Chapter 269 – Why Not Get Straight to the Point?
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
The Rong estate didn’t have lanterns? Zhang Bo, do you believe that if all the lanterns in the Rong estate were burned, the ashes would be more than enough to bury you to the point that your corpse won’t be found for 50 years?!
Jing Rong looked around him before lowering his voice. “This matter is not suitable to be discussed here. This Prince only wants to inspect the lanterns.”
Zhang Bo also pressed down his voice. “It’s fine. Please come this way, your Highness.”
Hence, they left for the warehouse where the lanterns were stored. Jing Rong also ordered the people inside to withdraw. Inside the place, there were up to 30 to 40 trunks of folded lanterns. Some were already emptied and their contents were neatly arranged to the side.
He sniffed, but he was unable to detect the odor of sulfur. However, he did manage to smell the scent of sticky paper. Unfortunately, he didn’t have Ji Yunshu’s keen sense of smell. It was truly a feat to be able to smell sulfur from a stain on Shi Zijin. So, it wasn’t strange that Jing Rong couldn’t ascertain anything.
Jing Rong picked up a lantern and turned it around before smelling it. At such a close distance and with great concentration, he could finally smell that hint of sulfur.
“Bring the fire starter,” Jing Rong ordered.
Zhang Bo quickly fetched one and inquired, “Is there a problem with the lanterns?”
“I don’t know, but let’s test it.”
Following that, he lit a candle, put it inside the lantern and hung him. All that was left was to wait. They both stared at the lantern for a long time in silence – Jing Rong stood in silence and Zhang Bo followed suit.
After an hour, the lantern which didn’t show any change suddenly burst in flames. In the blink of an eye, there was only ashes left on the floor. The lantern had exploded into nothingness like a beautiful firework.
Jing Rong didn’t show any surprise unlike Zhang Bo who was scared witless. On the contrary, he looked down to inspect what was left of the lantern while Zhang Bo gawked at the unexpected explosion.
“Your Highness, why did the lantern explode?” he asked, still not over his emotions.
“It’s because there’s sulfur and black powder on it.”
“Sulfur and black powder?”
Zhang Bo was still skeptical, hence he hurriedly fetched another lantern and started to inspect it. He disassembled and smelled it, but no matter how he flared or wrinkled his nostrils, he was unable to detect the sulfur and black powder.
Oh please! Go see the doctor to change that nose of yours.
“The smell of the sulfur and black powder are mostly overpowered by the smell of the glue on the lantern. This is why it’s very hard to smell it.”
Of course, this Prince can because I am unlike other people.
“Your Highness’ nose is quite amazing!” Zhang Bo praised him in awe.
Jing Rong’s expression stayed solemn. He felt complicated inside – a sentiment showed through the clenched fists in his sleeves.
To think that old man is this ruthless!
The seriousness of this matter was beyond Zhang Bo. He stared at the lanterns and felt a growing headache. “Your Highness, why were sulfur and black powder added to the lanterns?”
Jing Rong shook his head.
Zhang Bo added, “I will immediately send people to notify the Imperial Clan Bureau.”
Jing Rong stopped him before he left. “This matter cannot be spread. Imperial Father’s birthday is in two days. No disturbance can be allowed.” He spoke with severity.
“You should understand the seriousness of this matter. This Prince had come to inspect the lanterns personally as I don’t want people to get wind of it. This problem should be settled quietly.”
Jing Rong had made his intention clear.
He still noticed Zhang Bo’s hesitation, so he showed his noble bearing which deterred anyone’s refusal. “Lord Zhang, this time your Dispatch Bureau is working together with the inner court since the Emperor’s birthday and the Crown Princess’ selection are being held at the same time. Both are major events, so you can’t afford to make a single mistake. If at this critical juncture, the bureau publically let such a grave problem be known, I am sure you know what the result will be – you will not be able to escape from the responsibility of this.”
Zhang Bo trembled. He would be involved despite being innocent. Prince Rong was quite right. In the worst case, this could also implicate the whole Dispatch Bureau, and he won’t be able to keep his position. It might even ended up involving his family.
In his anger, the Emperor could order his whole family’s three generations to be beheaded. How could he bear to sacrifice so many innocent lives like this?
In the end, by prudence, he probed Jing Rong’s intention. “What does your Highness mean?”
Jing Rong spoke without hesitation, staring straight into his eyes. “Immediately change all the lanterns.”
“Or do you have another way?”
Of course he doesn’t!
Zhang Bo complied. “Yes, as you wish. Those lanterns are all from Fangshui, do you want to…”
Jing Rong interrupted his last word with a glance. “Lord Zhang, I will handle this matter. You only need to handle the lanterns. Don’t be too wordy as to avoid the scrutiny of the capital yamen and the supreme court.”
After some pondering, he nodded in agreement.
At the fastest speed, he replaced all the problematic lanterns.
That night, Jing Rong made a trip to the Li Mansion.
When the servants saw him arrive, they immediately went to notify their master. However, even after a long time, there was still no response from Old General Li. The pageboy that was attending Jing Rong was trembling in fear. His master’s temper was too wayward, so this wasn’t unusual. If Old General Li didn’t want to see someone, even if that person was the Emperor himself, that person could wait for an indefinite amount of time. However, the person waiting was still a prince, so how could a lowly pageboy not get nervous?
Fortunately for him, Jing Rong wasn’t in a hurry. He drank tea while he waited. After several cups of tea, he heard a cough.
Old General Li finally arrived, his charisma not decreasing despite his age.
Jing Rong immediately got up and greeted him.
“I never expected that the child I have not seen for many years has grown into a valiant and refined prince.”
Jing Rong was only 6 years old when he last saw Old General Li 18 years ago.
Jing Rong smiled in response.
After they both saw down, Old General Li rotated the cup of tea in front of him without drinking it.
“It has been more than ten years since the last time you came to the capital. Why did you suddenly decide to return now?” Jing Rong went straight to the topic.
“I came to see an old friend,” or so the old man explained.
“You are a senior at the imperial court. At your age, longing for an old friend is normal, but from what this Prince knows, the people that could be considered your long time acquaintance in the capital numbered at zero.”
The number of people that could be considered Old General Li’s close friends could only be counted on one hand.
The old man simply laughed after hearing Jing Rong’s words. He squinted his eyes which sparkled like the moonlight. He carelessly leaned back in his chair and appeared as if he was asleep.
Fortunately, Jing Rong knew of his queer temper, so he patiently waited.
He resumed to his tea tasting and was prepared to waste time.
After a long while, Old General Li finally spoke. “Your Highness, why don’t you tell me the reason for your visit? Last time, Teacher Ji was also like that. That something-Qin was beating around the bush too much, so your Highness should refrain learning from him.”
Jing Rong wanted to burst into a laugh when he heard how Old General Li called Qin Shiyu. Truly the same as always.
Jing Rong got up and walked further into the reception hall. He turned his back to Old General. “Did you not wait for this day for a long time now?” His deep voice was heard.
Old General Li didn’t answer, but his mouth was stretched into a smile.
Grenn’s Rants Corner
Now that I think about it, Ji Yunshu and Jing Rong have to have iron bladder to drink that much tea without the urge of going to the bathroom. I mean it will be impolite to leave Old General Li every 30 minutes.