Chapter 17 Chip Chip Chip
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The following day, Li Jinyu woke up to find himself in the arms of Huo Caiyu. Upon awakening, he immediately noticed the evident presence of dark circles under Huo Caiyu’s eyes.
Li Jinyu rubbed his eyes, sat up, and asked in a daze, “Did you not sleep well last night?”
Huo Caiyu was silent for a moment before answering, “It’s nothing to worry about, Your Majesty.”
It was only then that Li Jinyu realized he had been lying in Huo Caiyu’s arms the whole time. Startled, he quickly sat upright.
Seeing Huo Caiyu struggling to rub half of his body that had gone numb from being pinned down, Li Jinyu felt a little guilty and asked, “Are you alright?”
He used to sleep by burrowing deep into soft wood shavings. The previous times he had slept in Huo Caiyu’s quarters, they had not shared a bed, so he had not expected to end up in the future Emperor’s embrace…
Huo Caiyu paused for a moment before replying, “It’s nothing.”
Li Jinyu woke up with his head still under the covers, his hair a mess. Without thinking too much about it, he got out of bed and called for the eunuch to come and attend to him.
Chief Kang entered with his head bowed and saw that His Majesty looked radiant while Young Master Huo had dark circles under his eyes and could not get up from bed.
It seemed that His Majesty had kept Young Master Huo up all night…
Shaking off his disrespectful thoughts, Chief Kang quickly went over to attend to Li Jinyu, helping him dress and do his hair.
It was still early enough to make it to the morning court. Remembering that he needed to talk to the Prime Minister about the next steps regarding the Single Whip Policy, Li Jinyu reluctantly got up and walked out of the room.
Suddenly, he turned around and looked at Huo Caiyu, who was still lying in bed stretching his body. “Huo Aiqing, come with me.”
In Li Jinyu’s eyes, there was no one in the entire court, civil or military, who was as cute as Huo Caiyu.
Huo Caiyu looked up in surprise. He thought that after passing the Prime Minister’s test, he would no longer be of use as a shield. Why did His Majesty still want him to come along? Was the Emperor going to play a game of chess with the Prime Minister today?
Huo Caiyu got off the bed, his legs, which had been pressed down all night, were still a little numb. But he still insisted on walking over and bowed his head, saying, “This humble commoner obeys Your Majesty’s orders.”
Chief Kang couldn’t bear to watch. His Majesty was still a scumbag! Poor Young Master Huo, how could His Majesty not let him rest properly?
He endured and endured but couldn’t help asking softly, “Your Majesty, should this slave call for the orchid bath?”
Last night, they didn’t call for the aromatic bath, so after His Majesty and Young Master Huo enjoyed themselves, they probably hadn’t bathed and cleaned up yet…
Li Jinyu hated taking baths, so he refused without second thoughts, “No need. It’s time for the morning court.”
Chief Kang closed his mouth and cast Huo Caiyu a sympathetic and helpless look.
Li Jinyu dragged Huo Caiyu to attend the morning court to bolster his courage.
But when a minister bluntly commented that the nameless Huo Caiyu was undeserving of standing in the Taihe Hall, Li Jinyu became upset.
Putting aside the fact that the world would belong to Huo Caiyu in the future, he had deliberately brought him along to boost his courage. How could he let someone he didn’t even know criticize him so easily?
“How can Huo Aiqing be considered nameless?” Li Jinyu sat up straight, intentionally making his tone colder. “Zhen is planning to give him an official position and let him oversee the implementation of the Single Whip Policy.”
The minister heard the displeasure in Li Jinyu’s tone and immediately backed off. He had only spoken according to the Prime Minister’s instructions and didn’t need to really offend the Emperor for it.
The Emperor had always been unreasonable, executing ministers without any sound justification. It was uncommon to see incidents like the recent collective plea, where the masses were not held responsible.
Upon seeing the minister back down, Prime Minister Ye muttered to himself, “Useless”, then stepped forward and said, “Your Majesty, as stipulated by the Law Code of the Great Di Dynasty, the appointment of officials in the capital must adhere to certain requirements, such as having a Hanlin Academy background or holding a title. They cannot be chosen arbitrarily.”
