Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House: Chapter 4

Edited by Halley & Larkspur

Chapter 4: Paying Respects

It was a troubling matter when a bride met the elders. Before entering the city, I had already dressed up in the inn.

YiZhuMu, Empress Dowager Liu, had treated me very well and personally conferred my dowry before her death. All the jewelries were items from the Palace. I did not use any gold or pearl hair ornaments as they were too eye-catching. One could not show off nor be too unadorned. Instead, one had to show one’s family influence in a low profile manner.

I chose a hawksbill turtle comb ornament with intricately carved flowers, phoenixes and birds, which at a glance, was not at all common. A lot of thought was also put into the clothes that one was wearing. It was brocade from a few years back. Even though the colour was not eye-catching, it was a rare material in this troubling period.

Wei Tan and I were married during the course of the expedition. Now that I was here in the Prime Minister residence, this was the first time the elders saw the new bride.

The hall was filled with people, be it men, women, young or old. Other than the males that were on expedition, the rest of the Wei clan that was in Yong capital, was all present. Upon entering, all sorts of gazes landed on me and there seemed to be a moment of silence where a pin drop could be heard.

My back was as straight as a ramrod and I took out the most dignified attitude and collected myself before walking forward.

“Furen. This is Young Furen, Madam Fu.” Madam Zhang, who was guiding, went up to give her greetings.

“Young Furen, come forward,” said a voice slowly.

I slightly lifted my eyes and saw that there was a woman sitting on a higher ground and silently thought that it was probably the matriarch of the Wei family, Madam Guo.

I had a general idea of the Wei family’s situation. Wei Tan’s mother, Madam Wu, was Wei Jue’s YuanPei (original first wife) and Madam Guo was initially Wei Jue’s concubine. Though from a poor and humble family, she was Wei Jue’s favourite. Six to seven years ago, Madam Wu passed on due to an illness and Madam Guo became a JiShi (official wife of a widower), thus becoming my current Mother-in-Law.

There was an embroidered mat in front and I folded my hands together in front of me and bowed towards the woman, “This Daughter-in-Law, Madam Fu, greets Madam Guo.”

There was a smile in Madam Guo’s voice, “Young Furen must be fatigued due to travels. Do get up quickly.”

Madam Zhang supported me and unsurprisingly, my gaze met with Madam Guo’s measuring one.

She was neither old nor young and seemed to be in her prime years. It could be seen that she attached great importance to this meeting as her clothes were starched until creases were not seen. Her dark black hair was styled in a towering way but there were not many ornaments on it. The powder on her face and eyebrows were drawn so that others would not be able to see her expression.

“One heard that there are frequent rains in the East. One does not know if the journey was smooth?” Madam Guo pulled my hands over and asked amiably.

I smiled gently, “Thanking Mother-In-Law for the care. The journey was not bumpy.”

Madam Guo nodded, still maintaining the amiable smile. After exchanging conventional greetings, she then introduced the rest of the Wei family clan in the hall to me.

The Wei family was from HeXi and although it was considered to be one of a higher social status, it was not a big clan. Wei Jue did not move the entire clan from HeXi to Yong Province, only bringing a few nephews. All their wives and children stayed together and presently, they were all in this room.

There were a male and female of similar age standing by Madam Guo’s side, wearing embroidered clothes and with clear brows and eyes, like a pair of children in paintings. When Madam Guo called out, they came to greet me.

The boy was called Wei An, twelve years of age and had the same Mother as Wei Tan, both birthed by Madam Wu. The girl, Wei Rong, fourteen years of age, was by Madam Guo. Wei An called me Eldest Sao softly and quickly withdrew his gaze. Wei Rong however kept on looking at me, full of curiosity.

In addition to Wei Rong, Madam Guo also gave birth to the Second Young Master, Wei Zhao. During the journey, I had heard Madam Zhang saying that Wei Zhao also followed Wei Jue in the expedition and the children left in the Wei residence were Wei An, Wei Rong and two babies that were still in swaddling clothes.

“The Eldest Sao is like an older brother when the Eldest Brother is out campaigning. You all have to bear filial piety in mind and do not disobey,” Madam Guo said to the children seriously after the customary introduction ceremony.

“Respectfully promise.” Wei An and Wei Rong bowed.

