Chapter 256: Brotherhood Prevails
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Onionpi
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
However, Duan Tingxuan also understood the obligations to the throne: Within an imperial family, loyalties of brotherhood are thin. Just a glance at the history books would show just how little ties of blood and loyalty meant. Take Li Shimin  for example, at the Xuanwu Gate Coup  during the early Tang dynasty, he killed his brothers and seized the throne from his father as Emperor Taizong. When the yellow robes of the emperor were placed on Zhao Kuangyin , the first thing he did was remove the military authority held by his brothers, making them ineffectual nobles with no power to speak of. Zhu Yuanzhang was even more ruthless, friends and brothers who had lived and fought with him to the end, how many of them were oppressed and killed by this emperor?
What were comradeship and brotherhood when faced with the allure of the throne? Weren’t these men the regent’s closest and most trusted family, friends and companions? However, when a man was placed onto the throne, these were the first people he eliminated.
Therefore, though the little marquis showed an amiable face on the surface, he was already preparing himself for the worst. However, when the critical time came, the crown prince was still able to smile at his tomfoolery, clearly not taking him as a hidden threat to the throne. This made Duan Tingxuan sigh with secret relief, and only then was he able to lower the burden in his heart.
The crown prince did genuinely care for all of his brothers, including the fourth prince. If his first reaction was to arrange for the quiet removal of his fourth brother, he would not have laughed even if Duan Tingxuan had performed a whole comedy act in front of him.
“In your opinion, what should we do about this?” His Highness the Crown Prince’s rapid breathing quickened up again. After a while, his face darkened and he asked, “Does Imperial Father know?”
“If I do not wish to hide the matter from the emperor, I would not have spoken to you about it in such a place.” Duan Tingxuan said with a bitter smile.
The crown prince looked at him a little pensively for a moment before saying, “So, you wish to protect Changjing?”
“Whether I wish to protect him or not is not important. The more important question is, does Your Highness wish to protect him?” Duan Tingxuan’s voice was heavy with meaning. Suddenly, Duan Tingxuan’s expression changed, and he gritted his teeth as though he had come to a decision, “Your Highness, the empress is my aunt and we are close blood cousins. No matter what your decision is, I will support you. Though I have a good relationship with the fourth prince, but… if I say that this is an imperial household matter that has nothing to do with me, it would be a lie. In the end… we are all family, for better or for worse.”
“Pei! You sure know how to talk. Do you think I don’t know all this? If you had wanted me to eliminate Changjiang, even if you don’t say it my heart would have frozen over from the impact.” The crown prince sniffed coldly. Without his unique ability to see through people’s heart, why would the emperor regard a fatty like him capable enough to be the crown prince?
Duan Tingxuan stayed silent. Now that the crown prince had spoken thus, what else should he say? Only a foolish person would quibble over minor details with the future ruler of the current dynasty. Speaking would make it appear that he was looking down on the crown prince’s intelligence, not speaking was tantamount to an agreement.
“If you’re not willing, do you think I am willing? You merely see him as a cousin, but to me, he’s my blood brother, ah.” His Highness the Crown Prince slapped a hand on the sofa, relieving his feelings one more time before bringing himself under control with a few more breaths. Only when he felt more in control of himself that he finally spoke again, “Do you think Imperial Concubine Jing… shared any true feelings for King Xiangyang?”
“According to Lu Feng Yu’s information, Imperial Concubine Jing was made used by King Xiangyang… there was a possibility that… forced was involved…” Duan Tingxuan reported without hesitation. This Lu Feng Yu was certainly thorough when it came to betraying his former master.
“That bastard, he’s lower than beasts, I… I cannot just let this matter go.” The crown prince’s face went purple with rage. He fell onto the couch and began beating the material with his fists. The image would have been comical if they were not speaking about something so serious.
Duan Tingxuan said, “Your Highness, please quell your anger. We must not let anyone know of this matter. Forgive my words, but if the emperor knows, even if you wish to… let the fourth prince off, His Majesty’s position is… difficult to guess…”
The crown prince knew that Duan Tingxuan was speaking the truth. Finally, he pulled himself together and returned to his Master of East Palace persona. He had to sigh a few times, forcing his anger down before looking up to see Duan Tingxuan glancing out the window tellingly, and knew that it was time for him to go.
