Chapter 32 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip?
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Li Jinyu blinked desperately at Imperial Physician Han, hoping that he would pick up on his unspoken message.
He finally understood how difficult it was to lie. Not only did he have to come up with a convincing lie, but he also had to drag other people into it!
Imperial Physician Han had been serving in the palace for ages, surely he understood the drill, right?
Imperial Physician Han remained silent for a moment, then suddenly coughed and said, “His Majesty…did indeed come to this official for a medical consultation.”
Li Jinyu heaved a huge sigh of relief. So far, so good. But Huo Caiyu wasn’t done yet and kept pressing, “Is His Majesty’s health in trouble?”
“His Majesty’s health is perfectly fine, there’s no need to worry about it.”
“What of His Majesty’s waist and knee pain, sore body, and shortness of breath?”
Imperial Physician Han cast a quick glance at Li Jinyu, who looked at him with pleading eyes. Clearing his throat once more, he tentatively spoke up, “Perhaps His Majesty’s ailments are a result of excessive indulgence in carnal pleasures. If he refrains from such activities for a period of time, the symptoms should subside.”
Huo Caiyu fell silent, his demeanor shifting unexpectedly. A dark cloud seemed to have descended upon him, and his gaze became heavy with contemplation.
Li Jinyu couldn’t help but wonder if Huo Caiyu had seen through his deception.
Without further questioning, Huo Caiyu clenched his teeth, ignoring the sourness in his heart, and prepared a tea to nourish the Emperor’s energy and blood.
Over the next few days, Li Jinyu obediently drank the tea prepared by Huo Caiyu. However, the effects of the brew were almost too potent, and Li Jinyu felt like his nose was about to burst.
Refusing to let Huo Caiyu check his pulse, Li Jinyu’s condition worsened. A few days later, he developed a fever, much to Huo Caiyu’s dismay. Frowning, he couldn’t help but ask, “Did Your Majesty eat too many melon seeds again?”
“…I didn’t!” Li Jinyu denied vehemently.
“Then why did Your Majesty suddenly developed a fever?”
Caught in his own web of lies, Li Jinyu had no answer. Hoohoo, he would never lie again.
Putting aside this small incident, everything else progressed very smoothly.
Huo Caiyu reorganized the palace administration and cleared out a group of wavering female court attendants, focusing his efforts on the struggle against the Prime Minister’s faction.
Although the Prime Minister’s faction wielded considerable power within the court, they were held in check by the equally influential Grand Marshal’s faction. Sensing that the Grand Marshal’s faction would remain neutral until the return of General Meng from quelling the rebellion, Huo Caiyu opted to focus his attention on the marginal and neutral factions.
These factions consisted of young and passionate officials who, due to their lack of political affiliation, were relegated to lowly positions that were often strenuous and unfulfilling.
Huo Caiyu carefully scrutinized the officials in these neglected positions and was astounded to discover that despite the seemingly mundane nature of their duties, they were actually holding very important posts.
For instance, in the Ministry of Personnel, keeping track of officials’ attendance during court sessions and work shifts may have seemed like a menial and insignificant task, but it actually allowed them to monitor the movements of most of the officials within the court.
Likewise, in the Ministry of Rites, the task of maintaining and repairing ritual and music scriptures may have been a job with no apparent relevance throughout the year, but during each round of imperial exams, the Ministry of Rites was responsible for verifying the scriptures, thereby gaining knowledge of which newly-appointed officials had been assigned to which departments.
Huo Caiyu was quick to recognize that these officials were not as useless as the Prime Minister’s faction had initially thought. It appeared that those who were truly ineffectual and lacked the will to form alliances had already abandoned their positions in the officialdom.
The Prime Minister’s faction and the Grand Marshal’s faction held the court in a deadlock with their control over the treasury and military power, respectively. It was clear that a new force was needed to break the balance and move things forward.
Huo Caiyu threw himself even harder into his work with a clear direction in mind. However, there was a growing concern in him about the Emperor’s subtle attitude towards him.
It had been over ten days since Huo Caiyu’s return to the capital, but the Emperor had not attempted to sleep with him even once. Previously, when the Emperor had persistently pursued him, Huo Caiyu had felt annoyed and guarded, wary of the Emperor’s intentions.
But now that Huo Caiyu’s feelings towards the Emperor had changed, he couldn’t help but feel confused about the Emperor’s sudden change in attitude.
