Chapter 4: Go Thrash Yourself
Many of the nobles were present because they had accompanied the duke of Tianshui to fuel momentum; they all wanted to take the Jiang family down a notch.
But at this moment, who would dare speak up?
If someone stood up for the duke of Tianshui, that would mean defying the gods. If they argued with the king instead, that would mean they didn’t want the princess to recover.
It was at this moment that fatty Xuan mind connected the dots as well. He was always someone who loved creating a ruckus and immediately joined in, “Duke of Tianshui, you’re always shooting your mouth off about how if you’re ranked number two for fealty and valor out of all the nobles, then no one else would dare claim number one. Now that the moment to prove your loyalty has arrived, you make excuses and avoid doing anything. What’s going on here?”
“Duke of Tianshui, you waxed eloquent about executing the entire Jiang family clan earlier. Now, no such demands have been made on you, and yet you shrink from merely slapping yourself three times?”
Jiang Chen would definitely not let this opportunity pass him by; he tutted as he took another jab at an already downed enemy, “It looks like this so-called fealty and valor that is ranked first under the heavens is just a joke that the duke of Tianshui trotted out to amuse others. Best not to put too much stock in it.”
The duke of Tianshui had originally come to laugh at the duke of Jiang Han, but who would have thought the tables would turn on him and he’d become the target of everyone’s attacks instead?
However, the duke of Tianshui was an old hat at these political games and quickly found his footing again. He spoke with a self righteous air, “This old duke would not even furrow his brow if his Majesty commanded me to take my own life, not to mention a mere three slappings. If it would benefit our country and homeland, I would willingly help shoulder part of His Majesty’s burden. Little Chen’er, I could easily slap myself three times and disperse some of His Majesty’s worries, but if you are playing a game with us, then what?”
Indeed, if this brat was just joking, then he’d be making a fool out of all the nobles and the king!
Jiang Chen’s voice grew colder, “Duke of Tianshui, you can insult me, but you cannot blaspheme against the gods! Your Majesty, this man has not only once, but on multiple occasions, spoken gravely out of turn. The gods are enraged and I am afraid I can no longer help with her Highness’ sickness…”
Eastern Lu was appalled by these words and inwardly furious. You damn duke of Tianshui, what are you dragging your heels for? If you’re that loyal and patriotic, then slap yourself three times already! Make it easy for yourself and find a way out. Must I really command it, and be seen as the king who bullies his subjects?
As his thoughts traveled down this path, Eastern Lu grew irate and cocked his eyebrow. The duke of Tianshui was an expert at observing expressions and had spent much time studying the king’s emotions. He knew that the king was truly incensed and without any warning, hastily slapped himself eight times.
Each slap was heavy handed and resonant, he knew that the harder he slapped himself, the more it would placate his king’s anger.
His face began to swell up and almost resembled a pig’s head after this round of slapping.
After that round of slaps, all eyes focused on Jiang Chen again.
Jiang Chen said unhurriedly, “You were told to slap yourself three times, what is the meaning of slapping yourself eight times? Feeling mutinous? Are you disgruntled with the will of the gods? Or disloyal to his Majesty? Ah, forget it. You will be grudgingly forgiven this one time regarding this matter.”
Although he indicated that he would pursue the matter no further, the same couldn’t be said for the duke of Tianshui’s friends. They could only sit idly by and watch while the duke of Tianshui slapped himself, but they could no longer contain themselves after the slapping had happened. It was alright to stand up for him now, right? His slaps couldn’t be in vain, right?
A fellow immediately jumped out, “Jiang Chen, how long are you going to keep that act up? The duke of Tianshui has already slapped himself. You will be adding to your list of crimes if you can’t offer a full explanation.”
“Yes, if you can’t say anything then you would be misleading the king and mocking the country’s nobles. The entire Jiang family clan should be executed in that case.”
These fellows were definitely cut from the same cloth, they even shared the same mantra of executing someone’s entire family clan.
On the other hand, Jiang Chen gave a lazy yawn and said carelessly, “Your Majesty, the manifestation of the gods is an exceedingly sacred matter. These fellows can’t stop going on about executing an entire family’s clans. Are they not afraid of endangering the princess’ health if they enrage the gods? Do they want their family’s clans to be executed?”
