But Fei Liu didn’t manage to wait for Prince Jing as Xiao Jingyan wasn’t in his residence.
The Capital Patrol may not have had prior knowledge of the bloody fight that would happen at the west gate, but they couldn’t turn a blind eye towards it after it happened.
Prince Jing soon received a report that Xuanjing Bureau had been attacked at the city gates while escorting a serious criminal into the capital.
However, because the Xuanjing Bureau was directly under royal authority, and had a system of its own, it often did not keep other ministries and departments informed of their affairs. So Prince Jing initially did not look into the matter, but instructed Capital Patrol Commander Ouyang to pay close attention. In the event that Xuanjing Bureau intended to round up the escapees from the failed rescue attempt, they had to have an imperial decree. Otherwise he should mobilize the Capital Patrol to ensure that the citizens were not unnecessarily disturbed. After issuing his command, Prince Jing left to visit his critically ill uncle, Prince Li.
Compared to when he had no (imperial) favour, Jingyan’s status was now different. When he arrived, the imperial court councillors who went to Prince Li’s mansion to visit the sick prince went over to him to exchange greetings, and it was afternoon by the time he had finished interacting with them.
At this time, Commander Ouyang hurriedly came to report, saying that Xuanjing Bureau did not get in touch with anyone, nor did they make any moves to execute any raids without permission. They even seemed disinterested in the escapees, but instead concentrated most of their force to seal off Xuanjing Bureau quarters and watch over the new prisoner.
It was then that Prince Jing began to feel a little suspicious. He thought very hard but couldn’t think of what possible incident the prisoner may be related to. Because he had always had differences with Xuanjing Bureau, he knew that if he sent someone to ask, he would be rebuffed. Furthermore, there had been many changes to this year’s year-end ceremony due to the absence of the Crown Prince. The Emperor of Liang had ordered both him and Prince Yu to accompany him in the ancestor memorial ceremony. Unlike Prince Yu, he hadn’t been to the upper hall of the court for many years, and he wasn’t familiar with many of the court etiquettes. He had invited the Minister of Rites, Liu Ji, to personally advise him in the inner court. This was now one of the busiest times, so even though he had his suspicions, he couldn’t look deeply into the matter. After repeating his orders for Ouyang keep looking for information, he left for the inner court.
After studying the ceremonial rites for nearly an hour, Minister Liu was exhausted, even though Prince Jing was not the least bit tired.
Minister Liu was the cousin of the honorable Liu Cheng, the Chinese scholar. Being from a noble clan, he had always had high expectations at court and had never treated any of the princes differently regardless of rank. Prince Jing had no intention of currying his favour, but at that moment, he could see that the old man was weak and tired. As an excuse to get him to sit down to rest, Prince Jing consulted him on the history of the imperial dynasty. He didn’t really expect to have a real discussion, but ended up having a very agreeable one. In fact, Prince Jing made the most of it.
(As a military man,) He had always given court officials the impression that he was cold and rigid, interested only in military matters but not in literature. But Prince Jing had been taught as a child in the palace by his mother and Consort Chen, and later, he was brought up personally by his eldest brother Prince Qi. His foundation in literature was not weak. It’s just that at the time, the wilful and outstandingly talented young Chiyan commander, Lin Shu, was a rising star, and stole all the limelight, so nobody paid him any attention. To add to that, the case of Prince Qi’s conviction as a traitor ten years ago had aroused in Xiao Jingyan a great disgust for the court, and so by his own accord and by his Father Emperor’s orders, he was banished from the court and somewhat neglected.
But, whatever the case might be, he had once been taught by an experienced scholar, an important court official who served as his teacher. He and Lin Shu were once classmates, and he had done pretty well in his studies. If one simply took him for only a military man, they would inevitably find themselves surprised after interacting with him.
It was almost evening when their conversation ended and Prince Jing left the inner courtyard. Just outside the palace walls, he ran into Meng Zhi, and in passing, asked him if he knew who Xuanjing Bureau had arrested but Meng Zhi was unfamiliar with the facts. After exchanging a few words, both of them went their respective ways.
After that, Prince Jing returned directly to his own royal residence.
