Chapter 327 - Everyone Makes Mistakes
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As Jing Yi trailed off, his eyes gleamed. He tapped a finger onto his desk, faking a moment of realization, “Oh, were you referring to that three-year-old case from Yufu County? The Supreme Court Chancellor did mention it when he had tea here the other day. I remember he said that there was no real evidence to support the claim and hence it couldn’t be re-opened by the Great Lin’s laws. You know the Chancellor - he’s just afraid of responsibility, so don’t hold it against him.” Jing Yi was every inch the saint.
Jing Rong was entirely familiar with Jing Yi’s standard operating procedure, “Jing Yi, stop beating around the bush.” This prince would never fall for your tricks!
Jing Yi laughed, “Okay, since you want me to be truthful, here it is.” He dusted his sleeves, looking up at Jing Rong, “No matter how you look at it, this case can never be approved. Moreover, that Teacher Ji is neither a court official, nor a royal coroner - there are no grounds for him to head this investigation. The only way out is to sound the royal drums and submit a royal claim; this is the only way Teacher Ji can rightfully begin investigations.”
“Was that why you had someone mention this to that woman in secret? Because you knew that Teacher Ji would definitely save her, and receive the remaining paddles on her behalf.”
“Yes, I did.” Jing Yi was honest, “And you knew that Teacher Ji would do so on that woman’s behalf - that’s why you are here before me.” Both of them had anticipated this last move - it simply came down to who would emerge victorious.
Jing Yi picked his calligraphy off his desk and stood up. He circled around and placed his work before Jing Rong’s eyes. “Do you still remember when we were young and still living at the Eight Prince’s Estate, Imperial Father once praised that my writing was the best out of all his sons? But, the work I showed him then was not mine - it was yours. I can still picture the words you wrote then.”
Then he began again,
“Man exists, therefore he is.
What looks wrong is right, what is right is wrong.
The capable can debate; wisdom doesn’t mean righteousness and loyalty.
What is, is, and what is not, is not - everything followed the Will of Heaven.”
He folded that piece of paper and held it to a candle flame, the faint smell of smoke burning his nostrils, stinging.
Jing Rong watched as the paper combusted; he did not respond.
Jing Yi continued, “The true meaning of your words then were: out of sight, out of mind; life should be carefree, free from restrictions. There was no one but you who had that attitude; Imperial Father knew that those were your words, he knew that I stole your work, but he said nothing, only remarking that my calligraphy was beautiful. Jing Rong, Imperial Father has always known that you’ve never wanted to fight, never wished to fight - Imperial Father is giving you a chance this time, an opportunity to be that person you wanted to be. Going to Yufu is going to be your best shot at staying away from the court, away from the capital, your best shot at becoming that self-sufficient man you penned of.
As long as you tell Imperial Father that you are willing to investigate the missing relief silvers, the Supreme Court Chancellor will approve that case at my command, even ordering Teacher Ji to oversee the case. The two of you can then travel to Yufu together - isn’t it an obvious win-win situation?”
It was indeed a solid plan.
Jing Rong took a deep breath, “Since when have you been plotting this?”
“Ever since the Crown Prince died.”
“What if your plan had failed?”
“Truth is, I haven’t.” Jing Yi smiled, every bit the winner he expected himself to be, “Why vie with me? I know Jing Hua’s death may have triggered you; you want to take revenge for him, even prevent me from becoming the Crown Prince, but you don’t have the skills. Jing Rong, isn’t it life’s greatest happiness to be able to stay by your loved one’s side forever? You can become a carefree couple with Teacher Ji in Yufu County - it would concern neither of you no matter what happens in the capital. You can be the carefree king you dreamed of, and when I become the Emperor, I’ll make sure you’ll stay safe.”
Who would believe this?
Jing Rong was sure of what he had to do - he had to make good on this deal, “If I agree to your plan, would you have the Supreme Court re-open the case?”
“Of course!” Jing Yi was cool about it.
“Sure. I will enter the palace to meet Imperial Father first thing tomorrow morning - I will inform him that I will head the relief silvers case in Yufu County, but you must also make good on your promise.”
“A gentleman never goes back on his words.” His goal was met.
Jing Rong lingered no longer.
As soon as he left, Jing Yi sent a message to the Supreme Court Chancellor to have him stamp and approve the papers submitted by the capital mayor, approving the re-investigation. Jing Rong followed suit and entered the palace the following morning, volunteering to leave for Yufu on royal decree.
“Is this your final decision? Are you really going to Yufu?” Qi Zhen Emperor reiterated.
Jing Rong bowed, “This son is willing to go forth.”
Qi Zhen Emperor was puzzled - what made Jing Rong change his mind in such a short span of time? No matter, Jing Rong’s decision suited him very well as the heavy stone on his chest was lifted, “Good, if that’s so, then we approve.”
At least try to persuade him to stay! It was as Jing Yi mentioned, however - Qi Zhen Emperor’s original intentions were always for Jing Rong to head to Yufu County to search for the missing silvers. Even though the court officials would link this move as a political exile, all it would be was slightly further from the capital. Jing Rong could be his carefree king there, free from political crossfire - it was, in some sense, the protection Qi Zhen Emperor could provide him, especially as Jing Yi’s power was quickly expanding. With the Crown Prince dead, Jing Yi’s next target was, of course, Jing Rong.
Qi Zhen Emperor had already lost his Crown Prince - he could not afford to lose another son. In this aspect, it was a good plan for Jing Rong to move away from the capital. The royal decree was soon declared, and Jing Rong left the palace with it in hand.
The Rong Estate.
Ji Yunshu had finally woken up from the pain on her back after a full day’s rest. She sat up painfully in bed, and several servant girls quickly cushioned her back, lest she re-injure and re-open her wounds.
Mo Ruo had not left the estate since the previous day. To relieve his boredom, he had some men warm up several jugs of wine for him, and he sat drinking all day, keeping vigil by Ji Yunshu’s bed. He held a small glass in his hands, twiddling it on his fingertips as he muttered to himself, “What’s the most complicated thing in this world? It’s affection. That woman was willing to endure forty royal paddles for her daughter, and you, you were willing to receive whatever was left due to that same affection. Affection would be the death of many!”
Ji Yunshu’s bloodshot, empty eyes looked towards him. She gently parted her pale lips, “Was it Jing Rong who brought me back?”
“Who else, if not him?”
Yes, who else, if not him? Her grip on her blankets tightened. Jing Rong did indeed order them to beat her, but -- he gave in.
Grenn's Rants Corner
Hum... This will be a nice change of pace if they do leave the capital, far away from the snake Jing Yi.
I bought maple syrup cotton candy and gosh, it's fluffy heaven in my mouth.
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