Chapter 2: Supportive father, loyal friends
Jiang Chen had finally figured out the who, why, when, where and how of the entire situation after some careful organization of the facts. He also knew why the previous Jiang Chen died.
“Alright! Looks like this past Jiang Chen died quite a luckless death. Death because of farting? This king of the Eastern Kingdom is quite a character. Rites of Heavenly Worship? Heh. I, the vaunted son of the Celestial Emperor, have encountered many rituals in my time, but never have I heard of obtaining heaven’s blessing via a fresh shower, new clothes, and a few sticks of incense. There is at least order under heaven. Those who are benevolent are rewarded in kind, and those who are not are punished. Ah, forget it. I have been handed this opportunity thanks to this tyrant killing Jiang Chen.”
Jiang Chen sighed as he lay in the coffin, feeling a multitude of feelings. While he was outraged on the past Jiang Chen’s behalf, he couldn’t help but be secretly delighted that he himself had reincarnated.
Except, he had also clearly heard the conversation between the two. One of them was the past Jiang Chen’s father, or rather, his current father.
Seeing this life’s father flying into an awe inspiring rage, ready to erupt into full blown rebellion at any second, warmed Jiang Chen’s heart. It gave him a sense of déjà vu to witness this kind of fatherly love and doting.
“Who would have thought that I would be so lucky to have an unconditionally supportive father in both my past and present lives. Although this duke of Jiang Han is a pillar of the kingdom, he is willing to rebel for a son unjustly killed. He is a man of courage and uprightness.”
Perhaps it was due to the blood ties between this body and Jiang Feng. Whatever it was, Jiang Chen felt very warmly disposed towards Jiang Feng as a father at first glance.
At least he wasn’t a timid, stupidly loyal subject.
And of course Jiang Chen wouldn’t let the situation get out of hand and develop towards rebellion.
Although it could be deeply satisfying to rebel against one’s overlord for a noble cause, it was a quick way to die when one considered the big picture. Not to mention that Jiang Feng wasn’t on home ground at the moment.
And even if he was, even if he rallied a million troops, it was hopelessly futile to think of a duke prevailing against an entire kingdom.
Jiang Chen was the son of the Celestial Emperor in his past life and widely educated. He understood well the meaning of “those with noble morals need not rush brashly into seeking revenge”, and would definitely prevent the father of his current life from committing such a brainless action.
It was true that he was the son of the Celestial Emperor in his past life.
But in this life, the identity of his past life was nothing but hot air!
If his father Jiang Feng rebelled and the royal family reacted accordingly, how could anyone escape unscathed? Jiang Chen had finally taken control of a new body when he reincarnated, he didn’t want to croak after he woke up.
Therefore, when he saw that his father was ready to leave behind a trail of blood at a moment’s notice, Jiang Chen couldn’t resist the urge to give a quiet “eurgh”. It was a sound that promptly froze Jiang Feng where he stood.
Jiang Feng had become completely petrified as he stared unblinkingly at Jiang Chen’s body lying in the coffin. The fierce rage in his eyes transformed into strong fatherly love in a blink of an eye.
A father’s love is like a mountain, and Jiang Feng almost launched himself into a flying leap like a tiger as he rushed to grab Jiang Chen’s hand. “Chen’er, you… you’re not dead?”
Although the face was a stranger’s face, this fatherly love was so akin to the one he’d experienced in his past life that Jiang Chen was no stranger to it.
“Father, I have dragged you down with me.”
At that moment, Jiang Feng was wholly immersed in the joy of regaining the son he’d lost. Who gave a crap about the flood of great changes following his son?
“Nonsense! You are my son, the son of Jiang Feng, how could you have dragged me down? Everything is so wonderful because you have not died Chen’er! So what if you farted? The daughter of that Eastern Lu contracted an incurable disease, as if holding some rites would cure that? If worshipping the heavens would heal all terminal illnesses, what use are doctors then?”
“And, his precious daughter’s life is important, but is my son’s life not equally so? Just because he held rites to beg mercy from heaven means that my son is to be caned to death for an accidental fart?”
Jiang Feng didn’t bother to hide from his son the fires of bitter anger in his belly. He even dared to call the king of the Eastern Kingdom by his name.
It would seem that this duke of Jiang Han was truly angered. Jiang Chen was certain that if he had truly died, Jiang Feng would have certainly rebelled.
This was a man who was willing to blast holes in the sky for his son.
“It’s not a bad thing to have this kind of father.” Jiang Chen’s positive impression towards this father had increased even more.
“Don’t be afraid Chen’er. Now that you’ve woken up, you will never suffer again for as long as I have breath in my body. I will contact the nobles that we are friendly with and petition that Eastern Lu to pardon those random, absurd crimes you were charged with.”
Defilement of the sacred altar, debasement of the holy temple, blasphemy against the gods, destroyer of the Rites of Heavenly Worship!
If these crimes were not cleared, they would cause no end of trouble for Jiang Chen, even if he’d come back from the dead.
At the same time, Jiang Chen knew that he could not have crimes hanging over his head if he was to live in this Eastern Kingdom in the future.
“Father, let’s not be in a rush to clear my name. The Eastern family is thoroughly enraged at the moment. We can visit after a few days when his anger has abated. I’ve already been caned once, surely he won’t forget his dignity as a king and cane me again?” Jiang Chen had a lot of ways to handle the situation at hand. He was in no rush as he needed time to get used to this new identity and feel at home in this new body.
