Rebel and ascend to the throne?
Jing Yi was stunned at the thought. He felt as if someone had smacked him in the forehead, switching on a lightbulb in his mind. He began to weigh the pros and cons of starting a coup as he walked to a candle stand and stared at the flickering flame hidden by the paper lantern with narrowed eyes.
Dou Quan stepped forward and continued, “Most of the ministers in the Imperial Court still side with Your Highness. All of the capital is within your control as well. All we need is your command, and victory will be yours.”
Jing Yi remained silent, deep in thought.
“The new Crown Prince has yet to be named. His Majesty’s health deteriorates day by day. If we wait till then, for the court officials to set up His Majesty’s will, the throne would fall into Prince Rong’s hand. By then, it would be too late.”
Dou Quan seemed more anxious than Jing Yi. Truly, the servant worries before the master does.
Jing Yi’s palm was covered in perspiration as he gathered his thoughts, then he shook his head. “No, not yet. Back when the Crown Prince surrounded the palace, Father already suspected me. Why else would he call Jing Rong back in secret. If he is suspicious, then he must have countermeasures set in place. If we rebel now, it would be as futile as striking a stone with an egg. We must exercise the utmost caution and plan out all possible outcomes before we can execute this plan.”
He would inevitably rebel, but if he went ahead before covering all contingencies, he would have dug his own grave instead of achieving what he wanted.
Dou Quan analyzed, “If His Majesty was truly prepared, he would not have summoned Prince Rong to return at such a short notice to counter Your Highness. Right now, all of the officials from the various ministries and the generals that control the military forces within the capital are all waiting for Your Highness’s command. Then, the city gates would close in an instant as the soldiers march into the palace.”
“Silence!” Jing Yi snapped. “So what if I succeed and ascend to the throne after surrounding the palace and slaying my father? I would only be remembered for my patricide, and be scorned by all of the nation. Unless… Father relinquished the throne to me.”
Dou Quan did not dare to speak further.
Jing Yi may have scolded Dou Quan, but his heart remained full of dissatisfaction. He mulled over his right-hand man’s words as flames danced in his eyes as his expression steeled. Then, he dismissed Dou Quan with a wave, “Leave me be.”
Dou Quan lowered his head and quietly left the room, “Yes.”
That night, Jing Yi did not get a wink of sleep. He spent the night reanalysing his current circumstances, the pros and cons of the situation he was in as he planned his next course of action.
Indeed, he was in a precarious situation. If he does not take action soon, he will miss his chance in the event that the Qizhen Emperor passes away and his last words are announced by his personal eunuch. Jing Yi seemed to have reached a decision.
He received another piece of bad news the next morning. One of his estate guards brought him an urgent message. “Your Highness, Prince Rong is holding a banquet today and he has invited many of the ministers, including Lord Zhou of the Military Grand Council, Cabinet Grand Secretariat Lord Zheng, and Historical Scribe Lord Ning.”
JIng YI shot to his feet. “What?”
The guard answered with a tremble in his voice. “They said they could not turn down Prince Rong’s invitation.”
They could not reject him? Utter bullshit! He flipped the table in rage. Everything on it clattered onto the ground.
“Your Highness?” Dou Quan happened to enter the Main Hall and he heard the message from the guardsman earlier. He stepped in to see the prince standing behind a now-overturned table with tightly balled fists, veins jutting out from his forehead. He looked like he was about to explode with anger.
“Where is War Secretary Ji?”
Dou Quan answered, “Ever since War Secretary Ji has been removed from office, he has been lazing at home. He had taken up fishing at Lake Cheng the past few days, leaving home early in the morning and only returning late at night.”
Fishing? How could someone as prideful as Ji Li have the peace of mind to go fishing after he has been removed from his post? Jing Yi was astonished. Next, he ordered, “Fetch me a brush and paper.”
“Yes.” Dou Quan brought the requested items to Jing Yi immediately.
The prince quickly wrote a missive and handed it to Dou Quan. “Have someone send this to Lord Xing’s estate, and tell him to enter the palace and meet His Majesty at once.”
Dou Quan carefully held the missive in the palm of his hands and carried out his orders without any questions. Soon after, Jing Yi left the estate.
Meanwhile, at Lake Cheng.
