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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 33


    The One Who Runs to the Wrong Place, Lord He

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by sienz


     

    The private room upstairs was high, enabling one to look at everything in the hall downstairs with a single glance.

     

    Zhao Wujiu was sitting by the window. His eyes looked through the light muslin, towards a certain table betting game in the hall.

     

    Bai Shiqi was playing rock-paper-scissors with Wen Tao, with wine at stake. In front of each of them was 10 cups of Haizi wine, and some brothers rooting for them by their side. There were also several servant girls who were assigned by Lady Yao to serve the young masters by pouring wine or holding fruits, serving attentively.

     

    Shu Changfeng had followed Zhao Wujiu for many years. His master was clear in his heart and had little desire, causing them, the guards, to habitually keep away from the red-light district. They had not even visited the cellars where they were stationed to guard. Today was really an eye-opener.

     

    Downstairs, Bai Shiqi had won another round of rock-paper-scissors. Both her eyebrows were lifted in glee, and a servant girl seized the opportunity to deliver the wine to her lips. After Bai Shiqi personally drank the wine, she frivolously stroked the servant girl, Shui Nennen’s cheeks, smiling like a ruffian: “Girl, you must be paid by Young Leader Wen’s silver to come to me, right? It was obviously his loss, why did you give me the wine?” However, she lowered her head and kept the wine cup.

     

    “This girl clearly has a fondness for you, Shiqi, a distinguished and accomplished youth. In any case, you’ve already taken in a beautiful concubine, why don’t you redeem this girl as well and make her a chambermaid?” Wen Tao pressed her while lifting a cup of wine and poured it down his throat.

     

    Bai Shiqi: “I’ve already robbed from Brother Wen once. To rob from you again is not proper.”

     

    Little Sir Han’s inner gossip sense tingled, he immediately grabbed Bai Shiqi’s arm firmly: “Shiqi, what have you done, tell me quickly.”

     

    Seeing this from a distance, Zhao Wujiu’s eyebrows gradually knitted tightly—Apparently, Bai Shiqi’s intimacy was not limited to only Zhao Ziheng, even men from the outside could hold her arms in a too familiar way.

     

    Shu Changfeng: “Your Highness, Young Leader Bai is too… If it’s truly a woman, what about the marriage in the future?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu said: “Perhaps she has never thought about marriage?”

     

    Normal women, who regarded chastity as their lives, did not dare to get too close to men. Bai Shiqi, who smiled and talked openly without any fear, and had close relationships with many men, was an exception.

     

    The curiosity in Shu Changfeng’s heart was simply uncomfortable. Eventually, he could not bear asking: “Your Highness, are you very certain that Young Leader Bai is a woman? Could it be that you and Young Leader Bai have consummated on that night?”

     

    He had guarded the room outside and had not heard any strange movements from inside the room ah. Besides, according to Bai Shiqi’s temper, was that the kind of person that could suffer from losses?

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s tranquility was immediately broken: “Shiqi and I are innocent!” He felt that explaining things to a guard was unnecessary, so he barked lowly: “Get out!”

     

    Shu Changfeng got out, however, he quickly got back in, and quietly closed the door when he entered. Then he approached his ear to whisper: “Your Highness, I just saw Lord He outside.”

     

    “Which Lord He?”

     

    “Your Highness is not aware of this. After you left the capital, the imperial court made a huge ruckus, saying that there were all kinds of problems rising from transportation on the river over the years. His Majesty wanted to assign someone to supervise the construction of the embankment of Junhe River, but couldn’t pick a suitable candidate. This Lord He Yan had a high opinion from His Majesty that day. Seeing that he’s appearing in Suzhou now, it may be assumed that Lord He has been chosen as the imperial envoy, sent to investigate the river conservancy works.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu was someone with a military background, who was swift and decisive. He looked down on government officials, who liked to make roundabouts and all their entanglements. He said in sarcasm: “Since Lord He was sent to investigate the river conservancy works, seeing that he’s running to a flowery place such as here, could it be that this place is unexpectedly connected to river conservancy works?”

