Chapter 75 Ink Marks
“Did Shizi want that answer? Did Shizi like it?”
Liu Zhongming felt that his thoughts seemed to be seen through, and he was a little annoyed and angry. He snorted coldly: “I just asked casually, whether you like him or not, it’s all up to you, it has nothing to do with me.”
Qu Chenzhou didn’t speak any more, he lowered his head and swept away the contents of the carton one by one, and touched them cherishingly for a while.
“Is it that rare?” Liu Zhongming tried hard to force himself not to implore more, but Qu Chenzhou was so weird at times, he couldn’t understand: “You lived in the palace and saw a lot of good things, how can you still be interested in these?”
Qu Chenzhou lowered his eyes and hummed, feeling that the pain was not that hard to bear, so he put the eight treasure exquisite box in the cabinet, then took out outer clothes from inside, and looked at Liu Zhongming.
“Is there anything else Shizi wants with me?”
“You want to go out?” This dazzling expulsion order made him feel uncomfortable.
“I’m going to wash up, I’m sweating a lot.”
Only then did Liu Zhongming see that the clothes on his back were sticking to his body. He could imagine how hard he had endured just now, so he hurriedly stretched out his hand to help him: “Can you walk? I’ll take you there.”
His gesture was natural, but Qu Chenzhou sat back on the bed and avoided his hand.
“It’s my fortune to be valued by Shizi,” Qu Chenzhou looked at him calmly: “But you and I are different, master and slave. It’s okay to be in the same room, but if the Shizi gets used to treating me like this and does the same outside, it would be a waste of our efforts.”
Liu Zhongming froze for a moment. He watched Qu Chenzhou take his clothes and walk out, but before reaching the door, he touched the wooden pillar, taking a breath.
“Are you in such a hurry to wash?” He stepped forward a few steps, carried the person horizontally, and asked with a cold face, “Are you in a hurry to wash, or is it an excuse for me to leave?”
Qu Chenzhou closed his eyes in his embrace. The words were exhaled with a breath of relaxation: “Shizi’s words are too serious, how could this slave dare.”
This time, the move was more intimate, but there was no struggle in his arms, but Liu Zhongming was still unhappy—in his opinion, Qu Chenzhou was just playing his role as a pamperer dutifully.
That was their agreement. Besides, Qu Chenzhou did not agree with his overstepping half-steps. It’s ridiculous, he was qualified to hold the person in his arms, but he is not allowed to support that hand on equal footing.
Liu Zhongming stood at the door for a while, before suppressing his unwillingness. He lifted the curtain and went out with someone in his arms.
People passed by from far and near, Qu Chenzhou was a little embarrassed. He clenched his clothes slightly, and turned his face to his chest, as if he didn’t want to be seen.
“Chenzhou,” Liu Zhongming lowered his head and lifted him up. The two of them became closer together: “Is it comfortable for me to carry you like this?”
Qu Chenzhou frowned slightly and said nothing.
“Say it.” Liu Zhongming stepped on the guardrail with one foot and lifted the person even higher.
Their bodies were only separated by two fists, their breaths blended together, and his long hair on his shoulder hung down on Qu Chenzhou’s chest. If people from a distance looked, at first glance, they would think that the two would kiss each other in the next moment.
The servants who passed by accidentally avoided them one after another.
Only then did Qu Chenzhou look up at him.
He didn’t evade, smiled and said: “So shaky and can’t even give a flirty response, how can I take you out after the new year?”
“Comfortable, I’m so comfortable I can die.” With an expression on his face, he answered lukewarmly. After thinking for a moment, he asked again, “Shizi likes people who are unrestrained?”
“Yes, who doesn’t like someone unrestrained?” Liu Zhongming stared at him and said, “Who would like a cold piece of hard wood?”
Qu Chenzhou lowered his eyelids and replied unhurriedly: “I think each has its own merits.”
Liu Zhongming sneered: “It sounds like you are complimenting yourself?”
“I don’t deserve a compliment?” Qu Chenzhou asked back.