Ji Li walked to the edge of the lake with a stool and a fishing rod in hand. He set down the stool and took his seat before casting a line. He relaxed on the stool as he waited for a bite.
The lake was calm and still. Leaves from the surrounding trees danced through the soft breeze before casting tiny ripples on the lake’s surface. The ripples formed, then slowly vanished. Occasionally, there would be a few gerbes paddling on the surface of the lake, their thin, sharp beaks pecking the water a few times before they flew away. Ji Li remained motionless as he sat there for a long stretch of time. Not a single fish tugged on his line.
The young manservant that accompanied him was seated next to Ji Li and tried his very best to maintain the same position, but he did not have the former War Secretary’s patience. The young manservant wiped away the sweat on his forehead and began to grumble. “Young Master, maybe we can change a spot? We’ve been fishing at this exact location for the past few days and we only managed to catch 3 fishes. They were so tiny that they were not even enough to make for a snack.”
Ji Li’s face was as cold as stone while his eyes remained fixed on the mirror-like surface of the lake, and he replied, “When have I said that we’re fishing to fill our stomachs?”
“If we don’t eat the fish that we caught, then why are we fishing?”
He smiled. “Fishing requires patience. If you don’t even have the patience to wait for a fish to bite, how would you have the patience for anything else?”
The young manservant felt the corner of his lips twitch. “Young Master, I’m just an errand boy, not one of those generals in the military camps that swings a sword or spear. There’s no need for me to ever develop this sort of temperament and patience, I would never have the use for it.”
“But I’m not wrong!”
Ji Li threw him a side glance. The young manservant waited a while more for his fishing rod to bite, he propped his hands on his knees and rested his head on his hands then let out a long sigh. “The Eldest Young Master has lost his position, the Second Young Master has gone off to the borders. Life is truly boring these days.”
Ji Li did not respond to that comment.
All of a sudden, a pebble flew through the air and plummeted into the lake with a loud plop. That throw probably scared away all of the fishes in the vicinity, if there were even fishes nearby.
“Who’s there?” Ji Li went on high alert as he shot up from his seat and turned around, only to see Jing Yi. In an instant, his relaxed and casual visage had vanished, replaced by a cool, composed expression and he bowed to greet the prince. “Greetings, Prince Yi.”
The young manservant quickly stood up and retreated to the side.
Jing Yi walked over and waved his arm, signaling to the young manservant, “I have some important matters to address with War Secretary Ji, leave us be.”
“Yes.” The young manservant bowed and, not willing to linger for more than a moment, quickly left. He stood far away from the prince and his master.
Ji Li cut straight to the point, “May I ask why does Your Highness seek my presence today?”
He may sound courteous and polite on the surface, but he still held a grudge.
If he had not been manipulated by the man before him and left the city with an army to try to stop Jing Rong from returning to the capital, he would not have been removed from office nor would he have caused his younger brother to be dispatched away from the capital. One of the greatest generals of the country, sent to the border to fight the Barbarians - what a joke.
Jing Yi glanced at his fishing equipment and let out a laugh. “The great War Secretary Ji now spends his days fishing at Lake Cheng. If this news got to the capital, it would have been the talk of the town. Everyone would have such a good laugh.”
“Whether it’s a joke or the talk of the town, isn’t it all thanks to Your Highness?”
Ugh. Jing Yi flinched, then agreed. “Indeed, if I had not let down my guard, you Ji brothers would not have ended up in such a plight. One of you has been stripped of your power, the other has been sent to the borders to fight the Barbarians. I have let both of you down.”
“No, we would not dare to say anything like that.”
Jing Yi smiled while Ji Li turned to return to his stool. He sat down and reeled back the line that he had cast into the water. Then, he added a small segment of a wriggling earthworm onto the empty hook before throwing it back into the water.Previous Chapter
Translator: Iris, Editor: Choufleur
Sorry, everyone. This is Grace. I cannot reach Choufleur. This is the last chapter unless someone wants to resume translating. Thank you so much for your support over the years. It's extremely difficult for us to find translators who'd volunteer their time to translate consistently. This is not their job or livelihood, and there is only so much I could push when it's voluntary. Hope you guys will give the other novels a chance, and thank you for your patience!