Wei Tan’s living quarters was at the east side and it had a very spacious courtyard. There were a total of two entrances, one in front for the hall and the back for the sleeping chambers. When I moved in, one only saw that the greeneries in the courtyard were lush yet the furnishing in the room was simple. There was some furniture like, the bed, couch and desk but there was only one of each type. The sheets on the bed and the dressing table were still new.

According to the servant, it had not been many years since the Emperor chose Yong Province as the capital and Wei Tan would often be away all year round. As such, this room was not used often.

I felt a sense of déjà vu. No matter where this person was, his things were all very simple and there would not be any additional unnecessary items.

I did not have many chests and only those few items. However, Madam Guo had added a number of items and thus, the servants were bustling in and out of the room. I was so busy putting up all the items that I seemed to be running around in circles.

My new Youngest Sister-in-Law, Wei Rong, had no fear of strangers and was not willing to leave as she found this place novel. She kept looking around at the things in the room and seemed to find it interesting that I was so tired that my brows were beaded with sweat.

“Oldest Sao is really good looking and is more beautiful than all those other noble ladies from ChangAn.” She leaned over a new desk and looked at me.

I smiled, “The noble ladies from ChangAn? Who does Younger Sister recognise?”

Wei Rong drew out her hand and counted, “Many. Xin Fang, Ru Hui and Yu Zhu. Their families are all officials of ChangAn. Mmm, and Older Sister Xu.”

“Older Sister Xu?”

“That is the Empress.” Wei Rong said, “Her maiden name is Xu Ping and she is the daughter of the Superintendent of the Lesser Treasury.”

I remembered. I indeed knew this person.

Xu Ping, born into the Xu family of FenYang, followed Xu Jing, her Father, to Chang An at a young age as he took an official position in the capital. It was said that Xu Jing and Wei Jue had a friendship during their youth and when Wei Jue offended influential officers in the Northern Military Department that was appointed to Luo Yang, Xu Jing, who was Superintendent of the Lesser Treasury, had even spoken for him before.

Even though Xu Ping and I knew of each other, we were not on familiar terms. Firstly, there were some gaps in our age and secondly, when females played together, there would be cliques and she belonged to another circle. However, she had an extremely elegant appearance and would never offend others. Thus, she had an outstanding reputation.

One had not expected that she would become an Empress.

“Does Eldest Sao know her?” Wei Rong asked.

I nodded, “Yes.”

Wei Rong’s lips were half opened, as if she wanted to say something but then took it back. After a moment, she smiled and spoke mysteriously, “Eldest Sao, do you know where my Mother is taking you to tomorrow?”

“One does not know. Where would it be?”

She moved closer to my ears. “Tomorrow she will be taking you for an audience with the Emperor.”

It seemed that the Wei family was very eager to show me, this Daughter-in-Law, to everyone. On the night when I met the Wei clan, Madam Guo sent Madam Zhang to inform me to prepare as I would be having an audience with the Emperor the first thing the following morning.

Truth be told, even though I knew about the power Wei Jue currently held in court, I was still a little surprised when I heard this information from Wei Rong.

When one was in ChangAn, it was not a trivial matter to have an audience with the Emperor. Like the Late Emperor, he was considered a diligent Emperor and would be burying his head in government affairs and sometimes would not even have time for drinks or beauties. Thus when there was an audience, it must definitely be an important matter that could make the Emperor stop everything on hand and take the effort to look at your face or listen to your words. I still remembered those years ago, how many people had sought Father for help, just to see the Emperor once.

However, the current Wei family could arrange this matter as easily as one was entering one’s backyard. I then deeply understood that the circumstances had changed for the Emperor.

The lacquered carriage had fragrant incense hanging at four corners as it rode through the streets. The troops called out to open up the road and the pedestrians quickly walked away.

When the carriage was about to arrive at the Palace, I looked out from the carriage. The fine bamboo curtain had cut the scenery into strips and when it was lifted up, there were only gray and motley old Palace walls. No matter the structure or the area, the Palace in Yong capital could not be compared with the tall luxuriousness of ChangAn. However, those magnificent sceneries had been destroyed by the fire and the Emperor could only follow Wei Jue’s opinion and remain in Yong capital.

The guards at the Palace Gates were very respectful to the people from the Prime Minister’s residence and without any delays, the carriage entered the Palace.

