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This is the first part of this week’s sponsored chapters.
The Emperor and Old Master Cheng originally planned to raise Cheng Yuanjing safely outside the palace, and then let him return when the time was right. Of course, Cheng Yuanjing believed that the Emperor was sincere at that time. Still, he also knew that if he really lived as Cheng family’s son peacefully, he might never be able to recover his identity.
What the Emperor meant by the ‘right time’ was at least until both the Empress Dowager Yang and Senior Grand Secretary Yang died. But at that time, Yang Miao’s son would already grow up. Even if Cheng Yuanjing returned, he would have nothing: no backing, no accomplishment, and no reputation. Why should the courtiers support such a crown prince?
Without destruction, there would be no construction—Cheng Yuanjing decided to destroy his retreat path and prepared himself for the imperial examination. Among those who knew the truth, probably only little Xue-shi truly supported him. Neither the Emperor nor Old Master Cheng ever believed that Cheng Yuanjing could achieve success in the exam. Every three years, countless scholars from all over the country competed for a limited glory. As for jinshi, they were the elites among all. Only one hundred of them were selected each time. How could Cheng Yuanjing, this inexperienced youth, a former crown prince who never been trained for the exam, compete against dedicated scholars with decades of learning?
Both the provincial and metropolitan exam was both under Senior Grand Secretary Yang’s supervision. The Emperor couldn’t give Cheng Yuanjing any backdoor. Still, the Emperor didn’t want to dampen the young man’s spirit. Li Chengjing would inherit the country in the future. It wouldn’t be bad for him to try the imperial examination and experience the hardship of the commons.
Who knows, the Emperor actually saw Cheng Yuanjing’s name in the examinee list sent by the Ministry of Rites. He barely controlled his expression, and in the palace exam, he finally saw his son for the first time in years.
Father and son have been separated for more than one decade. If not for the special occasion, they might not recognize each other. The Emperor didn’t want Cheng Yuanjing to be ranked too high, so he suppressed it appropriately. When its time to confer the post for the new officials, the Emperor secretly sent a eunuch to inquire about Cheng Yuanjing’s intention. The answer made the Emperor sighed. He then arranged his son to an outside post so that the young man could see the real Great Yan country with his own eyes.
In return, the Xue family’s case, which had been backlogged for many years, finally cleared. On her sickbed, little Xue-shi heard the news of her adopted son’s brilliant result and the resolvance of her family’s case. Finally, she died with a smile.
After a few years, the conflicts in the court became more and more prominent. Coupled with the fact that Old Master Cheng was seriously ill, Cheng Yuanjing formally requested his return to the capital. When the Emperor saw the request, he immediately agreed.
Cheng Yujin had said that Huo Changyuan simply bathed in the crown prince’s blessing, and it was true. Cheng Yuanjing was grateful to little Xue-shi, and asked the Emperor to re-examined her family’s case. The Emperor also readily agree, because little Xue-shi had saved his son’s life. After the Xue family’s case was resolved, Huo Xue-shi saw the moving tide and tried to re-deliver the request for Huo Changyuan’s Marquis title. The Emperor saw that Huo Xue-shi also surnamed Xue, so he spoke with Huo Changyuan during the banquet and resolved the matter.
Old Master Cheng had enjoyed a life of wealth. In his late years, he also able to protect the crown prince. He really could die without any regret. But there were two things that he couldn’t let go: one was the Cheng family, and the other was the crown prince. However, as long as the crown prince was there, he would always take care of the Cheng family. The Old Master didn’t ask for power or fame. It was enough if his children and grandchildren could stay wealthy and safe for the rest of their lives. The Old Master didn’t have any doubt about this; it was Cheng Yuanjing that he really couldn’t feel at ease.
Old Master Cheng said: “Xuelan has dead, and my time is also going to end soon. After I left, His Majesty and Your Highness are the only ones who know the truth that year. Yang family is powerful; Senior Grand Secretary Yang controls the outer court while the Empress Dowager controls the inner palace. Yang family’s daughter also gave birth to the second prince. Your Highness, you have to plan for yourself. If all the insiders died, once His Majesty is shaken, no one can prove your identity!”
If the Old Master’s words were spread outside, it would be enough to put his whole clan to death. Yet, he still gave the warning. The Old Master stared at Cheng Yuanjing eagerly. He knew that he stepped outside the boundary, but even if he had to take the risk, the Old Master sincerely wished the best for Cheng Yuanjing.
Cheng Yuanjing didn’t answer immediately. His eyes seemed to drift away, but he quickly recovered his calmness. He looked at the Old Master’s earnest eyes. After a long time, he finally said: “Marquis, be assured. I remember your concerns. Whatever happened in the future, I will not let Cheng family be implicated.”
But, only this.
Old Master Cheng was relieved. He knew that the crown prince, whom he had placed high hope for, was not blinded by personal feelings. Cheng family’s descendants would be able to enjoy a lifetime of peace and wealth. The Old Master had done his best. If his children and grandchildren still couldn’t keep their family name, it only meant that Cheng family’s life had been exhausted. In the future, even if he met his ancestors, the Old Master wouldn’t feel ashamed.
Old Master Cheng smiled and closed his eyes. He was so tired that he soon fell asleep. Cheng Yuanjing watched for a while, and when he saw that the Old Master was sleeping, he slowly stood up.
Old Master Cheng’s bedroom was dimly lit and was heavy with medicine. When Cheng Yuanjing moved, he didn’t make any noise. Inside the mezzanine, Cheng Yujin inadvertently had to hear about a huge secret of the imperial family, and now she didn’t even dare to breathe. From the gap, she saw Cheng Yuanjing stood up. Cheng Yujin clenched her hands tighter on her mouth and focused all her strength to hold her breath.
Cheng Yuanjing seemed to be going out. He walked passed the mahogany mezzanine and paused for a while. Cheng Yujin was so nervous that her heart was about to jump out of her chest. She almost thought that she had been discovered, but Cheng Yuanjing soon resumed his steps.
Cheng Yujin quietly breathed a sigh of relief. She moved her body slightly. After so long, her legs were numb.
However, when Cheng Yujin just put her legs down, she suddenly heard a voice: “You still don’t come out yet?”
Well….my interview failed gloriously, so now I’m back on resume-sending mode. For a more positive side, I still have several chapters in the editing process. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post them up this weekend. Enjoy!
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