Edited by renysen + Rilise
Once you had a supply of goods, opening a store was very easy to do. Mu Hanzhang, thanks to Zhou Jin, found a two room store in front and on the same street as Hui Wei Restaurant. Then, he had Steward Yun go find a famous carpenter and silverware shop in the capital, to have something made to order: small and exquisite wooden and silver boxes.
“What does Wang Fei want to use these boxes for?” Yun Zhu, who held a stack of completed boxes, asked Mu Hanzhang. The craftsmanship on the boxes was very refined, so much so that it was even more expensive than the perfumed ointment. Wouldn’t the Wang Fei lose money if it was like this?
Mu Hanzhang held a silver box and smiled but did not speak, having Yun Zhu carry these to his wet nurse’s courtyard. The perfumed ointment sent from Jiangnan, most were stored in bamboo tubes or iron boxes. The cost of this was not high, even if the price was raised, people could easily buy up to a hundred or so wen of it, but, if one switched it for an exquisite box then it wouldn’t be the same. A great majority of people who lived in the capital were high-ranking officials and noblemen, the more expensive (and expensive looking) the item, the more people would buy.
In the blink of an eye it was already the middle of the fifth lunar month, the shop had already been put into order and was ready. Once the second cargo of goods arrived, Mu Hanzhang’s small shop selling perfumed ointment would officially open.
The shop interior was elegantly decorated. The entrance was half covered with a bamboo hanging screen and above the door hung an inscribed bamboo sign, on it were written three meaningful and refined, powerful words “Mo Lian Establishment”.
The “Mo” character referred to the Mo Garden the male wives often went to, the “Lian” character expressed the delicate fragrance of the items. Because, during this month’s gathering, Mu Hanzhang brought some perfumed ointment packaged in wooden boxes and gifted it to the male wives, the news of his shop passed quickly from mouth to mouth, until the day he opened the business. An assortment of people had come, some to make purchases, some to check out the bustle, and all blocked the roads in front of the shop entrance.
It was different from how other shops opened for business, who lit firecrackers and had lion dances. Mu Hanzhang had invited a famous musician in the capital to come and play in front of the store entrance, the faint music lingered in one’s ear, incomparably sophisticated. People seeing this kind of scene, could also not bear to make a racket, and only quietly watched from the side.
The fragrant ointment inside the shop was separated into a few different qualities, there were iron boxes, wooden boxes and silver boxes. The price difference between each quality was very great, the iron boxes were a hundred or so wen, the wooden boxes went up to two taels of silver, and the silver box was from several tens of silver taels with upwards of a hundred taels.
Since his Elder Brother went to the Southwest, Jing Shao had to go to court everyday and confront the fourth prince alone. He didn’t even leave some secret signal, and he was very unhappy, to the extent that every morning he would dawdle around in bed not wanting to go to court, Mu Hanzhang had to call him three to four times before he would get up.
In these recent days, Jing Shao suddenly began to like going to court, because an urgent report had arrived from the southwest, the eldest prince had met with danger in the Yunnan-Tibet region, in an unpredicted life or death situation. The eldest prince would write a report to the capital everyday, but now, it had already been more than two days in which no news had come.
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.
Today, the governor of the Yunnan-Tibet region sent a report, in which finally matters were made clear. The eldest prince, once he arrived in the Yunnan-Tibet region, was in a hurry to attack the southern barbarians and did not listen to any advice. The southwestern forests were filled with miasma, and as such, it was not long before the troops fell ill after breathing in the miasmic air. Last month the eldest prince had brought troops into the mountains and got caught up in a hard battle that was still in progress to this day. This report had been urgently sent over three thousand li, yet it was still delayed by seven or eight days, whether the eldest prince was still alive or dead, it was simply unknown.
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“Even sending troops right now might be too late, we must transfer over some troops from nearby.” The Minister of War said with a low voice.
“Useless person!” Emperor Hongzheng was so angry he threw the report in his hands onto the ground.
