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The Rebirth of an Ill Fated Consort CH 174

Author:novelreader Category:urban Update time:2022-10-29 05:20:06

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Chapter 174 : Helping Others Put On a Show

 

Qi Feng sucked in a mouthful of cold air- Jiang Ruan’s words had totally flabbergasted him.

However, what was even more astonishing was her demeanour and expression when she uttered those words because they embodied an inexplicable sense of ruthlessness and evil maleficence.

Suddenly he realised that Mo Cong’s description of Jiang Ruan as a “poisonous woman” was not even close to describing her.

Her heart was more than capable of ruthlessness, but most importantly, she had greater gumption and had the audacity to exact her ruthlessness.

No young lady would dare to speak such audacious and anarchistic words, except for her who had not only spoken them out loud but also with self-confidence.

Throughout history, in the fight for the throne, the winner became the Emperor while the loser became the evil traitor- this had always been the undeniable truth, yet no one would have dared to speak about it so blatantly.

After a pensive moment, he responded, “Even if he had the guts to do it, there is no way to escape the attention from all the eyes that are around the capital.

Should anything happen to the military provisions, and if they were held up before leaving the capital, then the whole debacle would unravel. Zhang Ji would definitely not have a good ending.

Moreover, Eighth Prince is not stupid, there is no way he would make use of such a foolhardy plan that would so easily be exposed and used against him.”

Jiang Ruan smiled faintly, “Xuan Li is a very mistrustful and paranoid person so naturally he won’t utilize such a flawed scheme.

As such, any tampering of the military provisions would not be noticed nor raise any suspicion within the ten li distance after it departed from the capital via the main road.

At this point, he would start his show and it would be highly entertaining to watch him work to obtain his main objective- gaining the Emperor’s trust.”

“You…” Qi Feng narrowed his eyes slightly, “seem to understand Eighth Prince quite well.” Jiang Ruan’s words appeared to show a kind of familiarity towards Eighth Prince, and this in turn caused a strange and weird feeling to skitter across Qi Feng’s heart.

How could a virtuous young lady have the opportunity to meet and establish familiarity with Xuan Li.

Even with her status as a Junzhu within the imperial palace, her level of apperception of the person’s character and motives to the point of being able to anticipate his next move; such firsthand knowledge could only have been possible only if they were constantly in each other’s company and were in an intimate relationship.

A conjecture fleetingly flashed across Qi Feng’s heart.

Could it be that Jiang Ruan liked Xuan Li because only when someone likes another would they take notice of what that person does, what they think, and would have a good grasp of their every move and action.

However, when Qi Feng took stock of Jiang Ruan’s expression, he mentally shook his head.

Jiang Ruan’s eyes were tepid and calm, her smile affable, but what was missing was affection; what she had done and her tone of voice definitely didn’t reflect any interest towards Xuan Li.

This certainly caused Qi Feng to be in a quandary.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster[1].” Jiang Ruan had taken note of Qi Feng’s misgivings and smiled, “Sooner or later, the Jinying Wangfu will have to face Eighth Prince.

And since the stance for both is a fight to the end, naturally it is imperative to make advance preparation.

Otherwise, we would be taken for fools.

Furthermore, it would be detrimental to wait until we found ourselves in a life and death situation.” She said all this in a quiet whisper but Qi Feng seemed to have awakened from his stupor at the underlying antagonism behind her words.

And yet, on the surface her face was still exquisitely beautiful, her eyes were gentle and calm.

It was almost as if he had imagined the whole scene.

[1] 知己知彼百戰不殆 知己知彼,百戰不殆 (zhījǐzhībǐ, bǎizhànbùdài) – “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

“Even if Xuan Li intends to fight for the crown and usurp the throne, such an undertaking isn’t that easy to obtain.” Loftily Qi Feng sneered, “In this world, there are still people that he wouldn’t dare offend. Third Sister-in-law might just be overly concerned, but I can guarantee, he would not have the courage to meddle with the Jinying Wangfu.”

The smile on Jiang Ruan’s face gradually congealed and turned frosty.

Naturally, Qi Feng was experienced and knowledgeable on the art of politics, and these skills were sufficient enough to be used for certain political scuffles to obtain good outcomes.

Unfortunately, Qi Feng also had a weakness which was his inability to read and undermine the hearts of others.

