The Cui Family consisted of generations of those that were loyal and upright. The ideology of “Patriotism and loyalty to the throne” was instilled in Cui Hong ever since he was ignorant and had only just begun remembering things. Acting according to the principles of righteousness for his country was always his goal that he worked towards in life.
But this only lasted till the year he turned 17, when his father told him to assist the Third Prince, Pei Qi.
This contradicted his principle of being loyal only to the throne, so Cui Hong rejected without any hesitation. He said with absolute certainty, “Father has taught this child since young—If one takes the salary from our Emperor, one must serve with absolute loyalty. Currently, the Holy One has set his mind on having his Highness the Crown Prince succeed the throne. By assisting his Highness the Third Prince, wouldn’t it be going against the will of the Emperor? Your child cannot comply with your wishes.”
His father, Cui Min, was a vice-commander in the military. Without saying a word, he led Cui Hong to the courtyard and pointed towards an old verdant pine tree.
“This tree represents our Emperor of today.”
After speaking, he pointed towards a beautiful, vibrantly-coloured bird that was hopping between the tree branches.
“The bird represents the Crown Prince.”
His meaning was extremely clear—the Emperor looked healthy today, but in actuality he was already weighed down with age. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince was borrowing the Emperor’s power and influence. On the surface, he looked bright and beautiful, but it was actually all a mere pretense.
Cui Hong frowned and said, “If the situation is like this, then dare I ask father what he thinks of his Highness the Third Prince?”
Cui Min stroked his beard and laughed as he pointed towards the overarching skies, “Once he acts, he will amaze the world with just a brilliant feat, and once he flies, he will soar straight up to skies. He is the true Dragon son of Heaven!”
Cui Hong was stunned. He looked around, and only when ascertained that there was no one else around did he let out a sigh of relief. He asked in a low voice, “What is the basis behind father’s words?”
Cui Min said, “The previous time I marched with the army to the border to supervise, I was fortunate enough to witness his Highness the Third Prince’s heroism on the battlefield. He was only twenty, but even a reincarnate of the former God of War may not be able to beat him. You just watch, in the future he will definitely mature to become someone great!”
Cui Hong knew that his father’s eyes were the most vicious when it came to evaluating others. To have such a high evaluation, it seemed that his Highness the Third Prince couldn’t be an average person. As for whether he was the so-called ‘True Dragon son of Heaven’, Cui Hong still needed to confirm it for himself.
When he finally saw the legendary youngest supreme commander of the Great Xia Dynasty, he was genuinely stunned. It didn’t take long for Cui Hong to find out that the man was far more noble and handsome than he imagined. On top of that, he was also much more wise, decisive, knowledgeable and perceptive than expected. It was one’s greatest fortune to be able to serve him in their life.
For a person like the Third Prince, even if he was indifferent to others and treated people a bit too strictly, it was not regarded as odd by his followers. Cui Hong had also gradually gotten accustomed to following such a master.
One particular day later, his cold-hearted master asked him to tidy a courtyard from the side hall. He also specifically left him with one instruction, “All the appliances must be the best, and the one living in it must be extremely comfortable.”
At that time, his master had yet to obtain the Emperor’s favour. As the only prince who had already come of age but lacked a title, he had long been ridiculed in all kinds of ways within the capital.
Naturally, the manor didn’t have many precious items as well. The only things that he could take out were the two treasures—the night pearls. When Master had gained many military achievements, they were rewards bestowed upon him to stabilise the army’s morale.
Under such circumstances, his master’s intentions were clear as day. Cui Hong couldn’t help but ask, “Will a female master soon be added to the manor?”
Upon asking him, Cui Hong immediately regretted it. His master didn’t like it when his subordinates were too loose-tongued. The words he uttered just now had somewhat overstepped his authority.
Cui Hong wanted to plead for mercy, but he unexpectedly saw his expressionless master’s face suddenly soften, and the corners of his lips even curved up ever so slightly.
