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Qinglian Chronicles Chapter 31

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After half a month of busyness, the day finally came.

Today, all of the officials will make their way from the palace to the outskirts of the capital 10 li away to welcome the victorious returning General Shenwu, high official of the Ministry of War, and 2nd-rank Marquis Guowei [1], Shao Qing.

When it comes to t.i.tles of n.o.bility, they have little relation to official position and everything to do with family background, most of the time being inherited from other family members. There's also a few that are granted the t.i.tle of Marquis for their military efforts. Shao Qing's family, for example, has the hereditary t.i.tle of 3rd-rank Duke, which has been pa.s.sed on to his older brother, Shao Min. Originally, as Shao Min was born of a concubine, Shao Qing was more preferred as the heir, but he withdrew from that compet.i.tion himself. Shao Qing didn't inherit it, but as the main wife's son, he was pa.s.sed the t.i.tle of 1st-rank Baron. With the acc.u.mulation of his later military achievements, he became a 2nd-rank Marquis.

As for me, I am 3rd-rank Marquis Yijia [2]. My origins are low and I have no sizeable accomplishments, yet I was granted such a t.i.tle. Clearly, the imperial favoring was enormous, and clearly, the former Emperor was a muddleheaded moron.

Shao Qing's group rode in quickly, their large brigade arriving in the outskirts around yous.h.i.+ (5-7PM). [3] Shao Qing's group rode in quickly, their large brigade arriving in the outskirts at about yous.h.i.+. 80% of Shao Qing's 500,000-strong cavalry had originally come from the Northwest Army, while 60,000 of them had been taken from the capital's younger generation. When he came back, those originally stationed in the Northwest naturally stayed there, and only the 60,000 returned to the capital.

I went to tour the city early in the afternoon. The main streets along the capital had loess spread all over the ground and clean water sprinkled over that. Every 10 meters is a bamboo kiosk set up to supply food and drink as a reward for all three lines of armies and their deeds. The festivities will begin when they get to the front of the palace, with dozens of areas set up to provide , which the troops and citizens will be free to eat from to their stomach's content.

The cost of this is absolutely astronomical.

We took the carriage to sightsee at dozens of different locations — the “we” being me and my bodyguard, of course. In these days of cold-warring, we didn't share a single word, let alone the same bed. I had thought at first that out of us two, as he's comparatively younger and more hot-blooded while my libido isn't very strong, this would be a lot harder for him. The later results have shown that this guy actually can endure it. Alas, the key point is that my heart is softer than his.

However, this situation is 100% his fault, so me giving in first is impossible.

We're now sitting in the same carriage, both of us distant and neither of us speaking, the atmosphere frigid.

A wheel probably hit a small rock, as the whole cart suddenly violently lurched. I was knocked out of my seat and fell right onto him. He remained motionless at the beginning as I struggled to get up, failed because the carriage was still shaking, and fell right back on him, earning me a red face. He extremely slowly reached out and supported my waist, helping me back up. My face is pressed against his chest, and upon feeling the heat of his hand on my waist spreading through my clothes, something seems to sprout up in my heart, making me even redder.

I feel like I should say thanks, but I also don't. Just as I was mentally going back and forth on it, the fleeting opportunity pa.s.sed, and he'd already taken back his hand, my position changed to an upright one. It's too late to say anything now.

Gah, annoying! Annoying annoying annoying! I always think I'm usually so intelligent, so why is it that when encountering stuff like this, I turn into a huge idiot?

Yao Jinzi is also really annoying. His face is ashen and he won't look at me.

What's he mad about? He the one who destroyed my secret martial arts guide and randomly disrespected me, while I didn't do anything to be sorry for to him. Who has the right to be in a bad mood other than me?

My manual was ruined and now Shao Qing is back. I don't even know how he looks. He's someone I can't afford to offend, have to rely on, and have that kind of relations.h.i.+p with, but I can't think of any countermeasures to this right now. I can't just tell him that I have an STD, can I?

What's more is, since he and Zhang Qinlian have been intimate, they'd naturally be extremely familiar with each other. I'm afraid that if I'm not careful, the cat'll be out of the bag. The amount of apprehension currently in my heart has been unseen since I've reached adulthood. In such a state of mind, my heart sometimes shrinks up into a ball, and sometimes beats fervently. Seems like I was always in this state of mind when I was a child in PE cla.s.s, as I always failed to run to the 800 meter mark.

