Chapter 16 Chip Chip Chip Chip
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Li Jinyu’s thoughts were extremely simple.
Regardless of the power struggles and political machinations within the court, all he wanted was to place Huo Caiyu on the throne.
He would not allow anyone to harm Huo Caiyu, and he would ensure that his policies were implemented at all cost!
Even if Prime Minister Ye was an ally of Emperor Jingchang in the novel and should have been his “teammate,” he could not withstand the force of Li Jinyu’s conviction.
Despite the Prime Minister’s considerable influence in Di Dynasty’s court, the balance of power remained in flux. Grand Marshal Meng, a staunch royalist, held a formidable position. Not only did he possess half of the Di Dynasty’s coveted tiger talisman, but the Ministry of War also lay under his jurisdiction. His relationship with Prime Minister Ye was a fraught one, with the two factions frequently butting heads over matters of military expenditures.
However, in recent days, General Meng had been absent from the capital, having traveled to the southwest to quell a rebellion. Without his commanding presence in court, the royalists found themselves at a disadvantage. Many of them were military commanders, skilled in the art of warfare but lacking in the art of diplomacy and rhetoric. They were ill-equipped to engage in verbal sparring with the civil officials of Prime Minister Ye’s faction.
But a small voice did not mean no power.
When Li Jinyu insisted on protecting Huo Caiyu and implementing the Single Whip Policy, the royalists would still silently support him.
Li Jinyu had always avoided direct conflict with others, but for some reason, he suddenly mustered up the courage and refused to give in.
When he couldn’t persuade the civil officials, he stubbornly stood in front of the throne, fingers clenched, repeating “Zhen’s mind is made up” over and over again.
After a stalemate, the Prime Minister finally reluctantly agreed to implement the strict law in one prefecture of Di Dynasty as a trial run to see its effect before deciding whether to implement it nationwide.
“Huo Aiqing, take a look, which prefecture should we choose?”
Li Jinyu happily beckoned him towards the large map made of yellow goat skin.
His face was still a little pale, not fully recovered from the shock of the morning court session.
Huo Caiyu pursed his lips and stood still.
“Huo Aiqing?” Li Jinyu looked at him with some confusion.
Huo Caiyu snapped out of his thoughts and looked deeply at Li Jinyu before walking over to stand behind him and look at the map. “Let this humble commoner think for a moment.”
Li Jinyu felt that Huo Caiyu’s gaze was different from before, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what had changed. Before he could figure it out, he heard Huo Caiyu say firmly, “Choose Qingshui Prefecture.”
“Qingshui Prefecture? Why?”
“Qingshui Prefecture is not far from the capital. The local people make their living by growing rice and fishing. The taxes on grain and fish have always been collected in kind, but now they are being collected in silver. This is a good opportunity to test the effectiveness of the new taxation method.”
Li Jinyu didn’t fully understand, but he nodded in agreement. After all, Huo Caiyu’s decisions were always correct.
Finally, they had taken the first step. Li Jinyu was exceedingly satisfied.
Although there were many obstacles in the process, Huo Caiyu’s Single Whip Policy was eventually implemented. He had 1000% confidence in Huo Caiyu and believed that he could handle this matter.
As for the Prime Minister…
Li Jinyu scratched his ear, feeling a bit conflicted.
In the novel, the Prime Minister Ye and Emperor Jingchang were in sync and cooperated tacitly, but here, they had become enemies.
But there was nothing he could do, since the Prime Minister was determined to block Huo Caiyu’s path!
The slight guilt that Li Jinyu felt quickly dissipated, and he called for two plates of peanuts.
Munching on his treats, Li Jinyu suddenly remembered something and asked the nearby Chief Kang, “Isn’t it time to flip the plaque today?”
Chief Kang was scandalized and subconsciously glanced at Huo Caiyu. Sure enough, His Majesty’s favor is as thin as ice. How could His Majesty talk about flipping plaques in front of Young Master Huo…
But His Majesty’s questions naturally had to be answered, so Chief Kang lowered his head and said, “Yes.”
Li Jinyu thought that it had been a long time since he heard the imperial concubines sing. “Then let’s flip the plaque.”
Chief Kang turned his head and looked at the book that Huo Caiyu was reading, then he turned back to the Emperor, who was engrossed in his peanuts and somehow summoned the courage to ask, “Your Majesty, should Young Master Huo be included in the green plaque list?”
Huo Caiyu’s flipping action paused slightly, and his gaze remained on the book, but his attention seemed to have drifted away.
Li Jinyu’s paw, which had been mindlessly stuffing peanuts into his mouth, paused mid-motion. He shuddered as he couldn’t help but envision an image of the future Emperor kneeling before the dragon bed and singing to him. “No, no, Zhen can’t bear it.”
Chief Kang quickly shut up.
Li Jinyu suddenly felt a high level of oppression around him. He looked up and saw that the imperial Ziwei aura was emanating from Huo Caiyu again.
What did he just say that made Huo Caiyu unhappy?
Wait, wasn’t it his goal to make Huo Caiyu unhappy?
All day today, he had been battling with the Prime Minister and his cronies. Li Jinyu and Huo Caiyu had been united in their opposition for so long that he had forgotten that they were actually enemies.
