The Wangye’s Hobby
After Tian Qi finishes her shift, she leaves the Forbidden City while carrying a big box with her. She walks past two streets and walks along a man-made river. The river was dug out to surround the imperial palace; walking along the river would bring her to a hustling and bustling commercial center.
Each sides of the river are lined with locust trees and at the moment, the flowers of the trees are blossoming really beautifully. They fill the atmosphere with a sweet scent as they glides to the ground like little snowflakes.
Locust flowers are really good; they looks good, smells good, tastes good and are all over the place. You don’t need to spend a single dime to have them. As one travels through a busy and hasty life, admiring locust flowers can prompt them to slow down.
Tian Qi is a sucker for beautiful things. She suddenly wants to make a flower crown once she sees the locust flowers. She strings up a bunch of locust flowers and turns them into a little crown, placing it on top of her head. If other people does it, they will look weird. But Tian Qi has a pretty face. Instead of making it look weird, she looks really delicate and lofty instead.
Naturally, adding in the fact that she is currently putting on the appearance of a man, no matter how pretty she looks, she still looks a little peculiar. Some of the men who have special preference keep sending heated looks at her. Tian Qi did not notice them; her entire head is occupied with the idea of gold.
At first, she walked leisurely, but upon remembering what she is carrying, she quickens her steps. After walking for a while, she can see a man standing under a locust tree while facing the river. He is tall and his hair is very dark. He is wearing a white robe.
Tian Qi thinks that his back profile looks very familiar. She approaches him to get a better look and sure enough, it is Ji Zheng.
“Greeting wangye. Are you enjoying the view, wangye? How elegant,” Tian Qi giggles.
Ji Zheng turns to look at her and discovers that it is the eunuch he met yesterday. She didn’t look like a grieving servant who has received a good scolding, in fact, she looked really well. He cannot help but laugh, “It is you! Did imperial brother punish you yesterday?”
“No. His Majesty is a benevolent ruler. His Majesty did not punish me and even rewarded me,” Tian Qi pats her box while saying.
Ji Zheng is taken aback a little. His imperial brother looked so furious yesterday that he looked like he was ready to order her to be dragged outside. In the end, he did not punish her and instead rewarded her?
But, no matter what, it is good that she was not punished. She is so interesting, it would be a pity if she got punished.
Tian Qi opens the box slightly and Ji Zheng can see the glimmer of gold inside it.
No wonder she is so happy, she was given gold! Ji Zheng laughs, “Hurry and close it. What if others see it?”
Tian Qi laughs too and closes the lid, “This servant shall retreat first.”
“No,” Ji Zheng suddenly says. “Since you are afraid of being robbed, this king will keep you company!”
“This servant is not worthy of Your Highness’ grace and benevolence!”
Tian Qi can only walk along with him. From how Tian Qi looks at it, this king is a lot more humane than his brother. Being with him makes one feels so comfortable.
As the two good-looking youths walk while laughing with each other, the people they encounter start to stare at them. The river flows calmly while the locust flowers floats in the air, although the scenery is nothing special, it still feels peaceful and pretty. Most importantly, the two men’s beauty exceeds that of even the scenery. Never mind the locust flowers, they will look like they come straight out of a painting even by just standing in the middle of a busy marketplace.
The rumor of the king’s special preference probably starts spreading from this particular moment.
At the moment, the two of them are still ignorant of what is about to brew outside. Ji Zheng helps Tian Qi keeps away her money and then accompanies her to buy things.
Although Tian Qi is stingy and does not like to spend money, she is still good-hearted enough to spend it on other people. Now that she is rich, she happily jumps around here and there to buy some things. She bought her shifu a couple different kinds of tea leaves, bought Wang Meng some things to practice on as that brat is planning to take the test to get into the physician’s courtyard, bought Ruyi some toys and bought Sheng An Huai a cricket basin.
Sheng An Huai does not like to play with cricket-fighting, but he likes to collect their basins. Very few people know about his hobby. Sheng An Huai is not an overbearing leader; as the head of eunuchs, he has a really high position. He usually ends up in a sticky place everytime people sends him gifts; accepting it will not do, not accepting it will not do either. As the emperor’s personal eunuch, he knows what the emperor hates.
Because of that, Sheng An Huai keeps his hobby tightly guarded; only a couple of his disciples know. Once, while buttering up to the emperor, Tian Qi drawled on and on until she reached the topic of cricket-fighting. Ji Heng told her that some people did not like cricket-fighting, but like collecting their basins, just like Sheng An Huai.
Tian Qi kept that in mind. She is still wondering if the emperor was simply saying that, or was it perhaps on purpose. Although her master is the emperor, her supervisor is Sheng An Huai, if she doesn’t gain his thumbs of approval, she will not be in a good place. She got promoted by the emperor to a position in the front-line of duty and keeps gaining recognitions after recognitions. Getting too much attention ought to draw in someone else’s ire. What if Sheng An Huai dislikes her for stealing the thunder?
All in all, she must be low-key and modest. She must let Sheng An Huai have the impression that she is just his little brother and that she is not there to take his place.
With that in mind, Tian Qi bought him a good one, costing her almost 100 liang of silver. Her insides ache from the money spent.
Ji Heng looks at Tian Qi who is looking at her wads of cash with a reluctant face. He laughs at her before pointing at a red and green porcelain basin, “How much is that?”