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.
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Later on, his master brought back a gongzi who was smart, good-looking, and elegant. Although this gongzi’s appearance wasn’t extraordinary, it could still be seen that he had a free and easy temperament. He was extremely compatible with his serious and silent master.
It was just that this gongzi and his master seemed to be very distant. Could it be that it was a one-sided love on his master’s part? Cui Hong deeply felt that he had discovered the truth of the situation, so for a time, his gaze towards his master carried hints of sympathy.
He only heard that gongzi say, “Your Highness can just call this subordinate Xiao Yuan.”
So he was called Xiao Yuan. Cui Hong secretly wrote it down in his heart, but he heard his family’s master reply: “Good, did you hear that Cui Hong, help Xiao Yuan arrange his accommodation.”
Cui Hong immediately replied, “This subordinate obeys.”
In fact, he was shouting in his heart, “Master, could you restrain yourself a bit? Do you think that nobody realised that you called him “Xiǎo Yuǎn” just now?! Xiao gongzi already looks so awkward that he’s unable to speak!”
As he led Xiao gongzi to the side hall, he saw Xiao Yuan reveal an expression of amazement, as he lamented that the treatment of the Prince’s manor was so good. Cui Hong didn’t dare to meddle in such affairs and merely gave him a few pointers. He saw that Xiao Yuan was at a loss but he could only let out a few sighs in his heart before withdrawing.
Originally, Cui Hong had thought that based on the usual way his master did things, he would take Xiao gongzi down in one fell swoop, but this was not the case.
No matter how eager Xiao gongzi was to be viewed as important by Master, Master would often ignore him and enter the study without even blinking. After closing the door, he would secretly peek at Xiao gongzi through the window screen. When he saw Xiao gongzi‘s extremely discouraged and furious appearance, he couldn’t help himself but laugh.
He asked in confusion, “Since Master wants to see Xiao gongzi, why don’t you allow him to stay by your side so you can see him from time to time?”
It was rare that his master was in a good mood, so it resolved Cui Hong’s doubts. But his master simply smiled and said, “When one is too eager, they will only scare others away.”
Cui Hong came to a realisation—Xiao gongzi was a straight man, so it must be difficult to accept the love of his master. Hence, his master could only restrain himself and endure in order not to scare him. Such a relationship was truly too deep and distressing. However, since he had chosen this path, based on his master’s personality, he would never give up. Cui Hong could only give his blessings silently.
Later on, due to the fact that his Highness the Crown Prince had framed his master, his master, who always had a poker face, had gotten extremely furious in his study for the first time. His master clearly knew that at the time that Xiao gongzi was tending to the plants outside. Cui Hong thought to himself, Master wishes to get the attention of Xiao gongzi ba, otherwise, how could he act like this over such a small matter?
Indeed, that matter was not a problem afterwards. Xiao gongzi couldn’t hold himself back and offered up a strategy, and Master regained the Emperor’s favour. However, once he returned to the manor, Master would still appear extremely upset, even to the point of drinking alcohol to vent his frustrations. The location he chose just had to be the pavilion outside the Xiao gongzi’s courtyard.
Cui Hong hid himself in the shadows, thinking in his heart that once his master got drunk, he would invite Xiao gongzi over. His master would definitely reward him handsomely.
What he did not expect that this opportunity to gain some merits was in vain, because Xiao gongzi had just so happened to exit his courtyard, bumping into straight into his master. After that, the two men proceeded to the pavilion to drink. On one hand, Cui Hong was feeling sorry for himself, and on the other hand, he was happy for his master.
After that very day, his master was extremely satisfied. Xiao gongzi was also extremely satisfied, because he was finally used for important matters by his master. Little did Xiao gongzi know that his promotions were all carried out under the premeditation of his master, and it was certain that his master’s actions wouldn’t make that person feel like they were deliberate. Hence, Xiao gongzi became accustomed to Master’s occasional intimacy.
