TIGR Chapter 78

The Imperial Guard’s Revenge

Chapter 78 Accompanying a Tiger

Lu Heng entered the Qianqing Palace and greeted the emperor in the Dongnuan Pavilion: “I pay my respects. Long live your Imperial Majesty.”

The emperor waved his hand: “No need for courtesy. I called you here today because I have something for you to investigate in secret.”

The emperor specifically mentioned a secret investigation and there were no eunuchs in the Dongnuan Pavilion. Even the eunuchs who typically served him were sent out… Lu Heng thought about it and got a rough idea about what was going on. He lowered his eyes and cupped his hands, saying: “I am willing to share your worries, what does the emperor wish to know?”

The emperor handed a memorial to Lu Heng and said: “Take a look.”

Without a eunuch to do it for him, Lu Heng could only step forward and take the memorial from the emperor. This was a report submitted by two junior officials named Sun Yingkui and Cao Bian, saying that they accidentally overheard a conversation between Xue Kan and Peng Ze, the Deputy Minister of Appointments. Because the matter was too big for them to make a decision, they secretly reported it to the emperor for him to judge.

Lu Heng finished reading it quickly, then put down the book with a heavy expression on his face.

The emperor was still sitting on his imperial throne and asked casually: “What do you think?”

Lu Heng didn’t want to express his opinion at all. The crown prince was definitely the most taboo topic shared by emperors of all dynasties and the emperor was particularly suspicious. If Lu Heng said something wrong, seeds of suspicion could be planted in the emperor’s heart.

Lu Heng looked thoughtful. He couldn’t just talk about this kind of thing, otherwise the emperor would think he was well prepared, but he couldn’t think about it for too long, as the emperor would then doubt his intentions. ​

Lu Heng grasped the situation, “thought” for a while, and said: “I don’t know the details and dare not make any assertions. However, Xue Kan insisted a few days ago that the memorial was written by himself, and now he has suddenly changed his words. The two lower officials have been interrogating him for many days to no avail, but yesterday heard such a complete conversation. I am afraid that there might be fraud in here.”

Lu Heng first secretly made it clear that no matter who Xia Wenjin or Zhang Jinggong wanted to establish as the crown prince, it had nothing to do with Lu Heng and he knew nothing about it. Then, he stood from the emperor’s standpoint and analyzed the doubts of these people.

Lu Heng oversaw intelligence work and knew all the people mentioned in the memorial. Xue Kan was a one-minded scholar who studied the books of sages to a foolish extent, and he was somewhat unrealistic and naive. Although Sun Yingkui and Cao Bian were excessively flattering, they did not have the ability to plot against the Head Auxiliary, otherwise, their official positions would have been lost long ago. Neither Xue Kan, Sun, nor Cao would craft gossip about the Head Auxiliary. So from their perspectives, these claims were probably true.

But he couldn’t speak that way with the emperor. From the emperor’s perspective, everyone around him could deceive him, government officials, military officials, nobles, state rulers, even an empress, imperial concubine, palace maid, or eunuch. If the head auxiliary was lying, then how would one know that these two lower officials were telling the truth?

What Lu Heng had to do was appease the emperor’s heart, saying these people might indeed be deceiving him and concealing the truth, and that they needed to be investigated strictly.

Lu Heng’s words were undoubtedly the answer the emperor wanted to hear. The emperor relaxed slightly and said: “What you said makes sense. As soon as the eldest prince was born, these people became restless. Go and find out what they are doing in private. I want to see who is behind this.”

Zhang Jinggong and Xia Wenjin each held their own opinions. Zhang Jinggong said that Xia Wenjin wanted to establish the crown prince. However, the evidence on Xia Wenjin’s side showed that Zhang Jinggong set a trap for Xia’s group in advance. The emperor believed no one and needed to know everything. The emperor couldn’t trust the Ministry of Justice or the cabinet, but he felt most at ease with Lu Heng investigating.

Lu Heng’s eyes moved, knowing that this matter was a big deal. Now the emperor’s mood was fickle, and he was very suspicious of the people around him. The longer he stayed in front of the emperor, the more dangerous it would be. Lu Heng accepted the order and quickly found an opportunity to leave.

Not long after Lu Heng came out, he heard from his subordinates that the emperor had called Guo Xun, the Marquis of Wuding, and cabinet scholar Zhai Luan into the palace. Lu Heng also knew through the Imperial Guard’s information channel that Qin Fu, the Department of Rites Supervisor, had also gone.

Without much thought, he knew they must have read the same envelope as Lu Heng. Lu Heng slowly thought about the names and tsked meaningfully.

