I [Imperial] Am Not This Kind of Man - Chapter 7
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Just as he was overcome with burning anxiety, deep and low knocking could be heard coming from the door. The sound was subtle yet had a rhythm to it. Virtuous Consort Ge and Qin Ze both froze, silence befalling the room.
Amidst this deathly silence, the door was pushed open. A tall youngster with shapely eyebrows and a mesmerizing pair of eyes entered the room.
Qin Ze looked at him, his panic instantly swiped clean from his expression, “It’s you, Huo Bin.” He glanced behind the youngster, frowning as he asked, “You came alone?”
The youngster was clearly familiar with Qin Ze, he smiled as he replied, “Could it be that I need someone to guide me to see the Virtuous Imperial Consort? This is a classified matter, it goes without saying that it’s better to have less people know about it.”
As he said this, he saluted carelessly, “Paying respect to the imperial consort.”
Virtuous Imperial Consort Ge could not be bothered to pursue the rules of etiquette at this time. She raised her hand in acknowledgement and asked, “Where’s the assassin?”
“I’m the assassin.” Huo Bin smiled broadly.
Qin Ze’s jaw dropped in surprise. The Huo family actually let their own son serve as the assassin.
Virtuous Imperial Consort Ge couldn’t resist from saying, “The child of money and riches does not sit in the main room¹. There are countless experts under the Huo family’s command, why should you be personally exposed to danger?”
[¹TLN: To be honest, I’m not sure if I translated that accurately enough but the chinese is 千金之子，不坐垂堂. Baidu explains it as something along the lines of “someone from a higher position should not lower himself to do such things.” In other words, “stick to the status quo/don’t stoop down to the levels of the lower-class”.]
“There may be many experts, but most of them have lost to my sword. Besides, a mundane, lowly person’s habits, strides, and demeanor are all lowly. How can anyone else pull off impersonating the prince? Pei Ling not only possesses extremely high martial arts skills, but his eyesight is also keen and he can recognize a song from its tune. Once he detects something, our plan is bound to fall through.”
“Recognize a song from its tune” was a reference to one of Pei Ling’s past affairs. Pei Ling was a rather devoted person. A decade or so ago, his original madam had unfortunately died from illness. Afterwards, he had never taken a second wife.
His steady rise in power due to his accumulation of eminent military achievements over these couple years had caused a great number of aristocratic families to form the notion of introducing their daughters and joining their families through marriage. However, they were all turned down gracefully.
There had been a gaomen² in Bei Jiang whose young miss fell in love at first sight with Pei Ling, vowing not to marry any gentleman other than him. Her father was truly tormented and at a loss due to her behaviour. Then, he concocted a strange plot.
[²TLN: gaomen (高门/high door) – basically the same as an affluent family (high threshold).]
He specially set up a trap for the sake of his beloved daughter. He invited Pei Ling to attend a banquet, where his daughter had disguised herself as the qinshi³ to present her art.
[³TLN: qin shi (琴师) – player of the ancient Chinese stringed instrument, usually play in brothels and other entertainment halls/banquets.]
The Pei Ling at that time had still been a youthful military general who had barely revealed his outstanding talent at Bei Jiang, not at all as well-known and powerful as he was now. At the end of the song, the host—using his status as a senior—had proposed to give him the qinshi as a gift. Amongst nobles, it was very common to send each other servant girls.
This family’s plan was to reveal their daughter’s identity after she had successfully entered Pei Ling’s mansion. Based on Pei Ling’s character and manner of handling matters, seeing as the two families were on good terms anyways—not to mention their assistance in Pei Ling’s promotion—regardless of his unwillingness, Pei Ling could only marry their daughter.
Who would have thought that Pei Ling would see through their plot so quickly and even joke, “How could a lowly person as this one (PL) match up to the tune of wealth and prosperity?” The implicit meaning behind his words had shown that he had already seen through the young miss’ identity.
This matter had spread as Pei Ling rose higher and higher in position. The people commended Great General Pei for his sophistication and noble manner. They declared that, as expected of an aristocratic son, despite having fallen into dire straits and being in the military for more than a decade, he was still as cultured and elegant as before.
Qin Ze still wanted to say something in response to Huo Bin, but was stopped by Virtuous Consort Ge’s next words.
“When are we going to act?”
Huo Bin represented the Huo clan’s sincerity. Since they themselves were willing to let their son undertake such a risk, there was no reason for an outsider like her to say anything further.
“As expected, the imperial consort is frank and straightforward.” Huo Bin complimented, “The decree summoning Pei Ling and the important ministers has already been prepared. In less than an hour, it will be sent out in less than an hour. Let us change our clothes now and prepare to act.”
Nonetheless, when things came to a head, the Virtuous Consort Ge was quite hesitant. She paused, then suggested, “Second Gongzi, this consort noticed that your figure is higher than Ze’er’s by about three centimeters. Rather than disguising yourself as Ze’er, the Ninth Highness might be a more suitable substitute.”
