In the blink of an eye, over half a month had passed. Eunuch Fu had been in a good mood recently, humming little tunes in the mornings.
“Master, this disciple noticed your mood has been pretty good these past few days.”
An Chen was a seventeen or eighteen year old1 eunuch who served in the rear hall of the Hall of Splendor. His features were delicate and his face was full of smiles as he spoke, making him extremely likeable. Of course this was only towards his highness and his master. Towards others, An Chen was extremely arrogant.
Eunuch Fu laughed and swung a kick at him, “You little brat, when did you learn to laugh at your master?”
An Chen pretended to stagger back from the kick, then straightened himself and sidled up to Eunuch Fu, his face full of smiles.
“Disciple clearly saw master being in a cheerful mood, even humming a little tune.” An Chen put on an aggrieved appearance, making Eunuch Fu laugh even harder.
Eunuch Fu gave An Chen a side eye, “You don’t know why I’m happy? Where’s his highness?”
“His highness is in the front hall eating breakfast.” An Chen laughed drily in mischief a couple of times, leaning close to Eunuch Fu and whispering: “His highness hasn’t made any moves yet this time, this is really a hugely wonderful thing.”
When this was mentioned Eunuch Fu couldn’t help his lips from curving upwards.
“How are those low palace maids doing recently? When I’m not present you must ask someone to keep a close watch.”
“Master can rest assured when An Chen handles things. I’ve asked someone to keep an eye out.”
“These few low palace maids are all quite young. Make Xiao Xia Zi and the others teach them some more indirectly.”
“Please don’t worry about this matter, master.” An Chen naturally knew what Eunuch Fu liked to hear, and chose his words to please him, “This time it will definitely succeed. Look how short those previous palace maids lasted. This time it’s already been over half a month, meaning this time the people definitely fit his highness’s desires. Master has really good insight, and really knows how to pick people.”
Eunuch Fu smiled a little while stroking his bald chin and spoke: “That would be for the best. Otherwise I would worry myself to death.”
An Chen did not banter with this line. Although he normally spoke in an unrestrained manner with his master, he knew what he could say and couldn’t say. He couldn’t afford to take this line lightly.
As Eunuch Fu’s disciple, everyone in the estate had to view him with some importance.
However, An Chen was clear that in the Jing Prince’s heart, he wasn’t someone irreplaceable unlike his master. His master had watched the prince grow up. Otherwise what household’s servant would dare openly arrange women by his master’s side.
Of course, whether his highness accepted it was another thing, but to dare do so or for the Jing Prince to give sufficient face to do so, only Eunuch Fu barely qualified.
Everyone in the estate understood the Jing Prince’s indifferent character, but who would dare speak out against it even a little. Don’t you see that even his highness’s consort, the Jing Consort, stayed in her house the whole time without daring to say a word?
In the end, the royal household’s rules were different from other places, and the royal family’s prestige cannot be infringed upon. The master could act as he liked and that was his business. Servants who said one word too many would end up dead.
If An Chen commented carelessly, it wouldn’t even require others to act since his own master Eunuch Fu wouldn’t spare him.
“I’m going to the front hall. If things succeed this time, your benefits also wouldn’t be lacking.” After speaking, Eunuch Fu walked off.
Maintaining the smile on his face as he sent Eunuch Fu off with his eyes, An Chen finally straightened his posture.
Xiao Li ZI who had been standing to the side as though invisible approached and said: “Brother An, don’t we need to report the matter with those palace maids to Grandpa Fu?”
Eunuch Fu arranging people into the hall was known by those who had served there for a long time. On the surface it seemed as if only Xiao Xia Zi and Xiao Qin Zi were willing to bother with them while everyone else remained solemn and removed. The truth was that an unknown amount of people were watching them closely, and regarding the palace maids’ hidden schemes everyone was clear in their hearts.
“Those little girls fighting and scheming against each other in the dark isn’t worth reporting to master. If I told him he would just say I was making a fuss over nothing.” An Chen assumed the look of an instructor as he opened his mouth and preached, “Master’s old self doesn’t need to be bothered by small things such as this. Human nature will cause conflict to erupt wherever they are. We just need to keep a close watch.”
“Right, right, right. What brother An said makes sense.”
