Chapter 10 Rabbit
In the midst of all this, Chu Xie added, “The funds for Hexi Commandery, the key route to the western corridor, should be allocated. Minister Song, please arrange it. It’s been causing trouble for several days; it’s time to settle it.”
The Minister of Revenue, Song Jin, who had remained silent all along, lowered his head and replied, “Yes.”
As Huchi Er was being sent out of the city, the Left Valiant King leaned close to Chu Xie and held his hand. “You lied to me.”
“When did I lie to you?” Chu Xie glanced at him askance. “I’m an honest businessman.”
Huchi Er lowered his voice almost to a whisper, his tone cold and his manner intimate. “That night, you lied to me. You said you had no power or influence in Great Wei, that you were just trying to survive.”
Chu Xie’s eyes drifted lightly across Huchi Er’s face. He also lowered his voice, whispering back, “In a person’s lifetime, who isn’t just trying to survive? Power and influence, today you have them, but tomorrow, you might lose them. Now, you see me talking and laughing, but in a few days, I might be pressed down in the marketplace and have my life taken away one cut at a time.”
It was the plain truth.
Huchi Er smiled and thought of it as Chu Xie’s nonsense.
The top scholar, Qi Sui, who had been silent all along, suddenly felt his throat parched. He had a simple personality but a sharp mind; how could he not understand the undercurrents in the harmonious atmosphere just now?
Chu Xie appeared deliberately wicked and absurd on the surface, being both lecherous and ludicrous.
Yet, he had genuinely obtained benefits from the bold and courageous foreigner who had almost unified the Northern Xiongnu with a frail and weak body.
This man had climbed to such a high position in just a few short years, and there were reasons for it.
Qi Sui couldn’t help but recall the look in Chu Xie’s eyes when he had glanced at him that day. Others might not have noticed it, but he had indeed felt it—the momentary kindness in his gaze.
Qi Sui tightened his grip on the teacup. Chu Xie… was truly a contradictory person.
After giving the top scholar a show of strength last time, Chu Xie seemed to have set his sights on the newly-appointed Crown Prince, who had just been enthroned not long ago.
In the March spring chill, the palace was in full bloom, with green willow and bamboo shoots sprouting everywhere. Except for the Cold Palace, life was thriving everywhere in the palace.
Chu Xie had brought Jiang Yanchi out to the lakeside, where the wind was the strongest and coldest, and had him copy books in a pavilion.
The wind howled from all directions.
The Zhang Chi couldn’t even suppress the sudden gust of papers.
He had to press the paper with one hand to protect it from the cold wind while grinding ink and holding the brush with the other.
There were no chairs, so Jiang Yanchi could only stand, hunched over, as he copied.
His hands were frozen to a purplish-red, and his face was pale from the biting wind. To facilitate Chu Xie’s guidance on how to hold the brush, he was not allowed to wear a thick cloak.
Ah, His Highness was truly pitiable.
The palace servants didn’t dare to get too close, watching from a distance and feeling that Chu Xie’s methods were as blunt as a knife cutting into flesh, making it hard to endure.
But Jiang Yanchi endured it every time.
He was as obedient as cotton, allowing himself to be manipulated and squeezed.
On a sunny winter day, the sunlight was warm on his body. On the pavilion above the water, Chu Xie, wrapped in a large ink fox fur cloak, covered his abdomen with a golden cloud-patterned waist belt. He tapped his index finger on it, rocking the chair slowly.
“How are you doing? Have you finished copying?” His gaze swept over the slender figure of the young man trembling.
A gust of cold wind blew, and he suddenly heard the trembling young man’s hand, holding the brush, shake twice, splattering ink on the paper and staining a large area.
“Zhang, Zhangyin…” The young man, with pale lips, trembled and turned around.
But when he saw him holding a golden silk heater, Chu Xie calmly stood up and looked at the ink blot on the paper, his eyes glancing sideways at the sparkling lake. “Recopy it.”
Chu Xie stared at the trembling figure of the young man, slightly squinting his eyes. He patiently waited for him to finish copying for over an hour.
Chu Xie had been too audacious in defeating the Crown Prince earlier.
Even the newly crowned top scholar needed some discipline.
The new Crown Prince, whom he had supported, needed to be controlled as well.
Jiang Yanchi squinted his eyes slightly and intentionally shook his hand once more.
The ink soaked through several layers of the paper, rendering the national history that he had been copying for quite some time unusable.
Without turning back, he heard a playful voice from behind, “Crown Prince, if you become the ruler of a nation in the future, you can’t shake like this. In my opinion, you haven’t written enough. Tonight, copy another hundred pages for me, and deliver them to me tomorrow morning.”
A hundred pages were something he could never finish.
This was just a setup to continue punishing him tomorrow.
Jiang Yanchi, with a look of extreme fear and reluctance, replied, “…Yes.”
Chu Xie cleared his throat and felt the chill in the early March breeze, which was a bit too cold for his current body. He adjusted his large cape and had someone bring him a warm golden hand warmer.
It turned out that the male lead was like this when he was a child.
When they first met, he was unusually silent, practically like a soft persimmon.
Even compared to that guy with the surname Qi, he was inferior. Qi Sui, at least, could leap over a wall when he was in a hurry, but this one simply got frightened at the slightest threat.
He looked rather pitiful.
Although he appeared pitiful, in the plot, there would be a white lotus character who would save him, accompany him, and support him through this most difficult time.
That white lotus was surnamed Xu, named Chunmu, and had the courtesy name Yuan.
He was the most highly regarded legitimate grandson of the Marquis of Zhengbei in the Northern Territory.
