Chapter 297 - Wise Birds Choose Their Own Roosting Trees
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Jing Yi left the Emperor’s bedside, stepping out soundlessly. He wore a victorious smile as he ordered the court officials, “His Majesty has decreed that he will spare Prince Rong - release him immediately.”
The Supreme Court Chancellor quickly replied, “This official understands!” He heaved a sigh of relief - Jing Rong was a difficult one to serve, a hot potato that was moved from the Imperial Prison to his Supreme Court Prison, but luckily, there was Vice-chancellor Yu to take over the case. Now that His Majesty had personally ordered Jing Rong’s release, what great news for his Supreme Court! Quickly release him, any day Jing Rong was held within his prison was another day he spent in uncertainty.
After passing on the imperial decree, Jing Yi left Fuyang Hall. On his way out, he bumped into Ji Li, “Ji Li pays his respects to Prince Yi.”
“The East Palace has rebelled, has Secretary Ji resolved everything?” Jing Yi questioned.
Ji Li answered, “Those who should be killed have been killed, and those who should be locked away have all been imprisoned within East Palace.” It was Ji Li’s men who massacred the members of the East Palace last night!
As the Great Lin’s Secretary, this was part of his responsibility, in fact, half of the Capital was under his watch!
Jing Yi was evidently pleased with his answer, “Secretary Ji is indeed swift; this Prince is impressed.”
“Prince Yi is too kind; this general is more impressed by how your Highness successfully save His Majesty. This general must be punished to have not noticed the East Palace’s rebellion happening within these city walls.”
“The Ji Family are loyal servants of our Great Lin, moreover, Secretary Ji has already done your best,” Jing Yi paid Ji Li lip service, but obviously thought otherwise. You should die, but who would dare kill you? What if you rebelled?
A guard rushed over, whispering something in Jing Yi’s ear. Jing Yi furrowed his brows, but quickly relaxed, as if he were afraid Ji Li would see his change in expression. He then smiled, “This Prince will bother Secretary Ji no longer then.”
Ji Li put up his fists in greeting. As Jing Yi turned to leave, he mentioned strangely, “Secretary Ji’s sister, Miss Ji, is truly a beautiful and talented lady.”
Ji Li could not figure out what he meant, but Jing Yi was long gone by then. These past few days, Ji Muqing had broken out in hives all over her face and body, locking herself in her room away from any visitors. Not even Ji Li had entered since she returned from the palace, much less spoken with her. Her non-participation in the Crown Princess selection was a sore spot for the Ji Family, but with the Crown Prince’s current condition, it might have been a blessing in disguise! Ji Li stopped his musings and entered Fuyang Hall.
Jing Yi headed for East Palace with Pan Chong at his side. The Crown Prince had spent the entire night on the courtyard floor, and he looked up with hope and relief as the East Palace gates opened, through which Pan Chong entered.
“Teacher!” Jing Hua exclaimed excitedly, quickly picking himself up off the floor. He rushed to Pan Chong, grabbing his hand, “Teacher, you must help me. Imperial Father has demoted me, stripping me of my Crown Prince title. Teacher, what should we do?” His eyes were glistening with tears.
Pan Chong was beside his usual self; he was cold and composed as he sat down at a table, “The Crown Prince should not hurry.” His tone was calm, and calling him ‘Crown Prince’ was giving him enough face.
I should not hurry? Jing Hua had become unshaven, disheveled and emaciated in the span of just one night. He asked raspily, “How could I not hurry? Teacher, it was you who told me that the ambush would be a sure success, how did word get out? It was impeccable!”
“The Crown Prince wishes to know?” Jing Hua nodded. Pan Chong’s wrinkled face scrunched up as he explained slowly, “As the saying goes, wise birds choose their own roosting trees, golden peacocks drink from only the best of springs[1. This is saying originated from Confucius]; although the Crown Prince has power and influence, this option is not suited for me.”
“What is Teacher trying to say?”
“Crown Prince, as your teacher, I have watched you grow up - I know better than anyone that you are not the smartest egg in the basket. The Crown Prince only knows to appease His Majesty, to play and drink; you know nothing about the state, much less the nation - how could you sit on the throne?” Pan Chong did not mince his words.
Jing Hua finally understood. He stepped back, staring straight at him, “Was it you? Did you tell Jing Yi? Did you hope to sentence this Crown Prince to death?”
Idiot! At last, you understand. Pan Chong did not try to hide his intentions as he stood up from his seat, “Prince Yi is different from the Crown Prince - he is a tree that no-one would forsake. Rather than serving a Crown Prince that would be removed sooner or later, why not quickly serve another master?”
Jing Hua’s lips trembled as he pointed at Pan Chong angrily, “You- Why? You’re my teacher, you watched me grow up, why have you betray me?”
“It’s precisely because I watched you grow up, that I know you’d never make it - you were never cut out to be a ruler!”
Ugh! Jing Hua fell into despair - if he couldn’t even grab onto his last saving grace, then it seemed he was surely falling into the depths of hell.
The East Palace gates opened again, this time, Jing Yi strutted in, a condescending look on his face. Pan Chong quickly paid his respects as soon as Jing Yi stepped in, every inch the servant, “This servant pays his respects to Prince Yi.”
Jing Yi waved his hand and looked at the disheveled Jing Hua. He barely glanced at Pan Chong as he said dismissively, “Teacher Pan need not bother with the formalities. Rather, I’d have to thank Teacher Pan - if not for you, this Prince might not have been able to capture the Crown Prince at all.”
“It was Prince Yi who was able to look through this plan; if not for Prince Yi’s scheme, this would not have succeeded either.”
Jing Yi took his compliment in, “This Prince would like some time alone with my Imperial Brother.” Pan Chong understood. He bowed and left, closing the doors behind him.
Jing Yi’s smile grew as he stared at the disgraced Jing Hua, “Imperial Brother has brought all this on yourself; if you were not too eager and full of suspicion, you would not have fallen into my trap.” ‘Imperial Brother’, these words were much harsher than calling him ‘Crown Prince’ as it gave him a certain sense of reality to his situation.
Jing Hua glared at him cruelly, clenching his teeth, “I want to see Imperial Father, I will expose all your crimes - you framed me, it was all you!”
“Expose them?” Jing Yi could care less, as he placed his hands behind his back, “Imperial Brother, did you know? The poison you used is shiban poison, one that only Yan Weiyi possesses. You might not know who he is, nor did he incite you to rebel, but he has been a useful chess piece, one that is already dead, and dead men tell no tales. Lord Zhang has already testified against you and you can no longer deny responsibility for the Chengqing Hall fire. Don’t expect Lord Zhang to tell the truth and prove your innocence, for if he does, his entire family will die.”
Grenn's Rants Corner
I have to admit Jing Yi is what I expect from a good villain - intelligent and ruthless. No half-baked intelligence here. He knows what he wants, and he doesn't pull any stops to get what he wants.
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