ROMANCE TALK

Compared with the Former Emperor Long An, Li Feng, Li Min's way of a ruler could be described as flexible. Although the reforms were like waves cascading one after another, everything that fell in his hands was carried out orderly — laws first, policies second, from large to small, from top to bottom. Building schools to develop people's wisdom, sending large dragons to escort merchant ships and scholars to study overseas. He even quietly stripped away the highly centralized monarchy of Emperor Wu's reign from the complicated court.


Li Min was dedicated to the country's affairs. At the same time, although he was not very ostentatious, he would also not treat himself as harshly as his brother.


Every year, when it was hot, he would lead all the officials to the newly built Jinghua Garden Palace for summer vacation. In the New Year, after a Palace Banquet would end early, no one would be able to hold him behind with government affairs — The Emperor had to go to the hot spring in the north for rest.


However, in the first year of Tai Shi, the ministers were still not used to the Emperor's personal habits, so the hot spring was disturbed several times.


One of the most bothersome was Shen Yi.


On the fifth day of January, Shen Yi returned to the capital to report after successfully escorting back the war compensation fund. He reckoned that the two men should already be done being lovey-dovey at this time, it would not be too much of a nuisance to visit. Thus he went home to pick up some bottles of wine made by his father and went straight to the northern suburbs to meet Gu Yun.


Old Master Shen liked to mess around with this and that all year round. He once brewed too much wine without anyone to gift it to, the family servants had brought it to Wang Nan Tower for them to sell on their behalf. Unexpectedly, two large carts of the homebrewed wine were sold out in three days. Since then, Master Shen's home wine had become very popular for a while, even one drop was hard to find.


When the old man heard about this, he resolutely played hard to get and refused to brew in large quantities. Each time he only produced three or two bottles of wine and only sent them to his relatives and close friends. If he had nothing to do, he would ask people to write a story around the process of his home brewing in the tabloids. People could only look but not drink, truly despicable.


In the end, even the simple little wine jar of Shen family had become a new fashion in the capital, and Master Shen's homebrewed wine became a valuable gift, perfect for the poor and old-school Shen Yi to bring out to ask for a favor.


Unfortunately, the famous wine was only in Gu Yun's hands for a while before it was ruthlessly confiscated by His Majesty. Chang Geng gently but determinedly carried away the wine bottle and said to him, "I'll ask someone to warm it up then give it to you."


There was no telling why Gu Yun seemed unhappy and angry, Shen Yi was confused. As soon as Chang Geng left, he prodded Gu Yun with his elbow: "The Emperor of a country takes care of you so well, what are you displaying that face for?"


Gu Yun gave him a stomach aching glance and waved his hand weakly: "What the hell do you know."


Shen Yi wanted to retort, but when the words came to his lips, he remembered that he had something to ask for with his visit today. It was inconvenient to offend that Gu too much, he had to lower his voice and suppress his temper: "Zi Xi, I have something to ask you."


"Speak," Gu Yun mumbled weakly.


Shen Yi swallowed his saliva and asked solemnly, "If I want to propose to Miss Chen, what should I do to not appear too sudden?"


Hearing this, Gu Yun raised his long eyebrows on one side and said in surprise, "Sudden? What's so sudden?"


Shen Yi: "..."


Gu Yun said: "Didn't you also give her the token of love?"


Shen Yi slouched his head and slowly searched his chest. Under Gu Yun's surprised gaze, he slowly took out a small cloth bag wrapped in thin silk, which was tightly wrapped by another layer, he unwrapped three layers to reveal the contents of the bag — it was the "legendary" small hairpin.


"Not given it yet?" Gu Yun mercilessly gave an evaluation, "How fortunate, it's too ugly."


Shen Yi covered his heart silently.


Gu Yun commented: "Searching back and forth for half a day only to pick something so old fashioned, if someone does not know, they would have assumed you bought this as an offering for your grandmother. Moreover, Miss Chen obviously doesn't like such flashy things as pearls and ivory. It was such a waste for you to buy this."


The first half of the sentence, Shen Yi could accept with reluctance and humility. But the second half was not right. Shen Yi immediately asked with caution, "How do you know she doesn't like it?"


Gu Yun waved at him and said: "A woman, unless she is really too poor to afford something, will buy what she likes herself - otherwise, do you think she will be dreaming about it all day long and looking forward to someone buying it for her?"


Shen Yi: "..."


Gu Yun leaned back and looked at him pitifully, he shook his head and sighed, "You think too much."


