Target Chapter 39

Translator: Vivi from dummytranslations
Editor: Mimishijie
The Emperor is an incapable ruler(10): If only he had not been so foolish

Zhao Ze used the excuse of his tipsiness to touch the Little Emperor’s face for a while before tucking him in and tidying up his appearance.

When he left the palace, a cool breeze swept across his face, abruptly waking him up. Realising what he had done, his fingertips trembled ever so slightly and he could not stop himself from reaching out to touch his own lips, as if searching for any lingering warmth.

He should have been terrified and remorseful after committing such an offense, but in reality, he could not lie to his heart; he had secretly enjoyed it.

The eunuch stationed outside the Emperor’s chambers bowed when he saw Zhao Ze appear, inquiring if he would be staying for the night.

It was common for the Emperor to speak with his ministers through the night and thus, had a room prepared for those ministers to stay in.

Zhao Ze turned to look towards the Emperor’s chambers but quickly shook his head, “There’s no need.”

While he was in the army, he often dreamt of coming back. At that time, he had thought that staying by the Little Emperor’s side and being able to see him every day was enough. However, after seeing the other person, he realised this was simply not enough and unconsciously desired more.

He covered his eyes with a hand and sighed deeply. Sometimes, he could not help but think, if only he hadn’t read those books and learnt such loyalty in the past, how good would that be. If he didn’t have the proper morals between a  minister and his Emperor, he might have…agreed back when the Little Emperor had liked him.

Returning to his own residence, Zhao Ze lay on his bed, tossing and turning through the night, unable to sleep.

The next morning, he stood at a position much closer than before, allowing him to see the Little Emperor’s lips which were much brighter than they had been. He guiltily lowered his head and kept silent throughout the court meeting.

In the eyes of others, it appeared as though he was deliberately avoiding standing out too much and wanted to dispel the Emperor’s suspicions.

Xiang Han did not seem to notice anything wrong with his own lips because he had been drunk last night. When he woke up this morning, most of his attention was diverted by the immense headache from his hangover.

After morning court concluded, he summoned Zhao Ze for a discussion which, in reality, was to look for someone to help him settle the account books.

Zhao Ze was now an assistant minister, similar to a deputy prime minister. Xiang Han’s intent was quite clear when he promoted him to this position. Originally, Zhao Ze was an official and even though he had led troops, he still had the aura of a scholarly person. In addition, he had contributed greatly so it was no wonder he rose through the ranks so quickly.

However, Zhao Ze did not become arrogant due to his great merit and instead, was even more courteous.

After a couple of days, Xiang Han also noticed this abnormality. Ever since Zhao Ze returned, he realised that the other person was more distant towards him than before.

Could it be that Zhao Ze also thought the same way as those court minister and felt suspicious of him, thinking he wanted to promote him to a high position before eliminating him?

This was not good. He was walking on the path of an Emperor and minister who complemented each other, not an Emperor and minister who guarded against each other.

Therefore, after completing his duties today, he called for Zhao Ze to stay behind and have a meal together to reminisce on those feelings they had back in the days when they schemed against Prince Liang together.

Speaking of feelings, he naturally grabbed Zhao Ze’s hands and warmly said, “Minister Zhao, you shouldn’t listen to the pointless rumours in court. Before the relationship between Zhen and you was one of a ruler and his ministers, he had a teacher and student relationship. Zhen is aware of your loyalty and will not senselessly doubt you, you are Zhen’s right-hand man and a pillar of support for the country. So, you must not avoid Zhen because of some rumours.”

In reality, Zhao Ze had known the Little Emperor was not wary of him ever since that night at his palace chambers. His avoidance today was merely a result of him forcefully suppressing his desires.

But when he saw the Little Emperor’s pale fingers holding his own hands, he could not help growing agitated. He really wanted to cut off the sleeves that obstructed them and let the Little Emperor directly touch his skin.

Xiang Han saw his distracted expression and his heart thumped. He secretly thought, they couldn’t have already strayed from the ruler and minister route, right?

“Minister Zhao?” He unconsciously tightened his grip and asked tentatively.

Zhao Ze finally returned to his senses after feeling the grip on him tightened. He looked towards the Little Emperor and seeing the nervousness in his eyes, he could not hold back from laughing, “I won’t, this minister will always trust Your Majesty.”

