What’s going on? Rihaku thought.
Currently, right before his eyes was the eunuch who had glared at him when he made a small blunder the other day. Moreover, this guy was giving him quite a gorgeous smile.
Rihaku was pretty sure that the eunuch’s name is Jinshi. He is likely younger than Rihaku, and yet he was in the emperor’s pocket. He had good looks – there were rumours of him being an emperor’s chosen – but he was diligent and careful with his job.
It’s a bit of an issue that he could charm his surroundings regardless of gender, but that aside, there was nothing about him that is worth minding, Rihaku thought. For that point, Rihaku is straight, so he would never point his finger to a man no matter how pretty he is.
Nevertheless, he can’t help saying that it was quite troubling to have this guy to suddenly turn up and stare at him fixedly.
It’s good that there’s no one around, Rihaku thought. They were at the building superior officers were in. There were few random people in the vicinity. That’s right. The weirdo tactician is here, so people try to minimise their coming here.
He frequently heard that the weirdo tactician has been loitering elsewhere recently. But limited to seeing the personnel in this place, it would be this eunuch who accompanies him for work, Rihaku supposed.
Rihaku also thought to submit his documents and quickly leave this place so he won’t get caught up in something bothersome. But as he left Rakan’s office, he just had to come across this eunuch.
And, it was mysterious because of this smile.
Well, speaking of mysterious.
The adjutant waiting behind the eunuch called Jinshi or something was the official from before, who had said he wanted Rihaku to be the middleman for the brothel. Rihaku was nigh sure that this was his superior’s old acquaintance.
When he thought about the circumstances where he knew Maomao, the court lady with freckles, he kind of grasped that they had such a connection.
“I wonder if you can join me for a bit?”
In saying that, it was Rihaku who wasn’t in the position to decline. Though the other party was younger, the colour of the jade suspended at his waist was nobler than Rihaku’s. He would have to be promoted another four to five times just to oppose him.
“By your will.”
After giving a short reply, Rihaku followed the eunuchs.
They were in the courtyard of the imperial court, a place where superior officers often cooled off in the evening. Hence it was somehow difficult for junior officers to enter. There was no one around especially during this period. It was a place that Rihaku never visited as he was indifferent to refined tastes.
This season, plants called hydrangeas were starting to sprout large flowers that look like temari balls(手毬, handballs made from embroidered fabric.). They were unusual flowers brought over from an island country of the east. It was said its colours changed between red and blue according to the day. Seems the weirdo tactician had purposely planted them(Flower language: patient affection, happy family get-together, familiar connection etc.). The shape of the flowers vaguely resembled lilacs.
He felt that that guy might be doing too much as he pleased, but according to what he heard, even the general was no match to that monocle weirdo so it can’t be helped.
Jinshi sat on a chair in the gazebo and gestured for Rihaku to sit.
If he says so I have no choice but to do so. He sat down facing the eunuch.
The eunuch rested his chin on top of his clasped hands and displayed a smile that seemed to sparkle. The adjutant behind him seemed like he was used to it, but Rihaku couldn’t agree with it. It was a joke, it was so bright he wanted to look away.
If he was a woman, it wouldn’t necessarily be a lie to say that he could topple the country, Rihaku thought. But, this guy was a man, a man, even if he had already lost that important thing of his.
Rihaku could be deceived with that celestial maiden’s face and silky hair, but that guy had stature and his shoulders were broad. He wouldn’t look slight standing next to his adjutant who had a figure of a military officer.
If Rihaku were to be deceived by that gentle smile and push that guy down, he would suffer severely. That seeming elegance simply indicated the sleekness of his movement.
Rihaku had thought about the eunuch when he followed behind him. Also, he had a feeling he remembered him from somewhere, but he just couldn’t recall it.
He had a glimpse of that guy’s face before, though he never looked at him properly, so why was he caught up in this?
What does this gentleman want from him?
“I heard from our maid, that you seem to have someone in your heart.”
Rihaku could be overthinking that he thought it was shady that he was termed as ‘You(Jinshi is saying kimi 君, which is a more familiar second person pronoun compared to the usual anata 貴方. Sounds somewhat condescending here.)‘.
He deliberated for a moment who this Our ‘Maid‘ was, but considering the flow of the conversation, it just had to be that scrawny, freckled court lady.
That saying, there was a time she worked in the imperial court. She couldn’t have been working under this eunuch. Rihaku inadvertently stroked his chin.
He thought that girl was employed by a person with strange tastes, but who would think that this beautiful eunuch would that kind of person.
However, although that situation in itself required an explanation, Did she talk about redeeming people? Rihaku can’t say he didn’t think of that. Was it for that reason? That this eunuch randomly came by smiling.
For this youth, who had the reputed status of being called the country’s greatest beauty, something like redeeming a courtesan would be nothing more than a funny story.
