Royal Descendants

Royal Descendants

Chapter 9 - Chapter 9

Qi Xiao changed his clothes and had Jiang Deqing invite Bairen to the study.

Bairen didn't have much hope this time. He had come a few times before but was turned away. However, Jiang Deqing was always very polite and courteous each time, which left Bairen a bit puzzled.

But for Roujia's sake, he was willing to make as many trips as needed. This time, hearing from Jiang Deqing that Qi Xiao was willing to see him, the weight finally lifted from Bairen's heart. He paused before asking, "The Crown Prince... is in the study now?"

Although Bairen had come several times, this was the first time he was meeting Qi Xiao face to face. In this type of situation, the host would usually receive guests in the main hall.

Bairen didn't think he was familiar enough with Qi Xiao yet to go directly to the study. Seeing Bairen's slight hesitation, Jiang Deqing smiled and said, "The Crown Prince said that the young master is not an outsider, there's no need to stick to empty formalities. Going to the study is better for talking."

Bairen had no other suspicions. He nodded and followed Jiang Deqing out of the main hall, turning through winding corridors, all the way to Qi Xiao's study.

Qi Xiao was sitting in front of the couch admiring the tea set Bairen had sent. Seeing them arrive, he stood up and smiled, "I've been too busy with trivial matters, making the young master come all this way for nothing several times. It's my fault, I hope you don't take offense."

Bairen had been worried about his coldness towards Qi Xiao that time in the palace. Seeing that Qi Xiao bore no grudges and was as gentle as before, he felt much more at ease. He smiled, "Your Highness is too kind. I'm usually too idle. As long as Your Highness doesn't mind my intrusion, it's fine."

"Not at all, not at all." Qi Xiao turned to Jiang Deqing with a smile, "Prepare some boiling water. It just so happens the young master is here. I'll take advantage and use this fine tea set to entertain him."

Jiang Deqing promptly brought over a kettle of boiling water upon hearing this. Bairen couldn't possibly let Qi Xiao do it himself. He smiled, "I wouldn't dare. I know a bit about the tea ceremony. If Your Highness doesn't mind, allow me to brew a cup for you."

Qi Xiao smiled, "That would be wonderful."

The two sat facing each other. Bairen knelt in front of the tea table and rolled up his sleeves. He took the kettle and rinsed the tea set in order, his movements skilled and graceful.

Qi Xiao watched with a smile and chuckled lightly, "I've long heard that the young master is accomplished in both virtue and talent. Seeing it in person is truly better than hearing a hundred times. It is indeed so."

"Your Highness praises me too much." Bairen set down the rinsed Thousand Springs jade teapot, took two scoops of tea leaves, and leaned over to pour half a pot of boiling water from the kettle. He shook it slightly and poured out the water, chatting casually, "Actually, I learned this from my younger sister. I'm not bragging, but I don't deserve to be called accomplished in both virtue and talent. My younger sister truly does."

Bairen poured more boiling water into the pot and placed it on the table. He took a silk handkerchief to wipe his hands while carefully observing Qi Xiao's expression.

Qi Xiao found it amusing that Bairen was secretly sizing him up. He wanted to tease him more but couldn't help following along and pretending to be interested, asking, "The younger sister you speak of, is she the second daughter of the King of Lingnan, Princess Kangtai?"

"That's right." Bairen was nervous inside. He inconspicuously pinched his sleeve and slowly said in a relaxed tone, "Father often says that among the young ladies of our generation, only Kangtai can be called a 'lady of grace and nobility'. Haha... I hope Your Highness doesn't laugh at me."

Bairen picked up the jade teapot and gently shook it again, glancing at Qi Xiao's expression from the corner of his eye.

Qi Xiao's face remained still, but in his heart, he liked Bairen even more. He had thought that with Bairen being so anxious, he would bring up his sister's matter right away. To his surprise, Bairen could restrain himself.

Instead of mentioning his own sister, he first praised his half-sister and pointed out that this half-sister was very favored, seeming nonchalant but hitting the mark each time.

Qi Xiao smiled faintly, "Not at all. Since the King of Lingnan praises her so, the princess must be a brilliant woman, intelligent and virtuous. I wonder which lucky man will marry her in the future."

Bairen felt more confident and composed himself, continuing to chat and laugh, "Speaking of this... I recently heard by chance that the official transporting the grain will bring joyous news to Lingnan. May I boldly ask if this is true or false?"

Qi Xiao found it amusing. He's still too young, unable to remain calm anymore. Qi Xiao acted as if he suddenly remembered something and smiled, "Oh right, I was thinking earlier that after exchanging a few words with the young master, I nearly forgot. It's precisely about this matter of transporting the grain that I need to discuss with you... Jiang Deqing."

Bairen assumed Qi Xiao was finally going to lay his cards on the table. He couldn't help sitting up slightly straighter. But then he saw Jiang Deqing turn and enter the inner room, emerging with a stack of documents in his hands. He respectfully presented them to Qi Xiao.

Qi Xiao smiled gently, "In recent years, the court hasn't had much interaction with Lingnan. There are hardly any familiar people who know the routes. No choice, I had them summon a few people from Lingnan. But they weren't competent. Among them, a few turned out to be from your household. I only saw it when the assignment documents came down. No choice, I can only trouble you. If your household becomes short-staffed, just tell me. I'll have the Internal Affairs Department send over the most capable servants right away."

Since coming to the imperial city, the emperor had often taken people from his side and replaced them to monitor him. Bairen was used to this move and didn't mind. He shook his head and smiled, "No need, there are still people to serve in the household."

