All Under Heaven – Chapter 17

One mountain can’t have two tigers, let alone two old tigers.
Without them asking, Zhao Su began to recount how he had met the little princely heir, and everything else after that. He also let them know more about himself, where he was from and what he was doing in the Capital.

During this whole time, the little child was still sleeping on him, all Zhao Su wanted to do was throw him off but he didn’t want to do it in front of the child’s parents. Although he was now able to sit whilst speaking, he still had a heavy child hanging off his body which was quite uncomfortable.

Luckily, Zhu Yujin finally woke up.

As soon as he saw that his parents were there in front of him, he asked to come down by himself.

Zhao Su quickly put him in the arms of Consort Li.

Consort Li quickly embraced him tightly, and finally felt relieved. Although her face still had traces of lingering fear.

After exchanging a few plaisanteries, Consort Li took her leave with the child. With her status, to be able to welcome Zhao Su, was already a huge courtesy.

“I’m a little embarrassed, but I have only one son, it’s hard to not spoil him.” Zhao Su hadn’t acted surprised, but the Prince of Yu actually spoke out first.

Zhao Su smiled and said: “The Prince is too serious, whose parents in this world wouldn’t love their child. The Princely Consort’s motherly love has also reminded me of my mother.”

Not realising that his words had also made the Prince of Yu think about his own father, keeping silent for a moment.
Gao Gong seeing the Prince of Yu’s silence, he knew what he was thinking, so he changed the subject: “Since you are here for the metropolitan examination, I wonder what ranking you got in the provincial exam?”

“Well.. I actually won first place, but this time, the metropolitan exam is full of talented people, who knows, I may even come behind Sun Shan.”

Gao Gong and Chen Yiqin expressed astonishment, and couldn’t help sizing him up once more.

Since ancient times, talented people has raised from Jiangnan1江南 refers to to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, this phrase wasn’t false at all.

During the Ming dynasty imperial examinations, due to the land disparity in regions, Zhu Yuanzhang2Emperor Hongwu – first Emperor of Ming Dynasty divided the regions into North, South and Central, which were the biggest regions and he set a quota for each region. This was also to bring some impartiality and aid exam takers from more remote regions. Before this quota was put into place, most of the participants who succeeded the Imperial Examinations were all from Jiangsu, Zhejiang or Northwest of the Jiang River region.

So after the divisions were created, the candidates from Jiangnan were a separate group to the South.

Fujian and Guangdong and Guangxi no longer belonged with Jiangnan, but were regarded as the Southern Division. Due to various reasons, the overall level of candidates was slightly lower than that of those from Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Although this does not mean that there are no talents, it was the general opinion of the people. In the inherent impression, these places are not regarded as places of gathering of scholars at all.

To be able to gain first place in the Fujian provincial exam meant that Zhao Su was considered a talent. However, his worries were not baseless because this time he was not only up against Fujian candidates but top scholars from across the entire country

Gao Gong smiled and said: “I wouldn’t have imagined that you were actually the jieyuan. Prince, Zhao Su has earned some merits by bringing back the little princely heir. Why don’t we ask him to stay for dinner. Chen Yiqin and I have been on edge all evening, now we’re starting to get a bit hungry.

The Prince of Yu was worrying over what exactly he could offer Zhao Su as a reward. Although he was a prince, he had nothing precious to hand. To not offer up any reward would certainly make him lose face, but he couldn’t just go and tell Zhao Su to head to the reception hall and just randomly pick out an item on display there.

So hearing what Gao Gong had said, he immediately said: “Yes yes, Zhao, oh, Shaoyong, why don’t you stay here for dinner, taking care of the little princely heir all day, you must be tired.”

“Thank you, your Highness, I will happily accept.”

Although the manor was poor and couldn’t offer up extravagant luxuries, it still had some common items.

On the table lay five hot dishes: Shredded pork with capital sauce, sweetened pork shoulder, spinach and tofu soup, duck with green peppers, and steamed mandarin fish.

Three desserts: Palmiers, Dragon Beard Candy, Yellow Pease Pudding.

Four cups of almond tea were placed there, still steaming slightly.

The four of them sat down at the table.

The Prince of Yu smiled and said: “Alcohol is bad for the body, it’s not good to drink too much, so let’s use almond tea instead.”
Chen Yiqin agreed: “The Prince is right. Shaoyong, where do you live, is it convenient for you to get back from here?”

Zhao Su: “Thank you da-ren for asking, I recognise the road so it should be fine.”

Gao Gong laughed: “Who you calling da-ren, in the near future you will soon take up an official post so we’ll all be colleagues. We forgot to introduce ourselves, he is Chen Yiqin, Chen Zheng Fu, I am Gao Gong, courtesy name Su Qing3Not important but it’s the same Su as Zhao Su..

Why wasn’t it Zhang Juzheng?

This thought flashed across Zhao Su’s mind.

He didn’t know that Zhang Juzheng was recommended by Xu Jie to enter the Prince of Yu’s Manor as an Official in the 43rd year of Jiajing. Meaning that, there was another three years until his appearance.