An Chen glanced sideways at Xiao Li Zi. This person was still too tender, not knowing that master is more than happy to see this situation occur. Struggles are good. Struggles meant they had ambition, and only with ambition could things come to fruition. If things could succeed that would be good. For those at the top, the results justified the means.
The Jing Prince could also see that Eunuch Fu was in a good mood, but he didn’t reveal anything in his expression.
After finishing breakfast, the prince went to the martial training grounds.
In the past, the Jing Prince didn’t know any martial arts. Within the palace, no one asked and no one taught. Only after coming to the Jing Province did he find himself some martial arts masters and had them instruct him in martial arts.
Martial arts was something that needed to be trained at a young age. Only then could the muscles and bones be developed properly. The Jing Prince started too late, and he had to put in several more times the effort for very little result.
Master Yan was responsible for teaching kickboxing styled kung-fu. He was a famous general in the past and afterwards was invited by the Jing Prince to be his personal kickboxing instructor. Master Yan told the Jing Prince several times that learning kickboxing at his age wasn’t very useful, but the prince continued learning from him single-mindedly, and did not miss a single day.
The Jing Prince first practiced archery, and then practiced Master Yan’s techniques.
After training for an hour, he was sweating all over. His expression still unchanged, he went to take a bath and changed clothes before going to the front court’s Hall of Deliberation.
The Hall of Deliberation was where the Jing Prince handled official business. There he either met officials under his jurisdiction or took care of his business.
Although it was called taking care of business, there really wasn’t anything important. After all, the Jing Prince Estate had an Adjutant’s Office that would take care of most important matters normally and only the smaller things get passed on to the prince. Of course the office still reported regularly to the prince, especially since he took his work very seriously.
Precisely because of his work ethic, along with his habitually silent personality, those office workers he had dealings with often felt a lot of pressure.
If the boss has too much of a personality, those under him will need to adapt.
The result of adaptation was that those who were successful could continue to work while those who weren’t went elsewhere. The Jing Prince relocated to the Jing Province right after his coming-of-age ceremony at twenty years old, and it’s been five years since. Over the years, all those that worked under him had gone through this adaptation process.
Of course this only went for those in the Adjutant’s Office. The other officials under his jurisdiction were able to escape this fate since they rarely had interactions with the prince.
Of course there were those who couldn’t adapt but the Jing Prince also couldn’t just get rid of. The Adjutant Office’s Left Adjutant Guan Zheng was one such example.
The Left Adjutant was the highest official in the Adjutant’s office. The position couldn’t be decided by the prince, but was instead appointed by the imperial court. His role wasn’t merely to help the prince govern the vassal state, but also to act as an auditor.
The Adjutant’s Office was allocated a certain number of units, and each had their clearly defined roles. The justice center was responsible for administering punishments for crimes. The meal management center was responsible for the food, drink and feasts of everyone in the estate. The regulatory center was responsible for all the stamps and seals of the estate. The virtuous guidance center was responsible in teaching the prince’s would be offspring etiquette, hosting national holidays of gratitude and doing virtuous deeds in name of the prince. The tribute and offerings center gave rites to the gods and ancestors. The ceremonial center was responsible for ceremonies and etiquette within the estate. The skilled labor center maintained, repaired and renovated the estate. The medical center was responsible for medical treatment and hygiene. The transportation center was responsible for chariots, carriages and the riding thereof, as well as ceremonial weaponry. The herding center was responsible for raising livestock. The offices of the protectorate and honor guards were responsible for the estate’s safety and ceremonial patrols. The warehouse and granary were responsible for collecting, storing and distributing food and salary. There were also those tutors, professors, ceremony officiators and so on who were permanent residents in the estate.
It could be said that the Adjutant’s Office was the largest governmental division within the vassal state.
Included within the adjutant’s duties were to “reinforce official decrees within the estate, prevent the prince from making mistakes, rectify the prince’s mistakes, manage all the estate’s workers and some miscellaneous affairs, deal with the citizens’ requests for names, titles, marriage, favor and gratitude, write various reports and clean it all up for his highness’s eyes.
From this it was clear that the Adjutant’s Office had a lot of authority.
It was also clear that the every vassal prince would feel their adjutant’s office played the role of an eyesore. But they also couldn’t obstruct the imperial court’s proceedings and couldn’t act carelessly. There were many princes who had lots of disagreements with their adjutants, but were unable to deal with them and instead had to suppress their arrogance and maintain a harmonious appearance.