His point of view on the situation indicated that he regarded Xuan Li as a politician and based his assessment of his (XL) modus operandi as merely an uprising prince.

Except, Xuan Li’s conduct was not that of a steadfast headstrong prince.

Jiang Ruan had watched Xuan Li, and had concluded that he was self-centred and cunning and a person adept at covertly forbearing for ultimate gain.

This was a man capable of using whatever or whoever he deemed useful, including opportune situations.

She had accompanied this man for so many years, and her understanding of his character was almost engraved on her very bones.

Qi Feng’s knowledge could not even be compared to her.

“ Young Master Qi, are you willing to help me” Jiang Ruan stoically asked.

Qi Feng was taken aback.

He came to the sudden realisation that in the face of Jiang Ruan’s short and succinct speech, he had in fact wavered somewhat in his conviction.

Jiang Ruan’s words had indeed impacted him to some degree.

Knitting his brows, he said, “My relationship with Third Brother has always been to rejoice in the good and share the burden in the bad[2], so anything to do with Third Brother, I am duty bound to honour it. Third Sister-in-law,” he slowly continued, “Regarding this matter, we must not alert the enemy.

How about we have one of the hidden guards continue their surveillance on Zhang Ji, and also arrange for others to monitor both the Xia fu and the Jiang fu while we consider at length before making a decision.

At the least we have to come up with a foolproof plan to thwart their plans.”

[2] 損俱損,一榮俱榮 (sǔn jù sǔn, róng jù róng) – to be closely connected such that when one suffers damage, everyone suffers damage, and when one prospers, everyone prospers.

“Why should we hinder their plans” Jiang Ruan flippantly questioned.

Qi Feng was stupefied and he looked puzzledly at her, “What do you mean by that”

“In this world there are two kinds of suffering: to have no one to share in one’s success or to have suffered a great grievance yet unable to speak of it.

Since Xia Jun and Jiang Chao are determined to do right by this mission, then I’ll let them both eat the bitter fruit of loss and yet be unable to speak of it whatsoever.

In your art of politics, Young Master Qi is used to fair and aboveboard means in dealing with matters, but I feel that there are times when covert manoeuvres are more convenient when dealing with such matters.

This time, I want them to pay the price for their actions!”

Qi Feng could not help but be stunned frozen in his place by that mesmerising pair of eyes that had suddenly flashed with a chilling frost.

Yet he felt that when this lovely young lady turned ruthless, there was a kind of forceful coercive charisma that seemed to blossom.

He had never met such a lady before, and could not resist sighing deeply, “So, what does Third Sister-in-law think we should do”

Jiang Ruan smiled at him, “I know that Young Master Qi has a special identity within the imperial court, and very soon Eighth Prince will definitely want to put on a big play.

For this play, I will need Young Master Qi to arrange for a few people to join in and play along.

In this way we can have some fun.”

“He has even told you about this” Qi Feng was yet again floored and could only laugh bitterly, “So be it.

After all, you are Young Furen of the Jinying Wangfu and informing you about it is indeed understandable.

Requesting Third Sister-in-law to please continue to give us your kind consideration in the future.

And regarding this, please continue to give your comments and pointers.”

Jiang Ruan lightly nodded her head as a trace of coldness flashed across her eyes.

* * *

In the palace.

The Empress was hosting tea with a company of several beautiful women at Yu Hua Yuan.

The courtyard was filled with many concubines, each of them graceful and courtly, with the exception to the main host, the Empress.

Even though she was arrayed in her splendid majestic outfit, it was still unable to disguise her aged pallor.

The Crown Prince had gradually been losing favour with the Emperor, and while the Emperor had not issued the edict to have the Crown Prince stripped of his status, it was quite obvious that none of the important matters of the court included him.

Whereas Eighth Prince and Fifth Prince were active participants, and this was sufficient enough to cause many factions that were still waiting to decide their alliance to each take note of these subtle tensions.

Initially there had still been a group that was neutral in their stance, however, surreptitiously several among them had begun to forge alliance with either Eighth Prince or Fifth Prince.

Meanwhile, the Crown Prince’s people were few.

Consequently, the assembly of imperial court officials were very much in the know, in that, the mantle of future heir of Great Jin did not rest upon the Crown Prince.

Currently, their eyes were fixed on the rivalry between Eighth Prince and Fifth Prince to see who was more capable.

