Chapter 205: Thunderous Rage
The emperor had always been more forgiving to the senior officials. The crimes recorded in the documents were atrocious, but not terrible enough for him to take immediate actions. The third prince was, for once, smart enough to recognize the situation. He told the emperor about the assassins Sir Shangguan had sent to kill him. The emperor was shocked. With that knowledge in mind, the evidence suddenly seemed a lot more incriminating.
The officials present noticed the way the emperor’s expression darkened. Qi Chen would like to say a few words for Sir Shangguan, but he couldn’t. He wasn’t so ignorant that he would take such a risk. Sir Shangguan might be his right hand man, but he wasn’t going to risk himself for an arm.
The emperor threw the documents before Sir Shangguan. Sir Shangguan shuddered. He didn’t dare to move at all. He stayed on the floor, trembling.
After a long stretch of silence, the emperor had Sir Shangguan arrested and ordered the Court of Judicial Review to conduct an investigation.
A few days later, Sir Shangguan’s crimes were proven and announced to the world. Sir Shangguan himself was going to be executed once autumn came. His manor was raided, and his family exiled. That was the end of the Shangguan family.
Jun Huang was having tea with Ji Bo when the news reached her. She let out a sigh of relief hearing that another major supporter of Qi Chen had fallen. The smile at her lips deepened.
“You’re better than I gave you credits for,” praised Ji Bo. “With the Shangguan family out of the picture, we stand a better chance at winning.”
Jun Huang drank some tea and looked up at Ji Bo. “It’s thanks to the gentleman that Sir Shangguan has fallen from grace. Without you, the Shangguan family would still stand.”
Ji Bo waved a hand in denial. “I wasn’t the one who gave the third prince the evidence for Sir Shangguan’s crimes. I heard the servants said that it was delivered to the manor.”
Jun Huang paused. “It wasn’t me, either. Does it mean someone else was trying to get rid of the Shangguan family?”
Ji Bo sighed. “Who knows? However...”
Ji Bo’s hesitance unsettled Jun Huang. “What’s on the gentleman’s mind?”
“Sir Shangguan has been eliminated, which is good,” said Ji Bo. “Qi Chen, on the other hand, is someone we have to keep an eye on. He’s suffered a great loss this time. The emperor must know that he’s close to Sir Shangguan. With Sir Shangguan’s arrest, the trust the emperor has for Qi Chen must have been damaged. Qi Chen is going to stir up troubles to distract the emperor.”
Jun Huang had been at Qi Chen’s side for some time. What Ji Bo said was no surprise to her. This could either be trivial or serious. They had to be careful. Without saying goodbye to Ji Bo, Jun Huang got to her feet and left for Prince Chen Manor.
With a sigh, Ji Bo continued to drink his tea, waiting for Jun Huang to return with some news.
When Jun Huang arrived at the manor, Qi Chen was, as she expected, discussing this issue with other people. She stayed outside until Qi Chen noticed her. She approached him and cupped her hands in greeting. “This gentleman believes that this isn’t the right time for Your Highness to tell the emperor about the spies from Eastern Wu.”
“Why?” Qi Chen demanded. “Do you know how Royal Father sees me now? Sir Shangguan is done. Everyone knows he was my supporter. You can’t be oblivious to what it means for Royal Father to get rid of him without hesitation. When I entered the palace this morning, Royal Father gave me the cold shoulder. He even implied that I should watch myself. Doesn’t that mean - ”
“The emperor has told Your Highness to behave,” Jun Huang said bluntly, turning a blind eye to Qi Chen’s murderous gaze. “Why does Your Highness insist on doing this?”
Her advice won her only scorns from Qi Chen. He gave her a wary look and said, “I’ve made up my mind, Feng Baiyu, and I know I’m right. If you dare to say another word to oppose me, I will not go easy on you.”
He walked past Jun Huang and out of the manor. Going to the palace, Jun Huang assumed. She rubbed at her temple worriedly.
The housekeeper had a decent relationship with Jun Huang. He said reassuringly, “We know it’s unwise to reveal now the fact that there are spies from Eastern Wu in Northern Qi. The court is still unstable from what has happened. If the secret is out of the bag, people will panic. The prince, however, is our master. There’s nothing we can say to convince him. The prince is in a bad mood. We can only hope that he’ll calm down afterwards.”
He patted Jun Huang on the shoulder and left with a sigh.
Qi Chen went straight to the palace and requested an audience with the emperor. The emperor frowned at him without a word. Qi Chen, however, could tell that the emperor was giving the third prince more and more attention lately, which wasn’t a good sign.
