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MJT Chapter 21

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That night, only Baozi and Douzi ate until they were full. Before the banquet ended, the two tired children had already lay on their daddy and fallen asleep. Yi Chongren held a child in each hand and left the table first, not knowing that Huo Feng let out a huge sigh of relief when he left.

Huo Feng originally wanted Baozi and Douzi to sleep in separate rooms. The two children were already six so they should learn to sleep by themselves. However, Baozi and Douzi always followed daddy to sleep, impossible to persuade. So even though the two children were now distinguished princes, they still lived in Ningshen palace and slept with Yi Chongren.

With the help of their two nannies, the children changed into their pajamas and wiped their hands and feet. Yi Chongren dismissed their servants and changed out of his crimson palace robes.

Sitting before the dressing table, the bronze mirror reflected an expressionless, handsome countenance. Letting down his hair, the man in the mirror immediately appeared neither male nor female. Yi Chongren knew how his face looked. Whether it was the Jiazheng emperor or the officials of the previous reign, there were many who were interested in him. If it weren’t for his cruelty and demonic appearance and schemes, he would have long been eaten clean by who knows how many people. There were few good-looking eunuchs in the palace who weren’t favored by the Jiazheng emperor. The eunuchs favored by the Jiazheng emperor were all either killed by Noble Consort Ru or Sun Jiyu, or recruited by Zhang Zhong to seduce indulgent ministers. Even Sun Jiyu secretly played with countless young eunuchs.

To not become like that, he practiced martial arts like his life depended on it, learned to be cruel, learned to be cold, and learned to play mind games. He set a trap to let the crown prince fall in the water so he could save him in a timely manner and get in the good graces of Noble Consort Ru. With Noble Consort Ru as his backer, with his own strong martial arts and cold temperament, even the Jiazheng emperor didn’t dare to mess with him. After many years, even he himself felt that he was that demonic face—dark purple lips, crimson eyeliner, and pale white face.

That day, once he saw the court uniform sent by the Ministry of Personnel, all his memories from the past appeared before his eyes. The person who sent the uniform said that his majesty personally picked the color. Yi Chongren didn’t know what that person meant. Did he want him to use the methods of Lord Qianhu of the Hu An guards, or was it because that person remembered his old makeup? No matter what it was, he didn’t like it. However, he didn’t let any of this show on his face. In the eyes of others, he was powerful, but in his heart, from beginning to end, he clearly understood his own position. Huo Feng could give him power, but he could also beat him to hell overnight. Power is the most delicious poison. Even if Douzi called him daddy, he was just a commoner.

As for the flame in Huo Feng’s eyes that burned him from time to time……Yi Chongren contemplated before the bronze mirror. He wouldn’t presume that Huo Feng was in love with him. No matter how unwilling he was, he couldn’t ignore the fact that he was a eunuch. Even now, he was just a eunuch with the title of a servant, a eunuch. A castrate could only be a doll, not even fitting to be a male pet. Huo Feng could hold feelings toward him, but at most, only feelings of gratitude. By accepting Baozi as his adopted son and letting Douzi call him “daddy”, that person had already done enough to repay him for his favor. 

Hearing footsteps, Yi Chongren quickly collected his thoughts. Then, he heard a “creak” from the door of the outer room. Only wearing inner robes, he stood to get his outer robes, and the door to the inner room was pushed open by someone.

“Chongren……are you asleep?”

An intoxicated man staggered inside. Yi Chongren draped on his clothes and frowned: “Your majesty, why did you come here?”

Having a drink, Huo Feng waved his hands, unsteadily walked to the bedside, and sat down. “Come, take a look at Douzi, and, Baozi.”

He had really drunk too much. He couldn’t even say “I” properly. Yi Chongren looked towards the outer room and saw no one. Could this person have come by himself? He lifted his foot to walk out and call someone to send Huo Feng back to his bedchamber. Immediately afterwards, someone grabbed his wrist.

“Chongren, don’t go.”

Forcefully pulling Yi Chongren over, Huo Feng staggeringly got to his feet, bent over, and pressed against Yi Chongren’s body. Yi Chongren hurriedly reached out his two hands to support him. Huo Feng was a head taller than Yi Chongren. He had a military background, so his figure was tall and sturdy. With this push, Yi Chongren couldn’t hold him up and could only retreat. As he moved back, Huo Feng moved forward. Yi Chongren retreated four or five steps until he reached the dressing table.

“Your majesty, you’re drunk. This official will call someone to send you back to your bedchamber.”

