Chapter 154 : An Unusual Move
As soon as Xiao Shao emerged from the palace and mounted his horse, Jin Er appeared and knelt in front of him. His always sardonic countenance displayed a rare solemnity. “It’s bad, Master. Miss Jiang has been taken to prison.”
Xiao Shao’s eyes narrowed. “What happened?”
“Fourth Prince and several palace maids witnessed Miss Jiang kill Princess He Yi. People soon arrived, and the evidence was conclusive. Imperial Consort Shu was enraged and pleaded with the Emperor to make a decision. The Empress had no choice but to direct the Ministry of Justice officers to imprison Miss Jiang.”
“When did this happen?” Xiao Shao asked with a frown.
“At noon.” Jin Er answered. Xiao Shao had other business to attend to in the palace. Therefore, Jin Er was only able to catch up with him just before he left, three hours after Jiang Ruan had been arrested. The matter was much more urgent this time than in the past because Princess He Yi was the Emperor’s beloved daughter. Despite her mischievous nature, the bond between father and daughter remained strong. Thus the murder of Princess He Yi was reason enough for the Emperor to deal with Jiang Ruan in a rage.
Xiao Shao reversed the horse’s direction. “Go to the Ministry of Justice and look into it.” Before he raised the whip, he heard another voice. “Master!”
Jin San rushed over, took a quick glance around, and whispered, “Tian Zhu wishes to see you.”
Tian Zhu was Jiang Ruan’s personal maid. Jin Er and Jin San exchanged glances. They were familiar with Jiang Ruan’s character. As a person who refused to compromise, it was inevitable that she had not antic.i.p.ated the situation, or else she had done it on purpose. Tian Zhu’s current visit could only be to relay Jiang Ruan’s message.
“Tell her to come to Yi Bao Pavilion,” Xiao Shao said after a brief thought.
Outside, the more people there were, the more chances to be seen. Tian Zhu was, after all, Jiang Ruan’s maid. If she were seen by a calculating person, it could inevitably cause them to raise a fuss. Therefore, by meeting at Yi Bao Pavilion, he would obtain the information unimpeded.
Jin San accepted the order and left.
Before the time it took for an incense stick to completely burn, Xiao Shao was sitting in Yi Bao Pavilion’s secret room. Tian Zhu bowed and knelt. “Master.”
“What did she say?” Xiao Shao asked.
“Miss didn’t say anything.’ Tian Zhu responded.
A strange glint flashed in Xiao Shao’s dark eyes as he pursed his lips and lowered his gaze. Jin Er and Jin San, who stood nearby, were astonished. They a.s.sumed Jiang Ruan had requested Tian Zhu to bring a letter. What did it imply that she had said nothing? So, Jiang Ruan had no message to convey through Tian Zhu to Xiao Shao?
“Miss had already antic.i.p.ated what would happen today.” Without waiting for Xiao Shao to inquire, Tian Zhu revealed the information herself. “She indeed orchestrated the death of Princess He Yi. She did not, however, kill Princess He Yi. Someone else murdered the Princess, but she was framed. She has already made preparations. Long ago, she requested that I deliver a letter to Great Master Hui Jue who will serve as her trump card. Master should not be overly concerned.”
After some consideration, Xiao Shao said, “Tell me everything that has happened over the past few days.”
“Does Master want to help Miss?” Tian Zhu asked, raising her head.
Xiao Shao cast a glance at her. “Yes.”
“You shouldn’t do it, Master.” Tian Zhu a.s.serted. “Miss has made her decision. Master should refrain from intervening in this matter.”
Both Jin Er and Jin San frowned. Interfering with the master’s decisions was strictly forbidden for the Jinyi Guard and so Tian Zhu’s action was inappropriate and could be interpreted as disrespectful. Tian Zhu had been trained by Xiao Shao from the time she was a child until she was an adult. There was no need to mention loyalty. As colleagues, they were taken aback by such an att.i.tude.
“She is a person of my Jinying w.a.n.gfu. I will not stand by silently, nor will I permit anyone to bully her.” Xiao Shao spoke lightly, but his tone was already chilly.
“In response to Master,” Tian Zhu didn’t miss Xiao Shao’s tone, but she continued after a brief hesitation, “Do you believe Miss has no way out of this? This subordinate may say something inappropriate here. Now is the time for Master to leave the capital. Master can still protect Miss in the capital, but after Master departs, is it possible that all open and covert attacks on her will cease? Even if Master keeps her safe inside the Jinying w.a.n.gfu, things may not go as planned. Those currently targeting the Jinying w.a.n.gfu are as numerous as a school of silver carp swimming down a stream. Miss won’t be able to spend her days comfortably.”
