“Don’t eat poison as you please.”
Jinshi laid down the order at Maomao as soon as they returned to his room.
The poisonous seaweed dish was also confiscated. Maomao gawked at him.
The two dishes Maomao prepared this time were also for her to properly check if there was poison by putting her own body at risk. Even though this was an important experiment. However, to her bad timing, the destination of the seaweed was bought to light, and the one who purchased it was known.
It was the younger brother of the bedridden official.
Even though it was discovered who the buyer was, the person himself admitted it simply.
She thought the staring when she was entering the kitchen had been certainly strange, so it seemed to be the case.
You would have that sort of attitude if you have something you want to hide.
It was a common story. If the eldest son is healthy, the second son will be ignored. Maomao and the others were disappointed by the simple reason, as far as it had been amusing.
Leaving that aside.
Aside from being told not to eat poison, he’s considerably tolerant, Maomao reassessed.
When she thought hard enough – turning a blind eye to Jinshi’s perverted actions – his treatment of her was quite good.
(Even so, I do as I like.)
Towards Jinshi, she replied to him discourteously, did not show him respect, gave him attitude, viewed him like creeping bug.
If she was the master, she would immediately fire that sort of palace lady. Or rather, she’ll hang her. Don’t want hanging, let’s request for poisoning.
(If it comes to that, the medicinal herbs,)
Pay was inconsequential. She had other ways to earn money.
However, on imported medicinal herbs and the like, there was one item she can’t get her hands on for a pharmacist in the pleasure district.
Even though she bore with it for many years, there were many things she wanted for poison experiments.
She must work with whole-hearted devotion from here on. She plastered on the smile from her courtesan training and looked towards Jinshi.
Since Jinshi was making a dazed face, she was thinking she made a mistake with the expression she plastered on, when he suddenly bashed his head against the pillar. He was slamming his head like a woodpecker.
At that sound, Gaoshun and Suiren, the middle-aged palace lady, rushed in.
She had absolutely no idea, but she ended up being stared down by Gaoshun.
(It’s not my fault this time.)
The weird one is your master, Maomao thought as she sulked.
Maomao’s daily job ends with her receiving her master, Jinshi. Therefore, it was a easier for Maomao when Jinshi comes back quickly.
Jinshi entered the room, looking worn out.
“Welcome back,” Maomao said.
This is where you say “Master”, Suiren said, but Maomao ignored that. No matter the circumstance, her tongue might cramp and she could end up biting it if she said that.
Recently, Jinshi had been returning late from work. The reason seems to be due to him putting the piled-up work into order.
If you went to the point of accumulating work, you would have been better off not spectating the incident from the other day and focus on finishing your work quickly, Maomao thought, but he mentioned that it was on a matter that was really hard to do.
“Whether the horses don’t suit(Tastes and way of thinking are different, hard to get along.) or whatever it is, our opinions really don’t match,” Jinshi sighed as he accepted cider from Suiren. The person, in this case, was someone who had resistance towards Jinshi, but lost his mind from just seeing a palace lady from somewhere. What a troublesome eunuch.
If such a person finds someone with an opinion, he conversely is terrific, but at the same time, you also think you don’t want to get along with him.
“I too have people I have trouble dealing with,” he said.
He seems to be high ranking military official, someone who is famous for being sharp, but a weirdo.
It was said that when he finds fault one way or another, he brings guests into his room, otherwise he assaults them, and engages them in Shogi – putting off the judgement of the subject they were chatting about.
His target this time was Jinshi.
As a result, it was said he stays in his office for a dual-hour and does overtime like that.
Maomao looked a little irked. “What kind of retirement is that?”
“He’s only passed his forties. He’s nasty, exactly because my job is ended*.”
(Past his forties, a high ranking military officer, weirdo?)
They were keywords she had a memory of from somewhere, but she couldn’t remember it and it didn’t seem to be a good thing so Maomao decided to forget about it.
Well, even if she forgets about it, her usual unpleasant premonition was fixed.
“We already talked about the matter.” Jinshi gave a celestial maiden’s smile at the uninvited guest. It required effort to get it from stiffening.
“No no, it is hard to see flowers in winter. If that was the case, I thought about coming here.”
An aloof middle-aged man, unshaven faced, wearing a monocle, was there.
