Qi Yunruo’s mind went blank. He looked to Li Chen, yet Li Chen did not return his stare, merely turning around and leaving for his study. Qi Yunruo then shifted his gaze to Su Ge. After a long time did he finally find his voice. “Eunuch Su Ge, have I done something wrong?”
Su Ge smiled. “This is a good thing, so why is Young Master saying such words?”
Qi Yunruo rose to his feet, feeling at a loss. “Then… What, what should I do?”
Once more did a smile grace Su Ge’s lips. He called a few maidservants over. “Carefully attend to Young Master Little Qi.”
Before making his way to Ink Lotus Courtyard, Qi Yunruo had already bathed. Still, he let the maidservants remove his clothes without a word. He had decided a while ago to mimic others in currying favor with the prince. From Li Chen’s expression, Qi Yunruo could discern many things. Li Chen liked when he had a great appetite, liked when he asked him for things, liked when he talked to him. The prince should be fond of him a good amount.
Sometimes, Qi Yunruo found himself contemptible. Sometimes, he felt like he had no other alternatives. He only wanted to live well. Having lost his place in Count Ziyang’s estate a long time ago, he only wanted to forge a path for himself at Prince Chun’s estate.
Li Chen’s expression was dark. The battle at the border had been lost. Yet, his Imperial Father delayed in choosing a new general. Only relying on Si De was not enough. Although they had nearby troops to support them, it wouldn’t be enough to advance in attack.
And then there was… Qi Yunruo. So he actually couldn’t tell Li Chen his true feelings. He could see his unwillingness. His heart hid his thoughts, hid them from Li Chen…
Unhappiness flared in the pit of his stomach.
He recalled the time when Qi Niqun had still been pregnant and had instructed Qi Yunruo to attend to himself. And Qi Yunruo had cried. It made Li Chen’s heart clench. He didn’t want to wrong him. But now, he couldn’t control himself anymore.
Li Chen did not find his preference for men taboo. Like how Prince Jing liked to collect calligraphy, Prince Qing was fond of archery and good steeds, and his fourth brother fancied admiring flowers, Li Chen liked elegant and lively men.
Like Ji Huan. But compared to indulging in the matters of the flesh, Li Chen preferred to chat with him. Ji Huan was tall and slender. Refined and tasteful. Li Chen felt comfortable and content keeping such people around. Then, when Ji Huan was to leave, Little Qi arrived.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Compared to Ji Huan whose thoughts lay heavy, Little Qi was as simple as paper. Li Chen truly desired to conquer him. He desired to keep him by his side. Unfortunately, he could not bear to do so. He looked at Little Qi, and it felt as if he were looking at a child. Pure and pitiful.
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A long while had passed with Li Chen in his study. After discussing some matters with his advisers, he took his time returning to his chambers. The moment he had arrived at the entrance, he was struck by shock, recalling the events of the afternoon.
As he pushed the door open, he noticed that the net-curtains of his bed had been let down. Li Chen hesitated. Went to the side room to bathe. Once he had returned, he found the curtains in the same position. It was cold during the month of February. The heavy net-curtains hid what lay within, totally opaque.
He felt his throat tighten.
The next day, Li Chen awoke early in the morning. As his eyes had flitted open, what came into view was a bare back facing him. Qi Yunruo’s dark locks pooled messily on the pillows. Sitting up, Li Chen saw a few red marks peppering his neck.
He seemed to be caught in deep slumber. Li Chen’s stare fell upon him for a while, before he parted the curtains to leave. In a soft voice, he called for a servant girl to attend to him.
Qi Yunruo slept for a long time. Because Su Ge had instructed people not to bother him, when he finally came to, it was already noon.
The moment he awoke, he turned and sat up. The covers slid down the smooth of his back. Hearing a bit of rustling, the maidservant Luqing, who was standing outside, said softly, “Young Master Qi, is your honored self awake?”
Without realizing it, he had touched his own throat. It felt uncomfortable. Hoarse.
Luqing lifted the net-curtains and hung them up by the hooks. As soon as caught sight of Qi Yunruo, surprise struck her. She did not hang up the other half of the curtain, turning around to help Qi Yunruo change.
Head lowered, Qi Yunruo said in a soft voice, “Has Lulan come over yet?”
“Yes. Older Sister Lulan arrived with your honored self’s clothes earlier. Then she returned.”
After he was fully dressed, he climbed down the bed. Yet the moment both feet touched the ground, he staggered. Luqing hurried to support him. He sat back down on the bed. “Eunuch Su Ge has passed on a message: His Highness said your honored self need not hurry and return. The noon meal will be served here,” said Luqing. “If your honored self feels uncomfortable anywhere after waking up, Physician Lu will be sent over to examine. His Highness trusts Physician Lu’s medical expertise…”
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Qi Yunruo had not eaten since last night. He leaned against the bed. “I want to eat thick glutinous rice porridge. Pair it with a plate of crunchy radish strips.”
