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Chapter 9

Although she had just shown great spirit in the debating arena, such extraordinary abilities could not be displayed in front of Feng Liwu.

The Crown Prince personally took action this time, displaying a rather strong attitude, leaving her with no choice but to force a smile and bow in compliance.

In her previous life, perhaps it was a subconscious aversion to this Crown Prince, especially since she was just a concubine of Qin Zhao. Despite frequently attending banquets, she had never been to the Crown Prince’s residence.

In her opinion, the Crown Prince had never even organized any events himself. This dull person, if not for coincidentally holding imperial power, was someone even a dog wouldn’t bother with.

Today, after the “invitation” was concluded, Feng Liwu took the lead on horseback, accompanied by a few guards, and headed back to his residence.

Qin Zhao escorted the guests into the mansion and followed the prince’s carriage without saying much, holding the reins of his horse and striking up casual conversations by the carriage.

“Just now at the academy teahouse, I heard the young master eloquently speak. I didn’t expect him to be so knowledgeable. I wonder who the young master studied under in Bo  State.

Although Jiang Xiurun was fearful of Feng Liwu, she had no patience for Qin Zhao. This person, who had pressured her in her previous life, indirectly causing her death, never earned a shred of goodwill from her. When Qin Zhao asked questions, she closed her eyes and ignored his arrogant demeanor.

If it were anyone else, Qin Zhao would have likely been irritated. However, the young man in the carriage had been haughty and arrogant at the academy, and now, ignoring people seemed reasonable.

Qin Zhao felt that this young man was a bit unruly. A greenhorn dared to provoke a tiger’s whiskers. However, this youthful arrogance didn’t seem to bother him much.

After a few unanswered questions, he raised the whip and moved to the front of the carriage, contemplating how to deal with the young man’s audacity in the future.

Before long, the carriage arrived at the front of the Crown Prince’s residence. Guided by the manager of the Crown Prince’s estate, Jiang Xiurun went to the prince’s study.

At this time, Feng Liwu was not yet married and had no concubines. The master was not someone who pursued pleasures, and the absence of a female hostess’s presence further added to the lack of vitality in the mansion.

Jiang Xiurun walked all the way and noticed that although the roofing of the Crown Prince’s mansion was finely crafted and the courtyard furniture was clean and tidy, there was a pervasive sense of emptiness everywhere.

Upon reaching the study, however, there was no sense of emptiness. Instead, heaps of scrolls and scattered papers were strewn about.

Jiang Xiurun couldn’t stand untidiness in her entire life, and she admired people who were organized. Seeing that the seat cushions were buried under books was truly irritating.

However, the Crown Prince gave no indication, so she could only bow and stand on the seat.

Feng Liwu, whether intentionally or not, seemed as if he couldn’t see her. After a long while, he nodded slightly, indicating her to sit.

She wanted to sit, but the seat was too annoying!

Unable to bear it any longer, she casually picked up several scattered scrolls, swiftly rolled them up, and neatly stacked them aside. This immediately made the seat much cleaner.

She finally sighed in relief, lifted her robes, and kneeled on the seat.

At this moment, Feng Liwu was sitting behind a table buried under books, maintaining his usual indifferent demeanor as he looked at the scrolls in his hands.

The young noble from Bo State, suddenly summoned to the mansion, must have been feeling uneasy and nervous. Feng Liwu had originally planned to test and suppress this young man and deal with his audacity.

However, to his surprise, when the audacious guest entered the study, instead of being formal or reserved, she showed unmistakable disdain. After instructing her to sit, she even took the initiative to tidy up the seat, expressing a subtle dislike for the chaotic study.

Thinking about this, Feng Liwu’s face became even more gloomy.

However, the enthusiasm of those naturally inclined toward cleanliness is something only like-minded individuals can understand. After Jiang Xiurun tidied up the seat, she lifted her head and saw the table filled with books. It was simply unbearable!

If not for the annotated manuscript files on top, she would have loved to jump in and thoroughly organize the cluttered desk.

Perhaps due to her eager gaze, after absentmindedly responding to the Crown Prince’s questions, Feng Liwu suddenly fell silent for a moment. He raised his hand and collected the half-written documents and scrolls on the table, saying, “Kindly assist me; clean up for me.”

Jiang Xiurun was waiting for this moment. She immediately moved to the table on her knees and swiftly started tidying up.

Once the scrolls were neatly placed on the nearby bookshelves and in the book boxes, the intricately carved patterns of mountains and rivers on the tabletop gradually became visible.

Under the vast sky, various countries stood side by side amid the mountains and rivers, including her homeland, Bo State.

What Feng Liwu contemplated daily while facing such a tabletop was almost self-evident.

Jiang Xiurun withdrew her gaze, deliberately avoiding looking at the panorama of countless nations, and sat back on the cushion.

Feng Liwu, however, knew what she was thinking at this moment. In his eyes, this seemingly frail young man, despite appearing young, possessed a delicate mind and agile thinking—truly a great talent.

Although Young Master Jiang was not from the Great Qi, the Bo state was weak, living on the edge, and the two brothers had fallen out of favor with their father. It was said that the emperor of Bo intended to designate his new heir as the future prince. A person destined to lose their homeland and wander in a foreign land, not the eldest son of the country, would be like a rootless, floating weed. If he was willing to submit to him, he could be of use.

It’s worth knowing that at that time, it was common to host guests with virtuous and talented individuals; having three thousand food guests under one’s roof was not considered unusual.

Under Feng Liwu’s roof, there were also talented individuals from various countries. In his view, gathering talent was even more enchanting than collecting beauties. For future grand achievements, relying solely on the people of Great Qi would not be enough.

