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The daily mountain of documents was now at a height where he could see through to the other side.
Jinshi sighed in relief and looked over at the individual working quietly in the corner of the room.
He had erected a screen in the blind spot of the entrance so visitors won’t be able to see whoever is there. He would have set up an all-enclosing wall if he could, but Basen stopped him.
Well then, speaking of the identity of the individual behind the screen…
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“J-Jinshi-sama…” The man carrying over a stack of settled documents was slim, of average height, and had a mild pallor to his skin. It wasn’t that he didn’t look unhealthy, he certainly did but it was amusing how similar his face looked to the healthier kid, err, Basen beside him.
Was he around one sun shorter than Basen? He had a hunched-back so he appeared much shorter.
Basen’s elder brother by one year. Gaoshun’s son. Baryou.
The Ma Clan produced many warriors every generation. The Ma Clan primarily guarded the imperial family. Like how Gaoshun was his majesty’s, and Basen, Jinshi’s.
Baryou was originally supposed to be Jinshi’s retainer. Although he’s Gaoshun’s second child and the eldest son, a weakling like him wasn’t suitable for guard duty.
Although Baryou received the name “Ba”, his younger brother, who was born a year later, was also bestowed the name.
“How quick. Are you already done?”
“Yes. I finished the work, since Jinshi-sama is an ornament.”
“…what do you mean?”
It sounded like an abridged sentence. Jinshi didn’t understand. However, someone appeared at the scene without a moment’s delay.
“This is what Baryou means:”
A tall beauty with an unpleasant expression stood there. Wedging herself between them, she moved in such a way that even Jinshi wasn’t able to grasp where she had come from at first. Baryou jolted in place.
“He said: ‘Jinshi-sama is beautiful like an ornament, so I can never see him as human. Thus, even I, someone who is bad with people, cannot perceive him as human but rather as a different being, allowing me to treat him with composure and concentrate on my work.’”
“…” What was Jinshi supposed to make of that? Also, he was being casually treated as non-human. No, this man has always been like this in the past.
The beauty with an unpleasant expression who had translated Baryou’s words, was Baryou and Basen’s elder sister. Her name is Maamei(麻美, Ma Mei), the mother of two infant children.
The two brothers resembled their father Gaoshun, but Maamei resembled their mother. Their mother was Jinshi’s wet nurse; his intuition told him that she would be hard to deal with.
Maamei’s resemblance to her mother also extended to personality. Apparently, she’s strong-willed while her husband is henpecked as well. Her father Gaoshun was, up until a few years ago, despised like a caterpillar by her.
Simply put, it was probably the case that Maamei was the only person who can manipulate the reins of the hard-to-handle Baryou. While Baryou passed the civil examinations with high marks, due to his weak constitution and peculiar thinking patterns, he stopped working. He struggled with forming new human connections, and was harassed by his colleagues and boss before they got close, and his stomach got sick.
He was indeed capable, but it was his personality that was problematic.
In a way, he bore an uncanny resemblance to the Ra Clan, but unfortunately, those individuals also possessed excessively tough spirits, which actually gave those around them a bellyache instead.
Not to say half, but even if he had one-tenth of a disposition that didn’t care for his surroundings, it would be good.
As Jinshi thought that, he checked over the documents he received.
Alongside paperwork, messengers would occasionally show up. The content was regarding the locusts that had been brought back.
Bringing back such a large quantity of dead insects was in consideration of needing every bit of intel they could scavenge, in order to investigate what caused the locust plague.
Normally, this kind of job will be left to the experts. However, in the past few years, there had been no incidence of extensive locust plagues, and no individuals who were familiar with the countermeasures. They’re gone.
And so, Jinshi had no choice but to leave it to Maomao as usual.
Although he felt it would interfere with work at the medical office, he knew that she would do it for him if he asked.
“…if only we had more capable people…” He didn’t want to bother her. However, the number of useful people around Jinshi was limited.
“It’s because you can’t create capable people,” Maamei said curtly.
“I should’ve pushed it onto the Directorate of Waterways(都水監), or the Minister of Agriculture(司農, aka Minister of Finance).”
The Directorate of Waterways presides over flood control and the Minister of Agriculture, money and grain. Although he had asked them, they both refused, claiming it wasn’t under their jurisdiction.
Maamei was the one listening as he explained. “Hah? You should’ve just pushed it onto them. Thinking about others? Wouldn’t it be better if you just used those scoundrels who turn up leisurely at noon, only to drink tea before heading back? Busy? Not free? Should I hold them down in a busy spot in the pleasure district until morning? They seem to have connections of the sort.”
Can’t win against her.
And then she pressed for another answer. “Also, you seemed to have turned nearsighted, so I’ll give you one piece of advice.”
“…wh-what is it?” He found himself faltering.
