What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 27

Chapter 27

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Without merit, Han Jiao couldn’t accept this lavish mansion gift as he still had no leads about the case.

Just as he was about to decline, he remembered Prince Yan’s suggestion to “temporarily” reside there, probably just for the duration of the job, and he’d have to leave once it was done.

So, Han Jiao readily agreed.

In a hurry to experience the life of the rich, Han Jiao excused himself. He had taken a few steps when Prince Yan called him back, and he turned to ask, “Your Highness, is there anything else you’d like to instruct?”

“I’m a bit curious,” Prince Yan asked the question that had been bothering him, “Master Han seems to have a close relationship with my Ninth Brother?”

Han Jiao was taken aback.

What close relationship?

With memories of the big boss’ disapproving glances flashing through his mind, Han Jiao forced a smile. “It’s just right… Why do you ask, Your Highness?”

“Just right?” Prince Yan became even more puzzled. “According to your interrogation testimony, Ninth Brother chased after you single-handedly, for more than ten miles to rescue you from the kidnappers. I’ve never seen Ninth Brother so passionate about anyone before.”

Han Jiao: “……”

Prince Yan had a good understanding of his own younger brother.

Of course, the big boss didn’t chase after Han Jiao for over ten miles to save him.

In the big boss’ own words, he pursued the kidnappers so relentlessly because he couldn’t tolerate them trying to run away right under his nose. Essentially, it had little to do with saving someone.

As for why His Highness initially chased them out of the inn, according to Han Jiao’s understanding of the boss, it was likely because the eunuch he had sent was rejected, and the boss, in anger, chased after him, thinking of giving Han Jiao a hard time, but he ended up getting into trouble himself.

Han Jiao had grown accustomed to the big boss’ habit of causing problems for himself.

But this testimony had to do with the Ninth Prince’s prestigious image. How could he tell the truth?

Han Jiao could only say that the big boss did it to save him.

“I never thought the Ninth Prince was such a chivalrous and righteous hero,” Han Jiao flattered, keeping a straight face.

“Chivalrous and righteous hero? My Ninth Brother?” Prince Yan was very doubtful if Han Jiao had mistaken someone else.

Han Jiao smiled and knowingly fabricated, “With a role model like Your Highness as his elder brother, it’s not surprising that the Ninth Prince upholds the values of chivalry and righteousness.”

Prince Yan thought for a moment, and with satisfaction, he lowered his head, muttering to himself, “It seems that the boy has truly grown up. When I asked him about it yesterday, he wouldn’t admit to voluntarily saving someone.”

Han Jiao was struck with a bad feeling. “What did the Ninth Prince say?”

Prince Yan chuckled. “He claimed that you were sobbing and calling for help in the carriage, and your cries were so pitiful that he reluctantly chased after the kidnappers himself.”

Han Jiao’s gaze sharpened, his face full of anger.

He couldn’t believe it!

The nerve!

Stay calm. Why bother arguing with the big boss, this stinky little brother, over such matters?

Han Jiao’s character was well known to others. Even when faced with the Emperor’s anger, he had never shed a tear, let alone with a group of kidnappers.

If the boss wanted to show off, let him do so. No one would believe it.

Prince Yan made a reasonable analysis, “From what I see, when he was on horseback, pursuing from a distance, how could he hear your cries inside the carriage?”

Han Jiao nodded in deep agreement, almost applauding Prince Yan’s logic!

However, Prince Yan quickly offered his deductive conclusion, “It’s certain that my ninth brother took the initiative to save someone, and only afterward, did he see you in such a pitiful state.”

Han Jiao: “……”

Damn it!

The nerve!

Prince Yan, after his analysis, still thought of himself as quite wise. He then returned to his royal mansion with hearty laughter.

Han Jiao sighed helplessly, then turned and walked towards his new residence.

Arriving at the mansion on the east side of the Prince’s estate, the guards at the entrance recognized Han Jiao and all saluted him with a respectful fist-to-palm gesture.