“Gongzi has a pair of discerning eyes; that one is 200 liang.” After saying that, the owner picks it up to show it to Ji Zheng, “This is made of authentic Jing De Zhen’s red and green glass; this is an item from the previous dynasty. The color is inside the glass. Look at the flowers on this side-“ There are grasses and flowers painted on the porcelain. “If you put your cricket in here, they will feel like they have gone home and would go to sleep the moment you put them inside!”
(TN: Gongzi means young master.)
Ji Zheng looks at Tian Qi, “Can you buy this for me?”
Tian Qi: “……”
200 liang ah! How can you even have the face to ask for it out loud?
She swallows the complaint back to her stomach before slowly digging out her cash, “Wangye, if you like it, it will be this servant’s honor to give it to you.” 200 liang….
Ji Zheng looks at her face that looks so tangled that she might as well become a bun. He suddenly has the desire to pinch her cheek. As a king, he naturally does not lack money. He only wanted to tease her. But after seeing the depressed look on her face, he ends up accepting the ‘gift’ anyway.
Even he does not know why he is being so mean to this eunuch. Maybe because Tian Qi’s expression was too funny.
After buying the basins, Tian Qi’s purchasing adventure is over. Just as she is about to excuse herself, Ji Zheng speaks first, “No need to be so hasty. I will bring you to a place.”
Tian Qi does not know what he is planning to do, but she follows him anyway. Since she bought a lot of things, Ji Zheng helps her carry some of it. Since Ji Zheng did not bring his people with him, the esteemed and mighty young king ends up helping her carry a bronze acupuncture figure that she bought for Wang Meng to practice acupuncture on. There are little holes on the figure that can be sealed. The figure can be filled with water and when one pressed on a certain acupuncture point, water will flows out.
The figure is about the size of Tian Qi and is the heaviest one out of the lot.
They walk until they reach the end of the street when they see a bunch of idiots locking their birds in a cage and then comparing whose birds sings the best. A couple of them seems to know Ji Zheng. The wangye usually gives them the impression of someone mighty and indifferent. Now that they are seeing the esteemed wangye lifting a bronze figure, with his hands unconsciously (perhaps) placed between the figure’s legs, everyone look like they have seen ghost.
Ji Zheng speaks to a dumbfounded young man, “My virtuous Brother Zheng, it has been a while. Have you been doing well?”
That man nods like an idiot, “Yes, yes.”
Ji Zheng introduces him to Tian Qi, “This is the Senior Grand Secretary’s son. Brother Zheng Xiao Feng, this is Tian Qi.”
Tian Qi respectfully greets him, “It is nice to meet you, Brother Zheng. I have looked up to you for a long time.”
Zheng Xiao Feng replies her like an idiot, “Same, same!” After thinking for a while, what a load of bullshit with the ‘look up to you’ and all. He doesn’t even know who this person is.
Ji Zheng grabs the two confused people together and brings them to a tea shop. Ji Zheng chats with Zheng Xiao Feng for a while. Both of them can be considered as somewhat friends. They are the type that will always look for opportunities to backstab each other.
Zheng Xiao Feng is a total spendthrift brat. His father is the Senior Grand Secretary. He is not really outstanding when it comes to his ability. He has two older brothers so that means he gets to live an idle and worry-less life. He has two hobbies: playing with birds and playing with tags.
After chatting for a while, Zheng Xiao Feng shows them his new white pet bird before expression the desire to play tags. Everything is within Ji Zheng’s expectation.
Zheng Xiao Feng calls for a young lady from Cui Fang Restaurant. She joins them in the table. Ji Zheng and Tian Qi is one team and Zheng Xiao Feng and the lady is another team.
The rules for playing tags are simple; one only remember to memorize the tags and the number of the tags. Ji Zheng knows that with Zheng Xiao Feng’s head, he will not be able to do all that.
Winning is a sure thing for him and Tian Qi.
Result: Zheng Xiao Feng lost all the 500 liang of silver he had with him as well as his pet bird. He does not care for the money, but he is really fond of the bird.
Ji Zheng knocks on the table with a cold smile, he looks like a cool-headed owner who is handling a mess on the gambling table. His face is the type that looks upright instead of harsh, so that expression looks a little odd on his face.
He says, “Since no one forced you to play, you must admit defeat.”
Zheng Xiao Feng looks like he is going to cry as he hands the bird to Tian Qi.
Tian Qi feels a little uncomfortable, “Why don’t you…..”
Zheng Xiao Feng’s eyes light up as he looks at her hopefully, “What?”
“Why don’t you exchange it with money?”
“………..” The person is so pretty, but also so heartless.
After negotiating a little, the two parties agree that Zheng Xiao Feng will redeem the bird after getting his allowance next month. In the meantime, Tian Qi is to treat it with care, as though the bird is her ancestor.
The witness of their oral agreement is Ji Zheng.
Tian Qi is beyond ecstatic to see this amount of money. She wants to split it with Ji Zheng, but he merely points at the red and green porcelain basin, “Since you gave me a gift, I naturally will have to repay you. No need to split the money, it is all yours.”
Tian Qi feels a little embarrassed. She scratches her head before laughing stupidly, “Thank you, wangye. Did you purposely seek out Young Master Zheng to repay me?”
“No, I simply have nothing else to do.”
After thinking about it, Tian Qi agrees. Why would the wangye take such a good care of a servant? He must have been too idle.
And so, Tian Qi happily returns to the palace with a mountain of new things. Ji Zheng helps her carry the bronze figure to Shi San Suo, surprising so many people along the way.
When Ji Zheng sees Tian Qi smiling happily, her fair cheeks round and glistening, he thought he really must pinch her cheeks next time.