I Rely on the Collapse of the Character Setting to Survive in the Hands of the Male Lead Chapter 24

Chapter 24

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When Chu Lishu woke up, his whole body was enveloped in hot water.

It felt like he had crossed into another world. Clearly unable to breathe, he had somehow come back to life.

He slowly opened his eyes, and the first thing that captured his entire field of vision was Lin Qingyang sitting across from him.

Lin Qingyang’s face was very pale, whether from the cold or the steam was unclear, with his shoulders submerged in hot water.

Chu Lishu unconsciously pursed his lips, sensing something unusual. His pitch-black pupils flashed with a different color, finally settling on Lin Qingyang’s lips.

He leaned in, raising his hand until it could touch the corner of Lin Qingyang’s mouth.

Warm and soft, a little pressure would make it blush,

Vulnerable and easily bullied, completely different from his previous arrogant demeanor.

It was this man again, pulling him back from the brink of death once more.

Chu Lishu felt a sense of dissatisfaction in his heart and involuntarily increased the pressure. Lin Qingyang furrowed his brow, seemingly uncomfortable, and slightly opened his mouth, as if wanting to bite down on the annoying thing.

Chu Lishu’s pupils contracted, his thumb enveloped in warmth, and a soft, rustling tongue swept over.

Chu Lishu felt as if he had been scalded and quickly withdrew his thumb. His movement was significant enough to finally awaken Lin Qingyang from his drowsy state.

As soon as Lin Qingyang woke up, he saw Chu Lishu with a furrowed brow, his palm still resting on his jaw.

It was too frightening.

Lin Qingyang’s first reaction was a chill down his spine. What is the male lead doing? Is he trying to strangle him?

Did he just steal a kiss… Ugh! Artificial respiration, proper artificial respiration, at most, just a slight touch of the lips, not a kiss at all.

But this kind of resuscitation seemed indecent even in ancient times. Could it be that the male lead remembered, and thought he was taking advantage of the situation, wanting to end him?

Male lead, calm down a bit. Let me tell you the story of the Farmer and the Snake first?

“What… what are you doing?”

Chu Lishu snapped back to reality, lowered his hand, feeling awkward about being caught, “I was just checking if you’re still alive.”

That didn’t sound very reassuring.

Do you want me to live or not?

Lin Qingyang’s mind was filled with sarcasm.

“I was drowning at that time…”

Lin Qingyang tensed up, immediately saying, “Yes, it startled me. After I pulled you out, you coughed up some water and passed out. I quickly carried you out, never thought the cave entrance was connected to the back of our mountain.”

Feeling a bit unsure if he sounded guilty, Lin Qingyang sensed a change in Chu Lishu’s expression after saying this.

Chu Lishu naturally knew what had happened. Feeling the warmth rushing through his body and the medicinal properties being appeased, it wasn’t the time for the medicine to take effect. This time, it was just accidentally triggered, so it quickly subsided.

Chu Lishu scanned the surroundings, confirming that he was in Lin Qingyang’s courtyard, and at the moment, he and Lin Qingyang were soaking in the same bathing tub.

Seeing Chu Lishu glancing around, Lin Qingyang hurriedly explained, “It’s not my fault. When I found Shuncai, I was almost done for myself. I just instructed Shuncai to prepare a medicinal bath to ward off the cold. It was an emergency, and there wasn’t time to find another bathing tub or fetch more water. I had no choice but to make do with you. I was in and out of consciousness the whole time. I fell asleep as soon as I got in, really!”

But I didn’t mean to take advantage of you.

“And once you start this medicinal bath, you can’t stop. Otherwise, the cold air won’t be expelled from the body, and we’ll both suffer.”

Chu Lishu nodded. He naturally understood that the situation was urgent at the time and didn’t think much about it. However, now that he thought about it, being in the same bathing tub as Lin Qingyang was a bit awkward.

Suddenly, Chu Lishu’s expression changed slightly, and his gaze became sharp. “My clothes…”

Lin Qingyang swallowed nervously. Fortunately, his mind had remembered that detail at the time.

“Over there. We were in a hurry and didn’t have time to get dressed. Anyway, we had inner garment, so we just ran down like this. Don’t worry, not many people saw us. Shuncai was busy fetching water and didn’t tidy up either.”

When Chu Lishu looked over, he happened to see two damp piles of clothes in the corner, still rolled up and tied the way they were at the time. It seemed that nothing was exposed.


This wasn’t something Lin Qingyang needed to know.

Chu Lishu withdrew his gaze, took a sigh of relief for the first time, and relaxed against the edge of the bathing tub. He spoke slowly, “Thanks, you saved me. I’ll remember this favor.”

