Chapter 220: Crown Prince
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
Gumihou: Did my best to prevent JFJ’s enemies from looking like caricatures of cartoon villains, because that just smacks of immaturity. Also, this is the first time I see the author doing her absolute best to blacken a character. No, not the first time since she did the same with JWY, but the effort here was so over the top that it made the enemy almost cartoonish.
Jin Fengju laughed, “There is no need to tactfully persuade me. I have already been enlightened by your wisdom. In the future, I shall know what to do. It is getting late now, let us sleep.” After saying this, he closed his eyes and gradually slowed his breathing. Indeed, not long after that, he could hear Fu Qiuning’s breath also become steady. Then, he opened his eyes, looking at the silhouette of his wife in the darkness. Her face was so obviously delicate and beautiful, yet it still had the power to put people’s worries to rest.
The next day in court, many officials could be seen engaged in hushed discussions. Although he did not participate, he couldn’t help but ‘overhear’ a few things. Many were talking about the appointment of the crown prince. He could not help feeling surprised as he thought:
Yesterday, when we met the Emperor, they had no prior knowledge of this, and the Emperor had explicitly instructed them not to spread the news. So, how did the information spread among the civil officials this quickly? Moreover, looking at the atmosphere, it seems like they already know who the heir will be.
As he pondered over this, he searched the room for Prince Rong. However, even after gazing over the area twice, he still could not see his brother-in-law. While he felt a little relieved, he was also riddled with doubts. Suddenly, the Minister of War approached, wearing a satisfied expression. With a small smile, he said, “Might the Young Marquis be looking for Prince Rong? Then, you have wasted your effort. Last night, right after we left, both Prince Rong and Prince Lie entered the palace. Neither have been seen since.”
Jin Fengju was taken aback, thinking: Has the Emperor revealed his trump card to the princes? Aiya, how is Brother-in-law doing? No… that’s not right, would the Emperor need to be there to personally reveal this card? Or, is it as Qiuning suggested, the Emperor wanted to witness with his own eyes how the princes react? Is he also investigating the officials’ reaction as well? If that is so, it is fortunate that I did not visit Brother-in-law last night.
While his thoughts were in disarray, the sound of a whipcrack echoed in front of the main hall.  The civil and military officials quickly lined up and entered the court.
Jin Fengju discreetly assessed everyone’s expressions. Prince Lie’s faction appeared jubilant, while those close to him and Prince Rong looked disheartened. On the surface, everyone still managed to maintain their poise, so their true feelings were not readily noticeable. Second Uncle walked in at a steady pace and he believed that the old man must have received the news either last night or this morning, but managed to resist asking him anything about it. Looks like Uncle’s self-control was really admirable.
People from Prince Hong’s faction, such as King Zhenjiang, had more visible white streaks in their hair. Although they maintained a stoic presence, with Prince Hong already banished to Shandong, known loyal followers knew that they would face the repercussions of their loyalty to the ‘wrong’ faction some time into the future. More neutral factions might still be able to switch their allegiance, but those who had openly placed obstacles before Prince Rong and Prince Lie’s path would not be able to get away.
They entered the Heaven & Earth Hall and stood still in their places. Prince Lie and Prince Rong were already there, standing with their heads lowered just below the dais. Once everyone was in, a loud, high-pitched voice rang out, “The Emperor has arrived!” Then, with the two princes in the lead, all civil and military officials knelt and shouts of “Long Live, Long Live the Emperor” flowed through the hall in waves.
As the Emperor ascended the Dragon Throne and settled in, his gaze inadvertently swept over his sons below. Both had red, bloodshot eyes, indicating a sleepless night. They also appeared dazed and uncertain. He could not help but sigh. Instead of addressing the matter of interest first, he inquired if there were any memorials submitted by the civil officials. Finding none, he spoke with a grave tone and said, “We have reached the age of understanding,  and note that Our strength and mind has dulled over the years. Moreover, it is not wise to leave the position of crown prince empty for too long. That is why We summoned a few wise ministers for consultation and finally decided on the crown prince candidate.”
The moment he was done speaking, his sons lifted their heads in astonishment. He waved his hand at Eunuch Li Dezheng and said, “Announce it.”
