choice," Chen Pingping explained slowly
The emperor seemed to be a bit convinced. "Let me think about it. You take care of your body; you should easily have ten or twenty years left. No need to hurry."
"Yes." Seeing his goal for today had been achieved, Chen Pingping saluted the emperor and took his leave. One of the palace girls was already here to push him out.
The emperor stood up, his eyes remaining closed for a long time. He opened them suddenly and watched the wheelchair make its way out of the palace. He never suspected Chen Pingping’s loyalty, but he did question why that woman always on the mind of that old dog. To obtain all possible authority for the sake of that child—thinking of whom, a flash of gentleness suddenly appeared on His Majesty’s face for an instant. The two had never met, so His Majesty wanted to see him sometimes.
After the palace girl pushed his wheelchair out of the palace, another servant took over and pushed him to the gates, where the men from the Council helped him to get on the carriage. The carriage proceeded along Zhuque Avenue, its wheels rolling over the stone pavement and making a rhythmic noise. However, after a while it still hadn’t left the inner city.
The road towards the east was very quiet and the day was getting dark now. The carriage found a secluded spot and stopped. There, another carriage was waiting. The attendants of the two carriages seemed not to know each other, but they silently left their carriages in sync and formed a somewhat secretive circle of defense.
The two carriages were close to each other. At the same time, the occupants lifted up their curtains and Chen Pingping and Fan Xian’s father looked at each other. Chen Pingping became angry at the sight of that proper face. "You took the moment when I’m not here to ask His Majesty to set up a nice marriage for your son!"
Seeing him getting angry, Fan Jian was neither afraid nor tense. With a smile, he said, "Four years ago, you ruined my thing. Now I’m merely trying to get even."
Chen Pingping said coldly, "That pile of stinking money, what’s so joy-worthy about it?"
Fan Jian shook his head. "Money is most important. Don’t forget, when the Council first came to be, had it not been for Xian’er’s mother, you would all probably be begging on the streets today."
"The current palace treasure is no longer the Ye household. If you Fans want to take over, you would only make matters worse. His Majesty forced the Ye family to acknowledge the illegitimate daughter in order for you to coexist peacefully with the prime minister. And, it’s done out of foresight to not let people know the princess married the prince," Chen Pingping laughed in mockery, "Listen to me and call off this marriage. It would be a good thing for you and him both."
"You think I don’t know what you’re planning?" Fan Jian frowned. "You always believed the eldest princess has something to do with what happened all those years ago. It’s been this long, you still have no evidence."
"That’s not the only reason. Even if His Majesty feels he owes him something, think about it: If His Majesty really hands the Ye household back to him, what’s going to happen to the Council? His Majesty had sworn to never allow anyone to possess two national weapons at the same time, not even him."
Fan Jian only frowned even more. "If you know that, then why make my son get involved in these things. Wouldn’t it be better to have him become a rich man?"
"And a rich man is easy to become?"
"With you and me in the capital, and the eldest princess having learned her lesson, the future years should be very peaceful."
Chen Pingping took on a chilling tone, "Don’t forget, your own… son, was almost killed a month ago."
Fan Jian looked at him in the eye. "That was my carelessness, not your problem. Had you not throw a tantrum and not returned to the capital when you should have, the capital would not have been shaken as much as it had been."
Chen Pingping asked calmly, "If your son really died like that, would you and I still have to spend so much effort?"
After some silence, Fan Jian said, "With this incident, I have a much bigger price to pay than you do. So, whenever there isn’t a choice, I hope you can respect my decision." Chen Pingping thought about it for a moment and agreed. Without saying another word, Fan Jian let down his curtain and gave the order. The two carriages parted and went on their separate ways.
Darkness enveloped the capital. In this night, black as ink, some people came together for mutual benefit, while others came together for the same ideals. Often times, they would separate because of the same reasons, only to wait for fate to reunite them again someday. Outside the palace complex, under the red walls, a sedan chair was proceeding slowly. At a distance behind it followed some entourage. The royal guards saw the sedan chair walking along the palace walls, but didn’t question it.
The sedan chair belonged to the prime minister. Every time Qing became plagued by issues, he would let people carry him on his sedan chair and circle around the palace walls. Some say he was using the dignified and quiet environment to think. Those who didn’t see him in a positive light thought his obsession with authority drove him to the point of perversion. The second year after Qing was founded, the southern region suffered from major floods. The prime ministers circled around the palace walls on his sedan chair and came up with a detailed plan for disaster relief the next day. His plan was clear enough. However, the treasury could not fulfill the financial demands. At such crucial times, some large sums of money entered the treasury from outside and provided backing for the prime minister’s disaster relief. The emperor too, of course, was glad.
This world’s people always say "The prime minister is akin to wickedness", as shown by his household. But when looking at the big picture, the prime minister had been very capable. Whether wicked or capable, under certain circumstances, the prime minister would revert back to his most basic roles, such as being a father. Today, he was circling around the palace walls without being interrupted because people knew his mood was at a low point due to his second son’s death.
It was gradually getting late. The red candles and lanterns were lit in the palace. The faint yellow light shone through the window and casted over the tall walls, but the area under the walls was still cloaked in total darkness. The sedan chair slowly made it to a secluded spot. Walking towards it from the opposite direction came a single lantern. After it had gotten close, another sedan chair could be seen.