Chapter 566, Part II: Scandal

“Your clans are all so powerful?” Zu An’s eyes went wide. The clans that these women were from wielded such staggering power that he almost didn’t feel like trying so hard anymore.

Chu Chuyan frowned. “Manman’s status in her clan is a little… awkward. It’s not as glamorous as you think.”

“What is going on in her clan?” Zu An asked quickly. “There’s also the issue of her mother. She looked like she was in a hurry to go see her.”

Chu Chuyan opened her mouth to speak, then hesitated. “I think it’s best if Manman tells you about her situation herself. I don’t think it’s something I should talk about.”

Zu An had a pensive look on his face when he saw her uncertainty. Was it an affair…?

Chu Chuyan got back to the main topic. “Besides these three departments, there are nine major ministers. They are in charge of various political and economic affairs in various fields. For example, the Minister of Ceremonies is in charge of academies country-wide. They wield great authority.”

Zu An knew that Brightmoon Academy had outstanding teachers, and also nurtured many talented individuals. There were many academies like this throughout the various commanderies within this empire. All of them added together were truly a formidable force.

“This is a rough summary of how the capital is structured. You haven’t met them yet, so you might not be able to match names to faces. I’ll introduce them to you one by one in the future, if we have a chance.” Chu Chuyan grew dejected. She wasn’t sure if Ah Zu would even be alive after his meeting with the emperor.

Zu An pondered over what he’d heard, then said, “One last question. Of all of these people you mentioned, who is in King Qi’s faction, and who remains loyal to the emperor? Who has remained neutral?”

The Chu clan had been buffeted by both sides in Brightmoon City. The battle between the two factions would surely be more intense within the capital.

It was imperative that he sort these things out first, to give him some confidence when he faced the emperor later on.

Chu Chuyan looked about cautiously, then said through voice transmission, “No one will publicly admit to these things. However, it is still possible to tell which camp they are in through their day-to-day words and actions.

“The core of King Qi’s faction should be the Qin, Yu, and Pei clan. The Qin clan is my grandfather’s clan. My grandfather’s older sister is King Qi’s mother. As King Qi’s maternal uncles, they naturally support King Qi…”

Zu An clicked his tongue. Only now do I find out that your grandfather is a firm supporter of the King Qi party. Why then did the Chu clan bother to remain neutral all this while…?

“The leader of the Yu clan, Yu Xuanchong, is one of the Imperial Secretariat’s confidential assistants. The Yu clan started out in the ki stone business, which made them an extremely wealthy clan.”

Zu An’s expression suddenly grew strange. “What is Yu Yanluo’s connection with the Yu clan?”

He remembered that he had saved a stunning young madam in a valley not long after arriving in this world. She seemed to be in the ki stone business as well. In the past, she was known as the capital’s number-one beauty.

That woman turned out to be insincere, though. She said that she was going to repay his kindness, yet he couldn’t find her in Brightmoon City afterwards! 

Damn it all! Pretty girls are all liars… 

Chu Chuyan was surprised. “You know about Yu Yanluo?” 

“Wasn’t she the number-one beauty in the capital some time ago? She should be famous, right? Why is it weird that I know about her?” Zu An looked as if he were stating the obvious.

Chu Chuyan’s face reddened, and she snorted. “Men are all pigs!”

She finally knew why her mother always reacted this way whenever her father talked about Yu Yanluo.

However, she still went on,“Yu Yanluo is from the Yu clan. The Yu clan has always produced handsome men and beautiful women. They are a clan that many great clans wish to intermarry with. Yu Yanluo is the most outstanding among them…”

Zu An wrapped his arms around her soft waist and gave her a peck on her cold cheek. “I don’t think the Yu clan is all that special. The Chu clan’s women are prettier.”

Chu Chuyan knew that he was praising her. She couldn’t help but feel happy inside, but there was no way she would admit to it. “You might not say that if you saw Yu Yanluo in person. After my dad saw her once, he never forgot about her since. Hmph…”

“It’s not like I’ve never seen her before…” Zu An mumbled.

When he thought back to their first meeting, though, he had to admit that she was stunning.

Chu Chuyan continued, “The Pei Clan has two main branches. The first branch belongs to Waterfront Duke Pei Zheng, the clan leader. His official position is Chief Attendant, and he is also Manman’s grandfather.”

“So he’s Manman’s grandfather.” Zu An immediately had a much better impression of him.