The court hall became momentarily silent. The prince had gone on a campaign, originally it was to intimidate the southern barbarians and to appease the popular sentiment, now that the eldest prince had already gotten caught into a bitter struggle after only being there for a month, meeting with danger that left him in a life or death situation, it brought unbounded trouble to the court. The court councilors did not say anything on the surface, but in their hearts they felt that this eldest prince was truly incompetent.
“Imperial Father, please quell your anger, Er Chen actually has a way.” Jing Shao seeing the timing was not bad, took the opportunity to step forwards and bow before speaking.
“Speak.” Emperor Hongzheng sighed deeply and looked towards Jing Shao.
“The southwest feudal territory is the closest to the Yunnan-Tibet region, Er Chen heard that the southwest have a well-trained and powerful army, it would be better to have the Southwest King send some troops to reinforce elder imperial brother.” Jing Shao lowered his head, covering up the cold light in his eyes. Towards how he would deal with such things, no one had understood it better than him what type of character the Southwest King had, he was crafty and also petty. Having him send soldiers, he would certainly repeatedly find a way to shirk this duty. The Southwest was three thousand li from the capital, even if he evaded the decree once, the delay of the back and forth of communication added onto delaying the sending of the soldiers, it would take at least a month. Until that time, whether he would be able to survive, it would be up to his elder imperial brother’s good luck.
Emperor Hongzheng frowned, he still was extremely skeptical about the matter of the southwest’s tribute. Having the Southwest King send troops, he could conveniently use it as a pretext and whether or not the Southwest King truly had intentions of rebelling. He praised Jing Shao with a look, Emperor Hongzheng made an imperial decree, commanding the Southwest King to promptly send troops to reinforce the eldest prince, and to pacify the southern barbarians and their riots. If they rescued the eldest prince, they would exempt the Southwest from offering tribute for the rest of the year.
Jing Shao’s mood was rather good when he returned to his residence.Seeing his Wang Fei sitting on the soft divan smiling with his eyes curved at an account book, his hands couldn’t help but feel itchy, he snatched away the account book and said: “Just by looking at an account book and you’ve become so happy like this, could it be that this account book is even more good-looking than me?”
Mu Hanzhang glanced at the rascal who had an increasingly thick skin, and did not get angry, “If we’re comparing people, then you are more good-looking than anyone else, but…” he drew out the last syllable, grinning at Jing Shao, then snatched back the account book with one movement, “This account book isn’t a person.” Saying this, he began looking at it again.
They had only just opened for business today, and the business was already extremely popular. The base value of those products were not high, it was just the boxes that were more expensive, but added together, it just fell short of three times the selling price, he truly earned quite a bit.
“Hmph!” Jing Shao discontently threw himself at his Wang Fei on the soft divan, “Eldest Imperial Brother has gotten into difficulties in the Yunnan-Tibet region, it’s not known whether he’s dead or alive.”
“Is that so?” Mu Hanzhang hearing these words, moved his gaze away from the account book to the other.
Jing Shao more or less recounted what had happened in court once, then lightly sighed and said: “If the Southwest King angers Imperial Father, the reacquisition of the vassal states will be just around the corner.”
Mu Hanzhang controlled the emotion in his eyes, and quietly asked: “Then since this is the situation, it is inevitable that there will be a war to take back the vassal territory, will Wang Ye be going?”
Jing Shao sat up, took a deep breath, and slowly nodded: “If it’s starting a war, then I will certainly go, it is afterall, for seizing back and pacifying the three vassal states!” The bright candlelight shone on the side of Jing Shao’s unswervingly determined face. With unconcealed pride, and a steady and powerful voice, he intoned this as if he were already placed on the battlefield, facing three hundred thousand soldiers, his heroic spirit soaring as he declared war!
Mu Hanzhang fixedly looked at him, smoothed his lips, and after a long while said: “You are a capable person, it is I who has ruined things for you. ” This person had talent that was not inferior to the founder of the country’s commander-in-chief, it was just a pity that he was born at the wrong time.