Of course, the Left Adjutant’s position wasn’t as well off as it seemed on the surface. To speak plainly, the Left Adjutant was caught between the anger of the imperial court and the prince. On one side he had to keep his position as a subordinate of the prince. On the other, he had to obey the imperial court and keep an eye on the prince.
Ever since Guan Zheng was appointed to the Jing Prince Estate’s Adjutant’s Office, he was well aware of his situation going forward. He had also prepared himself mentally, but had never expected the master above him to have such a personality.
It wasn’t that the prince made things difficult for him, and there was no need to expect deferential treatment. Besides, would he insist on getting deferential treatment from someone of royal birth? If the prince dared act deferentially, would he dare receive it? The prince did show him courtesy though. There was no need to mention anything else, what gave Guan Zheng a headache was how he should interact with the Jing Prince.
The Jing Prince never made things difficult for him, but he also never spoke.
It was truly never speaking. From the time Guan Zheng was assigned to the estate four months ago, the Jing Prince hadn’t spoken over five sentences to him.
Guan Zheng as the left adjutant couldn’t say anything in regards to this. What was there to say? The Jing Prince’s personality was just so, and in the capital he had been known as ‘the mute fifth prince’. Although it was later proven that he could speak, his personally was like this and whether he was willing to speak was another matter.
This made Guan Zheng especially vexed, since he had the feeling of ‘I made all these preparations but the person in question doesn’t even bother with me’.
But thinking of his ‘colleague’ in the Qi Province, he felt that although the Jing Prince was eccentric, it could have been worse. At least he didn’t get whipped.
Guan Zheng was forty this year, and becoming an official at forty wasn’t that late. It was supposed to be the prime of his youth as he set out to do great things. However, since he was of humble birth, he was appointed to the Jing Prince Estate as the chief of the Adjutant Office instead.
It was a fifth rank official’s position, which wasn’t bad. It was even an official of the imperial court, and theoretically it should be extremely good. At least better than those seventh or eighth ranked low officials that were sent outside the capital.
But those that knew the situation all viewed the Left Adjutant’s assignment as being thrown to the wolves.
The reason was precisely because he would be attacked from both sides. Otherwise how could his poor self with no backing have gotten the assignment? But it could be said that things were already very good here by the Jing Prince. Over by the Qi Province’s Qi Prince, the Left Adjutant’s position could switch several times a year.
The Qi Prince had a bad temper, and often had his officials beaten. Even the adjutant sent by the imperial court was beaten. Since he was currently favored by the emperor, those minor officials could only endure it and even those who suffered major grievances didn’t dare report him.
If you couldn’t compare to those better off than you, you might as well compare yourself to those who are worse off. This was human nature. Therefore despite Guan Zheng feeling like interacting with the Jing Prince was a huge burden, he also thought himself rather fortunate. At least, more fortunate than those sent over to the Qi Prince.
Guan Zheng procedurally finished giving his report, and only after a long while did the Jing Prince wave his hand and let him leave. Guan Zheng felt as if he was a criminal who had just received a pardon, and gladly took his leave.
Although he had been full of complaints when the Jing Prince had ignored him for a long while, he thought about his colleagues in the Qi Province again and thus left the Hall of Deliberation in high spirits.
Whatever, whatever. I came from a poor family and don’t have any backing to speak of. Although the Jing Prince wasn’t easy to interact with, my days here are pretty easy. Let’s continue muddling about in this way. The adjutant’s role was for three years, meaning he only had to endure two more years before being able to leave.
Soon after Guan Zhen left, someone entered the hall from outside.
“Your highness, this subordinate has followed your orders and leaked the situation in the Qi Province to the Left Adjutant. Do we need to continue doing so?”
The Jing Prince didn’t blink an eye, “Continue.”
Waving his hand to let the person take his leave, the Jing Prince continued to look at the report in his hands.
Although the Qi Prince was a violent person, he still had his uses. At least he could be used as a boogeyman to help keep his subordinates in line.
The Jing Prince had a simple personality in his previous life, and would never know to do such things. In this life he slowly watched and slowly learned. He felt he wasn’t any worse at it than others.
The clumsier bird starts flying ahead of time. Although he couldn’t fly early anymore, he could at least give himself some advantages.
Take it slowly, don’t rush. There was still a long time before that day would come.