Fu Zhiyu listened to Caimei’s gossip that Momo Gui from Linyue Tower had a conflict with Hua Ruixuan at some point. Momo Gui was used to being a tyrant in the palace. Although her master had told her not to cause trouble for the time being, she couldn’t swallow her anger. She felt that some unpopular concubine in the palace couldn’t afford to make any waves, so she still found a chance and confronted Ah Ye, the maid of the Thirteenth Prince, this time targeting the birth mother of the Thirteenth Prince.
The birth mother of the Thirteenth Prince Fu Yanran was just a meiren (lit. “a beauty”, a low-ranked member of the harem). Fu Zhiyu remembered that she seemed to be a palace lady who was accidentally favoured by Fu Qingyan. Emperor Qingyuan had forgotten her after sleeping with her once. Even though she gave birth to a prince, she was not remembered. She was not even the master of Hua Ruixuan. She was timid by nature, serving people as long as she remembered. After becoming the mother of a prince, she still had no air of authority. When facing Momo Gui, she would only cry. Both she and Ah Ye were completely controlled by Momo Gui and didn’t dare to resist. This time Momo Gui was smart. She didn’t choose the imperial garden, she went directly to the side hall of Hua Ruixuan, the place that was hardly different from the cold palace. There was no point to scream for help there, no one would listen.
But just when Ah Ye was almost tortured to death, Fu Yanran came back.
As soon as he came in, he saw his mother in an extremely wretched state. It rained a little that day, and her clothes were in disarray. She had welts on her body, as if she was beaten with a whip. She knelt on the ground in this weather, trembling with cold, and didn’t dare to get up. Ah Ye lay there unconscious, nearly dead, and the entire place was in chaos, the scene of a real tragedy.
This child, Fu Yanran, was unexpectedly smart, reacting much faster than last time. He yelled on the spot, desperately grabbed Momo Gui’s hand to prevent her from leaving, and then began to scream. In fact, Hua Ruixuan’s master, Consort Jun, had heard the noise a long time ago and knew what was going on, but she didn’t dare to interfere. However, Fu Yanran shouted that he was going to hit the pillar and kill himself, and everyone would pay for it.
The unpopular prince was also a prince. If he really died, he was going to enter the imperial mausoleum. There would be an investigation. The Imperial Court of the Judicial Review would work hard to make up for the fact they hadn’t found anything in the Wang Zhao incident last time. Then it would be impossible for the emperor not to know about this matter.
The prince in the side hall of Hua Ruixuan was killed. The prince’s birth mother was obviously injured. The maidservant was almost tortured to death. The whole room seemed to be swept by a tornado. There was no need to investigate, the problem was obvious at first glance. At that time, Linyue Tower would not be in trouble, it would be Consort Jun, the master of Hua Ruixuan, who would naturally have to bear the blame for this crime.
She couldn’t sit still anymore, so she immediately took the eunuchs and palace maids and went out.
But if one Consort Jun was not enough, the Crown Prince Fu Lingxiao, whether really passing by and hearing the noise or having planned it a long time ago, came in with a bunch of guards and eunuchs at the most chaotic moment.
Fu Yanran, this little guy, was really a cruel person. He clearly knew that the Crown Prince was here, and Momo Gui couldn’t escape under the noses of so many people. Her hand was released, but instead, as if he had suffered a great grievance, Fu Yanran cried out and literally hit the pillar in full view of everyone, breaking his head, bleeding and passing out on the spot.
After Fu Zhiyu heard it, he had to applaud Fu Yanran. He did what he said, he dared to plan and act on his plan. He was really powerful and ruthless.
There was really no such thing in the previous life as Momo Gui bumping into Ah Ye on the way to deliver medicine to Fu Rongli. At this time in Fu Zhiyu’s previous life, Linyue Tower was still in lockup. How could there be any medicine to take? Naturally there was no such a conflict.
The butterfly effect was causing a hurricane that was getting bigger and bigger.
In fact, this matter could be big or small. A single consort who knew the truth couldn’t make too many waves; Linyue Tower had many ways to deal with her. But there was Fu Lingxiao involved.
This was an additional problem for Linyue Tower in the midst of anxiety over the imperial examination fraud case.
