Chapter 30 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip
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His Majesty returned to the capital in triumph, resolving the major problem in Qingshui Prefecture with one fell swoop. It was only befitting to hold a grand banquet to commemorate this momentous occasion and to reward those who had contributed to this success.
However, Li Jinyu went straight to his bedchamber and subsequently forbade anyone from entering, even expelling Chief Kang.
Huo Caiyu felt uneasy and went to visit His Majesty’s bedchamber, only to be stopped in his tracks by a grim-faced Chief Kang.
“Master Huo, His Majesty has forbidden anyone from entering. Please do not make it difficult for this servant.”
“I can’t go in either?”
“Master Huo can’t go in either.”
Huo Caiyu frowned. “Is His Majesty in good health?”
“His Majesty had three dishes of melon seeds, four dishes of walnuts, five dishes of peanuts…”
Huo Caiyu was speechless for a moment before he instructed, “Prepare some cooling tea for His Majesty.”
Judging by his appetite, His Majesty should be fine.
But why was he avoiding everyone, refusing to come out of his chambers?
He was fine in Qingshui Prefecture, but after getting on the carriage, he deliberately avoided people…
Huo Caiyu’s eyes sank and his mind spun for a while before turning on his heels to go and interrogate Ye Gui’an.
Li Jinyu was hiding in his bedchamber, surrounded by piles of empty walnut shells and melon seeds.
As the candles flickered and went out, the room was plunged into darkness, providing him with a sense of seclusion and security.
With a heavy heart, Li Jinyu reached down to grip his tail, which had recently sprang on his body. It was a familiar yet alien sensation, and it filled him with a deep sense of melancholy.
What was going on? Why had his tail suddenly emerged? And why couldn’t he retract it?!
He had been perfectly fine in Qingshui Prefecture, so why was this happening now?
What was the point of having a tail anyway?!
Li Jinyu buried his face in the covers, his tail twitching anxiously behind him. If he possessed the ability, he could simply transform back into his original form as a hamster, but despite his repeated attempts, he couldn’t seem to make the transformation happen.
Feeling disheartened, Li Jinyu gave up on the idea and turned his attention to the problem at hand. With all the nuts he had been given now consumed, he focused his thoughts on finding a solution to his predicament.
His tail wasn’t very long, and while it trailed behind him, it wasn’t entirely unmanageable to conceal.
During court sessions, he could easily tuck his tail against his robes, but the real problem would arise at night when he slept.
Li Jinyu had become accustomed to bathing in Huo Caiyu’s Ziwei aura before going to sleep, which allowed him to rest comfortably. However, without Huo Caiyu’s presence, Li Jinyu found it hard to get comfortable on the journey back to the palace. It was only after he obtained some of Huo Caiyu’s clothing to hang in the carriage that he was able to rest easier.
Asking for Huo Caiyu’s clothes, however, was a deeply embarrassing experience for Li Jinyu. He had to force himself to do it not once, but twice, each time feeling his face flush with embarrassment like the setting sun.
Perhaps Huo Caiyu now believed him to be a pervert…
During the few times he had shared a bed with Huo Caiyu, Li Jinyu noticed that he was a restless sleeper.
He had a habit of sleeping flat, but when he woke up, he would find himself nestled in Huo Caiyu’s embrace.
It wasn’t entirely his fault, as his original hamster form loved burrowing into his wood shavings when he slept!
However, this time, he had a tail— a surefire sign of his true identity as a demon. He knew that with his sleeping habits, it would only be a matter of time before Huo Caiyu discovered his secret. Hoohoohoo. Even though he was eager to fake his death and escape, his spiritual powers had not yet fully returned!
Li Jinyu’s mind was plagued with worry as he imagined the worst-case scenario. What if Huo Caiyu were to invite a powerful monk or Daoist to exterminate him directly?
After much thought, Li Jinyu came to a firm conclusion: His tail must not be discovered by Huo Caiyu at any cost!
After spending a day and night in his sleeping chambers, Li Jinyu finally emerged, looking disheveled and rushed. Chief Kang, who was stationed at the doors, was taken aback by the Emperor’s appearance. “Your Majesty, what is happening?”
Li Jinyu’s dragon robe was in disarray, his sleeves and belt askew as if he had hastily dressed himself without taking the time to properly fasten them. In the palace, the Emperor’s clothing was always attended to by a personal eunuch, and if anyone had seen him in this state, they would have been beaten to death.