After alighting, an attendant came over and guided Madam Guo and me to the main hall of the Inner Palace.

The Heavenly One was sitting at the highest seat of the hall, wearing the official robes and the crown on his head seemed to make his young face thinner. Sitting beside him was a female with splendid robes and that was his Empress, Xu Ping.

“Your Majesty. Empress.” Madam Guo led me to bow and greet the Emperor.

“Furen is excused of courtesy.” One only heard the Emperor speak and the voice was clear and familiar. Upon lifting my head, his gaze landed here and a little arch appeared on those lips.

I looked at that face. Even though countless moons had passed, sadness appeared in one’s heart.

If it was said that I was acquainted with Empress Xu, then the friendship between the Emperor and I could be regarded as half a good friend.

The Emperor’s name was Chen. When he was twelve, his mother, Empress Gao, passed on and he was thus raised by the Empress Dowager.

We had an age gap of two or three years. As the Empress Dowager was my YiZhuMu (aka paternal Grandaunt), I would often enter the Palace to visit and was familiar with Prince Chen.

Back in those years, I was not considered mischievous but was very gluttonous and loved to take small advantages. Prince Chen’s food was often very exquisite. Thus, I would drool incessantly and thicken my skin to take his snacks for my own.

Prince Chen did not mind it and even asked me what I liked to eat. He would specially instruct the kitchens to specifically prepare them whenever I went over to play.

This happy eating guest relationship continued until Empress Dowager Liu passed away. At that time, Prince Chen was weak and powerless, and after losing the Empress Dowager’s protection, one was unable to even eat snacks.

Not long after, the Late Emperor married me off to LaiYang. I still remembered when I left, Prince Chen was still wearing mourning garbs for Empress Dowager Liu, his eyes red.

Formerly playmates, we had not expected the turn of events and to see one another again under such circumstances.

After the formal greetings, Empress Xu attentively watched me with a gentle smile on her lips but did not say anything.

The Emperor was after all an Emperor and his expression had always been calm. When one was seated, one only heard him speaking to Madam Guo, “The Prime Minister managed the country and there are rebels in the surrounding areas, making Zhen’s heart worry. In the previous days, one heard that the Eldest Young Master had married and one had not congratulated yet.”

Madam Guo smiled and gave a bow on the spot, “The matter of one’s child reaching adulthood and marrying is a natural matter, how can one to bear to receive the Emperor’s congratulations.”

Even though that was said, it was only in courtesy. Since Madam Guo brought me here for an audience, it was naturally so as to receive the congratulatory gifts from the Emperor. After the cursory greetings were exchanged, the Emperor ordered the attendant to bring a chest over. Upon opening it, one could see that there were pearls, jade and fabric and right at the top, was an exquisite fragrant agarwood, holding a golden jade hair ornament.

“This belonged to Zhen’s birth Mother, Empress Gao. Back in those years, Young Furen liked it a lot so Zhen will use this item as the congratulatory gift.” The Emperor said.

When Madam Gao saw it, her face was filled with smiles as she gave her thanks. For the Emperor to use the late Empress’s item to reward the new bride of an official, the value was secondary but the honor was unparalleled.

My gaze landed on that dangling ornament and was frozen for a moment.

The gold strings were twisted together to form branches and the gold sheets were made into leaves surrounding the blooming flowers carved from white jade. When the ornament was inserted to one’s hair, as one walked, it would sway like branches of flowers, making it look exceptionally beautiful. That year, I had seen Empress Gao wearing it and had loved it so much that I kept begging Mother to look for craftsmen to make one for me.

At that time, Mother had laughed at me for being insensible as one could not replicate the things that the Empress owned.

I remembered that I had told the then Prince Chen of the matter and did not know if it was a coincidence that he bestowed this item to me.

“Thanking Your Majesty for the reward.” I followed Madam Guo and thanked the Emperor.

The Emperor gently smiled.

Empress Xu, who was beside him, gazed at me quietly.

Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House: Chapter 3

Edited by Halley & Larkspur

Chapter 3: Ambushed

I discovered that the horse carriage was travelling along the very road that was used to send me to the Wei camp a few days ago. When the familiar city in the distance appeared before my eyes, for a long time, I held the curtain up and looked at it.