Jiang Feng was about to respond when some sounds registered in his ears. “Chen’er, lie down, someone’s coming,” he said quietly.
Jiang Chen did so with resignation as his revival from death was simply too abrupt. This would be heaven shaking news if anyone saw him. His father was asking him to keep up the being dead cover for now.
Alright, with this coffin as a cover, playing dead was the easiest thing in this world.
“Brother Chen, you died so needlessly!” The footsteps were far away, but this wailing cry had quite a strong piercing quality to it.
The rolling sound of footsteps accompanied this mournful howl.
The person who was arriving – well, it would be more apt to call the person a meatball. The fleshy figure was almost the same width in all directions, and his body presented perfect curves, forming a meaty meatball.
The meatball had never been ashamed of his body, but was rather proud of it instead. He had once proclaimed that out of all 108 nobles, he was neither the most bravehearted and loyal nor the most intellectual and strategic, but that no one could rob his number one ranking for weight.
It was quite a feat for someone to have such a unique body, but his father had taken it one step further and given him an exceedingly feminine name – Xuan Xuan.
Two young men, roughly the same age, followed closely behind the meatball. Both of them wore tragic expressions of grief; it was apparent that they had come to pay their respects to Jiang Chen.
The meatball was out in front and strode quickly to the side of the coffin. With his bulk planted so firmly, no one else could even come close and could only hover in the background.
The meatball wiped away tears with one hand and continuously fished out things with his other, tossing them into the brazier already burning paper money as he did so.
“Brother Chen, this was your favorite, illustrated version of the Carnal Prayer Mat. I was self-centered before and refused to lend it to you. Now that you are gone and I have lost a fellow hobbyist, what use is this to me? I’m burning this to you so that you can read it down below if you’re bored. Remember, don’t be selfish like me. Sharing is caring.”
“And, this is a note for ten thousand silver. You were the one who resolved things with ten thousand silver the last time I gave in to my urges and accidentally got that girl pregnant. My dad would have immediately beaten me to death if he found out, but I never even got the chance to return this money to you…”
The meatball cried buckets of tears and snot as he grew even more broken hearted as he cried. He lay there on the floor, pounding the floor in great sorrow after burning the items.
Jiang Chen laid at ease in the coffin and made no sound. He also wanted to use this opportunity to observe these best friends.
Fatty Xuan Xuan was undoubtedly the most loyal, staunchest supporter of them all.
“Ah brother Chen, I am fine. However, that old Eastern Lu caned you to death. I do hereby swear that if I, fatty, ever inherit my old man’s Jinshan dukedom, I will never send a single soldier or horse to fight for that Eastern family’s cause for the rest of my life!”
At this moment the fatty turned around to glare at those behind him, heckling at them, “You there, are you best friends with brother Chen? Do you view brother Chen as a brother? Come swear before his memorial tablet if you do!”
The stalwart, dependable looking young man retorted back, “Fatty, do you think you’re the only one with loyalty? That I, the heir to Hubing dukedom, is lesser than you?”
With that, the young man also rushed to the altar and swore, “Brother Chen, I, Hubing Yue, do so swear that if I inherit the Hubing dukedom in the future, I will never send a single soldier or horse to fight for the Eastern family’s cause for the rest of my life!”
Seeing that the two had already sworn a solemn oath, that left the remaining splendidly dressed youth at a bit of loose ends.
“Yang Zong, is brother Chen your brother or not?” The meatball started to grow angry as he saw the richly dressed youth hesitate.
“Have you forgotten that it was brother Chen who stood up for you when you were bullied by Yan Yiming, the heir to the Yanmen dukedom, after arriving at the capital?”
“And that time when you failed to complete your mission to cultivate spirit level medicine ingredients, it was brother Chen who used his extra portion to fill in the gap for you. Did you know that because he gave part of his portion to you, his grade of excellent was changed to average?” The fatty’s anger grew as he spoke, until he was about ready to spring up, grab the richly dress youth’s collar and punch him.
Memories started fleshing out for Jiang Chen as fatty Xuan spoke. He was able to gradually reconcile the people before him with those in his memories.
Just as fatty Xuan started haranguing the other, quick footsteps sounded as the Jiang family butler came to the door. “Master Jiang, His Majesty the King has arrived with other nobles in order to pay his respects to the young master.”
“Pay his respects?” Fatty Xuan was livid. “Is he shedding crocodile tears? Does he think burning a few sticks of incense will cover up the fact that he beat someone to death?”
Fatty Xuan could afford to be so brash. After all, Jiang Feng was a duke of the kingdom and could not engage in the same theatrics. Given that his son was not dead, he too was deliberating how to handle the aftermath.
His son’s life and position must be protected at all costs. This was Jiang Feng’s bottom line.
Jiang Feng was quite aware that as king, Eastern Lu would not feel apologetic about killing a noble’s son. One had to be coldhearted in order to reign as a monarch.
What he meant by paying his respects was undoubtedly a complete sham. An act that, on a deeper level, was to sound out Jiang Feng and warn him not to act rashly.
Obviously, Eastern Lu had no fear of Jiang Feng hating him, or even rebelling. However, as the ruler of a kingdom, he did not wish for such a thing to happen.
After all, who knew what other situations may develop if civil unrest began. And in fact, Jiang Feng had a few connections in the Eastern Kingdom.