What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 75

Chapter 75

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Feeling an inexplicable threat, the Hanlin Chancellor, in a fit of agitation, hurled the last pot away.

So, Xie An was made to copy the Analects three times, Xie Jing three times, and Xie Duo four times as a punishment.

This increasingly fierce struggle almost led to a clash between the Eighth Prince and the Ninth Prince.

After the Hanlin Chancellor left, thanks to Master Han’s brave intervention in front of Xie Jing, it prevented the Eighth Prince from being beaten up by his younger brother.

Due to Xie Jing’s sincere apology, Xie Duo managed to regain composure and asked the Eighth Prince what was going on in his mind just now.

Xie Jing honestly explained his train of thought: Since they couldn’t distribute the three thousand words of punishment for the “hidden ball” collaboration evenly, he attempted to redefine this “hidden ball” case in terms of mastermind and accomplice relationships, hoping to divide the three thousand words of penalty proportionally. Unfortunately, the Hanlin Chancellor only knew addition and subtraction.

Xie Duo stared at Old Eighth seriously and questioned, “Then why did you involve me? Couldn’t you say you were the mastermind, and Old Tenth was the accomplice?”

Xie Jing pondered for a moment and replied, “You’re right…”

Xie Duo burst out, “To hell with you!”

“Your Highness! Your Highness, calm down!” With Master Han’s slender body blocking the way, the Eighth Prince managed to survive.

In the following days, the three princes didn’t even have spare time for playing cuju. Whenever they had free time, they obediently copied the Analects in the study room.

Han Jiao, feeling pity for the additional ten thousand characters to copy, even borrowed a few sheets of paper for Xie Duo to transcribe at home.

However, Xie Duo’s handwriting was just too… Well, it couldn’t be said that the prince’s writing was ugly, let’s say it was rather elegant. Anyway, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make it look right.

The only relief was that the first therapy game went smoothly and had pleasing results.

From then on, as long as Xie Duo and Xie An could find an opportunity to leave the palace, they could accompany Xie Xiu without Han Jiao’s assistance or hints.

After approximately ten games, they could let Xie Jing give it a try.

This step in therapy wasn’t meant to mend the rift between Xie Xiu and Prince Yan, Xie Guang, but it could restore Xie Xiu’s social security and confidence, helping him focus more on the present.

The human brain’s circuits were mostly designed to maintain various connections with a group, a result of evolution for social animals. Even patients who disliked and feared social interactions often recovered through social therapy. This was one of the reasons why Han Jiao chose this game as the first step in treatment.

Once Xie Xiu’s social performance improved to a certain extent, Han Jiao planned to attempt the second step – EMDR therapy.

This was a therapy that mimicked the rapid eye movement during sleep to help patients integrate fragments of trauma.

If this treatment step were successful, there might be a chance for Xie Xiu to face Prince Yan once more.

On this day, after the classes ended, it was the day for Han Jiao to meet with Prince Yan.

Han Jiao arrived at the inn in the outskirts of the capital where they had arranged to meet. He went up to the second floor and found Prince Yan waiting in the private room.

Han Jiao, feeling anxious, bowed respectfully. “Your Highness, I apologize for keeping you waiting.”

Prince Yan gestured for him to sit. “I knew when you finished your classes. I intentionally left early from the palace to avoid drawing attention. You need not be too formal. Please, have a seat.”

After taking his seat, Han Jiao didn’t waste any time and immediately handed over the evidence of the Eldest Prince’s collusion with Prince Duan’s faction.

Prince Yan only glanced at three pages of the documents, then slammed them on the table and drank a cup of tea.

Han Jiao, concerned about the straightforwardness of Prince Yan and still holding onto hope for the Eldest Prince, tried, “This evidence only proves that the Eldest Prince had connections with Prince Duan’s faction. It doesn’t necessarily mean he harbored ill intentions towards you. I presented this evidence to you not to incite discord, but to caution you.”

Prince Yan shook his head with a bitter smile. “Master, you’re new to the court, and your heart is still too pure. If Eldesr Brother wasn’t spying for Second Brother, why would he join hands with him to seek personal gain? They aren’t fools. The fool is me, deceived for so many years.”

Satisfied with Prince Yan’s newfound awareness, Han Jiao shared his sadness and disappointment with Prince Yan.

Prince Yan had mentally prepared himself, but he couldn’t face such a blow.

Feeling downcast and unable to find relief, the Prince called over a waiter and ordered a cask of wine.

He knew that Han Jiao didn’t drink. This was the first time he had called for wine when sharing a table with Han Jiao.

“In this world, perhaps there’s no such thing as genuine sincerity between people. But I still have… I have Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Brothers. Sometimes I hope they’ll grow up and leave the palace soon, to cleanse this murky world with me and Old Third. But now…” He furrowed his brow and spoke with a heavy heart, “Now, I wish time would freeze at this moment. I wish they’d stay in the palace, forever untarnished.”

“Your Highness, you need not be too pessimistic,” Han Jiao advised. “These pieces of evidence aren’t just recent accounts. It’s clear that the Eldest Prince was conspiring with the Second Prince long before leaving the palace. In my humble opinion, I dare say the Eldest Prince has had a close relationship with the Second Prince for years, only acting diligently in front of you. As for the Eighth Prince, Ninth Prince, and Tenth Prince, their natures are pure and upright. Even if they leave the palace, they won’t stray from the right path. Your Highness should have faith in their character and their unbreakable bond with you.”

“I’m just their Sixth Brother. Maybe… when compared to power, I…” Prince Yan closed his eyes and shook his head with a bitter smile. “Perhaps, I used to hold myself too highly.”

