Chapter 28 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip
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With Huo Caiyu and Chi Zhongming working together, Li Jinyu was confident that the matter would be taken care of.
He passed the time by munching salted melon seeds in the room. When Huo Caiyu and Chi Zhongming returned the following day, Li Jinyu was eager to hear their news. However, the expressions on their faces were dark and foreboding.
Li Jinyu was taken aback. “What happened? Was it unsuccessful?”
“We were successful in obtaining the evidence, but Ye Gui’an isn’t an easy target,” Chi Zhongming replied, his frustration evident as he absently tapped his fan. “He has a get-out-of-jail-free card.”
“Evidence isn’t enough? Is there a problem with the evidence?” He eagerly opened the thick account books and letters that Huo Caiyu had brought back with him.
“The evidence is solid. It’s just that Ye Gui’an has a free pass to escape punishment,” Huo Caiyu said with a complex expression, scanning Li Jinyu before falling silent for a moment and then continuing, “Ye Gui’an… is the biological father of a favored imperial concubine.”
“A favored imperial concubine?” Li Jinyu was stunned for a moment before realizing, “Consort Xian, no, Noble Concubine Xian?”
He had just remembered that Noble Concubine Xian’s original surname was Ye and and that her position in the palace relied heavily on her uncle, Prime Minister Ye, who was the most powerful man in the Di Dynasty.
And the prefect of Qingshui Prefecture was actually the cousin of Prime Minister Ye!
It turned out that he was the father of Noble Concubine Xian?
“What does it mean?” Li Jinyu was still struggling to understand the implications of Ye Gui’an’s connection to Noble Concubine Xian. He couldn’t see how it would affect Huo Caiyu’s mission to bring Ye Gui’an to justice.
Seeing that Li Jinyu was completely indifferent, Huo Caiyu felt the knot in his heart slowly untying. He briefly explained, “Ye Gui’an gained entry into the Imperial Genealogy by using his connections with Noble Concubine Xian and Prime Minister Ye.”
According to the rules, only the closest relatives of the Empress can enter the Genealogy Records of the Imperial Clan and enjoy legitimate royal treatment. However, Noble Concubine Xian was greatly favored by Emperor Jingchang, and Prime Minister Ye was also popular, which actually allowed Ye Gui’an to get in.
If Noble Concubine Xian were to become the Empress, then Ye Gui’an’s position would be secure. But if she didn’t, the Ye family would be at risk of being purged in the future.
Prime Minister Ye was a shrewd and scheming person who wouldn’t want to risk his family’s position by supporting Ye Gui’an. But Ye Gui’an was an actual idiot, so it was not surprising that he would make such a mistake.
But Li Jinyu still didn’t quite understand. “What’s the significance of getting into the Imperial Genealogy?”
“Brother Li doesn’t even know that there’s a law in our Great Di Dynasty regarding the Imperial Genealogy?” Chi Zhongming was a little surprised by Li Jinyu’s ignorance and reminded him, “With the exception of acts of treason, any member of the Imperial Clan listed in the Genealogy has the opportunity to receive a complete pardon.”
This meant that even for heinous crimes, those with ties to the Imperial Family Genealogy could potentially receive a pardon.
With Ye Gui’an now officially on the list, he would undoubtedly cling onto this lifeline. The Prime Minister’s faction would undoubtedly exploit this law to their benefit.
In light of this, even if Li Jinyu were to attempt to banish Ye Gui’an from the Genealogy, he would be impeded by the Prime Minister’s faction
Li Jinyu rubbed his sore cheeks, which were swollen from eating melon seeds all night, feeling a headache. “Do we have to let him go then?”
The law, put in place by a previous Emperor of the Di Dynasty, was designed to offer the royal family’s descendants a chance to redeem themselves in the event of a mistake. Its implementation had the unwavering backing of the entire Imperial Family, with no Emperor ever considering the idea of abolishing it.
However, while the law provided a safety net for the royal family, it resulted in the common folk being subjected to oppression and hardship.
Watching Li Jinyu struggle to find a way to bring Ye Gui’an to justice, Huo Caiyu’s mood lightened slightly, and and a hint of warmth arose in his heart. He had been right about His Majesty.
“Let’s think of a solution for now. If that doesn’t work…” He clenched his fist and his voice turned cold. “Then we’ll kill him.”
Given the gravity of Ye Gui’an’s crimes, the death sentence was more than justified. If the court was incapable of administering justice, then he would become His Majesty’s personal executioner!
