The sky was pitch black, but Taihe Hall was brightly lit. Su Mu sat on the throne in a golden court robe, sharp eyes sweeping across the crowd, and said: “Ministry of Rites, how many scholars came to participate in the examination.”
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Hearing Su Mu ask this question again Peng Han stepped forward in a cold sweat and replied: “Your Highness, as of today, there are a total of 752 scholars who have signed up for the examination. Chen has failed to handle the issue well, chen will accept any punishment.”
The Crown Prince once said that he would cut him down if a thousand people did not sign up for the imperial examination. Even if he used all his relationships and even coerced the scholars to participate in the test, he barely gathered more than 400 people. But unexpectedly, Lin Siyuan led a group of scholars to sign up for the examination, causing Peng Han to almost break out into joyful tears.
What does it mean to send charcoal in snowy weather (TN: provide aid in sb’s hour of need)? This was it! It was just that the number of people was still less than a thousand even with Lin Siyuan’s aid. Fortunately, the Crown Prince had changed a lot recently and he no longer killed at will. Peng Han was betting his life, hoping that the Crown Prince really had changed his temper. If not for the fact that all his family was in the imperial city he would have run away long ago.
Su Mu nodded, this result had actually exceeded his expectations, and so he said: “Rise.”
The morning assembly have already moved on the right track, and Su Mu had gradually gone from somewhat shaky to proficient on handling matters of state.
“Li Gaosheng, how is the construction of the dam in Xijiang?” Su Mu asked.
Li Gaosheng bowed his head respectfully, not daring to show even a hint of negligence, and replied: “Your Highness, the building of the dam has officially started and is expected to be completed in the spring of the next year.”
Su Mu nodded in satisfaction and said: “It must be completed before the flood season, otherwise all officials responsible for this matter will be demoted three consecutive ranks.”
After Li Gaosheng retreated, Liu Yuanhua unexpectedly spoke up.
“Your Highness, chen has something to tell.”
Su Mu was a little surprised. Liu Yuanhua’s official position was only earned by selling his son. He always stood in the background and never said anything. Su Mu raised his eyebrows slightly and said, “Speak.”
Liu Yuanhua lowered his head and said: “Your Highness the court ladies who will enter the palace this year have already been selected. The harem has long been empty and we respectfully ask Your Highness to fill the harem and give birth to a royal heir soon.”
The Emperor had long ignored the governing of the court. Although he still had an Emperor’s name but it was the Crown Prince sitting on the dragon throne, and it was the Crown Prince with the control and power. It was even more certain that the Crown Prince will become the Emperor in the future.
The Crown Prince was almost twenty years old, but because he had been only with men therefore there were no births of an heir so far. This worried the officials very much. If the Crown Prince ascended the throne but had no heirs, it would definitely shake the peace of the country and give those who have bad intentions an opportunity to take advantage.
Originally, because of the Crown Prince’s violent and outrageous behavior, no one dared to mention it. But now the Crown Prince ’s temperament had been greatly improved so the officials dared to speak up. Therefore, none of the officials present disagreed and all asked the Crown Prince to expand the harem and provide heirs for the royal family as soon as possible.
After all, it must be said that the first choice for drafting harem candidates was from the daughters of the officials. This time, many daughters from the officials’ families had entered the palace, waiting for the Emperor and Crown Prince to choose. It was better to be selected by the Crown Prince than by a dying old man like the Emperor. And maybe in the future they could even move up the ranks and become an Empress or Noble Consort.
The officials naturally did not forget that the Crown Prince preferred men, but after all, the Crown Prince was the heir apparent of a country. No matter how much he preferred men, he must still leave an heir for the royal family.
This was indeed an unavoidable problem. As the Crown Prince of a country, he must have heirs, but he indeed did not like women. Su Mu frowned slightly and said: “We will discuss this matter again, court dismissed!”
When the golden figure disappeared from Taihe Hall Liu Yuanhua was immediately surrounded by the other officials. Several officials asked: “Why did Lord Liu think of having the Crown Prince choose concubines today?”
Liu Yuanhua smiled and said: “How can the Crown Prince of a country be without heirs? This old man is only doing his duty as an official.”
Bah! Duty my ass, as if everyone didn’t already know that you sent your daughter into the palace.
Liu Yuanhua shook off the officials who wanted to pry some news with a smile on his face but cold eyes. He thought privately to himself: “Liu Xi, that useless thing, was of not much use anymore. When Yuewei enters the Crown Prince’s Palace, see how I’ll deal with you.”
There was a reason why Liu Yuanhua was so confident. After all, Liu Xi was a favorite for a certain time. Liu Yuewei had half a resemblance to Liu Xi, and had been trained by his legal wife since childhood.
Liu Xi had a position in the Ministry of Rites so the news that Liu Yuanhua wanted to send Liu Yuewei into the harem was immediately known to him. Liu Xi sat on the chair with a calm face, but the tea cup in his hand was crushed into pieces. The few strands of blood stood out quite noticeably on the pale fingers.
Even if he had known Liu Yuanhua to be ruthless and shameless, he did not expect Liu Yuanhua to actually do this. Although Liu Yuewei was not born from his mother, she was still his sister.
Brother and sister serving one husband together! Only a shameless person like Liu Yuanhua could do such a thing.
Liu Xi suppressed the anger that roiled in his chest, and dressed himself calmly. If Liu Yuewei really entered the Crown Prince’s Palace and gained favor, then his mother, his younger brother, and himself will probably be dead.
With a jade crown to tie his hair and a brocade robe dressed on his willowy body, Liu Xi looked at himself in the mirror. Phoenix eyes were like autumn water and red lips like cherry blossoms. He was indeed possessing of a natural charming appearance. But he hated this appearance of his. He had the same fate as his mother; because of this face he had a rough fate since he was a child. But ironically he had to use this face he hated to protect the people he cared about.
Liu Xi closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, the sadness and hatred on his face disappeared in the blink of an eye, arriving at the Crown Prince’s residence with a bright and sunny face.
Today was the first day of the imperial examination so Su Mu came back earlier. The most important thing in a country was talent no matter whether it was a strong military force or wealth they were all produced by people. So Su Mu attached great importance to this examination. Listening to Han Yang reporting that those candidates performed quite well in the examination room, Su Mu’s mood became much better.
It was autumn but some of the residual heat had not yet receded. Su Mu returned to the Crown Prince’s Palace from the Imperial Study Room with a fine layer of sweat already appearing on his forehead. Liu Xi lightly pressed against Su Mu’s body and said with a smile: “Your Highness, chen will wipe the sweat for you.”
The soft, frgrantly scented cloth was pressed against Su Mu’s forehead, but Su Mu felt a little uncomfortable, saying, “Don’t call yourself chen from now on, just use ‘I’.” Otherwise, every time he would think of those morning assembly officials with their wrinkles and beards.
Liu Xi hesitated and said, “But this is not in compliance to the palace rules.”
Su Mu looked at Liu Xi and said, “In this palace, I am the rule.”
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“Yes.” Liu Xi’s expression flickered slightly, and then he smiled: “Your Highness, the candidates have already left the examination room. Most scholars will gather in Fu’an Pavilion. Your Highness, why don’t we go and have a look together?”
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