Chapter 33 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip?
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After taking his pulse, at Huo Caiyu’s request, Madam Huo prepared some herbal concoction for Li Jinyu.
Together, they sat in the courtyard, which was small but neat and orderly, and offered a serene atmosphere. Li Jinyu could feel the care and attention of the household owner, but he couldn’t help but ask, “Brother Huo, don’t you have a higher salary now? Why not move to a larger courtyard?”
Other officials had spacious and luxurious courtyards.
Huo Caiyu looked at him with a hint of helplessness and explained, “My salary is not that high. It only covers our daily expenses. I have no plans to move to a more expensive residence.”
Li Jinyu was slightly surprised, “So low?”
As a nobleman with a title and an official salary, Huo Caiyu should have enough to meet his family’s daily needs, even without owning any land, right?
How could the future Emperor live in such modest conditions?
“I’ll raise your wage…no, increase your official salary!” Li Jinyu’s blood boiled.
Huo Caiyu instinctively cautioned, “Your Majesty mustn’t show favoritism.”
“It’s not favoritism,” Li Jinyu said excitedly, “Everyone can have a raise together!”
Huo Caiyu’s first instinct was to discourage him, knowing that there were already numerous corrupt officials in the court who abused their power. Giving them a raise would only exacerbate the problem. However, he knew that the Emperor always had a purpose for his actions. After a moment of contemplation, his expression transformed into one of surprise.
He had overlooked something.
The corruption among officials was not solely a result of their lack of moral fortitude. The stagnant official salaries in the Di Dynasty also played a role. Despite being almost sixty years old, the standards for salaries and allowances issued by the Ministry of Rites still followed those set by the Founding Emperor.
However, the cost of living in the capital had more than doubled since the establishment of the dynasty. If officials relied solely on their salaries, they would suffer extreme hardship.
Moreover, officials had requirements for ceremonial escorts and appearances, as well as socializing with colleagues. All of these necessitated additional expenses that could not be covered by their meager salaries.
It was clear that the outdated system of the court was also a factor in the corruption plaguing officials.
For instance, Shen Fuyao, the Deputy Prefect of Qingshui, was regarded as an upright official, save for his greed for money. Nonetheless, even he was not immune to corruption within the outdated system of the Di dynasty. As a result, he too had resorted to illicit practices in Qingshui Prefecture, with his wealth only reaching an average level.
His Majesty can actually think so deeply about this issue…
Huo Caiyu gazed at Li Jinyu with undisguised admiration in his eyes. “Your Majesty is indeed far-sighted.”
Li Jinyu blinked. “Huh?”
What had he done now to earn such praise?
“However, it may face opposition from the imperial clan.” Huo Caiyu was very clear about the current situation in the court. “The imperial clan believes that the laws and regulations established by the Founding Emperor should remain unchanged for millennia.”
These clan members, many of whom were older and relied on their lineage and seniority to wield influence. Could His Majesty bear it?
“I don’t care about them,” Li Jinyu declared. “If I say I want to increase salaries and allowances, I will increase them!”
Anyway, Emperor Jingchang himself never cared about those old guys’ constant nagging.
Huo Caiyu looked at him and smiled suddenly. “Alright.”
Since it’s something His Majesty wanted to do, he would do his best to help him.
Before bidding farewell to the Huo family, Huo Caiyu specially took out the golden cup and jade beads that Huo Caijin had brought back from the palace. “Jinyu, these are for you.”
Li Jinyu was surprised that the items he had secretly sent to Miss Huo were still intact in the Huo family’s possession. However, he couldn’t admit it, as it would seem like he was trying to secretly support the Huo family.
“I don’t know about these things,” he said, shaking his head.
Huo Caiyu looked at him and spoke up suddenly, “These items are identical to the ones used in Your Majesty’s palace. It must have been thieves who entered the palace to steal them. The only person who can freely leave the palace is this official. For the sake of Your Majesty’s safety, please imprison this offcial and torture him severely.”
Was Huo Caiyu okay? Why would he want to go to prison himself?
Of course, Li Jinyu couldn’t throw Huo Caiyu into the prison. After hesitating for a while, he forced himself to say, “Zhen doesn’t recognize these things, so you are not suspicious. Zhen will handle this impartially.”
