The next day, Huang Rang woke up early. As she opened the door, passersby outside looked at her. This residence was the official residence of the Black Tortoise Bureau, and it didn’t even have a separate courtyard. The doorstep opened directly onto a small road where anyone could pass by.
In an instant, various gazes from all directions surrounded her, blocking her way. Huang Rang didn’t care about these people—after all, she had been scrutinized outside her dreams many times before, and now her skin had grown thick.
She left the room and went straight to Di Yiqiu’s study.
In the study of Di Yiqiu, several officials had already arrived early. There weren’t many people from the Four Bureaus now, but the daily affairs were still quite busy. Two deputy chiefs, four junior supervisors, and various other officials were present.
Huang Rang looked at them and hesitated a bit.
The other officials were very upright because Di Yiqiu had always been disciplined and had no interest in women. So they didn’t think otherwise. The Chief himself was even more serious in front of others, especially after the awkward incident last night.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
Huang Rang gave him some face and said, “I have something to discuss. Can I ask the Chief to step out for a moment?”
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The food in the dining hall was not particularly delicate, but outside of her dreams, she had only been able to look at it and not eat it. Now that she had the chance, she couldn’t help but want to taste a few bites.
Sure enough, the dining hall of the Black Tortoise Bureau had remained in the same place for hundreds of years. Huang Rang walked in, and the aroma of the food filled the air. She went to the rice pot, and one of the kitchen helpers couldn’t help but ask, “Miss, you look unfamiliar. Which Buraeu do you belong to?”
Huh? Huang Rang said, “I’m a guest invited by your Chief.”
The kitchen helper was taken aback but still polite. He asked, “Does the young lady have an identification badge?”
“This…” Huang Ran frowned, but since it was their rule, she couldn’t say anything. She said, “I didn’t know there was such a rule, so I didn’t bring one.”
Before the kitchen helper could speak, the head chef came over and said, “Miss, guests from the Black Tortoise Bureau need to show their identification badges. If you don’t have one, I’m afraid…”
His words were interrupted by a young runner who hurriedly approached him and whispered something in his ear.
Though he spoke quickly and quietly, Huang Rang heard it. The runner said, This young lady slept in the Chief’s bedroom last night.
The head chef impatiently shooed the runner away, scolding, “Go away! Don’t act suspiciously in front of guests; have some decorum!” After scolding, he turned to Huang Rang, smilingly saying, “If you don’t have one, you can’t go hungry either. A beautiful young lady like you, willing to taste our humble fare, is an honor for us. Please choose a seat, and I’ll personally arrange it for you.”
Huang Rang: “…”
One had to admit that although the food in the Black Tortoise Bureau might not always be delicious, the chefs were certainly clever.
Huang Rang picked a table and sat down, and not long after, Di Yiqiu arrived.
It seemed that the morning meeting had ended, and he was about to send her to the palace. Huang Rang said, “I’ll make a list of the items needed for the Double Snake Fruit. Since I’ve never seen this tree before, it must require a lot of things. You should assign someone specifically for the procurement.”
Di Yiqiu turned away slightly, made a sound of agreement, and looked quite awkward.
Huang Rang continued, “Regarding the records and literature related to the Double Snake Fruit, we must find as much as possible to study.”
“Somebody will take care of it.” The Chief didn’t look at her directly.
Before long, the kitchen brought some snacks, which were much more exquisite this time. The breakfast not only had visually appealing jujube cakes but also tenderly fried eggs. The most amazing one was a bowl of milk sprinkled with rose petals.
Huang Rang didn’t care about the rest but became interested in the bowl of rose milk she hadn’t been able to drink in her dreams.
She took a small silver spoon and scooped some into her mouth, savoring it.
The Chief glanced at her sideways, quickly and inconspicuously. Seeing that she didn’t pay attention to him, he stole a few more glances.
This woman was really beautiful, and the light golden dress suited her well. Sitting in the corner, she seemed like a clear stream flowing in a desolate valley or a cluster of flowers blossoming in a barren land. Her eyes sparkled like those beautiful words, as if they were all born for her.
Her hands were especially elegant; her fingers were slender and fair. When she held the silver spoon, even the spoon seemed to shine brighter.
After a while, the kitchen also brought breakfast for the Chief . It was a simple meal of congee, side dishes, and steamed buns. As he ate, the Chief suddenly realized that from last night until now, his mind had been filled with chaotic thoughts, and he couldn’t get rid of them.
Huang Rang finished the bowl of rose milk, feeling in a good mood. When she was in a better mood, she also became more efficient. She said, “Let’s go.”
Di Yiqiu ate his food slowly, and upon hearing this, he frowned and asked, “Where are we going?”
“We’re going into the palace. I want to see the Emperor’s precious Double Snake Fruit.”
She took the initiative to help, which was a good thing, but Di Yiqiu said, “They can also bring it to the Black Tortoise Bureau.”
Huang Rang was puzzled—weren’t you arranging for me to go into the palace? She asked, “What’s the difference?”
Di Yiqiu didn’t say anything.
Of course, there was a difference.