Jiang Chen took a few steps forward after he’d finished and and stood in front of the crowd of old fellows, lecturing them in a righteous anger.
“All of you make a lot of fuss but have you ever really thought about the princess’ illness?”
“What has the holy task of curing Her Highness become in your eyes? A tool with which to persecute political enemies and oppress the kindhearted?”
“Duke of Tianshui, you keep calling for the execution of the entire Jiang family clan. If I had not had the great fortune to survive and was instead truly caned to death, then how could I have carried this message regarding the princess’ sickness to His Majesty? Is your so-called loyalty nothing more than forcing your king to a cliff’s edge and ending the princess’ life?”
“You’re awesome, you’re powerful, yet which one of you can step forward and tell me what is the matter with Her Highness? You don’t have the ability to do so but envy those who can, and even forbid me to relay the message from the gods? And at the heart of it, I only received this divine vision after being nearly caned to death. Was this easy for me? What if the gods are infuriated and thus depart, can you bear the responsibility?”
“I have one final question for you, what if the gods are truly angered and require the execution of your family clans in order to save Her Highness? You speak of fealty and valor, would you be willing to erase your family clans in order to ease some of His Majesty’s burdens?”
Jiang Chen gave voice to a variety of frustrations and took great pleasure in these questions that descended like a barrage of arrows. He used this excuse to wax eloquent and hovered stiflingly over these nobles like black clouds over a city. They were at a loss for words and could only stare in disbelief!
Particularly that last question, that one caused each of their expression to drastically shift and shudder in horror and fright.
They had originally come to help the duke of Tianshui suppress the Jiang family and kick a defeated enemy when it was down. But now, Tianshui’s supporters couldn’t find the courage to even if they tried.
If this brat really used the will of the gods as an excuse to convince His Majesty to execute their family clans…
Considering His Majesty’s unconditional love for the princess, it was a legitimate possibility!
Jiang Chen had only one thought as he looked at the faces pale with terror around him —
Who knew it would be such a satisfying thing to heckle these morally lacking old guys.
Especially since these old geezers actually thought they were something, simply because they held power and prestige.
“Alright, alright. Young duke Jiang you’ve said your piece, and those at fault have punished themselves. The real issue at stake here is the matter of the princess’ illness.”
It was at this moment that a neutral third party stepped forward and smoothed things over. Logically speaking, neutral bystanders were only along for the ride and even less worried about the situation getting out of hand. But things heating up more would not help the king, and the king’s heart was very anxious indeed.
“The princess’ illness?” Jiang Chen paused in surprise. “Who said the princess in sick? Didn’t I say earlier that the princess isn’t sick?”
This again! Eastern Lu raked his gaze over Jiang Feng, causing cold shivers to travel up the latter’s neck. He grumbled inside, darn kid, finish your thought and stop talking in cliffhangers.
“Your Majesty, your humble subject has one question. When her Highness was born, was it a day of a solar eclipse?” Traces of a calm smile could be found in the curve of Jiang Chen’s lips.
Eastern Lu inwardly started in shock. How did he know that? Had he really had a dream from the gods? Society regarded the solar eclipse as an unlucky omen.
Thus, Eastern Lu had always avoided this topic.
“Not only Her Highness, but when the princess’ mother was born, the day must have also seen a solar eclipse. This phenomenon had continued for nine generations of girls, and as this heritage continued, yin and yang became out of balance. The body slowly lacked yang, and upon the ninth generation, a body with a yin constitution was born!”
When Jiang Chen spoke the words “a body with a yin constitution”, he did so with a heavy heart. This had plagued his past life for many, many years. Even his old man the Celestial Emperor could not fully resolve this problem.
Therefore, he had felt an immediate kinship born out of shared misery when he saw Eastern Zhiruo, and had immediately diagnosed the source of the problem.
It was due to this pain of shared misery that he stopped playing dead, because he saw in the princess a way to settle the Jiang family’s current crisis.
How else had he offended the royal family, if not by farting during the Rites? And why had the Rites been held? Were they not to obtain blessings for Eastern Zhiruo?
