Chapter 30 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip
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Huo Caiyu didn’t believe that the Emperor was stupid in any way. He pushed a cup of dry chrysanthemum tea towards Li Jinyu and said, “Your Majesty, these people have twisted hearts, and it’s better not to think too much about them.”
His Majesty should naturally focus on the vast territory, why bother delving into the thoughts of those parasites and scoundrels.
Li Jinyu thought Huo Caiyu was being sarcastic, so he picked up the teacup and took a sip, but he made a bitter face and put the cup aside. “When will these days come to an end?”
Huo Caiyu noticed the cup of dry chrysanthemum tea that had only been sipped once before turning his attention back to Li Jinyu. His voice was soft, yet resolute. “Your Majesty will certainly achieve what he desires.”
Huo Caiyu was willing to fight alongside the Emperor against even the all-powerful Prime Minister, if it meant eliminating all the parasites and preserving the peace of the country.
Li Jinyu looked at him and finally relaxed a little.
He was really into the role of the Emperor… With the future true dragon by his side, why worry about Prime Minister Ye?
With Huo Caiyu’s protagonist halo, he might as well light a candle for Prime Minister Ye.
Instead of thinking about these meaningless things, he should come up of ways to promote Huo Caiyu to a higher official position…
After finishing their meal, Huo Caiyu had to resume work on the Single Whip Policy.
Since the Prime Minister’s attention was focused on the Ye Gui’an case, Li Jinyu’s proposal to implement the new taxation policy across the country faced little opposition.
Anyone who objected would be held accountable as an accomplice of Ye Gui’an, under the charge of plotting rebellion and assassinating the Emperor.
Who would dare to sink together with him?
Li Jinyu was pleased with the outcome.
The weather was perfect for a leisurely stroll through the Imperial Garden. But now there was something following behind Li Jinyu’s butt, which made him a little scared. He had to tuck his tail between his legs when walking, which was very inconvenient.
As for exercise, he usually enjoyed running on his giant hamster wheel. However, when he returned from Qingshui Prefecture, he found that the wheel was not functioning properly.
On the day he snuck out of the palace under Concubine Wei’s cover, Chief Kang’s heart nearly gave out. The anxiety he felt afterward made it difficult for him to maintain the hamster wheel for the Emperor.
Weeks passed without anyone tending to the wheel, and it became caked with a fine layer of dust, making it less sensitive to the touch. It required the skilled hands of the Bureau of Iron and Wood to restore it to its former state.
Desperate for a solution, Li Jinyu took a deep breath and ventured into the Imperial Garden, praying that no one would recognize him.
Alas, it seemed that Heaven was not on his side.
With a heavy heart, Li Jinyu raised his hand to his forehead and gazed down at the woman kneeling before him. “Why is it you again?”
Consort Xian, no, now Noble Concubine Xian, looked up at Li Jinyu with a pitiful expression and spoke in a slightly hoarse voice, “This concubine has not seen Your Majesty for a long time and misses Your Majesty terribly. Please forgive this concubine.”
Li Jinyu took a step back, his eyes fixed on the peach blossom petals scattered around Noble Concubine Xian, and asked with reluctance, “Aren’t you still under house arrest?”
“Your Majesty!” Noble Concubine Xian’s eyes welled up with tears as she took a step forward while still kneeling. “This concubine served Your Majesty faithfully for two years. Is Your Majesty truly so heartless?”
“Ah-chooooo!” Suddenly, Li Jinyu let out a loud sneeze. Since he had acquired his tail, his sense of smell had become more sensitive than that of humans, and he couldn’t tolerate the scent of flowers and cosmetics in the air.
Noble Concubine Xian was in the midst of expressing her emotions when Li Jinyu’s sudden sneeze interrupted her. She was taken aback and remained stunned for a moment. As she regained her composure and saw Li Jinyu’s face flush and his constant nose-rubbing, she realized that the atmosphere had been ruined.
“Zhen can no longer stand this scent,” Li Jinyu sneezed twice more, weakly waving his hand. “If you’re still under house arrest, then remain obediently at home. Chief Kang, let us return to the palace.”
Noble Concubine Xian had hoped to say more, but Li Jinyu had already departed without a backward glance.
As she watched the Emperor’s figure disappear, Noble Concubine Xian’s pitiful expression slowly faded, replaced by an air of indifference. A palace maid approached, offering Noble Concubine Xian her outer robe and asked, “Your Highness…”
Noble Concubine Xian pulled at her sleeve and suddenly raised her hand, slapping the palace maid with great force. “You useless servant! Why weren’t you more attentive earlier?”
The palace maid, accustomed to Noble Concubine Xian’s unpredictable moods, dared not argue and immediately fell to her knees, begging for forgiveness. “Your Highness, please forgive me!”
Noble Concubine Xian was still in a fit of rage and, before leaving, slapped the palace maid again. The palace maid stood up, holding her face in pain with tears nearly falling.
Her Highness, like the former Emperor, never regarded them as people. But now it was being said that His Majesty had become kinder, while Her Highness only grew more irritable…
Noble Concubine Xian made her way back to the palace, her heart heavy with hatred as she looked upon the desolate halls of the Hexin Palace.
When she was in favor, flatterers and sycophants would crowd around her, eager to please. But now, with her status diminished, the palace was as quiet as a tomb.
Gritting her teeth, Noble Concubine Xian’s beautiful face twisted with anxiety. She had to find a way to save her father.
