I’m Also Waiting for the Male Protagonist to Usurp the Throne Today Chapter 25

Chapter 25 Chip Chip Chip Chip

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As the sun rose on the following day, Huo Caiyu stirred from his slumber, his body aching but his spirit determined. He had spent the night working tirelessly to mend his injuries, and the fruits of his labor were evident as he rose to his feet without relying on Li Jinyu for support.

However, his stomach was rumbling like a drum, urgently in need of food replenishment.

Li Jinyu had anticipated this and quickly brought a bowl of thick and creamy porridge made from eight different types of grains, nuts, and dried fruits. One bowl made Huo Caiyu’s face flush with color.

Huo Caiyu had intended to let Li Jinyu eat first, but Li Jinyu shrugged casually and said, “I’ve already eaten.”

As soon as Huo Caiyu was able to stand on his own two feet, he ventured outside of Old Zhang’s home to explore the village and interact with its inhabitants. To his surprise, the wary faces that had greeted him only a day prior had been replaced with warmer, friendlier expressions.

With a sense of purpose, Huo Caiyu picked up an axe and offered to help a local farmer’s wife chop firewood. As they worked, they engaged in conversation, and Huo Caiyu learned that the village he found himself in had no name to speak of. It had been home to the same families for generations, but the once-prosperous population had dwindled significantly over time, leaving only the elderly, women, and children.

Concerned for the well-being of the village, Huo Caiyu inquired about the whereabouts of the young men in the community. The farmer’s wife’s response was tinged with despair as she explained that they had all been drafted into military service by the court due to the rebels’ increasing unrest in the area.

“My son is one of them,” she sighed heavily, rubbing her hemp rope with a weathered hand. “As are the two sons of Old Zhang. They were taken away last year and haven’t returned since. Old Zhang’s daughter-in-law fell ill not long after, and there was no medicine to treat her. She passed away shortly thereafter… This world is a cruel and unforgiving place.”

Huo Caiyu’s grip on the axe tightened as a heavy sense of sadness settled in his heart.

General Meng Jilang had gone to suppress the rebellion in the southwest years ago and had not returned. It was likely that these missing young men were sent to the same region.

Given his family’s connections, Huo Caiyu had some knowledge of the military situation in the country. He knew that the Di Dynasty was riddled with issues, particularly in the military, where soldiers were struggling to find enough food to sustain themselves. The ongoing border conflicts and rebellions in the southwest only made matters worse, leaving the army with a shortage of trained soldiers and forcing them to resort to conscripting civilians.

“Your brother said you were going to visit relatives in the county? Take this old lady’s advice and set off earlier, don’t delay.”

Huo Caiyu was taken aback by the sudden change in topic. “Why?”

“It’s almost time to collect spring taxes. You two young men, the tax officials don’t care where you come from, they’ll just take you away to serve as forced labor!”

Huo Caiyu furrowed his brow, finished splitting the last piece of firewood, and leaned on his axe. “Thank you for the warning, Auntie,” he said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Thanks for your help, little brother,” the farmer said, putting down her hemp rope. “Please take this axe to Liu’s house later.”

They only had this one axe in the whole village.

“I have to say, your brother treats you really well.” The farmer’s wife finished gathering the firewood, while chattering on. “Our village doesn’t have much stored grain, but he went to every household to ask for some rice, and mixed it all together to cook you a bowl of porridge… Tsk, you two don’t even look alike, are you really cousins? Your little brother is so handsome and has a nice smile. I wonder which lucky girl will marry him in the future…”

Huo Caiyu tuned out the rest of the woman’s words.

His Majesty went to every household to ask for rice for him…?

No wonder the porridge was a mix of different kinds of grains! And the fact that he had only cooked one bowl meant that His Majesty himself had not eaten anything else.

Eyes flickering, Huo Caiyu turned around, suddenly feeling a strong desire to see His Majesty.

At that moment, he heard Li Jinyu’s distant cry, “Let go of my chicken!”


Across from Li Jinyu was a man dressed entirely in black like a beggar, limping on one leg and holding onto a struggling hen that was extremely small and scrawny, just like the other villagers.

