I think this is a new personal record! A whole chapter in 2 days… Most likely because I know this part too well from watching the drama so many times–this is one of my favorite parts! If you haven’t read my translating note/disclaimer, please read the note at the beginning of Chapter 110 🙂
Chapter 111: A Favor
When Prince Jing finished his sentence, the most nervous in the entire secret chamber was Meng Zhi, and the most relaxed was Fei Liu. In between the reactions of the two, was Mei Changsu, who did not seem to be startled, yet was evidently not purposely pretending to be calm either. He slightly narrowed his eyes in concentration, as if trying to understand exactly what Prince Jing had just said, and when realizing what had happened, he then revealed emotions of slight surprise and alarm, looking apologetic as well. He turned slowly, and in a reprimanding tone, called out, “Fei Liu…Did you say something you are not supposed to say?”
“Did not!” The young man did not know why he was being reprimanded and he widened his eyes with his mouth slightly open, looking very upset and misunderstood.
“Fei Liu, haven’t I told you before that Nihuang-jiejie was joking around, and that you can’t copy her?”
Mei Changsu seemed to be put off by the young man’s retort, and took a moment before saying, “Yes, Su-gege copied a couple times as well and that was wrong too, let us both change in the future, okay?”
“Oh.” Fei Liu tilted his head to glance over at Prince Jing, and said, “Change!”
“I’m sorry, your highness.” Mei Changsu bowed forwards and continued, “After the new year, Princess Nihuang came by to visit. As we chatted, she brought up some past happenings and I found it quite interesting. So even though I know it is improper to do so, in private, I could not help but use it a couple times, not knowing that little Fei Liu would copy too. I was too presumptuous, please forgive me.”
“So it was Nihuang who told you,” Prince Jing’s facial expression did not change much, but he looked down with a sliver of disappointment in his eyes. “I almost thought that…”
He purposely trailed off, and Mei Changsu stood there calmly, not intending to finish the conversation. It was Meng Zhi who could not help but continue to ask, “What did you think?”
“I thought that maybe before, Su-xiansheng….was acquainted with some other people…” Prince Jing’s eyes became a little misty for a split second, but then he suddenly regained focus and forced a smile, saying, “It seems that Princess Nihuang really trusts and values Su-xiansheng–she is even willing to tell you about past happenings.”
“Your highness, don’t you think I make a great audience?” Undisturbed by the happenings, Mei Changsu smiled, continuing, “I have a lot of respect for Princess Nihuang as well, and did not conceal many of my views and opinions. Although she does not yet know that I am working behind the scenes for your highness, she does know that I looked up to Prince Qi greatly, and once hoped to serve under his leadership. She knows it is only for the sake of the current affairs that I deal with Prince Yu, and that I do what I can perfunctorily to appease him. After understanding this, she was less precautious around me and would tell me some past happenings that were neither very important nor secretive. Nothing more than to reminisce about the past. Anyways, the Princess does not have any truly close friends that she can confide in. Since she holds strong military power just like your highness, it is not suitable for the two of you to be overly close to avoid raising concerns. With Xia Dong, there are hidden, unspoken disagreements, and many topics are avoided and never spoken about. Mu Qing is still young, and did not go through those days, so he does not understand that event… I may not be her good friend, but still, being this age, and having experienced a lot, I can more or less resonate with her. I think, this must be the main reason that the Princess is willing to tell me so much.”
Prince Jing glanced at him, and with a very serious expression, nodded his head, agreeing, “Princess Nihuang is a heroine, and is much more wise and perceptive than I. It is only recently that I have gotten to know xiansheng well, and realized your talent and magnanimity. You are far more than just the advisor that I once thought you were.”
His words of praise were sincere and not merely flattery–Mei Changsu could clearly see this, and thus did not conventionally reject the praise to be humble. He bowed in acknowledgement to Prince Jing’s words. Seeing that the atmosphere of the chamber had returned to a harmonious state, the happiest was Meng Zhi, the spectator. He rubbed his hands together, and laughed, “A ruler and his ministers is a gathering of the talented and able, just as it is here. Your highness Prince Jing is altruistic and honorable, and Su-xiansheng has unimaginable talent. With the two of you joining forces, what is there that you cannot accomplish?”
“General Commander Meng seems to have much more confidence than us,” Mei Changsu said, while slowly sitting down, smiling, “But no matter how ambitious we are, we must do things steadily, step by step. We have chatted idly for quite a while now, if the General Commander has important matters to report, shall we move on to that topic?”
Being reminded, Meng Zhi’s facial expression suddenly shifted, saying, “His majesty placed a ban on the Crown Prince and the Eastern Palace, you already know that right?”
