[Chapter 5 - Upheaval in the palace] I went to meet the person you like
[Chapter 5 - Upheaval in the palace] I went to meet the person you like
To go from the inn where everyone stayed to the capital, even if they ride day and night without rest, it will still take half a month’s time . The horses pulling the wagon are exceptional; with one lash of the whip, they ran almost as if they were in the clouds . In the beginning, Duan Yao insisted on still sitting in the wagon; after getting his head knocked around a few times, he finally gave up the warm brazier reluctantly, and came out to ride the horses with the others . The paths in the mountains are very windy; even his ears felt as if they were freezing off, his cheeks and nose are both red; deep down, he cursed at Duan Bai Yue again .
If their teacher has borrowed a body and revived his own soul again, he must get him to take big brother away with him!
This year’s spring chill seems to be particularly long; the willows are full of flowers, and yet the air is still as biting as always . The warm, comforting stalls selling breakfast are already crowded; after eating a bowl of scrumptious porridge, only then did his limbs began to thaw . Duan Yao wiped his mouth and paid for his meal, and went back to Jin Xiu Fang(1) -- a secret contact point set up by the Xi Nan king in the capital . It is a textile shop by appearance; the shopkeeper is called Zou Man; his daughter-in-law was Duan Bai Yue’s wet nurse when he was little . They were only sent to the capital a little over a decade ago .
“Uncle Zou . ” Duan Yao, holding some pastries, greeted him . “Where are the others?”
“They are all in the study . ” Zou Man asked him to lower his voice, “His Lord doesn’t seem like he’s happy, young master must be more careful . ”
Not happy again? Duan Yao is baffled; he was single-mindedly rushing to the capital, and now that they have finally finished this arduous journey, shouldn’t they be celebrating it instead?
“Young master bought these for the lord?” Zou Man asked again, “This pastry is really not bad, you just have to eat it while it’s hot . ”
“Give it to Aunty Zou instead, I don’t want end up in a hapless situation . ” Duan Yao decisively passed the pastries to him; have to avoid disasters when it’s none of his business .
“Hey, hey young master, where are you going again?” Zou Man called from the back .
“I’m going out for a walk!” Duan Yao jumped onto the tree top with a single step, and flipped out over the wall of the courtyard .
Zou Man got a headache upon seeing this; master has already said that they came here secretly this time; why is young master still running around; if he’s seen by someone it will be bad; this is the home of the emperor after all .
Although the capital is big, Duan Yao is not the kind who likes to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city; after walking randomly on the street for a while, he happened to see a pawn shop named Hong Yun in front of him .
Hong Yun Pawn Shop… . . the place where Sha Da is staying? Duan Yao looked around and saw that no one was on guard, and hence slipped into the shop via the back door .
A courtyard full of chickens .
Duan Yao: “ . . . . . . . . . ”
Upon seeing someone barge in, the hens thought that it’s feeding time, and charged over while clucking; deep in his heart, Duan Yao complained without stop, and heard someone walking over towards him .
“You see, it’s just that the chickens are hungry . ” After the wooden door is opened, two man walked in; one slender, one large .
“Now it’s not the same as before, there’s guests in the house, it’s better to be careful . ” The thin man said, “We can avoid alarm by observing our surroundings more . ”
“Yes yes yes, you’re correct, now that we have finished seeing it; it’s just a chicken coop; can we go back now?” The other man said, yawning .
Duan Yao hid behind the stone mill until he saw the two people leave; only then did he followed behind without a sound .
This pawn shop is not big, and so it did not take much time for Duan Yao to familiarise himself with it; there are only two guestrooms; from observing their accents and clothing, it seems like they really are from the western region .
The people are now having a meal in the house; Duan Yao observed them for a while and felt curious . Although he is not familiar with Ah Nu, but if they can jointly construct a barrier in the great desert with Chu, this Sha Da should be capable and have some vigilance instead . But why does he not even cover his tracks a little, and even sat in the middle of the hall conspicuously without any guards around?
After finishing his meal, Sha Da got up and walked a couple of rounds in the courtyard, and went back to his bedroom to wash up and read; before sleeping, he even especially asked what’s for breakfast tomorrow, as if he’s only concerned with sleeping and eating .
Duan Yao: “ . . . . . . . . . . . ”
What kind of king is this Sha Da, why is he so simple; he doesn’t seem to be the same as the one from the rumors .
The pawn shop in front is as busy as ever . Duan Yao grew up in Xi Nan, and is good at putting on disguises and dressing up as a lady; so he isn’t afraid that people will see through him, so and he grabbed a hairpin and walked into the pawn shop with dainty steps . He observed the surroundings while chatting with the staff; there really doesn’t seem to be anything unusual .
“This lady . ” After stepping out of the pawn shop, a person followed him out .
Duan Yao stopped and sized him up; a twenty-something man with a shrewd face .
“Did young lady meet with some trouble?” The man is full of smiles, and has a thick layer of rouge and perfume on; getting near him makes people’s noses itchy .
Duan Yao rolled his eyes at him, and walked in front uncaringly . Deep inside he said, Don’t you ever touch me, or I will cut off your hand .
“Be careful young lady, this man is an errand boy from Hong Xiang Brothel . ” A woman whispered to him as she passed by .
Duan Yao raised his eyebrows; so he’s from the red light district……
“Young lady, young lady, please walk slower . ” That man caught up again .
Duan Yao turned back, bit his lower lip tearily and said: “My teacher just died a violent death, I’m rushing to raise money to bury him . Please don’t stop me again . ”
“Aiyo……” Within, the man became ecstatic, and asked hastily, “What is young lady doing to raise money?”
