I [Imperial] Am Not This Kind of Man - Chapter 14
I had planned to release this when I had more chapters ready to do a mass release (as I had ambitiously declared in my Discord announcement), but alas…Here we are now. I’m attributing the delay to our busyness and the content in this chapter itself.
Qin Nuo skimmed through the account of his assets. The way that records were made in Ancient China was vastly different from the modern day. He felt dizzy after looking at it for a short while. Qin Nuo didn’t strain himself and set the records down.
Seeing that it was already dusk, Li Wan inquired about Qin Nuo’s plan before calling for the meal to be delivered.
According to a commandery king’s class1, he was given thirty-six dishes and twelve soups—this was not including the side dishes, staples, and desserts. When he looked at the table that was crammed with food, Qin Nuo’s understanding of his oncoming extravagant lifestyle was updated. It hadn’t been this outrageous when he had been a prince. There were only twelve dishes, six soups, and nine staple noodles. However, the kings’ meals were in accordance with the etiquette established during Shizong’s2 time. At that time, the current court had just come to power; no one in any of the social stratums was well off. Furthermore, Shizong was a frugal, self-effacing man. He did not want his descendants to be overly extravagant.
After cheerfully finishing his meal, Qin Nuo washed his face and rinsed his mouth before going to the study room.
Within just half a day’s time, Dong Bo had already led the servants in cleaning and arranging the rooms that Qin Nuo would be using frequently in the incoming future. The household items and decorative objects were all strictly arranged in accordance to his usual living habits as far as the eye could see. The only difference was that the room was even more spacious and well-lit than before, with the addition of furnishings that were also more refined and magnificent—and the change in the personnel who staffed the study room.
There were two unfamiliar-looking maids, both at the youthful age of fifteen to sixteen years old. One was dainty and pretty, with a fine figure; the other was extremely elegant, with an especially slim waist that could be held in one hand.
“These are the two maids specifically sent by the Imperial Household Department. In the register, they have been designated as the replacements of Lu He.” Seeing Qin Nuo’s gaze fall upon the two maids’ figures, Dong Bo explained, her face devoid of emotion, “With them in the study room, you [term of address for kings] may have a beauty by your side as you read3.”
The corner of Qin Nuo’s mouth twitched, “What ‘beauty by my side as I read’? One Lu He was already troublesome enough. Now there’s two of them.”
“Then how do you [term of address for kings] intend to handle these two?” Dong Bo inquired. As a veteran who had experienced years of the ups and downs in the imperial palace, Dong Bo was naturally aware of the intended purpose of these two maids.
“They’re both pitiful children. Just assign them to a simple duty. They do not need to be in the study.” Qin Nuo rubbed his forehead, “Do as you see fit.”
He himself was merely thirteen years old and yet, he referred to the maids who were older than him as ‘children’. Dong Bo’s serious expression somewhat broke down. Hastily controlling her features, she continued, “Since that’s the case, then I [humble self-appellation of a servant] will handle it.”
Qin Nuo nodded. When he saw Dong Bo’s features finally warm, he was struck with the urge to laugh.
Dong Bo was a palace worker who had been dispatched to his side when Qin Nuo had been an adolescent. She had always been in charge of the study room. Due to her plain looks and taciturn nature, she was rather inconspicuous amongst the tens of palace maids in the East Palace Hall. Only after Qin Nuo had transmigrated over here half a year ago was she promoted from the masses. The reason why he had chosen to place her in an important position was not only because he discovered that she was literate and rather competent, but perhaps more so due to her spirit of unwillingness to admit defeat. No matter how much she revered her master, she would not obey him blindly.
Qin Nuo quickly grew accustomed to this kind of lifestyle where he idled his time away.
On the third day, it was time to report for duty at the feudal office. After all, he still had the duty of inspecting the imperial guards of the Shence Battalion hanging over his head.
The Shence Battalion’s General Office was located in the west side of the city. Of the capital’s five imperial guard troops, the Shence Battalion was in charge of defending the western and northern city gates. They held an immensely important duty and were one of the elite military troops of Da Zhou that surrounded and protected the capital.
When they arrived in front of the office, Li Wan presented the official documents. Immediately, a young man with ape-like arms and a bee-like waist welcomed them with several guards in tow. He looked about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old and was dressed in silver-white light armor that made his features appear stalwart and his manner unflustered.
