Chapter 365 - Are You Really Unaware, Or Are You Just Faking It?
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Zhao Huai’s face turned green. He wrathfully prodded Zhao Qing’s chest several times as he glared at him, “Don’t think that I would agree just because you said that. Fine, I’ll let him investigate, but I’ll kill him all the same when he discovers the truth about the remains in the urn. I’ll never let off anyone who killed my brothers.”
“If you kill him, I assure you that the entire Gaoshan Gang would be exterminated,” Zhao Qing replied calmly.
“Oh?” Zhao Huai narrowed his eyes, “Then, you must know what those people are?”
Of course he knew! That was the famed Teacher Ji, the one who had solved countless cases in the Capital, and that young master was the Emperor’s son, the one and only Prince Rong! Zhao Qing answered him sternly, “The one who made that order was His Highness.”
His Highness? Zhao Huai cleaned his ears, “His Highness? The current Emperor’s son?”
“It was Prince Rong. He has this Teacher Ji by his side who is renowned for his investigative skills. There are even rumours that the Emperor himself must take care when around him. This very man is the same one who was locked up by you in that woodshed.”
Ugh! Zhao Qing was shocked, but not scared. He waved a hand in dismissal. “Impossible!”
“I gain nothing from lying to you; I’ve already checked with my sources.”
“Impossible.” Zhao Huai was still suspicious. “That little scholar is just some useless runt - he cannot be who you said he is. And that Prince Rong? Complete rubbish! Everyone knows that His Majesty had once decreed that Princes can never, ever leave the Capital.”
Where the heck did you hear all these from? Zhao Qing explained patiently, “Didn’t you hear of the recent incident in the Capital?”
“Of course I did - the government couldn’t figure out where the relief silvers disappeared in Yufu County, so His Majesty sent someone to investigate.” Zhao Huai added, “In my opinion, the government must have taken those silvers for themselves and is trying to shift the blame onto people like us.” He was puffing with anger as he finished, but had also digressed from their original conversation.
Zhao Qing spoke, “Then you must be aware that the one who was ordered to investigate this case is none other than Prince Rong? According to their schedules, Prince Rong’s party should have just arrived at Shanhuai County.”
Ugh! Thinking about it carefully - it seemed to be true! The gravity of it all finally dawned upon Zhao Huai as his shock turned to fear. He paced about, worry hanging over him like a dark cloud.
It was a long time before he digested this information. He took two large strides towards Zhao Qing, his unruly gaze now much colder as he spat nonchalantly, “Even if all that you said were true, you know better than anyone else that my Gaoshan Gang is no pushover! Anyone who barges in would first die at the traps that Father had set up while he was alive - this is the very reason why the government has never once sent an ambush to our village all these years!”
“Zhao Huai, you are still my biological brother. If you had to pick the person who hated you the most in this world, it would be me, but I can’t watch you commit another stupid mistake like this before my own eyes just because you only care about yourself.”
“Me? For myself? I do everything for my brothers.”
“Then you should stop right here! Stop sacrificing innocent lives!” Zhao Qing was at the end of his rope; both of them were red with rage.
Zhao Huai scoffed, “So, are you afraid? Afraid that His Highness would track you down, and that the government would send their troops - is that why you want to save those men, so that you can claim the rewards afterwards?”
“That’s not it!”
“Then why? What could convince you to walk right into my village just to try and rescue those men?”
He wanted to know how Jiu’er died! Therefore, he could not speak the truth; if Zhao Huai was her real murderer, he might just kill Ji Yunshu to prevent him from investigating Jiu’er’s death. Zhao Qing only said this, “I have my own reasons that you don’t have to know anything about. I’ve said what I have to say. If you really kill that Teacher Ji, or try to take that Prince Rong’s life, enraging His Majesty, the government would eventually find out who’s responsible. Did you really think that those traps outside Gaoshan Village could stop the Imperial Army?” Of course they couldn’t! They could just form a human barricade, and it would be more than sufficient to overcome those mechanisms.
Zhao Qing continued, “The reason why the government has left you alone was because Shanhuai County is an important route into the Capital - any misstep would cost the innocent dearly. They aren’t the least bit afraid of your traps!” These words were the same ones relayed to him by Jing Rong at the inn.
Zhao Huai was a brave man, but since Zhao Qing had already pointed out Ji Yunshu’s and Wei Yi’s true identities, even going so far as to convince him otherwise, it would be unwise for him to continue being indecisive. He contemplated for a while, before calling his men, “Go bring those two people here.”
Da Chui nodded, dragging Ji Yunshu there as he rubbed his sore stomach. Ji Yunshu’s back had improved significantly with a night’s rest, as well as the medication that Zhao Qing had delivered. She looked much better, but she was still helped in by Wei Yi.
Seeing Zhao Huai and Zhao Qing standing together, Ji Yunshu’s doubts were confirmed. As she neared, Zhao Huai asked derisively, “Are you that Teacher Ji? The famous one from the Capital? The one that even His Majesty fears?”
Ptooey! Who said that! When was I famous? When did His Majesty fear me? If someone were to put these words onto Weibo, I would surely be sentenced if it received more than 500 retweets! Ji Yunshu snuck Zhao Qing a glance before speaking, “This one is no more than an ordinary scholar.”
Zhao Huai did not believe her as he snorted. He spoke arrogantly, as if he were a generous man, “Stop pretending. Didn’t you want to keep your little life? Fine, as long as you figure out who ruined my wine, I won’t pursue anything else anymore.” He added, “I’m not afraid of you government rascals. I just want to find the culprit who mangled my wine, and I want to obtain what is in Zhao Qing’s possession.”
I know! I understand already! I know that you’re a great man, so you don’t have to continue emphasising your intentions!
Zhao Huai seemed to have become frustrated by himself; he gestured to his men, commanding, “Listen up. Scoop out all the bones from that urn for that scholar to investigate. Give him what he needs, but make sure your keep your eyes on him. If anything happens, I’ll have your head.” His men could only nod, all of them turning to Ji Yunshu as Zhao Huai stomped off in a fit.
Zhao Qing queried, “Why didn’t you just tell him who you really are?”
Ji Yunshu laughed, “Is the Second Master really unware, or are you just faking it?”
“Mm?” Zhao Qing was confused. He asked again, “Explain it a little more clearly.”
Ji Yunshu was planning to do just that, “A Prince leaving the Capital to investigate a case on royal decree is no laughing matter - nothing must go wrong. Even if it should, it cannot happen in a place like Shanhuai County, somewhere so close to the Capital. His Highness’s party was robbed by bandits, then he killed around forty of them in fury. Thereafter, the bandits then kidnapped Prince Rong’s men as collateral for blackmail. If you were His Majesty, what would you think of all these?”
If he killed someone, he was just impulsive! If his men were kidnapped, then he was an incompetent coward! If Qi Zhen Emperor were to find out something like this happened when they had just departed the Capital, heads would roll! Prince Rong and Prince Yi were the largest competitors for the throne; because Prince Yi’s influence was on the rise, Prince Rong might become the next idiot puppet Crown Prince. This ‘exile’ to Yufu County was the plan devised by His Majesty himself to save Prince Rong’s life, but if Jing Rong could somehow solve the case and find someway to return to the Capital, he would most definitely be once again swept up into the faction wars. If this matter were to travel to Qi Zhen Emperor’s ears, he might demote Jing Rong to Yufu County, crowning him the ‘Carefree Prince’ in anger - ‘Don’t come back, don’t embarrass me any further’, that would be true exile!
Qi Zhen Emperor would then personally deliver the final blow - ‘Father’s only acting in your best interests’.
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