Qi Xiao smiled, "That's good then. These are the assignment documents. Please take them back..."

"Yes." Bairen's thoughts weren't on this at all. He took the documents and brought up the earlier topic again, "Your Highness, then... Chaoge?!"

Qi Xiao's eyes flashed with a hint of cruelty. As if afriad that Bairen wouldn't see it, Cen Chaoge's name was written on the first page of the documents.

Bairen suddenly looked at Qi Xiao. Qi Xiao paused and asked in confusion, "What's wrong? Oh, Cen Chaoge... Isn't he your study companion?"

Bairen nodded woodenly, "Yes... he's my study companion. Why... why is he also on the list of those going along?"

Qi Xiao feigned surprise, "Isn't this your intention? I won't hide it from you. When I first saw this person, I also thought, since he's your study companion, how could he be easily sent back? I immediately summoned the person in charge of this matter to inquire.

"Fortunately, that person is timid. After I questioned him a bit, he confessed, saying he took 13,000 taels of silver notes from the young master of Lingnan, telling him that he must put Cen Chaoge on the list of those going along. When I heard it was your idea, I didn't bother with it anymore... Right, that person was so timid that he even sent those silver notes to me."

Qi Xiao turned his head. Jiang Deqing immediately brought over a stack of silver notes. Qi Xiao smiled tenderly and leaned over to place the silver notes in front of Bairen, "You're here alone and probably don't have much silver on you. Why squander so much just for a study companion? Keep it for yourself. Next time if there's something like this, just come directly to me. If it can be done, I won't refuse."

Bairen took the silver notes numbly, his voice a bit hoarse, "May I know... who was the one that took the bribe..."

Qi Xiao smiled cruelly: "The head of the Internal Affairs Department, Xi Xiang."

Bairen closed his eyes, understanding everything.

Cen Chaoge had asked him for silver again and again, it turned out to be for... for returning to Lingnan. He was also foolish, clearly feeling it was strange. Just to inquire about some matters, how could it require so much silver, yet he never thought to ask more...

Bairen's eyes suddenly reddened. He turned his head to the side and took a deep breath, his fists clenching uncontrollably, trying his best to suppress the great pain in his heart, unwilling to lose his composure in front of others.

Qi Xiao saw this, and for some reason, his heart ached a little. Just as he was about to say something, he saw Bairen wipe the corner of his eye inconspicuously, bend down to pick up the jade pot, scald the teacup, and pour a cup for Qi Xiao.

He offered it with both hands, forcing a smile and said: "What were we just talking about, oh right... Bairen is curious, the joyous news in the rumors, is it true or false?"

Qi Xiao looked at Bairen fascinatedly. In just a moment, he had already collected himself. Qi Xiao had always thought that no one could surpass him in forbearance, but this time he had to admit defeat.

Qi Xiao took the teacup and blew on it gently, laughing in his heart. He was not wrong, Bairen was the same type of person as him.

Qi Xiao became more and more certain in his heart that for the sake of Roujia, Bairen could endure anything.

According to Qi Xiao's original plan, today he would make things clear to Bairen. Whether the marriage alliance was true or false would all depend on what Bairen said. If he wanted to protect his own sister, no problem, but to use himself as a shield, if Bairen was informed and tactful, he might be able to take some advantage today...

But somehow, looking at Bairen like this, Qi Xiao suddenly softened his heart. Bairen had just learned about Cen Chaoge's matter, and now he was putting on a strong front in front of him.

Who knows what kind of stormy waves were in his heart. If he added another knife wound...

Qi Xiao sighed in his heart. Forget it, forget it. If he pushed the person too hard and something went wrong, wouldn't he be the one to suffer in the end?

"I won't hide it from the young prince. The joyous news you mentioned, I, this prince, have also heard a little about it, but I really don't know the inside story." Qi Xiao smiled frankly, "I'm not pretending to be stupid. When it comes to marriage, I can only listen to my parents' orders and the words of the matchmaker. The Emperor and Empress have never mentioned this matter to me. I only heard a sentence or two from the Princess.

"I'm not clear about the details. But since the young prince has asked, I will go and inquire about it tomorrow. If I find out the truth, I will naturally tell the young prince."

Qi Xiao spoke sincerely, and Bairen couldn't quite guess whether he knew or not. Bairen's heart was in a mess, afraid that if he said too much, he would make a mistake. If he angered Qi Xiao, it would be a losing proposition. He could only agree, exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then took his leave.

Qi Xiao saw Bairen off to the ceremonial gate and waited until he got into the sedan chair before turning back to the manor. Jiang Deqing had been following behind him and couldn't help but ask: "Your Highness... why not keep the young prince here today? Letting him go back like this, what if that surnamed Cen uses his glib tongue to change the young prince's mind again..."

"No, he won't." Qi Xiao was still savoring the scene just now. "Bairen is not stupid. The evidence in black and white is there. Can Cen Chaoge wash himself clean? Unless he insists that I framed him and gives up returning to Lingnan to prove his innocence, but... hehe, do you think he can bear to?"

"Rather than waiting for Cen Chaoge to come up with a set of sanctimonious explanations, it's better for me to bring the matter to light first and let them discern for themselves. When they completely break off relations, it will be easier for me to make a move..."

Qi Xiao smiled faintly: "What's the rush? With so many weaknesses, I'm not afraid of not being able to tame him."


Hi, I'm Nightowl. I thrive in the quiet hours of the night, where my translations come to life. You’ll often find me with a cup of tea, surrounded by my collection of vinyl records, sharing stories that keep us all up a little too late.

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