A story-teller, as the name suggests, tells stories to the common populace. They are not directly government officials, they are usually eunuchs who are tacitly dispatched by the emperor to connect him with the people.
Although Ji Heng is not very happy with most of what his late father had done, he allows this obscure position to remain. Story-tellers are very important and privileged; they actually have the ability to go straight to the emperor and tell him their findings. They are not monitored by the Imperial Eunuch Department either. It is very hard to determine the influence of the story tellers.
Story-tellers had to go through strict selection. They have to be smart, honest, loyal. They must not entangle themselves with the officials in court. They need to be personally approved by the emperor as well. People like Tian Qi who have only been here for a couple of months will never get selected.
But honestly, in Tian Qi’s opinion, people overestimated the capabilities of the story-tellers. One must remember just how much mess the eunuchs had created before; it is impossible for the emperor to completely trust any eunuchs out there. They can tell the emperor whatever they want to, but no one can tell if he will believe them or not.
No matter what, being a story-teller ought to be fun. They can work while playing outside the palace.
On the day that she leaves the palace, she brings out Zheng Xiao Feng’s little white bird. Although it is not yet time for Zheng Xiao Feng to pay his debt, she wish to kindly reminds him anyway.
The capital is both big and small; since Zheng Xiao Feng is the Senior Grand Secretary’s son, he is pretty much well-known. She only needs to ask around to figure out where he is. From what she hears, Zheng Xiao Feng is currently drinking in Ba Xian Tower.
The truth is, he is not just drinking, he is also about to get into a physical altercation with another person. The reason for their fight is complicated, they started getting all physical once one of them said something unpleasant. In the end, they decide to settle it through gambling. Through playing tag.
The object of their gamble is not money; whoever loses has to admit fault and has to circle Long Chang Street twice, naked.
Tian Qi arrives at Ba Xian Tower at the right time; Zheng Xiao Feng was just pondering about who he should pick as his partner. When he sees Tian Qi as well as his bird, his entire spirit is invigorated, “Tian Qi! Come here!”
Tian Qi walks over to him.
She frowns after Zheng Xiao Feng explains everything to her. “I am okay with playing tags, but don’t expect me to bear the punishment if you lose.”
Everyone who are there scoff in disdain, “You are so thin like a bird, even if you walk around naked, no one will look at you!”
Tian Qi ignores them and sits in front of the table.
Zheng Xiao Feng is a spoilt rich kid. Now that he feels wronged, his brain is muddled to the point where he is useless. Playing with him is not as satisfying as playing with Ji Zheng. Ji Zheng and her had some kind of tacit understanding. They were able to guess their partner’s tags after a couple of rounds. With just one look, they could tell what their partner wanted them to do.
As for Zheng Xiao Feng, his head is not on the same level as Tian Qi’s. He not only fails to understand her, but also drags her down a couple of times. In the end, Tian Qi has no other choice but to fight the battle alone. One versus three. Lucky the other two have no tacit understanding as well, so she manages to win without much effort.
After a couple of rounds, Tian Qi and Zheng Xiao Feng wins.
Zheng Xiao Feng is so happy that he almost dance around. It is not that he never wins, just, he never wins under such a narrow situation. He accepts the losers’ apology with a large smile. Then, he reminds them to take a bath tomorrow, since they will need to parade around Long Chang Street stark naked.
The two people leave with a deflated look on their faces.
Tian Qi is afraid they will not acknowledge the bet, so she yells after them, “Real men will fulfill their promises!”
Zheng Xiao Feng laughs happily while patting Tian Qi’s shoulder. She shrugs him off.
At that moment, one of the men sitting near their table greets Tian Qi, “I would like to learn more about this brother’s tag playing skill.”
Tian Qi gives him a once-over. Long eyebrows, bright eyes, tall nose, thin lips, it is clear that this man is not a commoner. She sits back down before asking, “May I ask what this brother’s name is?”
That person freezes, “You don’t know me?”
Tian Qi finds his question weird, “What, do you know me?”
He does not know what to say to that. He glances at Zheng Xiao Feng.
Zheng Xiao Feng speaks up, “This- Let me introduce you two to each other. This is the Minister of Rites, Minister Sun’s eldest son, Sun Fan. This is Tian Qi, Ning Wang’s….. that…..” Zheng Xiao Feng blinks, “Ning Wang’s friend.”
Sun Fan’s expression turns flamboyant. He naturally understands what Zheng Xiao Feng is implying. The way he looks at Tian Qi now seems to contain disdain.
Tian Qi cups her fists in front of Sun Fan, “I do not gamble, Young Master Sun.”
Sun Fan takes out a gold ingot from his sleeve and places it on top of the table.
Tian Qi gets up, intending to leave.
He takes out another gold ingot, “There are still more. If you win, it will all be yours.”
Tian Qi’s face darkens as she raises her brows, “It is okay if you want to bet, but you will need to find a partner as stupid as Zheng Xiao Feng for it to be fair.”
Zheng Xiao Feng: “……”
Sun Fan picks out a person from the crowd. His ego is big, he chooses someone who is even dumber than Zheng Xiao Feng.
Tian Qi slams her fists on the table, looking really formidable, “Since you want to bet so much, I will appease you! No one is allowed to leave unless they are bankrupt!”
