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Qinglian Chronicles Chapter 42

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[I rather like the next three chapters, so I deleted random chunks of this post and put the ><. the="" bots="" ain't="" getting="" the="" good="" stuff="" without="" a="" fight="" (ง="">
Also my backlog is too big, so there's going to be daily updates until Friday! Enjoyyy~]

Early in the morning, a loud bang woke startled me from my dreams.

“What was that sound?” I sat up from my lost sleep, rubbing my eyes.

Jinzi also woke up, but it seems like every time he did he never was drowsy, eyes limpid and bright.

“Isn't that the firecracker workers you brought back?” Jinzi's clear and cold voice is always so nice to hear.

Oh, I remember. A few days ago, because I was making preparations to resist Shao Qing, found a few old artisans of fireworks and firecrackers, wrote a local formula for making gunpowder for them, allocated them a quiet and secluded courtyard, and let them get a feel for how to produce that type of gunpowder.

This world actually does have gunpowder, which is the kind they use in fireworks, but it isn't potent or stable enough, making it impossible for use in war. Therefore, there's a need for an innovative kind.

Unfortunately, I didn't study science and engineering, so very many techniques to it are unclear to me. The formula for gunpowder is common knowledge nowadays because it's often see in fiction. If I could make steel, too, that'd be great.

Of course, I'm not so naive as to think I can stand against Shao Qing with experimental weaponry, but they'll have a great use in the future if I have them. It's fortunate that Shao Qing currently has no intention of moving in on me.

“Hong Feng said that it'd be best to arrange a separate place for them. If it goes on like this, a day will come when there won't be a house left.”

What a joke, how could I do that? Military secrets must be guarded well. I wouldn't be at ease if I couldn't see them through my eyelids. I specially called for Old Tian and Zhu to dispatch extra people to guard that courtyard. They all thought that I'd recently become enchanted with fireworks and brought some people back to make new varieties on a sudden impulse.

I'd be more than happy if the whole world thought that way, naturally.

“No way,” I say with determination, yawned, and fell back into a warm embrace.

Jinzi currently can't resist holding me tight in his arms and moving his hand up and down. I'm half struggling and half wearing down, finally accepting his service after making a show of resistance. When it was my turn to serve him, though, he disliked my too-light method of reciprocation and made an attempt that was inevitably rejected by me, as I'd rather die afterwards. He got mad, pressed me down, and kissed me hard, biting my lip open. Hong Feng luckily came in and interrupted.

It'd be anything but good if a situation like this went on, and I don't want to always have a wound on my mouth when I go to Court. When Hong Feng helped me dress, I deliberately made a careless-sounding remark. “Jinzi, it's been getting warmer recently and I want to sleep alone. You'll have to go back to the Dark Snow Pavilion for a while.”

I really am a coward. I spent a very long time plotting for a way to make Hong Feng say all that instead.

Jinzi's complexion changed as expected, face getting ashen. He says nothing as he puts his clothes on. “As you wish,” he says coldly, then goes out.

What a real headache. Feels like it wants to split my head open.

I don't know how to appease Jinzi or how to confront him. Is it… is it just submitting to him? I'm still not resigned to doing so, having very many worries and fears, and very many things I can't convince myself of.

Not a trace of Jinzi could be seen as a result, so I had to have Old Tian and Zhu see me off to Court.

Ever since I got Hearth, the number of times I've ridden in a carriage has taken a nosedive, and the number of times I've ridden a horse took a steep incline. The reality is that Hearth is too magnificent, and I am also a way-too lovely person.

Our one-man-one-horse team has caused traffic jams in the past. Since I started going on horseback to Court every day, the strange citizens of the capital seem to be getting up earlier and earlier.

I got enormous vain satisfaction from this, feeling a bit placated from the frustration of not knowing how to handle my relations.h.i.+p with Jinzi, so my mood was pa.s.sable when I went to Court. Even that boring old chap Li Minguo deliberate made much ado about nothing and asked, “Sir Zhang, what happened to your mouth?” When he thereby pulled the attention of every official straight to my wounded lip, I pursed my lips in an un-smile and said, “Thanks for your concern, Sir Li. This lowly official was scratched by a kitten he's raising at home. It's not an important matter.”

[T/N: Jinzi is a kitten, #confirmed]

Li Minguo is just as annoying as his precious son. Did he think that saying that would make the Imperial Censor to chime in and say I'm ‘not following Court etiquette'?

And if it's to make people think that my private life isn't kept in check, Zhang Qinglian's private life wasn't kept in check and is known by the whole country anyways. That being said, apart from the seven-year-old Emperor, it's likely that no one in this Court is completely clean.

The Waiqi are really annoying. I want to find a way to mess with them to death. It'd be best to look for an opportunity to instigate chaos with them, having them become irreconcilable enemies with the Qingliu first.

