Chapter 182 – A truthful misrepresentation
It was a cool night in spring as the winds carried the tiny raindrops as it descended down upon, causing the temperatures to drop. Pei Zi Yun carried his umbrella and took a leisurely stroll beside a small creek. The raindrops were splashing down upon the surface of the creek, causing ripples to form.
Pei Zi Yun took small strides as he recalled a poem which he had loved back in his previous life –Delighting in Spring Rain– as he took out a flask the folds of his robes and took a sip before reciting the poem.
“A good rain knows its proper time, it waits for Spring to fall.”
“It drifts in with the wind and steals in by the night, many droplets drench but make no sound.”
As Pei Zi Yun recited the poem, he tapped along to the beat. All of a sudden, he heard someone applauding him from behind. When he turned around, he realized that it was the Grand Princess. Her hair was bunned up in a heart shaped knot, she was dressed in green thin robes with multiple layers. There was a green sash around her waist as well.
“Good poem!” The Grand Princess raised her umbrella as pellets of raindrops descended down upon them. Pei Zi Yun tilted his head, “The Grand Princess is too generous with her praises.”
The Grand Princess didn’t reply but instead walked over to Pei Zi Yun’s side, she stood there for some time. The gentle breeze caused their sleeves to flap about. She then asked, “Was it you who played the flute several days ago?”
“It was me. I heard that the Canton Princess wasn’t feeling well and thus did that intentionally.”
“Though, it’s common knowledge that anyone who plays the flute that late in the night is probably a casanova. How could it just be because of someone else’s illness?” The Grand Princess laughed out.
“Of course it was for the sickness. Happiness cures the heart. A healthy heart cures the illness. That day I had to use feelings to attract the attention before using sorrow to draw out negative particles before using war tunes to kill and get rid of it. After that, I had to use light hearted tunes to cultivate happiness within her heart, and finally dissipate her worries before she started feeling better. Wasn’t that what happened?” Pei Zi Yun explained to dispel the idea that he was a casanova who was trying to be funny with the Canton Princess.
“She’s much better now, but alas, treating the symptoms isn’t treating the root of the illness.”
“But no matter, it was your sincerity and gesture that touched me.”
“But this healing technique, can it be taught?” The Grand Princess raised her eyebrows and asked.
“There’s not much of a secret to it. When it comes to melodies, there are sounds which can evoke happiness, delight, anger and sorrow. The Book of Music describes all the sounds perfectly.”
“Why is that? Because music can cause certain specific feelings to be felt.”
“In order to cure someone, we use these certain notes to evoke a response within their hearts. This happens all the time whenever someone hears a sound. However for more obvious results and responses, the art of music would have to be exploited fully.”
Pei Zi Yun spoke and the Grand Princess understood. What he meant was that normal, simple music could have certain effects as well. But the best results would be seen whenever a specific type of sound was played towards a particular effect. Speaking this way, he gave the impression that there wasn’t any secret technique to be told.
And she believed. Pei Zi Yun smiled. In actual fact, he had fused his Dao arts with the melody. Naturally he wouldn’t tell her, and didn’t feel the need to tell her as well.
“Goo goo goo.” Several toads croaked in the background, piercing through the silent creek. After some time, the Grand Princess spoke out, “Today Zhou Ji finally admonished against King Lu and charged him in the imperial court for flouting several rules, which he had been getting away with for a long time. Several other high ranking officials joined voices to his as well. Although it wasn’t a big matter, the Emperor still punished King Lu by confining him to his palace for three days. He was also fined three thousand silver taels. Your methods really worked.”
The Grand Princess turned around to look at Pei Zi Yun who casted his glance far ahead. Her eyes gaped wide open and she had a curious expression on her face, “As for Zhou Ji, I can roughly guess how you did it. But how did you manage to convince the other high ranking officials?”
The raindrops started slowing down their ascend as the pelted gradually down onto their umbrellas. Pei Zi Yun took his flask once more and took another gulp from it. Actually he was never one for drinking wine. When it first started, he only drank to give others a certain impression of him. As time went by, he started to feel like a stranger in a foreign land, as he had transmigrated to this world, and felt the occasional homesickness as well. Hence he drank wine frequently. Before long, he fell in love with drinking wine.
After Pei Zi Yun finished drinking, he replied, “I don’t know any of those high ranking officials. But a lot of time, people are able to help even without being acquaintances.”
“As for the law broken by King Lu, it was a matter of going against common decorum. The underlying difference resided in whether or not he crossed the line of proper etiquette. That’s called morality.”
Pei Zi Yun stretched out a hand and touched the rainwater. He then gazed into the distance, “The Crown Prince is after all the heir apparent. He’s the heir and the first son of the Empress. If King Lu wishes to steal the throne away from him, it would be akin to removing the birth rights of the heir and giving it to a bastard, or illegitimate heir. Forget about the military generals, what do you think the ministers and officials would say to this?”