Li Dezheng stepped forward. Although he had heard too many earth-shattering events from his position next to the Emperor’s side and had developed the ability to maintain his composure despite the situation, he still could not contain his excitement as prepared himself to make the announcement. Even his hands were shaking slightly as he unfolded the imperial edict with some difficulty and loudly proclaimed, “The Emperor, In Service To Heaven, Bearer of Fate, declares to all under the sun: Prince Lie, Zhao You, has always been diligent, virtuous, filial, and benevolent…”
Whatever Li Dezheng continued announcing next, Prince Rong, Zhao Lun, could no longer hear it. He stared at his father in shock, only waking up when the Emperor’s sharp gaze fell upon him. Lowering his head, he clenched his fists inside his sleeves, his mind blank, with only this sentence bouncing in his head, “Just like that, it’s over? It is all over?”
Once he was done announcing the imperial edict, Li Dezhang sighed. He had always been close to Prince Rong. Now that the Emperor had chosen Prince Lie, it seems that a hundred years after the Emperor’s reign, he would either be buried with him or be assigned to protect the tomb. However, this was alright too. After following the Emperor for so many years, his life could have been considered eventful. Even if he died, he would not have lived in vain. Moreover, despite the Emperor’s claims of poor health, he was currently quite robust and could most likely carry on living for another seven or eight years without any trouble. He still had a few good years of life ahead of him, so what was there to fear?
“This son… This son thanks Imperial Father for his favour. This son will redouble his efforts and not disappoint Imperial Father’s trust…”
[a] While Prince Rong was in a dazed shock, Prince Lie was naturally elated. He took a few steps forward, knelt before the dais and received the imperial edict with both hands from Li Dezhang. From his position in the crowd, Jin Fengju watched everything with a steady eye. He thought: Although this Prince Lie did his best to remain composed, his red face still betrays his excitement. Look at him, he was also trembling nonstop with excitement as if he was suffering from malaria. 
“This matter is settled as such. Dear friends, do any of you have complaints?”
The Emperor’s voice brought Prince Rong and Prince Lie back to their senses. As Prince Lie held the imperial edict in his hands, he flashed a look around the room, a fleeting smirk appeared in his eyes as he thought: From today onwards, this prince is the Crown Prince. Let’s see, who dares to oppose me now? Even if they oppose me, there’s no matter. Now, I naturally have to play the part of a gracious crown prince, but once I ascend to the throne, hmph hmph…
The emperor, of course, did not miss the meaningful gazes of the people within the room.
“Since none of you have objections, and there are no memorials to discuss, then the court is adjourned. Prince Rong, stay behind.” After saying this, the Emperor stood up and walked toward the rear.
Back in the hall, Prince Lie and the courtiers watched Prince Rong together. Seeing him following the Emperor, laughter and sighs erupted simultaneously.
[b] All the courtiers exited the hall, leaving Jin Fengju to silently stand in place, staring at the path where Prince Rong had left with the emperor. Prince Lie, Zhao You, strolled over and said with a gratified smile, “Fengju, are you worried for my fourth brother?”
“Your Highness, oh, no… It should be Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince,” Jin Fengju bowed, “His Highness Prince Rong was summoned by the Emperor, why would this minister have any concerns? This is because it has been several days since my elder sister was seen, and there has been no news, so this minister hesitated. Should this minister inquire about the well-being of His Royal Highness and my elder sister right now, or should this minister visit another day?”
[b1] Prince Lie raised an eyebrow, this Jin Fengju was suddenly talking a lot right now. He must be nervous about losing in this faction war. A sense of pity rose inside him and he smiled at Jin Fengju,
“Fengju, everyone knows about your talent, and even Royal Father relies heavily on you. In the past, you belonged to my fourth brother, and so it was not appropriate for me to say such words. Now that I am the Crown Prince, from this day forward, I am the sovereign, and you are my subject. Fengju, won’t you assist me?”
At that moment, only then did Jin Fengju finally realise why Fu Qiuning was so blase about the whole ‘crown prince’ situation. While he had been antsy and anxious, Fu Qiuning was as steadfast and unmoving as a boulder under a waterfall about the whole thing. It was not that she was unconcerned! It was because she had seen through the emperor’s intentions and was therefore sure that there was nothing to be concerned about!