Not being able to see this legendary figure, left Zhao Su a little disappointed. But the two men in front of him were also far from ordinary.

Gao Gong would enter into the Grand Secretariat in the next five years.

When he was at the Prince of Yu Manor, he had to deal with Yan Song and his son, and he had to help the Prince deal with Emperor Jiajing.

After becoming the Grand Secretary, he struggled against Xu Jie and the Imperial Censor. Then after that, he was finally relieved of his position by Zhang Yuzheng and met a gloomy ending.

One mountain can’t have two tigers4= There can only be one alpha, let alone two old tigers.

The Senior Grand Secretary of the Ming Dynasty was like the modern day Prime Minister. When the Emperor didn’t bother to deal with political affairs, this Senior Grand Secretary had even greater authority, it was almost equal to the modern day President and Prime Minister combined.

This position was highly coveted, everyone envied it and hoped to sit upon it.

But there could only be one. There were a lot of smart people, but only one position led to intense struggle and battle.

In comparison, Chen Yiqin’s reputation was a little more modest but he was also a future contender in the struggle.

At that moment, the future Emperor was sitting with Zhao Su and the two future Grand Secretaries laughing and chatting.

The Prince of Yu of today however still had to pass his days in fear with his tail tucked between his legs.

The Gao Gong and Chen Yiqin of today were also wholly unaware of their own future.

Gao Gong, who was described in the history books as “impatient and intolerable”, spoke to Zhao Su in a gentle tone.

Or because it was because he had not yet experienced the meritorious climb in his career Zhao Su thought to himself whilst standing up. He cupped his hand to pay respects to the two elders: “My teacher would often mention the two of you, I have been yearning to meet you both!”
This was naturally just flattery. In the Imperial Court at that time, Gao Gong and Chen Yiqin were not the brightest stars in the sky, let alone the most strong-willed. They were silently hidden in the Prince of Yu Manor. Dai Gongwang had only mentioned a few words about these two people, but such kind words were indeed the easiest way to get closer to each other.

As expected, Gao Gong was surprised and asked: “Your teacher is?”

“My teacher’s surname is Dai, his name is Gongwang…”

Before he had even said anything, Chen Yiqin clapped his hands together suddenly: “Oh it’s Dai Zhongfu!”

Seeing that Gao Gong was still a bit clueless, Chen Yiqin explained to him: “When Yang Jisheng was wrongly executed, Dai Zhongfu went everywhere trying to get justice but in the end he was dismissed from his post.”

Gao Gong remembered: “Oh it’s him!”

Zhao Su said: “My teacher is indeed unyielding, I am in admiration!”

Zhao Su sighed: “He is still regretful today of not being able to save Yang Jisheng back then.”

It was widely known that the the situation with Yang Jisheng was a miscarriage of justice, but the power that Yan Song and his son held in the imperial court was unparralleled. They could only sigh in regret.

The Prince of Yu saw the atmosphere was turning gloomy, so he quickly said: “Today is Winter Solstice, let’s pass this holiday well and not mention any more of this. Since your teacher is an old acquaintance of Tutor Gao, then it means we are all friends here!”

Gao Gong raised his spirits, and smiled: “The Prince is right, Shaoyong you managed to seize first place at the provincial exam, how did you answer the essay question?”

With the addition of his relationship with Dai Gongwang, the relationship between the others immediately took a qualitative leap. Plus, the four people were not too difficult to get along with, at least at this precise moment. Although the Prince of Yu was a prince, he was the least temperamental of the four. In addition, Zhao Su was gentle and upright and he spoke modestly. After eating, they continued to chat, which also gave Gao Gong and others a good impression of him.
Palace of Eternal Longevity.

Yan Song was sitting on the stool, his hands up in his sleeves, his eyes were empty, and he didn’t say a word.

Jiajing, seeing Yan Song’s age, allowed him to sit when he was addressing him. Others did not have this honour.

At this moment, the Emperor with a messy head of hair and wearing Daoist robes was pacing back and forth.

“How was the little princely heir lost? When did this happen? How come no one from the Prince of Yu manor has come to report, and instead it’s you who has come first?” He asked three questions in succession, his voice reverberating in the spacious main hall.

Yan Song remained unmoved, speaking slowly as before: “In response to your Majesty, this old Official was about to go to bed when I heard a commotion outside and it was some people coming to report that the little princely heir was lost. The Prince of Yu Manor is in disarray and everyone has gone out in search. This old official, thinking that this was no small matter, hurriedly came to the palace to report it. Should we send the Warden’s Office of the Five Wards to search or send the Embroidered Uniform Guard, please could your Majesty advise.”

He came to the palace late at night to report the Emperor on the one surface it was to ask for his majesty’s instruction but there was also another side to this matter.

