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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 2


    The Workaholic and the Rich Kid

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


     


    Chapter 02 : The Workaholic and the Rich Kid


     

    Everyone was present, and so the fleet set sail. Bai Shiqi and Zhao Ziheng had not met for almost half a year. Aside from bringing that certain strict and iron-faced altruistic lord official, everything else were well. It was appropriate to drink and chat merrily.

     

    However, currently aboard the ship were also other guests. As the owner of the ship, one still needed to show hospitality as best as one could that’s befitting the attitude of a host. Bai Shiqi suggested: “Should we invite this cousin brother to drink together?”

     

    Apparently, Zhao Ziheng was somewhat afraid of this cousin brother: “… Can we not?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu was extremely self-disciplined throughout his life. In his childhood, compared to other kids around the same age, he stood out like a sore thumb, being very outstanding. Growing up, others in his peers could only see his dust and had no hope of catching up. Eating at the same table with him could easily cause indigestion. Besides, in his perception, shouldn’t drinking alcohol just a waste of time?

     

    Bai Shiqi failed to comprehend his hesitation: “Does he have something to be used against you?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “I peed my pants when I was a kid. Does that count?”

     

    Bai Shiqi tried to ease his anxiety: “It’s just a physiological phenomenon in a specific phase of one’s life, don’t mind that. Don’t tell me your cousin brother was so wise and brilliant since born, that he didn’t even pee in his pants when he was little?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng imagined his solemn and upright Cousin Brother in his childhood and peed in his pants while spitting out saliva and bubbles. Unexpectedly, his anxiety was reduced by a lot. With arms around each other’s shoulders, he went to invite Zhao Wujiu to join the reunion drinking affair with Bai Shiqi.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s room was on the top floor, right next to Bai Shiqi. Sunshine spilled into the cabin, the river breeze blew and the view was wide. According to later generations, this could be considered a luxurious room, at least presidential class. In the entire ship, there were only two sets of this room. The other set was for Bai Shiqi’s personal use.

     

    He was sitting upright on the wheelchair, a thin blanket covering his legs, and held a book in his hand. Only two guards were left beside him, and the rest were gone.

     

    Bai Shiqi was frightened out of her wits: This person wouldn’t be sending his guards to investigate the cargo hold down below, right?

     

    She enthusiastically spoke: “Does Cousin Brother have seasickness? If you’re feeling unwell, I have some medicines to relieve seasickness. I can bring it to you later.”

     

    Cousin Brother? Zhao Wujiu raised an eyebrow: Are we that familiar with each other?

     

    He said succinctly: “No need.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng’s pure feelings of meeting his brother after a long separation were suddenly hurt. He aggrievedly blurted out: “… There isn’t even a speck of sunshine inside my room!” And you’re still very concerned about Cousin Brother’s well-being!

     

    Bai Shiqi’s said in a familiar tone: “Cousin Brother needs to recuperate well, is there anything you would like to change?”

     

    Zhao Ziheng shrank his neck, turned his head around in a grand manner, and stopped talking. His appearance was akin to a child throwing tantrums, his face was clearly screaming “Quickly coax me, quickly coax me, if you don’t, then our relationship ends here”. Bai Shiqi surely had a way to deal with it, she lowered her tone to appease him: “Don’t be noisy. The location of your room is a bit concealed, later tonight I will send some pretty girls to knead your shoulders and legs, press your feet, and rub your back… Living in a bright and spacious room sure is cozy, however, your every movement will be known by the handymen. Are you willing to live like that?”

     

    Hearing the pleasant surprise, he raised his cheeks. Zhao Ziheng was satisfied and he nodded promptly—it is still you, my brother!

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s hand that was about to turn the page paused for a moment. With a blank face, his ears took in the dialogue between the two people. He looked helplessly at Zhao Ziheng who was being swindled by Bai Shiqi and cursed inwardly: What a moron!

     

    Bai Shiqi was still not aware that after meeting face-to-face, she had been labeled as “slippery and frivolous” by Zhao Wujiu, she still passionately invited: “I haven’t seen Ziheng in so long and this is also my first-time seeing Cousin Brother in person. Why don’t we put some food and drinks in my room, so everyone can have a few drinks together?

