What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 67

Chapter 67

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After Xie Duo gave his advice to join the military, he ignored Huang Liqing. Han Jiao had no choice but to inquire about Huang Liqing’s current temporary residence and family situation and intended to personally help him join the military.

Furthermore, out of curiosity about the military genius’s tactics, Han Jiao persisted in interviewing Huang Liqing, asking him about his strategies for breaking through enemy lines and raiding for supplies.

However, the man’s response left him equally puzzled.

Huang Liqing only described where the troops were stationed, the terrain they encountered, and the situation assessment by both sides. Then he concluded, “That’s how it was done.”

This response’s thought process, similar to the big boss’ “because there’s a river nearby,” was a brain circuit that military novices couldn’t comprehend, which left Han Jiao frustrated.

Han Jiao, who had decided to give up his military aspirations, returned to the side of the princes and picked up an ax to help them cut down trees together.

After Han Jiao swung the ax dozens of times, the three princes standing nearby suddenly burst into cheers!

“He’s finally broken through the tree bark!” the Eighth Prince exclaimed enthusiastically, gripping Ninth Prince’s hand.

Ninth Prince: “I’m truly proud of you.” 

“If you keep up this effort, you can cut down this tree in less than two years!” Third Prince encouraged Han Jiao with a nod.

Han Jiao stared at the three princes with a deadpan expression and said, “I’ve been chopping firewood for the past few days and don’t have the strength to cut trees anymore!”

The bear princes paid no attention to his explanation. They set down their axes and began to settle their bets. The Eighth Prince wagered that it would take Master Xiaobai ten swings to break through the tree bark, the Third Prince bet on six swings, and only the Ninth Prince accurately guessed the outcome of twenty swings.

So, the Eighth Prince handed a silver coin to the Ninth Prince, who then extended his hand toward the Third Prince.

The Third Prince, feeling quite aggrieved by his loss, said, “Master, if you haven’t been chopping firewood for the past few days, you could have broken the tree bark in six swings.”

The Ninth Prince took the silver coin and mercilessly shattered the Third Prince’s illusion, “What are you thinking, Big Brother? Even without chopping firewood, he would need ten swings.”

“Your Highness!” Han Jiao raised his ax and argued, “If I were serious, I could make a one-inch-deep crack in the tree bark in six swings!”

The three princes looked at Han Jiao with skepticism.

The Ninth Prince asked, “Everyone here is Your Highness, so who are you calling?”

The Third Prince stepped forward to claim Han Jiao’s call. “Of course, he’s calling me. Only I guessed that Master Han could break the tree bark in six swings.”

The Eighth Prince was selfless. “Perhaps he’s calling all three of us.”

Xie Duo stepped forward and told the little child prodigy, “In the future, you only need to address me as ‘Your Highness’ and call them Old Eighth and Old Third.”

Han Jiao: “……” Will I not get beheaded?

The Eighth Prince immediately objected, “Call me Eighth Lord, he’s the Third Lord, and as for my younger brother, you can call him ‘School Skipper Ninth’.”

After saying this, he was promptly kicked away by the Ninth Prince.

Provoked by the princes, Han Jiao put all his strength into felling a tree. After wiping off some sweat, he set down the ax and went to find a mountain spring nearby to quench his thirst.

The Third Prince’s voice came from behind, “Master, if you’re tired, you can ride a donkey down the mountain to rest.”

Han Jiao turned around and nodded in acknowledgment.

The Third Prince took a step forward, cupped some spring water in his hand, drank it, cleared his throat, and then spoke solemnly, “I never properly apologized. On the day we first met, I was quite offensive.”

Han Jiao smiled. “Your Highness, no need to worry. We wouldn’t have known each other without a little friction.”

The Third Prince nodded and hesitated to speak further, turning his gaze to the distant horizon.

Han Jiao sensed that the Third Prince had followed him with something private to discuss, so he looked at him with encouraging eyes.

The Third Prince turned to Han Jiao, pondered for a moment, and spoke softly, “My Sixth Brother is in a difficult situation too.”

Han Jiao didn’t understand what he was referring to and listened patiently.

