The night outside was dark, shrouded in a drizzling rain.

Inside the hall, Gu She and Tao Mo sat opposite each other, fully focused on the chessboard in between.

They still played with a five-stone handicap and Gu She went first.

But the pace of the game was slower than yesterday.

Gu Xiaojia and Hao Guozi started out patiently watching the game by the side, but as time passed, they gradually distanced themselves from the chessboard. Only the crisp sound of stones being placed could be heard.

The night grew deeper.

The rain gradually stopped.

Gu She calmly made a move.

Tao Mo glanced at the densely packed chessboard and, satisfied, surrendered, “I lost.”

Gu She pointed to a move in the upper right corner of the chessboard and said, “This was reckless.”

Tao Mo nodded, “Trying to steal a chicken only to lose the rice.”

Gu She remained silent.

Tao Mo anxiously asked, “Did I use the wrong phrase?”

Gu She replied, “Not really.”

“Not really?” Tao Mo awkwardly said, “So I still used it wrong?”

Gu She said, “I just don’t like making comparisons to chickens.”

Tao Mo smiled apologetically, “I won’t make inappropriate metaphors in the future.”

Seeing Tao Mo’s flustered expression, Gu She relented, “It’s fine, actually.”


Gu She looked at the sky and said, “It’s late. It’s better to get some rest.”

Gu Xiaojia and Hao Guozi appeared in the hall seemingly right on time. Hao Guozi held an umbrella in his hand.

“Are you going to Liuyu Residence?” Gu She asked.

Tao Mo didn’t understand his meaning but nodded, “Yes.”

The only one who understood was Gu Xiaojia, who immediately said, “I’ve already arranged to clean up the Ya Yi Ge. It will definitely be ready by tomorrow.”

Hao Guozi realized it. “Are we moving again?”

Gu Xiaojia laughed awkwardly, “It’s inconvenient for you to come here every day to play chess if you live too far away.”

Hao Guozi grumbled, “Moving back and forth is such a hassle. It would have been better to live closer from the beginning.”

Gu Xiaojia persisted, “I told you, Ya Yi Ge wasn’t ready when you came.”

Seeing the two arguing, Tao Mo hurriedly said, “It’s getting late, we should go back first.” He directed the last part of his sentence to Gu She.

Gu She nodded slightly.

Watching his clear and refined face, Tao Mo felt a warm feeling in his heart. Even walking in the chilly wind, he didn’t feel cold at all.

Hao Guozi couldn’t help but mutter, “Could it be that the young master is happy again because he can see Yi Yu?”

Tao Mo was taken aback by his words and only after a moment did he say, “Ah, Yi Yu.”

Seeing his expression gradually darken, Hao Guozi naturally guessed that his previous mood had nothing to do with Yi Yu. He smiled and said, “Could it be that the young master was thinking about Gu She?”

Tao Mo’s face flushed slightly but he didn’t deny it.

“Gu She is much better than Yi Yu in terms of character, talent, and background,” Hao Guozi said, expressing an opinion completely different from before. “The young master should interact with him more in the future.”

Helplessly, Tao Mo shook his head. “You’ve said all the good and bad things.”

Hao Guozi snorted, “Blame it on the fact that there are few people in this world more annoying than Yi Yu.”

Tao Mo said, “Regardless, he is a guest. If you can’t stand him, just let him be. No need to make things difficult for him.”

“Tao Young Master.”

Peng Xiang’s voice came from outside.

Hao Guozi suddenly exclaimed loudly, “Young Master, isn’t it strange that someone who is clearly a man insists on being called ‘Xiang Xiang’? It’s like pretending to be some young lady’s personal maid.”

Tao Mo lowered his voice and said, “Didn’t you just say you didn’t want to see it?”

Just as Peng Xiang entered the room, Hao Guozi covered his eyes and walked out, saying, “I’m avoiding it so that I won’t see it!”

Tao Mo apologetically smiled at Peng Xiang, “Please don’t mind.”