Han Jiao nodded in acknowledgment, stepped over the threshold, bypassed the ornamental screen, and entered the splendid mansion courtyard. What greeted him was a delightful view!

The scenery in the courtyard wasn’t the imposing layout of the imperial palace or royal residence but rather reflected the style of a southern garden, with dainty flowers, rocks, and a charming, almost fairy-like atmosphere.

Moving through the corridor, he entered a second courtyard, revealing a different landscape.

Before Han Jiao could fully appreciate the scenery, a person sitting not far away under the wisteria vines hurriedly approached.

Hearing footsteps, Han Jiao turned to see his mother walking over with his little brother in her arms. Both mother and child appeared quite weary.

Yesterday, when Han Jiao returned home covered in blood, he planned to clean up quietly. To his surprise, his mother had been waiting by the house entrance, and when she saw him, she fainted in shock.

Upon closer examination that evening, Han Jiao had only suffered minor cuts on his palm and neck, which helped his mother regain her composure.

Concealing such a major incident was impossible, especially with A’Mo present. Han Jiao recounted the kidnapping ordeal to his mother, omitting the most perilous details and his confrontation with the kidnappers.

Still overwhelmed with fear, his mother appeared noticeably aged, requiring gentle care.

Luckily, his little brother fainted halfway during Han Jiao’s duel with the kidnapper, sparing him from witnessing any terrifying scenes.

The little one was still quite shaken. Since last night, his face remained dazed. He didn’t cry or fuss, ate when offered food but refused to speak, clinging to his mother, wanting to be held constantly.

Han Jiao’s lifelong wish was for his family to lead a peaceful life, but he never thought he’d break that promise so soon.

The storms of the officialdom were far more treacherous than he had imagined.

He needed to swiftly resolve the case of fabricated valor, rescue his father, and then gain Prince Yan’s favor to secure his position.

With these thoughts, Han Jiao reassured his mother with a few words and then delved back into the military department’s accounts.

In this mansion, Prince Yan had arranged for two maidservants and two housekeepers, and there were two menial laborers in the outer courtyard.

Six people attended to them. Mrs. Han had nothing to do, only personally bringing their meals into the study in the evening.

Han Jiao was entirely focused on calculating and cross-checking the accounts, with no appetite for food. He didn’t even raise his head, letting his mother place the meal in front of him without acknowledging her.

He was so engrossed that he didn’t notice his mother sitting behind him, gently fanning him with a handheld fan after placing the food on the table.

Surprisingly, she sat there until midnight.

Normally, Mrs. Han would have been furious at her son and demanded he rest, but now she knew her son was risking it all for Master Han.

She remained silent.

Her son’s thin back was becoming increasingly hunched as he curled over the desk, constantly rubbing his eyes, with ink stains covering his face all night.

Mrs. Han’s heart ached. She wiped away her tears, trying not to make a sound to avoid disturbing her son.

Han Jiao hadn’t noticed his mother sitting behind him. He remained completely focused on calculations, lists, comparisons, repeatedly working until daybreak.

Prince Yan hadn’t specified a deadline for him to uncover the results, but this matter couldn’t be delayed. These accounts were like a hot potato. The longer they stayed in his possession, the more people would want to silence him.

After categorizing the accounts on the first day, Han Jiao estimated that it would take him at least three days to fully unravel the accounts.

And now, he discovered that the expenses in the military department were fewer than he had anticipated. It was almost dawn when he unexpectedly found the clue he had been searching for!

At this moment, Mrs. Han had dozed off. Suddenly, she heard her son making a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob. She looked up and saw Han Jiao holding a stack of still-wet inked paper in front of an oil lamp. He was waving it in the air, breathing rapidly, as if he were suppressing joy.

“A’Jiao?” Mrs. Han stood up eagerly.

Startled, Han Jiao shuddered and turned around, only then realizing his mother was standing behind him.