“Overestimating yourself,” Liu Zhongming glanced at him, and finally he was willing to move forward without teasing him: “You refused to answer just now, do you still recall him in your heart? You don’t want to be held by others?”
Qu Chenzhou’s heart jumped, he knew who this “him” he was talking about was.
“Is that true?”
“Shizi…” The tip of his tongue was a bit astringent: “I can’t forget him…”
Liu Zhongming was silent for a moment: “Do you want me to help you find him and meet him?”
Qu Chenzhou relaxed his body, a little tired, leaning his head on his chest.
“Things from the past dissipate like smoke. If there is fate, we will meet. If there is no fate in this life, there is no need to go back – I won’t bother Shizi.”
With such an answer, Liu Zhongming didn’t know whether to be relieved or sad, and walked silently to the bathroom. Outside the door, he asked again, “Then when you finally… died, did he come to save you?”
Qu Chenzhou’s feet fell to the ground, leaving him an answer before entering the door.
“I don’t blame him.”
When Liu Zhongming was gone, Qu Chenzhou naturally didn’t need a bath, but Steward Lin had people prepare a wooden tub behind the embroidered screen.
The water in the wooden tub only reached the waist, and the temperature was not too high, so that the steam would not melt the plaster on his face, making all the hard work before in vain.
He glanced at himself through the bronze mirror on the wall.
Doctor Qin was right, it was really scary, even scarier than when he had a scar on his face.
The black ointment was applied to the wound, and the dark red ointment circled the swollen area. Tthe face covered by the ointment was quite terrifying.
Fortunately, Liu Zhongming didn’t feel disgusted, and he was willing to carry him.
The situation in front of him also made him confused and lost.
He knew Liu Zhongming in his memory, but he felt somewhat incomprehensible to the person in front of him. The elusive teasing seemed like hostile temptation, a high-level mockery, and an elusive illusion.
In that illusion, it was pure intimacy and like.
Temptation or ridicule, he can take it calmly, only intimacy, he needed to stay away from, whether it is because of their status or for the future.
What’s more, he and Zhongming still have a lifetime of entanglements and grievances that have not ended.
If he is the only living dead person in this world, forgetting the past may be an easy thing for everyone.
But since Liu Zhongming can mention “Qianqiu Temple” and call him “Chenzhou Er”, a majority of the things in his previous life cannot be carelessly dropped.
If he can even remember the death of Bai Shiyan, there may be more things that he can’t hide in the future.
Although he still didn’t know how Liu Zhongming recalled it, he had to make other plans for their future.
Ever since Bai Shiyan asked him that question, he had always been thinking about the worst-case scenario, when misfortunes and blessings come together. This may be a life-and-death moment. If he takes advantage of it, crashing his way through may lead to a light in the dark tunnel.
The battle was dangerous, he had done it more than once, and he had lost and won in his previous life. This time, he wanted to take a gamble again.
If he succeeds, he will not have a hundred percent chance of winning but it will be 70 to 80. If he fails, Zhongming will be surrounded by a heavy siege, and he wouldn’t even be able to beg for death.
Therefore, he couldn’t show his like in front of him, nor could he bear it.
Qu Chenzhou crouched beside the barrel, pulled out the wooden hairpin, tucked a handful of hair, his hands filled with ink stains.
He washed the hairpin together with his hands in the bucket, looked at the warm yellow candle, and rubbed the wooden hairpin vigorously.
On the blank side, he wrote many times. Looking closely in the light, he could see the faint “Zhou” character infiltrated in the wood grain.
Those uncontrollable thoughts were hidden in this ink mark that could be wiped away – on the hairpin, one side was Zhongming, and the other side was Chenzhou.
He needed the help of Zhongming. It was a blessing from God that he could transform from a pig and dog crawling in the dust into a human being. He should not ask for too much. There are some people, matters, and things that just the thought of is good enough.
There was a sound from the cotton curtain outside, someone had entered uninvited, and naturally it would not be someone else in this courtyard.
