After Fu Ping'an left the Warm Chamber, Zhang Qixing couldn't help but reveal a bitter smile.
After the bitter smile, she took a sip of tea and sighed.
There were many complex emotions brewing in her heart, but one thing was clear—she felt delighted because Her Majesty specifically allowed her to listen to the conversation with an outsider. What a great trust it was!
Realizing this, she knew that she was done for. She had already thought of using her knowledge and talent to gain Her Majesty's trust and respect. In other words, she wanted to assist the wise ruler and stand in the court.
People always say that those who retreat to the hidden Liangshan are seeking fame and reputation. Zhang Qixing used to believe that she was different, but now it seemed that she had overestimated herself.
Moreover, she initially intended to educate and guide Her Majesty, but somehow it felt like she was the one being educated by Her Majesty. She had already started involuntarily speculating on what Her Majesty was thinking and what each of her actions meant.
But Her Majesty's thoughts were too difficult to guess, just like her chess moves. Zhang Qixing sometimes doubted whether Her Majesty had multiple souls within her, otherwise, how could she make completely different chess moves?
Upon careful recollection, when Her Majesty played chess, she didn't seem to be that serious. It was as if she was absentmindedly staring into empty space and then casually making a move.
Could it be that she was truly listening to some divine sound?
After all, Zhang Qixing was a person of this era and naturally respected gods and spirits. However, she used to think that gods and spirits might not have such a significant influence on real life. She speculated in the past that gods and spirits might indirectly affect reality but now she wasn't so sure.
After all, Her Majesty seemed...
Zhang Qixing had seen Her Majesty staring into empty space more than once. It was obvious that her gaze was fixed on something. After a while, when she spoke, it was as if she had already made a decision.
But Zhang Qixing didn't see anything.
What exactly did Her Majesty see?
As she pondered over these thoughts, she faintly heard a voice, a very familiar voice, obviously belonging to Fan Yi—
"Minister Fan Yi, paying respects to Your Majesty."
When Fu Ping'an saw Fan Yi, she couldn't help but recall the days when he first taught her the "Record of Saint Martial." To say that she had no resentment would be false, but she didn't care as much anymore. She smiled and approached Fan Yi, helping him up and said with a smile, "Master Fan, it has been a long time since we last met. What crime have you committed? Your words make Us feel ashamed."
[Chang'an Hua: He looks much older.]
[Sleepless Days: After all, he is over fifty years old.]
[Yamada Ichiro: You have all met him?]
[Sleepless Days: Cough, after all, I have been in this live stream room for several years.]
[Qiqi Sizhui: Admirable, the longest I've followed a streamer is only a year and a half.]
[Peaceful Baby is so cute: I've only followed Peaceful Baby for that long. From my freshman year to now, I've already graduated and started working.]
Fan Yi sighed, "Your Majesty's grace, this humble subject is grateful. However, regardless of the situation, I have decided to enter the palace to express my thanks. But after all, I resigned due to my crimes, so it is not appropriate for me to hold a high position again."
Fan Yi said:
"Although I am not a prominent scholar, I have read a few books. I hope that this humble knowledge can also be passed down."
"Master, your learning is extensive and well-known throughout the court and the people. However, many knowledgeable individuals in the world are often only willing to pass on their knowledge to their own family members. It is rare to find someone like you who teaches without discrimination, akin to the ancient sages."
"I am nothing compared to the ancient sages, how can I be mentioned in the same breath?"
"Why not? I, as the emperor, need wise individuals like Master Fan to help me overcome difficulties."
[女侠酱qwq: My jaw has dropped to the ground!]
[毫厘: Hahaha, it's alright. It's just an exaggeration for times like this.]
Fu Ping'an and Fan Yi debated for a long time, their mouths getting dry. Finally, Fan Yi relented and said, "Since it is Your Majesty's wish, I am willing to exhaust my efforts."
Moved, Fu Ping'an called for Qin He and had her serve tea. They both had a cup, and then Fan Yi left.
During this meeting, Fu Ping'an did not mention the Empress Dowager, and Fan Yi did not explain his past affiliation with the Empress Dowager's faction, as if it had never happened.
Fu Ping'an called Ah Zhi and asked her to prepare a list of rewards for Fan Yi. Then she returned to the warm chamber and saw Zhang Qixing sitting cross-legged on a cushion, leaning against the wall, appearing to be asleep.
Fu Ping'an smiled and said, "Did you know that when I was young, I used to pretend to be asleep on the bed because I was afraid of seeing the Empress Dowager?"
Zhang Qixing remained silent.
Fu Ping'an continued, "I heard that you snore loudly when you sleep, as if you can lift the roof off."
Indignant, Zhang Qixing spoke up, "This girl is talking nonsense. There's no such thing."
Fu Ping'an took a document from the table and said, "This is the document requesting to appoint Fan Yi as Grand Tutor. It has more than twenty signatures. The respect that Fan Yi commands in the court can be seen from this."
Zhang Qixing fell silent for a while and then said, "Aren't you afraid, Your Majesty?"
As a ruler, one naturally needs to be concerned about the factions among court officials.
"Why should I be afraid? Don't you also think that Fan Yi is a suitable candidate, Zhang Lao? Your Majesty has always had her own thoughts," Zhang Qixing said meaningfully, looking at Fu Ping'an.
Fu Ping'an maintained a poker face and said, "Publicly visible factions are naturally better than factions operating behind the scenes. Moreover, the current court situation is already a mess."
So, it's better to make it even more chaotic.