“Then, I shall take my leave.” As the crown prince, it was already a bold move to sneak out of the palace. It would be even more of a scandal if he were to stay out all night. In the end, the crown prince was neither wilful nor ignorant. When he saw Duan Tingxuan checking the time, he knew the hour was late and got ready to leave. Once he was done putting his appearance back together got up and turned to go.
“Your Highness!” Duan Tingxuan called, running over to him, stopping him from opening the study door. In a low voice, the little marquis continued, “Since your highness rushed over here so happily, if you are later seen to leave this place angrily as though I had cheated over a million silver teals from you, well, I’m not worried what other people might think, but if the emperor is moved into investigating this matter… that is… you understand…”
“I understand, of course, I understand.” The crown prince nodded, but then he lowered his voice and hissed. “But how the mother*cking f*ck am I supposed to leave this place with smiles on my face after hearing this f*cked up this news?”
Duan Tingxuan: … how rare, it turns out that His Highness also knows how to swear?
“Well, I don’t care, you better give me some extraordinarily good tidings to make me prance out of this place happily,” The crown prince said sullenly, clearly making trouble but not caring about it anymore.
Black lines covered the little marquis’ face, “What glad tidings could I give to make a crown prince happy? Your Highness, please don’t make things difficult for people.”
“You only know how to complain about me making things difficult for you, why don’t you just think about the difficulties you made me suffer and still want me to gaily prance out here? Now, who’s really the one making things difficult for whom?” Hump! Who asks this Tingxuan bastard to make him unhappy? If he can’t be happy, no one else is allowed to be happy!
“How fresh, am I supposed to inform this matter to His Majesty instead of Your Highness? Or am I supposed to keep this between myself and Dong Lou forever? If I tell you that the reason I went undercover in Jiang Nan is to vindicate my father-in-law, would you be able to resist the urge to kick me to death?”
Duan Tingxuan rolled his eyes as he ruthlessly exposed the bare facts. In turn, the crown prince began to snort angrily. “Humph! Humph! I don’t care about all this, if you can’t think of a way to make this prince happy, this prince will not leave. You shall have the pleasure of explaining this prince’s absence to the emperor and empress.”
“Just why did Your Highness come here in the first place?”
If the Master of the East Palace insisted on being shameless, no matter how powerful the little marquis was, he would be helpless before this cousin of his. Fortunately, he knew this cousin well enough to come up with a suitable ‘glad tiding’. Hence, the seemingly simple question just now.
“Why have I come?”
The crown prince was a little thrown by the question. His brows danced about for a bit before settling into a frown, “Isn’t it because you and cousin-in-law have come back from Liaodong? Everyone in the Capital is talking about the Buddha Jumps over the Wall from the Lin Qing branch’s An Le Lou. There are praises about how that soup is the delicacy of all delicacies. Those with excess money had already been there two or thrice just for the soup and came back to brag about it.
One of our famed literati, a foodie to his bones, had even written up a <<Poem to Buddha Jumps over the Wall>> and <<Lin Qing’s Specialty, Buddha Jumps over the Wall>>. Both poems were even made into songs. They say that some of the verses came straight from cousin-in-law’s lips ‘Uncover the jar, fragrance scatters all four corners, the Buddha scents the wind and jumps over the wall’ is on everyone’s lips. Even this prince, with my vaunted self-control, could not stand it anymore and spent most of my times watching the moon and counting the stars for your return.
I even thought you’d be feasting on this special soup this evening and especially came over. To think I still have to wait for tomorrow, ah. I can’t last until tomorrow, ah. If you don’t give me a jar to myself, I shall send people over to pester the doors of the An Ping Estate. Humph! As the heir to the throne, I still have this much authority, just you all wait.”
Duan Tingxuan quickly smiled, “Who dares short change Your Highness? Be at ease, didn’t Nuan Nuan said that she’ll be making Buddha Jumps over the Wall tomorrow? Not only that, but we’ll also be having the Sichuan Poached Fish. That’s the dish that uses a very special spice. I do believe that Your Highness will love that flavour, it’s much spicier than mustard or Sichuan Peppers. In Nuan Nuan’s words, that’s where you’ll taste true spiciness.”
