Second Arc ー Chapter 6 (Part 5): Ear Piercing
Huai Jin mused on it carefully for a very long time before she finally shook her head.
“I mulled over it for very long but couldn’t figure it out. Then, I thought, in that case, what is different between me and His Majesty; What is the difference between Xihe and me? When I considered about it from another perspective, the answer emerged from the surface of the water immediately.” Jiang Chenyu faintly smiled at the moon. “That is ー life experience.”
“We all know that His Majesty is born from an unfavored palace maid. Before he was ten, he had always led a life where nobody bothered about him. After he was ten, he started to learn to read and understand the politics, stratagems and how an emperor should perform. The process was very tough and he knows best about his personal experience. Xihe is also the same. Her father is a drunkard while her mother is weak. I heard that when she was five, she sold flowers barefooted in front of Tian Mo Building and she sold them all the way until she was fourteen. The two of them both led an extremely bitter childhood. Therefore, His Majesty will inevitably commiserate with Xihe as fellow sufferers who led the same type of life and it also due to this that he will exhaust his greatest power to help Xihe achieve her aims. Hence, his sharp edges have been ground until it is level and wrung until no more while Xihe’s ones are still sharp and pointy.”
This was also why she would use this type of method to walk until she was in front of him tonight and act out that character won the premise that Zhao Yin likes or she could even say that he morbidly admires and helps realize the aims of people who had a distinct character as if was abnormal.
‘For example, Xihe who is bossy and alluring. For example, Ji Hu who is eccentric and only sees herself.”
‘And also…Elder Sister from three years ago.’
Jiang Huayue from back then still carried the innocent ambitions of a young girl but after she entered the palace, she gradually refrained from showing her abilities and her personality also became more smooth and evasive, causing Zhao Yin to lose his interest in her instead.
Hence, if she wanted Zhao Yin to regard her highly, she must first display how she stood out from the others.
Next, just having a distinct personality was still insufficient, she also needed to have the ability to match with her ability. For example, Xihe had a beautiful appearance which could cause the downfall of a nation while Ji Hu had peerless talent.
“But Miss has never demonstrated your interest in scheming…” Wo Yu could not comprehend. Her impression was that Third Miss had always been someone who had a meek personality, listened to others obediently. She was also a good master who was benign to the servants and never randomly threw a tantrum. However, if she were to really say that she was a female Zhuge*, it was still a little far-fetched.
*T/n: A well-known strategist
Jiang Chenyu glanced at her and smiled. “Wo Yu, what do you think scheme is?”
“Scheme, isn’t that coming up with schemes and offering counsel to someone?”
“Scheme is doing what benefits your master the most and saying words which are most pleasant to your master’s ear. In a nutshell, it is currying favor.”
“Currying favor?” The two servant girls simultaneously widened their eyes. They had really never heard of this kind of argument.
“That’s right. Currying favor. Even if it is something that sounds so simple, it is also divided into three layers ー superior, average and inferior. The inferior ones curry favor with those around them; The average ones curry favor with those in power; On the other hand, the superior ones curry favor with the whole world. Wherever they go, there is no one who is unhappy.” When she saw that they did not understand, Jiang Chenyu started to raise examples. “Take me for an example. I was previously an inferior one. I only curried favor with people around me and let them like me; Xihe is an average one, she managed to please His Majesty; while Marquis Qi Ao…” When she mentioned this manner of address, her gaze involuntarily dimmed a little but when she opened her mouth again, she spoke composedly, “He is a superior one. He is currently popular with the citizens in Nation Bi.”
“That also means that Miss wants to change from inferior to superior?”
“I still don’t have that capability now.” Changing from inferior to average first is the top priority. The bait has already been tossed and it is still uncertain if the fish would get hooked.
As she thought until here, someone outside the door conveyed, “This servant, Luo Heng, pays respects to Pure Consort.”
Jiang Chenyu hastily dressed herself and stood up and walked to the outer room. Luo Heng stood in the hall and bowed to her. “His Majesty ordered this old servant to hand this thing to Pure Consort.” He passed over an object.
Jiang Chenyu took it. It was a golden purple memorial. After she opened it to read, her expression instantly changed. She looked at Luo Heng hesitantly. “Eunuch, this is?”
“His Majesty said that before tomorrow’s court assembly, if Pure Consort has a reply, please feel free to send a place servant to deliver the letter.”