“Are you implying that this prince doesn’t even have the ability to protect her?” Xiao Shao squinted. He spoke each word slowly, but his icy tone was significantly more intense than before. Jin Er and Jin San couldn’t stop winking at Tian Zhu. Xiao Shao was currently in a bad mood. Wasn’t Tian Zhu treading on dangerous ground* with these statements?
 岂不是自个儿往火枪上撞来着 (qǐ bùshì zì gě er wǎng huǒqiāng shàng zhuàng láizhe) – throw oneself into the gun/musket, so: treading on dangerous ground.
Ignoring Jin Er and Jin San’s hints, Tian Zhu continued, “Would Master prefer that the one who is standing beside him be a n.o.ble lady who is powerless and completely dependent on your protection? If so, I fear that the Jinying w.a.n.gfu will not be able to raise such a delicate flower. What the w.a.n.gfu needs is a woman who can stand strong against the wind and rain, the knives and spears, and not an embroidered pillow.”
 大家闺秀 (dàjiā guīxiù) – girl from a wealthy family / unmarried daughter of a n.o.ble house.
 手无缚鸡之力 (shǒu wú fù jī zhī lì) – lit. lacking the strength even to truss a chicken (idiom) / fig. weak / unaccustomed to physical work.
 绣花枕头 (xiùhuā zhěntou) – an embroidered pillow, an outwardly attractive but worthless person.
Jin Er and Jin San were aghast. Jin San shut her eyes helplessly. Even though Tian Zhu was formerly a loyal member of the Jinyi Guard, she was truly uncompromising and unyielding in her beliefs. It seemed like she was determined to anger Xiao Shao today. At present, she spoke to her heart’s content, but it was unknown what punishment she would receive in the future. Was it possible that after spending so much time with Young Furen, her courage had turned lawless?
“This subordinate is following Miss these days and can clearly see that she is not a delicate young lady who needs to be protected. She is more powerful than any woman I’ve ever seen. Master is also aware that Miss dislikes having someone else solve her problems; in particular, Miss prefers to deal with the enemy with her own hands.”
Xiao Shao averted his eyes and contemplatively examined his sleeve. What temperament did Jiang Ruan have? She had an almost obsessive desire for vengeance. He was well aware that Jiang Ruan disliked outside interference in these affairs, and he also knew that Tian Zhu was telling the truth.
“Miss has already made plans and arrangements. It will not be Miss who suffers losses, but her adversary. If Master genuinely likes her, you should not attempt to a.s.sume control for her. Miss refuses to be controlled. Miss wanted to deal directly with Princess He Yi and the people behind Princess He Yi. If Master wants her to be the Jinying w.a.n.gfu’s Young Furen in the future, you should a.s.sist her.”
Tian Zhu stated, “This subordinate boldly spoke of Miss’ thoughts and begged Master not to intervene, and hence, requests Master to punish me.”
Xiao Shao raised his eyebrows at the person kneeling before him and remained silent for a moment before saying, “Get up.”
Jin Er and Jin San were stunned for the third time today. Tian Zhu had overstepped like this, but Xiao Shao did not get angry at all, and compared to the previous bad mood, he seemed much calmer at the moment. Could it be that Master actually enjoyed being yelled at?
Tian Zhu hesitated, rose up, and continued to bow her head before hearing Xiao Shao say, “Return your waist medal to Ye Feng.”
“Master!” Tian Zhu cried out involuntarily. Returning Jinyi Guard’s waist medal to Ye Feng meant that she was no longer a member of the Jinyi Guard and would be unable to return.
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***
Jin Er and Jin San also froze in place. They initially a.s.sumed that Xiao Shao was not angry, but they were mistaken. This time, Xiao Shao was not only angry but furious.
“What actions were taken on Xiao Shao’s side?” Xuan Li took a deep breath to calm down and then inquired.
“Your Highness, Xiao w.a.n.gye hasn’t made any move,” the subordinate replied.
Such a big incident had occurred, and by now, it must have undoubtedly spread throughout the entire capital. However, there was no sign of Xiao Shao’s movement, implying that he had little regard for Jiang Ruan. Xuan Li sneered in his heart. On Mt. Jianan, Xiao Shao, whose eyes were disdainfully haughty, was extremely indifferent. Ordinary women were smitten with him, but they had no idea that Xiao Shao was a heartless man. Since that foolish woman Jiang Ruan rejected him for Xiao Shao’s sake, he might as well demonstrate how vicious Xiao Shao was. Not only that, but… Xuan Li immediately chuckled. The civil and military officials must have heard that Xiao Shao requested the Emperor to bestow marriage. One moment he was still requesting marriage, and the next, his beloved was in prison, yet he didn’t make a move. Xiao Shao was already viewed as a rebel by the court officials, now his reputation was about to plummet even further.
