Wei Chongrong didn’t expect such a scene and was stunned for a moment. Before his brain reacted, his body dodged to the side out of the martial artist’s instinct, avoiding Jun Hua’s dull, non-threatening sword.
It would have been fine if Wei Chongrong had done just that; an unskillful child missed with a sword thrust, no big deal. But Jun Hua lunged forward so hard that he couldn’t stop himself and fell straight to the ground.
The little guy lay on the floor, threw his sword away and cried “woo woo”, either because he was in pain or because he felt humiliated.
Wei Chongrong loved Jun Hua with all his heart. Seeing this, he rushed over, picked him up and hugged him, comforting him softly: “Little Monkey, don’t cry, you are the bravest Little Monkey! Tell me quickly, where does it hurt?”
Jun Hua didn’t speak, he just cried non-stop, his tears wetting the handkerchief Wei Chongrong used to wipe his face.
Wei Chongrong was anxious, afraid that Jun Hua would hurt his throat and his eyes if he kept crying, so he hurriedly said, “Little Monkey, shall I spar with you again?”
Who knew that Jun Hua wouldn’t appreciate it and would push him away, crying even louder. The more he cried, the sadder he became: “Father lied to me, woo woo…”
At this moment, Jun Qing and Ji Xin, who had left for a while, both returned to the reception pavilion. Facing their crying son, the two reacted very differently, which could be described as the two extremes of ice and fire.
Jun Qing said calmly: “Rong’er, leave him alone. The more you coax, the more he’ll cry. He’ll be fine if he cries for a while.”
Ji Xin, had he not been stopped by Jun Qing, would have rushed over to his son. His Little Monkey was crying so sadly and pitifully…
Wei Chongrong was embarrassed and quietly asked Jun Hua’s nanny how exactly Ji Xin had lied to his son. The nanny said that every time Wang Changning “practised swords” with Little Hou, he would pretend to lose to him, so Jun Hua mistakenly thought that his swordsmanship was very good.
Wei Chongrong immediately understood that he had made a mistake, but it was a pity that Jun Hua wouldn’t give him another chance now, so he could only make up for it next time.
As the saying goes, no one knows a son better than a mother; this was also very accurate for Jun Qing and Jun Hua. When Jun Hua was tired of crying and saw that no one cared about him, sure enough, he stopped, and even picked up the wooden sword and held it tightly in his hand.
Seeing that Jun Hua stopped crying, Wei Chongrong went to tease him again and asked him to call his name. But Jun Hua squirmed and squirmed and refused to call him. Wei Zhao, seeing the fun, followed suit, and Jun Hua immediately called him, doing so in a crisp loud voice.
Then there were Sun Shu and Sun Jian. Jun Hua was also very affectionate with them. Wei Chongrong was the only one he resolutely refused to call.
Wei Chongrong said all the good things he could think of but it didn’t work. He changed to the “blackmail” route: “Little Monkey, if you don’t call my name, I won’t cut you a wooden sword next time.” He had cut the sword that Jun Hua used to stab him with just now.
Jun Hua tilted his head and thought for a while, his black glass-like eyes moving, and then he called softly: “Brother Rong, I want a wooden sword…” The speed at which he changed his face was amazing.
Everyone laughed loudly; sure thing, this tactic earned Wei Chongrong the name of “Brother Rong” but the problem was that he wasn’t “Brother”, ah. Jun Hua had lowered his seniority by one generation.
Wei Chongrong didn’t care. Regardless of whether he was “Brother” or “Uncle”, as long as Jun Hua called him, he didn’t care much.
Besides, Wei Zhao and Jun Qing were friends and treated each other as peers, and he had never heard Jun Qing call Wei Zhao “Uncle”, not once. Even when Wei Chongrong called Jun Qing and Ji Xin, he directly called them Hou Zhaoyang and Wang Changning, rather than calling them “Cousins” according to seniority.
