Chapter 24 Chip Chip Chip



Huo Caiyu, with his solid foundation in martial arts, felt a lot better the next day, thanks to the delicious snacks that Li Jinyu had packed.


He gave all the snacks to Huo Caiyu and hugged his melon seeds, happily munching on them with a “crack, crack” sound on the side.


Huo Caiyu ate a few pieces and saw that His Majesty wasn't eating at all.
He felt a strange mix of sweetness and bitterness in his heart.
He took a piece and offered it to Li Jinyu, “Your Majesty should eat too.”


Li Jinyu cracked a melon seed, tilted his head slightly, and looked somewhat puzzled.
“I'm not hungry.
You eat it.”


After all, he was a spiritual hamster.
He could easily go a day or two without eating.
He was perfectly content with his crunchy melon seeds, which fulfilled all his dietary needs.


Huo Caiyu's expression was complicated as he looked at the dust on the Emperor's face and his slightly gaunt figure.
He pursed his lips and put away the remaining pastries.


“Are you full?”


“Hmm, let's go check out the nearby post stations or towns.”


At least they should buy some food for the Emperor.


The two of them walked slowly for two hours in the barren wilderness.


Li Jinyu felt no fatigue, but seeing Huo Caiyu's pale complexion, he couldn't resist the urge to carry him on his back and sprint ahead.


But doing so would completely expose his true identity…


Li Jinyu even considered whether to knock out Huo Caiyu and carry him away, but he didn't dare.


After a long while, they finally spotted signs of human habitation in the distance.
They carefully navigated around a forest and soon a small village appeared before their eyes.


The village was humble, with only a handful of households, each adorned with a thatched roof and a fence made of dry branches.
A few thin fields could be seen in the distance, indicating the modest wealth of the villagers.


But for Li Jinyu and Huo Caiyu, finding someone to ask for directions was all they needed, so they made their way into the village without hesitation.


The villagers seemed to rarely see outsiders.
When they saw two young men approaching and one of them with blood stains on his body, they became wary.
Some of the peasant women even pulled their children playing in front of their doors into their houses.


Huo Caiyu noticed a thin child watching them from afar, eyes fixed on their every move.


Huo Caiyu walked laboriously towards an old man sitting at the door soaking up the sun and politely asked, “Excuse me, Sir.
We were robbed by bandits on the way and lost our bearings while fleeing.
We've been walking for quite some time and happened to arrive here.
Could you tell us which county this belongs to?”


The old man, with gray hair and a skinny face like theirs, looked up slightly and glanced at Huo Chaiyu and Li Jinyu.
He was startled by the dry blood on Huo Caiyu and hesitated for a moment before answering, “This is Long'an County in Qingshui Prefecture.”


Qingshui Prefecture? Huo Caiyu was slightly surprised.
They had arrived directly in Qingshui Prefecture?


Huo Caiyu coughed lightly and expressed his gratitude to the old man.
As he scanned the surroundings, he couldn't help but wonder if they could find some food in the nearby village.
However, the dilapidated state of the village and the poverty-stricken appearance of the people left him doubtful.
He feared that even if they were able to purchase some provisions, it might not suffice, and the villagers might not be inclined to offer help to outsiders like themselves.


Before he could figure out what to do, Li Jinyu had already spoken up, “Excuse me…
old man, can we possibly rest somewhere? Brother Huo's wounds are not yet healed.”


The old man hesitated, unsure of whether to invite strangers into his humble abode.
But as he gazed into Li Jinyu's sparkling eyes, his initial reluctance melted away.
Despite the young man's foreign features, there was a kindness and sincerity in his demeanor that was hard to ignore.
Furthermore, the sight of Huo Caiyu's pallid face and bloodstained clothes stirred a sense of compassion within him.
The old man nodded and said, “If you don't mind the poverty in my humble home, please rest here first.”


“I don't mind!” Li Jinyu happily patted Huo Caiyu's arm.
“Let's go, we'll rest first!”


Only then did Huo Caiyu come to his senses from Li Jinyu's address to him just now.
Before he could say anything, he was excitedly pulled into the house by Li Jinyu.


The old man introduced himself as Zhang and explained that his wife had passed away, leaving him to take care of his only grandson who was seven or eight years old.
His home was indeed barren, with only a hay bed for Huo Caiyu to lie on.


He didn't know where his children had gone.


Huo Caiyu had been walking for half a day and his body was already exhausted, so he had to start healing himself shortly after lying down.


As Huo Caiyu began to heal himself, Li Jinyu watched over him, feeling restless and bored.
He had finished all the melon seeds he had stored earlier and was now craving more.
Frustrated, he reached into his pocket only to find it empty.


“Old man, do you have any melon seeds here?”




“Melon seeds, like this.” Li Jinyu took out the remaining melon seeds to show him.


Old man Zhang understood and shook his head, “We are poor here and can't even eat enough, where would we get these good things?”


Li Jinyu regretfully put the seeds back into his pocket, wondering whether he should go out for a run or find a piece of wood to gnaw on.
Then he heard Old man Zhang say, “Young man, are you hungry? I still have some old rice here.
If you don't mind, I can make some porridge for you.”


