Chapter 264 - Unexpected Incident
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
As Qi Zhen’s birthday approached, all the civil and military officials were busied with preparations. Not to mention the preparation for the Crown Princess’ selection was in full swing. Everyone was rushing to meet the deadlines. They were exhausted to death!
In Han Academy.
A eunuch delivered a list to Minister Liang.
“Lord Liang, the names of all the maidens of the prominent house of each prefecture have been compiled and filtered through. This is what’s left. ”
Lord Liang flipped the list but put it down shortly after. Then, he ordered the eunuch, “Go call Vice-Director Gao here.”
“Yes, milord!” The eunuch eagerly left to called Gao Bingze, Vice-director Gao.
Gao Bingze was unexpectedly very young. He was one of the top scorers from the previous year’s imperial exam. He entered Han Academy, taking the position of vice-director right away.
“Bingze, please take a seat.” Minister Liang gestured.
Gao Bingze sat down before asking, “For what purpose has Lord Liang summoned me?”
Lord Liang sat straight and started, “It has been a year already since you entered Han Academy.”
Lord Liang nodded.
“The Crown Princess selection cannot have an accident and nothing can be overlooked.” He gave the list to Gao Bingze and added, “This is the list with the names of all the candidates who have qualified to enter the Crown Prince’s harem. They will be entered into the palace two days before the Emperor’s birthday. They will be screened through physical examination and learn etiquette at Chuxiu Palace. No mistake can be tolerated, neither can any candidate be omitted. To avoid any accident, you must personally deliver it.”
After receiving the list, Gao Bingze checked it and made sure everything was in order. This is the correct list. He sealed it.
“Yes, I will deliver it.”
He got up and saluted his superior before leaving, not without stating, “Lord Liang, you have all my sympathies for what happened to your family.”
Lord Liang nodded. He waited until Gao Bingze left before he forwent all restrain, revealing a completely different expression. His hands were tightly clenched. He let out a groan as he slammed them on his desk.
Gao Bingze left Han Academy and with list in hand, he walked toward the inner court. When he passed by Mingde Hall, he wound through the meandering long corridors. Just as he turned a corner, he directly collided with a hurried eunuch. The list in his hand fell to the floor. Frightened, the eunuch immediately prostrated and picked up the dropped list. He even dusted it with his sleeve and raised it over his head to give it back.
“This slave is aware of his mistake!” he groveled.
As a scholar, Gao Bingze was a gentleman who didn’t take offense. He took back the list and waved his hand. “It’s fine.”
He departed soon after. When he was far away, the eunuch finally got up.
It did not take long before Gao Bingze arrived at the inner court where he delivered the list to the inner court’s head manager. “This is the name list. Please verify that everything is in order and no mistake has been made.”
“Rest assured, Lord Gao,” said the inner court Head Manager.
Gao Bingze then left with his heart at ease. Quickly, the names of the candidates were known. There was 18 girls in total, all of them were from prestigious and prominent household. Letters of notification were made and sent out of the palace. The letters were received and the lucky candidates busied themselves with preparations to enter the palace a few days later. Whoever did not receive a letter were the rejected candidates, leaving them only one choice - to return home.
Inside the General Mansion.
Ji Muqing had waited for a day, but the letter never came. She immediately dragged a maidservant to inquire, feeling her anxiety growing. “Didn’t you say that the letter would be sent today? Why hasn’t it arrived? Or has it not even been sent?”
“Th-this servant… doesn’t know either. The letter from the palace should have already been sent. Many people have already received it from what I heard.”
“Then why didn’t I receive anything?!”
“I…” She lowered her head and shrunk her shoulders. She was afraid that Ji Muqing would grab her and rip her to shreds.
Ji Muqing stomped her feet in anger and desperation. She threw the maidservant aside, rushing to the garden instead to find Ji Li.
At that moment, Ji Li had just returned from the Ministry of War and was caught by his little sister. He looked down.
“What is it? Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Eldest Brother, why hasn’t the imperial palace sent me the letter for the selection?”
Ji Li frowned. “The letters were already sent today. Yours hasn’t arrived yet?”
“No. Everyone got theirs, only I didn’t get it. Has there been some sort of accident? Eldest Brother, I am the future Crown Princess, so how could it be? Don’t tell me the news has been leaked to those hateful girls?”
“Impossible!” Ji Li vetoed.
Ji Muqing tugged him. “Then, what is going on?”
Ji Li pondered for a bit. Since he had yet to change out of his court uniform, he immediately went back to the palace and stormed straight to Han Academy. At that moment, Minister Liang had finished his work and was about to return home. Coincidentally, they crossed paths and looked with incomprehension at Ji Li.
“Oh! Secretary Ji had some time to visit Han Academy?”
“The inner court sent the letters to the selected maidens according to your name list. I thought we had a good discussion about it earlier. Does your heart still bear resentment to mix work and private matters?” Ji Li did not show his anger, but his voice revealed a menacing undertone.
Minister Liang smiled. “Your words came to me as a surprise. This official can differentiate between work and personal matters. I have never done anything that went against my conscience.”
“Then, can you explain to me why our Ji family has not received the letter for the Crown Princess’ selection?”
“ReallY? I clearly put Miss Ji’s name on that list!”
“Then, why is it still not there?”
Confronted by Ji Li, Minister Liang remained composed. He fetched for the backup list and gave it to Ji Li. “See? Her name really is on it.”
Ji Li looked at it - Lord Liang did not lie.
Could it be that something went awry at the inner court?
The unexpected incident quickly passed through Concubine Xiao’s ears. It was quite reasonable for her to learn of it so quickly because she was part of the organisation. If Minister Liang’s task was that of the master of ceremony for the selection, Concubine Xiao was akin to the producer of it.
Inside a palace hall.
Minister Liang was kneeled along with Gao Bingze and the inner court’s head manager.
Ji Li stood to the side with an appearance that screamed “all of you owe me!”
High above sat Concubine Xiao. Her hands were placed on the beautiful luan gown. Her face was scrunched by a frown and her eyes filled with anger glared at the people below.
“Who caused such an accident?” Her shrill voice fell, sounding a bit menacing.
Between the three of them, the Head Manager took the initiative to explain.
He kowtowed and replied with his head still lowered. “Your Ladyship, at the time I sent the letter, I verified that everything was according to the list I received. There should be no mistake.”
Concubine Xiao slammed her hand heavily on her thigh. “There was clearly a mistake, but you dare say to me there was none? Who gives you such courage?”
The Head Manager was scared witless. He trembled. “This slave is wrong. I sent everything according to the list given to me by Vice-director Gao! I swear I did not notice Miss Ji’s name on it!”
Sang Lan presented the list to Concubine Xiao. Concubine Xiao flipped through it and threw the list at the three people below. The list hit with force against the ground, and the envelope was damaged in the process.
“Lord Gao, why is Miss Ji not on the list?”
Gao Bingze was terrified. Impossible! He had personally handed the list to the Head Manager, and he had verified it beforehand - Ji Muqing’s name was on the list at that time! He immediately picked the letter with doubt. He looked at it with horror - her name was nowhere to be seen.
Grenn's Rants Corner
Oh! The scheme is a success?!
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