The reason why I survived that year was due to my YiZhuMu (aka paternal Grandaunt), Empress Dowager Liu. Perhaps Father had long anticipated it, as he sent me into the Palace to accompany the Empress Dowager the day before. When the Minister of Justice came over, the Empress Dowager ordered people to deadlock the Palace door. Separated by a wall, she cursed and berated those that came together with the Late Emperor and Empress Bian.

The Late Emperor was after all a filial son and did not come over to arrest anyone again. However, the Heavens did not treat me well all the way. When I was fifteen, the Empress Dowager passed on.

Empress Bian then resumed her revenge.

Before Empress Dowager Liu passed on, she had incessantly urged the Late Emperor to look for a good family for me and the Late Emperor had even agreed. I had indeed married into a good family. The Han family of Lai Yang, even though it was far away from Chang An, it was still considered a prominent clan in the area and the head of the family was also the head of the clan.

However, my husband, Han Guang was a fool.

He was stupid, clumsy and liked to giggle foolishly. When others talked to him, they had to repeat many times for him to understand that the other person was talking to him and only then would he be able to continue the conversation. This was a marriage that the enemy bestowed, so of course, I would not be happy about it. However, neither did I hate this husband.

He treated me well. Every morning when I woke up, he would smile at me foolishly and intermittently mutter, “Ah Jin is really good looking…” Thinking about these, I sighed softly in my heart.

One did not know how he was. After all we had lived together for a few years, so it would be a lie if one did not have any sentiments. However, in this troubled world, none of us had any choice, just like how I was compelled to leave Chang An and marry into Lai Yang, those years ago.

One had heard that after I reached the Wei camp, Wei Jue let Han Tian stay in Lai Yang as a Governor.

In that city, one feared that the only change was that the Han family’s foolish second son no longer had a wife.

Wei Jue’s troops had a rather resounding reputation of not disturbing the commoners.

As one journeyed the next few days, I gained a deep understanding. Cheng Mao was leading an army of three hundred troops and accommodation was a big concern. However, he would never disturb any commoners and would use dry rations to eat one’s fill, rest outdoors and would never let his troops’ horses trample the farmland. Compared to the deeds of the other warlords and roving bandits, Wei Jue’s troops were simply refined and cultured.

Of course, in this chaotic world, it did not mean that one would be safe if one did not go beyond one’s bounds.

When one was nearing the boundaries of the Yong Province, a group of people of around two hundred suddenly rushed out from the two hills.

The leader barked, “Leave the carriages and wagons and you will be spared from death!”

Cheng Mao was furious and passed down an order to prepare for battle. The troops immediately circled the carriages and set up a formation.

Although those people were violent, one was able to tell that they were just a mob armed with simple and crude weapons that only knew how to charge forward. One could see Cheng Mao rushing out from the squad, waved the sword in his hand and the bandit leader had already been struck down from his horse.

When the rest of the mob saw that the situation was not in their favour, they wanted to disperse but Cheng Mao instructed the archers to release the arrows and shouted out orders. He then led the troop to chase and in a short moment, he had captured more than a hundred people.

“I am Prime Minister Wei’s subordinate, the Marquis Cheng Mao!” Cheng Mao led his horse out and shouted. I did not listen carefully to the words he said after, as I was a little surprised after hearing him report his name and position.

I had thought that it was amazing. These days, even a low ranking Deputy General could be conferred as a Marquis, Wei Jue could indeed cover the skies with his hands.

Cheng Mao was still shouting. He said that the Heavenly One had decided on the Yong Province as the capital and wanted them to surrender and pay allegiance to the Imperial Court instead of rebelling. Those rebelling bandits had already been captured and the rest of them had used all their energy to beg for mercy. When Cheng Mao saw them surrendering, he instructed the troops to tie them up with ropes and had them escorted along.

“This Mao is untalented and has let Furen suffer a shock.” After the incident was resolved, Chen Mao alighted from his horse and apologised with obeisance in front of my carriage.

It would be a falsehood if one was not scared, as there were real swords and spears flashing in front of one’s eyes. With the curtain separating us, I forced my heart to calm down before speaking, “Why should General blame yourself? If General was not present, my life would have been lost.”

Chen Mao said, “There is a village up ahead. May Furen be patient as one would be able to rest soon.”