Li Jinyu looked at Prime Minister Ye and found him increasingly disagreeable. Unable to hold back, he blurted out, “Who said he has no title?”
Prime Minister Ye was slightly taken aback.
“General Huo Yi died on the border. According to the law, his family members who are outstanding can inherit his title, isn’t that so?” Li Jinyu recalled the content of the novel and slightly lifted his chin. “Zhen thinks Huo Caiyu is outstanding enough and can certainly inherit the title.”
Prime Minister Ye frowned deeply. “Your Majesty, only one battle report has come back regarding General Huo Yi’s situation, and it does not provide detailed explanations. It’s still not clear if he died on the border or elsewhere, so it’s not appropriate to bestow a title rashly.”
Clenching his teeth, Huo Caiyu looked up and stared closely at Prime Minister Ye.
How could he not hear the hidden meaning in Prime Minister Ye’s words?
This was accusing his father of not dying honorably on the battlefield!
Huo Caiyu felt a surge of blood rush to his chest, making him want to punch this treacherous minister in the face.
His father and countless comrades-in-arms used their blood and lives to defend Di Dynasty, but now they were being slandered by these officials who have gained their positions through nepotism!
It was actually rare for Li Jinyu to understand what Prime Minister Ye meant.
In the novel, the imperial court suppressed the issuance of a significant amount of compensation funds on the grounds of “unclear circumstances”. As a result, Emperor Jingchang had previously humiliated the Huo family by making disparaging remarks about General Huo Yi, suggesting that he may have been killed by his own men while trying to defect.
Li Jinyu knew that if he wanted to maintain his tyrannical image and drastically increase Huo Caiyu’s hatred points, now was the best opportunity.
His father’s reputation and his family’s safety had always been a thorn in Huo Caiyu’s side.
As long as he agreed with Prime Minister Ye’s words, he would surely be able to make Huo Caiyu burst into anger in an instant.
Li Jinyu unconsciously looked over.
His eyesight wasn’t great, so he couldn’t see Huo Caiyu’s expression clearly. He could only see a pair of eyes burning with flames in the morning sunlight.
Li Jinyu could even imagine the anger, humiliation, and confusion on Huo Caiyu’s face.
Suddenly, a surge of hot blood rose from his heart, causing him to blurt out, “General Huo Yi died for the country so that you may have the opportunity to speak in this Taiye Hall. How dare the Prime Minister speak ill of a martyr?!”
Taiye Hall was silent for a moment.
Huo Caiyu looked up in amazement at the Emperor.
Prime Minister Ye seemed surprised by Li Jinyu’s sudden outburst. His brows furrowed as he stared at Li Jinyu in silence for a while. He was about to say something, but he heard Li Jinyu say to the military officials, who had been silent all along, “Why don’t you Generals think about who gave us the peace and stability we have in Di Dynasty today?”
The Grand Marshal’s faction were already quite sad about General Huo Yi’s death and the lack of attention to his aftermath, but because of the instructions left by the Grand Marshal before the pacification campaign, they didn’t confront the Prime Minister’s faction directly, so they had been silent all along.
Now that the Emperor had expressed clear support for the military generals, they suddenly became more active in their thoughts.
For a long time, the Ministry of Revenue withholding funds from the Ministry of War had been a source of anxiety for the Military faction, and it had also been an important source of leverage for the Prime Minister’s aggressive behavior. In the past, the Emperor had been close to the Prime Minister, but now that there was a conflict between them, did it mean that the Grand Marshal’s faction also had a chance to rise?
Thinking this way, the military officials looked at each other and stood up to support Li Jinyu.
Prime Minister Ye looked up and locked eyes with Li Jinyu for a moment. He slightly lowered his head, his expression unclear, and reluctantly said, “Since Your Majesty has made up his mind, then these ministers will follow your orders.”