Zheng Xiao Feng leans backwards while clutching his chest; did the pretty face ate the wrong medicine today?
Sun Fan also seems determined to win.
The crowd surrounding them are in for a good show.
When two masters are competing with each other, the thing that will decide their victory is whose partner is dumber. Zheng Xiao Feng finally manage to have his time to shine; after all, his opponent is worse than him.
Sun Fan’s money gradually lessens. When he runs out of money, he helplessly leans against his chair and admits defeat, “I lost.”
“Not entirely,” Tian Qi says.
Sun Fan smiles bitterly, “Actually, entirely.”
“You still have your clothes on.”
Sun Fan finally realizes that this brat simply wants him to go outside naked. He laughs in slight contempt, “You simply want to see me with my clothes off. Why didn’t you say so from the beginning? If you want me to take my clothes off, I will naturally do it for you.”
“Do it then. Take your clothes off and leave.”
“……” Sun Fan didn’t think that the person he taunted would reply to him in that manner. He coldly gets up, “Goodbye.”
Tian Qi righteously says, “Do you think you are some kind of hero? If you cannot take losing, don’t play.”
“What? Was I lying?” Tian Qi smiles proudly, “If you really have ‘that’, then play one more round with me. Just the two of us. If you win, you get all the money back. If you lose, you will have to leave this place without your clothes on. Do you dare?”
Sun Fan sits back on his seat, “Bring it on!” Without anyone holding him back, he actually has a fair chance of winning.
Since it is only one on one, they use only half the tags to prevent the other party from guessing their tags. This round is based on pure luck.
Tian Qi is very lucky today; she is the winner again.
Sun Fan angrily takes off his clothes, leaving only his pants before glaring at Tian Qi with a red face, “You just wait!”
“I will not!” Tian Qi replies.
“………..” Sun Fan screams in exasperation before leaving.
Zheng Xiao Feng has a belated sense of worry, “His father is a minister in court, aren’t you afraid of offending him?”
“What is there to be afraid of? His father will still have to kneel in front of my master.”
Zheng Xiao Feng secretly agrees: Ning Wang is an imperial prince, the emperor’s brother. Even if the brothers’ relationship is not good, outsiders still have to tread carefully around Ning Wang.
Just as he thinks of that, Ning Wang appears.
The truth is, Ji Zheng got here a while ago, but since there was a murderous bet going on, he simply stood by the sideline.
After the crowd disperses, he makes his way towards them, smiling towards Tian Qi, “You hate Sun Fan?”
Tian Qi immediately acknowledges it, “I don’t know why; I wanted to slap him the moment I saw him.”
Ji Zheng comforts her, “You will get the chance to, in the future.”
Zheng Xiao Feng thinks that these two people are too violent, and so, he changes the topic and beckons Tian Qi over to count their money. Tian Qi takes all the money and hands over the bird to Zheng Xiao Feng.
Both parties are happy with this transaction.
At that moment, Zheng manor sends people to invite Zheng Xiao Feng back home. They heard that he has been creating trouble in Ba Xian Tower.
Zheng Xiao Feng returns home with a bitter face. After he left, Ji Zheng and Tian Qi starts ordering food.
Tian Qi is feeling generous since she has won a lot of money, “Go on and eat, this is my treat.”
Ji Zheng decides not to be courteous. He orders a couple of signature dishes from the restaurant. After pouring Tian Qi and himself some fish soup, they start eating while chatting.
Tian Qi remembers her problem and looks at the person in front of him. The wangye is a knowledgeable person; he is reliable too, he will not go around and talk about this in front of the emperor.
And so, Tian Qi says to him, “I would like to ask you something.”
“Do you know what turtle head means?”
Ji Zheng drops the soup on the table.
Tian Qi calls the waiter to clean the table and replace the bowl. Then, she turns to him, rather helplessly, “It is okay if you don’t know what it means. It is not a big deal.”
How can he not know…………….
Ji Zheng’s face turns red. After thinking for a while, he asks her back, “Why are you asking me that?”
Tian Qi tells him about the emperor blowing his top over those two words
Hearing that, Ji Zheng’s face turns even redder. In the end, he decides that if he doesn’t tell her, she will go around asking other people.
And so, he stutteringly explains everything to her.
Tian Qi’s face reddens as well.
She is a girl who entered the palace when she was just 11. How is she supposed to know these things? Eunuchs usually does not speak about things like this. All she knows is that boys have a jj that is different from girls. She does not know how that jj looks like or in what shape.
Ji Zheng’s explaination makes the girl in her blush.
What should she do? This is so embarrassing! She actually said it in front of the emperor!
It is rare for Tian Qi to be flustered and embarrassed. She lowers her head, not saying anything while playing with her fingers. Seeing her like this gives Ji Zheng a feeling that he cannot understand.
In the end, both of them lose the appetite to eat. Sitting there feels awkward as well. They leave the restaurant.
Their faces are red like tomatoes, so when other people see them, they are pretty much sure that these two men have done something they wouldn’t want others to know.
After Tian Qi returns to the palace, she is informed by the eunuch at Gan Qing Palace’s entrance that her teacher has been looking for her. He said he has something important to tell her.