With a haughty cough, Li Jinyu set aside his beloved peanuts and turned to Huo Caiyu. “Huo Aiqing, make sure to tidy up those documents tonight. Zhen is heading back to visit the concubine first. Chief Kang, let’s make our way back to the palace.”
He didn’t want to keep experiencing the feeling of being oppressed by the imperial Ziwei aura.
Huo Caiyu watched the young Emperor flee from Jiaolan Palace. He lowered his head, attempting to divert his attention back to the book in his hands, but his mind refused to cooperate.
At times, he believed he had unraveled the mysteries of the Emperor’s mind, and yet, at other moments, he found himself completely confounded by the young monarch’s actions and motivations.
That night, Li Jinyu snuck into Huo Caiyu’s sleeping quarters again.
Just as Huo Caiyu had suppressed his complex emotions, Li Jinyu’s sudden appearance stirred them up again.
“Your Majesty is visiting so late. This humble commoner wonders…”
Li Jinyu dryly laughed and shrank his neck, “Zhen…Zhen is all alone in the palace and it’s quite lonely…”
Hoohoo, that eerie coldness came again!
He could only quickly run to Jiaolan Palace for help!
Huo Caiyu looked at him with a slightly strange gaze. “Your Majesty, weren’t you supposed to visit the concubine tonight?”
“Well… Zhen thinks it’s more important to come to Huo Aiqing and worry about the affairs of the country.”
He had flipped the plaque again, and came to a concubine he didn’t know, but before he could even speak, however, he felt a chill in the air, a sudden and icy aura that seemed to target him alone.
All around him, the other inhabitants of the palace lay motionless and unconscious. Without a second thought, Li Jinyu abandoned the concubine and ran straight to Jiaolan Palace.
Huo Caiyu looked at him with a complicated expression, sighed after a moment, and got off the bed, saying, “Your Majesty, please rest for a while.”
Li Jinyu expected to experience the intense pressure of the imperial Ziwei aura and stay awake until he eventually dozed off while sitting on the bed’s edge, similar to what had happened before. However, to his surprise, he had a bed to lie down and sleep on this time.
Wasting no time, he quickly kicked off his soft boots and climbed into the bed, wrapping himself in the blanket, letting the feeling of the imperial Ziwei aura permeate his whole body before he found a sense of security.
Huo Caiyu stood silently beside him, watching the Emperor crawl into the bed where he had just lay, even burying his head in it, and inexplicably felt a tingling sensation that he had never experienced before.
Just as he was wondering what this feeling was, Li Jinyu suddenly stuck his head out of the blanket, looking a little embarrassed as he said to him, “Why don’t you come up too?”
The phoenix bed in Jiaolan Palace was big enough for two people to sleep in.
It was only then that Huo Caiyu remembered that it was still early spring, and even though the dragon heater was burning, staying outside all night was still too cold for mortals.
After all, Huo Caiyu was the future Emperor! What if he caught a cold or rheumatism from the cold?
Li Jinyu pulled back the blanket and motioned for him to come over, patting the bed and saying, “Come on in.”
They had slept together before, and he didn’t really feel anything after falling asleep under the pressure of the Ziwei aura. Being closer to it actually made him feel more at ease.
Huo Caiyu instinctively took a step back and said, “This humble commoner will sleep outside.”
Li Jinyu was a little puzzled, but insisted, “Don’t talk nonsense, come in quickly!”
Huo Caiyu hesitated for a moment before slowly coming over to lie down next to Li Jinyu.
Li Jinyu retracted his head back into the quilt with peace of mind, and soon fell asleep in the deep darkness.
Feeling the soft, warm body next to him emitting a long and steady breath, Huo Caiyu slowly relaxed his body.
But he no longer felt sleepy.
Despite the large bed, the Emperor was sleeping right beside him, curled up like a dumpling with his head resting on his forearm.
Huo Caiyu had heard from his mother that people who live in anxiety tend to sleep in this curled up position.
He lowered his eyes and felt the fuzzy head that was tightly pressed against his forearm.
His Majesty was indeed living in anxiety every day.
Did their confrontation with the Prime Minister scare him today?
Thinking back to the pale and fearful look on Li Jinyu’s face during the morning court session and the trembling fingers when he stood up to confront the Prime Minister, Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but want to pat the Emperor’s shoulder.
His Majesty should be the most fearless person in the world, but his honor, actions, and thoughts were all under the control of others.
He could see clearly what happened in the court today— the Grand Marshal’s faction didn’t say anything at first and only stood up when the Emperor and the Prime Minister confronted each other.
They were not acting for the Emperor’s will but simply to suppress the Prime Minister’s arrogance.
Perhaps the Grand Marshal also did not want His Majesty to become a qualified Emperor.
The “royalists” only wanted a nominal Emperor and did not want a true ruler who could control the court.
How did His Majesty grow up in such a dangerous environment all these years?
Huo Caiyu felt a trace of heartache.
Despite growing up in such an environment, His Majesty still had the ability to govern and wanted to reduce the tax burden on the people.
Suddenly, he felt the person sleeping next to him move slightly.
Perhaps unconsciously seeking warmth, Li Jinyu had moved his entire body closer to Huo Caiyu, wrapping his arm around his waist and pressing his legs tightly against Huo Caiyu’s thigh.
Huo Caiyu became incredibly stiff all over.
He had never been in such an intimate position with anyone before.
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