Since then, Cui Hong admired his master from the bottom of his heart. He went ahead and applied his master’s method, successfully finding the woman of his heart.
Soon after, under the permission of his master, the rumors of Xiao gongzi and Master began to spread within the manor, and gradually they spread outside. A trend arose where several officials within the capital also began raising their own kept men. At the same time, many stories of touching love between men started circulating in the market.
People had already began to gradually accept this kind of unconventional love, especially women.
Cui Hong knew that this was the preparations his master was making for the future. A person like him would never hide away the one he loved. What he wanted was to stand at the highest position with that person in an upright and unashamed manner.
Naturally, Xiao gongzi wasn’t aware of all of this, as the rumors in the manor were enough to give him a headache. How could his master dare to let him know about the messy rumors that were being spread outside. He was afraid that Xiao gongzi would simply die on the spot.
However, Cui Hong didn’t expect Xiao gongzi’s sister, Xiao Mo Li, would actually scream and reprimand Xiao gongzi in public because of this.
His master’s eyes began to reveal hints of danger. Cui Hong stood in the corner and wiped away a bunch of sweat with his palm. He was extremely worried that his master wouldn’t be able to control himself and give that Xiao guniang a tight slap.
What he saw was that Xiao gongzi had suddenly stood up wobbily. With just one sentence, he caused his Master’s expression to turn for the better. His words were said clearly and articulately, “Capable men choose the right leader to serve, why can’t I serve an enlightened ruler?”
The entire scene was in a commotion for a while, and Xiao guniang was so furious that she directly flipped the table over.
Cui Hong swallowed a mouth of saliva with difficulty. His master had finally seen the silver lining through the clouds. The painful lengths he went to these few days were not in vain……. As he saw the hazy eyes of Xiao gongzi, his heart let out a thump—it turned out that Xiao gongzi was drunk.
However, it was still worthwhile to ponder over whether his words were random nonsense spouted when drunk, or words from his heart.
On that day, the event that occurred during the Crown Prince’s birthday banquet caused a huge uproar throughout the city. Xiao gongzi was urgently summoned by the An Le Marquis to return back to the manor. It seemed that the old fellow was anxious now.
To send his own son to the enemy camp as a spy, Xiao Mingge could hardly be considered human. However, it was no wonder, as Xiao gongzi’s mother had been an assassin sent over by others, getting close to Xiao Mingge only for the sake of killing him. Later on, her deeds were exposed and she took her own life with poison. As a result, he had deep-seated anger that he could not vent, so he directed all his hatred towards the young one.
Cui Hong wasn’t sure how Xiao gongzi appeased Xiao Mingge, but he returned unscathed. As expected, the son of an old fox would also be a little fox ba.
Two years flashed by, and the unruly youngsters who used to loaf around gradually became mature, steady, and well-mannered, and even their looks had become more outstanding. Within the past two years, his master had been patiently restraining himself. Although he occasionally took the opportunity to get close, he would never cross that line in the end.
However, Xiao gongzi wasn’t a dull person. He should have long gotten an inkling of what was going on, but he kept bearing with it without saying a word. Or perhaps, it was because he was unsure of how to face it, so he simply pretended he didn’t know.
Cui Hong thought that their relationship would remain like for a long time, but he didn’t expect that things would turn for the better due to the Crown Prince.
That day, Xiao Yuan sprinted wildly in the snow with a black fox fur cloak to avoid those in pursuit to kill him. He gasped for his breath as he said, “This cloak on Advisor Xiao’s body is a gift from Master. Even if I am killed by the enemy today, I will absolutely never discard this!”
At that moment, Cui Hong finally realised that Xiao gongzi actually did have feelings for his master. Perhaps it was because these feelings were too deep, so they could only be hidden in his heart. Or was it because he cared too much, that’s why those words couldn’t be said.
