Chapter 35 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip?
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As the morning court session came to a close, the Duke of Jingguo, an elderly man, walked slowly and fell behind the officials. Exiting the palace gate, he was approached by a figure who emerged from the shadow behind the vermilion dragon pillar. It was Prime Minister Ye, wearing a calm expression as he greeted the Duke politely. “How is Your Grace?”
Duke Jingguo gazed at the Prime Minister, and his white eyebrows rose slightly as he let out a sigh. “This old man is not as young and capable as the Prime Minister.”
Prime Minister Ye, who was not yet forty years old, looked young and energetic, appearing to be in his thirties. Compared to the Duke of Jingguo, he was indeed a young and capable individual.
“Your Grace is old but still steadfast, how can we younger generation ever compare?” Prime Minister Ye walked beside the Duke and said lightly, “As an experienced elder like the Duke of Jingguo, Your Grace should be able to see the ruthlessness of His Majesty’s ‘legitimate heirs and concubine-born sons’ policy.”
His Majesty’s new policy seemed to perfectly resolve the conflict between legitimate and concubine-born children, and protect the interests of the legitimate son, while also giving the concubine-born children a path to take the imperial examinations and rise to success.
However, in reality, it was far from perfect. The legitimate son would securely inherit the title without facing competition from the concubine-born son, while the concubine-born son, although they could not inherit the family property, could take the imperial examinations and rise to success.
This would cause the struggle between legitimate and concubine-born sons to shift from within the family to outside of it!
If this would go on for too long, and if the legitimate son was incompetent but the concubine-born son was ambitious, the power of the aristocratic families’ legitimate lineages would gradually be weakened!
General Meng’s straightforwardness was admirable, but Prime Minister Ye didn’t believe that the Duke of Jingguo couldn’t see through the matter at hand.
The Duke of Jingguo’s eyebrows remained placid as he offered a subtle nod and a smile, avoiding a direct answer. “What, in your opinion, is the greatest threat to the legitimate lineages, Prime Minister?”
Prime Minister Ye was slightly startled.
“As one not born to nobility, your knowledge of the matter may be limited,” continued the venerable Duke in a measured tone. “Families that collapse under the strain of the battle between legitimate and concubine-born sons are already too fragile to sustain themselves.”
“Why do aristocratic families falter? Is it not due to the inadequacy of previous legitimate lineages?” The Duke of Jingguo paused and pivoted slowly to face the Prime Minister. “The biggest menace to the legitimate lineages has always been their inclination to revel in the family’s glory without any ambition, not the contention between legitimate and concubine-born sons.”
Prime Minister Ye furrowed his brow. “But with the new policies of His Majesty, it may not be possible to arouse the ambition of the legitimate lineages.”
If legitimate sons could easily inherit their titles, what was there to struggle for?
The Duke of Jingguo remained unfazed, his pace steady as he resumed walking. “The previous ambition was just to please the family head. But how can pleasing the family head compare to pleasing His Majesty and the court?” he said in a voice that was old yet steady. “Just thinking about preserving the status quo will inevitably lead to losing it.”
Prime Minister Ye stopped and looked at the back of the old Duke, his expression unchanged as he lightly nodded in agreement. “Your Grace’s words, this official understands.”
“His Majesty is lucky to have such talented people as yourself, Prime Minister,” the Duke of Jingguo continued, his voice trailing off as he walked ahead. “You are young and promising, with a bright future,” he added, leaving behind only a faint remark.
Prime Minister Ye cursed inwardly at the old fox’s words.
He understood the deeper meaning behind the Duke of Jingguo’s words.
Though the Duke was currently aligned with the Emperor, it didn’t necessarily mean that the aristocratic families and the Prime Minister’s faction had split.
In the intricate web of politics, it always boiled down to self-interest.
The Prime Minister’s expression flickered with uncertainty as he cast a glance at the imposing gates of Taihe Palace. But in a sudden fit of anger, he let out a contemptuous snort and turned on his heel, striding away.
Li Jinyu couldn’t be bothered with the Prime Minister’s thoughts, as he was busy having a good time on his giant hamster wheel in the comfort of his bedroom. His tail swished with glee as he rolled around and around.
