Chapter 139.2 – State Preceptor Hao Ran
“This poor Taoist* greets junwang and junwangfei.”
[*T/N: 贫道 pin dao – literally “poor Taoist.” A humble way for a Taoist to refer to himself.]
The state preceptor raised his right hand like a Taoist priest, and saluted Fu Wu Tian and An Zi Ran in a friendly manner. The aura around him was very auspicious and peaceful, and it easily gave other people a favorable impression of him.
Fu Wu Tian kept one hand behind his back and stared at the other man, “For the state preceptor to appear here, did he perhaps just come from the empress dowager’s place?”
“Precisely [as you said].” The state preceptor was not affected by Fu Wu Tian’s imposing manner. He calmly explained, “His majesty was worried about the empress dowager’s health and ordered this poor Taoist to come and pay a visit to the empress dowager.”
“So what does the state preceptor think [of the empress dowager’s condition]?”
“She’s much better now, but exercise more caution in the future and do not make the empress dowager angry again.”
Fu Wu Tian said: “The state preceptor has worked hard.”
The state preceptor smiled and shook his head, “Thank you for your concern. It is this poor Taoist’s responsibility. How can it be considered hard work? If there is nothing else, then this poor Taoist is going to report to His Majesty about the empress dowager’s condition. This poor Taoist will take his leave now. Farewell!”
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The state preceptor quickly left.
Throughout the entire interaction, An Zi Ran kept feeling like there was something strange about this person, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. He was even more certain that this state preceptor was not that simple.
“What kind of person is this state preceptor?”
“Just a yaodao*.” Fu Wu Tian looked coldly in the direction where the state preceptor had disappeared. After a while, he withdrew his gaze.
[*T/N: 妖道 yaodao – a derogatory term for Taoist priests]
For someone to make Fu Wu Tian describe him as such, it seemed like he was not just some ordinary yaodao.
“The state preceptor’s original name is Wei Shun Qing. His Taoist name is Hao Ran. Ten years ago, he was named State Preceptor Hao Ran by the emperor’s decree. He’s someone that the emperor has always deeply trusted. As long as he speaks up, he can easily change the emperor’s mind on a lot of matters. The princes and ministers do not dare to look down on him.”
An Zi Ran asked curiously: “According to your meaning, this state preceptor is very likely to be a swindler. Why does Emperor Chong Ming trust him so much?”
“He’s not just a simple swindler.” Fu Wu Tian said, “Wei Shun Qing has studied bagua* before. It is rumored that he used to tell people’s fortune when he was young, and from that he learned how to fool people. Later, he entered the palace by chance and led the emperor around by the nose. So now the emperor believes him firmly without any doubt.”
[*T/N: 八卦 bagua – the eight divinatory trigrams of the Book of Changes]
“To be able to fool the emperor is not a trifle ability.”
“Does wangfei really think that he only knows how to trick people?” Fu Wu Tian suddenly asked with a deeper meaning to his words.
An Zi Ran shook his head, “Of course not.”
Conning people required a profound level of knowledge, but it has its limits after all. No matter how good he was at speaking, he could not make a person who has been the emperor for twenty-seven years believe in him, so he must have other skills.
“Wangye knows the reason?”
An Zi Ran looked at the other man, struck speechless. He really should be used to Fu Wu Tian’s bad taste in fun by now.
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Fu Wu Tian just wrapped his arms around An Zi Ran’s waist and whispered in his ear: “Although this prince does not know the reason, this prince knows another interesting thing. I think wangfei would be very keen to know.”
“What kind of interesting thing?” An Zi Ran did not push Fu Wu Tian’s hands away.
“Wangfei should still remember that a few days before the state banquet, Great-Grandmother called this prince into the palace. At that time, this prince heard something related to Consort Yan from other people. At that time I did not know that Consort Yan was An Qiao E, so I didn’t pay it much mind.” Fu Wu Tian said with a sigh. It was quite an unpredictable feeling.
An Zi Ran knocked his elbow against the other man’s arm, “Don’t keep me in suspense.”
Fu Wu Tian said calmly: “I heard that Consort Yan and the state preceptor are very close, and according to this prince’s inference, they may have already known each other before the talent selection.”
An Zi Ran’s brows wrinkled as his brain churned. After knowing that Consort Yan was probably An Qiao E, he kept thinking that there must be someone behind An Qiao E. If what Fu Wu Tian said was true, then the person behind her was most likely to be the state preceptor. With his abilities, the possibility of him helping Consort Yan to attract Emperor Chong Ming’s attention was very high.
“Suppose that Consort Yan is An Qiao E. Based on An Qiao E’s capability, it’s impossible for her to be so watertight and not let anybody discover her past history.”
Fu Wu Tian nodded and said, “That’s right, the talent selection needs to register the contestants. An Qiao E is not a smart person. If things weren’t already arranged in advance, her identity would have been found out long ago.”
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
In fact, Fu Yuan Cheng and the others also knew that Consort Yan had colluded with the state preceptor, and that Consort Yan was able to confuse Emperor Chong Ming must be the credit of the state preceptor, but they could not find any evidence and could only wait and see.
Just as the two men finally arrived right outside of Ciming Palace, the State Preceptor Hao Ran that they were talking about was meeting with Consort Yan, who had left the banquet early.
“So it turned out to be Consort Yan, may I have a word with you in private?”
The state preceptor took the initiative to speak first. It stood to reason that the emperor’s consort and the state preceptor could not meet in private, but it was not a problem for them, because the emperor had agreed to it.
Consort Yan smiled enchantingly.