When Xiang Han saw his sincere expression, he finally felt relieved. Afterwards, he happily picked up a piece of meat and sent it into the other person’s bowl to strengthen their relationship. The eunuch by the side saw this and was at a loss.

Through the rest of the diner, Zhao Ze keep thinking, that was the utensil His Majesty used before. Those chopsticks might have just been licked by His Majesty’s little pink tongue before picking up a piece of meat for him...

He suddenly felt his face burn and hurried looked down while biting into a piece of meat. Savouring it carefully, it was as if he could pick up the Little Emperor’s taste.

After this dinner, the relationship between them gradually became better.

From then on, the Little Emperor would call for Zhao Ze to stay behind to discuss some matters before having dinner. During morning court, Xiang Han only needed a single glance for Zhao Ze to know what was up and smoothly cooperate with him.

Sometimes, Zhao Ze felt that apart from some ministers who would often plead for His Majesty to choose a wife and Mother Zhao who would urge him to get married, their current situation was not too bad.

Occasionally, he would also think even if he were unable to get married, this sort of life where they both accompanied each other till the end was also quite good. But he knew it was impossible because the Little Emperor had a duty. Regardless of whether he could do it with a women or not, for the sake of the country, the court will certainly force him to take an Empress.

As for himself, he might still have been able to find an excuse of having to go to war two years ago. But ever since he returned to Chang’ An, it wasn’t just his mother who was anxious, even his father who was usually silent had mentioned it to him several times.

He could continue to push this matter away but the Little Emperor could not. For this country, he would ultimately have to marry an Empress and produce a successor.

The ministers were growing increasingly urgent and Xiang Han could not help but complain in front of Zhao Ze.

Everytime, Zhao Ze could only smile helplessly. Although he spoke of the minister’s painstaking efforts, his heart was bitter beyond words. He did not know how long he could endure. Perhaps when the Little Emperor is no longer able to stand the pressure and reaches a compromise with his ministers, he would no longer be able to hold himself back.

He could not imagine himself watching the other man get married and produce an heir. If that day truly comes, he would request to be sent back to the Southwest. What he could not see, he perhaps may not feel.

Zhao Ze had thought of the day the Little Emperor would choose an Empress and also thought of the day he had his own children. However, he never thought he would ever lose his self-control over another man.

A few days later, a message came from the Southeast province. Luo Bai who had been on the expedition in search of new ingredients was finally back. When he heard the news, the Little Emperor dropped his brush in shock, lifting his robes as he dashed out.

When Zhao Ze saw this, his eyes felt a stabbing pain while his heart tightened, as if being squeezed by a formless grip.

Was the Little Emperor overjoyed just because Luo Bai came back? Was it because he could not forget Luo Bai all these years which was why he never had anybody by his side during this time?

The hands in his sleeves curled up into fists and shook. He did not know how he stopped the Little Emperor and even calmly told him, “Your Majesty, the ship has just arrived at the dock. Sir Luo still needs some time before reaching Chang’ An.”

“That’s right.” Xiang Han smacked his head, he had nearly forgotten. He quickly instructed, “Prepare a steed of horses at the docks. Zhen wants to see Minister Luo as soon as possible.”

Zhao Ze’s eyes darkened and he tightened his fists. He faked a laugh, “Your Majesty can’t wait to see Sir Luo. It looks like Sir Luo is really important in Your Majesty’s heart, ah?”

“Naturally,” Xiang Han said without thinking.

Popcorn, french fries, caramelized sweet potatoes…he had dreamt of these for a long time and there was also all the regular food cooked by Little Bai. He had not had them in ages.

Zhao Ze’s expression was extremely dark. His nails dug painfully into his palms, leaving behind deep imprints and even slightly drawing blood.

Xiang Han arrived 10 miles outside of Chang’ An to receive Luo Bai the day he returned. Zhao Ze accompanied his entourage expressionlessly, without a flicker of emotion.

When he heard the sound of hooves, Xiang Han stood up from the imperial chariot excitedly and asked, “Is that Minister Luo and the rest?”

Zhao Ze gripped the whip firmly as he replied, “Replying Your Majesty, this minister can only see dust. There is no way to confirm.”

“Then, what are you waiting for? Quickly send some men to check it out,” Xiang Han said with some urgency.