Shen Yi appeared very pitiful and helpless at this moment.


Gu Yun was always happy to bully him on regular days, but witnessing his panic at this time, Gu Yun seldom felt a little sympathy. He silently took an egg boiled in the hot spring from the small tray on the side and handed it to him.


In retrospect, after they joined together to deal with Jia Lai, they each went to different places. Chen Qing Xu went back to the Chen family's old house then to the capital to take care of Chang Geng. Shen Yi stayed in the Northern Frontier for a long time. Later, Gu Yun transferred him to Jiangnan. One in the north, one in the south, it seemed they had no chance to even say a few words.


Shen Yi was truly incompetent, failing to seize the opportunity to deepen connections with someone who he had been through life and death with. If Miss Chen was not born with the ability to chase others far away, how could he still make a fuss behind her back now?


Gu Yun partially pitied him for his misfortune, but was also angry at him for being dense, he advised: "Even if you have said it in your heart a hundred and eighty times, she still does not know about it. It's useless. Whether it is success or failure, you have to put it all aside temporarily to let her know what you feel first."


Shen Yi said painfully, "Whenever I see her, I do not know what to say."


Gu Yun got to the point: "With your ability to talk nonsense, there's only one reason why you don't know what to say: it's because your sense of purpose is too strong. You feel that you have an intention towards her, and you are afraid of ruining everything, worrying about this and that, hence you dare not speak of it."


Although Shen Yi once complained about Gu Yun's unethical personal lifestyle, at this time, he could only believe him and nod continuously: "Logical."


"You're not in the right mindset," Gu Yun said with great experience. "If you want to be flexible, first of all, you can not be shy, you must treat her as an ordinary person in your heart, do not worship her as a Bodhisattva. Talk to her the way you talk to others - but Miss Chen has been dealing with medicine all year round, she has a peaceful temperament... That is to say, she can be a bit dense. You have to let her feel that you are treating her differently from others as well. It's a delicate matter. If you don't do enough, she will not notice, but if you use too much force, you will appear obscene. "


There was no telling when Chang Geng had come back. He changed the wine jar into a small wine bottle and asked people to put it on the small stove for warming wine on the side then ordered them to step back. He listened to Gu Yun's talk about romance silently. The two men, one was trying to show off to his heart content, and the other was eager to learn. No one was aware that the Emperor had returned.


Shen Yi: "Marshal, please teach me."


Gu Yun said seriously, "I can't teach you about this, because I don't have this problem. Someone as handsome as I, the ladies do not think I'm obscene no matter what I do."


Shen Yi: "..."


Gu Yun: "There's nothing for you to gain from staring at me so eagerly. Besides, it's a matter of understanding the meaning, it can't be taught by two to three words."


Shen Yi desperately suppressed his impulse to beat him, and squeezed a sentence out of his teeth: "Say something more realistic, give me an example."


Gu Yun thought for a moment: "For example, for someone at your age..."


"At what age?" said Shen Yi.


"Tch, for example, a mature man like yourself — mature, alright?" Gu Yun changed his tone and said, "Shouldn't talk about love at all times like a teenager, or else others will think you are not reliable. Words of love must not be used excessively, the most appropriate degree is when you say a hundred serious words with her, combine them with one or two loving words in the middle, which can move the other very much but won't seem frivolous either."


As he finally said a few decent words, Shen Yi hurriedly nodded.


Gu Yun: "This kind of talk also requires skills. Before you do it, you should write a dozen manuscripts in your mind, so it will be smooth, avoid making one sentence contradict the other. In the beginning, you'd better not say anything too explicit, know the boundary. You must make sure the other does not dislike it first, and then make your advance accordingly."


Not far away, the Emperor, who was eavesdropping, folded his arms in front of his chest and nodded his head. He generally understood the skills Gu Yun used to deal with him in the past.


Gu Yun: "Although your words should not be too explicit, you have to do well in other areas. For example, you need to think more about her feelings, take care of her at any moment. In the beginning, you need to follow her steps in what to do and what to say. This depends on observation. Watching with your own eyes, it is best not to ask her directly. It will better display your seriousness, and another thing...um, your gaze must be right."


Shen Yi wished he could invite the four treasures of the study* at this moment to write down the golden rules of the Marquis of Order one by one. He didn't dare to miss a word and quickly asked, "What kind of gaze..."


*文房四宝, an expression used to denote the brush, ink, paper, and inkstone used in Chinese and other East Asian calligraphic traditions


He didn't finish talking yet, as he looked up, he met Gu Yun's eyes.


