Chapter 240 - Selecting Another Crown Princess
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Leaving the capital? Shi Zijin did not question further and nodded, deciding to follow orders.
Ji Yunshu was stern. “These few days, Brother Lang will be by my side. I don’t intend to leave the estate either, so you don’t have to be with me. Leave the capital quickly and chase after Teacher Su of Qujiang. Return when he is safely home.”
“As you wish!” Shi Zijin did not ask further.
At the last minute, Ji Yunshu added, ”Remember to keep this from His Highness, understand?”
“Good. Go now.”
Shi Zijin bowed slightly and leapt out the window, disappearing in a flash! Outside, Lang Po was unable to conjure any idea of what went on inside the study, let alone overhear their conversation.
Ji Yunshu heaved a sigh of relief as she sat down at her desk. She placed the skull in front of her and lay a piece of white paper next to it. She chose the smallest brush from her sandalwood boxes, prepared some ink, and began to work.
Meanwhile, at Zhangzhi Hall…
Because the Emperor’s birthday and the Crown Princess selection was coming up, the entire palace began to busy themselves after sending off the Qujiang envoys. The upcoming spring was destined to be crazy!
Since Empress Xuanshu had passed away, leaving the harem without a ruler, the next in line possessing the most power was Concubine Xiao. These two colossal tasks were left to her decision.
To others, that was possibly the most honourable task; some concubines could only dare dream of that moment! But to Concubine Xiao, however, that was a tricky situation beyond comparison, a hot potato!
Jing Yi was inside the hall, and Concubine Xiao dismissed all the eunuchs and palace maids with a wave, even sending her most trusted confidant Sang Lan out.
“What do you make of this matter?” Concubine Xiao asked Jing Yi worriedly.
Not far away, Jing Yi was teasing a little caged bird with a sliver of bamboo. The bird started screeching uncomfortably with each poke, flapping its wings and fighting for dear life. Its screeches were unbearable, but Jing Yi’s smile grew bigger with every scream!
He completely ignored Concubine Xiao’s question, until that little bird curled up in a corner of its cage. Jing Yi did not stop, his head cocked to one side. His brows were knit menacingly as he continued poking at the bird. He even tut-tutted at the dead, unmoving bird.
After a while, he turned his back on Concubine Xiao and replied, “Of course we have to think of a plan to keep the Ji family away from the Crown Prince.”
Concubine Xiao explained once more, “The Crown Princess selection this time will take place at the same time as the Emperor’s birthday banquet. On the surface, ladies from each state and household would participate, but in reality, when the Empress was still alive, she had already appointed the first daughter of the Ji family as the Crown Princess. This time, all we will be doing is to go through the motions and rituals.”
As she concluded, Jing Yi stopped and left the sliver of bamboo in the cage. He wiped his hands, walked over and sat across from Concubine Xiao.
He picked up the teapot and slowly poured a steaming hot cup of tea. He said, “What if, that daughter of the Ji family was not able to enter the palace?”
‘Not being able to enter the palace?’ Concubine Xiao considered his suggestion, “It would be difficult - General Ji and Secretary Ji would never allow for mistakes.”
“What if, something really went wrong?” Jing Yi laughed creepily.
Concubine Xiao took a deep breath and narrowed her eyes, “Actually, this Imperial One has a different idea.”
“Speak freely, Imperial Mother.”
“When Empress Xuanshu was still alive, the appointment of the daughter of the Ji family as the Crown Princess was ultimately due to the armies and power Ji Huan and Ji Li held. But what if it were not the Crown Prince who married this lady? Ji Huan and Ji Li naturally would not support the Crown Prince then.”
‘Even an idiot could understand what she was trying to imply.’ Jing Yi was unfazed. He took a sip of his tea and said, “Does Imperial Mother intend for me to marry this Ji girl?”
Concubine Xiao nodded, “Yi’er, you must understand our current situation - the Crown Prince is still the Crown Prince. Even though he is an idiot, His Majesty does not mind. Moreover, many officials are his supporters - pulling him from his position seems simple, but it has its inherent challenges. For us, there is no harm in trying to pull the two Ji brothers to our side.”
What a solid plan! Concubine Xiao could already imagine the day Jing Hua stepped down, the day her own son would be draped in the Crown Prince’s garbs, and even the day he sat on the throne. She could not help but smile.
Jing Yi weighed his options silently, his long slender fingers gripping his teacup so hard they went pale. He finally spoke, “Then… there needs to be another Crown Princess.”
“You’re right. This other person must not hold legitimate power either.”
“Does Imperial Mother already have someone in mind?”
Concubine Xiao smirked, “Kong Yu.”
Kong Yu? The Crown Prince’s cousin?
To be fair, consanguineous marriages were not uncommon in ancient times.
Jing Yi unknowingly burrowed his brows, “Changing the Crown Princess to Kong Yu? Neither Father nor the Crown Prince would agree. Moreover, Kong Yu has already been bestowed the title of Huiwen Princess, how could she marry a prince?”
Concubine Xiao was certain. “You don’t have to worry about this - Mother has a plan.”
“What is it?”
“Kong Yu could not be married into Qujiang this time and so her title of princess is no more than an accessory. The Kong family is Empress Xuanshu’s maiden household - it would not be unreasonable for a Crown Princess to come from the Kong family. Mother would think of a way to force the Crown Prince to agree to this marriage and for His Majesty to bestow the imperial decree.” Concubine Xiao was confident, but also sinister.
“Then I will abide by your wishes.” Jing Yi was cold, but agreed regardless.
“Now all we have to consider is how to prevent the Ji family girl from entering the palace.” Concubine Xiao twirled the jade ring on her finger, already scheming. She added as an afterthought, “Ah, your Imperial Father’s birthday gift - have you prepared it?”
Jing Yi shrugged nonchalantly. “Not yet.”
“This concubine heard that Jing Hua has already started searching for rare treasures. Your father was very pleased with the flat stonefish jade that he presented last year. You have to pay more attention this year.”
Speaking of that flat stonefish jade, Jing Yi fumed with anger, almost throwing his teacup to the ground.
The one who had obtained that stonefish jade last year was him, but who would have guessed that when he presented it the following day, the Crown Prince had switched the gifts around and the stonefish jade ended up in the Crown Prince’s offering. All that remained in his own box was a forgettable piece of blue jade.
Luckily the Crown Prince had some semblance of a conscience and did not leave him empty-handed, otherwise, that would have truly meant great disrespect!
Grenn's Rants Corner
Jing Yi needs anger management therapy. Despite being described as calm and gentlemanly, he's the one with the most pent-up anger.
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