Zhao Ze stared at him deeply before doing as he was told.

Xiang Han was stunned by his stare and felt the gaze from Zhao Ze earlier was filled with too much emotions. It was too heavy and somewhat suffocating.

But he did not dawdle for long before seeing a familiar flag appear in his line of sight. It was Luo Bai’s expedition team. He quickly brushed over the strange feeling in his heart and stared excitedly into the distance, not noticing Zhao Ze’s extremely dark expression.

Three years had passed, a Little Bai had become Big Bai. He had grown a lot taller but was not as tanned as expected. When he laughed, he would reveal a row of small white teeth. Seeing Xiang Han come down from the imperial chariot, he too, hurriedly disembarked from his horse and knelt down in front of him.

Xiang Han quickly helped him up and grabbed onto his hands excitedly, “Little Bai, you’re finally back. Did you guys run into any troubles? What about those ingredients Zhen entrusted you to find?”

Luo Bai instantly straightened and broke out into a smile, “Your Majesty, this minister has not failed you.”

Zhao Ze only felt his smile was extremely difficult to bear and went forward to disrupt the two’s ‘intimacy’. He bowed and said, “Your Majesty, Sir Luo is travel-worn. How about allowing him to return to the palace for a rest before discussing it over dinner?”

“That’s right.” Xiang Han hurriedly nodded and pulled Luo Bai towards his imperial chariot with a face of excitement. “Zhen has prepared a welcome banquet for Minister Luo’s return. Let’s return first before talking about this.”

Luo Bai replied, “This minister thanks Your Majesty for his grace.”

Zhao Ze’s expression was unreadable as he watched them walk towards the imperial chariot, hand in hand

It turns out, having the Little Emperor come out of the city to receive him and sitting in the imperial chariot wasn’t an honour only he received. It turns out, he wasn’t special in His Majesty’s heart at all.

As for Luo Bai, apart from being a chef, he had nothing more to his name. Had he not relied on the favour of saving His Majesty, how could he reach where he is today?

What right did he have to let the Emperor come out ten miles from the capital to receive him? What right did he have to let the Emperor become unable to see him after seeing Luo Bai?

Zhao Ze’s heart was burning with jealousy. For the sake of Da Ji, for the sake of his country, he could endure and hide his own feelings as he watched the Little Emperor marry and birth a child. But Luo Bai, he...he couldn’t even give His Majesty a child.

His burning gaze settled on the back of the two’s intimate figures. He couldn’t help but think, if the Little Emperor could only like men, why can’t it be him?

Didn’t His Majesty used to like him? If only he hadn’t acted so stupidly and hid from the Little Emperor all the time in the past, would Luo Bai even have a chance?

End of Chapter 39
T/n: and so... Zhao Ze's delusions continue xD
We have a few more chapters left to the end of this arc^^ and if you guys enjoyed this, do support me here:

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  1. An alternate name for this story would be "Help! The Mls are all delusional!"

    1. This is very true. This Zhao Ze needs to chill. He has no business getting so jealous.

  2. *pats Zhao Ze*

    Thanks for the chapter! 💕

  3. Jealousy and regret is are plaguing ML. \(°ω° )

    Thanks for the chapter! •o•

  4. Thanks for the hard work love the story ^_^

  5. The ML is getting jelly.

    Thank you so much for the chapter~

  6. Jajajajajaaj Nuestro Ministro Ze esta nadando en vinagre

  7. Just...don't hurt Luo Bai. Your little emperor still needs to be fed

  8. Best thing about this is that our shou didn't even realized any of what the gong is thinking/feeling uuggh I DIG THIS TROPE SO MUCH HAHAHAA

    Thanks for the update!!!

    1. hahaha the classic misunderstandings ah, i'll never get sick of ML's dumbness. Everyone says XH is dumb, but honestly, they don't realise its all ML's fault

  9. Zhao Ze needs to stop chugging that vinegar and start cooking with it. Xiang Han's attention is easier to get than you think!

    1. owo pray that Zhao Ze doesn't burn down the imperial kitchen and incur XH's wrath

  10. The capital is short on vinegar because of Zhao Ze

    1. Luo Bai called, he wants the vinegar back

  11. he said he want to erase the desire but than he said *Cut Off the Sleeves* Duan Xiu Zhi Pi?