“Not the details.” Mei Changsu shifted his gaze towards Meng Zhi, “Exactly how this happened, and his majesty’s exact words and actions at the time, we will need the General Commander to tell us all the details, starting from the beginning.”
“Of course.” Meng Zhi took a moment to recollect, and then retold the details of the day he accompanied the Emperor to the Eastern Palace. Although he was not particularly good with words, his memory was excellent, and even with his simple explanations, the description of the happenings of that day was very clear.
After he finished, Mei Changsu thought to himself for a second, then asked, “Are the current servants of the Crown Prince still the same ones from the Eastern Palace?”
“Yes. But I was afraid that in his desperation, he might take some inappropriate actions, so I still ordered a few clever and reliable guards to keep watch.” Meng Zhi sighed as he continued, “You can consider this Crown Prince to have ruined his own future. I just don’t understand what his majesty plans to do about it?”
“According to my judgment, he will not dethrone him from the Crown Prince position quite yet, and even if he does, he will not crown a new one right away.” Mei Changsu turned towards Prince Jing. “Your highness, do you understand what I mean？”
Prince Jing nodded. “I understand.”
He understood, but Meng Zhi did not. However, the Commander General was not one with extreme curiosity, and although he could not figure it out after some thought, he did not continue asking either.
“The Eastern Palace is in the imperial city, and the guards within the palace are led by the imperial guards. The guards outside the palace are led by the capital patrol guards, so your highness, you will have to make sure to increase the patrols on watch around the Eastern Palace. No matter how much chaos there is in the court, there can not be any chaos near the Eastern Palace. When chaos erupts, accidents happen, and the responsibility will fall on the two of you–Prince Yu would be more than happy to take advantage of the situation.”
Meng Zhi immediately agreed, saying, “This is indeed a heavy amount of responsibility, didn’t I tell you both just now? I don’t even have a clear royal decree right now. That day, I asked his majesty for one, but every time I was interrupted before I could finish asking. So now I have nothing but merely a verbal command.”
“Speaking of this,” Mei Changsu turned to look at him, “You should prepare a hefty gift to give to Head Eunuch Gao.”
“He interrupted you with good intentions–a favor to you–and if you return the favor with a gift, it represents that you knew he had good intentions, and accept his favor.” Mei Changsu smiled at him. “That’s how it is.”
Meng Zhi glared back at him, “Su-xiansheng, you clearly know that my mind cannot entangle all these confusing things! So stop teasing me, and tell me in a more understandable way, what is going on!”
“Then let me ask you, when you first asked for a royal decree, did his majesty respond to you?”
“Then why did he not respond to you? Did he not hear clearly, or was he unable to understand you?”
Meng Zhi stared blankly, and did not know how to answer.
“If you were to say who in this world understands his majesty’s feelings and intentions best, it would definitely not be the Noble Consort, not the Crown Prince or Prince Yu, nor any of the court officials who continuously try to speculate the Emperor, but Gao Zhan. He serves by his majesty’s side day and night, and his majesty’s fondness and trust in him has not waned at all. This could not be done without astute reactions and accurate judgments.” Mei Changsu made clear eye contact with Meng Zhi and continued, “Take the happenings at the Changxin Hall as an example. You asked for a royal decree, and his majesty ignored you. This demonstrates that his majesty was still hesitant at that time, and neither wanted to punish him immediately, nor did he want to handle it in a way that would cause unrecoverable damage. If the Executive Court Secretariat issued a royal decree placing a ban on the Crown Prince and Eastern Palace, they would have to provide a reason. No matter what reason is provided, any cause resulting in the house arrest of the Crown Prince could not be a small crime. With the current situation of the Crown Prince, he could not endure having such a royal decree. Once it is announced, even if he isn’t officially dethroned, he could be considered to be dethroned. So to his majesty, when you were asking for a royal decree, you were pretty much asking for a royal decree to dethrone the Crown Prince…”
At this point, Meng Zhi had worked up a cold sweat, and anxiously said, “But that’s not what I meant! I only…”
“You only wanted a royal decree so that it would be more convenient for you to manage the Eastern Palace. I understand this, Gao Zhan understands, and even his majesty understands. So when you first asked, his majesty was not angered, he just chose to ignore it. But if you continuously ask for him to issue a royal decree, with his majesty’s state of mind at the time, and with his suspicious and mistrustful personality, I’m afraid it would result in more than him just ignoring you. Anyways, do not forget, in the case where the imperial messengers were assassinated, Prince Yu went to plead for mercy for you. In his majesty’s heart, there will be, a little more or less, some suspicion that you lean towards Prince Yu. At this time, if you ask for a royal decree, pretty much pushing the Crown Prince to his death…well then….”Mei Changsu laughed coldly and continued, “Is his majesty very forgiving? Very thoughtful? How much would he overthink the situation? “
Meng Zhi took two steps back and fell into the chair behind him. He took two deep breaths, yet was still unable to recover from what he had just heard.