The Third Prince took a deep breath and continued in a hushed tone, “To raise these supplies, Old Sixth openly invited the prominent merchants of the capital to our palace. He endured ridicule from Old Second and the others for over half a month because of this.”

Han Jiao’s eyes flickered slightly, understanding the Third Prince’s meaning.

No matter how successful a merchant’s business was, they were considered lowly in status. Aristocrats could only form private relationships with them. However, to show sincerity, Prince Yan had openly invited these businessmen to the palace, disregarding his reputation, all for a good cause.

Han Jiao nodded and sighed, “Prince Yan has a good heart.”

The Third Prince looked at Han Jiao and said seriously, “Old Sixth feels guilty for these refugees. He knows that Senior Minister Xu handled some matters improperly. Before you entered service, Old Sixth frequently argued with Senior Minister Xu, but there was nothing he could do, you understand? He can’t hold Senior Minister Xu accountable. If he severs ties, it will only benefit the opposing faction.”

Han Jiao spoke with sincerity, “I understand the hardships of His Highness Prince Yan. I have no intention of driving a wedge between him and the Senior Minister.”

The Third Prince nodded. “That’s good to hear. After the recent commotion, Old Sixth has been worried day and night that you might be disappointed in him.”

Han Jiao hadn’t expected Prince Yan to value him to this extent. He felt both grateful and touched. He replied softly, “Your Highness’ concerns, I understand them all.”

“You’re a clever person,” the Third Prince raised an eyebrow and reflected, “The one thing that the court never lacks is clever people. I’ve seen many, but there are only a few as clever as you, and even fewer who are willing to risk their lives for the people.”

“Your Highness, you’re too kind.” Han Jiao nodded thoughtfully and then looked at Third Prince. “If I may, I have some concerns that I’d like to discuss with you.”

“Whatever it is, speak freely. Rest assured, what we say in private stays between us.”

The Third Prince was a loyal person, willing to share his thoughts, so Han Jiao opened up about something that had been troubling him for days. “Over a month ago, I accompanied a friend to visit a high-ranking official and unexpectedly ran into Prince Duan.”

The Third Prince was surprised that Han Jiao was revealing this information, which indicated he trusted him completely. “You met that guy? Did he talk to you? He’s quite odd, isn’t he?”

“Prince Duan does indeed have a unique personality, but…”

The Third Prince encouraged him, “Go on.”

“However, I feel that he’s not inherently wicked and has no interest in politics,” Han Jiao gathered the courage to broach the subject, “Forgive my naivety, but I don’t understand why Prince Yan doesn’t attempt to reach out to Prince Duan…”

The Third Prince finished his sentence for him, “To foster brotherly feelings, perhaps? You think Old Seventh isn’t bad, and you want Old Sixth to reason with him, in the hope that he won’t be influenced by Senior Minister Li any longer?”

“I understand that it’s not realistic to expect that simply reasoning with Prince Duan will break his dependence on Senior Minister Li. I’m aware of Prince Duan’s peculiar nature. However, since he gets along well with Prince Ling, maybe Prince Yan could try to get to know Prince Duan better?”

The Third Prince shook his head and replied in a hushed tone, “It’s different between Old Sixth and Seventh. There are things you don’t know.”

Han Jiao looked at the Third Prince but didn’t dare to ask further.

After some contemplation, the Third Prince finally made up his mind and spoke solemnly to Han Jiao, “When Old Seventh was around ten years old, he suddenly stopped speaking to anyone else, for about two or three years, he only talked to Senior Minister Li. At that time, Senior Minister Li wasn’t yet the Deputy Prime Minister but the Hanlin Chancellor. Only that cunning old fox knew how to make Old Seventh speak.”

Han Jiao nodded. “I’ve heard something about this. It’s said that the Seventh Prince stopped talking after his wetnurse passed away.”