There's rice to eat?


Li Jinyu rubbed his stomach and his eyes lit up, “Hungry!”


However, this porridge was completely different from the soft and fragrant porridge that Li Jinyu had eaten in the palace.
The surface of the porridge was shiny enough to reflect the light, and when he scooped it with a spoon, he could hardly see any grains of rice.
It even emitted a musty smell of agedness.


Even the swill in the palace bucket was better than this.


Li Jinyu was taken aback and instinctively looked up.
He then saw Old Zhang's grandson hiding behind him, staring straight at this bowl of clear porridge that was only fit for the lowest-ranking palace servants and was usually thrown away.


Old Zhang thought that Li Jinyu didn't like the porridge, and a trace of discomfort appeared on his wrinkled face.
“Don't mind it, we don't have anything better at home.”


Li Jinyu remained silent and lowered his head, picking up the bowl and taking a sip.


As expected, it was plain and tasteless, even with a slightly earthy and musty smell.


However, it wasn't as difficult to swallow as he had anticipated.


In the novel, the description of the people under the reign of Emperor Jingchang as “unable to make ends meet” was just a simple adjective to Li Jinyu, and “the common people” appeared to be nothing more than a symbol, a plot device meant to be rescued by the protagonist Huo Caiyu.


But this bowl of clear and shining porridge suddenly made those same descriptions that were once relegated to the pages of a book suddenly came to life before his very eyes..


After drinking two sips, Li Jinyu put down the bowl and called over Old Zhang's grandson.


There were still a few pieces of snacks he brought on the road, so he took out one and stuffed it into the child's hand.


The little guy looked timidly at his grandpa and, seeing that he didn't object, took a careful bite.
His eyes widened instantly as his mouth was filled with sweet and fragrant flavor, leaving a lingering aroma in his cheeks.


He had never eaten anything so delicious before!


He took a bite but was reluctant to eat more.
He ran back to Old Man Zhang and carefully handed it to him, saying, “Grandpa, you should also try it.”


Old Zhang's throat moved slightly as he shook his hand, “Grandpa doesn't like sweet things.”


Li Jinyu's eyes became slightly sour as he quickly took out the remaining snacks, “Let's eat together.
I still have some here.
Consider it as a reward for staying at your place.”


Old Man Zhang hesitated for a moment, looked at Li Jinyu's firm attitude, and finally accepted those few snacks, holding them in his hand and looking carefully, seeming a little embarrassed.
“Sorry to trouble you, young man.
This old man has lived this long and have never eaten such good things before.”


The little grandson had eaten half of his own snack, trying hard to stop himself.


“What's wrong?”


“I want to save some for Brother Qian.” The little boy rubbed his nose and whispered, “Brother Qian picked fruit for me to eat before.”


Watching the grandfather and grandson eat the slightly withered cakes bit by bit, Li Jinyu inexplicably felt a sense of suffocation in his heart.


While he enjoyed luxurious food and clothing in the palace, there were still many ordinary people outside who couldn't even eat their fill or had never seen melon seeds before.


In the palace, jade and agate were used to pave the way, and uneaten delicacies were casually discarded.
How could one imagine the wider sky and its scenery beyond the palace walls when looking up at the square sky enclosed by those walls?


Li Jinyu couldn't help but look at Huo Caiyu lying unconscious on the bed.


Despite his formidable power and the aura of Ziwei that surrounded him, Huo Caiyu's presence felt oddly muted and unassuming.


His face was pale from blood loss, and his eyes were closed tightly as he focused on his healing techniques.


Li Jinyu gazed at Huo Caiyu's face, his eyes slightly bewildered.


In the novel, Huo Caiyu also had a period of time where he wandered among the common people after leaving the capital.


At that time, he was full of resentment and hatred towards Emperor Jingchang who had destroyed his entire family.
He was determined to seek revenge, but over time, his focus shifted to the interests of his country and his people.
He became calm and rational, willing to put aside his personal grudges for the greater good.


Li Jinyu had not read the part where Huo Caiyu lived among the common people, so he had never fully understood the change in his character.
But now, he had a better understanding.


He was full of enthusiasm, stood up and stopped the Emperor Jingchang's imperial carriage, criticized the court, and later became thoroughly disappointed with the court.
He rebelled and fought to rebuild a truly prosperous nation.
Was it not because he could not bear to see the people suffering from hunger and cold?


Li Jinyu walked to the side of the hay bed where Huo Caiyu was lying, and lowered his head to examine Huo Caiyu's handsome face.
He gathered the courage to poke Huo Caiyu's cheek, then touched his nose and finally placed his hand on Huo Chaiyu's chest.


He had flesh and blood, seemingly not much different from an ordinary human being.
But why was his heartbeat seemed to pound a little fast? Could it be a special situation during the healing process?


Li Jinyu let out a soft sigh, slapped his own cheeks, and stopped thinking about it.
He tried to relax before walking out of the room.


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