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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 29


    Translated by Wook
    Edited by sienz


     


    Chapter 29


     

    The cabin was very quiet. With the sun shining through the window, one could see Bai Shiqi’s white porcelain-like ears that were almost transparent, just like a first-rate jade artifact, emitting a beautiful woman’s charm, making people unable to move their gaze.

     

    As Zhao Wujiu was drying her hair, he couldn’t help but stop and stare at her beauty, resuming his task shortly after.

     

    In fact, he had never served anyone. The younger sisters in the palace were always surrounded by palace maids, moreover, they were not born from the same mother. The only way to express his goodwill was to send them gifts on their birthdays, and even then, the subordinates picked them out according to the storehouse booklet, which he did not trouble himself over.

     

    It was a first for him to sit down and dry someone’s hair.

     

    Presumably, due to guilty conscience, Bai Shiqi did as she was told, unlike how she usually acted. She calmly sat and allowed his finger to card through her soft hair, as if the owner of the hair should also match with a soft temper, making Zhao Wujiu stop his lecture halfway thinking, 

     

    ‘She isn’t responsible for all the misdeeds that were caused by the wrong teachings of others.’

     

    With that, the rest of his lecture was swallowed back into his stomach.

     

    After a short while, the hair was almost fully dried, and Zhao Wujiu also wanted to understand the reason behind her strange behavior.

     

    The bringing up of the princes and princesses was very different. The princes had to study literacy and practice martial arts at a young age and they had to be diligent and ambitious. However, the princesses were brought up pampered, and couldn’t withstand a single bump. If the one who threw the mice into his room today was a man, he might have ordered someone to drag him out to be beaten with the plank; but no, the culprit was a brave little lady, leading it to be somewhat difficult to deal with —neither could she be dragged out and punished with the plank, nor could she be praised for her deeds. A few words of verbal scolding were nothing for Bai Shiqi.

     

    “Get Zhao Ziheng’s ass over here!”, Zhao Wujiu shouted.

     

    Naturally, Zhao Ziheng would not admit that he had also participated in the prank. At the door, he saw the five miserable dead mice and faked an astonished expression.

     

    “Why are there dead mice? The handymen on the ship are too careless! Cousin Brother is looking for me, do you need anything from me?” He stood at a distance and refused to step in.

     

    Bai Shiqi criticized his acting inside her dispirited heart.

     

    ‘Erratic eyes, trembling breath, exaggerated acting skill, what a poor performance! Big Brother, don’t you know that you’ve exposed yourself?’

     

    Zhao Wujiu sneered: “Ziheng, as an elder brother, I’ve never noticed, but when did you learn the art of war?” 

     

    The chilling coldness in those eyes made Ziheng’s brain numb and his intuition felt anything but good. He could not help but to cast a begging look towards the unusually quiet Bai Shiqi who was sitting on the couch at the bedside.

     

    Bai Shiqi thought ‘Good brother, I’m sorry! You can become the scapegoat for this matter to express our unbreakable friendship!’

     

    She pretended not to see Zhao Ziheng begging and fawned at Zhao Wujiu: “Cousin Brother, would you like some tea?”

     

    “No need.” Zhao Wujiu did not need to turn his head to know that Bai Shiqi was having a field day after escaping punishment, the blue veins in his forehead twitching. He took a deep breath and finally pacified the urge to catch and punish her ruthlessly.

     

    Zhao Ziheng’s request for help was unsuccessful. With no better option available, he tried to save himself: “Ziheng doesn’t know, may Cousin Brother please tell.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu easily exposed his fantasy: “I’ve truly underestimated you. This move of luring the tiger from the mountain was very skillful.”

     

    Shu Changfeng lowered his head awkwardly, his whole face red.

     

    Isn’t Master scolding him indirectly for being stupid?

     

    Zhao Ziheng was also not stupid beyond redemption, he understood clearly after hearing this line, but still wanting to take the blame off his back, he made a dying struggle: “Cousin Brother don’t accuse me blindly, I didn’t do anything!”

     

    “Still don’t want to tell the truth?”