I nodded, “Many thanks to General’s efforts.”

Chen Mao saluted and retreated, not long after, the carriage started moving again.

With more than a hundred captives, the journey was rather arduous for the cavalcade. However, Cheng Mao was not worried as it was a wide expanse of boundless plains up ahead that one could gallop unhindered. It would be unlikely for them to be attacked by anyone.

After less than ten Li (1 Li = 500m), just as Cheng Mao had said, there indeed was a village. Cheng Mao ordered the soldiers to monitor and guard the captives before commanding the troops to stop for a rest. However, not long after, they discovered that a lot of people came over from the village and surrounded them.

Cheng Mao was startled and quickly ordered the troops to stand guard as he sent someone out to inquire.

In the end, it was a false alarm. These villagers had heard that the troops had captured the rogues that were committing evils around the area and had especially come over to express gratitude.

“Ever since chaos erupted from Chang An, there have been many thieves in the nearby forest who would loot passers-by and harass the villagers. It was simply unbearable. Now that General has wiped out the evil doers, it is the good fortune of the commoners.” The Village Head bowed to Cheng Mao in gratitude, expressing his thanks.

Cheng Mao helped the Village Head up and said, “We work under the Prime Minister Wei’s wings and the Heavenly One is choosing a site for the capital. With the country stabilising, it is natural to clean up the surrounding bandits and ensure the people’s safety.”

Upon hearing these words, all of the villagers praised them and rushed to feed the soldiers with food and drinks as thanks, but Chen Mao tactfully declined.

I had sat in the carriage for a long time and only came out to stretch my limbs after the villagers had dispersed.

“Furen.” When Cheng Mao saw me coming out, he was stunned and quickly came forward to greet me.

“I have only come out for a breather. General need not be courteous.” I smiled gently.

Cheng Mao nodded and looked around before ordering people to clean up the stone slate under the nearby tree and invited me to sit there.

“How will General handle those people?” I asked.

“Up ahead is the Administrative Division of Yong Province. They will be handed over to the Governor there.” Cheng Mao replied.

I looked at him and smiled, “Every time when the General encounters roving bandits, are they exhibited before the villagers?”

Cheng Mao was startled and his eyes gleamed.

“It is not like this every time.” His expression did not change as he continued, “If one passes by an arduous area, one would not be able to bring along captives. In order to prevent evil deeds from continuing, one has to kill them on the spot.”

He then added, “This is what Eldest Young Master says evil and hide; do good and keep a good name.”

I was startled for a moment before smiling, “So it is.”

Chen Mao no longer spoke and bowed to me before turning around to leave.

After the captives were handed over to the Administrative Division, Chen Mao resumed the control of the cavalcade and officially entered the Yong Province.

The Yong Province was situated near Luo Yang and had been a thriving region since ancient times. There was also an interim Imperial Palace in the city. As to why the Emperor had set the capital in Yong Province, one had to start from the beginning of the chaos.

When the Late Emperor was alive, the matter of the succession had already lit the court abuzz. My YiZhuMu’s, the Empress Dowager Liu, heart was set on the Eldest Prince Chen but the Late Emperor favored Prince Zhen, borne by Empress Bian. Empress Bian came from a despotic maiden family and over the years, the Bian family had won over a large number of officials. The Older Brother of Empress Bian was even appointed as the Minister of War by the Late Emperor.

It was during the end of the year, when I was married off that, the Late Emperor suddenly passed away. The Fu family had been exterminated and Empress Dowager Liu had passed on, so Empress Bian had no more apprehensions. She took out the Late Emperor’s posthumous edict and established Prince Zhen as the new Emperor and conferred upon Prince Chen the title Prince of He Jian.

Disregarding the eldest and establishing the youngest, the posthumous edict of the Late Emperor seemed to have appeared out of thin air, stirring up many discussions in court. On the day of the enthronement, the Imperial Secretary Wang Rong challenged the edict in court and in a fit of rage, Minister of War, Bian Wei, cut him down with a sword.

Blood was spilled in the Imperial Court and a stone had created thousands of waves. The Superintendent of the Capital, Gao Mi, who was also the Clan Brother of Prince Chen’s birth mother Empress Gao, deployed five thousand guards to surround the Palace and the residence of the Minister of War. In a moment of desperation, Bian Wei dispatched subordinates to send out a letter using the Emperor’s name to order Liang Province’s Governor, who was at the time quelling the riots in Long Xi, to enter Chang An and escort the Emperor.