After Court, I went straight to the palace to see the little Emperor. He also loved my Hearth, allowing me to pull it in so he could have a look. I don't let him approach because Hearth has a fierce temper, yet he's completely enraptured, staring at it with unblinking eyes.

Later on, he suddenly said that because he recently learned how to shoot a bow on horseback from Jinzi, he now wanted to go hunting.

The Son of Heaven going hunting is of course a major event, and must be handed over to the Ministry of Rites to properly prepare for. I agree to speak to them on his behalf on getting it set up, they said to wait for summer to go on the hunt.

The outcome was that he did not accept this, and that he had to go today.

He blocked the Emperor and I, face full of complete disbelief, and anger, and astonishment. He pulled us to a place with no one else around, harshly scolding me, “Zhang Qinglian, where are you planning to take His Majesty? Do you know what kind of crime this is?” Having my name directly called and facing his reproachful reprimands, it's clear that he thinks I'm a traitor who's making his own rules.

The Emperor is fairly fearful of Hanlin Academy's Zhou as he's one of his teachers, yet he lead me by the hand as before, tiny body straight as a rod, still painstakingly maintaining his heavenly dignity as he said, “Good Subject Zhou, it is we who ordered Good Subject Zhang to bring us out.”

I was unavoidably touched upon seeing that little form take a half-step to place itself in front of me. The tiny hand pulling at me is shaking a little with nerves, but for a little child to accomplish this step isn't easy!

I promptly had no desire to let him down. I smiled faintly at Zhou Zizhu and said, “Brother Zhou, though his Majesty is the pride of the heavens and his actions affect the whole realm, he's still young when all's said and done, and the depths of the Palace are lonesome. He goes out to see the plight of the people from time to time; it's much better than saying ‘why don't they just eat meat' [1] in the future. You and I are both officials of the court, our hearts know to have the utmost of care. Brother Zhou is a philosophical sort and surely can't blame me for not abiding by these harsh regulations.”

Zhou Zizhu isn't someone who can't be reasoned with, to say nothing of the fact that he's a famous literary talent, feeling a bit more of the romanticism of a literati and less so the rationalism of a politician. If the other party was Gu Yunzhi or Li Minguo, my words wouldn't resonate, but it's different if the target is Zhou Zizhu. He began to mumble to himself after hearing this.

The Emperor is quite crafty as well, thereupon using his big eyes br.i.m.m.i.n.g with hope to gaze at Zhou Zizhu. He's taught the Emperor for quite a while now and has fostered something of an attachment to him; who wouldn't adore a bright, cute, and sensible child? Not to mention that this kid is going to hold ultimate power and be the real head of the food chain in the future.

Zhou Zizhu is even more hesitant.

I promptly strike while the iron is hot. “If Brother Zhou isn't a.s.sured, then it would be better if he goes with us. The more the merrier.”

The Emperor and I have a deep rapport, and he immediately put on an overjoyed manner. “It would be great if Good Subject Zhang accompanied us!”

He finally surrendered.

I'm in a great mood, someone can share the burden of the crime with me this time! Since he's coming with, I call upon four or five rather trustworthy Imperial Guards armed with blades to bring with instead of Tian Chun and Zhu Xianxi, so as to cement my status of having little to do with this.

Our group of 7-ish people left the city in a semi-overt manner.

The color of the sky indicates that it's now wus.h.i.+ (11AM-1PM), and we can only have fun hunting in the afternoon, so we keep to the outskirts.

Almost everyone is happy and carefree as we leave the city.

Almost everyone is happy and carefree as we leave the city. The branches of willows are like threads, the fragrance of herbs and moss and scallions in the air, the thin clouds high in the sky above, the spring breeze gradually becoming a pale shadow of blazing heat, making people both warm and inevitably longing to get their horse to a gallop.

The Emperor was perfectly content as he nested in my arms now that he's finally had his wish to ride Hearth fulfilled. Hearth has also recognized its owner, the reckless thing giving me some face yet. The little Emperor has a delicate, gold-laced little bow on his back with a matching little quiver, and every now and again he'll extend his little hand to pet Hearth's mane. Seeing his delight, I take the chance to say something of interest. “Your Majesty, this servant will pick a good mare for Hearth to breed with in a few days, and I'll send the pony it gives birth to to you.”

Upon hearing there would be a pony, the Emperor is ecstatic. He then asked, “What does breeding with Hearth mean?”

My words come to a stop.

Is it too early for s.e.x ed?

Zhou Zizhu gives me a firm stare.

[1] A quote from Emperor Hui of Jin, who was very likely developmentally challenged (hard to tell when the ancient Chinese didn't really have a word for it). He said this when he was told his subjects had no rice to eat, in total seriousness. Yes, it is eerily similar to Marie Antoinette's “Let them eat cake”.

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