Sitting beside the Empress was Wang Lian’er and none other than Jiang Dan.

Wang Lian’er was dressed in a palace attire of pink silk muslin with a tapered waist.

This ensemble emphasized her naturally fair milky-white complexion.

She was beautiful and her every action spoke of a very innate gentle and soft elegance in her comportment, in addition to a slight hint of a scholarly allure.

As a young lady of the Hanlin family, she was worthy of the title bestowed as an accomplished and talented lady.

Currently she was one of the favoured ‘flowers’ by the Emperor’s side, obtaining his pleasure and favour.

Jiang Dan wore a jade green dress, and based on appearance, she could not be compared to Wang Lian’er.

Just by looking at her comportment and disposition, she wasn’t as gentle and easy-mannered as her.

However, in contrast to Wang Lian’er, Jiang Dan had that refreshing and invigorating vivacious disposition that elevated her to be the most popular and sought after consort within the palace.

Even the Empress could not find it in herself to hold her (JD) in contempt.

She conducted herself with a kind of innocence; she was kind towards the palace servants and she did not make any attempts to vie for the Emperor’s favour.

As such, compared to Wang Lian’er, everyone in the palace was very fond of her.

Currently she was also often seen by the Emperor’s side, occasionally saying things that would delight the Emperor into laughter.

And so, the Emperor highly regarded her.

Today, Mu Xirou did not make an appearance.

She had a haughty disposition and was cold and detached, and thus could not be bothered to mingle and socialize with the palace consorts; it was just like Imperial Consort Xian, who ever since Imperial Consort Chen and Imperial Consort Shu’s fall from grace, had secluded herself in an abstemious life.

It was precisely because the power struggle between Fifth Prince and Eighth Prince was getting more intense that she felt the need to wisely withdraw in the face of such overwhelming odds, as she could not afford to act proud or have her ego inflated just because she was favoured.

What remained were the low-ranked beauties who had just entered the palace, and among these beauties, there was no shortage of vibrant, vivacious or beautiful talented young ladies.

However, until now, from those newly arrived beauties, there were only three who were most favoured.

A mild sense of weariness appeared on the Empress’ face as she said, “The weather is getting colder and colder.”

Indeed, it had been getting colder and colder.

This was only the beginning of winter, yet everyday the changing winds were gradually becoming stronger.

Wang Lian’er smiled in reply, “It is so, however, the weather in the capital can still be considered to be rather warm as I have heard that snowflakes the size of a piece of paper have started to fall at Tian Jin.

I’m pretty sure it is extremely cold there.”

The Empress glanced at Wang Lian’er, noting the underlying meaning her words had revealed; that the Emperor was extremely fond of her, otherwise he would not confide in her regarding the situation at the border.

Immediately her (Empress) disposition became cold and detached as she said, “That is so true, and especially for all of those generals and soldiers braving the harsh bitter cold.

It must really be hard on them.”

“What the Empress has said is accurate,” Jiang Dan smiled as she continued, “The Great Jin dynasty and its land has to depend on these generals and soldiers to defend them.

The Emperor is favoured and blessed with longevity and prosperity, so we will indeed be victorious in this battle against Tian Jin.

When these generals and soldiers make their triumphant return from battle, it will be an exceptionally grand scene to behold.

Yet at the mere thought of soldiers having to suffer such hardships, this concubine feels rather ashamed of herself for being so extravagant and self indulgent.

This concubine is willing to donate some silver and jeweleries to exchange for some provisions and supplies to be sent to the borders.

This way, my heart will be at peace knowing that I have made a contribution to the cause.”

The Empress was astonished when she heard Jiang Dan’s speech and she couldn’t help the look of appreciation when she gazed at her (JD).

As the mother of the nation, no matter what her attitude was towards whatever that was happening in the imperial court, her biggest hope was that the Great Jin would continue as a prosperous and thriving nation.

Naturally, she hoped that they would be victorious in the war against the nation of Tian Jin.

However, everyone was well aware that this was no easy feat, especially now when the military provisions and supplies were scarce.

Therefore, it was not an easy undertaking for Jiang Dan to take the initiative to donate towards provisions and supplies.

As one of the new consorts in the palace, Jiang Dan would not be able to donate much, but once word of this matter spread out, other consorts would follow suit, the court officials would also follow, and finally the culmination of everyone’s donation would actually be quite a sizeable amount to be donated towards buying military provisions and supplies.