If Gu Yun usually looked at him with the gaze of "Go away, you are blocking my light", then his eyes at this moment expressed "You are my light".


Gu Yun's eyes were subtly between 'concentration' and 'dissociation'. The corners of his eyes were slightly bent as if to reveal a natural smile. His eyes seemed to contain only the person in front of him, at the same time, he seemed to be involuntarily having many thoughts on his mind. His eyelashes were slightly twinkling. As he was caught, his eyelids hung down, creating a very natural 'awkward' smile. He even reached out and rubbed gently under his nose.


Shen Yi: "..."


His hand trembled, and he nearly dropped the uneaten half of his egg.


Chang Geng could not watch it anymore. He strode over and coughed heavily.


Gu Yun immediately put his legs down from the small side table and quickly displayed a gentleman-like appearance.


Shen Yi was a little embarrassed, he hurriedly stood up to greet: "Your Majesty."


Chang Geng reluctantly molded his 'smiling on the outside but gritting his teeth on the inside' into a 'gentle' demeanor and waved: "In private, you don't need to be so polite. Subject Shen, sit down."


Subject Shen vaguely felt that it might be time for him to leave.


Chang Geng smiled and said, "I just overheard a few sentences. Why, did you come to talk about Miss Chen?"


Shen Yi felt even more embarrassed.


"I've heard that Miss Chen has had great admiration for General Shen since the battle in the Northern Frontier." Chang Geng slowly put the wine bottle on the stove and warmed it. At the same time, his eyelids did not lift as he patted off Gu Yun's hand reaching for the wine bottle. He said to the red-faced Shen Yi, "If the two love each other, there is no need for so much inquiring - I just retrieved several copies of lost medical classics from the palace. I was about to send someone to bring them to Miss Chen. Would Subject Shen be willing to help me?"


Shen Yi almost knelt down for the Emperor. He felt that only these few words from Chang Geng were much more valuable than Gu Yun's long speech.


After an incense of time, Chang Geng watched Shen Yi walk away with satisfaction. In truth, he was the one who was most eager for Shen Yi to get married so that he didn't have to hang around Gu Yun all the time.


From the time at Yan Hui Town until now, these two people had been inseparable. If there were any difficulties, even if Gu Yun did not tell him, he would definitely notify Shen Yi. Although every time, there was a reason for it, it was impossible for Chang Geng not to put it to heart at all.


After sending this one away, Chang Geng turned to the other.


Gu Yun hurriedly dispatched an affectionate look to greet him.


Chang Geng was not moved, he slowly brought out old debts to calculate: "Even a gaze can also be prepared in advance. Zi Xi, as expected, is well trained and experienced."


Gu Yun blinked, stretched his back, and stood up. He strolled in front of Chang Geng's face, untied his fur cloak and wrapped Chang Geng in it. He lowered his voice and laughed in his ear: "Your Majesty, you should soon let me know if you are drinking vinegar*."


*expression to denote that someone is jealous


Chang Geng: "..."


He was numbed by Gu Yun's languid whisper, he then realized that this man was proficient in thirty-six strategies, it seemed that everything he taught Shen Yi just now was only the surface.


Gu Yun sniffed at his sideburns and said, "Sour fragrance is overflowing. Your Majesty, let's have a discussion. You just drank a jar of vinegar, allow me to have one sip of wine, is that alright?"


Chang Geng smiled angrily: "In your dreams. You can smell it instead."


Gu Yun clucked his tongue: "Yesterday I could still lick a chopstick, how come it has become just smelling today? It's all Shen Yi's fault, having to display his face on the new year occasion…"


Chang Geng took out a chopstick from one side and dipped it in the warm wine cup: "Take it and taste it. Don't bargain."


Gu Yun: "..."


The chopstick emitting wine fragrance was between the two men. After a while, when Chang Geng thought that Gu Yun had become obedient, Gu Yun suddenly took the chopstick covered with wine and sniffed it gently, he then quickly pulled Chang Geng's chin and wiped the wine on his lips. He then licked them at lightning speed. The hindering chopstick was thrown to the side with a clacking sound.


Chang Geng was dumbstruck, having a kiss overflowing with wine fragrance stolen, he was unable to react.


Gu Yun finished with a wipe of his lips and floated away with a smile: "Good wine, intoxicating."


The new Emperor that was spun around by various teasings stood still for a moment then finally ran after him. He felt that it was very necessary for him to personally check how General Gu's injuries were recovering.