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Tong Kingdom, Qing Mansion, royal Uncle Qing Zhang’s residence
Feng Ming spit out the mouthful of water he just drank and coughed violently. He sent a surprised look in Rong Hu’s direction after hearing the report. “Who… who will be there? There… at tonight’s banquet, will be an ambassador from Xi Lei?”
Qiu Lan and Qiu Yue used their soft hands to calm Feng Ming’s fit of anger.
“Didn’t that official already die?” Feng Ming’s eyebrows were furrowed as he turned and asked Rong Tian. “I remember something from when I first met you… cough, cough… I mean the first time I was forced to participate in the court assembly. I recall that, at the time, the discussion included the matter regarding the death of Xi Lei’s ambassador in Li, right?”
Gazing at Feng Ming as he talked, Rong Tian coughed and motioned Qiu Lan and Qiu Yue to step aside. He personally gathered Feng Ming in his embrace and stroked his back in a soothing manner as he answered. “To clarify, the ambassador acts as an official representative of Xi Lei’s king by going on diplomatic missions in other kingdoms. It is a valuable and dignified position. After the last one died, I appointed another person to take his place. However, I do not know if that bastard Tong Er has already removed him.” His menacing gaze landed on Rong Hu.
Rong Hu immediately continued his report. “The official previously appointed by your Majesty has not been dismissed by that traitor, but has been demoted to a lower position with no power. The ambassador that has been sent over as a correspondent is Hao Yuan Jiang.”
“It is unexpectedly him.” Rong Tian chuckled and winked at Feng Ming. “You have met him, He is the one that sought guidance from you last time about the new tax system, the Minister of Finance, Hao Yuan Jiang. He is a timid and overcautious person, but his family’s background is important in Xi Lei. That Tong Er is also not a fool, him promoting Hao Yuan Jiang is most likely for the sake of winning over his clan.”
Oh, that old man who likes to nonsensically prattle on about the taxation issue.
So it turns out we are acquainted.
Reminded by Rong Tian, Feng Ming suddenly cried out with an “Oh” as he recalled the official.
Rong Tian found his face really adorable at that moment and, unable to bear himself, touched the sensitive nape.
Feng Ming glared at him indignantly. “Don’t mess around. I am participating in an important banquet tonight. Don’t hinder my preparation for it. Rong Hu, continue speaking.”
“Yes, Duke Ming.” Looking at the two, with one scolding and the other quiet, an indescribably sweet atmosphere developed. Even Rong Hu could not help feel himself cheer up even though he was still worried about his younger brother, Lie Er’s disappearance. Having been through many storms and tribulations, Rong Hu suppressed his concern and showed a gentle smile as he continued reporting. “The assistant to the ambassador is Su Jin Chao.”
The name, he had not even the smallest recollection of it.
Don’t tell me that while living in Xi Lei, I didn’t study enough, causing all the names and faces I learned about to have been forgotten? Could I have forgotten such an official? An assistant to the ambassador should be an important figure as well. Even if has done nothing to be promoted, he should at least have been an ordinary official right?
Feng Ming was lost in thought while he scratched his head and occasionally snuck glances at Rong Hu. The look he sent contained the guilt and embarrassment he felt from being caught after not listening to previous lectures. Rong Tian gently smiled and showing him some pity, enlightened him of the name’s identity. “You do not know this person. In terms of age, he is one year below us. Formerly, he was one of Tong Er’s useless friends from the city. Because he was from an influential family, he provoked others and caused mischief daily as an overbearing bully. This King, because of the misdeeds he had committed against the common people, had once rewarded him with 10 whip lashings. To appoint this kind of person as an ambassador’s assistant is really making my Xi Lei lose face.”
“In this case, Tong Er would also lose face.” Feng Ming casually comforted him and asked, “He’s so awful. You as a king of course had to punish him. After he was whipped, did he change for the better?”