All of Huo Feng’s body weight was on Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren could only rely on the dressing table to support Huo Feng. Only at this time did Yi Chongren realize just how heavy Huo Feng was.

Huo Feng circled his arms around Yi Chongren and rested his chin on his head, the scent of alcohol rushing to the sky. Having never been hugged by someone like this before, unaccustomed, Yi Chongren forcefully pushed back to withdraw. However, Huo Feng kept him trapped before the dressing table, not letting him leave. Yi Chongren was flustered for a moment, flustered like never before.

“Your majesty, let this official go first. This official will bring you some sobering soup.”

“Chongren…..” Huo Feng didn’t let go, both hands tightening, “Change your official robes…….I’ll pick another set for you.”

Yi Chongren stopped struggling and his expression became colder.

“I just thought that you’d look good in those clothes. Who knew you’d look that good…… change, change it…….even Yunkai, that child, was captivated, eyes…..change it, definitely, have to change…… in the future, wear it in private. Outside, wear plain, plainer…… in case they all stare at you, stare……that won’t do, decency!”

Surprise appeared in his eyes, the iciness receded for the most part, and Yi Chongren unconsciously asked: “Why did your majesty choose those colors for this official?”

Huo Feng’s finger twisted a strand of Yi Chongren’s loose, long hair, and he deeply voiced: “The first time I saw you again at Jade City Pass, I thought that those clothes would definitely suit you very much……” Maybe because he was too drunk, Huo Feng’s voice sounded a bit more intimate, “I, don’t like, your makeup…… but for some reason, I think, those colors, suit you the most. Chongren, you are both ice and fire.”

The thick smell of alcohol drifted towards the top of Yi Chongren’s head as Huo Feng spoke. Every pore on his being was tingling from the scent of alcohol. This was the reason? Not to remind him of his previous identity, and not to make him remember his old appearance, just because he thought he’d look good in those clothes? These words were hard to believe.

“Chongren……” Huo Feng laughed in a low voice, “I’m the emperor now.” seeming to boast of his merits. Yi Chongren’s heart pounded and he forcefully pushed Huo Feng. Huo Feng seemed to sense that he felt uncomfortable and let go of him, staggered two steps back, and grabbed Yi Chongren’s hand with both hands with a thick look of joy on his face.

“Chongren, I’m the emperor now.”

The corners of Yi Chongren’s lips curved upwards, and under the candlelight, his eyes were full of light that made one’s heart thump. Secretly wanting to push away the other’s hands, his palm burned.

“Congratulations your majesty.”

“This is all because of you.” Huo Feng raised Yi Chongren’s hands to hold his own face. Reflecting the candlelight, a pair of eyes locked on the somewhat uncomfortable person, “Without you, I would have died long ago.”

“Your majesty, the heavens help those who are worthy.”

Not knowing whether it was because the candlelight wasn’t light enough, or because the atmosphere between the two people was too cordial, or because that person was drunk, Yi Chongren knew he should pull back his hands, but as they remained on Huo Feng’s face, he relaxed.

“Chongren……” Huo Feng rubbed his hands, “Your hands are too cold.”

“…..I was born this way.” Yi Chongren appeared a bit absent-minded. It seemed that after he became physically disabled, his hands became this cold.

“These years……have been hard on you……”

“Not bad.”

“Don’t wear those clothes.”

Lowering his voice, Huo Feng closed his eyes and leaned back. Yi Chongren stepped forward to hold him and drag the drunk man to the bed. Huo Feng mumbled a few sounds, turned over, and fell asleep. Yi Chongren quickly took off his shoes, otherwise the mattress would be soiled. With this, Huo Feng became more comfortable and started snoring.

Looking at the two children and the drunk Huo Feng soundly sleeping on the bed, Yi Chongren’s brows knitted together. He definitely couldn’t let that person sleep here! He put on his clothes and walked out to call someone. Lu Tao and a few chamberlains guarded outside, so Yi Chongren let them carry Huo Feng back to his bedchamber. After Lu Tao entered and saw his majesty’s situation, he embarrassedly said: “His majesty definitely can’t walk back. The table hasn’t been cleared yet. If the lords see his majesty being carried back, the dragon will lose face. Why don’t we let his majesty sleep here. Later, his majesty can say he went to see the two princes.”

If he slept here, where would he sleep? And the room was covered in the scent of alcohol that’d assail the nostrils of Baozi and Douzi. But what Lu Tao said was also right. It’d be inappropriate for that person to be carried back drunk on the first day after his ascension. After contemplating for a bit, Yi Chongren said: “There’s a bed in the study next door. Move it here.”