While I was endlessly moping, the buggy stopped. Puzzled, I opened the curtain to see Xue Yongfu riding on top of a horse, smiling sunnily. “Is Brother Qinglian well?” He asks.

Seeing that he's in a good mood, I smile back. “Thank you for your concern.”

“What I mentioned last time…” He suddenly spotted Jinzi's profile in the carriage, and his loud voice was immediately scared back into him. “Um… that thing. Ahem.”

“No need to continue.” I keep on smiling. “I don't intend on changing my answer. Thank you for your kindness, Big Brother Xue.”

I snuck a peek at Jinzi once I finished speaking. Sure enough, his complexion relaxed a bit.

Xue Yongfu is truly an honest person. In the presence of Jinzi, he doesn't dare to say another word.

“Are you still on patrol, Brother Xue?” The capital's security was currently handed over to the imperial guard's care, which is equivalent to military police.

“Yes, yes, I still haven't gone to the Eastern and Southern districts, I should go now or it'll be too late. —— Qinglian, General Shao's come back. You can rest and not work so hard every day.”

What does that mean? Will I have to hand over my power now that Shao Qing's here? I'm like a cat sniffing danger, the hairs on my back standing on end.

Yet I still must force a laugh out of my mouth.

Xue Yongfu left after that, and I was even mopier than before.

But even if I'm once again mopey, there are still things that I cannot avoid.

At shens.h.i.+ (3-5PM), the still-ill little Emperor started all the officials out towards the suburbs.

It's a huge, grandiose spectacle. There's a band strumming and beating away, warriors clad in gold [3], a group carrying the imperial canopy and wielding hossu, palace maids and imperial eunuchs standing by awaiting instruction, the dazzling sight of the Emperor's imperial sedan chair, the military officials riding atop horses and scholarly officials in carriages. There might be several thousand people here?

Citizens on the roadside began to cheer, throwing flowers and other such things. Though the little Emperor's complexion is pale, he yet stands steady upon the imperial sedan chair, posture upright and regal. He waves his tiny hand at his subjects, drawing a new round of cheering.

This kid… really is going places.

The procession advances extremely slowly, using the greater part of a s.h.i.+chen to make it to a pavilion in the outskirts beforehand. At this time, the Emperor and all the officials disembarked and took their own places in accordance to their rank. I, for example, stood first behind the Emperor to his right side, with ol' Gu behind me, that Li Minguo next to me, and Zhou Zizhu and Liu Chunxi being relatively further behind.

Shao Qing's huge battalion was already stationed at this time, his 60,000-strong group disallowed to pa.s.s through the city gate. This is an old custom; a high-ranking military official with a large army in their grasp would naturally be feared to overthrow the throne or whatever. Only his 3,000 Elite Guards are allowed to enter the city with him.

Dust filled the air as the armed riders rode in. My eyes widened as I wanted to get a good look at this long-standing famed figure.

The dust cloud stopped about fifty meters in front of us. The foremost person was garbed in silver armor with ochre lining and seated upon a chestnut-colored steed, back as straight as a sword.

He dismounted his horse, the group behind him following suit one by one, and they all came foward to face us. At the moment of our meeting, he knelt down in front of the little Emperor. “Subject Shao Qing is returning after having defeated an opponent in battle, not with the hope of becoming the ruler.” His voice resonates clearly, crisp, deep, and pleasant to the ears.

The Emperor personally helped him up, speaking in his soft and childish voice, “Your efforts are appreciated, General Shao.”

This General Shenwu gets up easily despite the heavy body armor he's wearing, the weight not a bit inconvenient to him. It's now that I can clearly see the general's appearance: he's not as stunningly beautiful as Jinzi or that Yuan Qingyun, with a squarer jaw, lively eyes, straight lips and nose, and eyebrows as straight as an edge that point towards his temples. Such a man is what we usually call… nicely handsome.

However, I get the feeling that… he was born to physically embody the meaning of the words “a scholar and a general”. [4] His bright and brave countenance, the sharp aura of someone who's attacked and killed enemies gently coming from due to the n.o.ble aura of his familial background diluting it. Looking at him is like looking at the scabbard of a fine sword.

Compared to this person in front me, though, it's obvious that Jinzi is still young; this is a real man.

Shao Qing and the Emperor exchange a few more words that Gu Yunzhi and the rest had the Emperor rehea.r.s.e in advance, then we all set out to Shao Qing's encampment to reward all the army's divisions.