He entered the secret chamber in his bedroom and knocked three times on the door, but unfortunately, Fei Liu had just left after receiving no response. Both of them had just missed each other by a hair’s breadth. Later that night, Mei Changsu’s condition worsened and he had no strength to tell Fei Liu to look for that person for the fourth time and so they did not meet.
Early the next morning, Prince Jing entered the palace early to pay his respects.
Because it was the end of the year, the imperial court stopped holding court assemblies two days ago. The princes would go directly to Wuying Hall to pay their respects every day. Just as he was about to enter, Prince Jing ran into Prince Yu, whom he had not crossed paths with in a long time. He didn’t know if he should consider himself lucky or unlucky.
“Jingyan is here,” Prince Yu smiled broadly, moving forward to grab hold of his arm like an affectionate older brother. “Seeing your rosy face, you must have slept very well last night!”
Prince Jing had never liked feigning civility with him, nor did Mei Changsu think there was any point in maintaining appearances with Prince Yu. Both of them held similar views on this. However, he wouldn’t go so far as to be rude to Prince Yu, but would be indifferent. For example, at this moment, he just bowed slightly in salutation, then slowly withdrew his hand from Prince Yu’s grasp.
“Come come come, let’s go in together. I heard Father Emperor is very happy today.” Prince Yu had long since been accustomed to Prince Jing’s indifference and removed his hands without being offended, then both entered Wuying Hall together, side by side.
At this time, there were three people in the hall – the Emperor of Liang, the Director of the Xuanjing Bureau Xia Jiang, and the Commander of the Imperial Guard, Meng Zhi. They looked like they just finished a discussion. One was seated on the imperial throne stroking his forehead in contemplation, one slowly stroking his beard while smiling but not smiling (Chinese idiom), and one more, though expressionless, had an obviously tense face.
When the two princes entered, Xia Jiang looked at Prince Yu, nodding his head slightly, while Meng Zhi frowned at Prince Jing.
“Your children wish you good health.” Both brothers fell to their knees making their salutations.
“Ng. Sit down.” The Emperor rubbed his forehead and slowly raised his head, looking at both his sons before him. Nowadays, since both the brothers were dressed similarly, they were beginning to resemble each other. He couldn’t really differentiate their physique and looks, only that one was somewhat rugged and taciturn while the other was more smooth and quick-witted.
For the past ten years or so, this Emperor of Liang had always favoured Prince Yu. It was only recently that he felt dissatisfied with Prince Yu’s excessive ambition, and though the Emperor had made deliberate attempts to reduce his show of favor, he still loved Prince Yu. On the other hand, since Prince Jing had regained the opportunity to get the Emperor’s attention, his conduct showed itself to be more and more aligned to the Emperor’s intentions, and this raised the Emperor’s favourable impression of Prince Jing tremendously. Therefore, in that moment, looking at both his sons, he was unable to decide which one of them he favoured more.
Suddenly, he remembered Prince Qi. Thinking of that outstanding eldest son that he had been unable to rein in, he felt a pang in his heart. He didn’t know if it was due to old age or because Xia Jiang had just evoked memories that he had deliberately wanted to forget.
“What’s wrong, Father Emperor?” Prince Yu stood up and stepped forward with concern. “Is it due to difficult matters discussed earlier? Can your son share your worries?”
The Emperor waved his hand. “It’s coming to the New Year. What difficult matters could that be?”
“Indeed.” Xia Jiang observed that the Emperor did not intend to elaborate further on the subject under discussion and said, “What troubles can we have this New Year? In fact, it would seem that the capture of a traitor from the previous case will give us a lucky start to the year.”
“Traitor?” Prince Yu expressed his shock. “How is it that I am not aware of any cases of rebellion lately?”
Xia Jiang laughed loudly. “Your Highness definitely knows. It’s not a recent case but from 13 years ago.”
“Ah? Director Xia refers to….” Prince Yu glanced at Prince Jing as he spoke.
As expected, the latter heard what he said and raised his head, observing Xia Jiang closely with burning eyes.