“Chenzhou,” Liu Zhongming called out to him, “I remembered something I didn’t tell you.”
Qu Chenzhou laid on his stomach and didn’t move, staring at the embroidered screen. The lantern was shining from behind him and their shadows overlapped and became one.
“Shizi can state his instructions.”
“The Department of Control came a few days ago and said that they want to routinely check the seal. You are to go there in a few days.”
Qu Chenzhou’s shoulders stiffened, and he replied softly: “Understood.”
Seal inspection is a routine errand of the Department of Control every year. Various circumstances such as a growing body and injury may change the appearance of the slave mark, and there is a chance of them to escape.
When Du Quan saw that his birthmark was not pleasing to the eye, he marked it there. He was young and his body grew fast, so almost every one or two years at this time, it was like walking through the gate of h*ll.
Last year, his slave mark was removed and he was sent to the Liu Family Courtyard. In the autumn winter time, he was caught up with the great changes in Qisheng Building, missing that year. After a series of changes, he almost forgot about it.
That kind of pain would be unforgettable for the rest of his life. The only thing he hoped was for it to be branded in another place.
He was hesitating whether or not to trouble Liu Zhongming to have the the Department of Control be more flexible, when Liu Zhongming called out again.
The sound gradually approached and did not stop outside the embroidered screen. When he turned, Qu Chenzhou saw Liu Zhongming holding a pen and inkstone in his hand.
The person was already in front of him, he couldn’t stand up, and looked at Liu Zhongming in confusion as he licked his pen and stood in front of him.
“Which word do you like? Zhong? Or Ming?”
Qu Chenzhou was stunned for a moment, and then he understood what he meant. It was a good intention, but unfortunately, how could the Department of Control be so easily fooled?
“Ming.” He chose a word without shattering Liu Zhongming’s innocent thought.
Liu Zhongming walked around behind him, took a sweat towel and brushed away the water droplets on his back. He held a pen with one hand, and pressed his shoulder with the other. Before his pen moved, his eyes fell onto the gentle arc of his spine but did not enter the crevice under the water.
Qu Chenzhou tilted his head and looked behind him from the corner of his eye.
“It’s been almost a year,” Liu Zhongming looked back, bent down, dropped a stroke on his right shoulder, and asked, “Why hasn’t the injury on your back disappeared.”
He brushed his hair aside and lowered his head slightly. The water below was still warm, and he felt a chill on his shoulders.
“If you can’t see it, it doesn’t matter if it’s not good, it’s just the face… If it doesn’t work this time, I want to continue the treatment and ask Shizi to agree with it.”
Liu Zhongming understood what he meant.
This old wound and the ashes of plants and trees that were sprinkled for the purpose of disfigurement in those days, have damaged the root. If he wanted to remove the pus deep below, maybe once or twice was not enough.
“Are you afraid I won’t take you out? Don’t move!”
Qu Chenzhou lowered his head and didn’t move, feeling that it was very inappropriate to ask if “Shizi was afraid of hurting him”.
“If it’s not cured, I’ll think of other ways. If I’m like this, it’s not good to take out.”
Liu Zhongming sneered: “If this Shizi says he likes to take you out, who dares to say anything?”
Qu Chenzhou had many concerns, but he thought that there were still a few months before the end of the year, and it may not be impossible. Right now it was really unnecessary to argue, so he asked: “Shizi asked me about Pan He a few days ago, what’s the progress? “
He had heard before that Pan He was imprisoned for the Jingshan Iron Mine incident, but he didn’t know why Liu Zhongming asked Pan He from his previous life.
“Pan He got the benefits of running the boat last year, so at the beginning of the year, he entrusted me with most of his belongings, and allowed me a percentage, he must not have thought of the possibility of such a hiccup.”
“Shiyan was ordered to check, but the money he found was not enough for the appetite of an official family. No matter whether anyone mentions it clearly, I can’t let Shiyan bear this unclear discussion and told the emperor early on.”
“The merchant ship came back some time ago and I plan to return the money. I’m thinking of finding someone to sell this favor to.”
