Gong Sang Mo smiles, “He will have to change the term of addressment sooner or later, might as well sooner rather than later, no?”
Yun Qian Yu gives him a look, but still hugs Yi Zhi with a smile.
“Celestial Aunt bought lots of gifts for Yi Zhi, but they have already been sent to the capital. Yi Zhi can only play with them once we reached the capital.”
Yi Zhi cheers happily when he hears about the gifts.
Gong Shu Zhu looks at Gong Sang Mo and shows him his leg, “Sang Mo, Qian Yu’s skills is really extraordinary. Other than having to be careful about using too much force, my leg feels pretty much normal.”
Gong Sang Mo is genuinely happy for Gong Shu Zhu; he knows how much this leg means to him.
“This must be Young Master Su from Mount Three Celestials.”
“Huai Feng greets Young Master,” Su Huai Feng calmly cups his fists in front of Gong Shu Zhu.
“The truth is indeed better than rumors; you truly carry yourself in a dignified and refined way,” praises Gong Shu Zhu after sizing Su Huai Feng up.
“Young Master is truly kind and candid.”
Yang Liu smiles, “We received news that you will be returning today, so I already prepared meals for everyone. Do come in and rest.”
The entourage enters the small courtyard, that upon their arrival, is promptly filled with sounds of laughter.
Gong Sang Mo already informed them that they will be leaving straight away and will not be spending the night there, so Gong Shu Zhu and his family have made all the necessary arrangement for their journey to the capital.
They won’t carry much with them. They will only bring their most important necessities. The rest will be arranged by Chang Qing and Chang Si.
Yang Liu indeed cooked a variety of meals for them. Everyone eat in a boisterous atmosphere.
Afterwards, Yun Qian Yu gives Gong Shu Zhu another check-up. Courtesy of her newly-acquired see-through ability, she can see right past the flesh of Gong Shu Zhu’s leg. There is no visible problem with it, everything is just fine. As long as he undergo rigorous therapy after this, his leg will be as good as new.
Gong Shu Zhu is ecstatic to hear that. He can finally lift his beloved sword again.
The journey to the capital continues after lunch.
Yang Liu stares at the little courtyard wistfully. She has lived here for more than two decades.
Gong Shu Zhu locks the door. “We will visit here when we have time. We will also clean up Father and Mother’s graves,” promises him as he holds Yang Liu’s hand comfortingly.
Yang Liu nods. She walks out of the yard and into one of the carriages and watches her home from the window sadly, reluctant to leave.
As for Gong Yi Zhi, he is still a child. When he first heard that he is going to the capital to meet his grandpa, he was beyond happy. But, after an entire noon of sitting inside the enclosed space, he grows restless and in the end, falls asleep.
Since there is a child amongst them, their pace becomes a lot slower. They spend the night in an inn.
It is only five days later that they finally managed to reach the capital.
As they slowly approach the imposing entrance gate, Yun Qian Yu remains clueless of the trouble that is awaiting her beyond that gate.
Hua Man Xi already received the news of their impending arrival. With an order from the Emperor, he waits for Princess Hu Guo, Xian Wang and Su Huai Feng at the gate.
The common people are crowding the gate, waiting to see the famous Su Huai Feng.
Unfortunately, Su Huai Feng remains seated inside his carriage and did not even peek out, so in the end, the common people’s wish did not come true.
The entourage enters the capital under that warm welcome.
Yun Qian Yu lets Gong Sang Mo send Gong Shu Zhu and his family back to Xian Wang’s manor; the old Wangye must be waiting for them anxiously.
“You should return to the palace first. I will help my brother and his family settle before entering the palace. There should be a welcoming feast tonight,” says Gong Sang Mo to her.
She smiles at him, “Don’t worry, we are returning in victory, no one will dare to bully me.”
She, Su Huai Feng and the rest, then make their way to the palace.
Gong Sang Mo, on the other hand, returns to Xian Wang’s manor with his family and the two giant eagles.
Whilst on the way to the palace, the uninterested Hua Man Xi ignores Su Huai Feng and focuses on Yun Qian Yu, whose change in demeanor shocks him to the core.
He has no idea what happened the past month. Yun Qian Yu is no longer as icy and indifferent as she used to be; he never thought he would be able to see her smile. The smile adds gentleness to her startlingly beautiful face, making it even harder for people to look away.