Duan Yao answered: “I want to sell my older brother away . ”
The man: “ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ”
“Do you want him?” asked Duan Yao .
The man, not giving up, asked again: “Is your brother as beautiful as you?”
Duan Yao felt a chill in his heart; he wanted to leave after playing a bit, who knew the guy took it as real .
I want to sell him; I’m only afraid that you don’t dare to buy him .
“Go away . ” The woman from the previous encounter saw that the man has been bothering Duan Yao unrelentingly, and can’t stand seeing a fine young lady being taken to that kind of place . She went up and pulled Duan Yao away, only upon reaching an alley did she let go and advised Duan Yao to quickly go home . However, after returning to the street again, she saw a large crowd talking; upon asking then did she find out that the man from the brothel suddenly grew a whole face of boils without any reason, and went to the medicine hall while crying .
The woman was further surprised; she doesn’t know when it happened, but when she reached into the cloth pouch at her waist, she found out she has an additional gold piece .
Duan Yao patted his hands, and hummed a tune on his way back to the textile shop .
And yet the palace is unusually quiet .
Three days ago, Chu Yuan embarked on a trip to Jiang Nan from the palace, and had Tai Fu lead the six ministries in handling court matters for the time being . (2)
The officials in the court are all discussing among themselves; they do not know why the emperor would do such a thing suddenly; there wasn’t any clue of it at all .
WIth the emperor going on a tour, it is of course a high profile event . Even though Chu Yuan has always disliked extravagance, the troops marching on the road are still sizeable . After a few days they will pass by Jin He city, then they can go further south by boat towards Qian Yue city(3) .
Eunuch Si Xi is sitting in another horse carriage; he really wants to find a chance to go and ask Shen Qian Fan secretly, why are they suddenly going to Jiang Nan when all is well . Although the repairs of the river banks are a large undertaking, with the sense of unease even when the emperor is in the capital, and with the development of the situation in the court, how can he still go on a trip now?
After so many years of figuring out the emperor’s intentions, this is the one and only time where he is stumped .
On the other hand, Chu Yuan is in a good mood; he has stayed in the palace for a long time; it’s great to be able to go out and have a change of scenery .
In the Jin textile shop, Duan Bai Yue confined himself in the study; no one knows what’s he thinking . After so long and much effort, there is quite a considerable number of spies, assassins, guards, eunuchs and maids in the palace that are sent by Xi Nan . And so whenever there are new developments, the news will travel to Xi Nan as fast as possible . It’s just that this time the spies also did not know that their own master had arrived in the capital so quickly; the person that was sent out had just left for two days; they probably passed by each other somewhere .
“Do we follow them to Jiang Nan?” Duan Nian tried asking .
“Can you guess why did he chose to leave at this time?” asked Duan Bai Yue .
Duan Nian shook his head, “Servant does not know, but since your lord has been keeping this trip a secret, could it be… . . ”
“Why, could it be that you wish to say Emperor Chu wants to avoid me?” Duan Bai Yue cannot help but laugh, “To be able to seize the throne from so many brothers, and you think he is so skittish that he will take past incidents with me to heart, to the point that he is going out of the capital to hide?”
Duan Nian is made speechless .
“Let’s go Jiang Nan after staying here for a few days . ” said Duan Bai Yue, “we're just in time to see what kind of trouble will appear in this capital . ”
“Yes . ” Duan Nian accepted the order and nodded .
“How is Sha Da?” Duan Bai Yue asked .
“Our men have been on alert, but he doesn’t seem to have made any move . ” said Duan Nian, “ he did not interact with any outsiders; he just ate and slept, and seems to be entirely unconcerned about his younger brother’s assassination . ” In the rumors, however, Sha Da and Gu Li are said to be extremely close; the current situation is obviously atypical .
Duan Bai Yue frowned .
“The situation this time is unusual, we will have to spend some effort investigating . ” said Duan Nian, “Does your lord really want to intervene?”
“Since we have come here, of course we cannot go back empty handed . ” Duan Bai Yue smirked, “it’s only worth it if we gain something . ”
A noise sounded from the courtyard . Boss Zou happily said: “Young master, you have come back; there are still warm dishes in the kitchen; it’s possible to eat right now if you want . ”
Duan Yao hastily shook his hands at him .
Boss Zou had a moment of realisation, and quickly covered his mouth .
But it’s just a bit too late .
“Yao-er!” Duan Bai Yue called from inside the house .
“Servant will leave first . ” Duan Nian cupped his fists .
Duan Yao felt very dejected, and poked open the door with a finger . If he knew that this would happen he would have taken a detour, or even only come back late at night .
“Where did you go?” Duan Bai Yue, sitting in the middle of the house, asked .
“Went out to play . ” Duan Yao answered honestly .
“What did you play?” Duan Bai Yue is clearly not going to change the topic .
Duan Yao pouted, and said: “I went to see the person you like . ” The person from the pawn shop; tall, broad and strong; a large appetite; he’s really handsome!
Just as he finished talking, the tea cup in Duan Bai Yue’s hand fell to the ground .
Duan Yao is startled; why did he have such a large reaction .
“You dare to go to the palace behind my back?” Duan Bai Yue slapped the table forcefully .
Duan Yao is even more surprised: “The one you like is in the palace?!”
……… . . .
(1) Jin Xiu Fang: 锦绣坊 - lit . Beautiful square . In this case it’s the name of a textiles shop .
(2)Tai Lu and the six ministries: 太傅率六部 - lit . Tai Fu lead the six ministries . Tai Fu are the people (or person?) who helped the emperor to command the court during his absence or young age . The six ministries are ministries of personnel, rites, war, justice, works, and revenue .
(3) Qian Yue city: 千叶城 - lit . thousand leaves city