Moreover, Jiang Dan could have mentioned this matter directly to the Emperor and yet, she had raised this matter before the Empress.

This in turn clearly suggested that she was not vying for the Emperor’s favour and as such, the Empress was put at ease.

Hence the Empress softened her disposition and expression towards Jiang Dan, “Your consideration is exceptional, and I will indeed bring this matter before His Majesty.” The Empress’ words were very much an indication that she was showing great regard for Jiang Dan.

Jiang Dan smiled, “Many thanks Empress, this concubine is not able to do much, as such I can only offer a feeble effort.”

The other consorts gathered around her were either casting envious looks or admiring glances at Jiang Dan.

There was a slight change in Wang Lian’er’s expression as well, but a split second later, it returned to normal, almost as if nothing had happened as she too smiled.

Later, after the Empress had called for everyone to be dismissed, Jiang Dan returned to her own courtyard.

Her personal maid Wan’er delivered a letter to her, quietly whispering, “Miss, a letter has been delivered.”

Jiang Dan entered her room and had the other palace maids dismissed before opening the letter.

Upon perusing the contents of the letter, there was a moment of surprise before she rapidly read the rest of the letter.

After she had set it aside, she pondered over it for a moment before a slow smile appeared on her face.

* * *

Within the next three days, the wagons carrying the military provisions were to set out.

After Jiang Dan’s suggestion to make donations, all the palace consorts, not to be outdone, had donated their own jewelry.

Since the palace womenfolk had come together to make such a united contribution, naturally the court officials could not be remiss in their duty.

Therein, everyone within the imperial court more or less donated some silver, and all these silver combined came to be quite a substantial amount.

Presently the war had exhausted a huge amount of silver from the national treasury to the degree that the provisions were vastly depleted.

Consequently, these donations would ease the desperate lack of military provisions and supplies.

The Emperor’s heart was overjoyed, and his favour towards Jiang Dan increased. 

Everyday, Zhang Ji was busy raising funds to buy provisions and planning delivery routes.

However this time, the war against Tian Jin was not a simple matter, and everything had to be done with utmost caution and with no room for errors.

Then suddenly, on the day of the departure, news spread out from the palace that the official in charge of the military supply unit, Zhang Ji, had misused his authority and had embezzled more than half of the military provisions.

This news had spread out rather peculiarly but it was sufficient enough to send the imperial court into a state of shock and confusion.

Should the embezzlement of the military provisions be verified as true, then even if Zhang Ji had ten heads, it would not be sufficient enough to be beheaded.

Truly, this was no small matter, and immediately the Emperor dispatched people to detain Zhang Ji and have him extradited promptly back to the capital.

At that time, Zhang Ji was leading the wagons loaded with military provisions out of the capital.

Who would have thought that as soon as he left the capital he would be apprehended by the Emperor’s imperial guards.

This news was immediately spread far and wide and it seemed that everyone was apprehensive.

Within a short span of time, the Emperor had gathered the court officials to convene and investigate the matter and sought their opinions.

Xuan Li tidied his collar, his expression relaxed as usual, almost as if he was basking in the springtime breeze.

Jiang Chao had his head lowered as he stood by Xuan Li’s side.

Respectfully he asked, “Your Highness, everything has been done accordingly, and the relevant news has been leaked out to ensure that the right people take the bait.

Once this matter is exposed, not only will it ensure that Your Highness will obtain the trust of His Majesty, it will also be an advantageous opportunity for Your Highness to suppress Fifth Prince and his faction.”

“This is just the beginning.” Whilst Xuan Li was feeling rather pleased with the situation, his expression did not give any hint of being jubilant or overtly pleased.

Regardless of whatever the situation, he still held steadfast to his customary cool headedness and forbearance.

“Your Highness is wise,” Jiang Chao said as he suddenly thought of something.

Looking at Xuan Li, he said, “This situation has come about thanks to the news put out by Consort Jiang.

I guess our cooperation this time went well, and it seems that it will be much more convenient to have her on our side in the future.” The news that had been leaked out was all because Jiang Dan had thought of ways to spread it.

The working of the inner palace with all the womenfolk- it was naturally very easy for word to spread like wildfire.

