Reward and Punishment
Zhang Yuan’s announcement of the arrival of the Emperor caused everyone in the hall to kneel. Even the usually disrespectful Xuan Tian Ming had a stern and serious expression.
Feng Yu Heng pulled Xiang Rong down and loudly said with the other officials: “Long live our Emperor!”
After this salute, the Emperor finally walked to the hall’s stage after a long time. Sitting down on his imperial throne and facing the officials, he gently raised his hand: “Everyone, please rise.”
Only then did everyone noisily stand up; however, they continued to keep their heads lowered. Everyone was speculating. After the night of chaos, there was a day off for the morning court session, and things had returned to normal today. Exactly what sort of decision would the Emperor make today.
Someone turned their attention toward the fourth prince, Xuan Tian Yi, and found that he had a calm expression; however, his eyes no longer had any of its former glory or anticipation. All that remained was hopelessness and anger.
There were others that looked in the direction of Feng Yu Heng and Xiang Rong. They thought to themselves that if county princess Ji An came to court, there must be something good to come.
Of course, Feng Yu Heng receiving something good from the Emperor would not be unexpected for everyone. After all, Feng Yu Heng’s merits were there for all to see. She would receive the benefits that were due to her. They were just wondering if the Emperor would do as the officials had speculated, using this chance to choose a crown prince.
Everyone’s hearts were filled with doubts. After the Emperor sat down, he did not speak for a long time. He just looked down with cold eyes. When his gaze landed on Xuan Tian Yi, there was a look of disappointment that could not be hidden.
Xuan Tian Yi was also a little moved. He moved his mouth a little, wanting to say something; however, he was unable to think of anything to say.
The first person to step forward to break this awkward atmosphere was the governor, Xu Jing Yuan. As a leader of the capital, since something huge had happened in the capital, when he attended court once more, he was carrying two scrolls. One had information on the enemy troops that were caught after the chaos had ended. The other was had an apology for his mistake and a voluntary resignation.
He walked out from the group of officials and stood in the middle of the hall. He then took two steps forward and handed them to a eunuch. He then swept his robe and kneeled in the middle of the hall and loudly said: “The chaos of the capital has already been investigated. The end result was that the third prince, Xuan Tian Ye, and the fourth prince, Xuan Tian Yi, as well as, the General of the East, Bu Cong, and the deputy leader of the North, Duan Mu Qing, are participants. The guilty official, Duan Mu Qing, has already passed away during the rebellion. This official has also arrested both of the princes under his Highness the ninth prince’s orders. Only Bu Cong has escaped. The citizens of the capital were slightly shocked, but there was not too much harm done. They have already returned to their daily lives without trouble. After he said this, he kowtowed to the Emperor three times and said: “This official is the governor and has shared your Majesty’s burdens while helping the citizens prosper for many months, but my merits cannot offset this. The most basic reason that this chaos could occur was a result of this official’s mistake. This official will not beg your Majesty to spare my life. I voluntarily resign, recognize my mistake and request death. This official just hopes that your Majesty will allow this official to help his Highness the ninth prince finish this investigation, such that an explanation can be given to your Majesty and the citizens. If that is the case, even if this official dies, it will be without regrets.”
He spoke seriously and without any greed. The Emperor knew that this Xu Jing Yuan was a part of his old ninth’s group, and he was an honest person that relied on hard work. He was very clear on right and wrong while hating evil like an enemy. He worked simply and neatly. He was naturally a little reluctant to kill him. But with such a disorderly night occurring under his watch as the leader, it would be impossible for him to not suffer any repercussions. Fortunately, this person was not foolish. He took the initiative to first announce the case then acknowledge his mistakes. This gave him some time and an opportunity to remain at ease.
The Emperor nodded and said: “Permitted.” He did not waste a single word. Just like this morning court session, the Emperor had already thought through what he needed to say and do. Including Xu Jing Yuan’s matters, everything was as he had expected. After seeing Xu Jing Yuan give his thanks then retreat into the group of officials, he cleared his throat and finally spoke, as he stated what the officials had been speculating. He said: “The Xiang Palace will belong to the national treasury once again starting in a few days. The servants and wives of the palace will be demoted to slaves and will never be permitted to return to the capital. Prince Xiang, Xuan Tian Ye will be stripped of his title and demoted to a common citizen. In three days time, he will be beheaded!”
Once the word beheaded was said, the fourth prince, Xuan Tian Yi, who had been putting on a calm front was no longer able to pretend. His legs trembled, and he immediately kneeled in the hall, causing a clear sound.
The officials all inhaled sharply. Seizing the palace and usurping the throne by force, even if he was a prince, he would not be able to avoid death. Everyone turned a sympathetic look toward the kneeling Xuan Tian Yi. They all understood that this fourth prince might not have much of a better end.
Sure enough, they heard the Emperor express: “The Ping Palace will belong to the national treasury once again starting in a few days. The servants and wives of the palace will be demoted to slaves and will never be permitted to return to the capital. Prince Ping, Xuan Tian Yi, will be stripped of his title and demoted to a common citizen. In three days time…”
“Father Emperor!” Xuan Tian Yi suddenly shouted. Kneeling on the ground, he wanted to crawl forward; however, he was suddenly stopped by the imperial guards that had come up. The same judgment and the same words, he was scared to listen to his father Emperor continue speaking. The following phrase would have been his beheading. He did not want to die. He was still in his 20s. He had not yet taken in an official princess. he had not brought private troops to batter the imperial palace’s gates. On what basis should he suffer the same ending as old third? He was truly afraid. Even if the imperial guards were holding him, he still desperately looked up and shouted at the Emperor: “Father Emperor, son knows his wrongs. It was all third brother’s urging that forced me to do it! Father Emperor!”