You can make a fool of me, but if you look down on my sweetheart, Pairin, Rihaku had considered it too.
Pairin was a good woman. Not just as a courtesan, but as a mere woman too.
He recalled her smiling face in the bedroom. He recalled her clutching onto her dress with her fingers, her dancing form. He recalled her pouring tea, her figure as she worried about trivial matters.
That was the end of the matter if he was told that was a given with a courtesan’s job.
But, that was fine too, Rihaku thought.
Real or fake, either way was fine.
If he believed in it, either way didn’t matter.
He saw many of his colleagues who were crazy for courtesans and gambling, but he surely had to be one of those people if he looked at it objectively. The guys who say that Pairin was a wicked woman for Rihaku were surely thinking about Rihaku.
While feeling grateful, he also thought it was meddlesome.
Rihaku visited the Rokushoukan out of his own accord. Not to meet Pairin; to end the day being entertained by kamuro with just tea at the entrance time and time again.
Being the flower on the high cliff, that was Pairin’s job too.
Taking a month of silver with just drinking tea, who could say that was greed?
To squander all of himself on courtesans, calling the courtesans who live as a commodity as expensive was even more severe.
If the eunuch before his eyes spat out words that insulted Pairin, Rihaku was prepared to use his fists.
If he did so, it was a slip-up where his head might fly.
That was fine too, Rihaku thought.
He won’t yield from his thoughts; this sort of reckless way of living suited him. It had nothing to do with him being slandered as a courtesan-crazy fool by everyone around him.
For the time being, he focused on restraining himself. Left hand pinning down his quivering right hand, Rihaku looked at Jinshi.
“And what about it?”
It shouldn’t have nothing to do with ya, he made sure he didn’t say too much.
Even in response to Rihaku’s displeased attitude, Jinshi didn’t seem to mind. His heavenly smile remained as it is.
And then, those lips proclaimed something astonishing.
“What if I tell you that I’ll shoulder your redeeming money?”
Rihaku was surprised. He inadvertently stood up and slapped the table. Since it was a carved granite table, his palms were vibrating gradually.
Even when the trembling passed through the entire length of his body, it took a while until Rihaku was able to speak out.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I mean what I mean. How much do you need for the redeeming money? Will twenty thousand be enough?”
To say twenty thousand like it was nothing, Rihaku gulped. It wasn’t a sum you would recklessly give out. To say nothing of that, was this something you suddenly say to an official you don’t really know even as a rival?
Did he already hear about the redeeming money from Maomao, or does this man think that is just simple loose change? Rihaku clutched his head.
At the same time, more than suggesting twenty thousand, he could easily give out half of that, he didn’t not think that, but Rihaku decided to stop with any more of his naïve thinking.
“I’m happy for your words, but it is alright for you to suddenly say such things to an official you don’t know?”
There is a trap in generous offers. Rihaku wasn’t a fool who would go as far as to lose sight of common sense that even children knew.
He sat back down on the chair and looked at the other’s eyes. The subject who suggested the enormous sum didn’t change his expression. The adjutant who was behind him made an expression of relief.
“Our cat had quite a strong sense of wariness. She, accepted a consultation with you, and besides that, considered how you would be as an equal companion for her older sister.”
The cat would be Maomao. Certainly, calling her a cat, she was like a cat. A wary-filled stray cat, but if you give her bait, she would somehow approach you, only accept the bait you give her, and then quickly run away.
It was a creature that didn’t suit Rihaku if he were to raise it. A dog more docile, that will hunt with him, was still preferable.
But that way of talking, does that mean that even with that attitude of hers, Maomao had faith in Rihaku? Certainly, she listened to him talk with chilly eyes while resting her chin in her hands like it was tiresome, but she did answer everything Rihaku had asked.
Why did she get him naked and make him take various poses, and moreover for what reason did she do it?
As a result, he ended up talking to the eunuch like this.
“So you mean, if I could just embrace the wary cat, I can be trusted.”
Jinshi reacted with a twitch at Rihaku’s words.
Did I say something bad? Rihaku thought, but he decided that was just his imagination as Jinshi has returned to his usual gentle smile.
“I asked about your story from several people. You may have been the son of a district government official, but you must have had hardships in becoming a military officer at the capital.”
Things called factions exists anywhere. Though his father was a government official, he was a district civil official. That in itself oppressed strongly against him, and there was also a brief period where he flat-out wasn’t acknowledged.
“When I asked, I heard you were noticed by the Tactician with the discerning eye and was entrusted a body of troops.”
Just how far did this man investigate Rihaku. Officially, he advanced due to the squadron head quitting as a military officer.
“Thinking that they want to get along with a promising official, anyone would think that, right?”
Although, twenty thousand silvers was much too lavish.
What Rihaku needed was half of that, no, considering his own connections and his savings, another half of that is fine.
If it was a quarter – five thousand silvers – this man should indulgently present that to him.