She smiled and said, "What I said to Master Fan was also sincere. If Zhang Lao is willing to become the Grand Tutor, I will also speak sincerely to Zhang Lao."
A complex emotion surged within Zhang Qixing, but in the end, she could only smile and say, "Indeed, it is Your Majesty's favor."
Then she asked seriously, "But how does Your Majesty plan to prevent others from becoming suspicious after choosing Fan Yi?"
Fu Ping'an looked at the document on the table and said, "Isn't this the solution?"
At the end of the month, it is Regent Fu Lingxian's birthday. Fu Ping'an, the Emperor, specially arranged a feast in the palace and invited the Regent to attend. After three rounds of drinks, Fu Ping'an brought up the matter of the Grand Tutor and handed the joint petition signed by more than twenty people to Fu Lingxian.
"I didn't expect Fan Yi to have such prestige," Fu Ping'an said.
Fu Lingxian frowned, "If she has such prestige, she should not be appointed as the Grand Tutor."
Fu Ping'an sighed, "But the Empress Dowager also hopes that Master Fan will become the Grand Tutor. It is also the general consensus in the court. If I insist on going against it, I'm afraid it won't work."
Fu Lingxian was at a loss for words and didn't know how to respond.
Fu Ping'an looked at her and said, "Perhaps Aunt has someone to recommend. If Aunt has a candidate, I will choose that person. Otherwise, Aunt can recommend a few more people."
Fu Lingxian remained silent.
Of course, this was impossible. If they acted this way, they would be exposing all their cards.
After a long silence, Fu Lingxian could only say, "...It still depends on Your Majesty's decision."
After she finished speaking, she turned her head and looked at the hall stage. There, a solemn and murderous dance was being performed. The dancers stomped on the wooden platform, creating a drum-like sound. Her heart couldn't help but beat rapidly.
She began to feel short of breath.
She couldn't help but look at the Emperor. The Emperor was sitting upright, looking straight ahead with a faint smile on her face.
However, she had a feeling that she wasn't watching the dance but something else.
Perhaps because the Emperor didn't denounce the joint petition, everyone felt encouraged and started imitating. However, Fan Yi still led by a significant margin due to her extensive network. Finally, at the end of the year, the result was announced.
In the fifth year of Long'an, the Emperor issued an edict, inviting former Prime Minister Fan Yi to serve as the Grand Tutor. The edict mentioned how Fan Yi had educated and enlightened her since childhood, and how she regarded Fan Yi as a half-father. The Emperor expressed her hope to continue the teacher-student relationship. Fan Yi received the order at Ying Mountain and shed tears of gratitude, composing the "Ying Mountain Ode," which became a well-known story.
However, since it was almost the New Year, the matter of taking up the position was postponed. Fu Ping'an first began handling various year-end sacrifices and ceremonies. Due to the war that took place this year, the ceremonies also included honoring the soldiers who were killed or injured. In order to oversee this, Fu Ping'an personally went to the military camp near the capital, despite being advised by many ministers, "Your Majesty should not leave the palace without reason."
But this incident greatly boosted Fu Ping'an's reputation in the military, especially when the Emperor read out the names of the deceased soldiers one by one. Each name caused people to burst into tears, and the Emperor did not reprimand them; instead, she rewarded them.
With so many matters to attend to and not enough time, the palace banquet for the Lantern Festival was canceled and replaced with a banquet.
Some people breathed a sigh of relief at this decision, while others were deeply disappointed. Luo Qionghua was among the disappointed party. She had been looking forward to entering the palace for the Lantern Festival for a month. She even personally selected the colors of her clothes, which was unusual for her. After the cancellation of the palace banquet, she felt downcast for a long time and didn't recover until spring arrived.
Fu Ping'an, as the Duke of England, still cherished her daughter. To make Luo Qionghua happy, he lifted her house arrest and allowed her to regain her freedom. Finally, after half a year, she regained her freedom and hurriedly went to the Western Market to find Huo Pingsheng to play.
To her surprise, the people in the Western Market said that the Huo siblings had already become high-ranking officials.
Luo Qionghua was momentarily bewildered, but fortunately, Huo Pingsheng had left her a message with an address. Luo Qionghua followed the address and arrived at a residence located in the eastern part of the city, close to the imperial palace. It was considered a prime location, even though it was at the innermost part of an alley. The value of the property was extremely high.
The entrance to the courtyard was not large, but there was already a lintel hanging above the door. On both sides of the door, two stone pillars were carved with tortoises, indicating that someone with an official position lived in the house. If it wasn't the result of official status, it would be an act of presumption, and they would be arrested.
Luo Qionghua, followed by Er Ya and Tie Zhu, marveled at the sight. It turned out that they had indeed become officials.
But in her heart, she thought, it must be because they had saved the Emperor before and received rewards.
She approached the door, and someone quickly came to open it. It was Zhang Qixing, which surprised Luo Qionghua. "You're here too."
Zhang Qixing smiled. "You've been in seclusion for so long that you don't know how the world outside has changed."
Luo Qionghua pondered for a moment and nodded solemnly.
Zhang Qixing wore a mysterious smile, and Luo Qionghua happily ran into the house but froze in her tracks.
The Emperor was sitting in the courtyard, staring at a small piece of farmland, her brows furrowed, lost in thought.
Upon hearing the commotion, Fu Ping'an turned her head and saw Luo Qionghua. She was also taken aback.
It had been a long time since they last saw each other.
P.S. Sorry about the lack of updates these weeks, I was quite busy IRL. Net week might be similar but I hope to make up for it.