It was funny. In such a melodramatic and tragic story, there were actually two supporting characters who broke down. One was the villain tool person that he had become, Chu Xie, and the other was the protagonist tool person, Xu Chunmu, the legitimate grandson of the Marquis Zhenguo.
He should just act as a brainless tool person. But for some reason, Chu Xie and Xu Chunmu in the original text both had their character and plotlines broken. This directly affected the progress of all the tasklines in this story.
So, he arrived a few years ago.
He replaced the broken villain, followed the normal plot, and allowed the book to continue its normal development according to the original storyline.
The system said today was the day when the other host, Xu Chunmu, came through.
Thinking about the person who took Xu Chunmu’s script, they must be delighted. They didn’t have to do unethical things every day, nor did they have to endure this fragile body. Born into a noble and heroic family of martial generals.
Oh well. No need to think about these irrelevant matters.
The little Crown Prince, who was diligently copying, didn’t turn around, but judging from his voice, he seemed a bit timid.
“May I… see my mother?”
Chu Xie’s expression remained unchanged, but he didn’t respond for a long while.
In the eyes of the little Crown Prince, his mother was still living in seclusion in the South Jiang. Chu Xie had to make sure that she was completely untraceable until Jiang Yanchi had firmly secured the throne. He finally spoke after a long silence, trying to stall, “Wait a bit longer. If you want to see your mother, you need to be a good and obedient child.”
The young protagonist didn’t say anything.
Chu Xie gradually felt a bit tired, adjusted the heater on his body, and dozed off in the cold wind.
Jiang Yanchi’s hand was so frozen that it was stiff, and as he blew on his hand to warm it up, he turned to look at the sleeping Chu Xie.
Unexpectedly, this person’s expression became extremely gentle when he was asleep.
His relaxed brows and eyes were filled with serenity, making him appear… rather obedient. Like a fluffy rabbit.
There was not a hint of the cold and domineering appearance when he was awake.
Jiang Yanchi furrowed his brows, surprised by the thought that suddenly emerged in his mind, and then turned it into a bit of sarcasm.
Chu Xie was clearly a cunning and sly jackal.
How could he be a harmless rabbit?
As the sun set, the wind grew colder. Jiang Yanchi’s hand, holding the brush, hesitated for a moment as he looked at Chu Xie’s sleeping face. He thought, he might get seriously ill again tonight.
With that in mind, another drop of ink stained the rice paper, marring the neat handwriting.
His heart felt a bit chaotic, and he crumpled the rice paper and threw it into the pond.
When Chu Xie woke up again, the last rays of the setting sun were about to disappear from the horizon.
Jiang Yanchi was timid, and he had someone bring a lamp while he continued copying diligently.
Looking at the sky, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had been writing without pause for three hours.
He couldn’t show any favoritism on the surface, so Chu Xie had to pretend that he was tired and hurriedly got up, planning to leave the pavilion.
It didn’t matter.
Just wait for Xu Chunmu to come through, and there would be a confidant to accompany the protagonist.
He reached out and supported the railing, almost falling into the lake.
A strong pair of hands held his arm, stabilizing his posture. Softly, a voice called out from behind him, “Zhangyin?”
Pressing the temples on both sides with his thumb and index finger, Chu Xie said, “It’s alright.”
“Are you ill?”
The young Crown Prince didn’t let go of Chu Xie’s hand and even tried to feel his pulse. Chu Xie woke up abruptly and spoke sternly, “Let go!”
Jiang Yanchi shivered and quickly took a few steps back.
Chu Xie felt that his tone had become too harsh.
But Jiang Yanchi, who grew up in the cold palace, had some medical skills, and he didn’t dare let him detect anything.
“Your hand has scars and blood, aren’t you afraid of dirtying my clothes?” Chu Xie said in a deep voice.
The Crown Prince lowered his head even further.
“It was Feng Yu who was impulsive. Please forgive me, Zhangyin.”
Chu Xie made a cold snort from his throat.
“Zhangyin can go back first,” Jiang Yanchi said.
The fox’s tail was finally revealed, and Chu Xie smiled with a hint of teasing in his tone. “What? Can’t endure for just three hours?”
“Zhangyin requested that the transcription be diligently done by Feng Yu every day and sent to the residence. However, it seems like Zhangyin is feeling unwell. If this continues and he falls ill, it would become Feng Yu’s fault.”
Chu Xie was momentarily stunned.
With a somewhat strange expression in his eyes, he asked, “Is this your true words?”
“Why wouldn’t it be true?”
There was a sincere look in the young man’s eyes.
What’s going on…. with this male lead?
He thought Jiang Yanchi had been too young and naive before. But now, after being the Crown Prince for a while, he should have become more cautious about his power. However, he still looked like a simple and obedient fawn.
Chu Xie couldn’t help but feel puzzled.
Jiang Yanchi smiled gently and said, “I was born in the cold palace, living in lower status than any servant or maidservant in the palace. I thought I would live that way for the rest of my life. But unexpectedly, Zhangyin rescued my mother and me from that dire situation…”
“I will never forget such a great kindness.”
Oh, that’s why.
Chu Xie’s heart softened a bit, but he didn’t show it in his performance.
He still found it difficult to imagine that this gentle and kind-hearted young prince would seize power completely in the turbulent Western Capital and overthrow the powerful eunuchs, control the border fiefdoms, and eventually ascend to the throne as emperor three years later.
Unable to help himself, Chu Xie added, “You’re still too young. In the whirlpool of power, it’s not easy to distinguish between favors and enmities in just a few words.”
As the cold wind blew, Chu Xie cleared his throat and turned around, only to unexpectedly meet a pair of quiet eyes.
Jiang Yanchi quickly lowered his gaze.