, are you alright?”

“You’ve frightened me to death, so what do you think?” Zhao Su leaned against the wall, hugging his waist, he smiled coldly.

Zhao Nuan stammered for a long while, but didn’t manage to actually speak.

Zhao Su felt that he must be scolded awake: “Did you get drugged by this girl? Do you know what you’re doing right now, even if you haven’t thought about your own safety, you should at least give a thought to your parents. They only have you, their only son, do you want them to have to help bury you?!”

“I didn’t only do it for Maiden Yu,” Zhao Nuan said, hanging his head, “”Since that day when you told me that my background and social standing is very different from Maiden Yu, I had not given up hope. I tried my best to make a good impression on Yu da-ren. Yu da-ren is nice and not arrogant at all. Seeing me coming to visit me every few days, he never treated me like a nobody. After talking a lot, we got acquainted. We talked a lot and he even taught me a lot.”

Zhao Su held back his anger, and calmly listened to him as he continued on.

“I told Yu da-ren, that I sincerely admired Maiden Yu, I wanted to marry her and that I know that my status at the moment was lowly, and I didn’t have much money so I wanted to become a merchant, so that Maiden Yu could at least live well if she married me. If he thought that a merchant’s status was lowly, and wasn’t a match for Maiden Yu, then I was willing to put myself back into studies and take the imperial exam. I only wished that he would give me three years. Who would know that Yu da-ren actually said that the days that we have spent together, he knew that I wasn’t a bad person, so status wasn’t important. He believed that status was only created in the mind of the others, and he only had one daughter, so he only wished that there would be someone who would treat her well, and he wouldn’t mind my lowly background.”

“After I heard that, of course, I was elated, but I still wasn’t willing that Yu Ning follow me in my hardships so I made a deal with Yu da-ren to give me three years.” Zhao Nuan paused, “Yu da-ren is also from a lowly background, his mother died early, and his wife’s family has no relatives. He was holding evidence against Yan Maoqing in his hand. But in the imperial court, he definitely didn’t have any trustworthy persons by his side. . ”

“So what you mean is, Yu da-ren entrusted his daughter to you?”

“No.” Zhao Nuan shook his head: “Yu da-ren never said that, he didn’t want to bother someone else, the last time that I went there, I saw him having dinner, and he smiled and asked if I wanted to join him, I went in to have a look and discovered that he was actually eating a plain congee with pickled vegetables under candlelight. At that moment, I suddenly thought about my own father.”

Zhao Nuan’s eyes were watery up, he quickly looked towards the ground: “Although my father has a bad temper, and has always spoken to me quite badly, I still remember, one time when I was little, I got sick, he carried me on his back for several li to see the doctor. Yu da-ren doesn’t look anything like my father, so I don’t know why he reminded me of him.”

“Afterwards, I found out that the day after, Yu da-ren had gone to present a memorial to impeach Yan Maoqing.”

“After he was found guilty, he was sent to Yunnan, and he left first, so he doesn’t even know that his family were also affected. They have been exiled to Guangxi. That’s thousands of li1里 also known as the Chinese mile = 1 li = ½KM apart.”

“Shaoyong, we’ve been in the Capital for a while now. I opened my shop, roamed around the city and have seen my fair share of things. The thing that I can’t understand is, why do those who do evil live well, and those who are righteous will never have a good ending!”
Zhao Su sighed, Zhao Nuan wasn’t dumb, but he was too impetuous. Although, he wasn’t from a wealthy family, and he had also not lived through any real hardships. After becoming friends with Zhao Su, Zhao Nuan had been well protected, whenever something happened, Zhao Su would step in to find a solution. So, the things that he had seen in the last two months had really affected him.

“I shouldn’t have blamed you, it’s just that I thought that you had been led astray by Maiden Yu…”

“No, you were right to scold me, it was because I was impetuous.” Zhao Nuan spoke quietly, “I still want to marry Yu Ning, I don’t care whether she is an official’s daughter or a convict, I also want to save Yu da-ren. But if I could do this again, I absolutely wouldn’t be so impetuous, I would come find you first to find a solution. I’ve caused you trouble, sorry, Shaoyong……”

“We are xiongdi afterall, no need to apologise!” Zhao Su kicked him lightly, “I have already spoken with Liu da-ren, I pleaded with him to look after you, so you shouldn’t have much trouble in here, but you’ll have to wait for a bit, as I need to come up with an idea on how to get you out.”

Zhao Nuan shook his head: “Don’t endanger yourself for me.”

“Do you think I’m you, of course I will only do what I can.”

Coming out of the prison was like being reborn, the blue sky and white clouds looked so beautiful.

Zhao Su sighed deeping, he thought to himself, that so-called prison was more like hell.

As long as he was alive, there was still hope.

Very early, the following day, in the name of his teacher, he went over to Xu manor to pay a visit to Xu Jie.

However, the trip this time would not be as smooth sailing.
Author Note:

In the next chapter, we’ll see Zhao Su take on old fox2老狐狸 = a cunning person, Xu Jie. The story of Zhao Su tells us that it’s important to have a good teacher =__,=
28/12/21 – Re-edited, notes added.

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