First Arc ー Chapter 3 (Part 2): Battle Begins
Jiang Chenyu, his younger daughter had been the most obedient and sensible since young. There was no doubt that she learned each and every one of the Four Arts, Zither, Chess, Calligraphy and Painting, well. Her needlework and culinary skills also did not lose out to others. No matter whether it was the wet nurse, scholar teacher or the maidservants and family servants, not one did not compliment that she was good-tempered. He remembered that during the Mid-Autumn Festival*in one particular year, when the whole family had gathered to gaze at the moon together, he purposely set a question to test these three siblings. “Whoever can throw this feather the furthest, I’ll then reward this crystal mooncake** to that person.”
*T/n: Also known as the Mooncake Festival
**T/n: Also known as ‘snow skin mooncake’.
Just an image for reference:
Hence, the three children lined up in a row. Back then, Xiaocheng was thirteen years old, Huayue was eleven years old and Chenyu was only eight years old.
Since young, Xiaocheng had been a silly child whose brain could not turn*, immediately hurled the feather on the spot. In the end, after flying for a long time, the feather was leisurely blown by the wind back to the side of his feet.
*T/n: Which also means that his brain could only go straight and that he is a very simple person
Huayue was obviously much brighter. She picked up a lump of mud to wrap around the feather before hurling the mud. It was thrown twenty Chinese feet(~6.6m) away.
When it was Chenyu’s turn, she ordered someone to bring over the birdcage hung above covered corridor. She tied the feather to the leg of the lark before she opened up her hands. That bird then flapped its wings and flew away.
Not only Xiaocheng and Huayue but everyone at the scene had their mouths agape. They had not expected that an eight-year-old child would think of such an ingenious method. However, she was not in the least arrogant and only smiled as she said, “The feather was originally plucked out from the bird’s body so it’s only right that it is returned to the bird. Elder Brother, Elder Sister, let’s eat this mooncake together.”
Back then, the private adviser in the residence had praised, “Third Miss’ intelligence surpasses others but what’s more hard to come by is that she is benevolent. She will definitely have great accomplishments in the future.” Whereas he had not taken this words to heart back then. After all, this younger daughter only a quiet existence the majority of the time. She did not create trouble and was also not outstanding. Even when she had grown up, what he saw usually was a well-behaved and amiable appearance. When had he ever thought that she would have such discerning eyes and accurate logic?
Was this composed person standing under the candlelight, who was confidently and fervently analyzing until all the threads were intricately woven together, really his daughter?
Jiang Chenyu said, “Since His Majesty dares to imprison the Empress, then he will no longer be soft. He will definitely decapitate Xiao Su and once Xiao Su is decapitated, Xiao Huai will absolutely not endure. He has the main forces in his hand and along with the incitement from the high-ranking military officers under him, he will very likely revolt. As long as he revolts, the two parties will be in opposition to each other like fire and water with a war inevitable. It looks like we can’t evade this calamity……”
Jiang Xiaocheng listened until he was scared witless. “Younger Sister, don’t scare people.”
“What Chenyu said is absolutely not alarmist talk.” Jiang Zhong immediately stood firm and asked, “Then based on your opinion, what should we do?”
“I just feel that it’s strange……”
“Where is it strange?”
“Since His Majesty is forcing Xue Huai to revolt, he certainly must have already calculated that he can win. But Xue Huai is known as a divine general who is hard to come by in a hundred years and he also possesses 600 000 Xue Family soldiers in his hands. There is no general who can fight against him in the court at all……” As she spoke until here, she thought of Pan Fang, thought of what Ji Ying had told Pan Fang outside the teahouse that day, ‘Some other day when a battle begins, there will definitely be times when you will be needed’, and was even more sure of her own conjecture. Gentleman had long known that there would be a great battle, thus he had even excavated a general beforehand. Although she did not know how Pan Fang’s capability was, someone who could make Gentleman personally seek out with such humble respect was certainly not weak. It’s just that if it was Pan Fang against Xue Huai, he was still too inexperienced, so His Majesty would also definitely not wager his treasures on a such a chess piece with such an uncertain probability of winning. That is also to say that, he certainly has a secret move.
Then what was his secret move? She could not figure it out……
At this moment, there was someone who lowly called out from outside, “Lord Prime Minister.”
Jiang Zhong’s expression lifted up and promptly said, “Come in.”
A covert guard hurriedly walked in and knelt down.
Jiang Xiaocheng said, “How is it, has there been any progress in the matter?”
