Chapter 723 - Nothing is Certain
TLN: Chapter 722 is back in regular English if you haven't re-read it yet!
Jing Rong kissed her lightly on her forehead, then reached out a broad hand to gently wipe away the tears on her cheeks, as gentle as can be.
Her heart was naturally completely at ease, now that he is safe and sound. It was as if the two of them had just reunited after a harrowing near-death experience. Emotions and desire ran high between them.
Ji Yunshu lowered her eyes momentarily, then looked up again. “How did it go inside the palace?”
He shook his head.
“It didn’t go well?”
He shook his head again. How perplexing.
Jing Rong slowly explained, “The posthumous edict has already been submitted. As for Imperial Father’s decision, we’ll see at tomorrow morning’s court session.” It seems like the true battle would take place tomorrow!
The courtiers largely are already with Jing Yi’s faction. Now that Jing Rong has returned to the capitol, he naturally would not be able to escape the courtiers’ criticism. Would there be another uproar during the court session that would force the Qizhen Emperor to again banish him to Yufu? In any case, this was a debate that had to be left to tomorrow.
Just then, Lang Po shouted a report from outside. “Your Highness, Lord Yu of the Supreme Court has arrived.” It would be stranger if he did not come!
Jing Rong turned and nodded in permission.
Naturally, it wasn’t convenient for Ji Yunshu to participate in matters between these men. “I’ll go in then.”
“You should listen as well.” He insisted on her taking a seat.
A moment later, Yu Shaoqing entered the hall and bowed with cupped hands. “This lowly official greets Prince Rong.”
“There’s no need for formalities, Lord Yu. Please take a seat.”
One of the estate’s servants quickly served a pot of quality tea.
Yu Shaoqing took a look at Ji Yunshu seated opposite, and cupped his hands again. “I see Teacher Ji is here as well.”
She smiled politely in response.
“Regarding that open case, it had arrived at the Supreme Court from Yufu several days ago, and have been entered into our records. Teacher Ji truly is the most capable; a perplexing case full of untruths and injustice from two years ago, has now been resolved clearly after being handed to you. This official truly has to commend your skills.” Sincerely!
“Lord Yu is exaggerating. This one merely has good luck and has no noteworthy ability at all.”
“Teacher Ji is too modest.”
“Not at all.” The two of them exchanged polite smiles.
Yu Shaoqing turned and raised his teacup towards Jing Rong in a respectful toast, “This lowly official wishes to congratulate Your Highness on your return to the capitol.”
Jing Rong raised his cup in acknowledgement but said, “Lord Yu’s congratulations may be too hasty. The decision will only be made in court tomorrow.”
“Why should Your Highness need to worry, with the Late Emperor’s edict at hand?” Immediately after that, he fretted, “But… what was written on that posthumous edict? And how did Your Highness obtain it?”
Jing Rong had no intention of concealing it from him and spoke directly, “The Late Emperor had left that edict with Marquis Kang for safekeeping. Upon knowing that this prince was returning to the capitol, he took it out and gave me a helping hand. As for its contents, it’s precisely a command to send out troops to exterminate the barbarians!”
“Ah!” Yu Shaoqing was shocked. “Exterminate the barbarians?” He boggled for a moment and suddenly realized, “Your Highness had delivered a lifeline. The barbarians have been creating trouble at the border and the Late Emperor’s edict would solve a thorny problem for Great Lin. Although Your Highness was unable to locate the Yufu disaster relief silver, you were able to deliver this edict. Your contribution is undeniable. His Majesty naturally would not make you return to Yufu and the courtiers would not be able to disagree either.”
“Nothing is absolutely certain.” Jing Rong said solemnly, brows knitted tightly together. “If Prince Yi and his faction refuse to relent on the issue of the relief silver, it may be a difficult battle even if His Majesty wishes to retain this prince in the capitol.”