Luqing seemed to have sighed before a smile graced her lips. “This slave will go inform the kitchens.”
Luqing was someone from Ink Lotus Courtyard that possessed the authority and ability to decide some matters. She, Luxuan, and Lulan were sisters who came from the imperial palace. They were able to judge a situation well before acting, and were the best at taking care of their masters. She personally helped Qi Yunruo wash his face and brush his hair, before telling the lower-ranked servant girls to attend to him. Before long, Qi Yunruo’s porridge and radish strips arrived. Perhaps because it was a meal ordered by Ink Lotus Courtyard, the kitchens also added a plate of pickles and a plate of pickled cabbage. All of which were crunchy and appetizing.
Seeing Qi Yunruo with such a hearty appetite, she couldn’t help but sigh.
What Luqing had meant was that Qi Yunruo didn’t have to rush to return to Lakeside View House. First, it was because Li Chen did not allow for him to leave so fast. Second, it was because she felt Qi Yunruo looked too pale. Today, the weather was frigid. It would be bad if he caught a cold from going outside. Qi Yunruo also did not ask to leave. He stayed at Li Chen’s inner chamber for half a day, sometimes taking a nap.
The emperor appointed Zhao Weidou to lead troops out of the capital. After a date was selected, they would move out. The emperor kept Li Chen after morning court to speak a few words. “When We were still in Our youth, We had once thought of personally leading troops to battle and exterminate them all.”
Li Chen said, “Imperial Father is still in one’s prime. Now the Central Plains is at peace. All around us is at comfort and ease. If Imperial Father lifts a sword and rides a steed into battle, the Qiang people will no longer cause disturbances with our dynasty.”
The emperor couldn’t keep a large smile from spreading across his face. “No, no. Your Imperial Father has long since been unable to ride a horse.”
“There are many great and able generals in the world that will fight for Imperial Father,” said Li Chen. “Imperial Father only needs to devise strategies from afar to protect the peace in the world.”
The emperor smiled once more and sighed. He did not say much. The Qiang people of the north existed as a frequent concern in his and Li Chen’s heart. Unfortunately, the emperor would not allow Li Chen to lead troops into battle. When Prince Qing had brought up the topic in the past, it had only caused the emperor fury. He felt that his three sons were really immature. They thought that after learning a bit of martial arts, they could command an army? They were merely treating the lives of their civilians as a joke. If Li Chen brought up leading troops to battle, he wouldn’t know what to say.
Not bad. The emperor looked at Li Chen, satisfied. Li Chen was a person who understood right from wrong. This son would not make it hard for him.
“Your father-in-law grew up in the barracks. In Our youth, the empress dowager instructed for Us to meet the generals in the military. At that time, Count Ziyang was already a talented general. Now he is already in retirement. We cannot bear to summon him to fight.”
Li Chen said, “Imperial Father shows solicitude for Count Ziyang. Count Ziyang is certain to understand your honored self’s kindness.”
Mentioning Count Ziyang had been the emperor’s attempt to appease Li Chen. When he had felt that Li Chen would have no complaints, Li Chen suddenly said, “Imperial Father, Son-Official knows your honored self’s concern. Your honored self is worried that Son-Official would not know when to advance and when to retreat in battle. However, Son-Official swore in the past that in this life, Son-Official would personally lead troops to battle without fail. Son-Official is willing to lead a hundred of my estate’s guards as a Commander of a Hundred, following General Zhao to the frontier pass. Even if it’s to be at the back of the battlefield to help count rations, Son-Official is still willing!”
In one swift motion, the emperor’s expression sank.
So in case it was hard to tell, this was the first “get-together” scene of Li Chen and Little Qi. Super vague haha. Doesn’t help that it’s FTB. But hey, they’re finally confirmed now to the whole estate. Maybe all the other concubines will congratulate him… One of the things I like about this novel is that we don’t get to see every thought going through Little Qi’s head. It sets a certain mood that I don’t come across often in bl. But there’s cons to this of course. It takes longer for us to know how the MC really feels about certain things. I’m sure that after reading this chapter, some of you will be put off in thinking Li Chen forced Little Qi into bed, or that Little Qi did not like it, but I’m here telling y’all to trust me . In a few chapters, we’ll see this wasn’t the case.
There’ll be a HUGE development next chapter. You’ll understand what I mean when we get there. This novel also has fan art now in case you didn’t know . I know, I know, I’m moving up in life ahaha.
And before I forget. I’m from the east coast so my chapters will be out on Saturdays at 12 pm eastern standard time. Depending on your time zone, that might end up being a Sunday for you. Thanks for reading guys! I appreciate you all for joining me on this journey. If you enjoyed this chapter, please like and add this novel to your reading list on CG and NU!