Not surprisingly, these three people took over the Xue Kan case. The emperor did not call people randomly. Guo Xun was the head of the nobles and military officials. Zhang Jinggong and Xia Wenjin from the cabinet were both involved in the case, so the emperor called Zhai Luan, a kind old man in the cabinet to feel out the positions of the government officials. Qin Fu, on the other hand, was both the Department of Rites Supervisor and the East Department Governor.

At first, this was just a case regarding a traditional-thinking scholar who asked to establish a crown prince. But Zhang Jinggong took advantage of this matter and wanted to use the opportunity to bring down Xia Wenjin, who held different political views from him. As a result, the situation suddenly escalated.

The emperor had no son before this and had never considered these issues. Now after Zhang Jinggong decided to make a fuss, the emperor suddenly realized that he should consider the issue of the alignment of his officials.

The emperor dragged military generals, government officials, and eunuchs into the crown prince dispute, and spared no effort in muddying the waters. This seemed to be an investigation of Xue Kan, but in fact, it was a thorough investigation of officials across the dynasty.

Perhaps Lu Heng was among them. The emperor publicly handed over the case to Guo Xun, Zhai Luan, and Qin Fu, but had privately asked Lu Heng to investigate in secret. Wasn’t he testing Lu Heng?

True to the expression, accompanying an emperor was like accompanying a tiger.

Lu Heng sighed, it was really troublesome. It’s no wonder that Lu Heng looked down upon this group of people. Even though there was no issue, they still wanted to create trouble. After this matter, he wondered how many years he would age.

Because he was forced to be involved in the fighting and scheming of these old men, Lu Heng looked very unhappy when he returned home. After the meal, Wang Yanqing made a cup of tea, placed it in front of Lu Heng, and asked: “Brother, is there something else that worries you in court?”

Lu Heng knew he couldn’t hide it from her, so he simply told it bluntly: “It’s a case. A government official wrote a letter asking for the establishment of the crown prince. The emperor didn’t feel at ease and ordered me to find out what was wrong.”

Wang Yanqing looked at Lu Heng quietly, waiting for his next words. She knew that a case Lu Heng became involved with would not be that simple.

Sure enough, Lu Heng said next: “During the interrogation, the investigators overheard an argument between the government official and a prison visitor, which involved two cabinet elders, Zhang and Xia. The emperor attaches great importance to this case and has ordered Guo Xun, Cabinet Elder Zhai, and the Department of Rites Supervisor to investigate.”

Wang Yanqing heard this and understood: “But actually, this case is being secretly investigated by you?”

Lu Heng nodded. The emperor sent a task force to investigate Xue Kan, and then sent Lu Heng to investigate the task force. Two lines, one light and one dark, to complement and monitor each other. ​

Wang Yanqing sighed slightly and said sincerely: “Now that you explain it, that is really troubling.”

“What’s even more troublesome is that I can’t let them find out that the Imperial Guards are investigating, otherwise they won’t be able to fry the fish.” Lu Heng sat back and leaned against the chair, completely drained, “This means that I can’t just go arrest people and I can’t interrogate them in a big way. I must figure out everything myself. The other side has two cabinet elders and a deputy minister of the Ministry of Appointments. How could they be willing to tell the truth if there are no royal guards to suppress them?”

These things were a problem for ordinary people, but for Lu Heng, this wasn’t an issue at all. Wang Yanqing asked: “Brother, what are you going to do?”

Lu Heng softly glanced at Wang Yanqing and said with a faint smile: “Aren’t you worried that I won’t be able to find a way?”

“No.” Wang Yanqing was very sure and said, “Others might be afraid of being hindered by powerful officials, but Brother surely has a way.”

Lu Heng was extremely impressed by these words and his ego was greatly satisfied. He even realized that he said so many words just to get this from her.

He used to think it was stupid for men to be jealous and aggressive to show off their faces in front of women. Now he discovered that just like peacocks spread their wings and two tigers fight each other, this was a mating instinct rooted in nature. Animals used territory and food to attract mates, and humans claimed to be primates of all species. Male competition methods were more complicated with wealth, power, intelligence, and appearance, all competing for success.

Lu Heng received Qing Qing’s praise as he wished and stopped trying to keep her in suspense: “No matter how complicated the case is, once it’s broken down, it will be nothing more than each one being a simple person. This case can be roughly divided into two parts. The first is to investigate whether Zhang Jinggong and Peng Ze knew about Xue Kan’s memorial, and the second is whether Xia Wenjin instigated Xue Kan in establishing the crown prince. The easy one before the hard, so I’ll start with Head Auxiliary Zhang and Deputy Minister Peng.”