“Who saved whom is really unclear between the two of us. Let’s just remember the favor and, besides, we’re like brothers. No need for verbal thanks, it’s kind of cheesy.”

But you must remember, I saved your life! Hurry up and upgrade my status.

At this moment, both of them were wearing only underwear, sitting in the bathing tub with their upper bodies exposed. Facing each other was indeed a bit awkward, so Lin Qingyang decided to change his position and lie down.

Suddenly, a knocking sound came from outside the door.

“Qingyang? Cousin Lishu, are you both in there?”

Lin Qingyang was startled and immediately looked at Chu Lishu.

Chu Lishu nodded calmly.

“Yes, we are, but we’re currently in a medicinal bath.”

“Oh, no problem, it’s just me.”

Soon, the door was pushed open, and through the screen, a figure walked in. Instead of approaching the screen, the person went to the table and placed a food box there.

“Your sister was so worried, but it’s inconvenient for her to come and check. How could you think of going for a swim in the middle of winter?”

Lin Qingyang took a deep breath to refrain from swearing out loud. Wasn’t it all because of this guy?

The person outside was Ying Wenlong, who had just recently enjoyed some happy moments with Xu Rui’er. Now, he was pretending to be concerned, it was truly nauseating.

“We just wanted to see who was better at swimming in winter, and things got a bit out of hand. Sorry for making everyone worry, but we’re both fine now. It’s a shame we missed the banquet.”

“No big deal. Your sister asked me to bring this to you. When everyone found out about your situation at noon, no one had the mood to eat.”

“It’s all my fault.”

“It’s alright. If your bodies allow, there’s a banquet with the head master tonight. You two can come together, and you can also bring some friends. Consider it a replacement for lunch.”

Lin Qingyang looked at Chu Lishu, seeking his opinion.

Chu Lishu’s eyes flickered for a moment, then he nodded directly.

Lin Qingyang decisively agreed. He had originally intended to go find his eldest sister.

“Well, you two enjoy your bath. Remember to eat something. I’ll take my leave.” Ying Wenlong finished speaking, politely bid farewell. There really wasn’t a single flaw in his demeanor throughout. If Lin Qingyang hadn’t witnessed what he had done and said, he would never have imagined it.

“What’s your plan?” Chu Lishu asked.

“Surely we need to tell my eldest sister about this. We can’t keep it a secret. I absolutely don’t want my eldest sister to spend her life with such a disgusting man. But…” Lin Qingyang hesitated. In ancient times, while divorce was possible, it was rare. “My eldest sister is someone who considers the overall situation. We also don’t have a reliable maternal family, and Marquis An Nan’s residence looks down on us. If our mother were to pass away, our situation would be just as Ying Wenlong imagined. So, there’s a high possibility that my eldest sister will endure it.”

Seeing Lin Qingyang being so candid about his situation, Chu Lishu spoke up, “If only Eldest Cousin knows about this, she might use it as leverage to sever ties between Ying Wenlong and Xu Rui’er. But if Xu Wenze knows about it too, the situation changes.”

“How so?”

“Xu Rui’er has already given herself to Ying Wenlong. To preserve their reputation, Duke Wei Guo’s residence will definitely marry her to Ying Wenlong. However, making Xu Rui’er a concubine is absolutely impossible. That would tarnish the reputation of Duke Wei Guo’s residence. So, there’s only one option.”

“Wait for my mother to pass away, divorce my eldest sister, and then remarry? They don’t even fear being criticized by others!”

“So, this plan is Ying Wenlong manipulating Xu Rui’er. Ying Wenlong knows that the route of divorcing his wife is impossible. Even if eldest sister finds out and tries to stop their relationship, she will fail.”

Lin Qingyang suddenly froze, looking at Chu Lishu with a bewildered expression as his mind struggled to comprehend.

Chu Lishu spoke, each word carefully laid out for Lin Qingyang, “In fact, there’s only one path from start to finish, which is to lose a wife and gain another. This way, Ying Wenlong can preserve his reputation openly and marry Xu Rui’er smoothly. When Duke Wei Guo’s residence learns about this, regardless of what Xu Wenze thinks, at least Duke Wei Guo’s residence will believe that this is the best solution. Whether they stay hands-off and wait for Ying Wenlong to act on his own, or worse, they might even assist Ying Wenlong, Eldest Cousin won’t have any way out in this conspiracy, whether she knows about it or not.”

