Chapter 19 Chip
After being assigned an official position, Huo Caiyu became busy every day.
In the morning, he had to attend the morning court, arguing with officials from the Ministry of Revenue and the Ministry of Personnel. In the evening, he still had to give Li Jinyu calligraphy lessons.
Li Jinyu had assumed that now that Huo Caiyu was handling state affairs, he could finally stop worrying about learning how to read and write. However, he did not expect Huo Caiyu to be far more diligent and responsible than he ever could have imagined. He still took out the memorials and palace debates every day to teach him to recognize characters. Sometimes, they would also discuss new policy issues together.
Li Jinyu’s understanding of the new taxation policy came solely from the novel. He only knew its general idea, but didn’t understand the specifics, so he often struggled when questioned about it.
What is wrong with this Huo Caiyu? It’s obviously his new policy, why is he bothering to discuss it with me? Is it because he enjoys seeing me embarrassed?
And he still had to practice calligraphy…
Hoohoo, why was it so difficult to hold a brush! Couldn’t they try using a pen or pencil? Although he had never used a pen before, he could already imagine how much simpler it would be to hold than a brush, especially when he watched his owner deftly glide the pen across the paper.
Fortunately, the newly established Iron and Wood Bureau soon sent him the hamster wheel he had been longing for, allowing him to regain his greatest happiness in his life.
The enormous wooden roller, which was almost three meters tall, had a sturdy wooden wheel that was secured with rivets. Additionally, the stepping board for running on the roller was covered with a layer of fur.
With a wide grin plastered on his face, Li Jinyu eagerly instructed the Iron and Wood Bureau personnel to install the oversized hamster wheel directly in his sleeping quarters. Driving away any eunuchs or idle staff in his way, he eagerly clambered onto the wheel and began to run with abandon.
Lost in the euphoria of his newfound happiness, Li Jinyu spent the entire day holed up in his bedroom, completely ignoring his calligraphy lesson in the evening. Instead, he spent hours on end running on the oversized hamster wheel, his body drenched in sweat by the time he was finished.
As he lay panting on the floor, feeling utterly exhausted but blissfully content, Chief Kang entered the room and asked respectfully, “Is Your Majesty going to flip the green plaque tonight?”
Was it time to flip again?
Li Jinyu thought for a moment and waved his hand, “No need.”
He still wanted to run for a while later.
“Does Your Majesty want to take a bath? The orchid bath is ready.”
Back when Li Jinyu was still a carefree little hamster, he had a strong aversion to water and preferred to clean himself using the soft sand that his owner provided. However, during that time, he had a sleek fur coat and some level of self-cleaning ability, which was something that humans could not accomplish.
Now, with this sticky sweat all over his body…
Li Jinyu hesitated for a moment and reluctantly said, “Fine, Zhen will take a bath.”
There was a specialized bathing pool in the palace, as well as a large vermilion lacquered wooden tub filled with warm water and sprinkled with orchids to create an orchid bathwater.
Not wanting to cause a commotion, Li Jinyu did not go to the bathing pool and instead requested the convenient orchid bath.
After the orchid bath was brought in, Li Jinyu chased away all the attending palace maids. Otherwise, a tyrant trembling in front of the bathwater would definitely break down and lose all sense of his tyrant image.
Facing a whole tub of warm water floating with orchids, Li Jinyu repeatedly tried to build himself up mentally, attempting to hypnotize himself that this was a tub of soft sand.
Li Jinyu had to be admit that despite his inner dislike of water baths, the human body was indeed very suitable for hot baths.
After exercising, soaking in hot water could be very relaxing, as it opened up the pores on the body, providing a comfortable sensation.
With a mixture of resistance in his heart and pleasure in his body, Li Jinyu managed to immerse himself in the bathtub.
Once he overcame his initial resistance, he gradually relaxed and sank into the water, leaving only his head above the surface. The comfort of the warm water was so alluring that he felt tempted to blow bubbles in the water.
As he drifted deeper into relaxation, Li Jinyu’s mind began to wander, contemplating what other toys he could request from the Iron and Wood Bureau while absentmindedly counting the paintings and cats on the ceiling.