Chu Chuyan wanted to say something, but hesitated. “The situation might not be that harmonious. You shouldn’t let your impressions be so easily swayed.”

She continued, “The other branch is led by Greatdeer Duke, Pei Ming. He is the Director of the Imperial Secretariat. Pei Zheng’s branch is a firm supporter of King Qi, but Pei Ming’s allegiance is much more ambiguous. As a whole, though, the clan should be leaning towards King Qi’s faction.

“The emperor’s faction includes the Yang and Meng clans, as well as King Liang. You have already met King Liang and the people of the Yang clan. The leader of the Meng clan, Meng Jing, is one of the Eight Dukes. He is the Minister of Works, and enjoys great prestige. His son, Meng Yi, is the Central Secretariat Supervisor, who manages the Central Secretariat…”

“What is his son’s name again?” Zu An asked in shock.

“Meng Yi. Do you know him?” Chu Chuyan was confused.

Zu An sighed. This is Meng Yi we’re talking about! Which man doesn’t know about him? What was his father thinking when he gave his son that name?!

Chu Chuyan didn’t understand what he was getting at, and continued. “Meng Yi has a daughter, who is married to the reserve ruler, Zhao Ping.”

“Reserve ruler?”

“The reserve rulers are the crown prince’s younger brothers. The crown prince has many younger brothers. You’ve already met King Wu in North Order Commandery. He is also one of the reserve rulers.”

“Ah, King Wu. I remember that guy.” Zu An had a strange look on his face. Not only did he remember him, he had a deep impression of that man. He was even more familiar with Madam Wu.

Chu Chuyan stared at him, her cheeks turning slightly red. “Why do you have that look on your face? Are you thinking about something nasty?” 

Zu An’s face heated up. He was too embarrassed to talk about what had transpired between him and Madam Wu, so he quickly changed the topic. “Oh, right. Since the crown prince has so many younger brothers, and all of those younger brothers seem quite intelligent, why does the emperor still insist on making a dummy the crown prince?”

Judging from his dealings with King Wu, apart from some seemingly strange fetishes, he seemed much smarter and more capable than the average person. He was definitely more than qualified to hold the position of crown prince. As for the current crown prince, even though everyone spoke ambiguously about him, he was clearly an idiot.

Chu Chuyan replied, “I reckon His Majesty wishes that one of his more…  normal… sons could be the crown prince, but it’s just not meant to be. I’m sure you’re familiar with the story behind the emperor and King Qi. Even though the two aren’t blood brothers, the current emperor was given to his uncle to adopt. This uncle was the late emperor when he was younger. However, the political situation was confusing back then. As King Qi was still too young, the current emperor, who was an adult, succeeded him. King Qi actually has the qualifications to succeed the throne.

“His Majesty sustained great injuries from the battles against the foreign tribes in his earlier years, so his time is already limited. Meanwhile, King Qi is wise and capable, and many ministers believe that the throne should pass to King Qi. His Majesty wishes to pass the throne to his own son, and the only way he could do that is by sticking to the rules and passing it onto the eldest son of his first wife. If he skipped over him and chose someone else, the choice of successor would become a competition of the worthy. If that happened, which current prince could compare to King Qi?

“That’s why, even though his majesty knows that the crown prince is rather slow, he has no choice but to designate him the crown prince.”

Zu An was confused. “Would a dummy like that be able to keep hold of his position, though? Doesn’t the current emperor fear that our entire country might collapse under his rule?”

Chu Chuyan explained, “Even though the crown prince isn’t too bright, he isn’t blatantly stupid. With wise subjects to assist him, ruling isn’t impossible. The crown prince has heirs as well. Even though they are young, they don’t have any problems with their intellect. Things would settle down once the throne passes on to one of them.”

Zu An was shocked. “I’ve heard that the crown prince only got married recently. Yet he already has a son?”

Chu Chuyan blushed. She quietly said, “The heir wasn’t birthed by the crown prince’s wife. Back then, his majesty was worried that the crown prince wasn’t… wasn’t familiar with the ways of the world, so he granted him a beautiful palace concubine. Subsequently, this concubine became pregnant. Because she didn’t want to cause any conflict with the crown princess, she returned to the palace to give birth there.”

Zu An had a weird look on his face. “Does this child come from the stupid crown prince’s seed or the emperor’s? How could the concubine go back to live in the imperial palace? This surely is a huge scandal!”

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