Yu Shaoqing became worried as well. “Ever since Your Highness left the capital, Prince Yi’s faction has been constantly growing. Practically the entire imperial court belongs to Prince Yi. Ever since he married the eldest daughter of the Ji Family, he’s been like a tiger given wings. With a single sentence, hundreds of civil and military courtiers would support him. Your Highness must make small gains in order to have a chance of winning.”
“This prince understands.” He nodded. “This prince still has yet to thank Lord Yu for your help in the matter of the assassin’s death inside the Supreme Court.”
“I don’t dare to accept the thanks.” Yu Shaoqing quickly said. “It’s an honor for this official to be able to serve Your Highness. When I first decided to stand with Your Highness, I’ve already been prepared to go through hell and high water, and sacrifice anything at your command.”
“Seems like you are the same type of person as the former Minister of Personnel, Lord Qiao.”
“Why do you mention Lord Qiao?”
“Just a casual thought.” Jing Rong wasn’t willing to elaborate. Yu Shaoqing and Qiao Zheng truly were cast from the same mold. They both understood how to size up the situation and adapt to the circumstances. They both knew that although Prince Yi was on the rise, he was ultimately too impatient!
Yu Shaoqing didn’t bother reading too much into his words either.
Opposite him, Ji Yunshu seemed to have suddenly thought of something. “Right, Lord Yu. The imperial examinations have ended, haven’t they?”
“Yes, they ended recently.”
“I wonder who obtained the top three?”
“The zhuangyuan and bangyan were both from Mingshan Academy.  The former is now Lord Lin Shu, Historian of the Imperial Hanlin Academy, while the latter is Lord Shang Zhuo, Complier of the Imperial Hanlin Academy.”
Wow! How impressive! Ji Yunshu and Jing Rong glanced at each other. Jing Rong said, “I didn’t expect that fellow Lin Shu would actually obtain top honors. This prince did not save his him in vain back then.”
“Does that mean that Your Highness and Teacher Ji know this person?”
“We once had the opportunity to meet.”
Oh! Yu Shaoqing sighed. “I’m afraid that Your Highness doesn’t know this yet. This official understands that the zhuangyuan is already part of Prince Yi’s faction.”
What?! Ji Yunshu queried, “How did that happen?”
Yu Shaoqing explained, “His Majesty delayed making a decision on the positions of zhuangyuan and bangyan for a long time because both essays had their own merits and drawbacks. His Majesty couldn’t decide and let Hanlin Academy pick instead. Later on, it was said that Hanlin Academy suggested Lord Lin because of Prince Yi. Thus, the position of zhuangyuan naturally fell to Lord Lin.”
Disappointment was written across Ji Yunshu’s face. She had thought that he would change for the better, and didn’t expect that he would still be unable to differentiate between right and wrong.
However, Jing Rong wasn’t too disheartened and merely commented, “Jing Yi truly has a long reach.”
“A mere insignificant Historian is nothing to fret about. Your Highness, please don’t worry about it.”
“Does this prince look worried?” Jing Rong refuted, “no matter how strong Jing Yi becomes, or how far his claws reach, he is merely a wild beat that Imperial Father has trapped within the capitol.”
In the end, the Qizhen Emperor still had the last laugh! He bestowed the position of prince on his own sons but granted them no lands and restricted their official residences to within the capitol. Accordingly, it was convenient to restrict them and avoided the possibility of them gathering an army and faction of their own.
Thus, however formidable Jing Yi’s power was, he could only rely on his connections within the capitol, like a fox swaggering in front of a tiger.
But now that the majority of the courtiers are on Jing Yi’s side and he’s acquired the aid of the Ji brothers, it was as if this fox had grown bigger by several sizes and was about to break free of its cage.
Yu Shaoqing didn’t say anything else, merely agreeing silently. He, too, understood the implications. Subsequently, they chatted idly about matters that had passed within the capital before Jing Rong finally sent him away.
 Reminder: 1st - zhuangyuan, 2nd - bangyan, 3rd - tanhua