A child’s attention is easy to divert, so coaxing a child is not difficult. Wei Chongrong had been in the palace for two years and was surrounded by all types of bear kids, so he already has a wealth of experience in coaxing children. It didn’t take him long to coax Jun Hua into submission and running after him.
Some time before the dinner, Wei Zhao and Ji Xin discussed topics that they had not been able to discuss in the imperial study room earlier. Jun Qing and Sun Shu supplemented their perspectives. Sun Jian wasn’t qualified to speak and could only listen.
As for Wei Chongrong, he didn’t even have a share of listening. His task was to take care of the child. Wei Chongrong led Jun Hua to the small courtyard behind the reception pavilion to play, holding his hand while he fed the koi in the pond, causing several koi to turn belly up.
Jun Hua was having a great time. A lot of fish food was spilled. Seeing that the koi in Hou Zhaoyang’s mansion were about to be exterminated, Wei Chongrong hurriedly used hide-and-seek to attract Jun Hua’s attention so that he could no longer poison the poor koi(1).
Wei Chongrong felt at first that as long as he threw a game moderately, hide-and-seek could be played. After all, the courtyard had flowers and trees, a rockery and a fish pond, enough for a two-year-old to hide himself.
What Wei Chongrong would never dream of was that after he counted to ten with his back turned, he would turn his head and see Jun Hua. The little ancestor didn’t hide at all, but stood beside Wei Chongrong in a daze, making it impossible for him to pretend that he didn’t see him.
“Little Monkey, why don’t you hide? You hide, so I can come and find you!” Wei Chongrong thought Jun Hua didn’t understand the rules, so he explained it to him again.
He didn’t expect Jun Hua to look at him, his eyes curved in a smile: “Brother Rong, I’m afraid you won’t be able to find me…”
Wei Chongrong laughed, dumbfounded. Hide-and-seek was definitely out of question. Fortunately, soon the maid came to call them and asked them to go inside for dinner.
After dinner, Jun Hua refused to let Wei Chongrong go, tugging at his sleeve and desperately pulling him to his room. Ji Xin hugged his son and coaxed him in every way to comfort him, and Wei Chongrong also talked to him softly, but Jun Hua just didn’t let go and didn’t listen to what anyone said.
Finally, Jun Qing became unhappy, picked up Jun Hua regardless of whether he was crying or not, and said to Wei Chongrong: “You go first, he will be fine after crying.” Wei Chongrong suddenly felt that his father was much more gentle than Jun Qing.
Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to persuade Jun Qing, he could only look at Jun Hua with sympathetic eyes, waved his hand at him, turned and left.
As soon as he took two steps, Jun Hua changed from quiet sobbing to howling: “Brother Rong, don’t go! Brother Rong…”
Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to stay, and fled in despair. Past experience told him that the more he dragged it on, the more miserably Jun Hua cried.
On the way home, Wei Zhao suddenly asked Wei Chongrong, “Rong’er, do you like your little brother very much?” He was reluctant to part with Jun Hua every time; two little brats, what kind of story was it to get so tangled up?
Wei Chongrong sniffed, and alarm bells went off in his head. It had been three years since they returned to Yujing, and the empress talked to Wei Zhao many times about his marriage. And recently Wei Su also asked about it, with the intention of directly stuffing Wei Zhao with a wife or a lord consort.
“Rong’er, I asked you if you like your little brother.” Delayed in receiving Wei Chongrong’s answer, Wei Zhao asked again.
Wei Chongrong quickly shook his head and said seriously: “I don’t like little brothers, I only like Little Monkey.” As soon as he finished speaking, he felt he had gone a little too far, so he hung his head in embarrassment.
Wei Zhao was still very young, and even if Jiang Che had married Xie Xiu, he might still meet someone in the years to come who would fall in love with him and whom he would love. No matter who that person was, it was only natural that they would have children, and who was he to stop them?