Despite their strained relationship, their interests were intertwined. The lavish expenses she incurred for her indulgences, gifts, and pleasures were all dependent on her father’s monthly allowance. How could the pitiful sum provided by the concubines be enough? The majority of her funds came from her father.
Furthermore, her relationship with Prime Minister Ye was closely tied to her father’s influence!
But now, the Emperor was ignoring her, and her uncle remained silent. Who else could persuade His Majesty?
After what felt like an eternity, Noble Concubine Xian’s expression finally easing and her eyes took on a deep, resolute glint.
As night enveloped the grand Jiaolan Palace, Huo Caiyu meticulously tended to his tea preparations, engrossed in his tea book. In the midst of his focused concentration, his attention was suddenly diverted by the appearance of Noble Concubine Xian, who had arrived incognito.
Noble Concubine Xian looked at Huo Caiyu and frowned slightly. “Master Huo is also knowledgable about the art of making tea?”
Without answering her question, Huo Caiyu set aside his tea book, his expression turning cold and impassive. “Shouldn’t the Noble Concubine still be under house arrest?”
It appeared that the guards at both Hexin Palace and Jiaolan Palace had allowed Noble Concubine Xian to pass… It seemed that during the month that he and the Emperor were not in the palace, some people’s hearts had become unsettled.
As His Majesty had not requested his presence in the imperial bedroom that night nor had he come to the Jiaolan Palace, Huo Caiyu’s mood had already turned sour. Seeing Noble Concubine Xian only worsened his mood further.
Noble Concubine Xian clenched her teeth. “Master Huo, this mistress came here this time to make a deal with you.”
Huo Caiyu closed the book and placed the two packets of prepared tea aside, lifting his head to face her. “What kind of deal?”
“Master Huo, if you help me save my father, I will in turn help you secure the Emperor’s favor. How about it?”
Huo Caiyu’s eyes narrowed slightly, a hint of sarcasm creeping into his expression. “It seems that the Noble Concubine thinks quite highly of herself.”
Undeterred, Noble Concubine Xian shot back, “Master Huo, don’t assume that the Emperor’s favor towards you is everything. This concubine has been favored in the harem for over two years, and understands the Emperor’s thoughts better than you ever could.”
Huo Caiyu’s face sank slightly. “Your Highness should go back. A man and a woman together will attract gossip.”
“Man and woman together? We are both part of His Majesty’s harem, do you think there is any difference between us?” Noble Concubine Xian, seeing that Huo Caiyu was not moved, gritted her teeth and continued, “This concubine can also ask her uncle to speak up for you and have you granted a title, which is better than being in a miserable situation after His Majesty becomes tired of you in the future.”
However, Huo Caiyu’s patience was wearing thin. He turned to the palace maid at the door and gave her an order. “Escort the Her Highness back to the palace.”
Noble Concubine Xian became increasingly anxious and began to shout. “Huo Caiyu! In His Majesty’s heart, you are just a male pet who can’t be seen in public, without any value to be used, and cannot give birth to an imperial heir. If there is no one to support you, you will soon sink into silence at the bottom of the water!”
Huo Caiyu’s expression remained cold and unresponsive. “This has nothing to do with the Noble Concubine,” he replied firmly. “Please escort the guest out.”
With her attempts at bargaining thwarted and her pride wounded, Noble Concubine Xian left the Jiaolan Palace in a huff, her parting words laced with bitterness. “Fine, fine!” she spat. “This concubine wants to see how long you can maintain your current status!”
After seeing off Noble Concubine Xian, Huo Caiyu returned to the tea table, intending to continue preparing the tea, but his heart was no longer in it.
The words of the Noble Concubine about securing the Emperor’s favor did not move him. For Huo Caiyu, his feelings towards His Majesty were not just fleeting whims, but a deep and abiding commitment to each other for a lifetime. However, the words of Noble Concubine Xian had stirred something within him.
He realized that if he had no value to offer, then the Emperor would not have bestowed his attention upon him. His Majesty was a man of great talent and foresight, constantly surrounded by threats and danger. In this perilous environment, what right did he have to demand the Emperor’s undivided attention? How could he, a mere unknown pawn, hope to capture the Emperor’s favor?
Even the punishment of a corrupt official required careful planning and the endurance of being scolded by a disgraced concubine. Huo Caiyu knew that he needed to work hard for His Majesty’s reign, for the people’s benefit, and for the prosperity of the country. Only by standing at a level comparable to His Majesty’s could he catch His Majesty’s eye.
Taking a deep breath, Huo Caiyu’s eyes cleared, and a bright light shone from his brown eyes. The flame of ambition ignited in his chest.
For the stability of the country, and for His Majesty’s aspirations, he must do his utmost to reach the pinnacle!
Noble Concubine Xian might not have realized it, but her words had awakened something in Huo Caiyu’s mind.
The following day, Li Jinyu could sense that Huo Caiyu had undergone a transformation of sorts.
His gaze was more steady, and his movements were no longer restless as they had been before. He now seemed like a sheathed sword, with his sharpness hidden but his weight and presence impossible to ignore.
Li Jinyu also noticed that Huo Caiyu was now taking a keener interest in political affairs and the power struggles within the Prime Minister’s faction.
Could it be that Huo Caiyu was plotting to climb the ranks? Had his discontent finally transformed into ambition, with the intent of seizing power?
While pleased, Li Jinyu was also perplexed. He had done nothing but avoid Huo Caiyu for the past few days… so what could have sparked this sudden awakening?
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