Fu Lingxiao was someone who was good at adding fuel to the fire. Fu Yanran had used his strength and the injury on his forehead was not fake. Emperor Qingyuan really didn’t care about this son but he was angry that Linyue Tower was arrogant and domineering to such an extent that a slave dared to bully a master unscrupulously.
Emperor Qingyuan’s suspicion reached its peak at this time. The most untouchable bottom line in his life was to be hoodwinked and controlled by others. He felt that the Xue family and Linyue Tower seemed to have put the knife to his neck, and it made him feel extremely furious from the bottom of his heart.
At this time, Fu Zhiyu was a little hesitant to help Fu Rongye indirectly, for example, to give him some inside information about the fraud case. As long as there was a note or a sentence, with Fu Rongye’s ability, he could grab a life-saving straw and investigate it. It would be a matter of time before the truth was discovered and it would lead to Fu Lingxiao directly.
Fu Zhiyu didn’t want to see one side have the advantage. This meant that the situation couldn’t get chaotic. Only when the sides were equal in strength could it be possible for them to completely shed the pretence of civility and fight openly. Fu Zhiyu hoped that this point in time would come a little earlier.
However, in the past few days, it was okay to let Linyue Tower suffer a little bit, so that they could learn not to bully people all the time. If you kick the iron plate, you will eat the bitter fruit yourself.
But before it was Fu Zhiyu’s turn to make a move, someone else popped up.
It was the top scorer Shen Yang. After the censors found out that he was involved, the Ministry of Justice arrested him in the Hanlin Academy the next day and put him in jail. He was naturally questioned under torture. But the evidence had not been completely collected yet; also, Shen Yang was a scholar, so the Ministry of Justice was merciful and didn’t hit him too hard.
However, Shen Yang denied everything and said that he had evidence and a witness.
Once this witness was mentioned, the Ministry of Justice didn’t dare to do anything. It was Grand Master Xu.
Grand Master Xu was in his eighties and he was already exempted from the daily morning court sessions by the emperor, who was afraid that if he had to get up early and go to court in the cold and heat, it would be bad for his health.
Some time ago, Grand Master Xu fell ill and took a leave of absence. He didn’t show up for several months in a row. He even rejected such a big task as the imperial examination. Now he stood, leaning on crutches and wearing an official uniform solemnly, wanting to testify for his student Shen Yang in front of the emperor.
On the way to the Yuan residence last time, Fu Zhiyu saw Shen Yang walking out of Grand Master Xu’s house contentedly. He thought She Yang was just paying respects to his benefactor at that time. Now it seemed that his thinking was too simple.
The friendship between the teacher and the student was not enough to make Grand Master Xu wade into this muddy water. Shen Yang must have had conclusive evidence to prove that he was innocent.
This made Fu Zhiyu feel extremely puzzled. Why did Shen Yang have evidence? Where did he learn all this?
On the day he went to the Yuan residence, there was only a hint of the fraud case. Fu Rongye and the Xue family had just received the news. How did Shen Yang know all this in advance and went to find Grand Master Xu first?
Weird, so weird.
The fraud case was about to be wrapped up, but because of Shen Yang’s evidence, it was overturned.
Investigating cases these days was slow and it was difficult to collect evidence, but Shen Yang was like a prophet covered in whip marks, leading the Imperial Court of the Judicial Review to follow the traces and investigate smoothly, verifying his ideas step by step and putting the “truth” of the whole case in front of the emperor.
Although the process went smoothly, the matter was so important that the court investigated it from spring until early summer, when the truth was finally revealed.
The final outcome was not what Fu Zhiyu expected, but it was exactly what he wanted, and it was a bit like the ending in the original book.
The scope of the fraud case had been narrowed a lot. Everyone, including Shen Yang, was completely cleared of suspicion, and some unscrupulous officials were arrested. The highest among them was the fourth-rank official. The Xue family and the Third Prince who were in charge of the current imperial examination were just guilty of not being strict enough and were punished with some fines that didn’t hurt, just itched, which was much better than could have been.
However, the emperor was still very wary of the Xue family because of the Thirteenth Prince’s incident. One thing set off the other. The Xue family had been tossing for so long but they hadn’t gotten the slightest benefit, just suffered a lot of dumb losses.
