A look of contempt burst out from the faces of all the ministers and they prepared to start their verbal attacks once again. Truth be told, Grandpa Jun’s explanation and justifications were simply unbearable and too easy to refute. After all, Grandpa Jun was first and foremost a general. His skills in civil affairs was simply too limited. For him to actually be able to come up with an explanation was already a rare occurrence. Asking for a detailed and seamless explanation was absolutely ridiculous!
Unexpectedly, an old man with white hair and beard stepped forward. This old man possess a stalwart figure. Standing beside Jun Zhantian, it seemed as though there were two majestic mountains imposing their grand aura within the Imperial Court. His moustache spread out explosively to the side cheeks and beard. A wild looking face and a loutish body. This was none other than Grandfather Dugu, the second most powerful person within the military in Tianxiang Kingdom, and the number one predator within the capital city: Dugu Zongheng!
He is the number one savage individual in Tianxiang Kingdom! The number one unreasonable individual! The number one tough shank! The number one great family… great families’ House Master*. This man has a skin so thick he could be revered as a master in skin thickness! This is a character who would brandish his ignorance as knowledge! This is a character who would talk about large swords when discussing reasons! All the members of the Imperial Court, be they from the civil or military affairs showed some degree of fear towards him. Even the present Emperor had no way of dealing with him.
It was only after he stepped forward did the members of the Imperial Court realized his existence. They could not help but whisper to themselves: This old man had not attended the court for years now. Why did he suddenly appear today? For him to appear at such a sensitive moment, something is obviously not right.
Dugu Zongheng’s round eyes widened, just like a mountain bear. He then cupped his hands and spoke in a coarse voice. “Your Majesty, the assassination attempt on the Imperial Princess and the officials of the Imperial Court is indeed a national situation that could cripple the foundations of our kingdom. Thankfully, this old bag… Senior Duke Jun Zhantian was quick and decisive in his actions, thus succeeding in averting this terrible disaster! This old one thinks that Senior Jun’s actions this time is not a mistake! He is not only innocent; he has also earned himself a merit! An astounding amount of merit!”
A thin old man with sheep like beard who was standing beside him sneered. “After this traitor defied the authority of the ministers and disrupted the Imperial Court’s affairs, he is lauded as someone who earned himself a merit? If this is how the Imperial Court works, then won’t we end up being despised by the people of the world?”
This thin old man with barely any flesh on his body and a sheep like beard is one of the three most capable individual from the Meng Family, Meng Youfang. Last night, his house suffered the highest level of damage. Not even a single tile was left whole. A high ranking member of the Imperial Court had to bring his own family out into the rich and bustling capital in the middle of the night to eat the cold air and sleep under the starry skies of the night. The amount of suffocation he felt nearly caused him to puke out blood! Watching these two military leaders reversing black and white, he was unable to hold it in and stepped forward.
Dugu Zongheng became enraged. He turned around and viciously stared at Meng Youfang, opening his mouth that revealed a yellow set of teeth; his voice shook the tiles in the Imperial Court. “Screw your granny! You are worth less than dog poop! You mean to say that this senior is wrong? Hmm?” As if acting in concert with his fury, his beard exploded out, his facial hairs standing upright. His mouth was opened wide, as though he wanted to swallow the thin old man with sheep like beard, his entire being radiating an aura of violence.
Beside him, the great general Dugu Wudi immediately stepped forward to support. “Meng Youfang, what are you trying to do? My father is in the middle of a conversation with His Majesty! Do you think someone like you have the qualifications to interrupt them?” His hands extended outwards, his palm opened wide like a palm leaf, intent on catching him by his neck.
All the senior ministers rolled their eyes: This pair of father and son, is truly… invincible (wúdí). They actually dared to bully others in the presence of His Majesty! His Majesty, the Emperor who was supposed to be the main character of this play could not help but stare in a dumbfounded manner!
“Enough!” His Majesty, the Emperor thundered loudly and stood up in fury. “A group of civil and military ministers arguing with one another, and starting a fight upon the Imperial Court! What do you plan to do next? Are you going to start throwing obscenities around?”
His Majesty’s wrath caused everyone to become silent, except the Old Masters from the Jun Family, Dugu Family, Li Family, Meng Family, Song Family, Tang Family and Murong Family. As for the rest, they all immediately knelt down and spoke out in unison. “This minister is guilty, I am willing to accept Your Majesty’s punishment.”
“Very well, I have already understood the gist of what happened. Jun Zhantian had originally wanted to capture assassins, but had made errors in his mobilization of the army. His actions caused the city to fall into chaos. As punishment, one year’s worth of salary will be deducted. In addition, I decree that you are not allowed to leave your residence for three months. However, in light of your contribution of capturing assassins, I reward you a thousand gold liangs and a thousand year old ginseng. Military matters will temporarily be handed over for Dugu Zongheng to handle. Next, you great families chose to ignore the truth and focused only on your own losses, blatantly accusing other ministers. All your positions are now downgraded by one rank. In order to avoid riots from happening, all military authority of the great families must be returned to the Military Division. It will be reassigned again one year later.”
