Tome of Troubled Times - C.79: The Dust Has Settled

Tome of Troubled Times

C.79: The Dust Has Settled

Many from the Cui Clan thought that Zhao Changhe was simply acting impulsively. He was nothing more than a stupid, boorish bandit, and he was stirring up this whole farce without giving a damn about where he was.

It was only now that they realized the truth: from the moment Zhao Changhe challenged Cui Yuansheng, he had already intended to use the intimidating effect of his saber art to scare this spineless, pampered youngster of the Cui Clan into confessing.

Of course, Cui Wenjing, who loved his daughter, had already accustomed himself to this farce.

Since you people lack solid evidence, here you go!

Zhao Changhe was not a stupid bandit at all. It was just that his crude and boorish appearance was too deceptive, especially that scar on his face. If someone said that he gave himself that scar, everyone here would believe them.

Everyone sized up Cui Wenjing and Zhao Changhe as they looked at each other with gleeful expressions. In their hearts, they thought, Fuck, both of you are foxes, it’s just that one’s old and the other young. Forget about becoming in-laws, you guys should just get married.

They then looked at Cui Yuanyang who stood by the side, dumbstruck with her mouth agape. She had no idea what just happened. It was like she was an outsider.

But why did Cui Wenjue do this? For the position of family head?

If that was his objective, then he had no need to kill a baby like Cui Yuanyang. Even if he succeeded and managed to smear shit all over Cui Yuanyong and Cui Yuancheng’s names, it wouldn’t do anything to shake Cui Wenjing! What’s more, with the Qinghe Sword, it’s much easier for the Cui Clan to solve this case compared to other families. What were you thinking?

Cui Wenjing asked unhurriedly, “Second brother, what were you thinking? No matter how you look at it, this is a stupid thing to do.”

“Heh.” Since Cui Wenjing did not give him face, Cui Wenjue simply said frankly, “If you lost the Qinghe Sword, could you really have the gall to remain as family head?”

Zhao Changhe thought to himself, So this guy really was aiming for the Qinghe Sword from the start... He intentionally set up this practically unsolvable sororicide case so that the clan members’ first reaction would be to bring out the Qinghe Sword. Then, he could use this pretext to see through the truth of the Qinghe Sword.

He should have been able to see that there were some problems with the Qinghe Sword. Once he revealed that it was not working before everyone, Cui Wenjing would be forced to take responsibility and step down. It didn’t matter if he was number nine under heaven—powerful families have their succession rules.

For this, he made no small amount of preparation. First, he took hold of the discourse and had all the suspicion pinned on Cui Yuanyong and Cui Yuancheng. If Cui Wenjing rigidly defended both of them and prolonged the case, even if this couldn’t shake his position, during following discussions on succession, Cui Wenjue would have something to use against them...

If Cui Wenjing saw through this and brought to light the fact that everyone was actually under suspicion, then it was inevitable that he had to bring out the Qinghe Sword; it would be the only way to investigate everyone. And if he did that, the problems with the Qinghe Sword would be exposed.

In the end, Cui Wenjing played it by the book. From the start, he did not protect his own son and sent him to the dungeons. During this period, he observed everything with a cool eye. Whoever made the most noise was the one who wanted to control the flow of things. Of course Cui Wenjing was aware of that. As for employing the method used in the classic tale of touching the sword, Cui Wenjing could nearly be certain that even if his son had really touched the sword, Cui Wenjing had a way of removing the stain on his hand! How could it be difficult for the ninth man on the Ranking of Heaven to cheat a boy?

Even if Zhao Changhe was not present, Cui Wenjing would have been able to settle the matter. The only difference was that he would not have any solid evidence against Cui Wenjue and his son. It was possible that the clan would be split into two factions and argue to no end.

Now, however, there was nothing to argue about.

Cui Wenjing chuckled. “I’ve lost the Qinghe Sword? What nonsense are you spouting?”

As he said this, he waved his hand.

The Qinghe Sword left his grip and flew back to the copper pavilion. It was like it was held by an invisible hand that steadily returned it to its pedestal in the pavilion. What was especially wondrous was that as it returned, it seemed to affect the weather. The clouds looked like they were pulled apart by the sword, as if they were curtains, and revealed the lucent moon hanging amidst the sea of silver in the vast firmament.

Many of the elders said with trembling voices, “How is that sword not divine? Wenjue, you were blinded by greed and slandered your brother; you made up lies about the divine sword. Truly, you deserve ten thousand deaths for your crime!”

Cui Wenjue sneered and did not dispute them.

Cui Wenjing was merely performing tricks; that was all a display of his strength as the number nine man under heaven rather than the splendor of the divine sword. However, with this “definite evidence,” he could no longer ask Cui Wenjing to show everyone the mysterious power of the blade. Cui Wenjing had every right to refuse him because, after all, the divine sword was not meant to entertain others with parlor tricks. Who would be worthy of that?

The matter was settled.

He only looked at Cui Wenjing calmly and said, “Brother, you know why things ended up like this.”

