As they stepped in the side yard, Jing Shang told Jing Jiu in a low voice about some matters he thought were important. A few officials attempted to befriend him, and the Emperor called him in and met him once two years ago, while the Gu Clan sent a great deal of silvers to them in secret in the last few years; and Gu Qing asked someone to bring magic pills to them every year.
Jing Jiu didn't comment on these matters, but said, "You can use the money sent by the Gu Clan and take those magic pills."
It wasn't because he was Gu Qing's Master that he wanted Jing Shang and his family to use the gifts; rather, it was because Jing Jiu trusted Gu Qing.
Jing Shang knew that Jing Jiu liked being left alone, so he left after having walked Jing Jiu to the front of the door.
Pushing open the door, Jing Jiu saw that young son of State Duke Lu's, feeling somewhat surprised, asking, "Where is your father?"
Lu Ming replied respectfully, "Father went out for a certain matter. I have already informed him of coming back."
"I'm just curious: Is someone waiting in the State Duke manor all the time?" asked Jing Jiu.
What Jing Jiu meant was that someone was waiting for that precious ceramic plate being broken by a round stone ball.
Lu Ming answered honestly, "Father seldom goes to the court. He spends most of his time at home. In the beginning, he had gotten many impeachment petitions for that."
State Duke Lu was famous for his laziness in conducting his official duties; however, no matter how much he was criticized, the Emperor didn't heed those officials. After a while, they figured out his status in the imperial court.
"He of course won't stay at home all the time. He hired someone who was only responsible for listening to the sound," Lu Ming continued.
Looking at Lu Ming's face, Jing Jiu thought State Duke Lu should have looked as young as his son many years ago. "Has he told you everything?" Jing Jiu asked Lu Ming.
Lu Ming answered in a slightly trembling voice. He seemed very nervous.
He was the inheriting son of State Duke, and was of a noble status. He had seen many Cultivation practitioners, including the immortal masters at the Green Mountain Sect. Usually he wouldn't care all that much about them.
However, Jing Jiu was not a regular Cultivation practitioner, but a master the State Duke Manor and their successors had to serve. He was the source of everything they had.
Jing Jiu asked, "What is the current situation?"
He had never paid attention to the situation in the imperial court or the activities of the Royal Family, neither when he was in the snowland nor when he was on Green Mountain.
It was because the Emperor still had many years ahead of him, and he should be able to have everything under his control.
Lu Ming knew what Jing Jiu wanted to know the most, so he said directly, "Everything is the same."
The statement of "Everything is the same" meant it was abnormal.
Jing Jiu knew that Jing Xin hadn't been sent to the Fruit Formation Temple, and thought that it was because the Emperor wanted to take his time to carry it out; but it occurred to Jing Jiu that there must be a force that was against this.
As expected, what Lu Ming told him next confirmed his suspicions: Jing Xin had not only retained his prince title but also become more popular in the imperial court.
If it was State Duke Lu who told Jing Jiu these matters, he might have told them in a more ambiguous manner; but Lu Ming was young and inexperienced, plus he was also quite nervous, so he told Jing Jiu these things in a straightforward manner.
"The Center Sect has been clear about their feelings, and their support has become increasingly more forceful."
Jing Jiu was perplexed, saying, "But, Luo Huainan had already died."
Back when they were in the old plum garden, Jing Jiu and Zhao Layue had already discovered the alliance relationship between Jing Xin and Luo Huainan.
But, Luo Huainan had been dead for years now; why would the Center Sect still support Jing Xin?
Lu Ming hadn't expected Jing Jiu not to know about the relationship between the Center Sect and the First Prince. "Prince Jing Xin's mother was the favorite disciple of the Immortal Bai. She died while giving birth to Jing Xin."
Jing Jiu hadn't heard of it from the Emperor, so it must have some secrets behind it.
If it was the truth, Luo Huainan was just carrying out the intent of his sect; as a result, whether he was dead or alive wouldn't affect the support offered by the Center Sect for Jing Xin.
The Center Sect had a tremendous influence on the imperial court, like the influence the Fruit Formation Temple had on the Royal Family.
