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Spring Once More chapter 45
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)
“Are you all right?” I ask Pei Qixuan while lying in bed.
I swear this is coming out of my own mouth. Quite naturally, too.
Well, what else could I possibly say? We have done the deed. The dry rice seeds have become plump, white pockets of goodness. The duck has been fully cooked. We have to face the reality sooner or later, ‘kay?
Master Pei emits a throaty agreement. Then, he picks up a robe and makes as if to get out of bed.
“You…You should probably rest,” I say. I seem to have lost control and gone over limits.
He leans down and licks my ear. “If I rest any longer, the day will break. I thought Your Highness never permitted any person to stay overnight.”
I scoff. “Master Pei, let’s not play around here. No more nonsense, please.” I ain’t deaf and I ain’t forgetful. He was calling me Ma Xiaodong, and I heard that shit loud and clear. Even an idiot would realize that if the young marquess could tell I’m a fake, then obviously so could the astute Master Pei.
With half of his torso pressed on mine, he whispers in my ear, “From now on call me Qixuan.”
His sultry breath seems to wriggle into my ear, sending a wild spasm through me. I choke on my own spit. As he pats my back, he snakes himself around my body.
After a short nap, it’s already mid-morning, and from the sound of it, it’s raining extremely hard. Xiao-Shun is knocking on the door to deliver the water. I drag my arm out from under Pei Qixuan’s head, throw something on and open the door. After the servant peeks past my unperturbed face to the bed, he drops the washbasin, and it clangs against the ground.
Is that really necessary? Mouth gaping like an open clam. Isn’t your master always like this?
“Fetch water for a bath for Master Pei first, then tidy the bed and bring breakfast,” I order with a stern face.
Xiao-Shun shut his mouth and muttered ‘yes’ before scuttling away.
After a bath and a meal, Master Pei finally returns to his room. I meditate for a good thirty minutes on the newly changed sheets and then stand outside under the roof ledge for about a quarter of an hour. Then, I walk into the rain for another fifteen minutes or so. The lightning and thunder keep coming one after another, but it doesn’t strike me.
I go back inside when the first sneeze hits me. I grab something dry from the wardrobe and head out. Zhong-shu calls out ‘Milord,’ but I pretend it was the wind. After taking a few rounds with an oil-paper umbrella, and when I spot an open bookshop, I dive right in.
“Gentleman.” The shopkeeper of Shizhenzhai props himself up on his elbow and pushes out a navy-blue book corner from a secret compartment. “This here, Miaomiao the Nun, is a new release by Mister Jianghu Laugh, illustrated by Lord Elegant.” He smirks. “Definitely something to store at the bottom of your chest.”
I flip through the pages. “Give me one with full pictures.”
His eyes glimmer. “But you see, sir, this is worth it! Pictures are still, but the imagination is alive! If you want good visuals, just go look at a real person. What you’re looking for is the mood, isn’t it? They say directness is loveless, but allusions birth passion. And only passion makes it interesting, wouldn’t you agree?
“Makes sense,” I reply. “But I ain’t literate, so I can’t make any allusions. Only thing I got is drawings.”
The shopkeeper’s face lights up in realization, and he goes to the backroom behind some curtains. After a while, he comes out with his arms in his sleeves.
“Sir, I guarantee your satisfaction with this one: Lord Satin’s only work. I’m only offering this to you because you look like you can afford it. I wouldn’t bother for anyone else.” Then, he leans in, whispering, “It says Lord Satin, but it’s actually by Temptress Moon in the West Chamber, but he’s got a warrant on his head. You can’t get this anywhere else.”
I fish out a piece of silver. “I’ll take it.”
“Misty rain pass the day, temptress moon in the west chamber.”
People in antiquity sure were poised, even writing lines of poetry to raise the atmosphere of a porno book.
I return to Su manor with the precious item that will cleanse my soul. Usually, I’d run into people, one after the other, whether it was Zhong-shu, Xiao-Quan, Master Su, Fu Qingshu or Moyu. Today, however, not a soul! Except a shrivelled Xiao-Shun in front of my room asking me if I want to eat. I dismiss him telling him not to bother me even if there were serious business.
After I latch the door and pull up a chair in front of the window, I open the inky blue cover with trembling fingers.
I flip through to the last page. Nothing.
How the hell was this shit banned? Since I started my career as a porn connoisseur, I’ve only watched Western works. I don’t even waste my time with Hong Kong stuff, let alone this paper crap. Even PG-16 is juicier than this. At least when they roll around in bed, it’s a moving picture.
Bro, why can’t you make those tits a little bigger and those waists thinner? These thighs are thicker than a hottie’s waist! No matter what special positions she gets in with Long Goatee there, she’ll just look like a ball of dough. Uncle Marx, you were a genius: a lack of resources really does lead to a deterioration of the mind. If I have to read this shit as entertainment, I’d rather go sleep with Pei Qixuan.
I give myself a quick one across the face. Fucking hell, why did I buy porn to cleanse my soul in the first place!
Xiao-Shun is back at the door, his voice shaking. “Milord, I bring you tea.”
I stuff Examination of Nether Flowers into my breast pocket and open the door. The servant puts a tea pot on the table.
“Milord, lunch is being served in the parlour.”
There is only Master Su and Pei Qixuan in the parlour. Fu Qingshu’s servant boy, Moyu, reports, “My young master caught a cold last night and is resting in his quarters.”
Apparently, it’s a work-related illness, too.
I’m sitting by Fu Qingshu’s bed, all smiles, while he’s wiping his snot and drinking medicine, all frowns.
“Master Fu, how come you’re sick all of a sudden?”
“Yesterday afternoon,” he explains with a bowl in hand, “an imperial spy reported that the books that Chancellor Liu plans to submit have been compiled only recently. He and the advisor each have a copy of the real books.”
“So Master went to his home to look around and unfortunately caught a cold,” Moyu continues naturally.
Geez, isn’t he hard-working! The rain last night was an outright storm. Should’ve waited for the rain to stop, at least.
“And I had no idea. I would’ve given you a hand.”
Fu Qingshu puts down the bowl and dabs at the curving corners of his lips with a handkerchief.
“Naturally, it was a beautiful night for you, Your Highness, and I wouldn’t have dared to disturb that.”
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ayszhang: It's finally summer in Astana...and I don't have AC in my house or at work :(
Spring Once More by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.