Chapter 5: If I can’t cure you, then I’ll go down with you
What did it mean to receive the engraved dragon medallion from the supreme ruler of a kingdom?
This meant Jiang Chen could freely enter and exit the palace.
If this kid really did cure the princess, then he would be the king’s favorite and harbinger of fortune. He would enjoy the king’s love and goodwill. Who in the kingdom wouldn’t treat him with all due respect then?
Jiang Chen merely went along with the situation and the assembled crowd’s expectations when he genuflected and accepted the engraved dragon medallion. To be honest, as the venerated son of the Celestial Emperor in his past life, he really could not bring himself to bend his knee to a common king.
He naturally would not decline something that waived the need to kowtow to a king.
And of course, one had to make some sort of statement when one had accepted such a gift. He slapped his chest and proclaimed, “Your Majesty, your humble subject does not make empty boasts. I will say only this, if any accident befalls her Highness due to my incompetency in curing her, then your humble subject will join the princess in death.”
There existed many beautiful words and sentences to express loyalty, but none were more straightforward than that sentence. Can’t cure her? Then I’ll die with her!
This was a grand gesture that involved the lives of one’s own family!
Out of all the nobles under heaven, who would have this kind of spirit; this amount of loyalty?
In that moment, even Jiang Chen was almost moved by his mesmerizing performance.
A performance that could touch even the performer’s heart naturally conquered others.
The nobles and high ranking officials who had accompanied Eastern Lu were also secretly surprised. Who would have thought the heir of Jiang Han would have such spirit. Like father, like son. A tiger father would not beget a dog son.
Even the crowd with the duke of Tianshui felt that, if their positions were reversed, they would not have this strength of character.
Jiang Chen’s performance was not yet over. He continued, “Your Majesty, the gods have further guidance. The events of today must remain a secret, with not a single word leaking out. This is to firstly avoid dishonoring the gods, and secondly to preserve your Majesty’s reputation.”
If word got out, the comical events of tonight might actually harm Eastern Lu’s reputation. After all, watching his duke slap himself was not exactly a dignified thing to witness.
And of course, the most important thing was to avoid dishonoring the gods. If someone leaked the secret and angered the gods, who in turn blamed it on Eastern Zhiruo, then the situation would be very grave indeed.
Eastern Lu commanded without hesitation, “Not a single word regarding the events of today shall be discussed after leaving this room. Whoever does so defies the Eastern royal family!”
It was a good thing not that many people were present. Excluding those associated with the duke of Jiang Han, those who had accompanied the king numbered only six or seven.
They were all crafty foxes in politics and knew that the king was deadly serious. If even a hint of this matter got out, then all of their lives would be at stake.
And not to mention that their performance today wasn’t exactly the most ideal; their reputations would suffer along with the king’s if any gossip circulated.
Jiang Chen scaring the nobles silly in the name of the gods, like a fox borrowing a tiger’s fierceness, primarily had to do with his desire to stay under the radar.
He didn’t want the people of this country to view him as a freak of nature if this got out!
Eastern Lu was quite touched and spoke a rare sentence filled with emotion as he grasped Jiang Feng’s hand, “Duke of Jian Han, your loyalty and your son’s fealty are greatly moving.”
Jiang Feng could only smile wryly. His son had courage enough for two people, and had, fortunately, handled the situation beautifully. If he protested otherwise, he would be creating needless trouble. He could only nag inwardly.
“You darn kid, you’re having a ball of a time. You had better not mess it up. Ah whatever, you’re my son after all. If it all goes south, your old man will step in and take the hits for you no matter how bad things get.”
Jiang Feng’s mental state had calmed down quite a bit after the emotional and situational rollercoaster he had just been on.
They said that a long suffering patient becomes a doctor for that ailment. The past Jiang Chen had been plagued by his yin constitution since birth, and thus had naturally committed quite a bit of study in this area.
Of course, with his current circumstances, it would be more than impossible to refine a Sun Moon pill like his past father had. It would be idiotic nonsense to even think of doing so.
The Sun Moon pill was a medicine that violated the course of nature in granting the user more life. Even the Celestial Emperor had exhausted his spiritual energy and sacrificed some years of his life in order to successfully refine one.
It was possible that not even one of the ingredients needed to refine the Sun Moon pill existed in this world. Even if they did, there was absolutely no way anyone could expend the level of resources that the Celestial Emperor had to create the pill.
So the Sun Moon pill was out of the question, but medicines imitating the effects of the Sun Moon pill existed. Even if they could only offer one ten thousandth of what the Sun Moon pill could do, it was enough to prolong someone’s life by a hundred years.
Remember, the past Jiang Chen had taken the Sun Moon pill and lived millions of years. He was nigh well immortal if it hadn’t been for the cataclysm.
With Eastern Zhiruo’s situation, there was no way she could live millions of years; even if the Celestial Emperor came back from the dead.
But to help her live another eighty or a hundred years…that Jiang Chen could do, and in more ways than one.
However, Jiang Chen had no intention of doing that in one fell swoop. If he quickly resolved Eastern Zhiruo’s problem with minimal effort, then Eastern Lu’s gratitude would fade away just as easily.
The hearts and minds of kings and emperors were constantly and easily changed. Long term peaceful coexistence never followed short term gratefulness.
Jiang Chen needed time, and given enough time, he wouldn’t even deign to worry about the mere ruler of a common kingdom.
Thus, he decided to go slow and steady. After all, the only thing he needed to accomplish was to prolong the princess’ life.
This way, not only would he win the extra time he needed, but also gain an invisible layer of protection as well.
Anyone who wanted to create trouble for her Highness’ exclusive royal physician needed to first decide if they could afford the consequences of the king’s wrath.