As for the inheritance of the emperor position, the Fruit Formation Temple wouldn't express any opinion; as a result, the attitude of the Center Sect was even more important.
Jing Jiu suddenly asked, "What about the One-Cottage House?"
Apart from the Center Sect and the Fruit Formation Temple, those scholars had certain influence in this matter.
The Jing imperial court relied mostly on the One-Cottage House to resist the monster invasion of the Snowy Kingdom and to sustain their rule.
Those scholars had a very high status in the hearts of the army officers, regular officials, and the populace.
"The scholars at the One-Cottage House haven't expressed any opinion on the inheritance, but regarding the prince of Royal Concubine Hu…"
Lu Ming said with a bitter smile, "They have been clear in their objections."
At the moment, there were only two princes in the imperial palace. If the One-Cottage House was against the prince of Royal Concubine Hu's, it was no different from supporting Jing Xin.
Jing Jiu remarked, "It looks like Royal Concubine Hu has had a hard time."
Lu Ming said, "Actually…it's not too hard for her."
"How come?" Jing Jiu pressed.
Lu Ming shot a glance at Jing Jiu before saying, "Five years ago, the Zhao Family suddenly sent some New Year's gifts to the palace for Royal Concubine Hu; the interaction has continued ever since.
The Zhao Family was Zhao Layue's family in Zhaoge City.
This had caused a great deal of discussion in Zhaoge City, and its effect continued up to this day.
Years ago, many people thought that Royal Concubine Hu hated Zhao Layue because of the deaths of brothers Zhu Gui and Zhu Jie, hence the assassination attempt on Zhao Layue.
Who would have thought the situation would suddenly change?
Royal Concubine Hu was abandoned by the Center Sect and received the objections of the One-Cottage House; but she could live a relatively comfortable life under the circumstances, mostly because of this relationship.
The Green Mountain Sect that had never gotten involved in the matters of the imperial court…had suddenly expressed their feelings!
No matter how powerful and profound the Center Sect and the One-Cottage House were, they had no choice but to pay attention.
Lu Ming left through the underground tunnel. He went to find his father and ask his father to arrange for Jing Jiu to enter the Royal Palace tonight.
Seeing the same arrangements as few years ago and the game on the chessboard, Jing Jiu felt better.
He took out the bamboo chair and lay on it. The white cat crawled out from his sleeve and crouched on his chest proficiently; and then the cat spun his head away indignantly.
Jing Jiu didn't notice these details, as he pondered over the matters he had just learned.
When Luo Huainan was killed, Zhao Layue and Royal Concubine Hu had some cooperation, and Zhao Layue was vaguely aware that Royal Concubine Hu was chosen by Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu didn't care about these matters, and all he cared was that someone had to do the job.
In a short time, Jing Jiu had thought it through, and he also knew the reason why Liu Ci and Yuan Qijing had acquiesced.
It was truly troublesome.
Jing Jiu reached out his hand to rub the cat, thinking that he should have brought Gu Qing with him.
In the dead of night, Jing Jiu came to a place of the Royal Palace. State Duke Lu received him and led him inside it. The whole process was quite simple.
Jing Jiu was calm and relaxed, as if he had returned home.
Yet, the white cat in his sleeve was a bit nervous.
As the divine guardian animal of the Green Mountain, he had a profound Cultivation state, but he was still cautious and restless here.
Zhaoge City was protected by a powerful formation, and the Royal Palace was protected by the formation that had been set up by seven major Cultivation sects together; even a swordsman in the Broken Sea State couldn't survive more than a minute here.
After bringing Jing Jiu to the front of the royal study room, State Duke Lu turned around and looked at the square in front of him. The lighting elongated his shadow.
A sigh could be heard in the royal study room.
Looking at his own shadow on the ground, State Duke Lu felt fairly sleepy, his eyelids drooping, as if he hadn't heard anything.
After a long while, the door of the royal study room was pushed open, and Jing Jiu walked out from inside.
State Duke Lu opened his eyes, awake. He led Jing Jiu toward the outside of the Royal Palace. "The Emperor intends to seek one-thousand-year peace for the world. So he's not having an easy life," State Duke Lu said.
Jing Jiu said, "Take me to that little prince."
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