Afterwards, Huo Yi was posthumously awarded a military rank, and Huo Caiyu was promoted to a title, and was even granted the position of “Inspector of Tax Officials” to supervise the implementation of the Single Whip Policy in Qingshui Prefecture.
Huo Caiyu held the jade plaque representing his official rank and noble title with a slightly dazed expression. He didn’t care much about his own title, but his father’s honor had always been a sore spot for him.
Now, His Majesty had posthumously honored his father and given him the opportunity to implement new policies.
Huo Caiyu’s eyes welled up. He bit his lip before bowing his head.
After the morning court meeting, Prime Minister Ye walked out of Taihe Hall with an expressionless face and looked back at the plaque above the entrance.
Sensing the Prime Minister’s bad mood, an official approached him and flattered, “Why worry, Prime Minister? He’s just a male pet who has temporarily seduced His Majesty. It won’t cause any waves.”
“Yes, just a male pet,” Prime Minister Ye repeated expressionlessly, then suddenly looked at the official. “Do you also think that Inspector Huo’s proposal for the new taxation law is preposterous?”
The official’s eyes lit up. “Of course! Under the Prime Minister’s administration, our court has been flawless. What can a male pet who has risen to power by selling his looks know?”
The Prime Minister scrutinized him for a moment before sighing, “Assistant Minister You, your abilities do not match your position.”
With that, he swept away.
Assistant Minister You stood there pondering. Did the Prime Minister mean to promote him by saying his abilities did not match with his position?
Huo Caiyu had just been officially appointed, and according to protocol, he should have been released from the palace to establish his own household.
However, Li Jinyu insisted on keeping him in the palace. “Zhen still hasn’t fully learned to read. Huo Aiqing can stay in the palace for now.”
This time, Huo Caiyu didn’t resist like he did at first and only asked to go home for a visit.
He hadn’t seen his mother and sister for so long, so he had always been worried about them.
Li Jinyu thought that as long as Huo Caiyu hadn’t implemented the new taxation law yet, he probably wouldn’t run away, so he agreed readily.
He only asked that Huo Caiyu return before nightfall. Otherwise, what would he do if he reencountered that chilling aura tonight?
Back on that impulsive day, Huo Caiyu left home in a fit of anger and didn’t return for a long time. During this period, he had almost experienced a brush with death, and his state of mind was very different from when he had left home.
The Huo family’s house in the capital was not large, but it was very warm under the management of Mother Huo. The courtyard was organized and orderly, and the polished bluestone slab near the well gleamed under the sun.
A girl in a hemp hairpin and cloth skirt was washing rice by the well. She was slightly startled when Huo Caiyu pushed open the door and then delightedly exclaimed, “A’Yu, you’re back!”
Huo Caiyu’s eyes grew warm, “Sister.”
Huo Caijin shook the water off her hands and quickly walked over. Just as Huo Caiyu thought they were going to have a warm and touching embrace, a cold splash of water hit his face with a “smack”.
“This slap is for Mother.” Huo Caijin’s voice was stern, but there were faint tears in her eyes. “How can you recklessly intercepted His Majesty’s dragon carriage? Are you afraid Mother hasn’t been infuriated to death yet?”
Who knew how many times the mother and daughter cried at home when they heard that Huo Caiyu was thrown into the inner prison for insulting the Emperor!
Huo Caiyu touched his left cheek, feeling guilty as he lowered his head. “It was all my fault.”
If His Majesty were as foolish and cruel as the rumors says, he would have already been buried in the wilderness by now, and might even have implicated his family!
Huo Caijin knew that her younger brother was always very stubborn. It was rare to see him admit his mistake so obediently. When her anger subsided, she looked him up and down, and seeing that Huo Caiyu looked unscathed, she breathed a slight sigh of relief. “It’s good that you’re fine. Mother’s gone out, come in first.”
Huo Caiyu went into the room and was about to chat with his sister when his eyes suddenly noticed something on the corner of the table. He furrowed his brows slightly, “What is that?”
It was an exquisite jade cup, which suspiciously looked as if it had been plucked straight from the treasure troves of the imperial palace.
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