Peng Xiang: “…” He had originally wanted to pretend not to know and sarcastically criticize himself. But when he was spoken to like that, he couldn’t continue to feign ignorance and could only awkwardly say, “I know he holds resentment.”

Tao Mo’s mouth opened, but he didn’t know how to refute it. He could only sigh softly.

Peng Xiang had originally wanted to use his words to change his mind, but since he didn’t speak, she couldn’t force the issue. She changed the topic and said, “The young master sent me to ask if Tao Young Master is free today. If you are, could you come to his room? The young master personally cooked a few dishes and wants to catch up with you.”

These words evoked a different feeling in Tao Mo.

In the past, he had dreamed of this scenario countless times, but in the end, it only led to shattered dreams. Now, the dream was vividly unfolding before his eyes, yet he felt a sense of confusion and no joy.

“Tao Young Master?” Peng Xiang urged softly.

“Alright.” Tao Mo came back to his senses and smiled, “I’ll come after I finish dealing with these matters.”

Seeing his expression, Peng Xiang had originally been worried he would refuse. But now that he agreed, she felt relieved and happily reported back to Yi Yu.

Tao Mo stood still for a while, then looked at Jin Shiye, who was sitting in the corner and completely ignored by everyone. “Shiye.”

Jin Shiye looked up from a pile of documents, expressionless, and said, “It’s hard for an upright official to intervene in domestic affairs, let alone a lowly servant like me. Don’t ask me.”

Tao Mo whispered, “I just wanted to ask Shiye to look over the remaining documents as well.”

“…,” Jin Shiye angrily put his pen down on the inkstone and said, “Where is Muchun? He’s acting like a lazy shopkeeper!”

Tao Mo said, “I haven’t seen him today.”

Jin Shiye said, “Wouldn’t the master be angry? He just collects his salary and doesn’t do any work.” Of course, at the moment, Jin Shiye was angrier because he was the one collecting his salary and doing the work.

Sure enough, Tao Mo said, “Perhaps he has urgent matters. If you don’t mind…”

“Mind! I definitely mind!”

“Since Jin Shiye is so free, so leisurely, naturally he can take on more work.” Muchun smiled as he entered the room.

Jin Shiye snorted, “Even if I’m free, I can’t be as free as Muchun. He disappeared early in the morning.”

“I went to repair the roof for the master.” Muchun said.

Jin Shiye said, “Is it necessary for Muchun to personally handle such trivial matters like repairing the roof?”

Muchun said, “With my limited experience, I can only start with these small tasks. The major affairs of the yamen still rely on Jin Shiye.”

Although he didn’t know how sincere his words were, hearing his opponent praise him like this in front of Tao Mo naturally made his heart blossom. He lightly said, “You can’t avoid the Ides of March. Sooner or later, you will be involved in these matters.”

Just as Muchun was about to leave, Tao Mo called him back and said, “Is the roof not repaired yet?”

Muchun, who always understood the implied meaning, immediately said, “Yi Yu is an honored guest. How can I treat him carelessly? I will naturally give him the best.” Compared to the other more leaky roofs, Yi Yu’s room was indeed relatively better.

Tao Mo didn’t expect this much and nodded, “That’s good.”

Jin Shiye suddenly interjected, “Isn’t the master going to his room later? You’ll know then.”

Muchun’s eyes flickered, “The master is going to Yi Yu’s room?”

Tao Mo said, “He personally cooked and wants to catch up with me.”

“This is not appropriate for the master,” Muchun disapproved, “He used to be a guest, how can he personally cook? It should be the master hosting him at Xianwei Tower.”

Tao Mo felt impolite when he heard that and said, “Should I go and tell him?”

“The master might as well go to Xianwei Tower first, and I will invite Yi Yu on his behalf.” Muchun saw him hesitating and added, “I heard that Xianwei Tower has been crowded recently. If we go late…”

Tao Mo walked away without looking back.

Muchun turned around and saw Jin Shiye looking at him with a smile that wasn’t really a smile.

Muchun smiled, “Does Jin Shiye mind going to Xianwei Tower together?”

Jin Shiye said, “Just sitting there is fine.”