This suggestion was said without much confidence. She had originally assumed that the Huo family clan would arrange for one of their experts to carry out the assassination. Who would have thought that the other party would dispatch their own son? With this contrast, she seemed more cowardly.
Huo Bin’s gaze swept past her shoulder towards the unconscious Qin Nuo who was lying on the arhat bed.
He had noticed a figure lying on the arhat bed as soon as he had come inside. He had assumed that it was someone who the Virtuous Imperial Consort Ge had taken care of in fear that they would hinder the plan. He hadn’t thought that they had this idea in mind. A trace of disdain flashed in Huo Bin’s eyes, but he smiled obligingly, “That works as well. It’s just borrowing a change of clothes anyway.”
The Virtuous Imperial Consort Ge and Qin Ze simultaneously let out a sigh of relief.
There was no time like the present. Qin Nuo’s outer robes had already been removed by Qin Ze. Now, the latter handed it over to Huo Bin, who swiftly put it on.
The prince’s robes had hidden embroidery of coiled dragons, the silver lines intersecting and the color surreal. When Huo Bin donned it, he appeared more dazzling and brilliant than before, with an extraordinary aura. He pulled out a long sword that was as thin as a cicada’s wing and stowed it at his waist.
Noticing that Qin Ze had been watching his every move, Huo Bin chuckled, revealing his pearly whites, “Does the Tenth Highness like this?”
There was a gleam in Qin Ze’s eyes, “A soft sword this long is rare to come by.”
“Ha, this is certainly not something that little kids should play with.” After concealing the flexible sword, Huo Bin soon pushed open the door and left.
The room regained its peace. Virtuous Consort Ge sank down into a chair listlessly. A moment later, she muttered breathlessly, like a gasp, “Will……this succeed?”
Qin Ze’s face was grim, “Who knows? They’re all a gang of scoundrels and traitors!”
“What?” The Virtuous Consort Ge could hardly believe her ears.
“Father Emperor hasn’t died yet, and they are rising publicly in revolt. Hmph, are they not scoundrels and traitors?”
Virtuous Consort Ge was so frightened by him that she jumped to her feet, admonishing him, “What gibberish are you saying?! Do you not want to live anymore?!”
Qin Ze sported a dour expression as he held his tongue.
The Virtuous Consort Ge continued to reprimand her son in hushed tones, “It is the intention of the Empress and the Crown Prince. The throne will fall into their hands sooner or later. Even if the Emperor was to find out, he still wouldn’t say a thing.”
The throne, was it? If that Crown Prince of an older brother of his obtained that seat with the help of the Huo family clan, how would he be any different from being the Huo family clan’s puppet? Nowadays, the imperial clan’s authority was declining. It was alright for the Crown Prince Qin Cong. As for the other princes, with bigwigs such as the Huo family clan and Pei family clan wielding command over the military troops, who would still put them in their eyes?⁴
[⁴TLN: “still put them in their eyes” (谁还将他们放在眼中) in this context meaning “who would even take them seriously”. The princes posed no real threat nor did the powerful and influential officials have anything to fear. Thus, the families do not sincerely respect nor are they as deferential to the royal family.]
Just now, that Huo Bin had clearly displayed a scornful expression towards himself (QZ). It might not be done with any conscious intentions, but the attitude that was shown from the unintentional behavior was the most sincere!
Qin Ze clenched his fist tightly. “There will come a day, where I won’t need to take this sort of scorn from a mere martial fighter…”
“What kind of nonsense are you thinking?” The Virtuous Consort Ge hadn’t expected that her son would suddenly bring this up. She frowned, “Huo Er Gongzi⁵ was about to execute the plan, it is inevitable that he will neglect the etiquette. Mother Consort presumes that it was unintentional. My child, you are a prince of the imperial family. There is no need for you to concern yourself with these.”
[⁵ TLN: Er Gongzi (二公子) – Second son of an official or nobility.]
A prince of the imperial family, was it? Qin Ze gave a contemptuous laugh and didn’t respond.
Compared to Qin Ze’s abrupt vexation and dissatisfaction, Qin Nuo–who laid on the bed–was even more sullen.
On such a critical night, he could only lie there. What was more, he had to constantly pay attention to the steadiness of his breathing in order to maintain the facade that he was deep asleep so that he wouldn’t be killed for knowing more than he should.
He didn’t know if he would be implicated after the plan went into motion. If the assassination was successful, then it was very likely that he would be killed to shut his mouth forever. If the assassination failed, for someone as wise as Great General Pei, he should realize that a slow-witted and foolish prince such as himself was merely a cover used by others and not involve him in their confrontation, right?
Qin Nuo felt a terror that he had not felt before. His future—and even his life—were dependent on someone’s mood, how tragic was that? Was he really still a prince?
At this very moment, under different circumstances, utilizing different means, and not to mention how drastically different their personalities and mindsets were—
Qin Nuo and Qin Ze unexpectedly formed similar notions.
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