Moreover, behind each of the ladies were usually families of influence, and even though it was the inner palace, in actual fact, it was more complex than the imperial court, yet just as easy to manipulate.

With just some clear manoeuvring and guidance, it was almost guaranteed to obtain the desired outcome.

Jiang Dan was smart, even without any backing or support, and she was efficient and handled matters discreetly, so much so that no one would even cast their doubts and suspicions towards her.

With a sigh, Jiang Chao added, “I had always perceived her as timid, but now it would seem that I was absolutely wrong.

It is Your Highness’s discerning eye, who was able to tell that she would be willing to cooperate with us.”

Xuan Li shook his head, “Never underestimate a woman, as they are very sly and as long as they are not above using their body and beauty, whatever task that a lot of men would not do, they would be more than willing to accomplish.

Jiang Dan is not a timid person, her ambition is as high as the heavens itself.

As for her willingness to work with us, the reason for her straightforward agreement to our collaboration is because firstly, she understands that she needs to garner backing and support within the palace by aligning herself with us.

And also….

“ Xuan Li’s eyes dimmed, “there is a great animosity between Jiang Ruan and herself.”

“Animosity” Jiang Chao was doubtful, “She has never done anything untowards Jiang Ruan when she was at the Jiang fu, moreover, she was personally raised by Jiang Ruan’s mother.

From where does their animosity come about”

Xuan Li laughed sarcastically but did not reply.

There were some things that Jiang Chao was not privy to, but it was not something that he was not able to find out on his own.

Zhao Mei’s cause of death, Xia Yan’s initial cautious entry into the fu, was because she had borrowed Jiang Dan’s hand.

When he had initially obtained the information, Xuan Li was somewhat confounded because regardless, back then Jiang Dan was merely a little child, yet she did not hesitate to execute her own adoptive mother.

But it was because of this point that one could infer that Jiang Dan was innately ruthless and vicious like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

If he didn’t utilise such a brilliant chess piece, then that would really be a shame.

If Jiang Dan had not had such a deep seated hatred that possibly resulted in her poisoning Zhao Mei, in future, even if she was properly used, without a good enough reason she might not be such a big help.

Thus, the issue at hand was to figure out what was the best situation to use her for.

Jiang Chao was bold but not astute, so he had no intention to keep him in the loop.

When Jiang Chao beheld the Emperor, the host of scholarly and military officials were divided into two factions.

One faction was determined that Zhang Ji be severely punished for misappropriation of military provisions, while the other faction believed that Zhang Ji had been made a scapegoat and was entirely innocent.

Everyone knew that Zhang Ji’s eldest son, Zhang Ming, was a close friend of Xuan Li, so once he entered, everyone cast their eyes towards Xuan Li.

Regardless of if they were feeling indignant from the injustice or rejoicing at the others misfortune, when they looked at Xuan Li, their thoughts were deflected by his calm and soothing expression.

It was almost as if all the situations in the world were not able to shake his tranquillity.

Xuan Hua gazed frostily as Xuan Li came forward, and a sneer was formed on his lips.

Just then, a court official bowed as he beseeched, “Your Majesty, Zhang Ji has not put into consideration anyone beneath him, and he has disregarded the life and death of tens of thousands of soldiers for his own greed.

Moreover, he has cast aside all the benevolence the Great Jin had bestowed on him.

This is really a reprehensible crime!”

“There is some discrepancy in what Official Wang has said.

Zhang Ji has been in charge of the transportation for military provisions for many years, so how could he have made such a mistake This minister certainly cannot believe that he would do such a thing, so this is definitely at the instigation of some miscreant,” another senior official added.

“Instigation” Zhang Daren has been an official for many years, who would likely be able to frame him.

This must really be the result of malicious slander and false reporting.” Yet another voice said, carrying a sense of hidden motives.

“I have heard that Zhang Daren’s three sons are getting more and more prosperous…” 

Such words seemed to be embedded with innuendoes that were aimed at Xuan Li.

Those words were rather strange indeed, as Zhang Ji was presently well known and was not lacking in wealth or possessions, so if perchance someone had promised him something in exchange for him to make such a big blunder, then the promised item must definitely be bountiful.

What promise under heavens could possibly motivate a person to make such a drastic move Additionally, when one considered the relationship between Zhang Ji’s son and Xuan Li, it was almost impossible for others not to speculate if there were any dubious transactions occurring.