It was a proposition he wanted so bad he could taste it, but Rihaku shook his head.
Rihaku looked at Jinshi’s face with a serious expression.
“I am honestly happy you would buy her for me, and I want the proposition so bad that I feel like I could taste it. However, I cannot just take your silvers. For you, she might be a courtesan, but for me, she is just a woman. Accepting the woman I want to welcome as my wife with the money I earned, that way, wouldn’t I be called a man then? ”
Rihaku conveyed to the eunuch, although it was tiring to use language he wasn’t used to.
Rihaku thought Jinshi was someone who cannot help being displeased, but that celestial maiden’s face remained unchanged. No, it became more tender compared to some time ago.
That smile shifted to laughter.
“I see. Then excuse me.”
The eunuch stood up with grace and smoothly ran his fingers through his hair.
Like the painting of a beauty, the subject of the standing figure had a face that looked satisfied.
“Hereafter, there might be things I want to talk to you about, it is alright?”
“By your will.”
Rihaku also stood up and gave thanks with a palm over his fist.
The beautiful eunuch returned a slight nod and left with the adjutant in tow.
Rihaku was in a daze, waiting until the back of the elegant figure could no longer be seen.
“Just what was that, really?”
He plucked his hair in incomprehension. When he felt the part that was still bald from the burn, he felt a little down.
He sat down on the chair,
“What do now—“
For now, during the time of his next training session, should he show something a bit good in front of his superior, or should he increase his workload?
No, before all that.
He should send a message to the woman he didn’t know when he will meet. However, he wasn’t going to arbitrarily go meet her, he was going to ask for her opinion.
Even if that was lip service, he believed he was giving her her daily bread.
Rihaku plunged his hands into his sleeves and jogged away from the courtyard.
While thinking what would be a good branch to tie around the message.
“Maomao, you have a message.”
Guien held out to Maomao some bundled-up wooden slips. Maomao pulled the cord that was tied around it, and there, elegant characters were carefully inscribed on it.
It was the reply to the letter Maomao sent to the Rokushoukan a couple of days ago.
“Whatever granny says, I’m still in active service.”
The figure of a voluptuous, well-endowed older sister saying that with confidence came to mind.
The sender was Pairin.
“Besides, I’m waiting for my nobleman from somewhere to come for me one day.”
The nobleman(公子, koushi, young noblemen. Omitted the ‘young’ so it’s less of a mouthful.) she wrote was pronounced as “prince”. In a distant foreign country, there was a “prince” that rides a white horse who comes to save the captured maiden.
Pairin was a woman. You can also say she tends to have dreams, like a woman.
It was already too late for her to be called a maiden. Even if the number of relationships with gentlemen she had was already a number she couldn’t count with her fingers, she had never given up on dreaming.
Her determination might be one reason she retained her youth.
(I had that feeling it was something like that.)
Ten thousand silvers shouldn’t be required as long as she was interested. Just acting as the “prince” as she likes would be good enough. For that, unparalleled strength, muscles, and the thing that a normal man has that a eunuch does not.
A bit of an acting ability and preparing just the congratulatory money should be good enough.
The redeeming money aside, if even the congratulatory money was haggled down, there shouldn’t be anyone who would be silent.
Even the madam,
“If you retire then do as you see fit. Just that the celebration must be done in style. ”
She said. Even the normally stingy hag was lavish for that.
She was Pairin, the Rose that bloomed in the pleasure district. Even when she departs from the stage, she would want to have something suitably grand.
That was her pride as living as a courtesan.
And so, if there was a man that the hag and Pairin both like, they wouldn’t overcharge him. Just as the necessary expenses, they would take five thousand as congratulatory money.
If it wasn’t a man who could earn about that much, he wouldn’t be appropriate for Pairin, and if he was stingy it would be unreasonable.
(Ten thousand was impossible, but if it is about five thousand.)
If Rihaku favourably promotes from here on, he’ll somehow manage in a couple of years.
What happens after will depend on luck.
If Pairin gets brainwashed by the madam’s thinking, it will be the end. Rihaku will have to collect the money to drop Pairin before that happened.
It wasn’t something that Maomao could do about it.
If it happens, there is one just one thing that he would have to cautious about.
(No way he would incur things like debt huh.)
Even if he collected the money by borrowing from someone, the madam would thoroughly investigate it. If it turns out like it, it would be the end. You would dare with Pairin, she would crush a man with debt with all her power.
Maomao thought that sort of behaviour wouldn’t happen, but that couldn’t be asserted.
Maomao tied up the wooden slips she was done with reading and placed it on the desk in her room.
She went out into the corridor. Jinshi and the others have visited the Jade Palace after a few days.
Jinshi was simply displeased when they parted the other day, but he looked like he was in a good mood for some reason today.
While wondering what was up, Maomao headed for the kitchen to prepare tea.
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