The evidence was already in hand, but the problem was where to keep it.
Huo Caiyu had thought that Chi Zhongming would argue over the evidence, but he just waved his hand and said, “You can keep the evidence. My purpose has been mostly achieved. I’ll leave the rest to you, Inspector of Tax Officials.”
Li Jinyu, observing the exchange, widened his eyes in astonishment. He had bestowed the title of Inspector of Tax Officials upon Huo Caiyu, and now Chi Zhongming was addressing him as such. Had he somehow discovered his true identity?!
Huo Caiyu, his composure unbroken, merely raised an eyebrow. “Very well.”
But it was Chi Zhongming who was taken aback. “Brother Huo seems to have already expected this?”
“I have never concealed my identity. If you had wished to uncover it, Brother Chi, it would not have been a difficult task,” Huo Caiyu replied, his probing gaze fixed on Chi Zhongming. “But I’m more curious about your identity.”
“Brother Huo, I must confess, I have not been entirely forthright with you… it’s just that Ye Gui’an can’t be caught. The truth is, Ye Gui’an is elusive and cannot be caught easily. My mission remains incomplete, and if my identity were to be exposed, it would only move me further away from my goal of winning the heart of my beloved,” Chi Zhongming said, looking a little uneasy.
Huo Caiyu was taken aback by Chi Zhongming’s explanation. He had never expected such a reason. Yet, as he studied Chi Zhongming’s solemn expression, he realized the man truly meant what he said.
“There’s nothing else I can do now. The rest is up to you, Brother Huo,” Chi Zhongming said, opening his folding fan and giving Huo Caiyu a sly smile. “I wish us both success in bringing our beloved ones home and having our wishes fulfilled.”
Li Jinyu, listening in on their cryptic conversation, perked up at the mention of a love interest. He turned to Huo Caiyu with wide eyes and asked, “Do you have a sweetheart?”
In the novel, which had no CP, there had been no mention of Huo Caiyu having a love interest. So, it was unexpected for Li Jinyu to learn about it after transmigrating to this world. Huo Caiyu carefully observed Li Jinyu’s curious and gossipy expression, and felt a little uneasy. He pursed his lips and said, “Brother Chi is talking nonsense.”
Chi Zhongming clicked his tongue a few times, as if he wanted to say more, but Huo Caiyu’s fierce glare silenced him. He meekly smiled and said, “Then I shall bid you farewell. If fate allows, we may meet again in the capital.”
Li Jinyu was a little bewildered and blurted out, “Aren’t you coming with us?”
Chi Zhongming looked confused. “Why should I go with you?”
Li Jinyu was about to ask, “Aren’t you Huo Caiyu’s Little Brother?” But he held his tongue and instead turned to Huo Chaiyu with a quizzical expression. Isn’t he your Little Brother?
To his surprise, Huo Caiyu’s expression hardened as she leveled a heavy gaze at him. Li Jinyu stuttered, “Brother… Huo?”
Huo Caiyu withdrew his gaze, his eyes downcast. After a moment, he looked up at Chi Zhongming. Chi Zhongming politely bowed and said, “Then I’ll take my leave.”
As Chi Zhongming left, Li Jinyu stared at Huo Caiyu with a disappointed look. How could you let your future number one little brother slip away like that!
Huo Caiyu’s gaze remained deep as he spoke stiffly, “Shouldn’t Your Majesty return to the palace now?”
Li Jinyu’s attention was diverted. “Are you going back with me?”
Huo Caiyu shook his head. “This official still have to deal with Ye Gui’an here.”
“I want to stay too.”
“No.” Huo Caiyu’s expression became serious. “We cannot afford to take any risks when confronting Ye Gui’an. He will stop at nothing to protect his status and wealth. Your Majesty’s safety must be ensured.”
Although Ye Gui’an’s royal identity could have spared him from punishment, his position as the prefect of Qingshui Prefecture would undoubtedly be compromised.
As one of the more affluent region within the Di Dynasty, the position of prefect was highly coveted. Ye Gui’an would do everything in his power to keep it.
With charges of corruption and obstruction of the new tax out of the picture, Huo Caiyu had no choice but to resort to force. Even if it meant resorting to assassination, Ye Gui’an had to be removed from office!
Huo Caiyu was well aware of the dangers that lay ahead in their mission to bring down Ye Gui’an. Li Jinyu had initially wanted to stay by his side and fight alongside him, but the intensity of his expression made him realize the seriousness of the situation.