Li Jinyu’s eyes widened in shock as he made eye contact with a black cat hanging upside down from the ceiling. The feline’s grin was unnervingly human-like, sending shivers down Li Jinyu’s spine.
Suddenly, an intense coldness pervaded the room, like a writhing mass of serpents slithering towards him. Li Jinyu felt frozen in place, unable to move as fear gripped his heart.
Holding the book he had prepared for the day, Huo Caiyu had been waiting in Jiaolan Palace for a long time, but the familiar figure of the Emperor had not yet arrived. He couldn’t help asking the eunuch assigned to serve him, “Has His Majesty been delayed by anything today?”
The eunuch went out to inquire and came back to reply, “His Majesty has been in the bedroom all day.”
“All day in the bedroom?”
Huo Caiyu’s eyes slightly sank. “Did His Majesty summon other officials?”
The eunuch thought for a moment before reponding, “People from Iron and Wood Bureau went in this morning, but no other ministers were summoned later.”
Huo Caiyu secretly breathed a sigh of relief, although he didn’t know why he felt that way.
In the past few days, Li Jinyu had been practicing calligraphy next to him, and the sudden silence made Huo Caiyu felt very uneasy.
Reading through the documents related to the new tax policy for some time, Huo Caiyu couldn’t resist standing up and grabbing two books. “I’m going to see His Majesty.”
The eunuch serving Huo Caiyu was initially surprised but soon comprehended the situation and cautiously suggested, “Young Master Huo, it is possible that His Majesty is being delayed by something. It might be better not to disturb His Majesty at this moment.”
His Majesty’s interest in Huo Caiyu had exceeded his interest in any of the imperial concubines before, as well as the expectations of the palace attendants. Never before had His Majesty favored anyone so much!
Now that His Majesty had shifted his interest, it made the palace attendants feel somewhat relieved.
“Besides, His Majesty is probably about to flip the plaque at this time,” the eunuch added when he saw that Huo Caiyu still wanted to go out. “If Young Master Huo wants to maintain favor, it is best not to disturb His Majesty at this time.”
Flip the plaque?
Suddenly, he felt as though a bucket of cold water had been poured over him, chilling his heart. His grip tightened on the documents he held in his hand.
He couldn’t quite explain why hearing about His Majesty flipping through the roster of concubines made him feel uneasy.
Huo Caiyu lowered his gaze slightly, then sat back down at his desk and began reviewing the documents once again.
Before long, he looked up again.
There seemed to be some issues with the implementation of the new policy that urgently needed to be discussed with His Majesty.
As it concerned critical political matters that were highly valued by His Majesty, Huo Caiyu thought it wouldn’t harm to interrupt him.
Having found a suitable reason, Huo Caiyu no longer hesitated. Despite the eunuch’s discouragement, he organized the documents and stood up to head for the Emperor’s bedchamber.
After receiving the message that Huo Caiyu was requesting an audience with the Emperor, Chief Kang, who was guarding the door of His Majesty’s bedroom, was slightly surprised. Why did Young Master Huo want to see His Majesty at this late hour?
The young palace messenger impertinently asked, “Is Young Master Huo here to seek favor?”
Chief Kang tapped him on the shoulder and scolded him, “You talk too much, don’t you value your life?”
Discussing matters related to His Majesty was not something that should be taken lightly!
Since His Majesty had instructed that no one was to attend to him during his bath, Chief Kang knocked on the door and asked, “Your Majesty, Young Master Huo requests an audience.”
The hall was silent.
Puzzled, Chief Kang called out a few more times, but there was still no response from inside. He tried to push the door, but found that it wouldn’t budge, which made him a little nervous.
He had closed the door himself and didn’t hear any sound of it being locked from the inside…
At this point, Huo Caiyu had already been led outside the hall and heard Chief Kang’s panicked voice. His heart tightened and he quickly walked over, “What’s wrong?”
“His Majesty has been bathing inside for half an hour. This servant called out a few times just now but there was no response…”
“Then why don’t you find someone to break down the door?”
Chief Kang shrank his neck and nervously replied, “Uh…This servant dares not break His Majesty’s door…”
Even though the Emperor’s temperament had improved a lot, his reputation from the past still lingered! Chief Kang didn’t want to break the door and incur His Majesty’s wrath, which could result in his execution!