“Jun Qing!” Hearing this sentence, Jing Shao’s heart felt an indescribable pain, during that year when they were on an overhanging cliff on the Feng Yue Mountain, Jun Qing had spoken like this, that he is a capable person, that he had ruined things for him… he couldn’t help but raise his voice.
Mu Hanzhang being roared at by him, raised his head to look. Looking straight into a pair of slightly red eyes, he realized that he had said the wrong words. Immediately he panicked, not knowing was to do: “Xiao Shao…”
Jing Shao pulled the person who was saying nonsense into his arms, tightly embracing him, as if wanting to carve himself into his flesh and blood: “You are not allowed to speak like this again, do you understand!”
Feeling the two arms embracing him still tightening, Mu Hanzhang was squeezed until it was extremely painful. He couldn’t help but wrinkle his brow, yet did not call out in pain, just reached out his hands to hug him in return: “I’ll remember it, I won’t speak like that ever again… en” Saying until the end, he still couldn’t help but let out a smothered groan.
Only then did Jing Shao snap out of it, loosening his hands in a hurry: “Did I hurt you?”
Mu Hanzhang shook his head, yet his clothes were forcibly peeled off. He saw on the originally fair skin of his upper arms were left traces of two dark red imprints, moreover they were gradually turning into purple bruises. Jing Shao felt exceedingly sorry, taking some medicated spirits, he carefully massaged it for him. As he kneaded and rubbed, something changed, the originally distressed appearance in his eyes gradually faded, his fingers that were moistened with the medicated spirits slowly glided to his shoulders, and then from his shoulders slid towards his chest.
“En…” Mu Hanzhang quickly gripped the hand that was playing with one red cherry, then looked left and right, this was still the outer room, the servant girls could come in at any time, they couldn’t do this here.
Yet Jing Shao did not plan on stopping, pulling him into his embrace, he sucked at one ear that had turned pink: “Jun Qing, can we consummate our marriage today?” Scenes of when they were on the cliff flickered across his mind over and over again, he felt so distressed that it felt like the pain couldn’t increase any further. He wanted to possess the person in his arms, he wanted to connect together, wanted to be able to confirm that he was still alive himself, alive and in his embrace; he wanted to be able to confirm that this wasn’t some kind of illusion, and that all those tragedies had not yet occurred!
Mu Hanzhang opened his pair of eyes wide when he heard these words, as if he had been struck by a bolt of lightning. Consummate… consummate their marriage? They had already been married for two months or so, apart from that night in the bridal chamber, they truly have not done the deed to the end again. On one hand, he was very afraid of that feeling of pain as if his body was being torn apart, moreover, Jing Shao knew that he was afraid so hadn’t ever forced him afterwards. He pretended as if he didn’t know what he was doing and muddled through those things with him.
He turned his head to look at the person hugging him, in the pupils of his beautiful eyes, besides the usual tenderness and warmth, there was also an extra thread of fear. The movements he made when lightly kissing him were also somewhat frenetic, seeming as if he were anxious to confirm something. Mu Hanzhang knew that if he was not willing, Jing Shao would not force him, but seeing the way Jing Shao was today, he really could not bear to reject him again. At worst, it would just be enduring one night, if he could let him not feel so distraught anymore.
Mu Hanzhang was silent for a while, when Jing Shao was about to give up, he slowly nodded, saying with a small voice: “Can we… return to the bed…”
For a split second, Jing Shao was shocked and stared blankly, then carrying him horizontally to his chest, he stood up with a “whoosh”. Using qinggong to rush towards the inner bedroom, he kicked open the door with a “bang” sound!
My heart hurts for Jing Shao ;-;;;; he’s so traumatized from having to die with Mu Hanzhang and never getting the chance to cherish him TT^TT
Also, so proud of him for asking for consent!!! You guys have a treat coming next chapter ueheuheuheu~ ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)