Though their trek was thousands of li, wearying both people and horses, the encampment is still very well-arranged, the morale of the sergeants is still very high, and it can be seen that Shao Qing's ability to manage his troops is very profound.

This military review naturally can't be compared to the ones of modern forces' that don't have to be done on the battlefield, but these troops having gone through there – drenched in blood as they slaughtered – gives them a different sort of grandeur, as if they've been tempered with fire, their blades drinking in blood. Onlookers will inevitably get a bit of a heroic feeling from them.

Drink and the three kinds of sacrificial animals are brought over like an incessant stream of water, quickly becoming a scene of luxurious entertainment, like a pool of wine and a forest of meat.

The Emperor gave a brief speech, and Shao Qing issued a few sentences of military discipline. Together with Shao Qing and his 3,000 Elite Guards, we returned to the city, the victory ceremony officially beginning.

Both sides of the road are already packed full of the capital's citizens wanting to watch, and the buildings on both sides have even more people. The imperial guard is doing their best to keep order, but I think we won't know until tomorrow exactly how many people are getting trampled to death and what-not.

Upon seeing Shao Qing, the crowd erupted into the most enthusiastic of cheers mixed with the screaming of women of all ages and marital statuses. He's quickly drowned in flowers, and after that silk scarves, handkerchiefs, jewelry, and other such things were also thrown at him, even including a torn-off sleeve. I'm speechless on his behalf. He manages to keep his cool and hold his smile, frequently cupping his hands in greeting towards the ma.s.ses.

Then again, as a man, no matter of one's background, such a moment is probably the greatest dream of glory in his life, right? I have to admit that I'm a little jealous of him, actually.

Everyone's favorite part of the welcome is, of course, the parade of the spoils of war. The chariot is piled high with all kinds of plundered treasures, jewels, and gold and silver, with the captives trailing behind it, tied by their hands in a line. They were originally the royal family and old-money descendants of the Huihu people. Included among them are several young women with sharp noses and drooped eyes, beautiful-looking and glamorously decorated, yet both hands are tied and both feet are bare, staggering and swaying behind the cart. This stimulated the senses of the onlooking crowd, who shouted like mad.

With this kind of great difficulty, when we finally got to the imperial palace, it was xus.h.i.+ (7-9PM) and the sky had gone completely dark. Our group of ruler and ministers ascend the Meridian Gate towers, facing the citizens to send our regards. The city is bright with lantern light, the illumination of fireworks and firecrackers repeatedly breaking up the pure black of the night sky, the sound of calls for the Emperor's long life penetrating through the clouds in the sky. Is there anyone who wouldn't be excited by such a scene? I forget for a time about all the nearby worries and hidden dangers that exist in this nation, mistakenly believing that this is a prosperous, powerful, and worry-free country.

Next up is the congratulatory feast in the Emperor's Imperial Garden with all the officials in attendance, the pinnacle of His Majesty's grace.

The Imperial Garden has long been set up, filled with beautiful hanging palace lanterns and set up with dozens of stocked tables. Though there's no such thing as a Manchu Han Banquet in these days, I could see that dishes were sumptuous and various, no less than a hundred different kinds.

Shao Qing naturally sits at the most important seat aside from the Emperor. What sucks is that my seat is right next to his.

I can already feel myself turning red, but luckily no one can really see that clearly in the dim light of this crow-black night.

d.a.m.n it all! Are you worried that I'm not dying quick enough?!

Seems my relations.h.i.+p with Shao Qing is a completely known secret. Did those people in the Ministry of Rites arrange the seats like this to deliberately mock me?

I stared at the empty seat, feeling that everyone around was waiting to look and laugh at me. Just as I was determined to bite the bullet and sit down, Shao Qing turned his head towards me and smiled, saying his first set of words to me since his return, “What is it, Qinglian? Still slow to sit down?”

After that, he touched my elbow like it was the most natural thing in the world, and helped me to my seat.

I didn't proofread this cause I'm tired as h.e.l.l, so sorry for any mistakes. Will edit later.

Did you know that there's actually such a thing as “vinegar drinks”? And people drink it? Willingly? Like fools? Anyways, I was thinking about this because of all the vinegar Zizi's about to drink. Someone should buy him a case of that stuff.

[1] 国威 – “Nation's Power”
[2] 义嘉 – roughly “Absolute Justice”. How ironic.
[3] I'm not super sure what 执金执吾 means.

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