Since both parts contained Xue Kan, Wang Yanqing asked: “Brother, are you going to see Xue Kan?”

“Not yet.” Lu Heng said, “Xue Kan is an important witness and Guo Xun will definitely interrogate him repeatedly. If I go too early, I’ll be easily recognized. We will go after they have asked more questions.”

“Then your goal is…”

“Persimmons should be picked by pinching softly.” Lu Heng smiled slightly, with a flicker of ruthless light flashing in his eyes, “It is a shame for the court that such an important matter can be eavesdropped on. Let’s start with him first, Peng Ze, the Deputy Minister of Appointments.”


Xue Kan was sent to prison. Originally, this was just an ordinary case. Every month, many officials were thrown into prison to come to their senses because they offended the emperor. But on some day, the emperor suddenly summoned the Marquis of Wuding, Guo Xun, cabinet scholar, Zhai Luan, and the Department of Rites Supervisor, Qin Fu, to jointly investigate the case. Only then did the officials realize that the issue was serious.

Sun Yingkui and Cao Bian, who were originally in charge of the case, were both out of luck. They secretly sent a report to the emperor, but the emperor did not appreciate it and threw them both into prison.

After Guo Xun took over the matter, he took complete charge of everything and regarded himself as the head of the three of them. Unfortunately, the other two were not complacent either. Zhai Luan pretended to be deaf and mute, while Qin Fu showed an outward devotion but inner opposition, and from time to time Zhang Jinggong came in to intervene. There was chaos in the prison every day.

Everyone in court was in danger for a while, and the officials were afraid that Xue Kan would offer someone up and they would be implicated. These days, Peng Ze went to court and dismissed as usual, but he was extremely worried.

The Head Auxiliary said he would protect him, but the matter leaking was all due to Peng Ze’s negligence. If Head Auxiliary Zhang saw that the situation was not right and abandoned the rook to protect the king, what would Peng Ze do?

|| Abandoning the rook to protect the king is a chess phrase that implies sacrificing something to preserve something more important.

Peng Ze was uneasy. He really couldn’t concentrate on his work, so he hid his whereabouts and quietly ran to the Buddhist temple to burn incense.

Peng Ze donated a lot of incense money and sat on his knees for a long time in the high, lonely hall. He looked at the slowly rising incense in front of him and the half-awake and half-dark Buddha and finally felt more at peace in his heart.

Peng Ze walked outside and saw a great monk standing in the sun outside the temple. He had kind eyebrows and pleasant eyes, a peaceful presence, and a compassionate Buddha nature in his appearance. Peng Ze seemed to feel something, and took the initiative to walk over and greet the monk, and asked: “Senior monk, may I ask, are you the abbot of this noble temple?”

The great monk looked at him with a clear understanding of everything in his eyes and asked: “This benefactor is polite, but I am just a poor monk. This benefactor is entangled in melancholy, holding on too tightly may not be a good thing. I hope you will soon find peace.”

Peng Ze was shocked. How could this monk know his worries? He came to this temple entirely on a whim, even his family didn’t know he was here. He took the initiative to talk to this monk after seeing him, so there was no possibility of planning this in advance. Peng Ze had no doubts about the monk’s identity and asked: “How do you know that I have something I worry over?”

The monk shook his head and said in a cryptic manner: “You can’t erase what you have done, and you can’t gain what you haven’t done. The deeds done are all written on your face.”

Peng Ze was shocked and asked hurriedly: “What do you mean by this?”

But the great monk shook his head and refused to say anymore: “This life determines the result of the next life. It is all already destined. If you wrong him in this life, he will be reincarnated as your son in the next life, making you restless for a lifetime.”

After the great monk finished speaking, he turned around and left without waiting for Peng Ze’s questions. As he walked, he recited Buddha’s name. The sun shone on him, with a pure and holy radiance, as if he was about to ascend into the sky at any time.

After the great monk left, Peng Ze stood there alone, stunned for a long time.

In a drab and murky room to the side, Wang Yanqing looked at the people who were knocked unconscious and stripped of their clothes. She couldn’t help but lower her voice and ask: “Brother, this is a sacred place, is it really okay for you to do this?”

Before she finished speaking, a window in the back was pushed open silently, and a man dressed in a monk’s robe jumped in. He kicked his legs out, touched the shiny top of his head, and asked: “Sir, how was my acting?”

|| Author’s Note

Peng Ze: Today I met a senior monk who I have never met before but knows me like the back of my hand. The teachings of Buhhda are profound, I hold great admiration.

Lu Heng: No, it is not a senior monk who understands you, but the Imperial Guards.

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