So, he lightly tapped the tabletop and asked, “What do you think of my tabletop’s craftsmanship?”

Jiang Xiurun pursed her lips and said, “The artistry is excellent, and the carving is quite exquisite.”

Feng Liwu looked at the young man, who was currently lowering his head. The shape of his neck was graceful, extending from a slightly oversized collar, giving him an inexplicable sense of pity. If he hadn’t seen her arrogant demeanor earlier, he would have truly thought she was a frail and obedient beautiful youth!

He said, “How can the tabletop, which hasn’t been fully carved, be considered exquisite? I wonder if you are willing to complete this tabletop with me, leaving a mark in history and achieving extraordinary deeds together?”

Jiang Xiurun understood the deeper meaning in Feng Liwu’s words. Although the Crown Prince’s attitude was not very warm at the moment, he was still approachable. If she stubbornly refused, it might irritate him. She wasn’t afraid of much, but she feared that he might carefully investigate her background. If her true identity as a woman were exposed, the consequences would be unimaginable.

Among the many guests under Feng Liwu, adding one more person wouldn’t attract much attention. Managing to show her talents was nothing more than being eloquent, and she didn’t possess any exceptional skills.

If Feng Liwu wanted to be King Xuan of Qi, what harm would it do for her to be a mediocre Mr. Nanguo?

(T/N: King Xuan of Qi was from 319 to 301 BC ruler of Qi, one of the seven major states of the Warring States period of ancient China. King Xuan’s personal name was Tian Bijiang, ancestral name Gui, and King Xuan was his posthumous title.

Mr. Nanguo is a man who pretends to be a musician in order to profit from the high wages paid to the king’s court pipe players in the Qi period.)


If she could attach herself to the Crown Prince, deceive some financial support, and not worry about food and clothing, why not do it?

Thinking of this, she deliberately appeared to be in deep thought, as if she were struggling. Finally, she bowed her head and said solemnly, “If the Crown Prince is willing to favor me, I will certainly do my best to assist His Highness in achieving great deeds. However, my talents are limited, and I am uncertain if they are of any use.”

Feng Liwu didn’t expect this arrogant youth to quickly change his stance. He glanced at her again but didn’t say anything further, just stating, “The journey from the Bo state is long. I heard that you and your brother had a major incident with a general in the market over gold matters… A gentleman’s talents should be as sharp as a blade, not easily unsheathed. Like today, for the sake of earning a few pieces of gold, engaging in public matters is not advisable. If you are short of funds, you can come to my mansion every month to discuss matters with the steward.”

Jiang Xiurun was waiting for this. She wasn’t the type of tough person who would refuse a meal because of her pride.

Perhaps because she had laughed foolishly at the prospect of gold earlier, Feng Liwu could see that she was a money enthusiast willing to do anything for wealth. He straightforwardly told her she could come to the mansion to receive money.

This conversation turned out to be quite pleasant. During it, Feng Liwu inquired about the Bo state’s situation and the conditions in surrounding countries. Jiang Xiurun answered truthfully without any concealment.

She guessed that Feng Liwu probably knew the answers to these questions already, and now asking her was just a test of her honesty.

However, when it came to the Liang state, she explained it in detail and mentioned the newly constructed canal.

To elaborate, when the Liang Kingdom built the canal, it cost a great deal and brought hardship to the people. The Emperor of Liang practiced frugality, even eating pickled vegetables for a year, becoming a laughingstock among other nations.

But later, when prolonged droughts struck the various countries, the Liang state reaped abundant harvests due to this canal. The granaries were full. Taking advantage of the situation, they sold grain to other nations at high prices, accumulating wealth. This allowed the Liang state to stand out and gave them the capital to compete with Great Qi.

In her previous life, the Liang State conquered the Bo State, leading to her brother’s suicide. This grudge was hard to settle. Now, with such an opportunity, it was only right to make trouble for her foster grandfather.

Thinking about this, she spoke confidently: “Recently, people in the neighborhood are mocking the Liang state’s emperor for making a losing deal. It’s said he was deceived by some outsiders into building a useless canal. The project was enormous, and the cost was high. It’s rumored that the emperor hasn’t tasted meat for a year. But I’ve always been puzzled. Why would such a wise move be ridiculed?”

Feng Liwu raised an eyebrow, signaling her to continue.

Jiang Xiurun continued, “If the king had built pleasure gardens and indulged in luxury, that would be the action of a foolish ruler subject to mockery. However, the emperor of Liang, knowing that building the canal wouldn’t benefit the courtiers, only the common people working the land would enjoy its benefits. He was willing to sacrifice personal enjoyment to build a canal beneficial to the people. His farsighted vision is admirable. It’s laughable how people in this world are ignorant, only seeing immediate benefits and mocking the actions of a virtuous monarch. It truly baffles me…”

This statement caused a slight change in Feng Liwu’s expression. Evidently, these words struck a chord with him.

At present, the Liang state wasn’t weak, but it couldn’t compete with Daqi on equal terms. The emperor of Liang had a reputation for being dull-witted and easily deceived, purportedly incapable of making decisions without consulting his courtiers or even seeking advice from the concubines in the harem.

But if the analysis of this young man in front of him is true, wouldn’t the emperor of the Liang state have been deliberately keeping a low profile, hiding his true capabilities?

Feng Liwu looked at Jiang Xiurun again with a particularly meaningful expression, feeling an intuitive sense that he had found a gem.

Breaking his usual practice of not letting guests dine in the mansion, the Crown Prince made an exception and allowed Young Master Jiang to stay for a meal.

However, after Jiang Xiurun took the first bite, she found it difficult to conceal her bitterness—someone, please save her! This meal was damn near inedible!






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