Cui Wenjing replied indifferently, “Well, one thing I do know is that it doesn’t matter whether you believe something has happened to the divine blade. If you were really acting in the interests of the clan, you wouldn’t have carried out any of this. Why do you feel the need to keep flapping your mouth?”

Cui Wenjue nodded. “Whatever you say, brother.”

Cui Wenjing said slowly, “Cui Wenjue and Cui Yuansheng, you have harmed the family by framing one of its sons and conspiring against the clan head. According to the clan rules, I hereby deprive you of all official positions. You two shall be held in the sky prison to await your punishment. Cui Wenjue, you and everyone in your family shall be exiled from the clan and banished to the north. As for the position of administrator of Qinghe commandery, I shall choose someone worthy and recommend him to His Majesty.”

Cui Wenjue’s face was ashen as he sighed. He did not say a word.

Zhao Changhe: “...”

He’s the administrator of an entire commandery, a powerful official in the border regions. Are you allowed to just swap him out for someone else like this? Can you act first and then report later without the emperor’s approval?

Is Qinghe your own home?

“Our clan isn’t really that afraid of that ruler.”

Zhao Changhe came to know, for the first time, how terrifying powerful families were. He was not sure what it was like during times of prosperity, but during troubled times, a powerful clan like this was the hegemon of their own territory. At any time, they could participate in the struggle for the empire. Why would they need to care about the emperor’s face?

Since this was the case, for the Dragon Bird of the Great Xia to be placed here...

Cui Wenjing glanced at Zhao Changhe and smiled. “I’ve let our guest here see something embarrassing, Yangyang.”

Cui Yuanyang had been lost in thought. At this moment, it was like she woke up from a dream and grunted in response.

“Bring our guest to my study. I still have some loose ends to tie up here. I’ll be over shortly. I have some things to tell him.”

Cui Yuanyang’s heart was pounding.

This attitude was not something that her father would show if he was unsure whether Zhao Changhe could become his son-in-law. Cui Wenjing’s study was not a place that anyone could enter willy-nilly.

Who was the previous guest that entered it?

Wang Daoning from the Wang Clan of Langya!

She really wanted to run back and drag those big-mouthed maids here to look with their very own eyes. You people think this bandit can’t enter my room. Now look whose room he’s entering!


Cui Wenjing’s study looked about the same as a regular scholar’s. Of course, that was just because Zhao Changhe did not know how expensive all the tools and equipment in this room were. Whatever. As long as it makes him look refined.

The biggest difference was that, over here, Cui Yuanyang appeared to have some manners. Her cute and dumb appearance was nowhere to be found and she was actually quietly making some tea. Zhao Changhe found her unusually solemn and graceful bearing quite interesting.

“What’re you looking at?” Cui Yuanyang did not even dare to speak too loudly and said in a soft, annoyed voice, “This is the etiquette one shows to a guest. Do you really believe I’m not the least bit educated in etiquette? I’ve learned all of this before!”

“Yes yes yes, you’ve learned it before.” Zhao Changhe almost broke out in laughter. “What tea is this?”



Whenever he heard something in this world having the same name as something in the real world, Zhao Changhe felt like his immersion was broken.

Moreover, this was actually a tea ceremony. Modern people had no way of making money through roasting tea leaves or performing tea ceremonies anymore.

However, Zhao Changhe knew that everything would be uncovered shortly. Had he not entered the study precisely to talk about these things?

“I really never thought that it would be my second uncle.” Cui Yuanyang sighed. “He’s a very important person in the clan. With his position alone, he’s not someone that can just be replaced. He also wields a lot of power. Father will really have a huge headache this time.”

Zhao Changhe said, “He’s probably prepared to deal with all this. If your uncle wasn’t at that rank, he wouldn’t have been qualified to vie for the position of clan head. Your father must have known from the start that the one behind all this couldn’t be some bastard from a branch family. Otherwise, why do you think everyone was so easily misled to suspect only your brother? If one’s rank is too low, they wouldn’t be able to gain anything even if they stir things up.”

Cui Yuanyang said softly, “But I still don’t understand what exactly is their reason for doing all of this...”

Zhao Changhe replied, “If my guess is correct, your father is really a true royalist. He’s on His Majesty’s side. Your second uncle might have been enticed by some traitor and led astray. His goal may not be the Cui Clan but the Great Xia itself.”

Laughter came from outside the room. “I have some reservations now. I thought you were a natural-born man of the jianghu and should march through the jianghu full of spirit. Now that I hear these words, I feel that you have a lot of potential to enter politics and mix around with the imperial court.”

Zhao Changhe did not turn his head. “Stop it. With how insignificant I am, if I really involved myself with the imperial court, I’d be devoured by one of you sly foxes sooner or later.”

Cui Wenjing sat opposite him and happily drank the tea his daughter served. He said unhurriedly, “So you intend to remain in the jianghu and avoid touching anything related to the suspicions over your identity? But you should at least confront it.”

Zhao Changhe asked curiously, “Confront what?”

Cui Wenjing leisurely sipped his tea. “Do you want the Dragon Bird of the Great Xia?”

A sparkle instantly appeared in Zhao Changhe’s eyes.

Can I really take it?

1. A pretty famous green tea from Jiangsu, China. ☜

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