I Rely on the Collapse of the Character Setting to Survive in the Hands of the Male Lead Chapter 33

Chapter 33

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At night, Qi Yan skillfully led Lin Qingyang down the back mountain, where one of the guards had long been bribed by Qi Yan. Every time they sneaked down the mountain, they slipped away through his help.

Upon reaching the official road, Shuncai and Qi Yan’s attendants were waiting with a carriage by the roadside.

The two boarded the carriage and headed towards the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion.

Secluded Courtyard Pavilion was the largest South Wind Pavilion in the capital, situated in the liveliest part of the East Market. This area was bustling with Qin-style brothels, Chu-style restaurants, gambling houses, and taverns. Street vendors and river boats filled the surroundings, making it so lively that even at night, other places seemed deserted compared to the vibrant scene here.

Lin Qingyang felt a bit bewildered by the scene as he got off the carriage. Seeing the multitude of people coming in and out of the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion, and how openly everything was conducted, he now understood the concept of the prevailing male culture during the Great Zhou Dynasty, as mentioned in novels. The doorman at the entrance was very lively, immediately greeting people he recognized.

“Isn’t this Young Master Qi? You’re here to grace us again? Is it because you miss Huanhuan? No wonder gentleman Huanhuan always says Young Master Qi is the best to him. Oh my, Young Master Lin, you’ve finally come. Yu Zhang has been missing you so much; he talks about you every day. It’s like washing his face with tears every day!”

Lin Qingyang was so irritated by the doorman’s sharp voice that he got goosebumps. He found it hard to adapt.

Qi Yan, acting like a seasoned visitor to such places, jokingly scolded the doorman and threw some silver before saying, “Hurry up, have Huanhuan and Yu Zhang ready. Don’t keep us waiting too long.”

The doorman immediately grinned from ear to ear. “Alright! Gentlemen, please come inside!”

Lin Qingyang walked closely with Qi Yan through the entrance of the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion.

As their figures just disappeared through the gate, a cloaked figure, half of the face hidden, appeared at the entrance.

Upon returning, the doorman saw the newcomer and was about to greet them, but the person just cast a cold glance, making even the thick-skinned doorman hesitate to speak.

The doorman, with keen insight, wondered if the newcomer might be here to catch someone in an illicit affair.

Prepared for unexpected situations, the doorman carefully observed, but to his surprise, the person turned around and left. The doorman’s curious gaze followed until the figure disappeared.

The direction of disappearance coincided with the area where the gambling houses gathered.

Relieved, the doorman started to welcome other guests.

Soon, three seemingly wealthy and noble young men arrived, each with a remarkable appearance. However, it appeared that they were all newcomers.

“Brother Yue, I really have no interest in this matter. Let me go, please.”

“Wenze, I know your family has been going through a tough time lately, and you’re not happy. Since you’ve come out, the brothers will definitely take you to relax a bit.”

The expression on Xu Wenze’s face changed slightly, but he didn’t say anything. He just turned to the person next to him and said, “Brother Huo, you… could you talk to Brother Yue?”

“Huh? Me? I don’t like it here either, so you have to stay with me. Yue Chen will definitely enjoy himself later, and I have to keep an eye on him. You have to stay with me and watch him too.”

“What do you mean by ‘watching me’? I’m very well-behaved.”

“At least until you marry my sister, you have to keep yourself clean.”

“Huo Luo, your sister is only ten years old!”

“That’s why I have to keep an eye on you!”

The two of them started arguing, and Xu Wenze, used to such scenes, could only follow behind, looking helpless.

These two were quite famous in the capital a few years ago. Yue Chen, the top scholar in the literary examination, and Huo Luo, the top martial scholar. However, neither of them took official positions, so their current status was not prominent. Living close to each other for many years, they had known each other since childhood, with the two older brothers taking Xu Wenze to play.

These two had a close relationship since childhood. According to Yue Chen, they seemed to have known each other even before birth. When their mothers were pregnant at the same time, if one felt a kick from the baby inside, the other’s belly would follow suit.

After the children were born, one would cry, and the other would naturally cry even louder. They were always competing, so even now, in their twenties, they still argued like children.

“Alright, stop looking so bored. Consider it broadening your horizons. Studying alone won’t get you far. You need a broad perspective to gain more insights,” Yue Chen said, hooking his arm around Xu Wenze and coaxing him.

“Hehe, don’t use playfulness as an excuse for your own laziness,” Huo Luo mercilessly exposed.

Yue Chen rolled his eyes and persisted, “Moreover, I heard there’s a young man in the academy who likes you. If you want to reject him, you need to understand her to win the battle, you know?”

“What? There’s a man who likes you!” Huo Luo exclaimed. “Well, that’s normal. Wenze looks good.”

