Chapter 270 - The Great Lin Empire Has Never Lack of Sons of Heaven
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Old General Li was truly a cunning old fox! He hid his emotions very well and would never betray a hint of them in front of anybody; he was becoming more and more cunning as he grew older!
Jing Rong continued recounting, both hands clasped behind his back as he stood under the eaves outside the hall, “Whatever your motives are, this Prince would like to offer a piece of advice to you…” He turned around to face the Old General Li sitting comfortably on a pearwood chair, “One should learn to let things go as they age; there are at least a hundred mouths to feed within the Li Estate, if they were all to be wiped out instantly because of a single misstep, General, would that be worth it?”
Jing Rong’s persuasiveness was incomparable to any other; he showed no interest in Old General Li’s motives in his words.
That old man was neither flustered nor stirred up by his words. It was just as if he was on the battlefield, wearing a face of indifference. His battle-worn face betrayed only the slightest of frowns before he smiled, “Who could believe that the little boy of the past who stood no more than a meter tall back then would turn out to be this astute today, just like the Eighth Prince then.” The Eighth Prince - he was referring to the Qi Zhen Emperor of today!
Old General Li pushed himself clumsily off the armchair and walked towards Jing Rong, “Let’s see, it has been a full twenty years since the Eighth Prince ascended to the throne; when he was still the Eighth Prince, he did not fight nor snatch, and was the most unassuming out of all the princes then. On the other hand, Prince Ning was extremely outstanding - he slayed his enemies on the battlefield and obtained many victories for Great Lin; the position of Crown Prince was undeniably his then.” He sighed as he stood next to Jing Rong, looking up towards the brilliant moon shining in the pitch black sky, full of nostalgia.
Jing Rong had no intentions of interrupting, and continued listening in silence.
“But when one has lived long enough in this world, traveled enough and seen enough, we inevitably long for peace and quiet. The King of Peace was no different; he rescinded his position of Crown Prince to the Eighth Prince who was smart but not flamboyant, truly an appropriate choice for a future leader. But when a man holds power and authority in his hands, his ego and psyche would inflate. There is no exception to this rule; he would not tolerate any threat to his power, not even the tiniest bit. And so the King of Peace was crowned as the Imperial Duke, living under the feet of the Son of Heaven for the rest of his life, chained and watched.” A tiger who already had its fangs pulled out, was still to be chained for life!
Hearing this, Jing Rong sighed silently to himself, keeping his emotions in check. He smiled bitterly, “This Prince still remembers that prior to Imperial Father’s ascension, Imperial Duke would always visit the Eighth Prince’s Estate to play a game of chess with Imperial Father. The two of them would chat for ages but never about politics; they always discussed only the most elegant and cultural of topics. This Prince was still young then and could only hear little of what they said as I watched the game from the sidelines. When Imperial Grandfather sent the decree crowning Imperial Father as the Crown Prince, everything changed; one was a ruler of nations and the other a subject of the court - these two could never be equal.”
He still remembered the Imperial Duke he used to call ‘Uncle’ would often visit the Eighth Prince’s Estate, hoisting him upon his shoulders, playing with him - these were times he would never ever forget. When Imperial Father was named Crown Prince, he was only three; Imperial Grandfather passed away the following fall and Imperial Father ascended to the throne. He saw with his own eyes his very own Imperial Uncle kneel before his father, referring to himself as ‘this subordinate’.
Old General Li stroked his white beard as Jing Rong spoke, as if he were imagining this scene unfold before his eyes twenty years ago. He sighed, “What’s passed had passed. Be it the previous Emperor or the Imperial Duke, what’s happened has happened.”
Jing Rong picked up where the General left off, “If that’s the case, then Old General Li ought to put things behind as well.”
“What is Your Highness referring to?”
“The good old times!” Jing Rong was unmoving.
Old General Li’s heart clenched at these four words. He cocked his head towards his side at Jing Rong, “Does Your Highness not want to know about the old matters that brought this old man to the capital?”
Jing Rong was not interested! All he said was, “Whatever it is, this Prince doesn’t care. I am only here for two things today; one, to tell you that those lanterns have already been replaced, and two, to advise you to retreat before regretting when things become unsalvageable.”
“Did you think that this old man would regret his actions?”
Jing Rong was stern and firm, “Even if Old General Li could care less about yourself, shouldn’t you spare a thought for the Li Estate? Why should these hundred lives be buried alongside you?”
These words were too harsh, but Old General Li snorted disdainfully, “Since this old man has come this far, I have long considered this fact. There will be no regrets.”
“In any case, this Prince has said what he wants. Whether the General would turn back or not is up to you. On account of your valiant deeds for the Great Lin, this Prince has first handled the matter about the lanterns. Nobody will know of it, but I hope the Old General can reconsider and turn back in time, not to continue erring with your family’s lives at stake.”
Jing Rong was really a good man! The Old General Li looked almost convinced.
Jing Rong continued, “Whether it was the Eighth Prince or the King of Peace of the past, I believe they would long for those carefree days from twenty years ago. Now that Old General has left the battlefields behind for the peasant life, you should enjoy the peace you have; why enter this chaotic capital? Whatever reasons or motives you may have, this Prince will question you no further, but, this Prince is sincerely hoping that you will leave the capital and return to Qingzhou as soon as you can.”
The Old General Li listened to Jing Rong with a stoic expression, not saying a single word.
Jing Rong rose his hands in greeting, “Pretend that I was never here today, and that the lanterns were just a joke you were trying to pull off; there will be no next time. Then, this Prince takes his leave.” He gave a slight bow and left the Li Mansion, but his words continued echoing in the Old General Li’s ears.
Not long after Jing Rong left, a man appeared beside Old General Li; he was none other than the Li Mansion’s housekeeper. The old housekeeper looked towards the direction Jing Rong left, ensuring that he was truly gone before asking, “Old Master, should we continue?”
Old General Li took a deep breath, his gaze still fixed on the moon hanging above his head. He nodded after a long while.
The housekeeper understood what he meant, and continued, “Prince Rong only discovered the lanterns, but he did not discover the rest. On the day of His Majesty’s banquet, everything will go accordingly to Master’s plan.”
Old General Li was lost in his thoughts for a moment, “He is really too similar to the Emperor when he was still the Eighth Prince.” His gaze bore complex emotions, difficult to clearly describe.
A gust of wind suddenly blew around them!
“But the Great Lin has never been short of Sons of Heaven!”
Grenn's Rants Corner
What else did Old General Li prepared to "surprise" the Emperor.
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