     

    Shu Changfeng cleverly replied in a timely moment: “The one accompanying Lord He must be the people of the water governor. If he wants to inspect the river works, he must first have good relationships with the complicated local officialdom.” Before one gets one’s hand on the job, one must first get his hand on the people. After one’s done bribing their feelings, whatever the affair will be done smoothly.

     

    How could Zhao Wujiu not know the usual sick shortcomings of these people down below: “Secretly send some people to follow him, look at how this Lord He Yan handles his affairs.”

     

    Once Shu Changfeng closed the door, Zhao Wujiu was left alone in the private room. His mind was occupied with the matters of the court. Even though he had been on the frontier for a long time, he was not ignorant of the things happening in court. However, his gaze was looking straight towards Bai Shiqi’s table on the lower floor.

     

    It could be said that Bai Shiqi had found the right place to put Wen Tao in his place. This person had an outstandingly good face (reputation), developed good relationships with many people, and usually, there were piles of scoundrels following him around. Furthermore, he also liked to compete. Rather than making him lose face at his own home, it would be better to do it outside. Therefore, she calmly said in the midst of the ruckus: “I actually did not do anything. On my way home, I saw Brother Wen about to take in a beauty from Huai’an as his concubine. The beauty was crying miserably, not wanting to jump into Brother Wen’s living hell, so she looked for me to save her. Without a better option, I could only take the beauty in.”

     

    Little Sir Han also knew bits of the matters in the Bai family: “… You can still appear here unscratched? Leader Bai didn’t break your legs off?”

     

    Bai Shiqi laughed: “My father wanted to beat me, but I ran quickly ah. After giving away the beauty, Brother Wen was still unwilling and went to my house to fan the flame bigger. As the result, my father let him chase after me—“

     

    Hearing the subject had turned for the worst, Wen Tao slowly stood and was about to cover her mouth: “Shiqi, don’t talk nonsense!”

     

    The remaining people who were still seated jeered: “Brother Wen is too stingy. It’s just a beauty, how can it be compared with brotherhood? Still want to complain to someone’s house?”

     

    Bai Shiqi smiled meaningfully: “Isn’t he ah? Brother Wen who is wealthy and usually magnanimous, can actually also be stingy at times!”

     

    Wen Tao only felt pain in his heart ah!

     

    However, Bai Shiqi did not understand, and everyone in the audience knew nothing. They all asked Bai Shiqi to tell the continuation of the story: “What happened next?”

     

    Bai Shiqi leaped a few feet away and smiled evilly. Little Sir Han clapped his hands and laughed heartily: “Brother Wen suffered losses under Shiqi lang’s hand, right?”

     

    The expressions and movements from the two people already made this statement clear, and everyone already guessed the rest of the story.

     

    Wen Tao felt like begging for forgiveness: “Shiqi…” He was considering whether to admit his mistake or let Bai Shiqi expose the matter when the loud noise and the singing and dancing on the stage stopped. A graceful voice emerged from the second floor, and everyone present became quiet— Jiang Xiaoxian was about to appear.

     

    Bai Shiqi smiled and returned to her seat: “I’ll spare you for the time being because of Jiang Xiaoxian!”

     

    Wen Tao bowed towards her with his hands held in front, but Bai Shiqi shook her head: “Why are you thanking me? You should thank Miss Xiaoxian.” As expected, he made a gesture towards the stage, looking very sincere.

     

    Only then did Bai Shiqi sit down with a smile. Her gaze intentionally swept across his waist, seemingly recalling the event when he had lost his face on the tree. Wen Tao felt extremely uncomfortable, and his face turned green. He feared that she would expose him.

     

    The graceful voice on the stage gradually approached. Above the head, it turned out there was a swing, with vines and green turnip flowers, and a beauty was standing barefoot on the swing. The voice was like the sound of nature, her hair was rolled up in a high cloud bun. She was extremely beautiful and outstandingly amorous, exuding gentleness and tenderness, slowly descended from the swing. It was the famous Jiang Xiaoxian of Suzhou, whose person was just like the name, beautiful like an immortal.