“They won’t refuse this out of morals or principalities. Rather, they have to abide by the rules and rites which enabled them to acquire so much wealth in the first place. If the rules were abolished, the entire system would collapse, and they would lose their wealths and statuses.
“If the Crown Prince has no heir, the officials would have nothing to say since the Emperor cannot possible hand his throne down to and heirless successor. However, now that the Crown Prince has an heir, everything has changed.”
“The scholar in the upper class will study diligently after hearing that someone has achieved enlightenment. The scholar in the middle class will question whether such enlightenment is possible. The lower class scholar will laugh out loudly incredulously after hearing that someone has attained enlightenment. If he really does laugh, it will prove that the person who’s attained enlightenment has really achieved enlightenment.”
“There are after all, people who would die in order to achieve that state of enlightenment.”
“Of course people aren’t as shrewd in their pursuit for an elevated way of enlightenment and most people wouldn’t actually do that. If the main purpose for impeaching King Lu and accusing him of misconduct was to force a death sentence, the high ranking officials wouldn’t help out for fear of pitting themselves against King Lu. However, since the crime he committed was very minor, and was just about King Lu overstepping his boundaries, the punishment was as gentle as drinking three glasses of wine. The high ranking officials would thus be willing to charge King Lu with this crime in order to protect the laws and codes which made them officials in the first place.”
“Besides, the matter wasn’t considered big. And King Lu wasn’t facing the death penalty. Hence it was resolved rather quickly.”
When the Grand Princess heard this, she looked at Pei Zi Yun in the eye and smiled, “I’m afraid that’s not all there is. You used this method to test the waters first right?”
“That’s right!” Pei Zi Yun replied. Actually the reason he did that was to test the Emperor. The Emperor’s duty was to maintain social order and to govern the country. If the Emperor still supported King Lu in spite of being found guilty, then everyone should just pack up and go home, for this would mean that the Emperor will support King Lu regardless.
Now that the Emperor’s reaction was favourable, Pei Zi Yun could proceed with the next stage of his plan.
“Actually you don’t have to tell me such matters. Women aren’t allowed to handle politics and matters on governance.” The Grand Princess brushed away the strands of hair on her forehead.
Pei Zi Yun knew she was trying to be unaffected as she looked far across, pretending not to be interested. After some time, she looked at Pei Zi Yun curiously and asked, “Why did you ask Sun Jing to act discreetly, and not to go directly? What was the main difference?”
She then heard Pei Zi Yun taking several steps and then kicked a stone into the creek, causing ripples to form on the surface of the water. He then spoke out slowly, “Because if Sun Jing were to be upfront and gather people to impeach and charge King Lu, it would be clear that this was the action of the Crown Prince. Should the Emperor see this, it would hurt him to see his sons fighting to this extent.”
“Hence in using Zhou Ji, nobody would be able to guess that he was influenced in anyway. And that the reason he decided to impeach King Lu was out of loyalty to the state and its laws. The difference was huge.”
“Won’t the Emperor and King Lu be able to investigate and find out?”
“Of course if they wanted to investigate thoroughly, they would be able to find out. But this matter wasn’t big, and they most probably wouldn’t. Beside, Zhou Ji had always been a clean and morally upright official and stubborn official. It was very normal of him to raise something if it was wrong or displeasing to him. Who would investigate him to that extent then?”
“There will always be investigations, but does that mean that everyone close to Zhou Ji would be investigated thoroughly? That wouldn’t be easy. Not even King Lu or the Emperor himself would have such capabilities to investigate every single person around Zhou Ji that could have been behind this.” Pei Zi Yun laughed out loud as he spoke, “Even if the Emperor did manage to find out the truth, there are too many protective layers. Besides, if everyone just acts muddled and pretend to not know anything, there’s nothing he could do.”
“But if you had done it openly, you wouldn’t be able to act muddled and pretend to not know whatever was happening.” The Grand Princess finally understood.
“Exactly!” The Grand Princess took several steps as she sighed, “There are no lies that can be hidden indefinitely. But the closest a person can get would be to get all the details right. What’s the next step then?”
“The next step would require the Grand Princess’s influence and actions.” Pei Zi Yun replied.
“Oh? What do you want me to do?” The Grand Princess smiled as she looked at Pei Zi Yun.
Pei Zi Yun turned around and looked at the ox-cart which was some distance away. He then asked, “The gifts which the Emperor planned to deliver to his grandson, have they arrived?”
“They’re all here, but there’s nothing special. A jade staff, gold, silver, silk and a longevity locket.”
Hearing these words, Pei Zi Yun then answered, “Let me see the longevity locket.”
The Grand Princess had a suspicious look on her face as she retrieved it and asked, “This is normal right?”