Hua Man Xi sends them to the palace’s gate, but does not go in himself. He did not tell them that Yu Jian has been in a terrible fix these days and has given him a bunch of things to do.
Inside the imperial study, Murong Yu Jian is frowning as he looks at the kneeling Minister of Revenue.
Today was supposed to be a good day. He is going to see his Imperial Sister whom he has not seen for a month. She is also bringing Mount San Xian’s Su Huai Feng with her.
However, two cities and a county in the south could not harvest their grains due to the drought last summer. The aid that were sent by the court on the other hand, had been plundered to the point where there was hardly any left, when they reached the intended recipient. The amount left for the victims barely covered their needs. Unfortunately, the disaster did not stop there. There was a major flooding during autumn. The snowfall afterwards made everything even worse. The victims had to leave their homes to seek shelter and food elsewhere, but were intercepted by the local officials who blocked them from leaving. Many died from hunger as a result, others died from the cold. One of them managed to escape and run to the capital to lodge a complain. He collapsed in the middle of the street and had Lu Zi Hao not been there to save him, Yu Jian would not even be aware of this right now.
Yu Jian called in the Minister of Revenue to question him. The Minister however, pushed the blame on everyone else, saying that he had indeed sent relief to the disaster-stricken regions and that he did not know the details of what happened there.
“The silver from the treasury were sent out by you and yet you actually dared to tell zhen that you don’t know the details? What do you take zhen for? A three year old?”
“This official dares not! Your Majesty is wise and all-seeing, this officials dared not interfere!” replies the Minister in a perfunctory manner.
Yun Qian Yu and Su Huai Feng are right outside the doorway, and when she hears the conversation inside, she frowns and lifts up her hand to stop Su Huai Feng from entering.
Both of them stand rooted in their spots, listening to the conversation inside.
“Such a good and diplomatic reply! The type that doesn’t really answer the question! Are you trying to mollify zhen?”
“This official does not dare!”
“Really?” Yu Jian sneers, his young face looking very wise and mature. Even he gets furious at times; as long as he does it with reasons, and with control. As long as he remembers himself and finds satisfaction after said outburst.
This man made so many silver and grains disappear, how could it be possible that he could leave this room unscathed? He needs to at least bleed a little.
“Grand Scholar Lu, please take out our law book,” Yu Jian smiles dangerously.
Lu Zi Hao smiles before glancing at the Minister of Revenue in pity; he shouldn’t have taken the Emperor as a child.
He quickly takes out the law book.
“Give it to him,” Yu Jian points at the Minister who is kneeling on the floor.
“Turn to page 130 and read it from 10th sentence to the 13th,” orders Yu Jian.
Cold sweat covers the Minister’s forehead the moment Yu Jian ask for the law book to be taken out. He opens the pages with trembling hands. The moment his eyes fall on the 10th sentence of the 130th page, he kowtows on the floor in fear, “Please forgive me, Your Majesty!”
“Forgive you? For what offense?” Yu Jian might be small in stature, but his temper certainly isn’t.
The Minister knows he can no longer shrug off the blame; the Emperor actually memorized the book of law, word-by-word. No ordinary person could do that.
Yun Qian Yu smiles to herself before finally entering the imperial study.
As a result of this situation, Su Huai Feng, who is meeting Yu Jian for the first time, has a very good first impression of him.
“This official greets Your Highness the Princess,” Lu Zi Hao bows, being the first person to spot Yun Qian Yu.
“Imperial sister!” Yu Jian immediately sits up from his chair.
“Yu Jian,” greets Yun Qian Yu gently.
Yu Jian walks towards her. He seems to have grown so much taller within the 1 month that they haven’t met. 1.4m is already considered pretty tall for a 10 year old, but Yu Jian seems to be around 1.5m by now.
She glances at the Minister of Revenue who is still kneeling on the floor before returning her gaze to Yu Jian, “Yu Jian, this is Mount San Xian’s Young Master Su.”
“Su Huai Feng greets Your Majesty,” Su Huai Feng cups his fists in front of him.
“You may forgo the formality. Zhen have been anticipating Young Master Su’s arrival, zhen finally got zhen’s wish today,” says Yu Jian diplomatically.
“It is Huai Feng’s honor to be here!”
“Mr. Su is too modest!”