    [Jiang Xiaoxian: Xiaoxian literally means little immortal.]

     

    Bai Shiqi who was listening got entranced. The same went for the others, they were bewitched, one by one. Zhao Ziheng excitedly patted her shoulder: “Shiqi, Shiqi, we truly did not come in vain today!”

     

    “Hush—“ Bai Shiqi mentioned him to be quiet, then she turned her head to listen again.

     

    Everyone seated in the hall was infatuated with Jiang Xiaoxian’s singing voice, except for Wen Tao, who boldly and presumptuously inclined his head to look at Bai Shiqi. The two had never met under friendly situations, always picking at each other’s tail. He rarely saw Bai Shiqi with such a concentrated look.

     

    Jiang Xiaoxian, this kind of beauty, who was painstakingly sculpted to be that way, even though she was very famous in Suzhou, eventually would be seen as being too deliberate. Singing, qin, and every other art were all printed in her hand to capture mankind. However, once one lost their natural beauty, it would not be enough to move people.

     

    Wen Tao’s train of thought fluttered for a moment, and his gaze gradually became somewhat foolish as he watched Bai Shiqi.

     

    Zhao Wujiu took in this whole scene from upstairs, and his thoughts only increased.

     

    Jiang Xiaoxian finished the song, and the audience in the hall applauded continuously. There were high-profile guests included, and they were generous in spending money. Various kinds of rare treasures were delivered to the stage, just to look for an opportunity for one spring night with Jiang Xiaoxian. There were servant girls constantly carrying the rewards of the guests to the stage. Jiang Xiaoxian stepped off the swing and treaded on the red fabric barefoot, her expression was tranquil and indifferent as if the noise from the guests was unrelated to her.

     

    A servant girl carried a qin up the stage, then Jiang Xiaoxian played the qin. She was like a finished, carved white jade, the kind of beauty that should not be stained, which made the audience itch to do something and made the competition even more rewarding.

     

    Zhao Wujiu was looking at the audience, only to see Bai Shiqi, with a bit of pitying expression in her eyes, while Zhao Ziheng looked like he was eager to do something and kept inciting her. Even though Zhao Wujiu did not know what his exact words were, but seeing the youngster’s expression, he knew what he was thinking about. He ordered: “Get Young Leader Bai and Thirteenth lang up here!”

     

    Shu Changfeng personally came down, and quietly stood behind the two people. The phrase “Thirteenth lang” nearly made Zhao Ziheng fall off his stool. Looking as if he had seen a ghost, he turned and asked: “Y-Y-You… Why are you here?”

     

    “Master is upstairs, and wants to invite Thirteenth lang and Young Leader Bai upstairs for a chat.”

     

    Seeing Shu Changfeng, Wen Tao knew immediately that Zhao Wujiu must have come. He smilingly said: “Since Brother Zhao has honored this place with his presence, why don’t I invite Brother Zhao downstairs for a drink, and have fun together?”

     

    Shu Changfeng’s intuition said that Zhao Wujiu was not fond of Wen Tao, so he indifferently replied: “My master likes quietness, so we will not disturb Young Leader Wen’s good thought.”

     

    Hearing this, Zhao Ziheng was already distracted. He grabbed Bai Shiqi’s hand tightly: “Shiqi, what should be done ah? Cousin Brother is here!” His body part that was beaten with plank suddenly felt like it hurt even more.

     

    Cousin Brother was ruthless and relentless, unlike his parents and grandparents, whenever he made trouble, he could just act lovably and he would avoid punishments.

     

    Bai Shiqi was very calm: “Cousin Brother is here, so why can’t we be here?”

     

    Shu Changfeng really wanted to remind Young Leader Bai: The only reason my master is here because he is chasing after you two!

     


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    Wook's notes:

    Leave it to Shiqi to fight Cousin Brother!

    Wook

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