Pei Zi Yun received the locket and realized that it looked magnificent. There were a pair of koi fishes inscribed upon it. It was shiny and sparkled under the light. The words ‘Long Life’ were inscribed on it as well. To an average family, this was extremely rare and uncommon as well, but to the royal family, this was very normal looking. No wonder the Grand Princess was suspicious that he would raise the matter on such an ordinary object.
He then laughed and replied, “It’s normal of course. The Emperor would give gifts to his grandson, hoping that he would grow big and strong. Nothing’s wrong about that.”
“But when you put many normal looking objects together, it might no longer be the same.”
“The next step would be to spread a truthful misrepresentation. We would spread the news about the Emperor giving the Crown Prince’s son this longevity locket. At the same time we will also spread the news about the Emperor berating King Lu for flouting the rules.”
“These are truths, and we won’t have to intentionally spread it. We don’t have to add any other details to it as well. Or at least we won’t want to leave any traces of our actions with regards to spreading these news.”
“As long as this news is not kept in utmost secrecy, trust me, it will spread naturally by itself. Before long, most of the high ranking and low ranking officials in the Imperial Court would know of it. Since you are aware of everything that’s happening, you would think that it’s normal to see the entire picture. But most of these officials don’t know anything about what’s happening. Once they hear something like this happening, they will treat it as a secret rumor and each of them would spread it cautiously to several people. You might then ask, what’s the use of spreading this news?”
“Most of the officials especially those who are lower in rank would get word of these two facts very quickly. They would then form an impression that the Emperor himself would support the Crown Prince because of the heir that he had just produced.”
“Before long, they will pull away from King Lu, knowing that he was fighting a losing battle.”
“What a good strategy. It almost seem like you have everything at the tips of your palms.” The Grand Princess inhaled a breath of cold air. Just a mere impeachment for a minor offense could be exploited to this extent. Just by influencing several people here and there, the entire situation could turn so drastically.
“The Grand Princess is over complimenting me. We have to get things done right, if not they would just be paper tigers.” Pei Zi Yun replied.
The Grand Princess then exhaled deeply, as she open her palms to catch the falling rain drop, “As for these affairs, I never wanted to know or be a part of. Have you composed any good poems of late?”
Pei Zi Yun smiled, “Grand Princess, you haven’t brought me any wine, how can there be poems without wine?”
The Grand Princess forced a laugh with crafty expression as she took out a silver flask and handed it over to him, “Thirty years old, Chinese Wine. Are you satisfied now?”
Pei Zi Yun received the flask and felt that it was warm. He took a deep sniff at the wine before taking a huge swig and sighed, “What good wine.”
He then shook his head, “I don’t have any poems. But I’ve written a story.”
He then handed it over to her. The Grand Princess received it and took a look at it, –Chess Spirit–. She was astonished. “You are a proper Top Scorer, why would you write books like these?”
“Shouldn’t you be composing more poems instead?”
Of course Pei Zi Yun couldn’t tell her that he needed her to help to spread his reputation and increase his prestige. In fact, handing a novel to her would increase the spread of his fame by a hundred fold. He then smiled, “I enjoy writing such books.”
“What’s this about?” The Grand Princess asked.
This novel was actually adapted from a book called Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, and was written by Pu Song Ling. Pei Zi Yun’s story didn’t have more than a thousand words and was combined with another comic story he read in his previous life and wrote this book. He then replied, “It’s about a youth who plays chess with someone mentoring him by the side. But nobody else can see his mentor.”
The Grand Princess shook her head and was speechless that an upright Scholar such as himself would resort to such undignified work. She then heard Pei Zi yun speak out, “Grand Princess, the matter is more or less concluded. I shall make a move then.”
“So soon? The matter is not concluded yet. The Crown Prince hasn’t even rewarded you yet!” The Grand Princess spoke out in shock.
“I am a Daoist, what reward should I get?” Pei Zi Yun straightened himself as he sighed, “As for this matter, it’s more or less 90% settled and secure.”
“Besides, although I’m living in secrecy while in the capital, and nobody noticed me yet, if I stay longer, my cover would be blown. Should that happen, the Crown Prince might be affected as King Lu would learn of my presence and might realize what’s happened.”
The Grand Princess didn’t expect Pei Zi Yun to say that. After some time, she regained her senses and had a change of heart, “Fine, it’s a good thing that you’re leaving now anyway.”
“Then farewell. Before I leave, please remind the Crown Prince that this plan cannot be used another time. If it were to be used more than once, King Lu and the Emperor would be suspicious. In fact, having used this plan, the Crown Prince is more or less set. All we have to do now is to wait patiently for the seeds to grow.”
“If anyone acts before the right time, failure could be imminent. Patience is the key.”
The Grand Princess looked up and saw Pei Zi Yun in his white robes as his umbrella was still lifted over his head. He gradually disappeared into the distance with the foggy rain blurring her vision.