Situ Lin looked at Xie Yun, confused. “Why retire? Wouldn’t it be great for you and Prince Hao to support me in the court?”
Xie Yun smiled gently. “Your Majesty, you are already a capable ruler all on your own. Even with just Prince Hao backing you up, this Prince already has no concerns about your management of court affairs. I hope that Your Majesty can agree to my selfish request.”
Situ Lin could tell that Xie Yun was very determined this time, and turned to Pei Qianhao for advice. “Prince Hao, what do you think?”
Pei Qianhao turned to Xie Yun and said, “Since the Commandery Prince wants to remove himself from court affairs and live a worry-free life, this Prince shall not try to prevent you from leaving. Please accept my toast with this cup of wine.”
He then stood up and downed the entire contents of the winecup.
“I have yet to recover, so I’ll have to drink tea instead of wine. I hope you don’t mind it, Prince Hao.” Xie Yun then raised his teacup and mirrored the gesture.
It was thus decided that Xie Yun would be retiring from court affairs and go into isolation. The specific details of the restructuring and cooperation with the Western Region would be discussed in court tomorrow morning.
The rest of the officials present started drinking and presenting toasts to Su Xi-er, who returned their toasts with tea, and she ended up having tea as her ‘main course’. It was only after two hours that the banquet ended, allowing the servants to begin cleaning up after the officials had left the compound.
Situ Lin smiled with a child-like innocence. “Imperial Uncle, Imperial Aunt, I really missed the both of you.”
“Let’s go to the Imperial Study. This Prince has something important to discuss with you.” Pei Qianhao gestured with his hands to lead the way.
Turning serious instantly, Situ Lin nodded and quickly followed Su Xi-er and Pei Qianhao. Along the way to the study, they spotted Xie Yun.
The guard who was pushing Xie Yun’s wheelchair greeted them politely. “This subordinate pays his respects to Your Majesty, Prince Hao, and Princess Consort Hao.”
Situ Lin signalled for the guard to get up with a wave of his hand. “I believe the Commandery Prince would like to have a chat. Will you come with us to the Imperial Study?”
“Of course.” Xie Yun nodded in acknowledgement.
Su Xi-er walked up to him and said, “I’ll push you there.” She then turned to the guard and said, “Follow us and wait outside.”
“This subordinate obeys the order.” The guard then bowed respectfully.
Xie Yun was the first to speak when they arrived in the study. “Your Majesty, Prince Hao, the Third Imperial Prince has escaped. The soldiers who are still serving him are sishi; they are highly skilled, and loyal to the death. We can’t let our guard down for now.”
Situ Lin’s expression soured. “Third Imperial Brother looks like he couldn’t care less about anything, so where did this sudden ambition for the throne come from? For him to lead an attack on the city, and attempt an assassination at that... Is the throne really that important? I’d give it to him if he wants it that badly.”
This earned him a chiding from Pei Qianhao immediately. “This Prince hopes that I won’t hear such words again. Your position was given by the late Emperor. You must be a wise ruler and you should take care that others don’t take you as a joke.”
Noting Pei Qianhao’s displeasure, Situ Lin said, “This Emperor understands. I won’t say that again, but Third Imperial Brother is still just that, my biological brother. I can’t bear to kill him even if he wants to kill me.”
1. Sacrificial soldiers who carry out their missions with no regards for their life and are prepared to die