“His majesty wanted to postpone this most urgent matter, and Head Eunuch Gao knew this very well. So by interrupting you, he really had good intentions. Don’t you think you should bring him a gift to thank him?”
“Hearing you put it this way, I really do need to go thank him.” Meng Zhi wiped the sweat on his forehead and said, “But why would Gao Zhan want to help me? Even though we have never had a conflict, we have never been especially close either.”
“At the sides of an emperor, are those who wait on him as if he were a tiger. Being in the dark depths of the inner palace, there is no doubt that Gao Zhan has great wisdom and intelligence. He is loyal only to the Emperor, and does not get involved with the conflicts of the inner palace or political affairs. He never plots to harm anyone, and when given the chance, will do some favors and give some assistance without anyone knowing. This way, no matter who comes out on top, or who is favored in the future, there will always be a good ending for him. It is actually those who take too many actions to support and lean towards one or the other, that end up falling to their own doom. It is like this with the imperial court, and the inner palace… when has it been any different?”
“Su-xiansheng, since Gao Zhan is such an important figure by his majesty, and is so intelligent, why don’t you find a way to induce him to lean towards his highness Prince Jing?”
“That would not do.” Mei Changsu shook his head, saying, “First of all, Gao Zhan’s practice of keeping himself neutral will not change because we try to win his support. Secondly, he is too close to his majesty, if we want him to join forces with us, it is inevitable that we will reveal some confidential information to him. If we can’t control it well, it may end up being more troublesome than beneficial. For Prince Jing to vie for the throne, we have to use the right ways and continue to strengthen ourselves so that we can garner more support. Although Gao Zhan is very important, he is not absolutely crucial, and thus we need not be so greedy. Anyways, knowing Head Eunuch Gao, even if he doesn’t join forces with us, he will not get in the way of any of our plans either. When his highness is strong enough, even if he isn’t one of us, he will be.”
Meng Zhi waved his hands, seeming almost a little bit embarrassed, and said, “Never mind, I am too dull witted, and I won’t interrupt you in the future so that I don’t get in the way of discussing more important matters. If you didn’t put it this way I wouldn’t understand, but now that you have, I see that it is true!”
Prince Jing, who had been silently listening at the side, couldn’t help but smile and said, “It is a good thing that you asked, Su-xiansheng sometimes does not feel like explaining. Now that you asked, I am more clear as well.”
“It isn’t that I don’t feel like explaining, it’s just that recently, your highness has improved greatly. I only have to slightly mention it for you to understand. Since you understand, why take the extra time and effort to explain that much?”
Prince Jing’s smile shifted and he said more seriously, “But there is a third reason that you do not ask me to recruit Gao Zhan, this I understand. I have to thank you.”
This was an unexpected statement, and Mei Changsu was quite surprised. There was a sudden warmth within his chest and he turned away smiling, not saying anything more.
Although there were difficulties and disadvantages to winning over Gao Zhan, the benefits that it would bring were absolutely tremendous. In the end, the most important reason that Mei Changsu decided not to force Prince Jing to go for Gao Zhan, was indeed one that he did not say aloud.
It was that he did not wish to get Consort Jing involved.
After all, it wouldn’t be suitable for Prince Jing to visit the inner palace too often, so regardless of whether it was during or after they successfully recruited Gao Zhan, they would need to go through Consort Jing to carry out certain actions. Consort Jing was insightful and very calm, so it was not that she would be unable to fulfill the duty. She was a tranquil and compassionate person, and Prince Jing would never wish to see her involved in the deception and scheming that would go on.
Mei Changsu was very considerate and understood this, so he never asked Prince Jing to cooperate in plotting something to happen in the inner palace. He was surprised that Prince Jing, who had never brought it up, actually understood his good intentions.
“Then what do we do next?” Meng Zhi did not understand the hidden meanings behind their words, and did not want to ask either. The only thing he was concerned about, was that he did not make any more mistakes or wrong moves.
“Three words: wait and watch.” Mei Changsu said decisively. “It is said that abnormality is a demon, so you should imagine that you were never involved with vying for the throne–that is how you should go about taking care of situations. The General Commander should continue to carefully guard the Eastern Palace, and just follow the royal orders as they are given. Prince Jing can continue to perform his duties diligently, and continue to be indifferent towards Prince Yu and the Crown Prince, just as before. During these times, whoever adds to the trouble, ends up in trouble. Just now, I told Prince Yu to ‘act cautiously, secretly,’ but in reality, the correct way to approach this is to do nothing at all. Right now, the only thing his majesty would like is peace–whoever can be the most peaceful, whoever he will have more preference for. Within the palace, isn’t it like this as well?”
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