If he could solve Eastern Zhiruo’s problem, was that not the best way to clean up after his mess?
Who would have thought that Eastern Zhiruo would be born with a yin body; these kinds of people were one in hundreds of millions. Who could have foreseen that the wheel of reincarnation had brought Jiang Chen in contact with one.
One had to say, fortune was a mysterious thing.
Eastern Zhiruo did not have the same birth as the past Jiang Chen, and thus her fortunes were much more unlucky. Without the Celestial Emperor for a father and lacking the Sun Moon dan to prolong her life, her lifespan would naturally be much shorter.
She was 13 at the moment and all diagnoses indicated that it would be difficult for Eastern Zhiruo to live past 14.
This was why Eastern Lu, a father who loved his daughter more than anything, had held the Rites of Heavenly Worship in order to pray for his daughter.
“A body with a yin constitution?” The assembled nobles started whispering to each other. It was apparent that none of them had heard the term before. If it wasn’t for the fact that Jiang Chen spoke with such self assurance and specifics, they would have all loudly denounced Jiang Chen as a pathological liar.
It took a while for Eastern Lu to recover from his shock. Jiang Chen was at least correct with regards to the solar eclipse.
Eastern Zhirou and her mother had both been born under a solar eclipse.
At the moment, Eastern Lu became a believer. It would seem that this Jiang kid had truly received guidance from the gods and was conveying their messages.
“Is it possible that we have moved the heavens and gods with our sincerity?” Eastern Lu asked in excited agitation, his posture as humble as could be. “Then, Jiang Chen, is it possible to cure this yin constitution?”
“A yin constitution itself is not a sickness, it is a disability. If her Highness had never practiced martial dao or attempted to train her qi, then there would be no problem for her to live thirty or fifty years. It was wrong to force her to train, this weakened her already fragile middle qi. Therefore, if there is no outside intervention, then it would be difficult for her Highness to live beyond the age of sixteen.”
This diagnoses was actually similar to the ones from the royal doctors.
After hearing these words, more and more starting wondering, had this Jiang Chen really received divine guidance from above? How else could he talk in such specifics?
Eastern Lu hurriedly asked, “Outside intervention? Does this mean that there are still some methods to deal with a yin constitution?”
“It’s not an illness to begin with, so naturally there are methods. The first step is to halt all martial dao practice, and to discontinue taking the pills that improve the body’s inner energy passages, the meridians. Otherwise, even if divine intervention happens, we would not be able to do much in half a year.”
These words caused Eastern Lu’s heart to race as he felt that he had narrowly escaped death. He had always thought that Eastern Zhiruo had a weak body and thus had been a strong champion of her training. Even if she did not succeed in her training, it would not be a bad thing to strengthen her body.
But who would have known that the training would completely backfire, and those pills would become fatal poison.
“What should we do next?” It was as if Eastern Lu had become a devout, knowledge seeking student as he asked in disgrace.
“Pardon my candor, the princess will never be able to train in this life. A body with a yin constitution does not live long. The most pressing issue is to prolong her life. This process will be lengthy as there is no quick fix. If your Majesty trusts your humble subject, then please give the princess’ life into my keeping. If your Majesty does not trust me, then please give the orders to haul me off to the dungeons…”
“Speak not this way minister Jiang. It is as if the sun has broken through clouds and we have been enlightened after we have spoken with you. Zhiruo’s matters are in your hands now. Whatever you ask for will be granted. In addition, we are granting you the royal engraved dragon medallion. You can freely enter and exit the palace with this token, and do not have to kowtow when you see our royal presence.”
Eastern Lu was definitely the ruler of a kingdom. No ordinary person could match up to his generosity and shrewdness. He had been calling for Jiang Chen’s head a second ago, but had awarded the engraved dragon medallion the next. Jiang Chen would not even have to bow when he saw his liege, this was an honor that not even the three excellencies in the palace enjoyed.
The duke of Tianshui desperately wished a hole in the ground would swallow him up. Although the king had not deliberately caused him to lose face; but to reward Jiang Chen so richly was worse than slapping the duke across the face.