The more he shouted, the more despair that he felt. The more he shouted about not being in the wrong, the colder the Emperor’s eyes became. Finally, Xuan Tian Yi stopped shouting, and his body had run out of strength. The imperial guards saw that he stopped struggling, thus they let go and left the hall. Xuan Tian Yi stood up from the ground and kneeled once more. He did not say another word. He just kept his head lowered and remained kneeling, waiting for the final judgment.
He assumed that he was definitely going to die; however, when the Emperor spoke up once more, he heard him say: “Prince Ping, Xuan Tian Yi will be stripped of his title and demoted to a common citizen. In three days time, he will be imprisoned for life.”
This decision was unexpected for everyone. Even Feng Yu Heng was doubtful. She turned her gaze on Xuan Tian Ming and Xuan Tian Hua; however, she saw that the two were calm and composed. They did not look surprised in the slightest, thus she knew that they had definitely known what the Emperor had decided, but was there an external reason for the different treatment of the two sons?
She thought to herself about these things. She was not too interested in the affairs of the court, as she faintly heard Xuan Tian Yi thank the Emperor for his grace. The Emperor then said that imperial concubine Duan was sent to the cold palace. She simply decided not to listen to the following stuff. Only when Xiang Rong forcefully tugged at her sleeve did she recover mentally. Looking at Xiang Rong in confusion, she saw Xiang Rong desperately giving her a look. At this time, she heard the Emperor suddenly shout: “Feng Yu Heng!”
As a near conditioned response, she said: “Here!” Her voice was loud and clear, as though she had been called out in the military during her previous life.
This shout caused everyone to freeze. The officials were all dazed, with nobody understanding what sort of play county princess Ji An was putting on.
Xuan Tian Ming could not help but facepalm. This damn girl, what exactly was she thinking about?
It was Xuan Tian Hua that took the initiative to speak, using his usual calm voice to say to her: “Father Emperor called you. Quickly go up!”
Having been given this reminder, Feng Yu Heng immediately reacted and quietly cursed herself for being foolish. She quickly stepped forward and kneeled at the front of the hall.
The Emperor’s lips twitched, as a sudden urge to open up that kneeling girl’s head surfaced! What exactly was she thinking? To become absent-minded all the way to court, this really was an interesting story!
He looked at Xuan Tian Ming and saw that he was also looking back at him, thus he quickly shot him a look, saying: Your wife really is amazing.
Xuan Tian Ming, however, did not care at all, as he shot back a look saying: Only like this can she be considered my wife.
The Emperor smirked and quietly muttered: “Birds of a feather really do flock together.”
Zhang Yuan heard this from the side and quickly reminded him: “You’re in court!”
The Emperor rolled his eyes and did not continue. He just began to speak about the decisions that he had made last night, “County princess Ji An has the people of the world in her heart. During Da Shun’s floods, she did not worry about her own saftey and went out of the city to take care of the refugees, thus resolving a crisis. When Duan Mu Qing rebelled, county princess Ji An immediately left the city to give chase. Aside from this, county princess Ji An has produced steel for Da Shun. The weapons have already begun production, and General Ping Nan has personally tested one. She had performed great merits for Da Shun, and she has granted us her grace. Starting from today, she will be conferred the title of first rank imperial daughter Ji An. The current county princess’ manor will now be the imperial daughter’s manor. Additional land from Ji An county will be conferred. There will be a reward in gold, servants, cows, sheep and other livestock.”
Feng Yu Heng’s eyes grew wide, as she looked at the Emperor. She practically thought that she had misheard. She was just an official’s daughter. Even if she was to marry Xuan Tian Ming, even if she had done a great number of things for Da Shun, just conferring her the title of county princess was pretty good. The title of imperial daughter was something that was only conferred to the daughters of the imperial family!
Seeing her freeze up, the Emperor was a little embarrassed. Sighing, he asked: “Is there something that you are dissatisfied with?”
Feng Yu Heng quickly shook her head, “Daughter-in-law does not dare.”
The Emperor stomped his foot, “Then you should give your thanks!” He then glared at Zhang Yuan and quietly said: “What is it. Did you not tell her ahead of time? Look at how shocked she is.”
Zhang Yuan wiped away some sweat that was not there, saying: “This servant wanted to tell county pr… oh wait, wanted to give imperial daughter a pleasant surprise.”
The Emperor snorted, pleasant surprise? Looking at the girl, there was only surprise. There was no joy! He did not understand. How much glory was there in being conferred the title of imperial daughter! Why did this girl not appear to be happy?
Zhang Yuan reminded him in a timely manner: “The ninth princess and imperial daughter Wu Yang are good friends.”
The Emperor understood and quickly said: “We did not just confer a title to you alone today. Aside from you, my imperial family’s imperial daughter Wu Yang also went out. She also remained outside to take care of the refugees, providing them with congee. We remember all of these things. Today, you were conferred your title first. We still must give imperial daughter Wu Yang her award.”
Feng Yu Heng looked to the side and saw Xuan Tian Ge walk over to her side from outside the hall. She also kneeled before the Emperor said: “Imperial daughter Wu Yang, Xuan Tian Ge, will be promoted today to standard first rank Princess Wu Yang.The empty residence to the right side of the Wen Xuan Palace shall be conferred to you as the princess’ manor. Also, Ren Xi Feng, Fung Tian Yu and Bai Fu Rong have also performed great merits during this past flood. Thus the Ren family, the Fung family and the Bai family, these three families will be bestowed nine grants. The three girls will be conferred the titles of county princess.” After saying this, he finally waved his hand, “You can give your thanks!”