“The palace items all have fixed specifications. We can take them to the prison for comparison…”
“If I say it’s not, then it’s not!” Li Jinyu couldn’t understand why Huo Caiyu was so desperate to be imprisoned. Afraid that he would really run to the Ministry of Justice on impulse, he emphasized, “This matter shall not be mentioned again!”
Huo Caiyu’s smile on his face slightly opened up, answering in a low voice, “Yes.”
He couldn’t help but love Li Jinyu’s protective nature towards him, despite his tough exterior.
Li Jinyu had just returned to his sleeping quarters, feeling tired and in need of rest, when Huo Caiyu appeared before him with an urgent expression.
Li Jinyu was a little surprised. They had only been separated for a short time, so why did Huo Caiyu come back again?
Without wasting any time, Huo Caiyu delivered the news. “Your Majesty, Grand Marshal Meng has successfully returned from suppressing the rebellion. His victorious army is now marching towards the capital.”
Li Jinyu was confused for a moment. “Huh?”
Only then did he remember that there was another pillar of the court, Grand Marshal Meng Jilang.
As the head of the army, General Meng was the only person who could rival Prime Minister Ye in terms of power and influence.
Li Jinyu’s transmigration had coincided with a period of unrest, with rebellion raging in the southwest. In response, General Meng had been dispatched to quell the rebellion. In the absence of such influential figure, the Grand Marshal’s faction within the court had been keeping a relatively low profile.
As Li Jinyu understood it, General Meng was a staunch supporter of the legitimate imperial family. He was descended from the Empress Dowager’s brother and could therefore be considered a member of the imperial family himself. He remained unwavering in his loyalty to the rightful rulers of the dynasty and was known for his conservative and stubborn views. Even during the reign of Emperor Jingchang, who was infamous for his corruption, General Meng had remained steadfast in his support of the imperial family. Although he and the Prime Minister occasionally shared common ground on matters of imperial power, General Meng’s unwavering allegiance to the imperial family was what truly set him apart in the court.
General Meng’s rise to the position of Grand Marshal was due to his exceptional talent and unwavering ability on the battlefield. It was under his leadership that the most challenging battles were fought and won, paving the way for Huo Caiyu to conquer the palace.
Yet, despite his remarkable skills, the Di Dynasty was on the brink of collapse, and even General Meng could not alter the course of fate.
Huo Caiyu’s question brought Li Jinyu back to reality. “Your Majesty, shall we go beyond the city gates to welcome the returning army?”
It was customary for the Emperor to greet the victorious soldiers at the main entrance of the imperial city, expressing gratitude for their unwavering devotion and bravery.
Of course, “Emperor Jingchang” had no intention of doing such a thing.
Thinking of having to deal with strangers in public, Li Jinyu felt a little uneasy and said, “Um… Zhen thinks Zhen won’t go.”
However, this was a great opportunity to improve Huo Caiyu’s reputation!
Li Jinyu immediately made a decision, “Huo Aiqing, you go.”
Huo Caiyu was taken aback by the sudden request and asked in disbelief, “This official?”
“Yes, please greet the General on Zhen’s behalf!” Li Jinyu patted Huo Caiyu’s shoulder and coughed. “Zhen is not familiar with etiquette, and Zhen is afraid of offending the General. So, Zhen entrusts this task to Huo Aiqing.”
Huo Caiyu gazed at the Emperor’s trusting eyes and remained silent for a moment, before answering resolutely, “This official understands, Your Majesty.”
Li Jinyu heaved a huge sigh of relief.
He was considering how to increase General Meng’s hatred towards him.
Despite the crumbling state of the Di dynasty, General Meng remained a staunch defender of the royal family, steadfastly refusing to surrender. Even though it was evident that the world and the people would benefit from Huo Caiyu taking the throne, General Meng chose to fight to the death with his helmet stained with blood on the walls of the imperial city.
When Li Jinyu first delved into the novel, he was perplexed by General Meng’s staunch beliefs. But now that he had been thrust into this world, he found himself reluctant to witness the valiant General sacrifice himself amidst the chaos.