The Crown Prince didn’t get much benefit either, and the subsequent investigation was actually stopped by the emperor. Emperor Qingyuan had some conjectures about who planned to splash dirty water on the Xue family but it was difficult to find evidence now.
No one benefited from this matter; strictly speaking, apart from two people.
One was Shen Yang. After this incident, the emperor really valued him and arranged for him to enter the Ministry of Justice. Although his rank was still not high, the fifth, anyone with a discerning eye could see that the emperor intended to cultivate him and his promotion would be a matter of time. He and Xie Ke together increasingly became the leaders of the younger generation in the dynasty, one among scholars and one in the military.
The other was Fu Yanran.
The emperor seemed to feel that the Third Prince and the Crown Prince were gradually beginning to be disobedient. No matter which one of these two he chose, he couldn’t remain the emperor with peace of mind. But fortunately, there were many children in the palace; so what if they were from a worse background? That was how they could be controlled and kept in obedience. How could he feel at ease if everyone was as powerful as the eldest and the third princes, more powerful than he, the emperor?
Fu Yanran, this child, really surprised Fu Qingyan. He did his homework very well, and he had some potential in both civil and martial arts, but he hadn’t been seriously taught by a good teacher. Yet, he was still young now, and he still had time.
Fu Qingyan began to consciously train Fu Yanran. After the forehead injury was healed and after having him taught him according to his ideas for a month, the emperor went to see him again. The result was unexpectedly good; Fu Yanran didn’t lose to the Crown Prince and Fu Rongye.
However, Emperor Qingyuan felt privately that Fu Yanran was still not as good as the previous Zhiyu.
With the kind of life Fu Yanran had lived before, now that he was given a chance, he naturally grabbed whatever he could to climb up. Even if he didn’t sleep, he would read a book, hungrily trying his best to grasp everything available to him.
Fu Qingyan was pleasantly surprised and began to pay attention to other princes he hadn’t paid attention to before.
The Third Prince aside, the Fifth Prince was really not smart. In the past, there were not many children in the palace and the emperor had cultivated them all. But if the mud can’t hold the wall, forget it. Next were Zhiyu and Rongli, then the Eleventh Prince, and then the Thirteenth Prince Fu Yanran. The Sixteenth Prince was only three years old and the youngest Eighteenth was less than one year old; the rest were all princesses.
Wait, the Eleventh Prince?
Fu Qingyan rummaged through his memory hard, trying to remember this child.
The Eleventh Prince Fu Yanxi, who was thirteen years old this year, was from a much better background than Fu Yanran. His grandfather was Grand Master Li, but he had been dead for ten years. His mother, Consort Yue, was not much of a beauty. Fu Qingyan had married her back then to bring in some power. After a short while, he ignored her.
It took Fu Qingyan a long time to recall why he didn’t like Consort Yue.
The Li family was bookish. The woman had been studying since she was a child and was talented, but Emperor Qingyuan was only interested in her talents for a while. Then he felt that she was too boring. She was reading books every day and was lukewarm to him. Once he came to visit her, and she was still holding a book in her hand, which was really crazy. The Eleventh Prince was the same as Consort Yue, addicted to books. There was no harm in reading more, but too much was too much.
Emperor Qingyuan remembered that when Fu Yanxi was eight years old, he checked the child’s homework and misremembered a word in the “Theory of Resources and Governance”. Fu Yanxi pointed it out on the spot with a serious expression that didn’t give the emperor any face. Even when Emperor Qingyuan was going to leave, he was told by Fu Yanxi insistently: “Although Father Emperor is busy, he must keep working hard. Otherwise, what can he do if his deficiency is exposed?”
Fu Qingyan: “???”
How can a child this old educate me? Did I give birth to a teacher for myself?
But the emperor couldn’t be angry with an eight-year-old boy; it would make him look narrow-minded. He treated it as the words of a child, but after that, he never went to Consort Yue’s palace again, so as not to make himself angry.
Now it seemed that Fu Yanxi’s ignorance of etiquette was not that important. Just teach more rules, and if he spoke bluntly… At least he was honest.