However, he really didn’t want to leave Huo Caiyu’s side. He couldn’t help but feel uneasy at the thought of facing the mysterious black cat again upon his return to the palace.
After contemplating for a while, Li Jinyu’s face lit up with an idea. “Zhen has a plan!”
Huo Caiyu was surprised but intrigued. “This method…it could work. But…” His voice trailed off as he considered the potential risks of their plan, which would require them to be separated from each other for a period of time.
Li Jinyu shared the same concerns. If they were to be separated, what would they do if they encountered any unexpected or strange occurrences?
Li Jinyu exhausted all his braincells and came up with what he thought was a good idea. He reached out and began to undo his buttons, while turning his head to Huo Caiyu, “Quick, take off your clothes.”
Huo Caiyu was stunned for a moment and instinctively stood up, his voice slightly stuttering, “Y-your Majesty?!”
Days later, Lame Beggar returned to report to Huo Caiyu as usual. “The prefect’s residence has been brightly lit for several days now,” he began. “According to the beggars, there are constantly people going in and out, and the locals are speculating whether some big shot has arrived.”
Huo Caiyu’s expression darkened as he nodded. “I see.”
Lame Beggar had not seen the young master surnamed Li for the past few days, but he didn’t dare to inquire.
As Lame Beggar retreated, Huo Caiyu suddenly stopped him and cautioned, “Be careful these few days. There may be changes.”
Lame Beggar was taken aback by the warning, but a glimmer of excitement flashed in his eyes. “Young Master Huo, do you mean…”
Huo Caiyu shook his head, his expression serious. “I’m only advising you to be prepared. It may not work out.”
“Better than having no hope.” Lame Beggar bit his lip. Seeing that Huo Caiyu’s expression wasn’t too good, he thought things were not going well, and his enthusiasm faded slightly.
After seeing Lame Beggar off, Huo Caiyu returned to the table and took out some of the collected evidence, intending to do the final sorting. But he was feeling restless and couldn’t focus.
Li Jinyu’s “good idea” was to venture to Qingshui Prefecture’s county yamen himself. By openly appearing as the Emperor in Qingshui Prefecture, Ye Gui’an would be forced to prioritize Li Jinyu’s safety and would spare no effort in ensuring it. It would be too risky for Ye Gui’an to let even a single hair on the Emperor’s head be harmed. In the meantime, Ye Gui’an’s attention would be solely focused on dealing with the Emperor, thus allowing Huo Caiyu to devise his follow-up plans.
Despite the potential success of the plan, Huo Caiyu remained troubled. It was not because he feared for Li Jinyu’s safety. After all, Ye Gui’an was likely more fearful of any harm befalling the emperor. Even ten golden tickets for exemption from execution would not spare Ye Gui’an’s life if the Emperor was harmed.
What concerned Huo Caiyu was the potential impact Ye Gui’an could have on Li Jinyu. Ye Gui’an was a man driven by his desires, with countless concubines living in his various courtyards. What lengths would he go to please His Majesty? If his own daughter had achieved the lofty status of imperial concubine, how could Ye Gui’an resist indulging in the sweet nectar of such a relationship and not seek to intensify it?
His Majesty was at the age where his eyes were drawn to beauty, particularly in young men. This thought lingered in Huo Caiyu’s mind, causing him to grow restless and contemplate charging into Ye Gui’an’s residence to confront him. He envisioned using his sword to bring Ye Gui’an to justice and triumphantly return the Emperor to the capital.
However, as Huo Caiyu reflected further on this impulse, he recognized another crucial issue: Li Jinyu was the Emperor. He was not just any ordinary person, but the ruler of the world, and the king of the three palaces and six courtyards. Even if Li Jinyu did not actively seek out the company of other concubines, there were still many women in the harem vying for his affection and attention.
When he helped to clean up the internal affairs for His Majesty before, he realized that the concubines in the harem were all from the top families and officials of the previous dynasty. This meant that the harem was closely tied to the previous dynasty. Would His Majesty be willing to give up the harem for him?
Huo Caiyu let out a bitter laugh as he put down his pen. He had yet to determine Li Jinyu’s true feelings towards him, so how could he dare to hope for a lifetime with His Majesty?
Thinking about the difficult situation His Majesty was facing now, a sense of calmness washed over him.
No matter what the future holds, he wanted to clear the way for His Majesty.
As for the other matter… perhaps only if he had enough power and weight in the Di Dynasty would he have the full confidence to fight for it.
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