“Deputy Commander of the Shence Battalion, Zhao Pingyi4, pays respects to Your Highness Commandery King Chun.” The oncoming man cupped his hands in greeting as he called out to Nolan with a smile on his face.
“Commander Zhao is being too courteous. You [casual] and I [casual] will be colleagues in the future. There is no need to refer to me as such within the military barracks.” Qin Nuo nodded, rising to alight from the carriage.
Zhao Pingyi immediately came forward, personally supporting Qin Nuo down from the carriage. Towards the princes, Shence Battalion had to maintain the surface-level etiquette.
Since he had been appointed to the Shence Battalion, Qin Nuo had already done his homework beforehand. He knew that this Zhao Pingyi was one of the three deputy commanders of the Shence Battalion. In Da Zhou’s imperial court, he could absolutely be considered as young and promising to be able to hold the governmental post of a fourth-rank general when he was not yet thirty.
Qin Nuo’s own “Imperial Guard Inspector” post was also a lower fourth-class position, the same level as Zhao Pingyi. Therefore, Qin Nuo did not assume the mannerisms of the imperial clansman commandery king. He entered the office shoulder-to-shoulder with Zhao Pingyi.
His actions made Zhao Pingyi give a slight sigh of relief. The imperial clansmen were not that easy to deal with. It had truly made their heads hurt for a good while when the new emperor shoved two commandery kings into their battalion.
“General Jia is presently inside the government office, accompanying—” Before Zhao Pingyi could finish his sentence, Qin Nuo heard a resonant voice coming from the reception room.
“General Jia, you cannot take those third-rate goods to fob me [self-appellation of a king] off. Think of the friendly relations we have.”
Sure enough, when he entered the door, he immediately spotted his seventh older brother’s familiar figure. Qin Xun was currently standing next to Jia Bi, trying with an overly-familiar attitude to cajole the latter.
Jia Bi furrowed his brow, feeling his head aching. When he saw Qin Nuo enter, he seized the opportunity and rose to his feet, walking over to welcome the latter.
“Your Highness Commandery King Chun has come as well.”
As expected, people who practiced martial arts appeared younger than their actual age. This commander-in-chief of the Shence Battalion was clearly forty-five years old, yet he appeared to be only thirty-seven years old. He had a rectangular face8 , silkworm-like eyebrows9, and a reserved gaze. He had an extraordinary presence.
“General Jia.” Qin Nuo returned the greeting simply.
After the two of them had both greeted each other, Qin Nuo turned his head towards Qin Xun and smiled, “Younger Brother had thought that I [casual] had come early enough. Who would have thought that Seventh Older Brother, you [casual] have come earlier than me [casual]?”
Qin Xun shook the fat meat on his face, giving an enigmatic grin, “Ninth Younger Brother. I was just getting to the critical part with General Jia. Now that you’re here, we brothers can chat [dialect] with General Jia.”
As expected, after leaving that imperial palace, everyone is different. Qin Xun certainly hadn’t spoken so loudly in the imperial palace. Qin Nuo thought ruefully to himself. He smiled and said, “May I ask what major matter Seventh Older Brother and General Jia were discussing?”
“Naturally, the issue of the treatment towards us brothers [dialect]!” Qin Xun raised an eyebrow, then turned around to look at Jia Bi, “General Jia ah, both of us brothers are here now. There is no time like the present. So let us two brothers pick our bodyguards today.”
Jia Bi nodded, saying, “Then we will do as the king says.”
A ray of light flashed across Qin Xun’s face, “Then you better not use those third-rate goods to fob us off.”
Jia Bi shook his head helplessly, “Nothing of the sort, King Shu. The emperor had arranged for the two kings at our Shence Battalion in trust10; it is our honor. If I were to give third-rate goods to fob you two off, then wouldn’t that be going against the emperor’s trust? Moreover, to put it lightly11, would I be taking into account the friendly relations between us?”
After listening to their discussion12 for a while, Qin Nuo finally understood. So Qin Xun’s goal in his wheedling was the martial guards.
No wonder. He had been puzzled earlier, since their treatment (QN & QX) was based upon their classes. Moreover, the salary of a commandery king was very generous; they didn’t need to live their days on that (relatively) small amount of a guard supervisor’s salary.