Following that, Xiao gongzi was carried home by Master. Although Cui Hong didn’t know what happened, he could guess from the humiliated look on Xiao gongzi’s face that he must have suffered through unbearable torture.
After that incident, his master finally stopped enduring patiently. He began to court Xiao gongzi openly, but Xiao gongzi instead withdrew into his shell and refused to even give his master a look.
That day in the plum grove, the piece that Xiao gongzi had improvised, “Fisherman’s Song at Eventide”, was desolate to an extreme. How much pain was actually hidden in his heart in order to create such music?
Cui Hong had never hated Pei Yu as much as he did in that moment! It must have been that he had done something to Xiao gongzi, causing the present situation to turn out like this! Pei Yu, he really deserved to die!
After the death of his Majesty, his master naturally inherited the throne. Pei Yu, that piece of rotten fish, was taken care of with barely any effort.
Cui Hong accompanied Xiao gongzi into the imperial prison to “visit” Pei Yu. Towards such a person, no matter what punishment was used, it would be considered light. As he saw the young man who was slowly drinking tea opposite him gradually reveal a gleeful look, Cui Hong also felt delighted. As long as he could untie the knot in his heart, Pei Yu’s death would not be regretted.
It was a pity that he had underestimated a cockroach’s tenacity to survive. Pei Yu had actually been rescued by others. It was okay if that group of rebels fled far away, but they just had to rebel in a flashy way, stirring up so much trouble that they were known to all across the country. Sure enough, the first person who couldn’t sit still was Xiao gongzi.
Xiao gongzi naturally wouldn’t let Pei Yu off, that disgusting person had once hurt him, and even till now the knot in his heart had yet to be solved. He repeatedly volunteered to be sent to the front in court, wanting to lead the army to war, but how could Master would allow it? Every single time, he rejected his request. Later on, Xiao gongzi entered the royal study and talked with Master for almost two shichen.
No one knew what they had discussed that day, but the very next day, Xiao gongzi packed up his bags and went to the battlefield. Master had allowed him to go this time.
In the few days before the bad news came, Master’s mood was extremely bad. He even had plans to go to the battlefield, but he received a letter from the front line that slowly dispelled such thoughts.
Cui Hong knew that the letter was written by Xiao gongzi personally. Such elegant and fine words that could be written despite casually swaying around—except for him, no one else could write like that.
In the early morning a few days later, bad news was urgently sent over from the front line. His master listened quietly, sitting in the dragon chair for a long time without moving an inch, as if he was a frozen statue.
When he finally regained his senses, he merely said a sentence coldly, “He lied to me.”
At the time, Cui Hong didn’t understand the meaning of this sentence. Only till a few years later, he discovered the original letter from Xiao gongzi when was helping his master to organise his table. The familiar writing caused him to be stunned for a long time, and it was as if a ghost had urged him to open the letter.
“My dear Emperor Qi, regarding that book “Leisurely Travels”, this subject has already read it all. I personally think that Yangzhou and Qizhou are the most beautiful. Wait for the day this subject returns victorious, and I want to go to Yangzhou and then to Qizhou to be free and unrestrained for once. I don’t know if your Majesty is willing to let go of the worldly affairs and accompany this subject for this once.”
He said that he wanted to go to Yangzhou and then Qizhou, but he never came back.
At that time, with a slight smile, his master who had read the letter word by word would never return again. Currently, he was just a husk without a soul. He had become a real emperor, emotionless and heartless. But he had lost the love of his life forever, and he could never smile again.
—Yangzhou, Qizhou, let Advisor Cui visit them on your behalf ba.
The Author has Something to Say:
This extra was mainly meant for settling some things that were unclear in the main story. Cui Hong is actually a nobody ahahahah ~\(≧▽≦)/~
When I was translating this, I subconsciously teared up at the ending lol. (our editor Mimi said she cried)
We’ll be embarking on our next arc now, though some of you probably know it already, any guesses on what the theme will be?
Have a beautiful day ♡