After all, it might be inconvenient for him to go to the palace frequently. But how could he say this aloud, especially in front of her?
After they finished their meal, they left the dining hall together.
Di Yiqiu seemed to have made up his mind and said, “You can stay at the Black Tortoise Bureau for the next few days. I’ll have someone send the Double Snake Fruit to the Vermilion Bird Bureau, and you can cultivate it there. We’ll take care of all the procurement.”
No one spoke behind him, so Di Yiqiu turned around and saw Huang Rang standing there, looking at him with a smile that seemed to be both mocking and playful.
He raised an eyebrow and asked, “What?”
Huang Rang covered her mouth and smiled. “Chief, could it be that you’re reluctant to let this young lady enter the palace?”
Di Yiqiu never could have imagined that he would be flirted with by a woman at the Black Tortoise Bureau. Prince Eighty-Six, who was naturally thin-skinned, immediately frowned and said, “Miss Ten, please behave yourself!”
However, it would have been better if he hadn’t said anything. As soon as these words came out, Huang Rang took advantage of the situation and approached him. The Chief had never encountered such a situation before. He felt an overwhelming allure approaching him as the beautiful woman exuded warmth and charm, causing his mind to go hazy and his body to weaken.
Unconsciously, he stepped back, but with each step back, Huang Rang moved closer. Eventually, he found himself backed against the courtyard wall. The surrounding flowers and trees provided some cover, and with Huang Rang’s hand leaning against his side, her nose was almost touching his.
The Chief’s speech became somewhat unclear as he asked, “What do you want?”
Huang Rang raised her hand and lightly touched his Adam’s apple with her fingertips, saying, “I thought Prince Eighty-Six couldn’t bear to part with me, so he wanted to keep me at the Celestial Court to see each other every day.”
Her red lips were so close, and her breath was as sweet as orchids, making each word she spoke alluring. When had the Chief ever experienced such a situation? He felt suffocated and pushed her away abruptly, saying, “Nonsense.”
“Haha.” Huang Rang stepped back slightly, allowing him to catch his breath. Unexpectedly, he noticed that his face had turned red. Quite innocent! At this moment, Huang Rang felt a bit curious and lightly poked his shoulder with her fingertip, asking, “Have you truly never been with a woman before?”
Her jade-like finger felt like it had stabbed into his heart. The Chief decisively brushed away her hand, unable to keep up the pretense any longer! Seeing someone passing by, he immediately called out, “Bai Qingyun!”
It turned out that the passerby was Bai Qingyun, the Deputy Chief of the Azure Dragon Bureau. Bai Qingyun had already noticed that something was amiss between the two, so he turned back when called. The Chief angrily said, “Escort her into the palace!”
…Ha, he’s actually annoyed.
Huang Rang could only follow Bai Qingyun into the palace. Along the way, Bai Qingyun suppressed his laughter, wearing an expression that seemed to want to say something but held back. Huang Rang ignored him. Finally, Bai Qingyun couldn’t hold back any longer and said, “If Miss Ten is interested in our Chief, you better act fast.”
“Oh?” Huang Rang smiled ambiguously.
Ignoring all restraint, Bai Qingyun praised their chief, saying, “Our Chief comes from a noble background, holds a high position, and is handsome and talented. To say he’s one in a million is an understatement, right?”
“Not an understatement, not at all.” Huang Rang echoed him.
Bai Qingyun immediately continued, “Countless women in the capital admire him. But in my opinion, he has a different view of Miss Ten. Miss Ten stands a good chance.”
Is that so? What a pity. Your Chief is still single even after 110 years, and he still lives in the same official residence as other single officials. Huang Rang silently complained.
Bai Qingyun continued to flatter Di Yiqiu and recount many of his impressive deeds. They were still feeling it was insufficient, but they had already arrived at the imperial garden.
He led Huang Rang in, and there, Dai Yue was already standing by. Seeing Huang Rang, she didn’t dare to lift her head. On the other hand, Eunuch Fu hurriedly approached and said, “Ah, Miss Ten, this old servant has been eagerly awaiting your arrival. Please take a look; what should we do?”
He led Huang Rang to see the double snake fruit tree while Bai Qingyun stood still, observing. This woman’s graceful figure and gentle demeanor were simply captivating.
I wonder how confident our Chief is. Alas, his luck with women… is truly worrisome.
Well, I did my best.
He shook his head and returned to the Celestial Court.
Meanwhile, at the Celestial Court, Zhu Xiang, the Deputy Chief of the Vermilion Bird Bureau, received the drafts for today’s weapon artifacts. She brought these drafts back to the Vermilion Bird Bureau for casting.
However, as soon as the drawings were sent out, everyone quickly noticed the mystery behind the pages.
Behind the drawings, strokes were either bold or delicate, imaginary or real, and they filled a whole ten pages of various women sleeping in spring, each woman displaying different postures, expressions, and charms.
The officials in the casting bureau of the Vermilion Bird Bureau had a heated discussion for quite some time and finally concluded that this had nothing to do with the weapon artifacts. The reason it appeared on the drawing paper was most likely because our chief had come of age.
Zhu Xiang earnestly filled out the weapon artifact records.