“Oh, you also have this other good thing? That’s right, though the virtues of Buddha Jumps over the Wall is constantly being sang out on the streets, there’s also this other dish. Ah, but there seems to be some sort of controversy over it. Some people are in love with it, others think it’s an abomination to the culinary world, saying that it is a cursed spice. To get to the bottom of this controversy, this prince had no choice but to taste it properly before giving my final judgement.”
“That’s right, therefore please look forward to tomorrow with a peace of mind. It’s time for Your Royal Highness to return to the East Palace.” Duan Tingxuan smiled to himself as the crown prince stood up, and walked out of the study with a smile. The smile was maintained all the way to the gate, and even when he got into the carriage.
However, it was only after the carriage door was shut and trundling away that the little marquis was finally able to heave a sigh of relief. Luckily foodies were easy to deal with. Thank you God in Heaven for making the crown prince a foodie.
As he raised his face in thanks, he noticed that the sun was already setting. Its orange surface touching the peaks of the distant mountains. The little marquis made his way to his mother’s courtyard and found his father there as well. There, he reported the reason for the crown prince’s sudden visit. When the Lord Marquis heard that the crown prince was here for Buddha Jumps over the Wall and Poached Fish, he could not help but chuckle lightly.
Duan Ni  twirled his finger through his beard and said, “Enough, we should stop making fun of His Royal Highness. Even I am curious about this Buddha Jumps over the Wall. I enjoyed today’s Kelp Threads as well, I’m only curious why we haven’t had all these things before.”
Duan Tingxuan smiled, “We only came across this coincidentally. While at Liaodong, with the flood victims camping outside the government office waiting to be fed, we were in a dilemma because the reserved granary was dwindling and there was no telling when the Imperial Relief Provision would arrive. In desperation, we ‘Treated the Dead Horse as though it was a Living Horse ’ and decided to try and eat this seagrass.
Who would have thought it was not only edible but delicious as well. Su Nuan Nuan really liked the taste of this kelp thing and so we brought some back. As expected, Old Madam enjoyed it very much, but what does mother think of it?” Naturally, they could not reveal that Su Nuan Nuan was the one who discovered kelp, but luckily mother and father were not likely to send people up to Liaodong to investigate matters.
Madam Yang smiled, “I still find it quite good, but I heard that your second mother disliked it, thought your second brother and his wife said it was very delicious. This depends a lot on one’s taste. There’s no changing their opinion.”
The family chatted for a little longer. Noticing that the sun had completely disappeared from the horizon, Duan Tingxuan made his way back to Spring Breeze Court. When he did not find Su Nuan Nuan in the house, he stopped Hong Lian to ask, “Where is your madam?”
Hong Lian said with a smile, “In the kitchen. Ms. Xue sent over quite a few ingredients here. Said that it was under the orders of Master, so Missy went over to have a look. She should back soon.”
Duan Tingxuan slapped himself on the head and cried, “Ah, how could I have forgotten this? I did give an order to Si Ping to gather the necessary ingredients needed to make Buddha Jumps over the Wall tomorrow since Old Madam is so eager to try it. I’ve completely forgotten about it, but luckily that Si Ping is sharp and has carried out his orders. Otherwise, if the crown prince, second prince and fourth prince came and found that I have merely teased them with empty promises, do you think I’d live to see the following day?”
As he said this, Su Nuan Nuan happened to come in and he smiled at her, “Well? Have you looked over all those ingredients? Are they alright?”
Su Nuan Nuan’s eyebrows danced with delight, “No wonder you say that Liu Guan fellow is a sharp one. In less than three days he was able to gather all the necessary ingredients. The ingredients gathered here are no worse than the ones at Lin Qing. Everything else aside, I wonder how he managed to dredge up that huge fish for poaching.”
[Gumihou: Ahh, the emperors of the past are really scary, ah…]
 Li Shimin – said to be the greatest emperors of all times, to which all other emperors were measured against.
 Xuanwu Gate Coup or Xuanwu Gate Incident
 Zhao Kuangyi
 Duan Ni is Duan Tingxuan’s father’s name
 Treated a Dead Horse as though it was a Living Horse – Keep trying despite a desperate situation.
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