"Don't worry, absolutely ok, because even if their people died, no one would dare to say a word about it. The deeper the chaos is, the better it will be for us." Yan Xun lifted his head and looked at the gray sky while muttering, "It is time to start."
After returning to Ying Ge court, the sky was already pitch black. The servant in charge of lighting up the area, Xiao Lizi, was standing at the door. When he saw Chu Qiao had returned safely he was overjoyed and ran up to her and said while smiling, "Miss, you have returned."
Chu Qiao raised her eyebrows and asked, "What happened?"
Xiao Lizi replied, "Nothing happened. Just now when the prince came back, he asked for you. When he heard you left, he took AhJing with him to go find you."
"Oh, how long have they been gone?" Chu Qiao nodded and replied.
"It has been awhile." Xiao Lizi replied while attentively making sure the lantern was lit. Suddenly, Chu Qiao headed towards the direction of Lan Tian garden. He immediately stood in her way and said, "Miss, there are slaves cleaning the snow, let's go his way."
Chu Qiao was stunned and raised her head slowly. She stared softly at him, not saying a word.
Xiao Lizi had an awkward expression on his face and murmured nervously, "That road is not easy to walk."
Chu Qiao looked serious and grabbed his arm. Just as she dragged him to the main entrance, they heard the soft and tender sounds of girls and servants bowing down on the floor. Chu Qiao stopped in her tracks and stood in front of the entrance. She was calm and waited for a long time before asking quietly, "Who sent them here?"
"Northwest Supervisor, Ji Wenting."
Chu Qiao frowned and said in a serious voice, "Him, again." Chu Qiao sounded angry. Xiao Lizi faltered and looked helplessly at her for fear that she would walk in.
In an instant, Chu Qiao swiftly turned her body around and walked towards her room. While walking, she said seriously, "Tell them to keep their voices down and not to disturb me."
Xiao Lizi stared into the distance, facing the direction of Chu Qiao's room, as he could not comprehend what she said. This place was quite far from Chu Qiao's room, no matter how loud the sound was, it was probably impossible for her to hear it from there.
During dinner time, people were sent to call for Chu Qiao. After calling twice, Chu Qiao did not come out. Prince Yan Bei sighed, but in his heart, he was secretly happy. Just as he was about to go into her room, Chu Qiao came out wearing all white. She was obviously wearing a men's dress; it seemed like she did not change out of it ever since she came back.
Yan Xun was stunned and asked, "AhChu, what were you doing just now?"
Chu Qiao raised her head and said with a calm expression, "I have a few questions that I want to discuss with you regarding the approval of the draft for Bian Yang Canal spring festival."
A wave of disappointment hit Yan Bei as he straightened his body and said, "Come and eat first."
"Okay." Chu Qiao nodded and replied, "I'm a little hungry." She sat down and started eating. Yan Xun frowned as he looked at Chu Qiao eating without speaking a word. He could not see any irritation or abnormal expression on her face. He began to feel bored.
It was very cold outside. There were sparse stars in the sky as the snow finally started to stop.
"The Bian Yang spring festival must be stepped up. Especially since the governor of the river was replaced, the water transport is not operating. Time is running out; we need to make plans." She put down her chopsticks, and her voice was cold. She pulled out a white paper from her arms and said while watching, "Li City's officer who is in charge of salt, came to work last month. He is Wei Fa's relative, Wei Yan. After he started work, he redesigned the process of salt transportation. The salt miners were not satisfied and uneasy. Lady Yu told us to be careful as people are always leery about change. This problem is related to both Shang Dang and Peng Ze family. In times of need, their actions play a big part. There needs to be a person to take over Xi Hua's position. I recommend He Qi to take over, what do you think?"
Yan Xun nodded his head and replied, "You see how it goes and then decide."
Seeing that Yan Xun was very restless, Chu Qiao raised her eyebrows and asked, "Are you tired?"
He replied, with no interest whatsoever, "I'm okay."
"You should rest." Chu Qiao said while standing up, "Prince of Tang will reach the imperial capital soon. The Emperor's birthday is approaching. The messenger from Huai Song is also on the way. The real deal is about to come. The rest will have to be put aside for the time being."
Yan Xun did not speak a word as he watched Chu Qiao turn around and leave. A maidservant, dressed in a robe, chased after her as their figured disappeared in the long corridor. He sighed quietly and leaned back in his chair while gently rubbing his temples. On this day, a secret message was sent. He needed to deal with court officials and royal members. All of those problems were much easier compared to the problems regarding Chu Qiao.
"AhJing," Yan Xun said softly, "send the women from Ji Wenting out."
"Prince?" AhJing was shocked and replied, "I thought you wanted to act like you are indulged by women? By doing so, I am afraid Ji Wenting would be disappointed. "
Yan Xun shook his head, let out a sigh and said, "Those who are deceived by such superficial means are not worthy worrying. Those we need to pay attention to will not be confused by this kind of play. Hence, it is better to be humane. Especially..." The next sentence was said very vaguely, and AhJing did not hear it clearly. Yan Xun's lips gently closed as he slowly closed his eyes. Compared to AhChu's trust, Ji Wenting was not worth mentioning. Although, she did not necessarily care.