He Kui was only seven hundred Lis (1 Li = 500m) away and thus, after he had received the order, within the next few days, marched into Chang An with fifty thousand troops. For three days, the army and the Imperial guards bathed the city with blood and He Kui was able to break into Chang An. At that time, Minister Bian of War was killed by Gao Mi, Empress Bian died of poison and Chang An had landed in He Kui’s hands. He Kui was a ruthless and heartless person. After gaining Chang An, he proclaimed himself as the Grand Preceptor. He would sleep lasciviously in the Inner Palace every day while supporting the new Emperor to govern from the Imperial throne. If any official raised as much a word, they would be mercilessly killed.

The Imperial Court was in a precarious situation and at this moment, Mu Zhong Yuan of Bing Province claims to have an emperor’s edict for rebellion to raise a coup d’état against He Kui in the name of loyalty.

When He Kui caught wind of it, he was furious and abolished the Emperor before establishing the Prince of He Jian as the new Emperor. Afterwards he started a fire to burn down the Palace, forcing the Emperor to move to Luo Yang.

This move was equivalent to pouring oil onto fire. Documents and words were spread to the hundred Administrative Divisions and the various troops from all over the country responded to Zhong Yuan and gathered in Bing Province.

Even though He Kui was fierce, his toughness was nothing but the common bravery of the Liang Province. After a few months, Luo Yang was captured by the volunteer army. But this formidable military force was no longer under the command of the Heavenly Son. Thus, the dogfight of the warlords began. Fire was set on the city gates, innocent bystanders were dragged into it and the Imperial Palace of Luo Yang was reduced to scattered ashes and dispersed smoke.

The Heavenly Son was fleeing until he met Wei Jue. At that time Wei Jue had already occupied Yong Province. He then repaired the temporary Imperial Palace, welcomed the Heavenly Son and settled down hundreds of officials. The current Heavenly Son was currently staying in that Palace and the city of Yong province had then changed its name to Yong capital.

Actually in my eyes, ever since leaving Chang An, other places in the world, even if they looked like paradise, I would still regard it as the wild countryside. So when Cheng Mao led the carriage valiantly into the boundaries of the capital with a commanding presence, my thoughts were completely not on the sceneries at all.

I was pondering upon the matter of meeting the Wei family clan after entering the city.

Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House: Chapter 2

Please note… There will only be 1 additional chapter each week for July even though there are enough for 2. The team is working hard on getting all the translation and words correct.

Edited by Halley & Larkspur

Chapter 2: Departing Camp

When I woke up the next day, the skies had turned bright.

The place beside me was empty, not even half a shadow could be seen. I pulled the quilt off and when I got off the bed, my legs touched the copper basin by the bed and made a sound.

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Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House: Chapter 1

Blanket disclaimer: This novel don’t belong to me. All characters and plots belong to the author. I just translate during my leisure time.

Edited by Halley & Larkspur

Chapter 1: Second Marriage

I sat on the bed and listened to the hustle and bustle outside.

The entertainers played the instruments amidst the hearty laughter of the soldiers. The atmosphere was boisterous and loud. Separated by the military tent, the immediate surroundings seemed even more deathly still. The interior of the tent was very plain; a bed, a desk, a seat. At the back, was a lacquer screen, with a full set of shiny body armour hanging beside it.

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July Comeback…

I AM BACK!!!! (Hope that there are still some readers left…)

Apologise for the short hiatus… Did not meant for it to happen but it did.

*Real life work commitments is too draining*
*COVID-19 indirectly increased my workload*
*Working from home decreases my efficiencies*

The release of the new translation project I introduced in Oct last year is very much overdue.

The good news is that the first chapter of ‘Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House’ will be released next on 2nd July. Next Thurs!!

Each post of ‘Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House’ will be scheduled on Mon and Thurs (like our Empress Shen novel).

Likewise, additional chapters will be released. Each additional post will be at $40 and a maximum of two additional chapters will be publish in a week. Please help to vote which 2 days would you like to read the additional releases.

Voting will end on next week and the additional release will be up the following week.