What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 69

Chapter 69

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Xie Duo’s smile vanished from the corners of his mouth. “Why won’t you cry? You cried for those unfortunate strangers, but if you were to witness me being punished, wouldn’t you cry endlessly until nightfall, Master?”

“That won’t happen!” Han Jiao ruthlessly shattered the big boss’ illusions. “I feel for the refugees because they are innocent victims. But for someone like Your Highness, who deliberately avoids his studies and barely meets the word count to satisfy his tutor, if you were to get a beating, I would only think it’s well-deserved!”

Xie Duo’s expression turned serious. “But the refugees are all strangers, and I am your only reliance. You can only shed tears for me in the future.”

“There’s no such rule!” Han Jiao firmly opposed the bandit-like agreement. “Your Highness is my young lord, but also my student. If you don’t complete your assignments, I will genuinely give you a sound thrashing, and I will never shed tears for Your Highness!”

Xie Duo’s gaze suddenly turned fiercea. He abruptly opened his left hand, taking two steps closer to Master Cotton. “Then let’s give it a try!”

Han Jiao instinctively retreated, bumping into the wall behind him, realizing that he had backed himself into a corner in the study room.

Xie Duo extended his hand menacingly. The scene didn’t resemble a teacher punishing a student but more like a wealthy young master personally coming to collect a debt. Han Jiao had the urge to take out his wallet and offer it to the big boss.

“I can be very heavy-handed!” Han Jiao issued another threat.

“I’m waiting.” Xie Duo nodded provocatively, his eyes wide.

“It’s Your Highness who’s forcing me!” Han Jiao no longer retreated, raising the ruler and striking down forcefully.

The flexible ruler produced a sharp and resounding crack in the air!

Han Jiao gritted his teeth and struck the stinky little brother’s palm!

The ruler’s sharp whistle cut through the air, causing Xie Duo’s pupils to shrink. He had already anticipated the power of this ruler strike. His hand instinctively flinched, but then he defiantly opened it again.

However, at the end of the ruler’s whistling sound, there was no crisp sound of it striking the palm.

The ruler, which seemed like a mountain crashing down, stopped just half an inch above Xie Duo’s palm. Then, like a pecking chicken, it lightly tapped on his palm…

Xie Duo: “……”

Han Jiao: “……”

Han Jiao’s idea was to build up the momentum, and then at the moment of impact, slightly reduce the force. This way, he could intimidate this stinky little brother without actually hurting him.

However, these two movements seemed somewhat unnatural, and the attempt to hold back was a bit awkward.

Oh no, oh no, a lifetime of reputation ruined in an instant. This stinky little brother might taunt him about this until his retirement!

“This one doesn’t count,” Han Jiao struggled to save face, “It’s just to demonstrate Your Highness my true arm strength.”

Unexpectedly, the hostility on Xie Duo’s face suddenly dissipated. He squinted and chuckled, revealing a set of white teeth.

Han Jiao blushed and immediately raised the ruler. “Next time, it’ll be for real!”

Watching the nervous child prodigy, Xie Duo suddenly didn’t want to find out if the little child prodigy would cry for him. He lowered his arm, turned, and returned to the desk, casually pleading, “I’m scared, I’m scared, Master, spare me this time.”

“Does Your Highness think I’m easy to deal with?” Although he felt relieved, Han Jiao still wanted to maintain the upper hand. So, he followed behind Xie Duo. “If Your Highness doesn’t show the right attitude, these forty strikes won’t be reduced!”

Xie Duo turned to face the little child prodigy, half-sitting on the desk, and extended his long legs, “I’m very proper.”

How was that a proper sitting posture?

Han Jiao was sensitive to Xie Duo’s mood. He could sense that Xie Duo had no anger left at the moment. So, he gathered courage and approached, making a show of it, “Your Highness must promise to write those four essays properly to avoid the ruler, otherwise—” Han Jiao waved the ruler in front of Xie Duo as if he was using a pair of nunchucks, “I won’t go easy.”

Xie Duo enthusiastically applauded, “Master, great skills.”

Han Jiao immediately stopped. “Does Your Highness tease other tutors like this?”

“No, I only do this to you, Master.”

“Why!” Han Jiao was angry. This stinky little brother dared to admit it. He didn’t even try to sugarcoat his words!

“Because they aren’t fun.”

“What do you mean, not fun? Am I entertaining?” Han Jiao wanted to assert his authority while the big boss was in a good mood, so he wielded the ruler again to show his strength.

“Good skills, it seems you’ve practiced. Can you handle a sword like this?” He clenched his right hand into a fist and demonstrated a sword move in the air.

“Easy.” Han Jiao immediately mimicked the big boss’ move, swinging the ruler, but then it bounced off his head, “Oh!”

Xie Duo was bent over with laughter.

This stinky little brother must have calculated that this move would make the ruler bounce off his head!

“Your Highness!” Han Jiao, furious and embarrassed, grabbed the stinky little brother’s left hand. “You won’t escape this beating!”

Xie Duo couldn’t stop laughing, clutching his fist to prevent the blows, and breathlessly retorted, “I’ve already promised to write the essays. If you keep hitting me, it’s personal revenge.”

“Your Highness, even if it’s just teasing the tutor, you’ll get ten strikes!” Han Jiao forcefully tapped Xie Duo’s fingers.

“I didn’t force you to learn from me. You said you could do it yourself,” Xie Duo said, gripping the little child prodigy’s hand to stop him from pulling away.

“Your Highness asked if I could do it just to trick me into learning this move!” Han Jiao exploded in anger. He decided not to be soft on this stinky little brother anymore. “If you don’t admit, I’ll tell His Majesty!”

“How will you complain?” Xie Duo managed to hold back his laughter. “Saying you were learning my sword move and accidentally hit yourself?”

