Chapter 50: Conscientious
Ye Yin reclined next to the door, a smile on his face. Lanzhi was busy, bustling around. His body had been purged of the poison and recovering, so it was time for him to depart Yue City to be inaugurated at An city.
“What are you just standing there for? If you’re not busy, go out and bask in the sun. It’s been dusky for so long, take advantage of it!” Xie Lanzhi pouted.
Ye Yin smiled lazily. He shrugged and stood up. “Yes ma’am! I’ll go out so I won’t bother you.” A few steps outside, he turned and said, “Lanzhi, you nag me even more than Chun Ri, you’re just like a housewife! And there’s nothing valuable in my room, no need to spend so much time tidying it up.”
Xie Lanzhi rolled her eyes. “What do you know! I took away everything you used. How could I let someone else touch your stuff.” Suddenly, Lanzhi’s tone of voice changed. “Husband! You cannot visit brothels in An city. I am the only woman who can be at your side!”
Ye Yin fell silent faced with her domineering attitude and declaration. He looked up at the sky, feeling helpless. Since when did Lanzhi start addressing him as “husband”? At first, he laughed it out, but… She started to take care of his everyday needs, becoming more lively. He liked this, but he wouldn’t be able to stand if it she were too lively!
She would get angry at him, raise her temper. This was nothing, he enjoyed this side of her, but was there a need to address him as husband? Unless…
Impossible! Ye Yin felt a shiver. Although he had not met anyone who had moved his heart, he was very certain he was straight. He only hoped that Lanzhi was straight too.
But why did Lanzhi’s expression become more and more unnatural?
The sun rays were mild, the air also fresh. Ye Yin strolled slowly around the courtyard. He had lived here for almost two months, a bit reluctant to leave now.
“Ye Yin!” A gentle voice called. Ye Yin turned to look who it was. With the slight whistle of the morning wind, Ye Yin saw a young man standing below the osmanthus tree. He had refined facial features, his expression cold. His faint, cyan robe fluttered in the wind.
“Good morning, Mr. Zhuo!” Ye Yin greeted.
“The sun is already high in the sky. It is not morning anymore!” His cold voice seemed to carry faint displeasure, as if Ye Yin owed him.
Ye Yin’s smile stiffened. He always did not know how to talk to Mr. Zhuo, who always used a keen eye that seemed to be able to see through everything to stare at him, as if evaluating him. However, he always seemed to exhibit slight displeasure, as if Ye Yin had done something wrong. Despite much thinking, Ye Yin remained perplexed. How exactly had he agitated Mr. Zhuo?
Ye Yin regarded Zhuo Ran silently, his eyes flickering profoundly. He used a toneless voice to speak. “Could I have a word with you?”
“Yes!” They pulled out two chairs from the house. Ye Yin set them below the osmanthus tree. “Please sit. Mr. Zhuo, do you have something to say to me?”
Zhuo Ran sat down. “A virtuous man must be conscientious. Young master Ye, you must always remember this.”
Ye Yin paused. What did he mean? Was he not conscientious?
“Mr. Zhuo means to say…” Ye Yin did not understand.
Zhuo Ran frowned and shrugged. He seemed to want to say something, but was holding back. After a long time, he finally said, “You just need to remember this. Many people work without credit, so do not betray them. Young master Ye, please treasure the people at your side. This is all I will say.”
Zhuo Ran stood up to leave. Ye Yin blinked as he watched the figure slowly leave his line of sight. Suddenly, he recalled another man in a cyan robe.
How could he have thought of him? Shaking his head, he discarded his disfavorable memories of the man in cyan, but then he thought of something scary. Was he really connected to Mr. Zhuo? Perhaps he had somehow offended in the man in cyan!
He relaxed, then laid down, closing his eyes. He let out a long sigh of satisfaction. The chair was good for both sitting and lying down. If only he had a blanket underneath, it would be perfect!
The cool autumn breeze and nice weather should have brightened his spirit, but Zhuo Ran’s words lingered in Ye Yin’s ear, leaving an unsettling feeling. He could not make heads or tails of Zhuo Ran, what his intentions were or why he did what he did.
Gently sighing, Ye Yin opened his eyes. The sky was covered by the dense foliage of the osmanthus tree. Rays of sunshine shone through the gaps between the leaves, flickering like stars. Too bright!
Soon, the leaves would fall. Once he returned, he should be able to smell the osmanthus flowers.
If only it was a walnut tree, so he could eat them. Ye Yin muttered something, then quietly stood up. He entered his room through the open window and saw Lanzhi working busily.
Lanzhi was very attentive. She had taken care of him meticulously, sometimes even more than Chun Ri. Really… Suddenly, something sparked. Lanzhi?!
