The moon shone brightly in the sky. Though the snow wasn’t piling up thickly, the cloudless night was cold. There was a brazier in the room, and Suiren, his maid, had passed him some ginger tea to warm him up.
Jinshi sat on the bed that has gotten slightly warmer. He gulped it down.
How long was she going to treat him like a child?
She had added in a generous amount of honey into the tea. The last time he whined about the spiciness of ginger was when he was seven.
To be honest, he would have preferred a drink that kept him awake, but he knew that if he were to pass it back to Suiren, she would give him unspoken pressure. She must have found out that he hadn’t had a proper sleep lately. Jinshi’s obfuscations were transparent to the nanny who had known him since he was young.
However, as long as he had things he needed to do right now, he had no other choice than to continue working.
“It is a hardship.”
Those who stand on top, in exchange for their authority, need to hold responsibility.
Though, it would be easy to just cast aside that troublesome thing and degrade into a dumb creature.
To eat whatever he likes. To sleep whenever he likes. To do whatever he likes.
It would be even better if he was a beloved thing with that.
As he thought that, he sighed. That probably won’t be granted.
This world was full of matters that were beyond one’s control.
While thinking that it would be easier if he became dumb, there was a part of himself who rejected that idea.
As the lights swayed, Jinshi took out a sheet of paper from the locked drawer. He spread out the folded wrinkled paper.
It was what Rouran, the eldest daughter of the Shi Clan, had left him.
To overlook the ones who have died once, was it?
The woman had promised that from Jinshi. She had passed this over in return for her gratitude.
How serious was what she had written? Could it be that, even after Rouran’s passing, she was continuing to make a sport of Jinshi?
Its subject made one suspect that.
“Locust plague, huh.”
A natural disaster that caused the downfall of a country at times. Rouran had been an assistant to that research. Unfortunately, the man who conducted that had already become an invalid. From the side effect of that – the resurrection drug.
The paper had a drawing of a map. It was marked with arrows. The movements of the wind from the west – that was what it denoted.
The former court physician who had become an invalid was a man who had the experience of studying abroad in the West. It was because he had known about the geography of that place that his idea was so extraordinary Jinshi couldn’t have come up with it.
Locust Plague. In many cases, it starts off with the appearance of swarming locusts hitching a ride on the westerly winds. The swarming locusts originate from places several hundred ri, and at times, even several thousand ri away. These locusts multiply on the grounds of this country and start off by causing small-scale locust damages. And if left as is, in the following year, they will wreak even greater damages.
That coincided with what the pharmacist maiden, Maomao, had pointed out to Jinshi. The countermeasures have already been changed for implementation this year – for the increased tax in regions with little locust damage and the provisional ban on sparrow hunting, and in addition, the initiation and so on of the manufacturing of pesticides for the rural areas.
He had no idea whether there will be a locust plague or not, but even if there weren’t any, it was not a bad plunge as a means to increase the yield of crops.
Even Maomao could not come up with ideas for what to do beyond that, so Jinshi didn’t think it was a bad move.
However, there was one more thing in Rouran’s descriptions that made his head hurt.
The case where locusts can come from other areas, no, other countries.
Locust plagues exist in other countries too.
And it was not absent historically that countries wage war with each other due to famine.
Jinshi took out yet another sheet of paper. It was a drawing of what locust had over-multiplied last year.
He compared that with Rouran’s paper.
There were several kinds of locusts drawn on the side of the map.
That was a presentation of what kinds of locusts are common in what region.
He had plucked at his hair subconsciously.
Quite an unpleasant possibility was increasing.
Just how much happy would he be if he was mistaken.
The former court physician’s research was incomplete, and from the start, he would be happy if this was an empty theory after all.
The large outbreak of locusts last year. Speaking of which region’s locusts it resembled the most….
The country northwest of the country of Rii. Possessing vast regions that produce grain and forestry resources, the country was called Hoku’aren(北亜連 North Aren) by Jinshi’s people.
The reason nomadic tribes frequently make a pass at this country, was due to this Hoku’aren.
As for the relationship between countries, let’s say that they were not that friendly.
The last large war that was waged with this country was in the era before the previous emperor. After that war, the previous, previous emperor fell, and afterwards, the previous emperor was enthroned.
And then, in the year that war began, it was left on the records that his own country and Hoku’aren both had locust plagues.
If you become needy, you will have no choice but to steal from elsewhere. That calls forth increased hunger, where several thousands of people will die from starvation. Although the numbers of dead were recorded down, it was said that it would have to be several times more in reality.
The fact that the numbers of war dead and famine dead were not clear in regards to this, was related to the fact that the government of those days was much more corrupted compared to nowadays.
The previous emperor’s empress dowager who was called the Empress was named a wicked woman in the current era. However, she assisted the previous emperor who had been enthroned afterwards, and in response to her ability to cut away the rotten pus, he could only be in awe.
It was absurd.
His current majesty being treated as a wise gentleman was from his using the legacy the Empress had left behind, And when he thought that it was because there was a villain called Shishou, he understood to what extent they were made to dance on her palms.
An inconceivable parting gift.
As Jinshi wished that this was a needless anxiety, he closed the drawer and locked it.
It would be good if there was nothing. If there was nothing, that was fine.