This matter might also lead to Empress Dowager Yi De’s disapproval. Although Empress Dowager Yi De was not interested in court affairs, this did not mean she had no influence within the court. Sometimes, the att.i.tude of Empress Dowager Yi De could even affect the future career of an official.
This would result in many setbacks for Xiao Shao. How could Xuan Li not be delighted? His displeasure vanished in a matter of moments. “Send someone to keep an eye on the Jinying w.a.n.gfu and also monitor Xiao Shao’s movements,” he commanded in a loud voice.
“Yes.” His subordinate obeyed his order and departed. Xuan Li leaned back against the seat, fiddled with his thumb ring, and laughed slowly.
* * *
Seeing the wind and setting the helm has been human nature since ancient times. This was especially evident in the Jiang fu.
Ruan Ju’s servants and maids were all extremely anxious. As soon as the news of Jiang Ruan’s imprisonment arrived, those with quick minds had already abandoned the old master and moved on to the new master.
Jiang Ruan was imprisoned for the second time in less than a year. Previously, this was due to the death of Old Jiang Madame. At the time, however, she had not yet been transferred to the Ministry of Justice, and there were many doubts. However, now, the victim was Princess He Yi, and the incident involved the imperial family. Therefore, the case was forwarded straight to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. Most importantly, there was an important witness in this case, Fourth Prince, Xuan Lang.
Nine times out of ten, the murderer would not get away with the crime if someone witness him do it. Especially since the witness was the prince of the realm, almost everyone thought that Jiang Ruan wouldn’t be as lucky as last time and the prosperous future of the two siblings, Jiang Ruan and Jiang Xin Zhi, would come to an end. Because, in the end, there was no way that Jiang fu could support them.
Hong Ying was lying on a soft chair in the yard, her hands supporting her stomach as she basked in the sun. The sun was shining brightly in the autumn afternoon. It wasn’t too warm or too cold. On the table were some exquisite cakes. Even the tea was carefully prepared in accordance with Jiang Quan’s special instructions for nourishing her pregnancy. The day of childbirth was approaching, and the entire fu, from top to bottom, was extremely attentive and respectful towards Hong Ying.
Jiang Dan sat directly across from her. She put a little chunk of cake into her mouth, took a bite, and smiled.”This cake is pretty good.”
“Laoye invited a cook from outside,” Hong Ying spoke carelessly. “Fourth Miss will enter the palace in a few days. The cakes in the fu are humble. Please do not mind them.”
“Fifth Yiniang, that’s not true.” Jiang Dan smiled modestly. “Life in the palace is not as simple as it appears. Didn’t Da Jiejie have an accident in the palace?” Her expression turned dim. “I was hoping to be looked after by Da Jiejie in the palace, but this happened unexpectedly.”
“Everything in this life is impermanent.” Hong Ying sighed and turned to face Jiang Dan. “But, Fourth Miss seems to be a blessed one. When you enter the palace, you should be able to obtain His Majesty’s favour and care. Jiang fu’s future glory will be dependent on you. Perhaps Eldest Miss will not have the grandeur you will have in the future.”
“Fifth Yiniang, please don’t make fun of me.” Jiang Dan bowed her head, yet her eyes sparked just before she asked, as if her question was asked inadvertently. “But now that Da Jiejie is in prison, what good way did Father come up with to save her?”
“There’s no way.” Hong Ying picked up the tea in front of her, took a slow sip, and then stated, “Such a significant matter has the potential to implicate the entire fu. Eldest Miss has committed a huge mistake this time. Your father was so angry that he discussed it with your second brother for a long time, but they couldn’t figure out what to do. Now that Imperial Consort Shu is enraged and His Majesty has also lost Princess He Yi, Eldest Miss is doomed. Even if your Father goes to beg for mercy, will it not worsen the situation?”
Jiang Dan’s finger stopped nipping the cake, and her face changed into one of worry. “So, does Father plan to do nothing and let it go?”
“Laoye is willing but he’s powerless.” Hong Ying examined her painted nails. “Eldest Miss is Jiang fu‘s daughter, so it goes without saying that she should know when to make a sacrifice. After all, she can’t just ignore the reputation of her whole family for her own sake.”
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***