“Very broadly speaking, sending a load of insects is considered harassment and nothing else. Especially to women.”
Jinshi’s shoulder slumped and he clutched his forehead.
“Divide the work. Those useable, anyone can use them. Those unuseable, please assign them tasks that will do neither harm nor good so they don’t get in the way.”
Per Maamei’s instructions, Jinshi was chased out of his office. Flaunt your authority, and if that’s not enough, use even seduction to press the work onto them, she had said.
If Jinshi paid them a personal visit, their attitudes will change—he was told, but he wasn’t really looking forward to it.
Having Jinshi personally walk himself there, that on its own, would appear to carry profound meaning. He had made use of this tactic many times during his time as a eunuch, but he had scruples over using it as the imperial brother.
Nonetheless, he was going since it was better than failing to manage them.
“…I don’t think I know any seduction techniques.”
“My apologies. For my sister.” Basen came along as his escort. Jinshi wasn’t the only one who couldn’t defy Maamei.
“Still, it’s not that I don’t understand what my sister is saying.” Basen looked around.
When Jinshi got closer, it was clear they were anxiously hiding something.
“I heard that Go is popular, but I wonder if it’s worse than before,” Jinshi said.
There was a person reading a Go book while sitting on a handrail. In the rest area, there were a number of officials crowded around a Go board.
As soon as they saw Jinshi, some stopped playing Go and acted normal, but among them were those who were too engrossed in their game to notice.
Do your work—Maamei’s opinion was quite correct.
Jinshi’s cut down on sleep seemed stupid now.
“Even this kind of thing.” Shocked, Basen was looking at the place where notices of personnel change were posted. As he wondered what it could be, a notice about the commencement of a Go tournament was posted.
“…no, they would probably need to take a breather as well.” Even Jinshi wouldn’t commit the boorish action of tearing down the poster.
However, the problem was the place they were holding it.
What were they thinking? It was written as the military training grounds.
“Jinshi-sama. Please look at the organiser.”
“I can imagine it, even if you didn’t tell me.”
The fox tactician’s face came to mind.
Jinshi cared not for the person who did whatever he wanted in the imperial court.
“It seems quite genuine, but could he be allowing ordinary people to participate as well?” Basen asked.
The poster seemed to be printed instead of handwritten. In other words, a large number had been printed.
“No, it’ll be troubling even if that had been intentionally included,” Jinshi said.
Although it was the outer court, the emperor is still here. It’ll be concerning if anyone outside of authorised personnel is given access.
“Then, let us quickly raise an objection to Grand Marshal K—”
“No, wait. That will backfire. Rather, it has to be Rahan,” Jinshi said.
Honestly, if they were going to hold a tournament like this, it was more suited to the fox tactician’s nephew. He was probably using it as a pretext for some business dealings.
As expected, there was something amusing written on the poster.
“It seems the right to challenge Grand Marshal Kan is ten silvers,” Basen said.
It’s Rahan. The shadow organiser is all Rahan.
“Also, a new publication for sale. It seems they will be selling a compilation of Go problems. Limited to five hundred copies, can they sell it all?” Basen asked.
“He probably plans to sell those,” Jinshi replied.
How powerful is he?
No, this is probably the least Rahan had to do. There should still be some repair costs left over from the time the fox tactician destroyed the inner palace wall.
“However, isn’t ten silvers for a single Go match too much?” Basen said.
Ten silvers are said to be a commoner’s livelihood for one month. Taking lessons in money sense from Maomao and Gaoshun—he was told that many times, so Jinshi himself was also aware it wasn’t a cheap sum.
“Actually, this would probably be considered cheap, huh,” Jinshi said.
“Cheap? There’s no way, right?” Basen refuted. Certainly, it was expensive as a teaching fee.
‘Hypothetically, if you win against Grand Marshal Kan, wouldn’t it be as cheap as pocket change?” Jinshi said.
That notion alone boosts its value to those around them.
“The challenger holds the black stone. It seems they will be playing with no komi.”
Black stones, having the right of the first move, has the advantage in Go. Thus, to make it fair, it is ensured that white stones have more pieces beforehand.
“…which reminds me, I feel that Grand Marshal Kan is treated comparatively more respectfully by people who are good at Go,” Basen said.
Like Jinshi’s Go instructor. But then again, it was comparatively; it’s hard to say under ordinary circumstances.
“If Jinshi-sama were to win, I have the feeling that he will be coming to your office to bother you, and refuse to leave.”
“It’s hard, huh.”
Even if he were holding the black stone, the opponent was the fox tactician. He was a much stronger opponent than an unskilled professional.
Well then. Let’s end the chit chat here.
“Later, send a messenger to Rahan,” Jinshi said.
“Yes,” Basen answered.
“I’ll authorise it, so why don’t we have them change the location?”
This was where he refuses to yield.
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