“Actually, there’s more to it,” the Third Prince stepped closer and whispered to Han Jiao, “This must not be spread around. I’ll be honest with you. When Old Seventh was a child, he wasn’t very close to the Empress. Later, when his wetnurse passed away, he clung to the tattered doll she sewed for him. The Empress felt sorry for him. To make him happy, she wore the same clothes his wetnurse used to wear, made him soup, and tried to feed him. But when the Old the saw Mother Empress in those clothes, he went crazy and tried to tear them off her.”

The Third Prince deeply furrowed his brow. “It was a shocking scene. He even spilled scalding soup on the Empress. Nearby, Back then, Old Sixth was with the Empress, along with a group of palace maids and eunuchs. When Old Seventh tried to strip the Empress, Old Sixth rushed over, held down Old Seventh, and gave him a harsh beating. The eunuchs and maids couldn’t stop him.”

Han Jiao was in shock.

This part wasn’t mentioned in the novel.

Prince Yan had actually physically fought with the Seventh Prince.

The Third Prince helplessly said, “At that time, Old Sixth was only twelve years old, and he was really scared. He didn’t know his own strength, and we’re not sure if he accidentally hurt Old Seventh’s head. Anyway, from that day on, Old Seventh stopped talking. Although he had been eccentric before, if anyone asked him something, he would chirp in response. But after that day, he acted as if he’d been struck dumb. He ignored everyone, including Old Ninth. It took about a year and a half to two years before he started talking to Old Ninth again and occasionally acknowledged the rest of us. But he refused to acknowledge Old Sixth, no matter how hard we tried to coax him.”

The Third Prince sighed deeply. “Back when we still lived in the palace, Old Sixth must have apologized countless times. He said every kind word and practically begged for forgiveness, but Old Seventh wouldn’t respond. He treated Old Sixth as if he were air, and if Old Sixth reached out to him, Old Seventh would clutch his head and scream.”

Han Jiao furrowed his brow.

He had originally hoped to encourage Prince Yan to learn from Xie Duo, to patiently approach the Seventh Prince and, at the root of the issue, resolve the ongoing struggle between Prince Yan’s faction and the Seventh Prince’s faction. He thought they might even convince Senior Minister Li to work for Prince Yan, effectively joining forces to oust Senior Minister Xu.

However, Han Jiao had no idea that Prince Yan and the Seventh Prince had such a deep-seated feud.

The Seventh Prince’s rejection of Prince Yan might not be due to holding a grudge.

As a person with Asperger’s syndrome, the Seventh Prince could easily experience emotional outbursts when faced with sudden changes.

Prince Yan was a normal child. When he saw his mother being disrobed in public, he lashed out at his brother in panic. It could be understood. He didn’t comprehend the reasons behind his brother’s emotional differences, nor that the Seventh Prince didn’t harbor malicious intent.

However, this harrowing experience likely subjected the Seventh Prince to severe psychological trauma. Losing his wetnurse and being beaten by his own older brother exacerbated his condition, leading to even more severe neurological problems. This probably rendered him unable to communicate entirely for over a year.

He adopted a coping mechanism of numbing avoidance, ignoring Prince Yan as a form of self-preservation.

Upon careful thought, this issue was both difficult and not so difficult. This was because Prince Duan’s emotions towards Prince Yan were based on fear, not hatred, falling into the category of psychological trauma. Fortunately, Han Jiao had taken a course on this subject.

If he could assist the Seventh Prince in healing from this trauma, it might prevent a future clash between the two brothers.

If he could alter the Seventh Prince’s fate, perhaps he could also change the outcome for the big boss. There might be unknown connections between these matters, and he needed to unravel them one by one.

However, in this era, there were no medications or surgical procedures available. The Seventh Prince’s psychological trauma had already triggered severe symptoms of self-isolation. He had lost confidence and hope in forming new emotional connections and could only find a sense of security and familial love from Senior Minister Li and the Ninth Prince.

Han Jiao carefully recalled the courses he had studied. There were various external therapeutic approaches for treating such patients. For instance, involving professionally trained therapy animals, but this was clearly challenging as Han Jiao wasn’t skilled in training animals.

Additionally, he could attempt simple interactive games to help the Seventh Prince rebuild his sense of social security.

This would likely require the assistance of the big boss.

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