Feeling guilty under Chief Kang’s surprised gaze, Li Jinyu offered an explanation, “Zhen had a sudden whim today and wanted to learn how to dress without anyone’s help.”
After growing a tail, Li Jinyu knew that he couldn’t rely on attendants to dress him anymore. He had hoped to learn how to dress himself but ended up in a worse state than before.
In fact, the clothes he wore underneath were even messier…
As he prepared for morning court, Li Jinyu found himself pressed for time and unable to change into a new outfit. Chief Kang did his best to straighten out the Emperor’s outer garment.
Despite the pressure he faced from the Prime Minister’s faction, Li Jinyu’s thoughts were consumed by the fear of his tail being discovered. He struggled to focus on the officials’ discussions, his mind preoccupied with finding ways to conceal his identity as a demon. He should have been feeling triumphant and confident in his position, but instead, he was completely distracted by his own worries.
As the Assistant Minister of Personnel finished his report, Li Jinyu snapped out of his daze. “Hmm?” he muttered, “Zhen didn’t hear that clearly. Could you repeat it?”
The Assistant Minister repeated his report, but Li Jinyu was still distracted by his tail and only listened with one ear. The confusing language, filled with references to falling book bags, left him feeling dizzy.
Unable to comprehend a thing at all, Li Jinyu struggled to recall the Assistant Minister’s name. “This Assistant minister, simplify your language. Zhen has trouble following.”
A faint laugh spread throughout the court.
The assistant minister’s face turned red with embarrassment and frustration as he gritted his teeth. “This official is Assistant Minister You Xianshan of the Ministry of Personnel, urging Your Majesty to carefully consider the case of Ye Gui’an.”
Li Jinyu finally understood the situation. This was a request from the Prime Minister’s faction, seeking mercy for Ye Gui’an.
“The evidences are solid, so what is there to consider?”
The evidence of Ye Gui’an’s corruption and abuse of power was clear to see. His wealth alone was a testament to his wrongdoing.
The crackdown on Ye Gui’an had led to the exposure of countless corrupt officials in Qingshui Prefecture and nearby counties. Even if they had only arrested the worst of them due to manpower shortage, it had caused a wave of panic throughout the entire officialdom.
Li Jinyu had ordered for Ye Gui’an’s assets to be tallied and made public, and the revelation had silenced almost everyone in the room
However, Assistant Minister You was not one to give up so easily.
“Your Majesty,” he began, his voice honeyed with persuasion. “Lord Ye is a loyal servant of the state, with no ulterior motives for the country or its people. It is impossible…”
Before Li Jinyu could respond, the last in the line of court officials, Huo Caiyu, stepped forward with a boldness that caught everyone’s attention. “Assistant Minister You,” he called out in a clear voice. “Ye Gui’an deceived his superiors and subordinates, embezzled the national treasury, and even attempted to rebel against the crown. The evidence against him is undeniable. What other injustice could there possibly be?”
The corners of Assistant Minister You’s mouth twitched nervously as he searched for a response. “There are many doubts surrounding this matter. Perhaps there are other twists and turns to consider. Someone may have falsely accused Lord Ye.”
Huo Caiyu’s expression remained calm, but his eyes glinted with a fierce resolve. He fixed his gaze on Assistant Minister You and asked, “Has Assistant Minister You taken up a position in the Ministry of Justice or the Grand Court?”
“Did Assistant Minister You receive the imperial decree to participate in the investigation of Ye Gui’an’s case?”
“Then is Assistant Minister You going to be a censor?”
“That’s good.” Huo Caiyu’s tone suddenly tinged with sarcasm. “Fortunately, there are no officials like Assistant Minister You in the Ministry of Justice, who disregard evidence and rely solely on speculation to convict. Otherwise, how many wrongful cases would there be?”
Laughter erupted from the officials, even from the Prime Minister’s faction. Assistant Minister You turned red with anger and opened his mouth to protest, but Huo Caiyu ignored him and looked up at Li Jinyu.
Li Jinyu had enough of the drama and clapped his hands. “After the Grand Court’s trial, Ye Gui’an was convicted according to the law. There is no need for further discussion.”