“This subordinate has already corroborated that Jiang Wanyi is really Jiang Huai’s sole son. His medical skills is also indeed more superior than his master and surpasses his father. However, the father and son are on extremely poor terms. Jiang Huai originally counted on him to enter the Imperial Physician Institution and take over his position, but Jiang Wanyi instead said a sentence, ‘A physician should practise medicine to help the people and rescue the common people, not willing to be confined within the inner palace and be obsequious to the influential’……”
When Jiang Xiaocheng heard until here, he snorted disdainfully. “If he’s really not a person who is obsequious to the influential, then why did he eagerly enter the palace this time?”
The covert guard did not pay attention to his ridicule and continued to say expressionlessly, “Three years ago, after Jiang Wanyi and his father had a huge falling out, he left his home. No one knew where he went and didn’t expect that when he appeared this time, he had already become a hanger-on* at Marquis Qi Ao’s.”
*T/n: Can be someone who stays at the house of an aristocrat and helps him out
Jiang Zhong commanded, “Continue to investigate. You must absolutely check the relationship between him and Marquis Qi Ao clearly.”
The covert guard replied, “The second matter, after Consort Xihe had taken Jiang Wanyi’s medicine, her pulse has become much steadier but she has yet to regain conscious. If she wakes up, I will come again to report.”
“The third matter, it’s related to Xiao Su.”
Jiang Xiaocheng’s eyes shone. “What happened to that lecher?”
Jiang Zhong snorted lightly. “Lecherous, can he match up to you?”
Being said by Father like this, Jiang Xiaocheng’s face instantly turned red as he awkwardly coughed a few times. Luckily, the covert guard’s voice had already rang coldly. “A while back, XiaoSu took a fancy to San Xiang Teahouse’s female storyteller teacher and summoned her to his residence to perform storytelling. After he got drunk, his lust arose and he intended to force himself on her.”
Jiang Chenyu’s heart trembled. It was indeed Young Lady Qin! After personally witnessing the two people’s marriage predestined by fate like that and then hearing this kind of ending, she only felt that life’s circumstances were really cruel.
“Although that female teacher was a widow and her husband had died long ago, she was already prepared to remarry a few days ago. Hence, she vowed to die rather than to give in and ultimately committed suicide by biting her tongue. How could her fiance drop the matter after he was informed about the news? He immediately went to make a ruckus at the Xue Residence and fought all the way in. However, he was hopelessly outnumbered after all. Before he met Xiao Su, he was already captured. It was said that when Marquis Qi Ao had hurried to the scene, he had already been beaten until he was only left with half a breath.”
Jiang Xiaocheng said, “Wait a second, what does this matter have to do with Marquis Qi Ao? He hurried there for what?”
“That man called Pan Fang, albeit a butcher, was also one of Marquis Qi Ao’s hanger-on.”
Jiang Xiaocheng smiled. “He’s unexpectedly good. He has all kinds of lowly peddlers and menial servants under him.”
Jiang Zhong rebuked him, “If you were to have half of his abilities, your father also wouldn’t need to still worry until like this at this age!”
Jiang Xiaocheng received a lecture again without rhyme or reason and was a bit indignant in his heart. He said muttered, “Why don’t you say that it’s you who doesn’t have the ability? You can’t even win a fight against a twenty-year-old young fellow and still have to eagerly curry favor with……”
Jiang Chenyu promptly shot him a look and Jiang Xiaocheng’s stopped at his teeth for a little while before he obediently shut his mouth.
The covert guard timely continued to say, “After Marquis Qi Ao was aware of this matter, he instantly rode his horse from the palace to rush towards the Xue Residence. Xiao Su gave him face and handed Pan Fang over without saying anything further but Pan Fang was only left with half a breath. Hence, Jiang Wanyi hurriedly rushed towards the Marquis Residence without even eating his dinner, to help treat him. He’s still in the midst of receiving emergency treatment and it’s hard to predict whether he will live or die.”
Jiang Zhong nodded his head. “Go make inquiries again. Once there is any progress, rapidly come to report.”
The covert guard bowed as he withdrew.
The snuff of the candlewick sprayed around a little. Jiang Chenyu gazed at the disorderly game of chess on the desk and suddenly, she became weary, became tired, and wanted to run away once again.
Eschew this endless struggle for power.
Even more so to eschew this struggle and all her feelings which was destined to be held up.
With the imminent national crisis, Gentleman……would no longer be getting married.
There were vaguely tears in her eyes. She had seen the ending in advance.
Within the next few days, Zhao Yin issued an imperial decree that the Empress had erred and brought great turmoil to the imperial harem, therefore she was to be demoted to a commoner and live in the cold palace in seclusion, in Qian Xi Palace.
Exactly as Jiang Chenyu had forecasted, the general who was fortresses and mountains and a thousand miles away, as well as guarding Mountain Yan, used an expeditious emergency express mail delivery to send a piece of even more shocking news that shook the heavens and the earth ー The Nation Protector General, Xue Huai, had revolted.