“Are you worried that if you have a little brother, Daddy won’t love you anymore?” Seeing that Wei Chongrong was sullen and silent, Wei Zhao said, “Rong’er, don’t worry, I won’t get married in the future, and you won’t have little brothers or sisters either.”
Wei Chongrong quickly argued: “Daddy, that’s not what I meant. As long as you are happy, I don’t care if you marry and have a few children.” Wei Zhao smiled and didn’t say anything else.
Spring went and autumn came, flowers fell and flowers bloomed, and in the blink of an eye another year had passed.
In Wei Chongrong’s memory of his previous life, the 49th year of Yongjia was definitely a dark year for the Great Yan, second only to the even darker 50th year of Yongjia.
At the beginning of the year, the head of the Central Secretariat Gu Yao died of illness, and Wei Su replaced him with Xue Rui, the former left shilang, causing an uproar in the court.
What kind of person was Xue Rui? Xue Rui was a man of lowly descent who had been a seventh-rank magistrate for more than ten years, without any progress. However, when the emperor was on an inspection tour, he offered the services of a highly skilled Taoist monk to the emperor, and from then on, he won the emperor’s favour.
The emperor was getting older and his body was declining. He didn’t believe in the imperial doctors, but instead believed in the words of the Taoist monk, and Xue Rui rose through the ranks as a result.
The beginning of the witchcraft incident originated from a serious illness of Wei Su. When the medicine prescribed by the imperial doctors couldn’t relieve the emperor’s pain, but the elixir of the magician quickly gave results, the scales in the emperor’s heart unconsciously tilted.
Therefore, hearing that the magician said that his illness was caused by witchcraft, the emperor didn’t hesitate to believe it and immediately became furious. He ordered Xue Rui to take full responsibility and investigate the matter clearly.
Holding the imperial sword in his hand, Xue Rui wasn’t so much investigating the witchcraft case as eradicating dissidents. With Wei Su’s support, no one would dare to be his enemy.
Finally one day, Xue Rui took people to the garden of the Eastern Palace to dig out the wooden puppet with the eight characters of the emperor’s birthday written on it…
At this point, the curtain of the witchcraft scourge slowly opened.
The start of this year was consistent with Wei Chongrong’s memory, in no uncertain terms.
The first month wasn’t yet over when the messenger of the Chen house told the emperor that Gong Qi was likely going to pass away soon.
Since Wang Qin Wei Zhao and Gong Qi’s son Gu Yu had been classmates, and Wei Chongrong and Gu Chuan were now classmates as well, Wei Zhao took Wei Chongrong to visit Gu Yao in person at Gong Qi’s residence.
Looking at Gu Chuan, whose eyes were red, there was nothing Wei Chongrong could do but talk to him. Old age, sickness and death were all predestined and couldn’t be undone by human hands. Even though he could foresee the future, there were some things that couldn’t be changed.
Afterwards, the emperor personally visited Gong Qi’s residence to show his favour to the Gu family.
Gu Yao died of illness, Gu Yu assumed his title and life went on…
Wei Su filled the vacancy left by Gu Yao in the Central Secretariat with Sun Shu, the former head of of the Department of State Affairs, while the position of the head of the Department of State Affairs was given to Shangguan Xuan, who had just returned to officialdom after three years of mourning.
As for Xue Rui, because the Taoist monk he recommended “concealed the evil intent” and “hid poison” in the golden elixir presented to the emperor, things took a bad turn for him.
The emperor’s illness was destined and couldn’t be avoided, but taking a golden elixir instead of medicine made things even worse.
Wei Chongrong asked Wei Zhao, since the imperial doctors couldn’t cure the emperor’s illness, why didn’t the emperor summon Shangguan Xiang and Duanmu Hui? The level of these two old doctors was much higher than that of the group of people in the Imperial Hospital.