     

    Along the trip, Zhao Wujiu acted mildly, but at this moment, he exposed that decisive, not-hesitating-to-kill side and had no patience to hear Zhao Ziheng’s needless arguments. He directly ordered: “Drag him out and beat him ten times with the plank!”

     

    In the midst of Zhao Ziheng’s mournful “Cousin Brother, spare me! Spare me!’’ plea, Shu Changfeng mercilessly commanded some people to drag him out. After a moment, the sound of plank hitting buttocks heavily could be heard, accompanied by Zhao Ziheng wailing and begging for forgiveness.

     

    Bai Shiqi was stunned. She thought about how Zhao Wujiu was used to beating convicts in the law court, would he start punishing if one did not agree with him?

     

    She stammered: “Cousin Brother, Ziheng, he…” Meeting Zhao Wujiu’s expression that was dripping with murderous aura wherever he glanced by, she only felt that her body was faintly hurting, her tongue in a knot, and even the plea for leniency was swallowed back down the throat.

     

    Bai Shiqi’s ability to observe one’s face and expression was top-notch, and comprehended immediately the meaning behind Zhao Wujiu’s glare: ‘Do you want to suffer the beatings in Zhao Ziheng’s place?’

     

    The disloyal Bai Shiqi withdrew.

     

    Zhao Ziheng who had wailed like ghosts and howled like wolves from the ten beatings was dragged back, and he was ordered by Zhao Wujiu to clean up the dead mice.

     

    Brimming with tears, he wanted to defend himself: ‘Shu Changfeng can testify, Cousin Brother you’ve truly wronged me!’

     

    However, facing Zhao Wujiu’s stone-cold face, he was scared that if he tried to defend himself, he would suffer even more. He glanced at Bai Shiqi with hidden bitterness and condemned her with his gaze. He cleaned up the dead mice tremblingly, then clung onto the railings and vomited into the canal. Tears and mucus were pasted to his face, he was in an extremely sorry state.

     

    Bai Shiqi got up and said goodbye to Zhao Wujiu: “Since Cousin Brother has matters to attend to, I won’t disturb you any longer. May your esteemed self get some rest!” She hurriedly got up and took her leave, afraid of staying behind.

     

    Zhao Wujiu speechlessly stared at the fleeing silhouette. Hearing her accelerated footsteps once she got out of the room, he still had some hope in his heart. Perhaps going through this incident could cut off some of Bai Shiqi’s mischievousness.

     

    While thinking, he instructed Shu Changfeng: “Watch Ziheng and Shiqi.”

     

    ***

     

    Around that time, Bai Shiqi found Zhao Ziheng who was vomiting. She stood behind him and patted his back thoughtfully: “Ziheng, get over it. There’s always a first time for everything.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng almost wailed: “Bai Shiqi, you’re such a bastard!” She guessed right, it was his first time getting hit with a rod; it was also his first time disposing of dead mice!

     

    Bai Shiqi’s temper was unusually good: “Yes, I’m a bastard, I’m a bastard!” Afterward, she contributed her experience of what to do after getting beaten up: “After this, drink two jugs of wine, you’ll wake up with less pain.”

     

    Zhao Ziheng did not listen at all. He was even more agitated and asked her: “Your great idea became a disaster that caused me to get beaten. Are you lacking in empathy?”

     

    “Aren’t we good brothers who shared delights and common hardships?” Bai Shiqi sighed in melancholy: “Adults are pushy regarding this matter, the more intimate you are, the harsher they become. On the other hand, they are very courteous towards other people’s children, and are very skilled in killing the chicken to warn the monkey¹.”

     

    It was like Wen Tao to her father, where she was the one getting beaten; and it was like her to Zhao Wujiu, Zhao Ziheng was the one getting beaten.

     

    The words reached Zhao Wujiu’s ears, almost making him vomit blood—different towards intimate and distant people? Killing the chicken to scare the monkey?

     

    At this time, Bai Shiqi had already taken Zhao Ziheng back to the room for a drink. Two earthen jugs of fruit wine were opened, and each of them lifted the jug to drink. She unexpectedly continued to tease him: “Do you need me to help apply the medicine ah?”