Firstly, he wanted to see the reaction of the Emperor towards the Prince of Yu. If he really cared about his grandson he would immediately send the soldiers to search, he may even impose that everyone in the Capital to search. But if the Emperor didn’t do anything, then that would be worth pondering over. If he wasn’t even bothered about the grandson, would he care about his son at all?

Secondly, it was to show his own loyalty. With this situation, the Emperor’s own son hasn’t come to report, but he on the other hand ran straight to the palace to report it. Who is more devoted?

  Jiajing evidently also knew this, he seemed to calm down a bit.

“I heard that your wife has been ill in bed lately, and you’ve not had much sleep because of this. Don’t worry too much and get sick because of this.”

Yan Song slowly got up, and bent over to bow: “Thank you your Majesty, my wife is also old, we have been together since we were young. It is hard to not keep this matter in mind…”

After he finished speaking, he took his sleeve and wiped the corner of his eyes.

Jiajing seemed moved and said warmly: “Here are some immortality elixirs that Daoist Master Tao made for me before he got sick, why don’t you take it back home with you and let your wife use it.”
The corner of his mouth twitched, Yan Song quickly replied: “The immortality elixirs made by Daoist Master Tao should be left for your Majesty to become immortal. My wife is just a common woman and does not deserve such an extravagant gift!”

Although he continued to refuse, because the Emperor insisted, after three or four refusals, Yan Song could no longer refuse and accepted his gift.

Jiajing watched as the box of immortality elixirs were given to Yan Song, seemingly rather distressed, he said: “There are only three left, you take it. Either take it yourself, or give it to your wife.”

In his eyes, it is a blessing for an Official to be able to be given the elixir and become immortal with the Emperor. He didn’t know that Yan Song was silently vomiting blood in his heart, but he had to pretend to be happy and thank the Emperor.

As soon as Yan Song left, Jiajing’s face immediately darkened.

His personal attendant, Huang Jin, was standing to the side trying to discern what the emperor was thinking, he quickly advanced and in a low voice said: “Your Majesty is too kind, you gave all the immortality elixirs to old Yan, what will you use now?”

Jiajing waved his hand and then sighed: “More can be made, Yan Song has served me for such a long time, seeing his distress, I felt the need to do something.” He paused then changed the subject: “Anyway, over at the Prince of Yu manor, such a big problem has arisen but they have tried to keep it from me. Is my own son no better than an Official?”

After saying that, Jiajing’s face flushed, his chest continued to rise and fall, no one couldn’t tell whether it was anger or excitement.

Huang Jin hurriedly stepped forward to stroke his back and told someone to bring over some hot soup. He whispered to comfort him: “Your Majesty, don’t get angry. You have just taken the immortality elixir and the Daoist Master left specific instructions that you mustn’t get worked up after using it. Maybe the Prince of Yu was afraid to disturb your Majesty this late night so didn’t dare to report it. But Grand Secretary Yan has been with you for so many years, so he naturally knows a little better!”

Jiajing sighed, after a while he finally said: “I was so clever, how did I raise these two disappointing sons, both are useless and timid!”

“Huang Jin, before there were numerous officials who came to complain about Yan Song, saying that he is crafty and guilty of innumerable crimes, but in this world, he is the only one that truly understands me. Sometimes, I think it would be better to not have these two useless sons and just do what my royal cousin did and choose a vassal prince as my heir!”

Huang Jin was greatly shocked, he quickly fell to his knees and exclaimed: “Your Majesty!”

The royal cousin that Jiajing was talking about was the former emperor Zhengde, he had lived a life of pleasure but when he died he had no heir, so he had to choose Jiajing who was a vassal prince. However, Jiajing had two sons, since ancient times, there hasn’t been an Emperor who would give up on his own sons to go and choose an heir from somewhere else. If word got out about what Jiajing had said, it would cause chaos.

“Get up, I was joking!” Jiajing looked over at him. He was not in a good mood.

He had just said that casually, but Huang Jin was scared out of his wits, he rubbed the sweat off his brows, he stood up and smiled: “This servant is a coward, your Majesty shouldn’t scare me!”

“You send people separately to the Embroidered Uniform Guards and the Eastern Depot, and ask them to find the Princely Heir. When they find him, get them to report back immediately. If necessary, they can close the City Gates and search the whole Capital.”

Huang Jin nodded, and thought to himself, the Emperor does still favour the Prince of Yu. Then, he remembered that the Emperor had just said that he wanted to abandon the two Princes and choose a vassal Prince in their place, which sent a cold shiver down his spine.

Unfortunately, the much-anticipated Zhang Juzheng is really not at the Prince of Yu Manor at this time ==.

It’s not as easy as writing JQ5奸情 - refers romantic relationship between two people. When I get home from work every night, my life is basically just writing, and I eat while I’m updating ……

I would like to write more about the JQ between the MC and ML, but first I must keep the plot moving with characters such as Yan Song and the Emperor, in order to pave the way for the plot later on, I don’t know if it’s boring for everyone to read?

13/12/21 – Links added, reformatted.
28/12/21 – Added ‘Uniform’ back in for Embroidered Uniform Guard.

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