If Huo Caiyu didn’t take the initiative to ask for a meeting, His Majesty might not summon him for a whole day.
This made Huo Caiyu anxious and sad. Did His Majesty really despise him?
Huo Caiyu’s newfound love had just blossomed, and he longed to spend every moment with His Majesty. But now, he couldn’t even see him once a day, which left him feeling distressed.
Despite this, it was hard to say for certain whether the Emperor truly disliked him.
In all affairs of the state, Li Jinyu was a dependable ally who supported Huo Caiyu without any hesitation. And…
Although Huo Caiyu didn’t explicitly ask, he knew that the clothes and bedding he had replaced were sent to the Emperor’s sleeping quarters and would be used in a few days.
Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but recall the time when His Majesty had stripped almost naked in front of Li Jinyu in Qingshui Prefecture, asking him to undress with him. Although it turned out that the Emperor only wanted his clothes, the memory lingered in Huo Caiyu’s mind.
But even so, seeing His Majesty wearing the clothes that once hugged his body intimately, Huo Caiyu felt a sudden shiver run through him. It was as if they were still pressed tightly together.
Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but feel a sense of guilt for having such disrespectful thoughts about His Majesty. He tried to calm his mind by reciting the Book of Saints silently.
However, the fact that His Majesty still regularly took his clothes made him wonder if Li Jinyu was still wearing them. Huo Caiyu tried to push the thought away and not dwell on it.
Even though he had resolved to help His Majesty gain more power in the court to bring them closer, Huo Caiyu was plagued by anxiety and his heart ached from not seeing the Emperor. He longed to see His Majesty’s face, but the Emperor’s aloofness made his heart ache even more.
Huo Caiyu couldn’t take it anymore. He resorted to an old excuse to be with Li Jinyu, “Your Majesty, we haven’t finished the calligraphy lesson before we left for Qingshui Prefecture.”
Li Jinyu: “…”
Hadn’t that already passed?
How could Huo Caiyu still remember it?! He was too responsible!
There was no need to use the excuse of calligraphy lessons to keep Huo Caiyu around. Li Jinyu tried to refuse, “Huo Aiqing is busy with court affairs on a daily basis. Zhen feels that…”
“Teaching calligraphy to Your Majesty is a sacred duty and a matter of national importance. This official is willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill this responsibility,” Huo Caiyu interrupted.
Li Jinyu considered for a moment and then suggested, “Maybe Zhen should just appoint a Grand Tutor…”
At least with someone else handling the lesson, he could just slack off.
Huo Caiyu, who wanted to spend more time with Li Jinyu, was determined to be his only teacher. “The way this official teaches Your Majesty is different from others. Switching to other teachers now would be detrimental to Your Majesty’s progress.”
Li Jinyu was intimidated by his imposing statement, but after meeting the scholars in Qingshui Prefecture, he began to see the importance of studying. Under Huo Caiyu’s unrelenting pressure, he reluctantly agreed, “Then Zhen will rely on Huo Aiqing.”
With a sense of relief, Huo Caiyu pulled out a book and gestured for Li Jinyu to take a seat. “Let us begin.”
Li Jingyu couldn’t shake the feeling that Huo Caiyu had undergone a transformation since becoming more involved in court affairs. His demeanor towards him had changed, becoming less distant and more casual, and there were moments where his eyes burned with an intensity that made him feel uneasy. He felt like a helpless hamster, and Huo Caiyu was the big cat, watching his every move and ready to pounce at any moment.
Hoohoo, is this the power of ambition?
As Huo Caiyu delved into the complexities of “National Policies,” Li Jinyu listened with his neck shrunk, wishing he could rise up and declare, “Just usurp the throne already! Zhen doesn’t want to study!”
But he was too fearful to do so.
After not picking up a brush for over a month, Li Jinyu’s handwriting became more illegible.
His self-esteem hit a new low as he watched the crooked and twisted words on the paper squirm like worms.
But Huo Caiyu remained calm and collected, extending a steady hand towards him. “Let this official guide Your Majesty.”
As Li Jinyu held the black lacquer and gold rabbit hair brush, Huo Caiyu held his hand and gently directed him. It was a method they had used before, but this time it felt different.
With their bodies so close, Li Jinyu could feel the Ziwei aura emanating from Huo Caiyu with each breath. He had expected to struggle for air, as he had in the past, but to his surprise, he found that he could manage it this time.
Could it be because he had grown accustomed to it?