Rong Tian smiled bitterly. “What change? Do you think everyone is as obedient as you? He still did not change afterwards and kept oppressing others, after all, his family possesses an important minister in Xi Lei.”
“Oh, which minister?”
“Duke Ming,” Rong Hu explained, “Su Jin Chao’s grandfather is Su Yi. This subordinate has once mentioned him as the official in charge of administering etiquette, do you still remember him?”
Looking at the funny look on Feng Ming’s face, it was obvious he had already forgotten.
Why are there so many official positions in ancient times?
Moreover, each of the twelve kingdoms have their own unique ones.
Qiu Lan saw that Feng Ming was struggling and quickly came to his rescue. She crouched next to Feng Ming while waiting for instructions. “The time is getting late, Duke Ming. It would be better to bathe and get ready now. After all, it will not be good if you arrived at the Tong Kingdom’s banquet dressed sloppily.”
Feng Ming automatically understood that Qiu Lan was trying to pull him away from the embarrassing situation and secretly praised her thoughtfulness. He immediately nodded and made a sound of confirmation in response. “We should get ready right away.”
He poked at Rong Tian’s chest a few times. “This Duke had some business to take care of and cannot accompany you tonight. Be good and don’t run around. Wait for me to return and we will speak then.”
In the past, it had always been Rong Tian who told him not to run around. This time, it was Rong Tian who had to remain hidden. Feng Ming finally got the chance to blow off some steam by leaving the house and taking the role of a man.
Rong Tian hugged him intimately before saying, “When you come back, I will be gone.”
“What?” Feng Ming cried out in surprise.
“Hao Yuan Jing, while timid, is in fact a considerably intelligent man. In terms of the bigger picture, he has a clearer view of it, and his family’s influence in Xi Lei’s court is also not small. Since it is rare for him to appear here, this King wishes to see him. If there is an opportunity tonight, I will secretly meet with him.”
“Hmm, but Rong Tian…”
“Do not worry. I am not foolish enough to sneak into Tong’s imperial palace. The residence the ambassador is staying at would be much easier to get into.”
The signs of worry were still evident on Feng Ming’s face. “If you want to go, I won’t stop you, however you must bring along Rong Hu, Zi Yan, and Mian Ya.”
“I will bring Mian Ya, however Rong Hu and Zi Yan cannot leave your side.” Rong Tian issued a strict command and gazing at Feng Ming, seriously warned him. “Because of your sensitive identity and Qing Zhang’s support, there will probably be no one in Tong’s palace that would dare to hurt you. However, it is possible that someone will find something to fault you with and make it difficult for you at the banquet. You have to be careful.”
“Make it difficult? Why would they purposely want to make things difficult for me?”
Rong Tian patted his soft cheeks and jokingly answered, “Of course it is because you are Xi Lei’s Duke Ming, the world’s most famous wise and far-sighted person.”
To hell with being wise and far-sighted!
Fame only brings me bad luck these days.
Feng Ming led the maids away to get ready. Before leaving, Rong Tian instructed Rong Hu in a low voice. “Later, when inside the palace, keep our men inside and keep the Xiao Family’s men outside.”
“Understood, subordinate will discuss this matter with the Xiao Family’s Luo Yun.”
“The two officials from Xi Lei will not dare to give you any problems. Qing Li will also not dare to start a fight within his father’s palace, however, Dan Lin’s He Di…” In a serious tone, Rong Tian continued, “Do not look down on that person. Even though we are allies, do not let Feng Ming be in contact with him alone.”
“One more thing, if possible, keep Duke Ming by Qing Zhang’s side and find some men with keen eyes to follow Qing Zhang’s every move.” As he spoke, Rong Tian’s lips formed a merciless smile. “If issues begin cropping up at the banquet, quickly take Qing Zhang hostage and use his position as Tong’s royal Uncle to threaten Zhuang Pu for his cooperation. Then, protect Duke Ming to leave the palace.”
Fated to be an incredibly eventful scene, the curtains to Tong Kingdom’s Grand Banquet finally open.