“What other betrayal case could it be from 13 years ago? Obviously it’s the Chiyan case.” Xia Jiang’s tone of voice was light. “To prevent the Chiyan Army from treason, the convictions were decided beforehand. It’s just that at the time, when they were being annihilated, there was a very heavy snowstorm. His Majesty’s imperial decree was to capture all 17 high-ranking military officers at the heart of the treasonous Chiyan, but we only managed to capture 4 alive and find 11 dead bodies. There were 2 who either ran away, or whose corpses were beyond recognition. For this reason, Xuanjing Bureau has not dared be lax for many years. Fortunately, thanks to Heaven’s blessings on the Emperor, this one could not escape heaven’s vengeance. After 13 years, we have managed to capture him.”
“Who is it?”
Xia Jiang looked at Prince Jing from the corner of his eyes and said coldly, “Former Chiyu Battalion’s Lieutenant General, Wei Zheng.”
Prince Jing inadvertently clenched the hands on his knees, his heart pounding.
But having been suppressed (by his father and the court) for the past ten years, he had learnt through his experiences and was no longer that impetuous youth he once was. He clenched his jaw and lowered his gaze to hide the burning fire in his eyes.
“Aiya*, this is a really good thing!” Prince Yu’s deliberately raised tone sounded sharp and piercing, “Your son congratulates Father Emperor. The fugitive who has been on the run for more than ten years has finally been caught, demonstrating the might of the imperial dynasty. This Wei Zheng must be punished publicly to act as warning to all citizens with unwilling hearts.”
*a vocal expression like “Hey”
Xia Jiang pretended to ponder for a while then said with approval, “Your Royal Highness Prince Yu has certainly reacted quickly. I think it makes sense. Indoctrination is useless for those who harbour rebellion in their hearts. Such a severe punishment would help to instil fear in people’s hearts. For this fugitive to have been on the run for more than ten years, it shows that he has not repented in the least bit. I think publicly executing him by severing his body in two would be appropriate.”
The muscle in Prince Jing’s cheek throbbed. He suddenly raised his head and was just about to speak when Meng Zhi stepped forward to kneel, forestalling him. “Your Majesty, it is now the New Year festival and it is also a period of national mourning. It is really not advisable to carry out such cruel acts in public!”
“Commander Meng is mistaken,” Xia Jiang said indifferently. “What does not pardoning the traitor have to do with the national mourning? Dealing harshly with traitors and being gentle to those who are loyal will reinvigorate the country and prevent it from being destroyed by traitors. There’s no contradiction here, don’t you agree, Your Highness Prince Jing?”
He casually threw this question to Prince Jing, to force him to speak.
Meng Zhi was very anxious. He was afraid that the moment Prince Jing said something, even if the words were not disloyal, they would be words the Emperor did not want to hear. He wanted to try again to prevent Prince Jing from speaking but was afraid it would be too obvious and have the opposite effect. Just as his hands were tied, Prince Jing bowed and in a clear and calm voice said, “Your son objects.”
If you would like to read another translated version of Chapter 118, Summertime Waterlily has posted hers here.
2 thoughts on “Chapter 119 : Court Debate”
Found your translations after seeing Summer Waterlily/LYS might be taking a pause on it. Interesting to read the same chapter but different translations. I’ve read the original novel but am not super fluent, so I’ve missed a lot of details and can’t always parse the meanings of the original text. Saw a difference in translation here: “This method does not contradict Taoist teachings” and was wondering if one is more accurate than another, or is it just differences in interpretation? Just curious, since I feel like all the details are interesting to consider 🙂
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Thanks Karah for pointing that out! Yes, those were early days in translation when I was still literally translating almost word for word.
I’ve amended it – it should be “There’s no contradiction here, don’t you agree, Your Highness Prince Jing?””
I know what you mean when you say “all the details are interesting to consider”, which is why for some really big items, when the translations just don’t read right, I have to revisit and edit them before publishing but I suspect I don’t always get them right either, especially if they are smaller details like this!
And when I’m translating and looking at the larger picture vs the details, it’s even worse, so I really appreciate your pointing this out! Please let me know if you find anymore discrepancies so I can zoom in and fine tune my translation! Always happy to have someone to collaborate with!!! At this point, I am rather reluctant to revisit the earlier translations until I get towards the end….which is a long way coming ha! But I hope the translations get better as you read along!!!