Yun Qian Yu looks at the Minister of Revenue who is still kowtowing on the floor, not daring to lift his head up. “What do you plan to do to him?”
“He did not do his job properly and viewed other people’s lives so lightly. He indeed deserves to be punished,” says Yu Jian mercilessly.
Su Huai Feng raises an eyebrow; Yu Jian deliberately said that to frighten the Minister of Revenue.
Yun Qian Yu turns to a little eunuch, Jing De, who is standing close to her, “Didn’t you hear His Majesty? What are you waiting for?”
He is still too young and is not as quick-witted as the older ones. It takes a look from Li Jin Tian for him to finally understand what Yun Qian Yu wants, “Somebody come!”
The guards outside immediately walk in and pick up the Minister of Revenue.
The Minister kowtows with all his heart. He did not think the Emperor and the Princess would actually do something about this. After all, he is not a corrupted officer. Not directly.
“Take him to the Department of Punishment and Justice. Question him about all his wrongdoings, then punish him according to our laws,” says Yun Qian Yu.
“Yes!” the guards drag the Minister away.
“Imperial sister, Mr. Su, zhen has prepared a banquet to welcome Mr. Su to court,” Yu Jian changes the topic.
Yun Qian Yu looks at Su Huai Feng, who in turn, cups his fist in front of Yu Jian, “Thank you for that honor, Your Majesty. However, the south has been repeatedly hit with disasters, it it not a suitable time for a big banquet. This official will cherish Your Majesty’s kind thoughts.”
Yu Jian looks at Yun Qian Yu, who nods, “That is fine. Your Majesty should repeat his words in court tomorrow, in front of all those greedy officials.”
Yu Jian’s eyes light up while the corner of Su Huai Feng’s lips twitches. Is that necessary? Confucius is right, women and villains are hard to get along with. Yun Qian Yu is the type that one must never infuriate.
“Tell us more about the disasters,” Yun Qian Yu sits on her chair.
Yu Jian instructs Jing De to bring another chair for Su Huai Feng.
Su Huai Feng calmly sits down. This is a privilege that he deserves; he will not be modest about it.
(TN: Officials usually does not sit when discussing official matters with the Emperor.)
Lu Zi Hao fills them in on the disasters that have been striking the southern part of the empire.
“Your Highness, this is all according to the victim who fleed to the capital. As to whether or not it is true, His Majesty already sent people to investigate.”
Yun Qian Yu nods before turning to Yu Jian, “What is the state of the imperial treasury, right now?”
Yu Jian looks at her solemnly, “Rui Qinwang was in power for too long. He and his cahoots squandered a good part of it during their heydays. Now that we have taken out so much for the disaster relief aid, there is not nearly enough to send for the second time.”
He looks at Yun Qian Yu; he still has all those treasures that they plundered from Rui Qinwang’s lair, but his imperial sister once said that they were for war and weapons and must not be touched.
Yun Qian Yu frowns. A big problem greets her just as she returns to the capital.
They are lacking both silver and grains; what on earth should they do?
Su Huai Feng frowns, “If the imperial treasury does not have enough resources, Your Majesty can raise a donation.”
Yu Jian is initially ecstatic to hear that, but deflates a little after thinking more of it, “There are indeed many rich people, but would they donate? Especially those officials at court. They would be beaming in joy when you reward them money, but taking it from them would be as though asking them to part from their lives. Just wait and see, all that will be waiting for zhen are excuses. The moment zhen raise the topic, many of them will suddenly become poor.”
Su Huai Feng laughs, “Don’t worry, Your Majesty. There are very few officials at court who is not corrupted. You usually keep a blind eye to their indiscretions as long as they did not cross the line, so you can finally reap the benefits of your patience now.”
Yun Qian Yu raises an eyebrow at Su Huai Feng; he is indeed smart.
Yu Jian listens to him intently while Lu Zi Hao looks at Su Huai Feng in shock.
“Your Majesty can release an edict, without asking them directly. Since pretty much everyone has taken bribes before, they would all be alarmed by what happened to the Minister of Revenue. We can catch an even bigger fish; a Minister who has reputation of taking bribes and then send him to the Department of Punishment and Justice. A couple of days later, some of the clever ones would understand what Your Majesty wants. After all, silver is a small price to pay compared to being taken to the Department of Justice and losing everything.”