Qu Chenzhou asked, “How much?”
“Pan He’s net worth?” Liu Zhongming raised four fingers: “It’s much more than I thought.”
“400,000?” Qu Chenzhou was also somewhat surprised. After thinking for a moment, he said, “How can he have so much money? Pan He has paid filial piety to Yu Dexi, but according to this number, there isn’t much sincerity. This favor should be sold to Yu Gonggong, it depends on whether Shizi intends to make this trivial or make it bigger.”
“Under the emperor’s feet, just accepting bribes can’t reach this number, let alone being a son. As for whether it is big or small, I can’t be the decision maker, it depends on whether the emperor can bear it.”
Although they said that, they both knew how the emperor could not bear the arrogance of a grandson who climbed up the hall under his nose. Even if the emperor could bear it, Yu Dexi would not endure it.
“400,000 is too much,” Qu Chenzhou thought for a moment, then shook his head: “It’s not good.”
“It’s not good, no one expected this to happen,” Liu Zhongming agreed with him: “When he handed it over to me, I had no words. Now handing it up, I also have the fault of not reporting it. Don’t worry, I made a fake booklet, and it just happened to let me earn some money.”
“Where are Panhe’s people?”
“It should be the civil affairs department case and the person was dragged to the Jinxiu Camp. It’s not clear whether he lived or died. I haven’t entered the Civil Affairs Department, so I can’t handle this matter, it will depend on next year.”
Qu Chenzhou poured some water on his arm. Looking at the swaying shadows of the two people on the ground, a bit fascinated: “I didn’t expect that Shizi would face Liao Guangming before Shizi even entered.”
“Didn’t expect it?” Liu Zhongming asked him, “You didn’t expect it? Who told me to sell the mine to Pan He?”
Qu Chenzhou said embarrassingly, “You don’t need to think of me as an immortal. I only cared about lighting the fire, not extinguishing it.”
Liu Zhongming laughed, it’s better not to be frank that he feared that the world would not be in chaos.
“It doesn’t matter, there is a saying in the court that those who wear official uniforms are all the opponents of Commander Liao. I will be going to the civil affairs department. If I don’t suppress him, he will suppress me, it’s just a matter of time.”
Qu Chenzhou didn’t object either, the left and right side can’t be avoided, and the emperor did not give any room for recovery, so he released Liu Zhongming to the civil affairs department, which may be a calculation on the abacus.
“In addition to letting Yu Gonggong have some face in front of the emperor, please ask the imperial concubine to give some rewards,” he reminded Liu Zhongming: “Yu Gonggong accepting Shizi’s thing is one thing, but he places more importance on favor in the palace. Although his heart is with the emperor, but no one would ever think they have too many methods.”
“I understand.” Liu Zhongming raised the tip of his pen as if he was admiring his masterpiece.
“The next thing to worry about is Liao Guangming. Do you know that during the Mid-Autumn Festival banquet, I pondered this matter and glanced at Liao Guangming, and guess what?”
Qu Chenzhou naturally understood Liao Guangming: “He caught on very quickly?”
“Yes.” Liu Zhongming thought about the eagle-like gaze, which had harmed many people, and was as vigilant as a hungry wolf in a desperate situation: “I signaled to him that he owed me a drink before he turned away. “
“It’s okay for him to panic and treat everyone as an enemy. People like him have too many intentions to hurt people and makes too many enemies. If the emperor doesn’t support him for a moment, he will be eaten alive.”
“Why did you say that Liao Guangming will be replaced within four years?” Liu Zhongming remembered this, but he never understood it: “My sister will have the chance to give birth to a prince in four years?”
Qu Chenzhou thought about this question very clearly and answered calmly.
“Four years later, Shizi will be twenty two. After fighting for your position, you should settle down and get married. Liao Guangming is someone that can’t be reasoned with, so it is to prevent Shizi and concubine to be affected.”
Liu Zhongming paused for a while, and suddenly pressed his pen onto his back with a strong poke.
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