Li Jinyu glared at him with indignation. He had finally secured a deal with Mrs. Liu to purchase the chicken, a precious supplement for Huo Caiyu’s frail body. But now, this cripple had brazenly snatched it away from him!

Although he was very afraid of dealing with people, he couldn’t let this be taken away since it was meant for Huo Caiyu, the future Emperor and wise ruler of the world!

If it wasn’t for the fact that this guy was so thin and his legs were not agile, he would have punched him already!

“It’s already in my hands and I have no intention of giving this chicken even if I don’t eat it, so why don’t you just give it to me?!” The cripple sneered. “You rich young men can just buy it with money, can’t you?”


Li Jinyu’s blood boiled with rage, his temper barely restrained. But before he could act, Huo Caiyu appeared on the scene, frowning as he took in the tense situation. Stepping forward, he placed himself protectively in front of Li Jinyu.

The beggar, upon seeing the imposing figure of Huo Caiyu, took a step back, his lame leg struggling to support his weight. He wanted to drop the chicken and run, but his hunger and desperation kept him rooted to the spot.

Huo Caiyu didn’t want to be too harsh on the man, recognizing the struggles of the poor and needy. Speaking in a firm but measured tone, he said, “Put it down.”

Since the Emperor wanted the chicken, he naturally had to help him secure it!

The cripple gritted his teeth and was about to say something when suddenly a middle-aged woman appeared from behind the thatched cottage, scowling, “Lame Beggar! Did you steal a chicken from my house? Get out of here, you bringer of bad luck!”

The cripple retorted, “Your chicken isn’t worth much. I came to help you out!”

“Who asked for your help!” Mrs. Liu pointed outside while holding her waist. “My chickens are clean and tidy, and you’ve made them dirty. Take your chicken and go!”

Li Jinyu couldn’t help but shout, “That’s my chicken!”

Mrs. Liu turned around and comforted him, “Don’t worry, Little Brother. Big Sister will give you another one. Don’t pay attention to that scumbag.”

Lame Beggar sneered and limped away with the chicken.

Li Jinyu felt a little strange. They had the advantage and could have just taken the chicken directly, yet Mrs. Liu still gave the chicken to the beggar despite her angry outburst. Why was that?

Mrs. Liu’s anger had dissipated, replaced with a sense of resignation. “I apologize for the trouble,” she said to Li Jinyu. “You can take another chicken with you when you leave.”

Li Jinyu was taken aback by her generosity. “But Big Sister, you only have three chickens left,” he protested. “If we take another one, you’ll only have one left.”

Mrs. Liu shrugged, a hint of sadness in her eyes. “There’s nothing else we can do,” she said with a sigh. “They won’t last long anyway, so just consider it a good deed.”

After getting another chicken, Mrs. Liu eagerly helped pluck and boil it. As they waited for the soup to cook, Mrs. Liu began to speak about the beggar, her tone sympathetic. “He’s a pitiful person,” she said. “He used to be a good kid, but a few years ago, tax collectors came to collect taxes and his family couldn’t pay. The valuable things in his home were taken away, while the worthless things were smashed to pieces. He was also drafted into service with his father, but his father heartlessly broke his leg. The tax collectors didn’t want him, so they took his parents away instead.”

Li Jinyu’s eyes widened in shock as he listened to the heartbreaking story.

“Later, his leg didn’t recover well, and he went alone to beg for food while searching for his parents in the county town. When he came back again, he was in this state,” sighed Mrs. Liu as she added more wood to the fire. “I heard that his mother was insulted on the road by those bastards and his father was beaten to death while protecting her. His mother ended up committing suicide.”

Huo Caiyu lowered his head and clenched his fists.

“You should leave now. You’re probably from a good family, so stay at home and don’t come out,” Mrs. Liu advised them again. “The tax collectors will be coming to collect taxes in a few days.”

Li Jinyu said in a daze, “Didn’t I hear that there’s a new policy…”

“What new policy?” Mrs. Liu sneered and spat. “Those officials just want to squeeze the last bit of profit out of us.”