After Chu Lishu finished speaking, he noticed Lin Qingyang’s face had turned pale, and his eyes seemed vacant. He paused, “I was just casually analyzing. It might not be true. You don’t have to be this…”

“What you said is correct,” Lin Qingyang said in a low voice. He knew that Chu Lishu’s analysis was accurate; it must be like this. That’s why, in the original plot, Lin Qinglan, who was healthy, quickly fell ill and died after the death of County Princess Yawen. Everything was part of Ying Wenlong’s scheme. He had never intended to divorce and remarry; he just wanted to become a widower to salvage his own reputation.

“Damn it!” Lin Qingyang was so angry that he lifted his hand and slammed it against the edge of the bathing tub.

Seeing that Lin Qingyang could handle it, Chu Lishu continued, “In fact, Ying Wenlong should have been preparing for this for a long time. Both Eldest Cousin and Xu Rui’er fell into his scheme.”

Lin Qingyang hadn’t thought so deeply, and seeing Chu Lishu quickly grasping the key points, he couldn’t help but look up at the scholar with the eyes of a poor student gazing at a top student.

“It should have been when your maternal grandfather had trouble. Ying Wenlong had just passed the imperial examination and could have gone to a better position to hone his skills. Instead, he was assigned to the Ministry of Rites, with limited prospects. He must have believed he was implicated by Eldest Cousin. In reality, given the current emperor’s employment practices and the vacancies in the court at that time, it was normal for him to be in that position. But he didn’t think so, so he wanted to exchange his wife for one who wouldn’t burden him.”

“At that time, the chief examiner for his examination was Prime Minister Li, so he can be considered a student of Prime Minister Li. Therefore, the Ying family is considered part of Prime Minister Li’s faction. Do you know who Prime Minister Li’s eldest daughter is?”

“She is the Concubine Mei in the palace, the most favored consort at present, and the mother of the ten-year-old Fourth Prince.”

Chu Lishu nodded, “Ying Wenlong has always wanted to gain Prime Minister Li’s favor and contribute to the future of the Fourth Prince. However, he has never been accepted by Prime Minister Li. But he found a breakthrough.”

“A breakthrough? Xu Rui’er? That doesn’t make sense. Xu Rui’er is from Duke Wei Guo’s residence, and the Duke’s eldest daughter has also entered the palace, becoming Concubine Xu and is not in conflict with Concubine Mei. Why would he want to marry into Duke Wei Guo’s family?”

“Because Duke Wei Guo’s residence is well aware that they only have the glory of one residence. They can’t compete with others in terms of background. They don’t have the ability to seize the throne. Concubine Xu was almost implicated in a plot right after entering the palace, and it was Concubine Mei who helped resolve the situation. Duke Wei Guo knows that Prime Minister Li intends to form an alliance, so Duke Wei Guo leans towards the faction supporting the Fourth Prince.”

Lin Qingyang suddenly understood why, in the original plot, Xu Wenze eventually became a study companion for the Fourth Prince, and he also brought the male lead along. Initially, he thought it was the male lead’s design, considering the male lead wanted to be a study companion for the Fourth Prince. Now he realized it was Xu Wenze’s own agenda.

“So, Concubine Mei in the palace and Concubine Xu can be considered in an alliance. Since Ying Wenlong couldn’t find another breakthrough, he set his sights on Duke Wei Guo’s residence. By marrying Xu Rui’er, he would be considered part of Duke Wei Guo’s residence. This way, he could legitimately assist the Fourth Prince.”

“That’s right,” Chu Lishu nodded. “For the sake of his own promotion, he naturally wanted to eliminate obstacles. In other words, he had planned to kill his wife for a long time.”

“It’s disgusting. Back then, they begged to marry my eldest sister. Even if my eldest sister didn’t have children, she worked hard for the Ying family inside and outside for three years. She may not have achievements, but she certainly had hardships. Just because there were issues in the maternal family and she couldn’t provide assistance, he didn’t need to resort to such ruthless measures. If he insisted on divorcing, my eldest sister wouldn’t have pestered him to stay.”

“Divorce? If he divorced and then married Xu Rui’er, others would still gossip. He didn’t want any vulnerabilities in his official career.”

“Relying on women all the time?!” Lin Qingyang was so angry that he almost laughed. “And Duke Wei Guo’s residence just lets him play around like this?”

“So, he first deceived Xu Rui’er, making their marriage a reality. This way, the Duke Wei Guo’s residence has no way out.”

“But she’s just a concubine’s daughter? Would Duke Wei Guo’s residence stoop to this level for her?”

“But just as Concubine Xu was establishing herself, if her younger sister were to cause a scandal, Concubine Xu’s future would be ruined.”

