Zhao Yuan Jia and the others soon followed out of the study . Jiang Ruan was about to walk behind them when a figure appeared before her . Zhao Yuan Ping blocked her way and smilingly said, “What are you really trying to do?” His eyes bored into hers questioningly .
“Ruan niang does not understand what Second Maternal Uncle is saying . ”
“The Li family’s partic.i.p.ation is definitely not due to the reason you have suggested . You must have another reason for stating with such certainty that Jiang Xin Zhi is going to be ambushed . Father not investigating further doesn’t mean that I won’t . ” Zhao Yuan Ping’s expression gradually turned grave . “Jiang Ruan, even if you are Mei’er’s daughter, I have to ask – just what are you honestly trying to do?”
Jiang Ruan quietly gazed at him . Three generations of the Zhao family were all military leaders, but Zhao Yuan Ping was incredibly intelligent . It was indeed a pity that the Zhao family disdained the scholarly path . Thus, Zhao Yuan Ping could not achieve the top rank in the imperial examination and bring glory to the Zhao family . He was so familiar with the art of war and military strategies that he knew them like the back of his hand, and he became a trusted military advisor who could devise schemes of brilliant cunning . On the battlefield, being able to appraise the enemy’s mind could a.s.sist one’s troops to a more a.s.sured victory . Right now, Zhao Yuan Ping was on his guard against her . However, she had never contemplated concealing anything from him .
She said, “Second Maternal Uncle, there is no need to be so tense, I will not harm the Zhao family . If that were not the case, I would not have distributed congee, neither would I have saved Da Biaoge’s life . If Second Maternal Uncle is still suspicious of me please consider all that I have done until now . Has there been even the slightest degree of detriment to the Zhao family?” On seeing that Zhao Yuan Ping’s expression remained unchanged, she smiled indifferently and said, “Moreover, if my dage can be saved, we are bound to capture some of the a.s.sa.s.sins . Then, we can use them to find out who sent them; if they point fingers at the Li family, this would be greatly advantageous to the General fu, and not the least bit harmful . The Li family and the Zhao family have always been at odds . Second Maternal Uncle must surely know, if the Li family were to meet with a mishap, Eighth Prince’s influence would also suffer damage . Wouldn’t that be a scene that the General fu would love to see?”
 Shun teng mo gua ( 顺藤摸瓜 ) – lit . follow the vines to get to the melon .
Zhao Yuan Ping tamped down his surprise and frowned . Jiang Ruan was announcing such blatant statements in broad daylight! What’s more, every single word stabbed deep into his mind . For a moment, Zhao Yuan Ping was unable to say anything in response .
Jiang Ruan said, “Second Maternal Uncle, don’t worry . I won’t cause trouble for the Zhao family . Between the Jiang family and me, there is an absolute irreconcilable hatred . I will exert every effort to help the Zhao family in order to cause the Jiang family much grief . ” After making that statement, she bowed quietly to Zhao Yuan Ping and departed without his leave .
Zhao Yuan Ping considered her words for a while longer before laughing softly . His face then resumed its original expression as he walked towards the hall .
* * *
The General fu was a warm place where everyone lived in joyous harmony . However, elsewhere in the capital city, gloom prevailed, as if a howling storm fraught with danger was suddenly approaching .
In the Jiang fu’s Yan Hua Yuan, Xia Yan caught hold of Lin Lang and asked, “Did you hear clearly? Sun daren really said that?”
Lin Lang nodded and replied, “Yes, Furen, Eldest Young Master has really been made a Deputy General, and will reach the capital in five days . What can we do now?”
Xia Yan gripped the tea cup in her hand tightly, then threw it violently to the ground . The porcelain cup, with its colourful depiction of a beautiful golden b.u.t.terfly, was immediately dashed to pieces . Lin Lang stood to one side, not daring to make a sound, and trembling in fear as she looked at Xia Yan .
Xia Yan gritted her teeth and said, “What kind of luck does this little bast*rd have, why wasn’t he killed on the battlefield!” At present, she was still racking her brains to figure out how to prevent Jiang Su Su from entering the private temple, especially as Jiang Quan was seemingly unshakeable on this matter . Jiang Su Su had not slept well since the day Hui Jue left; she kept saying that there was someone knocking at the door in the middle of the night, but when the door was opened, there was no one there . Xia Yan had written to Hui Jue to invite him to visit, but Hui Jue merely said that the evil influence was too strong, and that the best course of action would be to send Jiang Su Su to the private temple as quickly as possible to get rid of the bad luck . Xia Yan was so furious that she was dying to tear off Hui Jue’s mouth .