Yan Xun comforted himself and thought, AhChu is still a child after all. Although, she never acted like a child.
"Your highness," Lu Liu ran back and handed him a box of instruments and said, "This is what Chu Qiao just approved."
Yan Xun flipped through the thick stacks of documents and was about to stop flipping when his eyes suddenly lit up and he said, "Why are these letters not open?"
The servant scratched her head and replied, "Chu Qiao said that saying nothing was more flattering than words. She told me to tell the messengers to let their masters think of something new next time."
Yan Xun was surprised and then revealed a hint of happiness in his expression. His eyes smiled and he handed the letter to AhJing while saying, "Just do as AhChu said." Then, he stood up and walked back to his study with light footsteps.
AhJing looked back in confusion. He looked down at the letter he was holding and saw that on the cover, there was a word "Ji" written on it. The paper also smelled fragrant.
On the second day, the vice general Cheng of the Dauntless Cavalry Camp sent over crossbows and shooting equipment for Chu Qiao to inspect. Chu Qiao's few young maids were so excited that they gesticulated with their hands and commented that no woman had ever become the Dauntless Cavalry Camp's coach! How those noble young masters would feel when they were taught by a fifteen year old girl.
As the group talked, Chu Qiao secretly listened. Not to mention the meaning of the Emperor's move, but could those high ranking officials stand being coached by a small woman? Even if they were very open-minded and her status was very high, it was quite impossible. After all, women faced discrimination in the army. No matter how brave they were, the rate of promotion was far less than that of men. After thinking, even someone as smart as her started to feel anxious.
"Miss Chu," AhJing suddenly walked up to her from behind and said, "the prince said that he would be back late tonight so you should eat first. There is no need to wait for him."
Chu Qiao was stunned. All these years, Yan Xun had always been low-key. Although the situation had been worse lately, he would never wander outside that late at night.
"Did anything happen?"
"No." AhJing smiled and replied, "Do not worry, Miss."
Seeing how he did not mention anything, Chu Qiao stopped asking.
At night, Chu Qiao did not eat as she was alone. She only ate some cakes while getting warm by the fire in her room as she was too lazy to move around. These two years, she had been running outside to cultivate the outside forces and had not had such a leisurely life in a long time.
Although the owner of Sheng Jin palace restrained his actions and did not allow him to leave the imperial capital, he was not very strict about the control over Yan Xun's men. Chu Qiao did not want to understand the intention of the Emperor. Is he ignoring the fact that Yan Xun's forces have been secretly developing? What is his plan?
In the current empire, the current country had been split into different parts. It was not something that could be easily solved by just a word from the emperor. Did the emperor really have the power to control the country?
Within the seven families in power, Mu of Ling Nan, Helian of Huai Yin, and Shang of Dong Yue had always been low-key and had remained neutral in all the fights. Over the years, although some people had the power and authority to exercise their rights and privileges, they had always maintained their position. Especially in recent years, Muhe and Wei's high profile allowed the rest of the families to lose power. However, these families accumulated their power from generation to generation. Temporary peace does not mean that there is no greed. Once they had the opportunity, they would certainly fight back to seek greater power. These people were like arrows in the night. It was impossible to know when these arrows would be shot.
However, the Muhe family, which had been very powerful had been gradually decreasing due to the death of Muhe Yunting, the previous generation's owner. The women in the family were respected, and Muhe Nayun was the Queen and gave birth to three sons, emperor Zhao Che, Zhao Jue and Zhao Teng. However, this was not enough to bring back the family's name and power. Before this, Muhe had always been supporting Zhao Jue to be the emperor to help bring the family up again and become better than the Presbyterian. However, he was killed by the Emperor. Zhao Teng was still young. The Muhe family had no choice but to support Zhao Che to become the emperor. However, Zhao Che did not like his mother's plans for him. Hence, he did not obey her desires and caused their relationship disseminate.
Some families were happy while some families were sad. Muhe was worried, but Wei Fa was very delighted. Wei Guang had been waiting for this chance for many years and finally accumulated enough strength to take today's throne. Even though Shu Guifei had been living in the palace for many years, the emperor did not love her. Hence, her position was below the Empress. The emperor had always liked Zhao Qi and Zhao Song. At a young age, Zhao Song was granted a high, royal position. After Zhao Che, Zhao Song was the one who got a piece of land from the emperor. Zhao Qi had a lot of power in his hands as the emperor trusted him. The Wei family then started to rise again.
The Batuha family came from another nation. One hundred years ago, they were the emperor of the northeast area. After the Emperor claimed them, they became ministers in the Presbyterian. However, the other families did not like them as they were the "outsiders". Hence, the Batuhas started to try to get closer to the Muhe family. Now that the Muhe family has lost their power, Batuha also began to follow suit.