Jiang Chen held many profound and flowery conversations with the visitors before finally agreeing to treat the princess in three days. Only then did the crowd of people leave.
But then it was fatty Xuan who drifted closer with a mournful face, “Brother Chen you are too cruel. You should have given your brother a hint. That illustrated version of the Carnal Prayer Mat was the last of its kind, and now it’s gone up in flames. What am I going to do during those long and lonely nights now?”
“And that note for ten thousand silvers, that was an authentic…”
“Damn fatty, you dare say that note was authentic?” Jiang Chen watched the morally lacking fatty with a smile playing around his lips.
The fatty laughed and scratched his head, “I wasn’t done yet. That was an authentic Hall of the Nine Underworlds production, I spent a solid five silvers on it.”
Hall of the Nine Underworlds was a time honored store that specialized in printing paper money to burn for the dead.
The fatty’s face jiggled twice in pain when he spoke of the five silvers.
All fatties were quite miserly, asking them to take money out of their pockets was as painful as bleeding for them.
“Brother Chen, I can put the note for ten thousand silvers behind us. But that copy of Carnal Prayer Mat was really the last…”
“Put it behind us? I’d forgotten before you brought it up. Damn fatty, when are you going to return that ten thousand silvers you borrowed?” Jiang Chen laughed as he spoke.
“Eh? Brother Chen what’s that you say? You were too convincing when you were playing dead, I completely believed you. I cried too hard because I was heartbroken and injured my eardrums. I can’t hear very well now. No no this will not do, I need to go find a doctor. Brother Chen, rest up and I’ll be back to see you….”
Fatty had already slipped out the door before his last sentence was delivered.
In addition to Xuan fatty, Hubing Yue and Yang Zong were steadfast friends with Jiang Chen.
Seeing that fatty Xuan had fled, Hubing Yue spoke briefly with Jiang Chen and took his leave as well.
Yang Zong had wanted to offer an explanation, but said nothing in the end after Jiang Chen clapped his shoulder. He left as well.
When all had left, only the Jiang father and son were left in the hall.
Jiang Feng drew his sword without a word. Brilliantly cold light flashed with a shake of his wrist, and the ebony coffin occupying the center of the hall promptly splintered away into wood fragments.
“Come, someone clean up and take that away to be burned. Clear out this unlucky air!” Mere words could not describe how elated Jiang Feng was to regain a son he thought he’d lost.
On the other hand, Jiang Chen looked at his father with a small smile, “Father, do you not have anything to ask me?”
“Hahaha,” Jiang Feng laughed heartily and patted Jiang Chen’s shoulder. “You are my son, I will deal with the consequences no matter what you do!”
That left Jiang Chen speechless. This dad was seriously lacking in principles.
But one had to know that the prior Jiang Chen in this body was as close to an incorrigible rascal as one could get. If he had really died, then only one line needed to be written for his epitaph: Here lies a noble who did everything but his duty.
A small mishap every three days, a large calamity every five days.
Jiang Feng had almost forgotten how many times he’d cleaned up after his son.
Of course, that wasn’t to say that this kid didn’t have any positive traits about him. At least he was loyal and had that smallest amount of dependability. Otherwise he wouldn’t have a crew of fellow ne’er-do-wells around him calling him their leader.
To sum up, it would have been difficult to find something positive to say about Jiang Chen. It would have been easier to find a needle in a haystack. But to identify some of his cons… those were numerous and easy to pinpoint.
It would have been fine for the privileged children of noble households to have some character flaws. But this kid’s greatest failing was that he was extremely lazy about training!
“Ai, what a fellow who didn’t value what he had,” Jiang Chen had to admit that much when he had finished sorting through the previous fellow’s memories. That Jiang Chen had truly been a bit of a lost cause.
An unconditionally supportive old man, and not too shabby potential. He had been born with a gold spoon in his mouth in the Eastern Kingdom.
But amongst his peers, this fellow had fallen to the last in his class.
As the heir to each respective dukedom, they could not take up residence within the kingdom’s capital. They should have actually been in their own territory.
The heirs and rulers of each dukedom had gathered in order to participate in the vicennial Hidden Dragon Trials.
There were 108 dukedoms in the Eastern Kingdom, but the rulers of these dukedoms were not carved in stone. The Hidden Dragon Trials that took place every twenty years were a test for the designated heirs.
Only if the heir successfully passed the Hidden Dragon Trials was he allowed to retain command over the family’s dukedom, territory and heritage.
If he failed, the family would have to relinquish command, have their lands seized and their title revoked. They would revert to being a wealthy family with no power or prestige.
If they became a family with no might or clout, then their collapse and eventual demise would be very likely. Just as monkeys scatter when a tree falls, it would be a foregone conclusion that their influence would be diminished, and that people would abandon the family.
After all, losing the dukedom meant that the family had lost all trappings of power and many sources of income. The family would have to subsist on their savings, and that was not enough to feed an army of underlings and guards.
The royal family would also not allow those who had lost their dukedoms to thrive and grow stronger than the current dukes.
The Hidden Dragon Trials were quite lengthy as they spanned over three years.
At the end of the three years, a ceremony of inheritance would be held in the capital for the heirs who had successfully passed the tests. This meant that the power of a duchy and its lands were retained for another twenty years.
And after twenty years, a representative from the new generation must be sent to participate in the Hidden Dragon Trials.
The purpose of the Hidden Dragon Trials was to ensure that each dukedom maintained a situation of cultivating a plethora of talents, and to avoid halts on the path of self-improvement.
If you couldn’t pass, then you lost the family’s dukedom.
These were the rules of survival in this world.
Simple. Direct. Brutal. Violent!