     

    The discomfort Zhao Wujiu felt all over his body surged once again. Ever since he was injured, his movements became limited, the things he could do become limited as well. Nowadays, aside from reading books, qin and chess were both not good, so he had no other hobbies to spend time with. He especially hated seeing people who were obviously in good health but liked to waste their time.

     

    “Don’t have time. Not going.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng breathed a sigh of relief. In fact, compared with sitting at the same table drinking wine with Cousin Brother, he was more afraid to imagine that everyone will be drinking together nicely. The correct phrase should be: what a terrifying scenery. He did not dare to imagine.

     

    “Then we will not disturb Cousin Brother to recuperate.” Bai Shiqi in her face-saving effort. It was just that, her expression when inviting looked relatively cordial, it was easy to let people misunderstand that the invitation was sincere.

     

    She dragged Zhao Ziheng out of the cabin, in a low tone she sniggered: “I get it now, Cousin Brother is really a workaholic, ah. Is he the kind of person who immerses himself in case of files all year round, regard the government office as his home and regard his home as an inn, consider his wife as a decoration and kids as the complementary items?”

     

    Tch tch tch, inviting him to drink alcohol must have seemed like tarnishing his reputation and integrity, one’s face must be criticized.

     

    Shu Changfeng was waiting by the door, silently mourning for the two people. They probably did not know the degree of sound insulation of the wooden cabin, these little voices had already been heard by master’s ears since earlier. However, simultaneously, he also felt that the things that had been said by this Young Leader Bai… seemed to make some sense.

     

    Zhao Ziheng: “Cousin Brother hasn’t married yet.”

     

    Bai Shiqi: “Turns out the ladies in Jing are not blind ah. It will be so boring to marry him.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng fought for justice for his cousin brother: “Cousin Brother is the present hero. If someone is married to you, now that will be amusing. Every day in the residence the womenfolk will try to gain faces, fighting with each other for your affection!” Actually, both of them were known as romantiques, this was exactly the case of the pot calling the kettle back.

     

    Separated by the boards inside the cabin, Zhao Wujiu slowly turned the thumb ring around, could not help but ask himself: Turns out in the eyes of others, I’m this boring?

     

    The two had entered the room next door, and Bai Shiqi who knew to lower her voice before finally did not have to pressure her throat anymore. Her voice penetrated through the cabin’s wall, straightforwardly fell into the ears of Zhao Wujiu: “Being called a hero is the opinion of outsiders, what does it have to do with having a family? If marrying a hero means one has to look up1 to attend to him every day, might as well marry a coward, at least you will not have to suffer from cervical spondylosis2!”

     

    Admiring1 something is also a kind of physical work ah.

     

    Zhao Ziheng was successfully persuaded by this good brother of his: “Saying it like this, I guess in the matters of having the favor from a wife, I’m actually better than Cousin Brother.”

     

    Bai Shiqi opened the jar and filled each of their cups with wine: “I don’t know how skilled Cousin Brother is, but you…” She dragged out her tone to tease: “I dare not say about other matters, but you’re the best at pleasing women!”

     

    Zhao Ziheng drank the cup of wine in one gulp and threw down the bowl to beat her: “Let you talk nonsense! Are you telling me I can’t do anything aside from pleasing women?”

     

    Bai Shiqi held her wine cup in both hands while apologizing and dodging: “Us brothers are of the same kind, and you still can’t tell the truth?” The worker from the kitchen carried in some dishes that were suitable to accompany one’s drinking, and she still remembered to instruct: “Send some wine and food to the young sir next door.” Some people were suited to drink together and laugh merrily with others, while some people were naturally cold, perhaps they prefer to drink alone.

     

    Shu Changfeng was at the door, asking for instruction: “Master, Young Leader Bai sent someone to bring some wine and food, Master might want to use some.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu had been in a campaign for many years. He had regarded the army camp as his home and restrained himself from drinking while in the camp. In the end, he had formed a habit of not touching alcohol. However, one did not know if it was because of the liveliness of the two youngsters in the next room, which made his room seemed exceptionally deserted, he unexpectedly replied back: “Okay.”

     

    Shu Changfeng was inwardly surprised. His actions were swift, receiving the wine and food, he carried them inside and arranged them on the table. The shipping boat sailed smoothly, the appetizers on the table smelled, looked, and tasted great. He poured the last bit of wine for the master, not expecting the other person would hint: “You also sit down and drink a few cups.”