At this trying time, when she was hard-pressed on all sides, to hear that Jiang Xin Zhi had been made a Deputy General and was returning to the capital city flushed with success caused her to feel endless resentment . However, together with her deeply resentful jealousy, there were also worries .
Jiang Chao’s failure in the imperial examinations had really disappointed Jiang Quan . If Jiang Xin Zhi were to return at this time, with his outstanding military service, it would be difficult to guarantee that Jiang Quan would not entertain other thoughts . Granted, he did not like Jiang Xin Zhi and would not presumptively take away Jiang Chao’s position . However, there was no way for Jiang Chao to enter the imperial court, which also meant that it would be impossible for him to make and maintain contact with the court officials . If, at this time, Jiang Xin Zhi were to enter the imperial court and establish good relations with the officials, it would be quite disadvantageous to Jiang Chao in future .
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When the people of the Great Jin Dynasty spoke of the Jiang family’s sons, it was enough that they mentioned Jiang Chao; Jiang Xin Zhi was merely superfluous . Her Chao’er absolutely could not be tainted in any way, and no one could be allowed to threaten his position . Xia Yan clenched her fists tightly and the expression on her beautiful face turned utterly malevolent, as if she were a flesh-eating devil . She said, “Jiang Xin Zhi cannot be allowed to remain alive!”
If they were living in previous times, everything would be fine and dandy . Previously, Jiang Chao had been witty and intelligent, Jiang Quan’s pride and joy . With Jiang Chao present, Jiang Xin Zhi had no place in Jiang Quan’s eyes . Even if Jiang Xin Zhi had been born a Deputy General, Jiang Quan would have been willing to close one eye and even resort to backhanded and secretive means, all in order to help Jiang Chao . However, the present Jiang Chao had been reduced to being the laughingstock of the entire capital city, and Jiang Quan’s colleagues frequently mocked him because of this . It was to be feared that Jiang Quan’s heart was beginning to turn against Jiang Chao; if Jiang Xin Zhi were to return to the capital at this time in such high regard, Jiang Quan would inevitably start considering alternative plans .
If that happened, it would be disastrous . Xia Yan clutched her skirt tightly .
“Then . . . . Furen, how about asking the Marquis for help? Will he help?” Lin Lang asked . A few days ago, Jiang Su Su had vexed Xia Cheng until he had flown into a red-hot rage . Moreover, due to the situation with Xia Jun, Yu Ya was itching to pick a fight with her . Xia Yan and Jiang Su Su were already highly disliked in the Xia fu, so they were unlikely to receive help from that quarter .
“Naturally, Second Sister-in-law will not help me, but Father will,” Xia Yan said . “Since it is for the Xia family, Father will spare no effort to help me . ”
The Jiang family could also be regarded as a source of a.s.sistance, more or less . Even if Xia Cheng was greatly dissatisfied with Jiang Su Su, he would not be willing to allow an outsider to seize the Jiang family’s power and influence due to this small conflict . If Jiang Xin Zhi really did rise rapidly in the capital, he would be an immense threat to Jiang Chao . A Jiang fu that could not be controlled would be worthless . In order to safeguard the ability of the Jiang fu to stand with the Xia fu at any time or situation, Xia Cheng would not stand by idly . In this matter of eradicating Jiang Xin Zhi, he would even be more determinedly meticulous than her .
“Go and get the brush and paper . I want to write to Father,” Xia Yan said .
The corners of her mouth lifted up slightly; the Xia family would help . Moreover, there was another person who had abandoned his family [Li Yang had been injured in the Jiang fu thus they should be enemies] . Although she had no idea why the Second Young Master of the Li family, Li An, had repeatedly expressed his goodwill towards them, she could nevertheless take advantage of it .
With the Xia family and the Li family working together, Jiang Xin Zhi would find it impossible to escape even if he had nine lives .
 Cha chi nan fei ( 插翅难逃 ) – lit . even if given wings, one would not be able to fly .
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