Before they could say anything else, a loud ruckus suddenly erupted outside, followed by a shrill cry of triumph, “It’s time to collect the spring taxes! Take out all your valuable belongings!”

Mrs. Liu’s expression suddenly twisted with fear as she sprang up from her seat. Her eyes darted around the room, settling on Huo Caiyu and Li Jinyu with a look of urgent desperation. Her voice trembled as she urged them to take cover.

“Quickly, hide in the vat!” she exclaimed, her voice laced with anxiety. But neither of them budged.

Impatience and worry etched deep creases into her forehead as she implored them again. “Hurry, the tax officials won’t care if you’re locals or not!”

Huo Caiyu raised his head again, his brown eyes filling with suppressed flames.

He turned to Li Jinyu and said, “Your Majesty… stay inside the house.”

After speaking, Huo Caiyu strode out of the door.

Li Jinyu was stunned for a moment. Of course, he followed Huo Caiyu out the door.

Sure enough, there were tax officials outside.

A middle-aged man wearing a green headband looked down on the villagers with arrogance and disdain. “Alright, stop talking and just pay your taxes— grain, iron, everything.”

With a flourish of his sleeve, he produced a slip of paper and began to read through the various taxes that were due, including head taxes, spring plowing taxes, green seedling taxes, and land taxes. The villagers looked on in horror, their faces drained of color.

This year’s taxes were more numerous than ever before, and the amount demanded was staggering. Li Jinyu couldn’t believe his ears as the tax official even went so far as to demand taxes be paid based on the number of chickens each villager owned!

No wonder Mrs. Liu had said the chickens wouldn’t last long!

Several yamen runners stood waiting with a large cart, ready to load up the villagers’ possessions. Old Zhang approached the official with a look of concern etched on his face. “Your Honor, we paid our taxes at the end of last year, and we have no surplus left,” he explained.

The official gave him a disdainful sideways glance, his lips curling into a sneer. “No surplus, you say?” he spat out. “Then use your own bodies to pay! Even your heads will do!”

As he looked around, his gaze fell upon Huo Caiyu and Li Jinyu. A sinister grin spread across his face as he pointed at them. “Oh, what do we have here? Two more individuals? How convenient. I don’t believe they’ve served their required forced labor yet. Seize them!””

Old Zhang was shocked. “Your Honor, these two are just passing through here…”

“Why do you talk so much, you old man? Do you want to accompany them?”

The official’s patience had worn thin, and he was ready to strike Old Zhang for his insolence. However, before he could deliver the blow, a hand reached out and grabbed his wrist, stopping him in his tracks.

Huo Caiyu stood before him, his face expressionless as he squeezed the official’s arm with a vice-like grip. In one swift movement, he twisted and pulled, dislocating the man’s shoulder.

The official howled like a pig, writhing in pain as he clutched at his wounded limb. He blubbered incoherently, his threats directed at Huo Caiyu, “Who are you… How dare you interfere with the imperial tax collection?”

Ignoring the official’s outburst, Huo Caiyu spoke calmly, his voice laced with anger. “It doesn’t matter who I am. What matters is that the court has ordered that the tax law in Qingshui Prefecture be executed according to the ‘Single Whip Policy.’ How dare you disobey the imperial edict?”

“What single whip…”

The tax official’s eyes darted back and forth as he struggled to come up with a plausible excuse. But Huo Caiyu was not one to be fooled. With a tighter grip, he demanded, “Tell the truth!”

As the official screamed in agony, he eventually confessed, “The new policy does require silver only, but how can the poor people in this place afford it? The county yamen ordered us to collect and resell on their behalf…”

“Nonsense!” Huo Caiyu applied more force. “The new tax policy doesn’t say that at all! And there aren’t so many excessive taxes!”

“I’m just a small tax collector. How would I know…” The tax official begged for mercy while signaling to the yamen runners to take action.

The yamen runners looked at each other, all seeing hesitation in each other’s eyes.

They were just low-level bureaucrats who had climbed the ranks through flattery, bribery, and connections. They spent their days drinking flower wine and had no experience in combat.

The person in front of them was obviously a skilled fighter. Naturally, no one wanted to provoke him.

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