Another big thing was done today. Li Jinyu was over the moon with happiness!
Whenever he felt happy, he couldn’t resist the urge to run on his hamster wheel. And the joy of running only made him even happier!
Li Jinyu ran non-stop for more than an hour, his face still flushed with excitement even after he stopped.
Grabbing a nearby towel to wipe his sweaty face, he called for the orchid bath. Though he hesitated about taking a bath, Huo Caiyu had warned him that skipping baths was detrimental to his health.
Recently, he had been following Huo Caiyu’s advice and using the same technique to clean himself, soaking the towel in the bathtub and wiping himself down. It was troublesome, but he didn’t have to soak in water.
Despite his usual ability to regulate his sweating during his running sessions, Li Jinyu had exceeded his limits today due to his heightened excitement. As a result, he now felt the unpleasant stickiness of his perspiration all over his body.
With the aroma of orchids wafting from the bath, and the heat emanating from it, Li Jinyu made a brave decision.
Let’s take a bath!
If he didn’t wipe himself clean and someone caught the stench of his sweat, it would be too embarrassing!
Ever since he began using a damp towel to cleanse himself, Li Jinyu’s aversion to water had significantly decreased. Summoning his courage, he eased himself into the orchid bath and, with time, began to relax.
As the warmth and fragrance of the orchid bath enveloped him, Li Jinyu couldn’t help but admit that the sensation of the water cascading over his skin was, in fact, quite enjoyable.
Li Jinyu slid into the orchid bath until the waterline reached his neck. He wiggled his toes and playfully slapped the water’s surface with his tail, exhaling a contented sigh.
Reflecting on his previous encounters with water, he couldn’t help but wonder how different things might have been if he hadn’t been startled by a menacing black cat during his last bath…
Memories flooded back to him. He could vividly recall the sight of the cat clinging to the ceiling, its piercing green eyes boring into him.
He gazed upwards, only to be met with an inexplicable sight. The black cat was nowhere to be seen. Perplexed, Li Jinyu submerged himself once again, reemerging moments later to survey the room. The eerie feline was nowhere in sight.
A wave of confusion washed over him. Had it all been a figment of his imagination?
As Li Jinyu breathed a sigh of relief, a strange voice suddenly echoed in his ear, causing him to freeze. “I never would have guessed that Your Majesty is actually a rat spirit.”
Slowly turning his stiff head, Li Jinyu was met with the unsettling sight of the black cat perched on the rim of the bathtub. Its piercing green gaze bore into him with an uncanny interest, occasionally pausing to delicately lick its paws.
A chill seemed to be floating around.
Li Jinyu’s whole body instantly stiffened like a stone.
A black cat that can speak human language!
His soul was screaming in terror, but his body remained frozen in place, allowing him to stare into the black cat’s beady eyes from up close.
“When did you take over this Emperor’s body?” The black cat appeared to be repulsed by the damp, orchid-scented bath and leapt onto the screen beside it, peering down at Li Jinyu with a furrowed brow. “I am…”
Suddenly, the black cat recoiled and scurried away from Li Jinyu, causing his rigid muscles to finally relax. Without a moment’s hesitation, he let out a blood-curdling scream, “Aaaahhhhhh————!”
The piercing shriek caught the black cat off-guard, causing it to stumble and nearly tumble off the screen.
The cat stared at him in disbelief and just as it was about to speak, the door to the sleeping chamber burst open with a loud clang, and that annoying human shrouded in Ziwei imperial aura barreled in. “Your Majesty!”
Ziwei aura restrained all evil. The black cat turned around and disappeared with a “whoosh.”
Huo Caiyu was organizing the documents related to the Spring Festival in the outer hall when he was startled by the Emperor’s panicked screams from the sleeping chamber. His mind went blank for a moment, before his body instinctively propelled him into the room with a forceful palm on the door. “Your Majesty!”
As he stepped into the chamber, his eyes fell upon the Emperor, once again pale and clinging to the edge of the tub in fear. But this time, something caught his attention— a dark shadow that seemed to dart out of sight.
Huo Caiyu’s heart raced with concern as he rushed over to the orchid bath, his expression one of panic. “Your Majesty?”