Xu Wenze wasn’t surprised anymore. In this city, as long as Yue Chen wanted to know something, there was nothing he couldn’t find out. However, this time…

“Brother Yue’s information is sometimes outdated. That person doesn’t like me anymore,” Xu Wenze said indifferently.

“Oh, look like you’re regretting!” Yue Chen squinted his eyes.

Xu Wenze felt a little flustered. “I don’t!”

Yue Chen chuckled, “Then we must go in and relax even more.”

Xu Wenze, with a resigned expression, was led inside by the two.

Inside the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion, there were four floors. The first floor was for drinking tea, chatting, and watching performances. The second floor had private rooms, while the third floor and above were dedicated to guest rooms.

As soon as they entered the lobby, they saw a delicate young man, dressed provocatively and emitting a natural fragrance, weaving through the tables of customers. Some were bold and flirtatious, some were elegant and refined, some spoke eloquently, and some could sing and dance.

“It’s truly an eye-opener,” Yue Chen laughed.

The two companions were finding it hard to adapt to the sight of men hugging and cuddling intimately. Xu Wenze turned to leave, but he was forcefully grabbed by Huo Luo, who had an expression as if he couldn’t stand the thought of being disgusted alone.

It wasn’t until the attendant guided them to a private room that the two could finally catch their breath.

“Good-looking men, why are they behaving like this? I can’t stand it!” Huo Luo sat down with a look of disdain.

“It’s quite nice to watch. Later, I’ll call in a few more. You two think about what type you prefer,” Yue Chen said with a smile.

Xu Wenze’s tightly furrowed brows never relaxed. Finally sitting down, he spoke in a low voice, “Brothers, be honest. Are you investigating another case this time?”

Huo Luo touched his chin uncomfortably, casting a glance at Yue Chen.

Yue Chen smiled and sipped his tea, “Investigating… interesting things. But it has nothing to do with you. Don’t ask too much. Consider tonight as an opportunity to broaden your horizons.”

Xu Wenze looked helpless, “If you really enjoy investigating cases, why not join the Imperial Court of Justice Review? Without holding an official position, but still meddling in official affairs, isn’t that inconvenient? Get a position first, then you can meddle with a legitimate reason. With your talents, don’t waste them.”

Huo Luo remained silent, once again turning to look at Yue Chen.

Yue Chen’s smile faded a bit, “Being outside the vortex allows for more freedom, and the view becomes clearer. You’ll understand once you enter the palace. Don’t bother about our affairs. Thinking about the situation in the Imperial Academy. How is Mr. Cao’s health? Does the head master still enjoy punishing people by making them kneel in the Cold Spring Cave? Oh, these are not interesting. Give me some gossip about the person who used to like you. How come the affection faded? With your excellence, is there a man at the Imperial Academy better than you?”

Xu Wenze was instantly counteracted, looking embarrassed. He didn’t want to say more and just opened the window, watching the performance.

However, in a fleeting moment, Xu Wenze seemed to see a familiar figure on the third-floor corridor.

His expression changed instantly, and he immediately tracked his gaze. Indeed, around a corner, he caught a glimpse of that person.

With a loud sound, Xu Wenze stood up, eyes widening as he watched him walk into a room with a young attendant and close the door.

“L… Lin…”

“What’s wrong? Did you see someone you know?” a voice came from behind.

Only then did Xu Wenze come to his senses, sitting back down. “No… I must have been mistaken.” However, his expression looked grim. He had heard rumors that he was a frequent visitor to the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion.

He just didn’t expect to see him here.

Lin Qingyang.

Aren’t you supposed to like Chu Lishu now? Aren’t you unwell? Why…

At this moment, someone came in and inquired if they wanted to choose a male companion.

“I heard there’s a guy called Yu Zhang here, good-looking. I’ll go for him,” Yue Chen said.

The pimp hesitated for a moment, maintaining a smiling face. “Unfortunately, Yu Zhang has been booked for the night, just a moment ago. He’s upstairs on the third floor.” He pointed to the third floor as he spoke.

“Since he just went up, he hasn’t undressed yet, right? I’ll cover the expenses for that guest tonight. Let him give up Yu Zhang for me.” Yue Chen said generously, reaching out to pick up the money pouch from beside and tossing it onto the table.

Huo Luo’s face tightened, but for the sake of the overall situation, he could only glare fiercely and endure.

“Well… this, the other party is a regular customer of Yu Zhang, and also a person of status. We really can’t afford to offend him,” the pimp explained with difficulty.

“Who is it?”

Yue Chen threw out some silver, and the pimp smiled, saying in a low voice, “It’s the Second Young Master of Marquis An Nan’s residence. He comes every month, and really fond of Yu Zhang. He stays for the whole night each time.”

