The clink, clink of stones being rearranged.
As Jinshi headed towards his office, he noticed military officials playing Go in the guardroom.
“It’s a craze, huh?”
“Seems like it.” Jinshi answered Basen’s question.
What set the craze alight, goes without saying. Jinshi also had six copies in hand.
It wasn’t the one copy he had requested of the civil official, and speaking of why six copies….
“It’s something I received. Take it.”
Maomao had sent them along with a brief note. As to why she sent them, it might be inventory disposal. She wouldn’t want to keep them on hand.
He didn’t consider the money given to the civil official to be a waste, but there was nothing he could do even with six copies. Since Basen had one, he wondered if he should give copies to Gaoshun, his majesty and Ah Duo.
It might simply be that, but it might not. The pharmacist maiden is determined and cunning, so it’s worth looking into any hidden meanings behind the gesture.
As Jinshi pondered over it, he ended up assuming that Maomao had a way to talk herself out of it. Several layers of preparation were necessary to ensure she had no way out.
Meanwhile, Jinshi had reached his office under the watchful gaze of court ladies from a distance.
There was an official standing in front of the office. When he noticed Jinshi, he approached him flusteredly.
“What is it?” Basen responded on behalf of Jinshi.
“Excuse me, this…” The official meekly passed a document over. Upon opening it, Basen’s eyebrows shot up.
When Jinshi saw the document, he entered the office expressionlessly. “Give me a full report of the damage.”
“Yes!” The official went back. If there’s new information, they’ll send a messenger.
When he entered the office, Jinshi gave a deep sigh. “It’s finally here, huh.”
The document contained a brief message:
“There has been an outbreak of locust plague.”
He already received reports of small scale insect damage. Jinshi also looked over the document, but honestly, the contents weren’t that interesting, so he left it to his subordinates.
Although, currently, there hasn’t been extensive damage…
“Harvest has cut down by thirty percent, huh.”
The damage was enormous. Upon hearing it was in the western farmlands, Jinshi’s ears twitched in surprise. “Isn’t it too late to harvest wheat?”
The harvest period should have been in the summer.
“It’s not wheat, but rice. Starting from around twenty years ago, they implemented large scale irrigation in order to grow rice. To put it conversely, as there’s only rice in an area, you can say that the local area has been eaten up.”
It was the Go-loving civil official who answered Jinshi. His name is Tenyuu(天祐, tian you. “Divine aid”). If he were a little less timid, he would have made an exceptional man.
“Is the water drawn from the river?”
Which reminded him, Jinshi heard that at the time of his birth, large scale flood prevention construction was taking place. It seems the water drawing mechanism was also implemented at the same time.
“Yes. It was trialled in one region. As a crop, it’s more affordable than wheat, however, if the scale is too wide, it will affect water quality downstream, so the expansion was cancelled.” Tenyuu drew a large circle on the map.
Twenty years ago was the era of the Empress. That brave woman had enacted a great number of astounding policies.
Jinshi looked at the encircled part of the map. It neither far nor close to the capital. Can a round trip be made in four to five days?
The documents had formed a mountain on his table. Jinshi looked between Basen who had always been serving him, and Tenyuu who looked uneasy.
He didn’t want the work to stockpile. However, he couldn’t ignore what bothered him.
Jinshi held back a groan.
“…U-um.” Tenyuu timidly raised his hand.
“What is it?” Jinshi looked at Tenyuu, trying his best to maintain his expression. It was hard to do so in front of Basen.
“A-acknowledging my rudeness, if I may ask, but isn’t the Prince of the Moon burdened with too much work?”
“I’m well aware of that. But what can I do? I can’t leave it to other people, right?”
At Jinshi’s words, Tenyuu looked a little guilty.
“I-it’s dreadfully hard to say, but…” Tenyuu continued, averting his eyes. “Other people do leave it their subordinates…”
“Do they act so unfairly!?” Basen slapped the table.
Tenyuu quivered with a shriek.
“Who on earth? You know who, right?” Basen pressed, so Jinshi gently took control of the situation.
“Basen. He’s scared. So, I just want you to tell me who does that.”
Even with Jinshi’s softness, Tenyuu replied in a grudging tone. “U-umm… Grand Marshal Kan*.”
Though it’s certainly understandable if it’s Tactician-dono, Tenyuu’s face looked as though he was withholding something.
“Are there others?” When Jinshi’s face neared, Tenyuu’s cheeks turned bright red. He picked people who had no interest in that kind of thing, but it seems it was no good when he got too close. Jinshi stroked the scar on his face.
“H-his majesty too…”
“”…”” Jinshi and Basen could only remain silent.
“Wh-what is it?” Tenyuu covered his face as if to say don’t come any closer. However, Basen didn’t seem satisfied.
“Just who works as his majesty’s substitute?”
Tenyuu stood firm and drew close—
“”…”” They could only fall silent once again.
“Of course, his majesty is affixing all the seals. I-if, just one more person can come between and settle the documents, wouldn’t the Prince of the Moon’s workload decrease by a third?”
Hearing a third, Jinshi’s heart wavered. However, he couldn’t leave the important sorting to an official at such short notice.
Jinshi looked at Basen.
He thought that since Gaoshun was doing it, he could leave it to his son Basen, but, unfortunately, the latter wasn’t suited for deskwork. He worked conscientiously, but he was serious to the point of being inflexible, so work will probably pile up.
Jinshi wanting to leave his work to a subordinate from a good family, who was loyal, and can work smoothly, was that too much to ask for?
“Jinshi-sama,” Basen said.
“What is it?”
“I know someone who’s good at paperwork.”
Jinshi’s eyes widened at Basen’s words. “Truly? I was fairly sure you weren’t acquainted with civil officials.”
“No, there is one. He passed the civil examinations last year, but isn’t in government service currently.”
“…could it be?” Jinshi had one person in mind.
“Yes. Baryou(馬良, Ma Liang). Will you know who if I say Brother Ryou?”
Baryou, as his name suggests, is a member of the Ma Clan. Basen’s older brother.