The officials fell silent, their attention shifting to Prime Minister Ye, who had not uttered a word throughout the proceedings. Li Jinyu watched as the room held its breath, waiting for Prime Minister Ye’s reaction.
At last, Prime Minister Ye raised his hand, his expression stoic. “This minister has no objections,” he said evenly.
It was settled just like that.
To Li Jinyu, it was like punching cotton. He did not breathe a sigh of relief, but rather remained tense.
Did Prime Minister Ye really give up on his cousin’s life just like that?
How could this be scientifically possible?
In the novel, he had been fiercely protective. So why wasn’t he fighting now?
Could there be some follow-up plan?
The worry gnawed at Li Jinyu, making it impossible for him to enjoy his lunch.
Huo Caiyu rarely ate with His Majesty these days. His attention was solely focused on Li Jinyu.
Ever since he had come to the realization of his feelings in Qingshui Prefecture, Huo Caiyu had been forced to keep them hidden deep inside, owing to the dangerous circumstances around him and his busy investigation into Ye Gui’an.
He had thought that, once Ye Gui’an had been dealt with, he would have ample opportunity to be with the Emperor and explore his feelings for him. But on their return journey to the capital, he had not anticipated the Emperor’s sudden change of heart. In an inexplicable move, Li Jinyu had refused to ride in the same carriage as Huo Caiyu, effectively disowning him.
Despite being assigned to the closest carriage to the dragon carriage, Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but feel a profound sense of loss. He was at the early stages of focusing all his attention on his beloved, and His Majesty’s unexplained coldness towards him was making him feel extremely uncomfortable.
Seeing that both of them were absent-minded during their meals together, Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but probe, “Is Your Majesty thinking about the morning court?”
“Well, yes.” Li Jinyu put down his spoon, looking somewhat forlorn. “Prime Minister Ye must be planning something.”
Prime Minister Ye was fiercely protective and deeply opposed to him and Huo Caiyu. While he didn’t care much about his own safety, he knew that Huo Caiyu’s ascension to the throne would face numerous hurdles, and the Prime Minister was sure to be one of them.
Ah, it sounds so troublesome!
Huo Caiyu couldn’t quite gauge what was on Li Jinyu’s mind, so he slowed down his eating and tried to reassure him. “Your Majesty, being able to solve Ye Gui’an and smoothly implement the Single Whip Policy is already a huge step. There’s no need to rush.”
After removing the corrupt official in charge, the court officials were instructed to come clean about their own corruption and to fill the fiscal deficit themselves. However, they were given a temporary reprieve from punishment.
Before leaving Qingshui Prefecture, Huo Caiyu and the Deputy Prefect Shen Fuyao worked together to calculate the accounts. Their final conclusion was that implementing the Single Whip Policy would increase the tax revenue collected by the national treasury by twenty percent compared to the old policy. At the same time, the tax burden on the people would be significantly reduced.
All of Ye Guian’s family assets and the funds embezzled by the reported officials were seized and returned to the national treasury. The remaining funds were given back to the people and used to invest in the development of Qingshui Prefecture.
“The Prime Minister assigned several people to not plead for Ye Gui’an. He has only himself to blame.”
Ye Gui’an was truly a mediocre man who relied heavily on his cousin’s power and often boasted about his supposed connection to the imperial clan. He showed little respect to the officials sent by Prime Minister Ye, and his social skills within the Prime Minister’s faction were severely lacking.
Yet, this man managed to amass an impressive fortune through his ownership of prosperous Qingshui Prefecture. The vast amount of wealth he had accumulated left the Prime Minister’s faction in awe, and at the same time, it stirred up feelings of resentment within them.
They had worked tirelessly within the court, ingratiating themselves with Prime Minister Ye, yet they had only managed to achieve a meager amount of wealth. It was a bitter pill to swallow when someone as foolish as Ye Guian could have amassed a fortune that rivaled that of an entire country.
The subtle emotions that swirled around the court, combined with the Emperor’s attitude and Prime Minister Ye’s silence, had led to the current state of affairs. Meanwhile, Ye Guian remained imprisoned in the Ministry of Justice, still unaware that his colleagues had abandoned him.
Li Jinyu found it difficult to understand all the intricate details, and after hearing Huo Caiyu’s explanation, he gave up in dejection. “Zhen doesn’t understand. Zhen must be too stupid. Human beings are too complicated.”
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