     

    After getting beaten, Zhao Ziheng was still not behaving. Half-leaning on the couch, he suggested: “Should we help each other with the medicine?” and pulled out his belt in a flash.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s face nearly went green after receiving the news!

     

    He took a deep breath and repressed the idea to have a good conversation with Leader Bai. He pushed his wheelchair out and headed towards Bai Shiqi’s room, asking with a calm face: “What’s going on?”

     

    “Applying medicine ah!” Zhao Ziheng’s jar fell and broke, as he was going to continue to untie his belt. Fortunately, Lady Song Si and Zhen’er entered the room bearing appetizers, and he stopped causing trouble.

     

    After getting on the ship, she had been wanting to show her virtuous side. She had the meal placed in her room and asked Zhen’er to inquire. Originally, she wanted to invite Bai Shiqi to a chat in her room after the meal, unexpectedly, Bai Shiqi did not even eat, and shut herself inside the room to bathe.

     

    Zhen’er suggested: “Master must be hungry, why don’t Milady cook some appetizers personally and send them to Master?”

     

    The suggestion was quite tempting, so she immediately got to work. She then entered the room and spoke with a soft voice: “Master has injuries on his body yet he drinks with an empty stomach, why don’t you cherish your body?”

     

    Bai Shiqi replied: “It’s not a big deal.” Smelling the scent, her eyes followed the food box: “What is that? Smells good.” Without the slightest grudge, she welcomed Zhao Wujiu to taste: “Cousin Brother should also come and taste, this fruit wine is smooth and sweet, and won’t make you hazy too.”

     

    In order to prevent leaving scars on the skin of Lady Song Si’s slender and lily-white hands, the few dishes that she learned in the beginning were mainly steamed, then she mixed and tossed two kinds of seasonal vegetables, while the kitchen roasted a meat pie. With that, the small table became full.

     

    After meeting Bai Shiqi, Zhao Wujiu often found himself in a situation where he had no way out.

     

    For example, the Bai family’s father and son were having internal strife; whereas Bai Shiqi’s beauty was shining while drinking and chatting merrily with Zhao Ziheng. Watching her gave him a major headache.

     

    Bai Shiqi was carefree and did not care much about Song shi’s constant affectionate staring. With Zhao Ziheng’s trouble-making, clueless nature, he wanted to untie his belt and let Bai Shiqi apply medicine for him… Everything was a mess!

     

    He then sat down and Bai Shiqi took out another jug of fruit wine, opened the seal, and handed it to him.

     

    Zhao Wujiu accepted the fruit wine and widened his eyes after discovering that there were so many wine jugs at that corner. He did not know whether it had been there on the ship from the start or if Bai Shiqi had found some people to purchase them from recently. Recalling her magnificent feat when she was drunk and how he had to resign to his fate at that time, he called Shu Changfeng to dispose of the wine jugs at the corner.

     

    Bai Shiqi immediately leaped up and proceeded to obstruct: “Cousin Brother, this is unkind of you. I invited you to drink together, but do you want to take even the cooking pots2?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “In any case, we’ll arrive in Suzhou soon, can’t you drink freely only when you’re back home? You want to be completely drunk while we’re still on the ship?” No one knows what kind of a ruckus you’re going to cause as soon as you get drunk.

     

    After taking two mouthfuls of wine, Zhao Ziheng became high and would not let go of Shu Changfeng: “One jug isn’t enough…!”

     

    Zhao Wujiu glanced at him with a meaningful glance, making him terrified. He pouted and murmured complaints while sitting back down: “I’ve been beaten and scolded, Cousin Brother can you let me off now! Just let us drink in peace!”

     


     

    FOOTNOTE

    1 killing the chicken to warn the monkey: punish an individual as an example to others.

    2 take even the cooking pots: clean everything out

     


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    Wook's notes:

    Yes, you read it right. We got ourselves an editor! aaaaaaa  As you can see the sentences flow much smoother than back when I worked on them myself in the past chapters *sobs* sienz is such a godsend, although I do feel bad that now she's stuck with us, and this... unpopular story *mumbles*

    Wook

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