According to convention, as a fourth-class general, the imperial guard supervisor was allocated fifty bodyguards13. Qin Xun was cajoling the other party to dispatch several highly-skilled guards over.
While Jia Bi and Zhao Pingyi left to gather the people, Qin Nuo couldn’t resist asking in a low voice, “Seventh Older Brother, don’t we have the two hundred military guards dispatched by the Imperial Household Department at our mansions?” As commandery kings, they had imperial bodyguards. When the Imperial Household Department had allocated assets, they had also dispatched manpower to their residences. Additionally, they could use their money to personally recruit servants and hanger-ons. As long as they don’t exceed a certain scope, no one would mind.
Qin Xun threw him a look of disdain, “Can we use the people whom the Imperial Household Department gave us? They’re a pack of good-for-nothings. Their martial arts are not up to par. Even having them guard the great door would be shameful. The most that they’re good for is to run errands, play a supporting role, and strengthen our fame and power. If they really were to fight, compared to the highly-skilled fighters, one hundred of them wouldn’t even be able to beat one of the other guys (highly-skilled fighters).”
Qin Nuo nodded, but he objected internally: You’re an idle imperial clansman. Is someone like you going to be fighting for the throne? Why would you want highly-skilled fighters to protect you, isn’t that a waste (of resources)?
Qin Nuo instantly noticed his unusual state. He snorted coldly, “Ninth Younger Brother, your experience is narrow. Don’t think that we idle imperial clansmen don’t ever encounter unexpected misfortune or death. You don’t know, do you? Two months ago, King An’s brat had an altercation with someone at the door to the Chunfeng Brothel14 over the leading prostitute. Heh-heh, he certainly did acquire the leading prostitute, but it’s unknown how his night went. What is known is that he stayed until the latter half of the night. After he came out, someone pulled a fabric bag over him and stripped him naked, throwing him onto the streets. Hmph, to this day, they still can’t find who did it. And half a year ago, King Cheng, that old chap…”
Qin Xun actively spoke of the gossip and incidents of the disputes and brawls between the capital’s imperial clansmen and nobles’ children. As he listened, Qin Nuo repeatedly gasped in surprise.
This group of imperial clansmen who had nothing better to do 15 were truly so troublesome!
Though, when Qin Nuo thought about it, it made sense. A group of “white silk-trousered”16 sons of high status with time, money, and nothing to keep them occupied—it was hard to avoid them causing disturbances. Furthermore, Da Zhou was not like the preceding imperial court. Except for unique circumstances, the imperial clansmen and imperial kings were not released out (of the capital). With everyone being raised within the capital, it was inevitable that there would be many disturbances.
In the end, he could only sigh ruefully and comment, “‘Those who practice martial arts will use force to disturb the discipline.’17 Sure enough, this saying was not false!”
The two of them had not conversed for long18 when Zhao Pingyi returned to the reception room, smiling as he said, “The men have all been summoned. They await the selection of the two kings.”
Qin Xun sprung to his feet and eagerly dashed out.
Qin Nuo cupped his hands, saying with a smile, “Much thanks to Commander Zhao. However, you [casual] and I [casual] are both in the governmental office; hence, we are colleagues. In that case, it would suffice to refer to me by my post19.”
A trace of surprise flashed in Zhao Pingyi’s eyes. With a smile, he replied, “The king is being courteous.”
The other party did not seem to approve. Qin Nuo did not say anything else. He followed Qin Xun out of the lounge.
When they arrived at the martial arts practice field, there were several hundreds of people lined up in neat (military) formation on the wide, smooth ground, waiting for the two of them to take their pick.
This sight was actually quite imposing, especially when several hundred gazes were simultaneously cast over in their direction, carrying the natural metallic blood20and cold, intimidating air21. Qin Nuo couldn’t help feeling somewhat daunted. Qin Xun, who had been running in front of him, was even worse off. His foot slipped, causing him to nearly fall.
He avoided making a faux pas when Zhao Pingyi supported him and warned him, “Watch your step, king,” with a smile.
Does this count as an indirect way of daunting them?22 Qin Nuo shrugged and maintained his pace, following the two into the martial arts practice field.
Standing on the high platform, Qin Nuo’s gaze swept across the area. There were about six to seven hundred people standing below the platform. They were all broad-shouldered, round-waisted, stout and sturdy men. They were clad in armor23, with the considerably imposing manner of elite troops who had been through a hundred battles. Amongst them, several buff men were particularly conspicuous. Their muscles were well-defined—they ought to be strong men within the military.