In fact, there was an 80 percent likelihood that the Emperor intended to examine the character of the remaining two imperial sons. Otherwise, with Prince Lie’s abilities and character, how could he have gained the favour of the Emperor and been made the crown prince? Despite not having left the main hall yet, even though there was no one else around, he still dared to be so arrogant, getting carried away and declaring himself the future sovereign. This was a bit too audacious.
“Your Highness the Crown Prince is surely jesting. As a subject of the Great Ning Empire, and an official, it is only natural for Fengju to devote my time in serving the country,” said Jin Fengju with a deep bow, promising nothing but his loyalty to the Great Ning empire.
Nevertheless, Prince Lie smiled and patted Jin Fengju on the shoulder before stepping away with light steps.
Left alone, Jin Fengju sighed and pondered over various thoughts in his mind before leaving the main hall.
It was unclear how much time had passed, but when he reached the palace gates outside, Jin Fengju finally spotted Prince Rong, Zhao Lun. He quickly hurried over to his brother-in-law, but at the sight of Prince Rong’s somewhat moist eyes, he did not know what to say.
“Fengju, ah, it looks like your entire family will be implicated by this prince,” said Zhao Lun after a long while pause. Then he sighed deeply, shook his head and walked away.
“Your Highness, please don’t say such things. What’s all this talk about being implicated? It is an honour for the Jin Clan to have a daughter married to Your Highness. Though we share the same misfortune, we will not regret it.”
Jin Fengju was not good at speaking comforting words, let alone the nuggets of wisdom that Fu Qiuning tended to give. Jin Fengju could only firmly reiterate his loyalty to Prince Rong. As expected, as soon as he finished speaking, he saw Zhao Lun’s expression soften a bit. However, his eyes became even more teary, making Jin Fengju worry that his straightforward brother-in-law might burst into tears in his arms at any moment.
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“When the Emperor summoned Brother-in-law, what did he speak to you about?”
As soon as they reached Prince Rong’s palace, Jin Fengju dismissed the servants and attendants at Zhao Lun’s study.
Zhao Lun frowned and said bitterly, “He asked me about the situation at my palace. He also told me to handle my internal affairs well, assist Eighth Brother and so on.”
Jin Fengju leaned forward to ask, “Then how did Brother-in-law respond?”
Zhao Lun laughed bitterly, “What else could I say? I reported that the wives and concubines in the palace are getting along well, the children are fine, my fourth son is still studying diligently, and the other brothers are not doing well in their studies but are decent in horseback riding and archery. As for the rest, apart from agreeing, what else could I do?”
Jin Fengju nodded, staring at Prince Rong, “Did Brother-in-law only learn about this news early today? You must have been quite shocked. You did manage to respond acceptably in front of the Emperor, right? You did not mutter incoherently, right?”.
[Gumihou: White Pear Flower is basically engaging in character assassination against Prince Lie… while doing her best to paint Prince Rong with a ‘oh woe is he’ brush]
[a] ML magic spilling over his comrades: In contrast to Prince Rong, who maintained a calm appearance despite his confusion
Gumihou: As discerning readers can see, the choice of words could have a great impact on readers’ impression of the characters. Here, Prince Rong received some speckle from JFJ’s leftover whitewashing job
[b] Lighten up the blackening brush, please. Otherwise, your sentences just smack of immaturity.
Seeing all the courtiers exiting the hall, leaving only Jin Fengju silently standing in place and watching the path leading to the inner palace, Prince Lie, Zhao You, full of confidence, couldn’t help but stroll over to his side, wearing a fake smile while throwing a question.
[b1] Even though Prince Lie wished he could skin and dismember Jin Fengju, he couldn’t help but admire his composure at that moment.
Gumihou: sorry, but I gotta ask. Composure? What composure? That rambling sentence just now smacks of talking too much, sir
Pill Bug TL Notes:
 You know how Western courts have that small gavel they use to make sounds for attention? Ancient Chinese courts used the whip instead.
 知天命之年 Fifty years old. From Consucious’ <<The Analects>>:
Confucius said, “At fifteen, I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I had planted my feet firmly upon the ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from the perplexities. At fifty, I knew what the biddings of Heaven were. At sixty, I heard them with a docile ear. At
seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of what is right.
 It’s an odd metaphor, but the Chinese raws do indeed say he was trembling like he was suffering from a bout of malaria, lol!
Gumihou: It’s just more words to make him look bad. Author just fall short of saying his hair was the colour of turd
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