The Emperor looked profoundly at the host of court officials.

This was merely a matter regarding Zhang Ji, yet the court had become obviously divided.

How was it that even he could not be aware that presently they no longer saw him as the Emperor and head of the state, but seriously thought that he was getting on with age Should any mishap befall on him, they would not hesitate, and even before he could issue the edict, the nation would immediately have a change of head of state!

Eunuch Li took notice of the Emperor’s pallor, and internally sighed.

The internal strife between the princes was getting more and more intense, to the point that their hidden motives were no longer hidden.

But who actually knew the heart of the Emperor, furthermore that person…. Sigh, Eunuch Li began to have some misgivings, today’s matter regarding Zhang Ji was rather peculiar.

Normally, before the matter had been thoroughly investigated, most of these court officials would be like a snake lying in wait as they observed the case development, and certainly wouldn’t respond with such urgency.

Moreover, it ought to be until Zhang Ji’s crime was established with evidence finding him guilty or innocent before any discussion would happen.

Today’s preceding was utterly bizarre.

What they could not have known was that these court officials had arrived at their viewpoints much earlier after being informed.

Furthermore, everyone had assumed that the information they had received was the most accurate.

Therefore, the current discourse was merely to stand by their firm beliefs that the intel that they had obtained was true and the side they were on would definitely win. 

A confident but pleased look flashed across Xuan Hua’s face, to which Xuan Li had taken note of and thought rather amusing.

Xuan Hua was too impatient.

After all these years, Xuan Hua had relied solely on the directives of Imperial Consort Xian and had survived the perils of the palace to stand securely at his current position.

But unfortunately, his impatient personality had not changed a single bit.

If it was like in the past, such a debacle would indeed result in the Emperor’s hostility.

Like all monarchs, they were highly suspicious by nature, and the more the situation was not favourable towards Xuan Li, the more the Emperor would be predisposed towards trusting Xuan Li.

Naturally, should anything happen to Zhang Ji, then the most obvious and suspicious possibility for anyone to implicate him (Zhang Ji) would be Xuan Li.

The more Xuan Li postured himself as inferior and at a disadvantage, the more the condemnation and accusation would worsen, and contrarily the Emperor would become more undecided.

That’s because Xuan Li appeared to be without help and solitary against the hordes, and people were known to have compassion towards the weak.

The same can be said of the Emperor as this was a natural human behaviour.

But then again… A sliver of doubt streaked across Xuan Li’s eyes as the proceedings of the day had transpired too smoothly.

Things were proceeding so successfully that a strange sensation erupted within his heart, almost as if it wasn’t supposed to be quite like this.

Back when they had Jiang Dan release the information, it was only to some specific people, but those speaking out today weren’t those who were part of the plan.

Actually, these people were helping push his agenda forward, making his plans very successful.

However, when something becomes too successful, a person can’t help being skeptical.

“Eighth Prince, what do you make of the situation” The Emperor finally posed a question as his eyes seemed to be like a sharp sword piercing Xuan Li.

It was almost as if should Xuan Li utter the wrong word, on the stop he would immediately be met with bloodshed.

“Justice resides in the heart of man”, Xuan Li tepidly replied, “and I believe that Imperial Father has already made some conclusions.

Your humble son believes in Imperial Father and trusts Imperial Father’s subjects.

So we will just have to await the conclusion of the investigation and hear the result before making an informed judgement.”

From his speech he had clearly stated his standpoint, in that he believed that Zhang Ji was innocent yet he further emphasized his trust in the Emperor’s subjects and that was taking it beyond context.

The Emperor’s expression softened a bit and seeing Xuan Li’s stance, he could not help feeling a sense of relief.

Xuan Hua took all this into account and his lips curled upwards.

This was merely a deathbed power struggle, and today, it was most definitely Xuan Li’s day to die!

Just at that moment, the military officer assigned to investigate the matter had returned to give his report.

With large strides he entered and knelt down to give his report.

“Reporting to Your Majesty, your subject has been assigned to investigate the issue of embezzlement of military provisions and thus hereby reports that all the provisions are accounted for and there is nothing missing.”

Xuan Hua’s smile went rigid just as he heard Zhang Ji furiously bellow from outside, “Your Majesty, this old official has been wronged…”

-

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