How could he possibly shatter General Meng’s unwavering loyalty and turn him towards supporting Huo Caiyu instead…
Although Emperor Jingchang was a despicable person, General Meng’s loyalty remained unwavering. He opted to fictionalize imperial power, hoping to minimize the losses caused by the Emperor’s impulsive behavior, and placing his faith in the next ruler to bring about a better era.
General Meng was extremely diligent in encouraging Emperor Jingchang to conceive an heir, even more so than the Empress Dowager herself. He dissuaded the Emperor from engaging in other vile pursuits but paid particular attention to matters related to the harem and the recruitment of beauties, sometimes even more than Emperor Jingchang himself.
Unfortunately, even with three thousand concubines, Emperor Jingchang was unable to produce a child before his death. If he had, General Meng might have taken the heir and fled the capital, searching for another opportunity to regain power. Huo Caiyu’s grip on the throne would not have been so secure.
Hmmm, since General Meng gives too much emphasis on imperial harem…
Li Jinyu pondered for a monent about Emperor Jingchang’s harem, and his eyes brightened. He would try from here and give it a try!
Huo Caiyu, representing the Emperor, stood at the palace gates, awaiting the return of General Meng. As he arrived, they proceeded towards the imperial palace where the Emperor awaited them.
Upon entering the grand hall, Li Jinyu was heard instructing Chief Kang, “Beginning tonight, the Green Headed Pin shall be disbanded, and the concubines shall no longer have access to Zhen’s bedchamber.”
Huo Caiyu was still trying to process the significance of the Emperor’s words when General Meng’s booming voice interrupted her thoughts. “What is the meaning of this, Your Majesty?”
Despite his age and white hair, General Meng exuded a vitality that belied his years, a result of years of dedicated martial arts practice. His stern countenance often gave the impression that he was perpetually angry, even when he was not.
Li Jinyu intentionally made his announcement at their entrance. Seeing General Meng’s reaction was within his expectations, he had originally intended to confidently declare, “Zhen can do as he pleases,” but when faced with General Meng’s unyielding expression, his courage faltered and he muttered under his breath, “Z-zhen just thought it was too troublesome…”
The General’s reaction was swift and blunt, as was his nature. His brow furrowed in disapproval, and he challenged Li Jinyu directly. “Troublesome?” he demanded. “Your Majesty, how could it possibly be too troublesome to show favor to the imperial harem?”
“Z-zhen just thinks the concubines are pestering me all the time.”
General Meng took a moment to consider her words before nodding in agreement. “If Your Majesty finds it bothersome to have the concubines summoned to the palace, perhaps Your Majesty could spend some nights in the concubines’ quarters instead.”
But Li Jinyu quickly dismissed his suggestion. “That’s not what Zhen meant!” he protested, his tone still dry. “Zhen simply believes that instead of focusing solely on pleasing Zhen, the concubines should take on more serious responsibilities.”
“Attending to Your Majesty by the imperial concubines is simply a matter of duty,” General Meng thought to himself, thinking that he knew what the Emperor meant. “Your Majesty must be tired of these concubines in the palace? Perhaps this general can arrange for a new concubine to attend to Your Majesty…”
As soon as these words were spoken, Huo Caiyu and Li Jinyu’s expressions changed.
Li Jinyu immediately refused without hesitation, “Zhen doesn’t want it!”
General Meng and Huo Caiyu looked at him in unison.
Li Jinyu knew that in General Meng’s mind, his only value at the moment was to quickly beget a prince, so as not to let the country fall apart in his hands. That was why he had to make this clear.
He encouraged himself inwardly, then spoke, “Zhen recently went to Qingshui Prefecture and witnessed the suffering of the local people. Zhen felt deeply ashamed and thought that continuing to indulge in frivolous pursuits would be a dishonor to the imperial ancestors. So Zhen wants to be a better person and ruler.”
General Meng never expected to hear such words from the current Emperor in his lifetime. He looked at him with a very puzzled expression.
“…There are so many concubines in the palace, which is a waste. Zhen wants to let them also experience a bit of the suffering of the common people.” Li Jinyu coughed. “So Zhen plans to abolish the Green Headed Pin and use other standards to assess the status of the concubines in the future.”
In fact, Li Jinyu hadn’t thought of what standards to use yet.
But when his gaze swept over Huo Caiyu, his eyes suddenly lit up, “Then… let’s use farming as the standard.”
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