Jia Bi smiled and said, “These lads of mine are the elites of the elites24 for sure. If it wasn’t for the fact that the two kings have personally visited today, I would absolutely not be willing to bring them out.”
Qin Xun was overjoyed at this unexpected news, “As expected, General Jia is a sincere person!” He turned to glance at Qin Nuo, saying eagerly, “I, your older brother, will not be polite with you. I’ll go first.”
Qin Nuo naturally had no objections.
Qin Xun jumped down from the observation platform, walking amidst the crowd under Zhao Pingyi’s company and looking around left and right continuously.
Qin Nuo waited, bored, at the top. He surveyed the area. The martial arts practice field was extremely wide. At a further distance, there were some soldiers of the Shence Battalion undergoing group training.
Qin Nuo’s pupils constricted—he had spotted Huo Bin’s figure.
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- Depending on their social status and titles, people were prohibited from eating certain foods or they were allowed to eat certain foods. They also had a specific number of dishes that would be served at their table.
- 世宗 (Shìzōng)
- Pronouns added by me. 红袖添香 (hóngxiùtiānxiāng). Baidu link here
- 赵平一 (Zhào Píngyī)
- 贾辟 (Jiǎ bì)
- 正三品. Brief explanation here.
- 奋威将军. 奋威 (fèn wēi). This is the title of a general mentioned in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Baidu link here and Google Book link here.
- 容长脸. Baidu link here.
- 卧蚕眉. Baidu link here (with visual examples). Visual example: (from this source)
- He’s saying that it is a show of trust that the emperor had assigned the kings a position in the battalion/that the emperor had assigned Qin Nuo and Qin Xun positions within the battalion because he trusts them (the battalion) to not harm his brothers
- In terms of heavier matters regarding politics, it is the Shence Battalion’s responsibility to take care of the kings so as not to make the emperor lose face. In terms of lighter matters, he wouldn’t do so because of the “friendly relations that they have” (echoing Qin Xun’s words).
- 掰扯 (bāiche) -to debate / to dispute / to wrangle (dialect).
- 随身护卫 (suíshēnhùwèi). These are specifically bodyguards for officials in ancient times whom they could take with them when they went places.
- 春风楼 (chūnfēnglóu). Spring Breeze (which has sexual connotations) Storied Building, also known as the brothel.
- 走鸡斗狗 (dòu jī zǒu gǒu)- literally “go chicken fight dog”. This refers to the games that the children of the “exploiting class” (in Marxist theory) played when they were bored: cock (male chicken) fights and dog races. Source here.
- 纨绔 (wán kù) – white silk trousers, referring to the pants that children of noble families wore as the nobles who could wear clothes made of silk. This term is usually used for hedonistic sons of noble/rich families who have no other outstanding achievements or qualities. Baidu here.
- 侠以武乱禁. This is part of a saying written by Han Fei (韩非) in the book The Five Vermin (《五蠧》). If you want to read a translation of the text, you can read it here. In the translation, the full original phrase (“儒以文乱法，侠以武乱纪”) was translated as such: “The literati by means of letters disturbed laws, the cavaliers by means of weapons transgressed prohibitions” (Chapter XLIX. Five Vermin: A Pathological Analysis of Politics, par. 17). There is an explanation of the phrase in Baidu here.
- Raw: 两人说了没几句. I would translate this as “The two of them hadn’t spoken for many sentences” or something along those lines.
- The pronouns in this sentence were added by me. Selected part of the raw: 便以职务相称即可.
- 铁血 – literally “metal blood”. It’s used to refer to a strong will and unyielding spirit. Baidu link here.
- 森寒. Link to the breakdown here.
- 这算是一个变相的下马威吗？Baidu link here.
- 甲胄 (jiǎzhòu). Baidu link here (with visual examples).
- 百里挑一的精锐- I interpreted this as “the elite of the cream of the crop/elites of the elites”. 百里挑一 (bǎilǐtiāoyī) – one in a hundred / cream of the crop. 的 (de) – of / ~’s (possessive particle) / (used after an attribute). 精锐- (jīngruì) – elite (e.g. troops) / crack / best quality personnel. Everything on MDBG.
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