A crafty smile appeared on his lips. “Treasure the people at your side!” So he was referring to Lanzhi! It seems Mr. Zhuo paid close attention to Lanzhi, perhaps her spring was here!
With everything packed, about to leave, as Zhuo Ran stepped out the house, he felt a shiver down his spine. It felt the same as when Senior Brother was planning to do something to him. He shook his head, thinking to himself, his Senior Brother shouldn’t be planning on doing anything to him because fortunately, he had successfully completed the task he had given him. Suppressing the strange feeling, he left.
He never would have thought that he had become the target of one of Ye Yin’s schemes. He was only trying to speak on behalf of his wronged brother, but did not anticipate that he was kicking himself in the foot. Did this show that Ye Yin was too keen? Or was he too thick?
Ye Yin was inaugurated in September. It rained continuously. His appearance aroused shock from the chancellors. Aside from the military officers that had accompanied Ye Yin from the start, everyone looked down on Ye Yin. Merely a youth who was not even an adult yet!
What could a delicate youth with a beauty that surpassed women do?
Seeing the disdainful expressions of everyone at court, Ye Yin secretly smiled. Looking down on him? He loved this scenario the most. Being a wolf in sheep’s clothing was what he liked doing the most!
He did not plan on making any big movements the moment he took office. There would definitely need to be a large purging, but the useful ones still had to remain. He would have to take time to observe before deciding what to do. For that time, he would appear useless and incompetent. Hua Jianli had already established his despotic image, so he would not have to appear in the limelight yet, otherwise he would attract unnecessary attention.
For three days, Ye Yin did not speak a word at court. He only stood there within the crowd of chancellors, wearing a faint smile as he watched. He appeared gentle and warm, his eyes glistening. He gave off a harmless image, with weak presence. Every day, when the court was dissolved, he was called to stay behind by Hua Jianli. No one knew what they were doing. Only the perceptive ones knew that Ye Yin would always return late at night. Sometimes, he would go so far as stay overnight.
What could a silent, weak youth discuss with the tyrannical emperor? What was their relationship? Certain words circled through many of their minds: gigolo? lover?
While rumors circulated, in reality, Ye Yin and Hua Jianli were playing chess. Hua Jianli frowned as he watched Ye Yin frown, in deep thought. “Little Qi, stop struggling, you’ve already lost!”
“Humph!” Ye Yin swept the chess pieces off, unresigned. “No more!”
Hua Jianli laughed. “Little Qi, you’re always like this. Whenever you can’t win, you just give up. Why is it that you’re good at everything but chess?”
“What do you know?” Ye Yin said, annoyed. “I’ve looked at so many chess play records, but I still can’t win. What can I do? I’m just bad at chess!”
“Hahaha! It seems you’re not skilled at all of the four arts (zither, chess, calligraphy, painting) in the end. If you want to be paster of all four, you’ll have to work hard on chess.”
“Who cares if I’m bad at chess? It’s not as if I’m losing money. And who told you I was good at the zither, calligraphy, and painting? They’re just some amusing antics. In fact, I’ve already…” Ye Yin paused, curling his lip, then changed the topic. “Humph! It’s just chess, what are you so happy about? There are many types of chess too. If I have time, I will create checker pieces and play with you. We’ll see who has the last laugh!”
“Checkers?” Hua Jianli did not understand.
“It’s nothing.” Ye Yin humphed. Suddenly, he assumed a serious expression. “I say, Hua Jianli. Do you call me here every day just to see me suffer playing chess? Are you bored? Or do you feel too suffocated?”
Hua Jianli chuckled. “Little Qi, I know you are busy, but staying here in the palace all day all alone is very boring. Did you know how I passed my days before you can here? Now that you’re finally here, of course I would chat with you to pass the time. Sitting and eating with me is much better than being alone. Because I’m afraid of rumors, I don’t go to your house, so I can only ask you to stay behind every day. I let you return after eating, at least. I can’t eat all alone in this huge, empty palace.”
“Afraid of rumors? Don’t you know how rumors are flying right now?” Ye Yin said icily.
“Oh.” Hua Jianli paused, then smiled. “Ah, I.. I’ll think of a way to shut them up.”
“What way? What did you think of? Kill all the ones spreading rumors? Then how many people are you going to kill? Public opinion is powerful, don’t you know?” Ye Yin berated Hua Jianli seriously. Hua Jianli retracted his head, not daring to retort, only smiling weakly.
Seeing Hua Jianli’s reserved appearance, Ye Yin rolled his eyes. His voice also softened. “If there’s no trouble, then stop asking me to stay behind!”
“Yes sir! Is there any trouble?”
Ye Yin shot him a glare. “Make the preparations. I’m about to make my move!”