Jiang Chenyu’s gaze flickered slightly and she smiled pleasantly. “Yes. I’ll have to trouble Eunuch to go back first. I’ll definitely present a reply letter before 11pm.”
Luo Heng bowed as he left. As Jiang Chenyu stared at this retreating figure, her smile gradually vanished. She turned around and walk to the study desk. She called out, “Huai Jin, grind the ink.”
Wo Yu asked curiously from one side, “Miss, what is that?”
“Huh?” Huai Jin looked at the totem and words on the memorial as she ground the ink. She exclaimed, “Isn’t this Nation Cheng’s credentials?
“Mhm.” Jiang Chenyu did not even lift her head. She took the brush, dipped it in the ink and began writing. After writing a few lines and contemplated. Soon, the paper was fully written with names.
Huai Jin asked, “Nation Cheng asked His Majesty to dispatch an envoy to attend the banquet in the letter yet His Majesty sent this letter to Your Highness. What is exactly his intention?”
As Jiang Chenyu held the brush and gazed at the paper full of names, she said in a low voice, “He is testing me to see if I am qualified to be his strategist.”
“In other words, His Majesty wants to see if the candidate Your Highness picks is the same as his.”
“This is my first battle. There’s only room for success and I’m not allowed to fail.” With the brush made of weasel bristle like a sword and cruising on the paper, as the brush was raised, the sword fell. The names were rapidly eliminated one by one and the first one who was struck off was Ji Ying.
Huai Jin sucked in a cold breath of air and cautiously commented, “With a position as high as Nation Cheng’s Princess, the only one who can match her well should be Marquis Qi Ao right…” Could it be that Miss still cared about the fact that they were once engaged and had some selfish motives?
Jiang Chenyu could hear the overtone and shook her head. “Marquis Qi Ao is the most suited but he is also the least likely.”
“Why?” At this moment, even Wo Yu was asking.
“I have this before. It’s because the emperor won’t allow the Ji Family’s power to grow larger and larger and become the next Xue Family, let alone becoming Nation Cheng’s son-in-law.”
Wo Yu blinked her eyes. She suddenly pointed at another name on the paper which was canceled. “Ah! Miss also deleted Eldest Young Master’s name!”
Huai Jin covered her mouth as she smiled. “Eldest Young Master has already married a wife so he naturally won’t be considered. Furthermore, even if he wants to marry, he needs Eldest Young Madam’s approval before he can do so.” Everyone in the Jiang Residence knew that Eldest Young Madam, née Li, got jealous easily, yet Jiang Xiaocheng happened to be an extremely lascivious person. Hence, no one knew how much the husband and wife had quarreled over this whether it was before others or within themselves.
What Jiang Chenyu considered was different from them. “Eldest Brother has a frivolous disposition. If he were to really marry Yi Shu, it would be a calamity and not a fortune. When that time comes, it would bring disaster to the whole family and it would even be hard for the immortals to rescue us.” She was the clearest about her elder brother’s personality. Putting aside whether they have the fortune to touch this muddy water, even if he could, she would also not permit. Since His Majesty had no intention to let Ji Ying receive this exceptional honor, why would he let the Jiang Family have such a good deal?
There were so many people in the court full of civil and military officials but when she really had to pick, she felt that there were so few that it was pitiful. As the tip of her brush hovered over fewer and fewer names, she finally stopped at Jiang Wanyi’s name. There was a voice in her heart which was saying, ‘Yes, he’s the one.’
The day before she entered the palace, she vaguely heard that the emperor had the intention to let the Chief of the Imperial Physician Institute, Jiang Huai, and Xihe acknowledge each other as family. If this piece of news was true, then the best candidate in His Majesty’s heart would definitely be this young, handsome, talented successful candidate in the imperial civil service examinations who was well-versed in medical skills. That was because…he had gotten rid of a Xue Family, thus, he wanted to support another Ye Family and reform this tripartite balance of forces…is that it?
Jiang Chenyu stared at that name and was motionless for a very long time, until Huai Jin beside her reminded, “Your Highness, it’s already 10.45pm.”
She suddenly started as if she had just woken up from her dream. Finally, she smiled and took an exquisite silver card with pear blossoms design. She wrote a name inside, then sealed it tight and handed it to Wo Yu. “Send this card to Eunuch Luo.”
Hence, this thin card was handed to Luo Heng by Wo Yu, then presented by Luo Heng to Zhao Yin who was looking through the memorials all night and had yet to sleep. When he opened the envelope, there were two words written on it ー
It’s actually not Jiang Wanyi?