Without Ziwei aura’s oppressive weight, he was able to focus and immerse himself in Huo Caiyu’s calligraphy, despite his initial reluctance.
The practice of calligraphy had a way of clearing the mind and calming the spirit, and after several days of tension brought on by the appearance of his tail, Li Jinyu began to feel a sense of relief.
Huo Caiyu’s calligraphy, like the man himself, was restrained and measured in its strokes, but with an underlying sharpness that revealed itself in his movements.
But just as Li Jinyu began to get lost in the magic of calligraphy, he suddenly felt Huo Caiyu let go of his hand. Startled, he looked up to see a strange expression on Huo Caiyu’s face, and he noticed that his breathing had become more rapid than before.
Li Jinyu blinked, and the brush in his hand slipped, leaving a smudge of ink on the paper. “Huo Aiqing, are you alright?”
Huo Caiyu was silent for a moment before saying, “This official is fine. Your Majesty has experienced the feeling of wielding a brush, but to truly master calligraphy, one must study it carefully and practice it repeatedly.”
Li Jinyu tried to write a few strokes on his own, but his handwriting was still ugly and uneven compared to when Huo Caiyu had guided his hand. He couldn’t help but frown. “Zhen’s handwriting is so ugly,” he complained.
His tone unintentionally carried a hint of coquetry, and Huo Caiyu’s breathing hitched at the sound. He had hoped that being able to spend so much time with His Majesty would alleviate the pain of his longing, but now it seemed to only deepen his torment.
With a bitter smile, Huo Caiyu resolved to endure this bittersweet taste a little longer. He couldn’t bear to give up this precious time with His Majesty, even if it pained him to do so.
“Just follow this official to learn the basics, Your Majesty. One’s handwriting should still reflect his own style,” Huo Caiyu said earnestly. “Your Majesty’s work is always superior to that of others.”
Trusting Huo Caiyu, Li Jinyu nodded dazedly and refocused his attention on the brush in his hand.
As Li Jinyu focused on his calligraphy, a subtle fragrance wafted towards him. The aroma of the tea that had just been placed in front of him filled his senses, and he couldn’t resist taking a sip. He exclaimed in delight, “It’s delicious.”
The tea that was typically served in the palace was too strong for Li Jinyu’s taste. However, this cup had a delicate flavor that lingered on his tongue, satisfying his palate. Huo Caiyu breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing Li Jinyu’s reaction and smiled warmly, “If Your Majesty enjoys it, please have some more.”
As Li Jinyu continued to write on the plain paper, surrounded by the sweet fragrance of the tea, Huo Caiyu worked diligently on state affairs beside him. He felt content with this peaceful moment, the sound of their quills scratching on paper the only interruption in the quiet room.
After lunch, Li Jinyu began to feel the urge to exercise on his hamster wheel. He glanced over at Huo Caiyu, who seemed to be in no rush to leave. With a polite hint, he said, “Huo Aiqing, do you have any pressing court affairs to attend to?”
With tomorrow being a rest day, Huo Caiyu had managed to finish his work in the morning and had hoped to spend more time with His Majesty in the afternoon. However, upon hearing Li Jinyu’s tone of dismissal, Huo Caiyu’s mood plummeted. He pursed his lips and observed the hidden “why haven’t you left yet” in His Majesty’s eyes, feeling uneasy.
He didn’t have the right to ask His Majesty to stay now. After hesitating for a moment, Huo Caiyu couldn’t help but offer a piece of advice, “Staying cooped up in the sleeping chamber all day can be detrimental to the health. Your Majesty should take a walk outside in the sunlight.”
Ever since his return to the palace, Li Jinyu had spent most of his time in the sleeping chamber and rarely ventured outside. If Huo Caiyu hadn’t confirmed that no concubine had been summoned, he would have voiced his concern earlier.
Li Jinyu scratched his ear and sighed, “But every time Zhen goes to the Imperial Garden, Zhen seems to run into a concubine. It’s quite bothersome.”
Despite his efforts to emulate the temperament of Emperor Jingchang, Li Jinyu couldn’t help but feel like more and more daring individuals were appearing, increasing the likelihood of “encountering” concubines in the Imperial Garden. Hearing this, Huo Caiyu felt a sense of relief, which he quickly suppressed. He was thinking of offering some reliable advice when he suddenly heard Li Jinyu exclaim, “However, what Huo Aiqing said makes sense. Let’s leave the palace and take a walk!”
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