Li Jinyu’s eyes met Huo Caiyu’s, and he felt a wave of relief wash over him, allowing him to exhale a long, ragged breath as he collapsed against the bathtub’s edge.
His legs and his tail had become so weak with fear that he couldn’t even stand upright.
Wait a minute, tail?!
Ah, he forgot about that!
A sudden clarity washed over Li Jinyu’s mind, and he hastily withdrew his outstretched hands, shouting, “Stop!”
Huo Caiyu had been approaching with concern, but Li Jinyu’s defensive reaction made him freeze in his tracks. He watched as His Majesty crouched down in the bathtub, trying to hide his legs and tail under the water while covering himself with his hands, eyes wide with fear. “You go out first!”
Huo Caiyu was taken aback for a moment before pursing his lips and obediently taking a step back to prepare to leave.
His Majesty didn’t care about exposing his body in front of him before, but now he was suddenly on guard against himself. Could he have noticed something?
This realization made Huo Caiyu a little flustered.
Li Jinyu’s thoughts raced back to the black cat and he couldn’t help but feel uneasy. He had hoped that the cat wouldn’t dare to show up near Huo Caiyu, but now he wasn’t so sure.
Li Jinyu weighed his options and concluded that it was safer to have Huo Caiyu in the room with him.
“Stand there, turn around.”
Confused, Huo Caiyu did as he was told and turned around.
Li Jinyu attempted to stand up in the bathtub, but his trembling legs gave way and he fell back in with a loud “plop”.
After a moment’s silence, Li Jinyu’s voice came with a little embarrassment, “Zhen’s feet are numb…”
The sourness that had suddenly surged up in Huo Caiyu disappeared at the sound of His Majesty’s cute voice, and he couldn’t help but let out a laugh.
“Does Your Majesty want this official’s assistance?”
Li Jinyu struggled a few times in the bathtub but couldn’t climb out. Startled by the black cat and having held a position for too long, his legs were now completely useless. If he soaked any longer, his skin would start to peel.
Gritting his teeth, he said, “Carry Zhen out, but cover your eyes.”
Li Jinyu absolutely could not let Huo Caiyu see his tail!
Huo Caiyu obediently said, “This official will close his eyes.”
“No,” Li Jinyu said, still feeling uneasy. Although he trusted Huo Caiyu completely, he couldn’t help but worry. What if she suddenly felt an itch in his eyes and wanted to blink?
His tail absolutely, absolutely, absolutely couldn’t be discovered by Huo Caiyu!
He thought for a moment and reached for the new silk scarf hanging on the screen next to him. No, the black cat had squatted there before!
He then reached for a used silk towel on the armchair and handed it to Huo Caiyu. “Cover your eyes.”
Although an indescribable sensation overwhelmed Huo Caiyu, he dutifully accepted the silk towel and bound it over his eyes.
After tying it, Huo Caiyu felt even worse.
This item seemed to be the one His Majesty used to wipe sweat.
As he inhaled, the scent of dragon’s saliva and faint perspiration became apparent, causing Huo Caiyu to feel uneasy.
Following Li Jinyu’s prompt, Huo Caiyu managed to guide him out of the bathtub, although his movements were rigid and strained.
When his fingers touched His Majesty’s damp skin, Huo Caiyu’s frame convulsed, but managed to hold him steadily.
Li Jinyu’s gaze fixated on Huo Caiyu’s trembling hands, fear gnawing at him like a persistent predator. His tail, tightly coiled up behind him, bristled with apprehension, dreading any accidental contact.
Fortunately, Huo Caiyu remained vigilant, despite the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions churning within him, ensuring that his grasp remained steady and secure.
With each step towards the dragon bed, Li Jinyu’s nerves felt stretched taut, as though he had endured a millennium of tension.
Finally placed upon the bed by Huo Caiyu, Li Jinyu released a long, pent-up breath, relieved to be able to reposition his numb legs.
As Huo Caiyu retrieved another silk towel, he said, “Let this official dry Your Majesty off.” The memory of His Majesty’s previous fever, caused by insufficient drying, still fresh in his mind, he was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
Li Jinyu could only watch helplessly as Huo Caiyu’s gentle hand pressed against his tail, the barrier of silk preventing direct contact.
Ah ah ah, he touched it!
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