Lin Qingyang couldn’t help but feel the intricacies of the power struggles and conspiracies among the elite. After all this time in the new world, it was the first time he truly felt the backstabbing and scheming among the powerful. He was having a hard time adjusting, feeling a bit nauseous. This was the result of a single wrong move leading to a complete loss. In this case, even life might be at stake.

Seeing Lin Qingyang looking shocked, Chu Lishu couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. It seemed like he was still a bit naive.

Lin Qingyang snapped back to reality, grateful that he had the clever male lead to help him see through everything. Otherwise, Lin Qinglan’s life would truly be in jeopardy.

However, as Chu Lishu comforted him, Lin Qingyang suddenly felt a bit uneasy.

The male lead had to fight against even more formidable and repulsive individuals to reclaim everything that belonged to him. It was truly frustrating.

“Thank you!”

Chu Lishu was taken aback, seeing Lin Qingyang’s sincere expression. He replied, “You’re welcome.”

After Lin Qingyang finished speaking, he smiled, and the radiance of a protagonist’s smile adorned his features, as if a sunflower was blooming. This entirely unreserved, innocent, and natural smile was something Chu Lishu realized he hadn’t seen for a long time.

“You said it, didn’t you? We don’t need verbal thanks; remembering it in your heart is enough,” Chu Lishu replied calmly.

At this moment, Lin Qingyang was filled with gratitude and trust for the male lead. “So, tell me, how can we protect my sister? I don’t want anything to happen to her.”

Figuring out such intricate matters was definitely the male lead’s strength. The more comprehensive the male lead’s thinking, the better. Having the male lead’s plot armor was the smart way to go.

Hearing Lin Qingyang’s almost pleading tone, Chu Lishu felt a bit uncomfortable but didn’t find it annoying. Instead, a sense of satisfaction welled up within him.

“The only thing we can do now is to persuade eldest cousin to request a divorce before the truth comes out. She needs to find a way to extricate herself, even if it means bearing the blame. Otherwise, if anything happens to aunt, Ying Wenlong will definitely make a move. She’s vulnerable on her own in the Ying family; she can’t defend herself effectively.”

Lin Qingyang immediately responded, “What if we directly expose them in a compromising situation, letting everyone know what happened? It could help eldest sister vent her grievances, and then she can take the initiative to seek a divorce.”

“In reality, divorcing for a woman is already challenging, and most successful cases involve having strong support from her maternal family. However, considering the nature of Marquis An Nan, even if he learns about the situation, he won’t agree. Having a divorced woman in the family can affect the marriage prospects of the younger sisters. Moreover, historically, a man’s extramarital affairs are not considered grounds for divorce. We also lack evidence to prove he intends harm. If eldest cousin causes a scene, she won’t only be labeled as jealous, but the divorce won’t succeed either.”

Lin Qingyang’s face turned pale; indeed, ancient times were more ruthless towards women.

“So, once an affair is exposed, there’s only one outcome: Ying Wenlong takes a concubine. His official career would be ruined. Duke Wei Guo and Concubine Xu would receive backlashes and won’t view the Ying family favorably. Then will eldest cousin have a good life this way? Given Ying Wenlong’s character, he will surely shift all blame onto eldest cousin. Since she doesn’t have children yet, her fate will transform from being victimized to living a life worse than death.”

Lin Qingyang clenched his fist and said, “If only I had martial arts skills. I wouldn’t have run away just now; I would have directly taken down Ying Wenlong.”

Chu Lishu replied, “There’s no need to rush for revenge. Once eldest cousin is out of that situation, we’ll have plenty of ways to handle it.”

Lin Qingyang immediately looked at Chu Lishu with bright, shining eyes. The intense gaze made Chu Lishu feel a bit overwhelmed. “First, think about how to talk to eldest cousin. Will she believe it?”

Lin Qingyang immediately wore a distressed expression. Believe it…?

While he was contemplating, there was a sudden loud sound of the door being pushed open.

Both individuals in the bath were startled.

Who was so impolite?

Soon, they heard the voice of Xu Wenze, “Brother Lin!”

Lin Qingyang’s face suddenly turned flustered. He was about to tell Xu Wenze not to walk around casually to avoid being impolite when he heard Chu Lishu suddenly say, “We’re here.”

Lin Qingyang was momentarily confused, and then he saw Chu Lishu seemingly displeased as he cast a glance at him. Chu Lishu raised his hand and accurately threw a damp towel, covering Lin Qingyang’s chest and obscuring a significant portion.

Immediately after, they heard footsteps approaching, and Xu Wenze’s astonished voice, “You two!”

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