     

    The conversation of Zhao Ziheng and Bai Shiqi in the next room had already started. “… When I visited Suzhou before, Jiang Xiaoxian appeared with large and round eyes and peach-like cheeks, with full breasts and plump buttocks. Not only is she good-looking, but she also plays a very good pipa. When we return, I will take you to hear her pipa, we shall aboard her pleasure boat and order some refreshments, it is very different from the ones from home.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng patted her shoulder: “Good brother! Let us toast…” And started to gossip again: “Have you ever touched it?”

     

    Bai Shiqi was feeling tipsy on the head, puffed: “That skin seems to like it doesn’t have any fat ah, embracing it in one’s bosom, feels like the bones might crumble at any time…”

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s hand that was holding the wine cup was clenched: What a bastard!

     

    “pa pa” two sentences were given to label Bai Shiqi, “frivolous and unrestrained, follower of wine and woman” filled his mind.

     

    Ziheng usually plays with these kinds of rich kids?”

     

    Shu Changfeng had followed Zhao Wujiu to the battlefield for 16 years, when he returned to the capital, he was already 26-27 years old. Towards this youth from the other branch of Zhao family, he only knew from hearsay. He could only tactfully make an excuse for Zhao Ziheng: “Thirteenth lang3… is not really fond of studying and practicing martial arts.”

     

    –Otherwise, how could he have the time to be here and accompany Zhao Wujiu?

     

    It was precisely not because he had mastered the art of eating, drinking, and be merry, it was just that his temperament was never restrained. Even before Zhao Wujiu suffered injuries in his legs, people who talked to him would quickly turn into those clay statues within the temple, with him sitting cross-legged to meditate, as if isolated from this mundane world.

     

    “Oh.” Zhao Wujiu’s eyebrow did not even tick, his brain was already occupied to formulate “cousin (younger) brother’s drill manual”, thinking of ways to turn Zhao Ziheng to the correct path along this journey.

     

    Long-distance voyages were boring, and Zhao Wujiu still had a box of military books to relieve his boredom, but Zhao Ziheng and Bai Shiqi had spent a lot of time drinking until they got drunk.

     

    After Zhao Ziheng was drunk, he clamored to want to sleep together with Bai Shiqi on the couch before a steward came in to support him back to his own room.

     

    Bai Shiqi locked the cabin’s door and threw herself to the bed. Peace quickly settled on the top floor. Zhao Wujiu who had to listen to these two people’s devilish noise penetrating his brain for more than half a day opened the window to ventilate. It was nearing mid-autumn, the moon shone brightly atop of one’s head. He gradually fell asleep and was brought back to the past events.

     

    He dreamed that he was riding a horse into the enemy line, his face was sprayed with hot blood. The horse neighed and fell on its front hoofs, there was a sound of wind coming towards him, and he couldn’t help but fell forward. Then he suddenly woke up. Looking around, it was still dark outside.

     

    “What time is it?”

     

    “Master, it is almost past 5 am.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu commanded: “Go wake Ziheng up to practice horse stance.” After a moment, the corners of his lips rose, and a good idea came to mind: “Isn’t the next door Young Leader Bai his good brother, since he’s so eager to treat the guests well, we surely don’t want to let down the enthusiasm of the other person.”

     

    Someone broke and entered Zhao Ziheng’s room when he was dragged out from under his quilt, he still had not sobered up and shouted noisily: “Shiqi you liar, what about the pretty girl to knead my shoulders and thighs?” When he was drunk, he was still thinking about this matter.

     

    Shu Changfeng patted his face: “Thirteenth lang, Master told you to get up early to strengthen your body.”

     

    He was dragged onto the deck by Shu Changfeng only to discover that the sky was still dark, however, his good brother Bai Shiqi had the expression of “it would be better to just die”, was sitting paralyzed on top of the deck, and howled in grief: “Ziheng, is your cousin brother a demon?!”

     

    Behind Bai Shiqi stood guard two iron tower-like bodyguards, who were precisely Zhao Wujiu’s people.

     


     

    FOOTNOTE

    1 look up and admiring: is a play of words since both are using the same 仰 character which can be translated as “looking up to something” literally and “looking up as in admiring/ respecting someone” figuratively.

    2 cervical spondylosis: is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck. (source: mayoclinic.org)

    3 lang(郎): a youth. It’s a bit weird translating it as “thirteenth youth”, so I left it as lang.

     


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    Wook

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