Yue Chen thought for a moment, then looked surprisingly at the solemn-faced Xu Wenze, chuckled, and waved his hand to dismiss the pimp.

“What’s wrong? Don’t want it?” Huo Luo asked.

However, Yue Chen looked at Xu Wenze, smiling, and asked, “Wenze, do you want something more exciting, like catching someone in the act on the bed?”

Huo Luo: ????

Xu Wenze: !!!

On the other side, at the Longmen Gambling House:

Two gambling enthusiasts, arms around each other’s shoulders, came out from the entrance with cheerful smiles. Pointing to a nearby tavern, one of them said, “Come on, let’s have a drink tonight. Our luck is so good, and we just encountered a fat lamb. Looks pretty young, probably never gambled before. If we weren’t kind-hearted, we would have made him lose everything, even his pants.”

“Yeah, judging from the way he talks, you can tell he’s from out of town. Winning so much, we’re not afraid, even if he comes to make trouble! Feels good.”

“Wang Laowu, he didn’t have any money left in the end. What did he pawn to you?”

“A jade gourd pendant, looks like it’s worth five taels of silver. If he can’t pay it back later, I’ll keep it for myself to play with. What about you, Brother Qi?”

“I got a jade finger ring. Can’t understand what’s carved on it. I’ve been losing a lot these days, short on money. I’ll pawn it off tomorrow.”

The two of them laughed triumphantly, walking away with arms around each other’s shoulders.

Shortly after, a cloaked figure emerged from the gambling house, lifting their head slightly to gaze at the two departing figures, sneering.

Passersby, catching a glimpse of the handsome face, involuntarily halted their gaze.

But soon, that person vanished into the crowd.

When they reappeared, it was at a tea stall near the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion.

This person was naturally Chu Lishu, who had come out tonight to ensure that if Xu Wenze returned to the courtyard later, he wouldn’t miss the chance to slip out and handle matters. Hence, he had to take advantage of tonight.

In order to suppress his somewhat uncontrolled emotions, Chu Lishu spent an hour practicing calligraphy before leaving. However, he didn’t anticipate that Lin Qingyang not only privately kept a young attendant’s intimate clothing but also intended to meet the attendant at night. So, when he saw someone during the secret descent from the mountain, Chu Lishu couldn’t help but burst into laughter. No wonder! No wonder when he refused to accompany him tonight. He wasn’t the least bit troubled. Despite being ill to such an extent, Lin Qingyang still had the inclination to sneak out and meet a lover. He’s truly underestimating him.

The secret letter was already hidden in a safe place, and the setup was complete. Everything was going smoothly, only waiting for the results of the inspection.

But in his heart, there was no satisfaction with the success so far.

With a loud bang, the teacup was slammed onto the table, shattering into pieces. The tea stall owner was startled for a moment, but soon silver coins were tossed over. The stall owner happily continued serving tea.

The suppressed, continuously boiling, and almost uncontrollable anger raged in Chu Lishu’s mind.

Chu Lishu had to recall various past events to reanalyze whether Lin Qingyang had deceived him. However, the only result he arrived at was quite simple.

For Lin Qingyang, there was an emotional connection with both himself and Yu Zhang. One was heartfelt, and the other was more physical.

He was just filling the position that was once occupied by Xu Wenze, not replacing Yu Zhang’s position.

After all, Lin Qingyang was a man. Previously, when he liked Xu Wenze, he often sought comfort from Yu Zhang, seeking solace in tenderness.

It was reasonable. Liking him didn’t mean he had to maintain absolute purity for him.

This situation couldn’t even be considered betrayal compared to his feelings for Xu Wenze. Besides, he didn’t have any romantic commitment to Lin Qingyang, and it didn’t matter to him if Lin Qingyang engaged in any questionable activities with other men.

Chu Lishu had his own serious matters to attend to, it wasn’t worth wasting time on Lin Qingyang’s private affairs.

Suppressing his unruly emotions with reason, Chu Lishu stood up and walked in the opposite direction. He had completed what he needed to do, and it was time to return to the academy.

Whether Lin Qingyang would die while spending the night in the arms of a young attendant was of no concern to him.

H had better die there and not come back. Coming back would just be a bother.


“Brother Yue, don’t be like this!”

“Oh, come on, it’s just a joke. Maybe we can make a new friend? Don’t worry about it.”

Xu Wenze looked helplessly at Huo Luo, who shrugged, indicating his powerlessness. Generally, when Yue Chen made a decision, there was no choice but to go along with it. It was better to accompany him than let him face the risks alone. If anything happened, they could navigate through it together.

Seeing that Huo Luo was unconditionally siding with Yue Chen again, Xu Wenze could only follow along.