“Your Highness.” Hit hard by this revelation and prone to self-blame, Han Jiao could only patiently console him. “The Eldest Prince’s actions were his own vile choices, not a reflection of your worth as a brother. If you start to doubt your own value because of the Eldest Prince’s deeds, or even suspect that your other brothers might choose personal gain and abandon you, it’s unfair to both you and your brothers. Please reconsider.”

Prince Yan nodded with a solemn expression. “You’re right… you’re right.”

“I’m not debating with Your Highness,” Han Jiao said seriously. “I know that you’re deeply hurt by this evidence. Feeling sadness and even resentment towards the Eldest Prince is entirely natural. How you feel disappointed or even harbor ill feelings toward the Eldest Prince is not unreasonable. I’m just concerned that your anger might be misplaced onto your innocent brothers.”

Especially with the big boss, Han Jiao noticed that he had become increasingly protective lately. The moment he heard Prince Yan suggest that the big boss might turn bad, he felt a twinge of anger, almost like he was preemptively defending him.

The waiter brought over the wine.

Prince Yan picked up the wine jug and, with a touch of grace, asked Han Jiao, “Master, do you mind if I have a few sips?”

Han Jiao stared at Prince Yan for a moment and replied in a cold tone, “I do mind.”

Prince Yan, holding the wine cup, hesitated.

This was a bit embarrassing.

Han Jiao explained, “It’s rare for me to have a conversation with Your Highness. I hope you’ll remain clear-headed and share the recent issues you’ve encountered with me.”

“Alright… alright…” Prince Yan, feeling a bit embarrassed, put the wine jug down and forcefully pushed aside his recent frustration. After some thought, he told Han Jiao, “There aren’t usually major issues in my estate. Senior Minister Xu… he doesn’t let me get involved in important matters. Speaking of important matters, the court has encountered some problems recently, and the most troublesome one is the rebellion of local chieftains in the Sichuan-Guizhou region. This is a recurring problem, but there’s a particularly audacious chieftain in Qingzhou named Li Zhuchang.”

Han Jiao lowered his eyes upon hearing this and fell into silence.

The so-called rebellion of the local chieftains was a long-standing issue of this era, mainly referring to the unrest among ethnic minorities in the Sichuan and Guizhou regions.

Most of the conflicts occurred between tribes, as they vied for territory and resources, with only a few tribes organizing resistance against the imperial court.

However, the court couldn’t allow them to grow too powerful. The Sichuan-Guizhou region was full of treacherous terrain, and if a single tribal leader gained too much control, it could become a significant threat to the court.

Over the years, the court had adopted several measures to handle this situation. For instance, they had employed a strategy of using one minority group against another by relocating different ethnic groups to the Sichuan-Guizhou region, so they counterbalance each other, unable to pose a unified external threat.

Another approach was known as “changing local leaders,” where court officials replaced local chieftains. However, this measure usually stirred discontent among the local chieftains. Most of the rebellions against the court were triggered by this policy.

So, the issue of chieftain rebellions remained unresolved to this day. Fortunately, Great Chu was now a powerful nation. If this unresolvable conflict were in the final days of the dynasty, it might have become the last straw to break the camel’s back.

“What are your thoughts on this, Master?” Prince Yan looked at Han Jiao expectantly.

Han Jiao hesitated for a moment, then looked up and said, “This isn’t a problem that can be solved quickly.”

“I understand that. Chieftain rebellions have left our dynasty at a loss for centuries. The policy of changing local leaders might seem sound, but it’s hard to implement. Some powerful chieftains simply don’t obey orders. They occupy strategic positions, and their people are rugged. It’s just not worth the effort to subdue them by force.”

Han Jiao nodded and added, “Chieftains themselves lack the strength to oppose the court. The problem lies in the fact that the local people only listen to the chieftains. To address the root of this issue, I believe we should establish large-scale education in the Sichuan-Guizhou region. I won’t even mention the classics. At the very least, we should teach the locals the official language.”

Prince Yan blinked, pondered for a moment, and asked in confusion, “Is education the most urgent matter? Master, do you intend to teach the local people Great Chu’s customs?”

“Teaching customs comes later. The main reason local people remain fiercely loyal to the chieftains is the language barrier that keeps them isolated. Even in areas where changing local chieftains has succeeded, residents had to spend money to find intermediaries to convey their complaints to court officials. If they didn’t offer enough money or if the intermediaries were bribed, the locals would face difficulties or deception. Because they couldn’t communicate with higher authorities due to the language barrier, they had to rely on the chieftains to resolve issues through internal enforcement. Conversely, the language barrier allows chieftains to withhold supplies provided by the court and, by stirring resentment, can easily trigger united rebellions among the locals. It’s a constant source of trouble.”

There were actually other issues as well, like not allowing the local people to become familiar with Great Chu’s culture. Without that knowledge, these locals couldn’t participate in Great Chu’s upward mobility channels. The class divisions forced them to remain under the control of local chieftains, striving for their own status and rights, effectively forming a natural alliance with the chieftains for their mutual interests.

Only through education, by teaching the locals their language and culture, could they truly make them into citizens of Great Chu and sever their dependence on the chieftains.

“Master, you’ve spoken the words that awaken the dreamer!” Prince Yan gazed at Han Jiao in amazement. “If you could enter the court sooner…”

“Your Highness,” Han Jiao interrupted Prince Yan’s excitement and spoke with seriousness. “This is just a humble suggestion from me. You can mention this idea to Senior Minister Xu. Whether to use it or not, let the Court Elders decide. Please, do not forcibly intervene.”

Prince Yan furrowed his brows and turned his head away, suddenly agitated.

Yes, everything had to be decided by Senior Minister Xu. Whether it was a good strategy or not, Senior Minister Xu had the final say!

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