“What a good idea! What do you think, imperial sister?” Yu Jian nods in agreement before asking for Yun Qian Yu’s opinion.
“This will only work against the officials at court. When it comes to raising donation, the biggest part of the pie would come from those rich merchants in the capital.”
Su Huai Feng frowns, “That shouldn’t be a problem. The most important thing for those merchant is their reputation; how their consumers think of them. We can simply release a notice, asking them to raise fund for the disaster relief.”
That seems to be the best idea that they have gotten that day.
However, Yun Qian Yu also knows that merchants are very good at maintaining a façade. They might do one thing in public, then another thing in private, so the amount they could collect might not be that high after all.
“Let’s do it Mr. Su’s way first,” Yun Qian Yu knows she might have to come up with more ideas regarding this donation drive.
Yu Jian nods before writing an edict and ordering a eunuch to plaster it on the announcement board.
“Your Majesty, you should also write the edict to instate Mr. Su as the Advisor of the Kingdom,” states Yun Qian Yu.
Yu Jian raises an eyebrow, “Are you sure you want to be the Advisor of the Kingdom instead of the Imperial Advisor?”
Su Huai Feng simply says, “Your Majesty already has the Princess to guide you in everything, there is no place left for Huai Feng to cover. Huai Feng does not want to disappoint Your Majesty. Huai Feng wish to be Your Majesty’s eye amongst the common people.”
Yu Jian’s opinion of Su Huai Feng is even higher now. He knows what an Emperor needs.
“People from Brother Sang Mo’s sect are indeed different!”
“Thank you for your approval, Your Majesty. Huai Feng dares not embarrass Mount San Xian and Senior Uncle!”
Yu Jian proceeds to write the edict proclaiming Su Huai Feng as an Advisor before ordering people to spread it.
After a moment pass, Yu Jian frowns before saying, “Imperial Sister, Advisor, should zhen release a self-blame edict?”
(TN: Apparently, a self-blame edict is a type of edict that Emperors wrote to reflect on their mistakes or whenever something really really bad happened to the Kingdom (natural disasters etc.) People used to think that an Emperor was the Son of the Heaven. Consecutive natural disasters meant that said Son of Heaven must have done something to incur the wrath of the Heavens.)
Normally, in situations like this, an Emperor would release a self-blame edict to repent over having not done enough, or not being wise enough and for having incurred the wrath of the Heavens.
“No!” Su Huai Feng speaks first.
Yun Qian Yu also disagrees with that. Writing a self-blame edict so early into his reign will not do him good in the future. She will not let these incidents serve as a stumbling block to Yu Jian’s career.
“The disasters happened in summer, way before Your Majesty ascended the throne. It would be wrong to make you write a self-blame edict for that,” says Su Huai Feng.
“Indeed!” Murong Cang’s voice cut through their conversation.
All of them stand up in respect. Yun Qian Yu walks over to him to help him walk.
“Why did you come, Grandfather? Qian Yu planned to visit you right after this.”
“You are coming back after such a long journey, only to have to handle such a tricky matter. A short walk from Grandpa is nothing.”
After sitting down, Murong Cang looks at Su Huai Feng, “It will be hard on you after this, Advisor Su.”
“It is this official’s responsibility,” Su Huai Feng bows in front of him.
“Let Grandpa write the self-blame edict,” Murong Cang is willing to do anything for Yu Jian.
Yu Jian’s eyes become red.
Murong Cang picks up a brush to write the edict.
The capital is in a furor. Three edicts in one day; two of them are announcements while the last one is a self-blame edict. A lot of discussions have been made, many rumors have arisen.
Back inside the study, Yun Qian Yu’s notices how red Lu Zi Hao’s face have become. He looked fine just now, and the weather is not warm either. What is wrong with him?
“Are you feeling uncomfortable, Official Lu?” Yun Qian Yu frowns.
Lu Zi Hao’s voice is a little weak when he replies her, “A little. I was fine just now, why do I suddenly feel hot and stuffy? My head is spinning as well.”
Yun Qian Yu’s heart drops when she hears that reply. She has a sudden hunch in her heart.
Serene: Guys, I will be taking a two-and-a-half month leave starting from October. I will sit for my national exam from 5th Nov till the beginning of December and would like to have the entire month of Oct to prepare. Please pray for me guys T.T I’m so scared T.T I feel so unprepared TT.TT