The three of them arrived on the third floor, intending to go to the room Xu Wenze had just spotted. However, their attention was suddenly diverted by a commotion downstairs. They looked down to see a drunkard trying to approach a cloaked man.

Observing the cloaked man’s appearance, they could tell he was also a guest and not one of the courtesans here. The drunkard seemed to have taken an interest in the cloaked man, and, relying on his size, he attempted to forcefully embrace him, leading to a disturbance.

“Agile movements, exquisite evasion skills, and even an attempt at a sneak attack. Unfortunately, lacking internal energy, and the strength is feeble. He’s no match for the drunkard and will be taken down soon,” analyzed Huo Luo instinctively.

“Judging by the figure, he seemed young,” Yue Chen added.

“Well… help him?” Xu Wenze asked.

Yue Chen looked at Huo Luo, who, in fact, had a somewhat disorderly disposition. He reached out and grabbed a decorative curtain hanging nearby, using his internal force to swing it like a rope towards the lower floor. It wrapped around the wrist of the man in the cloak, pulling him up to the third floor.

The man landed steadily, and Yue Chen boasted, “Courage is commendable, not even a scream at this height?”

Meanwhile, the people downstairs had already started cursing. Huo Luo sneered, leaped down, and with a few steps through the air, landed in front of the drunken man’s table. Just as the man was about to strike, Huo Luo quickly threw a punch. The drunkard fell to the ground, causing a commotion in the surroundings.

“He’s fine, he just fainted,” he said, tossing silver coins on the ground as payment for the medicine. Quickly, he leaped back upstairs. The onlookers marveled at his extraordinary martial arts skill.

“You…” At this moment, Xu Wenze also noticed the half-face of the man in the cloak. Those who knew him could naturally recognize him at a glance. “Brother Lishu, why are you…”

Chu Lishu raised a hand and slowly lifted the cloak, revealing a handsome face. The picturesque features made everyone present sigh in admiration.

Yue Chen dared to say that among the young attendants who prided themselves on their good looks, none could compare to the person before them. It’s no wonder the drunkard from earlier was so entangled. However, the man’s gaze was too profound; Yue Chen couldn’t read anything from those eyes, a depth not fitting for someone of his age.

Yue Chen, who considered himself adept at reading people, found himself a bit at a loss before the person in front of him.

Yue Chen became interested, “Wenze? Acquaintance?”

“Brother Wenze…” Chu Lishu spoke slowly.

Xu Wenze instantly caught on, looking embarrassed. “I… it’s just a coincidence. I came with a friend. These two are Yue Chen and Huo Luo.”

“Brother Yue, Brother Huo, this is my classmate and roommate, Chu Lishu, also the nephew of Marquis An Nan.”

Chu Lishu’s gaze slowly swept across the faces of Yue Chen and Huo Luo, presenting himself as if it were their first meeting. “Greetings, esteemed brothers.”

Yue Chen immediately caught on, “Oh, you came to find your cousin?”

Xu Wenze also looked at Chu Lishu with a complicated expression. Just today, he had given those admonitions, and now Lin Qingyang had turned around and come to find the young attendant. It was quite embarrassing.

Chu Lishu hadn’t expected to encounter Xu Wenze here. He had left home precisely to avoid being noticed, and today was the only opportunity he had to go out. But now, he had run into Xu Wenze, creating an inconvenient situation that left traces in his carefully laid plan. He couldn’t help but feel more irritated, blaming Lin Qingyang for this unexpected encounter and silently noting it as a potential future problem.

“Yes, my cousin’s health is not good, and he shouldn’t have come here. When I found out he had come out, I immediately wanted to bring him back,” Chu Lishu explained.

“A thoughtful cousin indeed,” Huo Luo praised sincerely.

However, Yue Chen had long sensed something from Xu Wenze’s uneasy demeanor. Lin Qingyang, the second son of Marquis An Nan, had a reputation for liking men, coming here to find the young attendant. Chu Lishu, who was equally beautiful, seemed like the object of an unexpected infatuation.

A sly smile formed on Yue Chen’s lips; it seemed to add an extra layer of amusement.

The four of them stood at the door, engaged in awkward pleasantries, when suddenly, a scream and a desperate “don’t” came from inside the door.

The expressions on all four faces changed simultaneously.

“Wow, it’s already… quite intense!” Yue Chen smirked, observing the increasingly grim expressions on the faces of the two men in front of him.

Xu Wenze opened his mouth as if to advise them that they should… turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to impropriety.

But Chu Lishu by his side suddenly moved.

Yue Chen and Huo Luo were both surprised to see the polite and composed cousin instantly lose control. With an aura that resembled a black panther, Chu Lishu charged forward and kicked the door open.

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