“Yes.”

Lu Tao respectfully retreated, and without delay, immediately took people to move the bed. The bed was quickly carried over. Yi Chongren let Lu Tao put it outside the room, and then they moved Huo Feng onto it. Lu Tao once again found things difficult. How could they let his majesty sleep outside? Looking at Baozi who had drilled into Huo Feng’s arms, Yi Chongren gritted his teeth.

“Put it here.”

Lu Tao let out a sigh of relief and hurriedly called for people to move the bed inside. The room instantly became more crowded. Huo Feng, who was fast asleep, was unceremoniously thrown onto the bed by Yi Chongren.

Frightened by Yi Chongren’s expression, Lu Tao covered his majesty with a quilt and hurriedly retreated out, closing the door. Sitting on the bed, Yi Chongren’s eyebrows knit together. The room was filled with the stench of alcohol, stinky. If it weren’t for the fact that Ningshen palace only had this bedroom, he definitely would take the two children somewhere else to sleep.

Letting down the bed curtain to isolate the stench of alcohol, Yi Chongren went out with a cold expression to wash his face and rinse his mouth. He never expected that that person would get wildly drunk. When Yi Chongren returned from washing, he opened the window to ventilate and lit some incense to make the room more breathable. Cold air blew in, and Yi Chongren, who was about to get into bed to rest, paused and got up to close the window, leaving only a gap. After tucking Huo Feng in the quilt, he finally got in bed. Turning sideways to face the children, someone lightly snored behind him, making him feel as if he had returned to those days at Jade City Pass. Did that person understand that he was the emperor? How could the emperor randomly “sleep around”, especially here. With some inexplicable moodiness, Yi Chongren closed his eyes. Somewhere he couldn’t see, Huo Feng, who was sound asleep, laughed.

————————————————————————————————————

Huo Feng stayed at Ningshen palace the day after he ascended. Although he explained during court the second day that he wanted to accompany his two young sons, it was difficult to dispel the doubts of the ministers. After all, Yi Chongren also lived in Ningshen palace. His majesty stayed in Yi Chongren’s room for a night, and among them……seeing as his majesty put Yi Chongren in an important position immediately after his ascension, accepted Yi Chongren’s adopted son as his adopted son, sealing him as prince, and included “Chong” in both the princes’ names, many ministers were uneasy. Even if Yi Chongren was a loyal official, he used to be Qianhu of the Hu An guards and he was an eunuch. Even if his majesty gave him the official position of “the emperor’s retainer”, everyone was well aware that it was just another name for secretary of justice[1]. But uneasiness is uneasiness. Although some ministers petitioned his majesty to be cautious when dealing with Yi Chongren to prevent repeating the mistakes of the previous reign, with the old ministers’ silence, his majesty trusted the ministers’ silence, and those people’s petition, as if a stone sunk into the sea without a trace, elicited no response from the emperor.

In the imperial study, Ruan Xingtian, Xu Baicai, Zhang Huaiqiu, Tang Nian, Ji Di, Xie Ming, and Huo Feng’s other trusted officials lined up. Huang Han and He Xia had returned to the border to guard. With the start of a new reign, they had to guard against chaos at the border. Ruan Xingtian and Xu Baicai kept watch over the court. Zhang Huaiqiu was enough to keep watch over the capitol, not to mention Huo Feng himself was a military commander. Yi Chongren wasn’t present. Huo Feng let him walk before the emperor and participate in court politics, but Yi Chongren spent most of his time patrolling the palace. Internal court affairs, palace purchases, and eunuch selections all needed Yi Chongren’s approval. The palace didn’t have a female owner. Yi Chongren was much busier than he expected, so in the month since he took office, he hadn’t listened to much politics with the other ministers.

Huo Feng threw out some memorials and said in an unclear tone: “Recently, there have been more accounts about concubine selection. Do you know of this matter?”

Ruan Xingtian and Xu Baicai didn’t speak. They were military leaders who only managed soldiers and battles, not the emperor’s “family matters”. Besides, could they manage it? Zhang Huaiqiu and Xie Ming also didn’t speak. They all knew that concubine selection was a taboo subject for Yi Chongren. Concubine selection meant there would be new heirs, which wasn’t good for Douzi and Baozi. Tang Nian saw that no one was responding so he said: “Although the land is settled, your majesty just ascended the throne. This official thinks we should begin considering the concubine selection. Your majesty can’t not have concubines by your side.”