“Has the task assigned by Prince Yan been completed?” Mrs. Han walked up with concern, using her handkerchief to wipe the beads of sweat from her son’s forehead.

Han Jiao bent down and tightly embraced his mother, containing his excitement. “I guessed it right!”

His voice quivered with emotion.

The burden on Han Jiao’s shoulders had grown heavier each day since his father’s troubles began.

Even though he had appeared confident in front of Prince Yan, in reality, Han Jiao didn’t have full assurance about his speculations until he found concrete evidence. That was why he hadn’t dared to reveal his specific plans to Prince Yan.

But now, finally, everything was back under his control!

“As long as it’s accomplished!” Mrs. Han wasn’t aware of what task her son was completing for Prince Yan. She lifted her son’s pale face with tears in her eyes and said, “This time, we’ve managed to do something for Prince Yan. When he rescues your father, we’ll resign from our official positions, return to our hometown, buy some land, and live as ordinary folks…”

“Mother,” Han Jiao protested, “With Prince Yan’s trust in me, I’ll be a crucial advisor to the future ruler of this nation. Why worry about others bullying our family? Farming isn’t as peaceful as you think. In this world, the power game is full of tricks and turns. Without power, one becomes even more vulnerable. Rest assured, in the future, I will protect you and A’Mo.”

Mrs. Han, exhausted by the recent trials, couldn’t find a reason to argue with her son. She simply lowered her head and sighed.

After persuading his mother to rest and with daylight breaking, Han Jiao felt no fatigue. He followed the clues he had discovered and delved deeper into the accounts.

He worked steadily until mid-morning, following the thread to uncover the last implicated official.

Han Jiao didn’t react with wild joy.

It played out as he expected. All the officials he uncovered along this trail were loyalists of Senior Minister Li. This was precisely what Prince Yan wanted.

There were five individuals in total, including Zhao Liang. Among them, three were fourth-ranked military officials, and one was a Secretary from the Ministry of War.

Dealing with these four would be manageable for Prince Yan, mainly because Senior Minister Li wouldn’t risk a major conflict over a few lower-ranking officials.

The challenge lay with the last one — the Left Deputy Minister of War.

This man was Senior Minister Li’s son-in-law. Targeting him would essentially mean declaring an all-out war against the Li faction.

However, Prince Yan didn’t have such a strong foundation at this moment.

The Seal-holding Eunuch Director of Imperial Regalia was also a supporter of Senior Minister Li.

Prince Yan was already out of favor, and if the people around the Emperor manipulated the situation, it would create an opportunity for Prince Duan, the Seventh Prince, who was Senior Minister Li’s preferred Crown Prince.

Previously, while following the serial updates, Han Jiao had been puzzled about why the Ninth Prince, who was so favored, didn’t have any faction supporting him.

The later events led to the Ninth Prince becoming the Crown Prince without the support of any faction, indicating the Emperor’s extreme favoritism. However, in the earlier part of his life, no one had backed the Ninth Prince.

Initially, Han Jiao had thought this might be a flaw in the novel, but now, being part of it, he realized that the Ninth Prince, who was a true underachiever with no political ambition, simply didn’t concern himself with any factions.

As an authentic salted fish with no desire for power, the Ninth Prince currently paid no heed to any political groups.

After spending so long at the Hanlin Academy, Han Jiao had heard quite a bit of inside information.

According to rumors, the Ninth Prince employed a forceful method only once, discreetly pressuring the Minister of Rites, who also served as the Hanlin Chancellor. His confidential request was to have the Hanlin Chancellor issue instructions to the lecturers, “Assign fewer homework assignments after class!”

His Highness wanted to play cuju and didn’t want to copy essays. He hoped the teachers had some understanding.

That was the only experience in big boss’ early years where he dabbled in wielding authority.

So, in the eyes of the major political factions at court, the Ninth Prince was blatantly marked with the words: “Mud that can’t support a wall [unreliable].”

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