“This son has something to tell Royal Father,” Qi Chen said after bowing to the emperor.
The emperor picked up the report he had just put down and took a few glances. “What is it?”
Qi Chen was decisive once he had made a decision. He told the emperor everything he knew, including how his men noticed the existence of spies from Eastern Wu, and what his men had overheard.
The emperor had not been paying attention when he thought that Qi Chen was here for Sir Shangguan. Now, though, he shot up to his feet and stared at Qi Chen. This was not something he could ignore. “What? Spies from Eastern Wu?”
“Yes,” said Qi Chen. “It’s been a while since I got wind of their existence. I didn’t tell Royal Father because I didn’t have any evidence. Now, my investigation finally yielded some results, which prompted me to come to Royal Father.”
“How ridiculous! Does Eastern Wu consider itself invincible?” In rage, the emperor kicked down the desk before him, scattering scrolls of books everywhere. The loud bang scared everyone else in the room into silence.
It took some time for the emperor to calm down. He turned to Qi Chen. “You’re in charge of this. Remember, you have to be thorough. Arrest anyone with a questionable background. I’ll rather you wrongfully kill a hundred people than let one of the conspirators slip. Do you hear me?”
Qi Chen agreed readily and left the palace. He went on to make the arrangements.
Jun Huang read about it in an announcement. She sighed with a resigned smile. She wasn’t worried about herself. Nan Xun had taken care of her cover. She was using the identity of a dead man. She was safe unless someone who knew the dead man came forward. Besides, Qi Chen wasn’t going to look into her background. He needed her to make plans for him. He had lost his biggest supporter. He would not do something to harm himself.
Qi Chen had suffered a great loss. What happened to Sir Shangguan was a warning sign to him. He knew the third prince wasn’t capable of finding the evidence on his own. There must be someone helping him. Qi Chen sent his men to look into it.
Days had passed, but there wasn’t any progress. Qi Chen was furious. When Jun Huang visited the manor, he was berating one of his men, who was kneeling on the floor. His ire was a terrifying thing.
Qi Chen had gotten into an argument with Jun Huang because of the spies from Eastern Wu, but neither of them held a grudge for that. They were therefore able to treat each other as they usually did. Qi Chen took a deep breath and waved a hand to dismiss the man. He was a little calmer.
“How is brother Feng feeling?” asked Qi Chen.
Jun Huang pretended to give it some thoughts. “The last few days have been eventful,” Jun Huang said with a smile. “It’s as if whatever could go wrong has gone wrong. It’s troublesome.”
Sometimes, someone’s own perception could askew the meaning of what the other said. Jun Huang was only joking, but Qi Chen took it as a complaint about the pain she had suffered at his hand. Before he could say anything, Jun Huang continued to say, “This gentleman came here today because I’ve discovered one of the Easter Wu spies’ hideouts. I wanted to investigate, but I didn’t want to wake the tiger in slumber. Therefore I came to talk to Your Highness.”
Qi Chen lost his train of thoughts as soon as he heard the word Eastern Wu. “You have?” he said in a rush. “People from Eastern Wu are cunning. Brother Feng is right to be careful. I need some time to think. How about I talk to brother Feng about the details tomorrow?”
Jun Huang’s eyes flashed. Qi Chen had a lot on his plate. Most of his men must have been sent out on different missions. Now, he would need to use the secret force that had been supporting him. Someone as careful as Qi Chen would need some time to weigh his options.
“This gentleman will take my leave,” Jun Huang said. She didn’t ask any questions.
Qi Chen let out a sigh of relief. He immediately went to consult his confidantes. In the end, he had no choice but to seek help from his secret supporter.
The spies were a serious threat. Since Jun Huang was the one who made the discovery, she was given the responsibility to lead the team Qi Chen assigned her. Jun Huang was curious about this team of people, but she couldn’t ask about their identities when Qi Chen hadn’t brought the topic up himself. She put it out of her mind.
Jun Huang had been a natural leader ever since she was little. She knew how to gain people’s respect. The men Qi Chen assigned her quickly changed their attitude. In the beginning, they thought that Jun Huang was a paper tiger who could not shoulder such an important task. After a few days, however, they came to see that Jun Huang possessed both courage and intelligence. She also knew ways to punish people and make it hurt. They soon came to find her intimidating. They dared not criticize her even in private, let alone question her decisions in person.
That was beyond what Qi Chen expected. When one of the men assigned to Jun Huang told him, he was pleasantly surprised. Jun Huang never disappointed him.
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