Ji Di sympathetically glanced at Tang Nian. This guy had a few tricks up his sleeve for government affairs, but he was lacking in the ability to observe words and gestures (to understand the emperor’s thoughts). Huo Feng calmly let out a “wu” and turned towards Ji Di.

Ji Di said: “This official believes the matter of selection can be delayed. There are many things to be done for the country now. If your majesty organizes a concubine selection just after ascending the throne, it will be difficult to prevent the common people from misunderstanding. Also, we must first consider your majesty’s intention. After all, this involves choosing a concubine for your majesty.”

Tang Nian looked at Ji Di, not understanding why the other party was opposed to it. At this time, Xie Ming said: “This official agrees with Lord Ji’s words. The previous emperors were all concerned with concubine selection and pleasure seeking upon ascending the throne. Now is the time we should be stabilizing the hearts of the people. Your majesty should continue to delay for now.”

Huo Feng nodded, seeming to think their words were reasonable. When Tang Nian saw this, he immediately understood that his words were wrong and hurriedly said: “The Prime Minister and Lord Ji’s concerns are also right. The national treasury still isn’t full and a concubine selection would take lots of money and manpower. Silver is needed to deal with other matters, so delaying is for the best.”

Very satisfied with his minister’s responses, Huo Feng said: “I also don’t have that intention right now. In the future, directly deal with those types of memorials. Don’t submit them to me again.”

“Yes.”

“If you have no other matters to discuss, you may retreat. Ji Di, stay.”

“These officials will retire.”

Other than Ji Di, everyone bowed and retreated. The moment he left the imperial study, Xu Baicai hurriedly secretly asked Ruan Xingtian: “Did his majesty call us over just for this?”

Ruan Xingtian whispered back: “His majesty means he doesn’t want any of us to participate in the matter of concubine selection. If we hear about it, pretend not to hear about it.”

Xu Baicai mulled over the meaning of these words, and after a while, he asked with uncertainty: “Could his majesty simply not have that intention?”

“You’d guess right.” Throwing out this sentence that shocked Xu Baicai, Ruan Xingtian went to find Zhang Huaiqiu. That man ran away again!

In the imperial study, Ji Di, who was left inside, took something from his arms, walked towards his majesty, and presented it with both hands.

A small courtyard in the northeast corner of the palace was the place where Yi Chongren dealt with political matters, called the “house of internal affairs”. After promising Huo Feng, Yi Chongren found a few saboteurs he had hidden in the Hu An guards and imperial guards to help him. Among them included secretary of the Hu An guards, Guo An, and supervisor of the imperial guards, Zhang Ye, who he personally appointed. When the Hu An guards and imperial guards finally lost terribly, these two’s contributions could not go unnoticed. Once the civil and military court officials learned that these two were actually Yi Chongren’s people, everyone was as shocked as one would imagine. Even Huo Feng was surprised.

Just as Yi Chongren was stewarding, an eunuch sent over a memorial. Guo An walked in and whispered by his ear: “Your excellency, this subordinate just heard that many officials submitted a petition to his majesty to organize a concubine selection.”

Yi Chongren’s expression sank and he asked in a low voice: “Did his majesty agree?”

“It seems that he hasn’t.”

Yi Chongren put down the memorial. After a while, he said: “Secretly pay attention to who wants his majesty to organize the selection.”

“Yes.”

Guo An left and Yi Chongren’s expression appeared dark. He had long known that such a day would come. There weren’t any women by Huo Feng’s side, and now that he was the emperor, how could he lack three thousand beauties. Thinking of how the palace would eventually be full of countless warblers and swallows, capricious and domineering imperial sons and daughters, Yi Chongren’s expression turned even darker. To him, it would be best if Huo Feng didn’t produce any heirs in the next ten years, but it seemed that this would be very hard to achieve. However, he could prevent the Jiazheng emperor’s women from bearing children, but he couldn’t use similar tactics on Huo Feng. He didn’t want to break the trust between Huo Feng and himself.

Yi Chongren wasn’t in the mood to read the memorial again. He had to prepare for a rainy day and strengthen the crown prince, Baozi, and Douzi’s status in the palace. As long as their statuses were unshakeable, it didn’t matter if Huo Feng produced any new heirs.

[1] Secretary of Justice was the most powerful position among twelve eunuchs in the Ming dynasty. Responsible for final review of Ming national decision-making with the “red” seal. Btw most of these t/n’s are just taken from baidu

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