However, there was no way he can see it optimistically and invite the worst-case scenario.
It wasn’t that he liked war. But, it also had to be done.
“That would have to be a parting gift too.”
He inadvertently spoke.
Jinshi recalled the fortress the Shi Clan had used as a stronghold. Due to the avalanche, it got buried under snow, but underneath that slept a large quantity of gunpowder and hand-cannons.
The hand-cannons that had been refined many times were more outstanding than what is carried by the military. Unfortunately, its blueprints had been burned up from the fire, but as long as they had the actual thing, they can write it up again.
By using the fortress as is, they had progressed in the production of gunpowder. However, he took into account the point where the danger of the gunpowder catching fire with the previous manufacturing process was high.
In regards to the manufacturing of the actual hand-cannon, they switched gears. It was because Jinshi had hopes in the forestry resources of Shihoku Province(子北洲, Shi Northern Province) – with that unusable, they needed to come up with something else. There were also raw materials for iron manufacture, but they will need fuel.
His head hurt.
There were other things he had to do.
He must look over the matter in question that would have to be appearing in tomorrow’s court council.
The high officials were momentarily compliant from the Shi Clan incident, but it was hard to say that they had removed all the pus.
He won’t say it’s a lizard’s tail, but it was almost only the Shi Clan that got cut down from that incident, so there should be other high officials who had stuck with them.
How far will they be compliant? It would be a godsend if they permanently stayed quiet
Conversely, the ones who started to raise their voices – were those people unrelated to the Shi Clan or did they have a lot of guts? Which one could it be?
There was one person of interest among those.
In terms of position, the guy, who had treated Shishou like a small fry, had a strong impression. However, as his upward compatibility was gone, his presence shot up in one breath.
Although Jinshi was no longer a eunuch, the work was still like what he had undertaken then.
Currently, there are two high ranked consorts in the inner palace – one is Consort Rifa. She, a distant relative to the reigning emperor and Jinshi, had only recently given birth to her second child. Rifa’s child is a boy, but as Gyokuyou, once the favoured consort, had already become empress, the latter’s child was made the crown prince. As long as any misfortune wouldn’t befall Empress Gyokuyou, the chance of Rifa being the legal wife was low, and the reigning emperor also planned it that way.
As blood gets thick, the offspring will be susceptible to illnesses – Ruomen who had recently returned to being a court physician had said that. That was something he had already known.
At the same time.
Empress Gyokuyou was born in the west, in Seii Province(西戌州, Western I Province). Hereafter, in the case that there is a strife with the neighbouring country, this place will become important land.
For Jinshi, he had thought that it was still too early to pick the empress, but when he was explained this, he had no choice but to agree.
Consort Rifa is smart. She understood that well enough in her mind too.
However, speaking of the other consort.
Consort Riishu. She is sixteen this year. It was already good to treat her as an adult but…
Jinshi sighed deeply.
He knew about the reigning emperor’s taste in women. His tastes were for those who were really femininely voluptuous. He had no idea if that was his taste from the start or was it because of the unpleasant feelings from the previous emperor’s inclination.
However, he wanted him to remember that those called consorts are a job, and at the same time, that they maintain the balance in politics.
Considering how his tastes spanned to a wide range, even just for appearances, would it be worded as being as subtle as a sledgehammer by saying that it’s because he’s a man?
The current emperor, he had another reason where that wasn’t his taste.
The former high-ranking consort Ah Duo had doted on Consort Riishu like a daughter. It seemed the current emperor also held tea parties in the time when he was the crown prince, together with Consort Riishu and Ah Duo.
A make-believe family – that was what they made.
He likes voluptuous women?
He also heard another explanation.
Before Ah Duo couldn’t give birth anymore, she had a slender figure.
However, the current emperor, at the time he was the crown prince, didn’t try to place any other consort aside from Ah Duo.
How was he supposed to take that?
Jinshi had noticed that a couple of years ago. Gaoshun had also noticed from quite a while ago.
Jinshi, who hadn’t known that, got stuck with being the eunuch Jinshi. As he didn’t want to assume the position of the next emperor, he came forward with the duty of picking a wife for his brother.
When he thought about it now, he felt it was quite a cruel thing.
He sighed and closed the materials for the court council.
He went to bed, extinguished the light. While thinking that he has been slacking on training before sleep recently, he decided to sleep.
Let’s inform his majesty about that matter tomorrow.
If he were to show his attendance even for appearances, the official who is now allowed to raise his face little by little might also calm down. The opposite was also possible, but it can’t be helped in that case.
The man well-matched to being Shishou’s subordinate. That is Consort Riishu’s father, Uryuu (卯柳, Mao Liu).
T/N: And this starts off the next part of this arc~ It’s Riishu’s turn in the spotlight!
This is also where the LN starts to diverge a little. Most of the exposition here was delivered by his majesty himself, as Jinshi (disguised) was still on a field trip with Maomao and Basen. The paper village was en route to their final destination – Western I Province. Everyone else (important to this part of the arc) will be there too. (Quack Dr. stayed behind in the village with kitty!Maomao.)
Also, I want feedback! I want to make the translations better! Rate and review on NU! Give me constructive criticism! Let me know if there’s something I do that annoys the heck out of you (or that there’s something I don’t do enough)! No need to sugarcoat it.