Deducting one year’s worth of salary; not allowed to leave home for three months; a reward of a thousand gold liangs; a thousand year old ginseng! Could this still be considered a punishment towards Old Master Jun? This is simply a reward plus holidays…
There was also the ‘military matters will temporarily be handed over for Dugu Zongheng to handle’. This sentence seemed to be hiding a different meaning. However, there was a problem here. All the ministers turned to look at the Dugu Family’s pair of ‘tough shanks’. They all had the same thought: If this is how it is to end, won’t it be better to have Jun Zhantian continue handling military matters? These pair of father and son from the Dugu Family is even worse than Jun Zhantian…
At the very least, Old Master Jun is generally a reasonable person. However, this pair of father and son had never been reasonable before. Now that their family’s private forces was about to fall into their hands, they wonder how many could come back.
In just a moment’s time, nearly everyone started cursing secretly and almost lashed out at Meng Youfang: His Majesty was manipulating everything behind the scenes. Since Dugu Zongheng had already appeared, why did you have to step in and interfere? You do not recognize your own strength and weakness; however don’t you at least understand the meaning of the word ‘humiliation’? If you want to jump down the cliff, you should just jump down alone. Why the heck did you drag us down with you? What kind of damaged goods are you…
Almost everyone in the Imperial Court revealed an expression of one who had just lost their soul and vigour. It does not matter if it was real or fake. What was important was that it looked real on the surface. As a member of the Imperial Court, they must have the ability to put on an act. Otherwise, it would be hard for them to continue serving for long.
However, there were around ten or so people within the Imperial Court who lowered their heads, anger etched upon their faces. These were all men who could not stomach their grievances; they were truly enraged and were unwilling to simply let it go. However, all of them have had their identities noted down by all the senior ‘grandfathers’ of the Imperial Court: They could not even recognize that a performance is in progress, these people have no future in store for them! When we go home later, we must inform our sons and grandsons to keep a distance from these people. Otherwise, who knows when we would end up being dragged down by them…
“You fellow Ministers are all the pillars of our kingdom. To see such a scene occurring in this Imperial Court today… I am disappointed! Very disappointed!” His Majesty was furious, unstoppably furious! After having meted out the punishments, His Majesty said heavily. “This matter will be resolved following my commands. No one is allowed to disobey it! You may leave now!”
The Minister of Rites, Sun Chenghe** shouted out loudly. “Your Majesty, please stay…” This person was none other than Fatty Tang’s future father-in-law.
All the senior grandpas of the Imperial Court burst out with a look of contempt: Could you not see that His Majesty is heading back to his chambers to relish the ‘joy’ from earlier. Ever resourceful, overlooking the world as its sovereign, delightfully manipulating everyone within the palm of his hand, suppressing all the great families influence and authority in one fell swoop, bringing stability to the entire capital city. How joyful would such an experience be? However, you actually chose this moment to restrain His Majesty? Do you not want to live a good life anymore? What a silly idiot!
“What do you wish to discuss?” His Majesty’s face was a mask of fury. His Majesty’s fury had originally been staged, but after having been restrained his false countenance of fury has started turning real.
“Your Majesty, please understand, this one is in charge of ceremonies. However, today is the day for the annual Gifted Scholars’ Autumn Festival Feast. What should I do…”
This Minister of Rites is clearly missing the capacity to judge the situation. This is not a light problem ah! All the ministers in the Imperial Court sighed inwardly: Could you not see what kind of situation we have here? Every family is filled with weeping and mourning, who would be in the mood to care about a Gifted Scholars’ Autumn Festival Feast? This brat is simply an idiot… I will need to pay attention next time. I must not get too close to him, chances are he will be the death of me!
Sure enough, His Majesty was greatly furious and spoke out in a heavy tone. “Gifted Scholars’ Autumn Festival Feast? We are currently in the middle of troubling times, how can you even bring this up? If I recall correctly, I had appointed two ministers to be in charge of organizing the Gifted Scholars’ Autumn Festival Feast just a few days ago. But these two men are amongst the names of those who’ve been assassinated by the assassins!” Having finished speaking, he pointed vigorously at the list of names on his table. Flicking his sleeves, His Majesty walked out with an expression of rage on his face.
No one was able to see it, but when His Majesty had turned away, the sides of his lips curled, as though he was happy…
Indeed, no one was able to see it. However, all the old ministers were secretly feeling pleased with themselves as well: As expected, everything went according to my predictions…
After His Majesty had left, everyone patted their knees and got up from their kneeling position. A few of the elder ministers looked at one another with an ‘as expected’ gaze. Li Shang snorted at looked at Jun Zhantian through the corner of his eyes. “Old Jun, congratulations. Has your grandson gotten better yet?”
The reason Li Shang had mentioned this matter to Jun Zhantian was for the sake of pissing him off. Even if Li Shang could not do anything to him this time, he could still prod Jun Zhantian until he chokes. That would not be too bad. However, once Jun Zhantian heard that, he suddenly recalled what he wanted to do. Ignoring Li Shang, he immediately ran in the direction that His Majesty had went. “Your Majesty, Your Majesty… I need to borrow that Death Warding Imperial Doctor for a while, this is an emergency.”
All the ministers in the Imperial Court stumbled.
[*TL: Dugu Zongheng is not the Housemaster of the number one great family, he is the number one Housemaster amongst the great families. A bit confusing…]
[**TL: In the earlier chapters, the author had Sun Chenghe take the role of Vice Minister of Ministry of Justice. However, in this chapter, he is now the Minister of Rites. Apparently, Sun Chenghe is a multitasker…]
[TL: Tough shank is used for “滚刀肉” / “gǔn dāo ròu” which means a person who is hard to deal with. Btw, I am not Japanese. In fact, my grandparents had to live under Japanese occupation. If they are still alive, I doubt they will have anything good to say about Japan.]