Wei Zhao reluctantly told him that Shangguan Xiang was fond of cutting people’s stomachs when he cured diseases and saved people. Wei Su disliked him very much and never used him. Duanmu Hui’s methods followed the rules, but his image was sloppy and unrefined, and Wei Su didn’t like him even more. After seeing him once, he refused to see him again.
Wei Chongrong was speechless and asked, “What about Lu Wang’s Lord Consort, Grandfather Emperor wouldn’t dislike even him, would he?”
Wei Zhao’s eyes lit up, and he said in surprise: “Oh right, there is also Cousin Sun Ye… Rong’er, thank you for reminding me.”
The emperor was seriously ill, and the princes were all expected to attend to him. Even the two little ones, Wei Hao and Wei Yang, were carried by their nannies every day to pay their respects.
Wei Zhao took the opportunity to make a suggestion to Wei Su to summon Wei Xiao’s family to the capital. After all, Sun Ye’s medical skills were recognised by Duanmu Hui, who said that the student surpassed the master. It wasn’t a bad thing to have someone else to look at the emperor, who was also a member of the family by the way.
The emperor disliked Duanmu Hui mainly because of his unkempt appearance. He couldn’t even stand to look at him, let alone let him treat him. He didn’t mind Sun Ye. It was his son-in-law and Jun Lin’s younger half-brother, so he issued a decree to summon Wang Lu and his family back to the capital.
Wei Su’s illness wasn’t fatal, but he was getting older and his physical functions deteriorated. The medicine the imperial doctors gave him was mainly for stability. The effect naturally was too slow and couldn’t satisfy the emperor. It was true that the Taoist monk’s golden elixir could stimulate a person’s potential and the effect was quicker.
The disciple of the medical immortal arrived, and the emperor’s condition quickly improved. Then Sun Ye said that the golden elixir presented by the Taoist monk could make people energetic for a short period of time, but long-term use was harmful instead of being beneficial as the golden elixir contained many toxic substances.
Wei Su was originally sick and a bit desperate, but now that he was well, his mind was clear. The emperors of the Wei family had never died from taking medicine, but there were several from the Shenchuan family in the previous dynasty that were examples of the opposite, and he couldn’t repeat the same mistake.
As a result, the emperor removed Xue Rui from his official position and asked the Minister of Justice to conduct a trial for the crimes he and his family had committed. All the magicians and alchemists in the palace were also sent away. The emperor ordered the Ministry of Works to build an imperial residence for Wang Lu in Wutong Li for them to stay in the capital.
When the 49th year of Yongjia was about to end, Wei Chongrong looked back and found that the Xue family was over, Su Wen abandoned the dark and turned to the light, and Zhao Ji lost her momentary popularity due to the rise of Yan Li. As for the Shangguan family…
The family was not affected much. Shangguan Xuan was the head of one of the three government departments; two cousins, Wangfei Zheng and Guantao County Lord, were highly favoured by the imperial family. But the general environment had changed, and it wouldn’t be easy for them to make any waves.
Based on Wei Chongrong’s understanding of Shangguan Xuan, under the current circumstances, he should be very quiet and would not cause any trouble.
The most feared scourge of witchcraft had thus vanished into thin air, but Wei Chongrong’s mood wasn’t the least bit relaxed, for the emperor, whose spirit was restored, already turned his full attention to the war in the north.
Wei Zhao’s visits home became less and less frequent, and when Wei Chongrong missed him too much, he had to use his time off to run to the Eastern Camp.
Along with Wei Chongrong’s growing anxiety, the 50th year of Yongjia finally arrived.
- I was so worried about the poor koi; they couldn’t die from overfeeding on the spot, right? Anyway, it seems that koi sometimes can swim belly up when they are stressed or the water is muddy, it doesn’t mean they are dead. Anyway, Hou Zhaoyang’s residence has a lot of servants, they definitely cleaned the water in the pond after Jun Hua’s “feeding”, so hopefully the koi were all right in the end.