T/N: Thank you splitdevotion for writing a review on NU =)! Here's as extra chapter today to say thank you!
I agree something is definitely lost in translation. One simple reason is that Chinese grammar is more flexible than English. A lot of times, I'll see a sentence that sounds so beautiful in Chinese, but would be too clunky and/or confusing if I tried to preserve the sentence structure in English. Anyways, I hope I can get better as a translator with practice and capture the author's writing style.
And, me too about getting tunnel vision. I had to read the novel for a second time to see that yes, the other characters' previous actions would make more sense if the MC's views and conclusions that she draws are wrong because her of her own bias and limited knowledge.
Trash fire is a perfect way to describe Ning Yuxuan XD.
Oh, that's such a good point about their main hurdle being their inability to trust each other. I hadn't though about it that way. I think there are multiple issues that need to be resolved before they can have a successful relationship. The simplest one would be a resolution for Wen Wan, and a more difficult one would be compromising on their different values. But, yeah, they need to trust each other, or none of that will matter.
Title: The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir
Chapter 404 - Longing for you makes me old (1)
Ji Man obsequiously smiled. What choice did she have? She had to be this generous. Since ancient times, how many wealthy people had met with a bad ending? Merchants had money, but they didn't have power. If a merchant was too rich, it would attract the attention of someone that held power. Once that happened, the merchant would definitely be killed and his or her wealth would be feasted upon. And so, she might as well donate her money in order to preserve her life.
By showing loyalty to Zhao Zhe, she would have a way out. Instead of waiting for someone else to find a way out for her and seeing her as a hindrance, it would be better to walk with them and share both the glory and disgrace.
"This one doesn't need to guess to know that a family can only survive when the nation survives," Ji Man said, "If Zhangjun doesn't resist against being oppressed, the days when this one has to flee to escape death won't be far away. This one will hand over the account books that show Ji Rice Store's profits to Sir Wu later. Your Highness, please don't treat this one as an outsider."
Zhao Zhe was smiling very happily. He said, "good" several times before looking at her and saying, "I didn't think highly enough of you in the past. I thought... Haha. I didn't expect that you would be someone that entertained thoughts of possessing the world."
No matter how brilliant a ruler was, he would still like to hear flattery. Ji Man wasn't stingy with her words. She raised up the wine cup and said, "Right now, there's disasters wrecking havoc everywhere. The people have no way to make a living, and the emperor continues to obstinately cling to his own course and make life difficult for Zhangjun. As a person of Zhangjun, it's only natural for this one to put forth my meager contribution. Moreover, Your Highness is competent and governs well. With you as Zhangjun's learned and virtuous leader, Zhangjun has become even more prosperous than the capital. After going to the capital and returning, this one feels even more certain that seeking shelter from Your Highness was the best choice."
He had used her to threaten Ning Yuxuan and treated her as an insignificant pawn, but she could forget all those past unpleasant things. After all, at that time, she didn't have the means to do anything herself.
But now, the situation was different. She had a bargaining chip in her hand, so Zhao Zhe would value her more. She wouldn't be regarded as unimportant person that could be kept or not kept without much thought. There was value to be had by closely following this master.
Zhao Zhe was smiling as he accepted her toast. After asking her a few more questions about matters in the capital, they quietly finished the meal. Afterwards, they went to the prince's estate, he arranged a few things for her, then let her withdraw to peacefully rest. Ji Man was finally able to have her first good night's sleep in the past half month.
Half a month ago, in the capital.
The spy had returned from the marquis's estate and repeated every single word that Ning Yuxuan had said. Hearing these words, Zhao Li finally felt more at ease.
Kangyuan Junzhu was wearing a gauzy, pear-colored palace dress and sweetly snuggled up against the emperor. "Your Majesty, you should feel reassured now, right?"
Zhao Li lightly smiled. "It's all thanks to your idea."
"That herb was very hard to obtain. Yu-er had to spent a lot of money to get it." Kangyuan Junzhu smiled and said, “It's good as long as Your Majesty feels better. This way, you'll stop tossing and turning at night."
Can't sleep… Zhao Li chuckled. He stroked his red agate thumb ring. "It was very thoughtful of you."
It would be great if he could sleep well now that this matter was resolved, but he was worried that he would find out that he was wrong about the importance of this matter. And, there was something more important in the depths of his heart.
He had obtained all of the most hard to come by things in the world: money, power, and beautiful women. Pengyu didn't object to him taking Kangyuan as his consort. Instead, she confined herself in Wangyue Building and wouldn't come out. When the officials saw this, one after another, they started stuffing women into his harem.
Once one consort was accepted, there would inevitable by another one. In the end, he failed to uphold his previous promise to Pengyue.
But, she seemed to not care anymore? Zhao Li chuckled. He turned his wheelchair and headed towards the inner part of the hall. Kangyuan's eyes brightened, and she followed him after him.
Since Ji Man had left, Ning Yuxuan would bring that not very nice looking oil-paper umbrella everywhere.
People from the Six Ministries would tease him by saying, "Marquis, the sky is clear today. It's not raining."
He would lightly smile and respond, "Yeah, sunny days are good too."
He didn't know far along she was in her journey.
He didn't pursue the matter of Wen Wan drugging him. On the contrary, he pretended to not have memories of that incident at all. The wound on his hand had been taken care of and was wrapped up, but he felt as if there was a hole in his heart, and he didn't know when that wound would recover.
Every day, he kept hoping that the end of the year would arrive sooner, so that he could go to Zhangjun sooner and see her... It wasn't because he wanted to explain himself. It was because he wanted to return the umbrella to her. An umbrella was such a bad gift. Even if Ning Mingjie had a matching purple jade, he still liked the purple jade present more.
The emperor's suspicion towards him had gradually decreased, and Zhao Li also went back to giving him important tasks to handle. And so, he would go to Qiangwei Courtyard to express his loyalty at regular intervals. Whether he was talking or writing poems, he would always be expressing his devotion to the emperor. After a few months of this, whenever the emperor summoned Ning Mingjie to discuss important military affairs, he would also be called over.
“Zhangjun is easy to guard and difficult to attack. Thus, use the excuse that you're looking for a place to rest. Wait until you've passed Xi River before doing anything else." Zhao Li had his head lowered to look at the map. “Once you passed over Xi River, look for a good place to build an encampment. After that, go to Zhangjun's city and convey this emperor's decree. If Zhangjun Prince accepts my decree, bring the heavy infantry to seize his ore mines and military fields in order to take control of Zhangjun. If he doesn't obey my decree, attack and conquer the city under the reasoning that he's guilty of disobeying an imperial order."
Ning Mingjie solemnly assented. Ning Yuxuan also had serious expression.
"This emperor knows that my imperial brother will make his move sooner or later." Zhao Li smile and said, “If the two of you can help resolve this deep scourge for this emperor, you'll be heavily rewarded once you return to the capital."
"This subject will obey Your Majesty's command."
The two cousins from Ning Clan seemed to be of one mind and incomparably loyal.
The emperor was assured as he gestured for them to go back home and rest.