He was clad in military officer robes, but his appearance was quite fittingly a civil official’s. His thin fox-like eyes were teeming with intellect and madness.
The man’s name was Rakan(羅漢, Luo Han), a tactician. If you go with the times, he would be called Taikoubou(太公望, Hopeful Grand Duke, a schemer, the title of a tactician from Zhou Dynasty China. That tactician’s name was Jiang Ziya, a Chinese noble who helped the kings of Zhou overthrow the Shang dynasty.), but in this society, he was just a weirdo.
His pedigree was good, but he wasn’t married even though he was past his forties. He entrusted the management of the family to a nephew he adopted as a son.
Speaking about Rakan’s interest, it was rumoured to be Go and Shogi. He will force them into it even when his opponent is not interested.
Speaking of the reason why he charged at Jinshi recently, it was because he got a maidservant who was a girl with a connection to the Rokushoukan.
It wasn’t false, but it was indecent where getting a girl from a brothel is concerned. Above all, since the person in question was making a face like he could hear the sound of bugs flying in the air in midsummer, he expected it to be resolved as peacefully if at all possible.
The form of the maidservant, how people took that, was the issue.
And despite this, this personage, who liked gossip like a youthful girl, was instilled with half-truths. The military had assumed that Jinshi had redeemed her. No, it was hard to say that they got it wrong.
As the words from the old man who was energetic about something flowed in from one ear and out the other, Jinshi stamped the documents that Gaoshun brought in.
“That saying, a long time ago in the Rokushoukan, I had a close friend,” Rakan said.
What an unexpected thing to talk about, Jinshi thought.
He was totally not interested in things like love affairs though.
“What kind of courtesan was she?” Jinshi, his interest unconsciously piqued, ended up asking in return.
Rakan smiled smugly. He poured the fruit juice he brought into a glass. The appearance of him reclined on the couch was as if it was no different to him relaxing in his own room. “She was a good courtesan(woman). Brilliant at Go and Shogi, Though I won at Shogi, I always lost at Go.”
To win against a tactician, she must have been strong, Jinshi thought.
“To be unable to meet with a woman who was interesting to that extent, I had thought of redeeming her as well, but the world was not on my side. Just as when two fanciful rich people competed for her, her value was raised.”
“My goodness,” Jinshi said.
A courtesan’s redeeming money sometimes become a sum that can build one villa. It was probably the case that even Rakan couldn’t pay up.
With that kind of talk, what was this man trying to say?
“She was an eccentric courtesan, selling her art but not her body. On the contrary, she didn’t think customers as customers. Even pouring tea, rather than attending the master, she looked at you with eyes like she was giving charity to a peasant. Well, I am only just one person who says it that way, but that thrill down your spine was irresistible.”
“….” Jinshi, feeling uncomfortable, averted his eyes. Gaoshun, standing in wait, was biting his lips into a straight line.
In this world, there is quite a person with the same taste.
Whether he knew the inside of that heart or not, Rakan continued.
“I thought I would one day try pinning her down.” In the eyes of the grinning man were a glimpse of flames that were imbued with madness. “In the end, I didn’t give up on that courtesan either, I couldn’t help but played a little dirty. Well, if I can’t pay up if the price was high, it shouldn’t be a problem if I make it cheaper.”
I lowered the premium.
“Do you want to know how I did it?” The fox-like eyes were smiling over the rims of his monocle.
He had won over the opponent before they had noticed. That was why he was terrifying.
“Did you come all the way here to put on airs?” Jinshi asked.
“Oh dear, it’s already time. My subordinate gets angry when I stay over for too long.” Like he was turning over his palm, Rakan packed up the fruit juice. He put another sake bottle he prepared on Jinshi’s desk. “Please give this to your palace ladies. It’s not too sweet so it’ll be easy to drink.”
As the middle-aged military officer waved,
“Well then, see you tomorrow.”
Btw, the ‘Ra’ (羅) of ‘Rakan’ (羅漢) is the same character as the ‘Ruo’ (羅) (or Luo if you want to be accurate) of ‘Ruomen’ (羅門), Maomao’s foster father.
The former is the Japanese reading and the latter is the Chinese reading. I’m not sure why, but some character names are pronounced in the Chinese reading and some in the Japanese reading (there doesn’t seem to be a pattern). Fyi, if ‘Ruomen’ is pronounced in the Japanese reading it will be ‘Ramon’.