“I’ll say it was Your Highness who hit me!”

“Wouldn’t that be treason?”

Han Jiao found this argument hard to counter and remained temporarily speechless, glaring at the stinky little brother in frustration.

Xie Duo wiped a tear from the corner of his eye and reluctantly gave in, “Fine, I’ll give you a hit, then.”

“At least three times!” 

No one had ever dared to act so stubborn in front of Xie Duo, but he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting angry. He even extended his hand to compromise, “Just make it light.”

Han Jiao’s eyes gleamed with malice as he tightened his grip on the ruler.

Light? No way!

He raised the ruler and struck down!

A sharp sound made Han Jiao shiver in fright.

He hadn’t really struck hard, but the unexpected loud noise was startling. His palm stung as if on fire.

“How could…” Han Jiao looked panicked, reaching for the stinky little brother’s hand.

Xie Duo immediately pulled his hand away, clenched it into a fist, and let his hand down.

Han Jiao looked at the big boss. “Why don’t you let me see? Did I hit too hard?”

Xie Duo took the ruler from him, raised it in front of his eyes. “This is made from bamboo and fish glue. In the past, they used this to make cuju bamboo frames. It’s very resilient. I asked you to go easy.”

Han Jiao didn’t know the mystery behind this material, so he snatched the ruler back to find out if it hurt to be hit with it. He tried to hit his own palm but was stopped by Xie Duo’s grip on his wrist.

Silence fell.

Han Jiao looked at Xie Duo with a sudden sense of regret.

“You’re not going to cry from one hit, are you?” Xie Duo couldn’t contain his amusement. “Weren’t you supposed to endure forty strikes? I thought you could at least hold out for fifteen before crying.”

Han Jiao’s guilt momentarily subsided. “I’m not going to cry! It’s just…”

He didn’t finish his sentence as a eunuch rushed into the room.

Xie Duo released Han Jiao’s wrist.

“Your Highness, the horsemanship instructor has sent a servant to greet you.”

Xie Duo’s enthusiasm faded instantly. Time passed quickly when he was with the little child prodigy. The short break was suddenly over, and it was time for the horse riding lesson.

“I have to go,” Xie Duo stood up and warned the little child prodigy, “Don’t play with the ruler.”

With no classes for the next two days, Han Jiao, enjoying the rare leisure, bought some gifts and went to visit Elder Lin’s residence in person.

His father had been wronged and was in a precarious situation. Afterward, he sought refuge with Prince Yan, attracting the attention of spies from various factions. That was why he hadn’t dared to have frequent contact with Elder Lin.

Now, he had achieved a significant accomplishment that could be publicly acknowledged. He had officially distanced himself from Prince Yan and gained the Emperor’s favor. He could finally pay a respectful visit to his mentor without any reservations.

When Han Jiao was exceptionally promoted to be a Compiler, the person he most wanted to share the good news with was Elder Lin. However, now that he had advanced to the position of an Expositor-in-wating, sitting on an equal footing with Elder Lin, it was inappropriate to mention his promotion. So, during their meeting, they only discussed their teacher-student relationship.

Elder Lin felt a mixture of emotions. He had long foreseen that Han Jiao was a promising student, but he hadn’t expected him to rise so quickly.

In his middle age and having lost his own son, Elder Lin had already grown indifferent to officialdom. In the past, he had mentored many junior scholar-officials. After they achieved success, they never bothered to acknowledge him, an unambitious Hanlin Expositor-in-waiting.

Han Jiao’s remarkable rise had led Elder Lin to believe that his former student might not recognize him as his teacher anymore. However, to Elder Lin’s surprise, just three days after Han Jiao’s return to the capital, he visited with utmost respect. Elder Lin went the extra mile and had his wife receive Han Jiao as well.

Earlier, Han Jiao had told Elder Lin that he would serve his teacher with filial respect and, now that he had made some achievements, he proposed the idea of formally acknowledging Elder Lin and his wife as his adoptive parents.

Elder Lin’s wife carefully examined Han Jiao for a long while and couldn’t help but cover her face and shed tears.

Her husband was right. This young man indeed had some of her own son’s pride, not arrogant but dignified, and completely devoid of any vulgarity.

The couple accepted Han Jiao’s acknowledgment with teary eyes and then engaged him in casual conversation, almost wanting to invite him to stay at their residence.

Elder Lin treated him even more affectionately and initiated a conversation about the current political situation, “Xiaobai, tell me the truth. When you had those three Censorate officials dismissed, did you have any intention against Prince Yan’s faction?”

Han Jiao honestly replied, “Absolutely not. When I submitted the memorial, I wasn’t aware of the backgrounds of these three men. I simply presented the facts of the case to the Emperor.”

Elder Lin stroked his beard and looked worried at the response.

Understanding Elder Lin’s concern, Han Jiao reassured him, “Teacher, there’s no need to worry. Prince Yan believes that I am not acting on someone else’s orders.”

Elder Lin sighed. “The two Senior Ministers have quite different personalities. As long as you are a valuable talent, Senior Minister Li can manage you. However, Senior Minister Xu seeks stability and dislikes individuals who dare to disrupt the established order in the bureaucracy. The more Prince Yan trusts you, the more Senior Minister Xu wants to get rid of you. In my view, you should act as if you’re not in harmony with Prince Yan’s faction, stop showing them your support. Senior Minister Xu will think you have no intention of siding with them, and he won’t trouble you anymore.”

Han Jiao’s eyes lit up, and he nodded. “Thank you for your guidance, Teacher.”

Two days later, it was finally Han Jiao’s turn to teach the young princes.

Carrying a psychological trauma therapy game he had designed himself, Han Jiao arrived at the study room and first checked the freshly written essays by the big boss to see if there were any signs of improvement.

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