Huo Caiyu’s gaze slightly darkened as he looked at the magnificent and luxurious door of the hall. He strode forward and said in a deep voice, “I’ll do it.”
Chief Kang was greatly alarmed. “Young Master Huo, this won’t do. What if His Majesty is angered…?”
Huo Caiyu ignored him, walked to the door of the palace, and gave it a push. As expected, there was no movement inside as Chief Kang had said. Without hesitation, he gathered his inner energy and smashed the door with his palm!
The palace door in the inner chamber was crafted from a unique type of wood that didn’t make any noise when opened or closed. It was fortified with both iron and stone locks, but Huo Caiyu had such immense strength that he was able to break it down effortlessly.
Huo Caiyu swept away the scattered wooden chips and quickly stepped inside. Bypassing the screen, he saw a huge carved wooden barrel, exactly the same as the orchid bath that the Emperor had arranged for him before.
Li Jinyu was incredibly frightened and had a pale complexion. He was pressed tightly against one side of a wooden barrel with his arms outstretched and fingers tightly gripping the edge of the barrel, as he stared in terror.
Huo Caiyu suddenly felt uneasy for no reason. “Your Majesty?”
Huo Caiyu walked briskly towards the bathtub and was about to speak when he noticed Li Jinyu turn his head and look at him. He saw tears in Li Jinyu’s beautiful eyes, and then Li Jinyu jumped out of the bathtub with a splash, landing straight into Huo Caiyu’s waiting arms.
The cold water splashed all over Huo Caiyu’s clothes.
Huo Caiyu caught Li Jinyu instinctively, but he was taken aback when the Emperor started weeping profusely in his arms. He couldn’t have imagined that he would ever be holding the Emperor in this way, comforting him as he cried.
His Majesty is neither short nor heavy, and can easily be lifted with just one hand.
But he quickly dismissed this thought.
Huo Caiyu was a little at a loss, not knowing where to put his hands. He lowered his head and asked, “Is Your Majesty alright?”
Li Jinyu clung tightly to Huo Caiyu’s neck, trying to wrap himself around him like a pendant. He was sobbing and gasping for air as he held on desperately. “There’s a cat, a cat…”
Huo Caiyu recalled where Li Jinyu had been looking in the bathtub earlier and followed his gaze. He looked up towards the ceiling but found nothing there.
But the fear and tears on His Majesty’s face were by no means fake.
Huo Caiyu held onto Li Jinyu’s waist and legs with both hands, uncertain of how to comfort him. Despite his usual quick wit, which could win debates with officials from the Ministry of Revenue, he found himself at a loss for words and could only awkwardly reassure the Emperor by saying, “Don’t worry, Your Majesty. This subject is here.”
Huo Caiyu didn’t expect this useless words to have any effect, but to his surprise, Li Jinyu gradually stopped crying.
However, his hands were still tightly wrapped around Huo Caiyu’s neck, rubbing his head against his chest.
Huo Caiyu felt a strange tingling sensation in the spots where the Emperor’s head had rested against him.
At that moment, Chief Kang rushed into the room and was taken aback to see the Emperor hanging in Huo Caiyu’s arms, without any clothes on. He exclaimed in surprise, “Your Majesty?”
Huo Caiyu snapped out of his trance and, holding Li Jinyu, left the bathtub calmly. He said, “His Majesty seems to be somewhat frightened.”
Unable to see Li Jinyu’s expression, Chief Kang noticed that the Emperor didn’t object to being held by Huo Caiyu and quickly fetched a towel from the side to dry the water off the Emperor, as he could see that he was still wet from the bathtub.
Li Jinyu was now scared out of his wits, but the imposing Ziwei aura made him feel safe. When he felt Chief Kang approaching, he protested strongly, “Don’t come over!”
Chief Kang immediately stopped, feeling puzzled and embarrassed. “But Your Majesty might catch a cold…”
“Don’t want to!” Li Jinyu replied.
Huo Caiyu hesitated for a moment. Clenching Li Jinyu’s body with his right hand, he held out his left hand. “Let me help Your Majesty dry off.”
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