The leaders of the rioters were two scholars whose legs were already turning into jelly at the sight of the emperor, empress, and various courtiers far before they reached the banquet hall.
One fell to his knees while the other collapsed completely, unable to crawl to his feet.
“Your Majesty, have mercy ah! Your Majesty, spare us! This commoner was used!”
“Your Majesty spare our lives, I beg of you! This commoner knows nothing, someone instigated us!”
Various expressions greeted them from the crowd. Han Yunxi only smiled coldly to herself. She had overestimated these two leaders. Her original plan was to bring them into the hall and interrogate them, but they’d given up before even reaching them!
“Who ordered you?” Long Feiye asked. He had no idea what Han Yunxi’s master plan contained, but he wouldn’t be stupid enough to ask them about the tableware directly. His angry voice was enough to scare one man senseless as he fainted from fright.
Now the emperor’s silence made Baili Yuanlong and Baili Lixiang quake. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that catastrophe was imminent for them. Outside the hall, the remaining conscious scholar was too scared to speak straight. Tongue-tied, he stammered, “It, it...it was a eunuch from the palace who told this commoner to act as such.”
Baili Yuanlong’s heart stopped, but Baili Lixiang held on steadfastly! She hoped that eunuch wouldn’t sell her out! Naturally, she had been very prudent when arranging her plans and never interacted with the leaders directly. Instead, she used a young eunuch in the palace as the middleman. His name was Chen Zhaode, but he too, had used another middleman to relay orders to the scholars.
As long as the middlemen remained silent and Chen Zhaode kept his secrets, it would be hard to uncover the culprits within a short time!
“Who was it?” Long Feiye asked next.
Baili Lixiang’s heart was hanging up in the air. She kept trying to comfort herself. Chen Zhaode wouldn’t be so idiotic as to confess, because that would mean his life was over too!
The scholar didn’t speak, but the young eunuch Chen Zhaode was already shaking from his feet to his hands on the sidelines. He didn’t even dare to lift his head. The tension rose in the silent room! Baili Yuanlong and Baili Lixiang were the most anxious ones of all, as life and death hung on this moment.
“You won’t speak, is that it?” Long Feiye’s icy tone sent dread around him.
The scholar’s soul all but flew out of his body. “This commoner doesn’t…”
Han Yunxi suddenly cut in. “Someone come, bring out Chen Zhaode and have him confess!”
“Yes!” Xu Donglin cried.
Baili Lixiang and Baili Yuanlong were completely floored. The scholar had no idea who Chen Zhaode was. While he was confused, Chen Zhaode fell to his knees and cried, “Your Majesty, have mercy! Esteemed Empress, have mercy! This servant was forced!”
“This servant was—”
“Stop speaking nonsense!” Baili Lixiang pounced like a woman possessed before he could finish.
At this, the silent hall grew even more still. Even the commotion outside the hall had died down. Baili Lixiang had thrown herself at the eunuch’s feet and was now gaping as she realized what she’d just done.
Heavens! What...what’s wrong with me?
Even if….even if Chen Zhaode sells me out, I can just deny it all! Even if they beat me to death! I could even use my death to save the Baili Clan, but…
Just then, I was simply asking for trouble myself!
Everyone was staring at her now. Some were stunned, some sympathetic, some gloating at her misfortune. The Baili Clan all wore expressions of despair. Chen Zhaode never expected Baili Lixiang to throw herself at him. He locked eyes with her, too stunned to speak.
Han Yunxi watched this all from above expressionlessly. Actually, she had no idea who the scholars interacted with directly, or what Baili Lixiang told them to do. When Xu Donglin reported to her about Chen Zhaode leaving the palace to deliver a message, she knew that the eunuch had to be involved with Baili Lixiang. Thus, she wanted to push Chen Zhaode out of the banquet hall so the scholars could accuse him instead. It was purely a psychological plot!
But the results went beyond her expectations! She only guessed that Chen Zhaode was connected to the master behind the scenes, not that Baili Lixiang would come right out and admit it. Now she didn’t have to waste so much energy and words to get results. This didn’t prove she was cruel, despicable, or sinister. When it came to court intrigue, justice and fairness didn’t exist, nor did open and aboveboard values. She was simply treating things as they were.
As she looked at Baili Lixiang from high above, she was partly pitying her, partly angry. Her remaining emotions were simply regret. If Baili Lixiang had been more intelligent, she should have taken the title of first-rank lady and take up permanent residence in Northern Li instead of coming back.
How could Long Feiye give all of Northern Li to Jin Zi? That was extremely dangerous. And from what she understood of Northern Li and her agents there, those with enough patience and time could definitely gather enough strength. If Long Feiye wanted to keep Jin Zi in check in the future, he would definitely use Baili Lixiang if she was there.
After leaving the Baili Clan for so long, why was she back to mix in their muddy waters again? Did she think she was smart and talented enough to get more benefits for the Baili Clan? What an imbecile! Baili Lixiang must have forgotten that it wasn’t through her efforts alone that she crawled from the position of a court lady into a noble consort most favored by the Northern Li emperor!
Over the past decade, how much help had she received from Long Feiye’s agents hidden in Northern Li? How many suggestions had he given her in multiple crucial points?
Abruptly, Baili Yuanlong groaned and spat up a mouthful of fresh blood.
“Father!” Baili Qiyu quickly went to support him.
Baili Lixiang recovered her wits and crawled over as well. “Father! Father!”
Baili Yuanlong wanted to speak. His mouth hung open as he looked at Long Feiye, but in the end he said nothing and blacked out.
“Your Majesty, this was all my idea. My father, little brother, and little sister all had no idea! It was my idea alone!”
“Your Majesty, please save my father! Please!”
Long Feiye was like a glacier as he remained expressionless and mute. Even if Baili Yuanlong was on the verge of death, nobody would dare to save him now! After all, instigating the masses was a colossal crime capable of inciting the nine familial exterminations!
“Your Majesty, please have mercy! This criminal admits her guilt! I’ll admit everything and accept whatever the emperor decrees! But my father is innocent!”
“Your Majesty, I beg you to have mercy! Your Majesty, please save my father on account of his many years of loyal hard work!”
“Your Majesty...Esteemed Empress, have mercy, ah! Esteemed Empress!”
Baili Lixiang was like a madwoman as she banged her head against the floor. Baili Qiyu and his wife joined her. Very soon, all of the Baili generals and their wives were kneeling, along with a few officials. Still, Long Feiye said nothing, his gaze piercingly cold.
The Guogong of Ding, Xiao An, had no idea that things would develop like this. He was fearing in hindsight but also rejoicing. When Xiao Dong had been thoroughly flummoxed by Baili Lixiang, he almost went to aid her with his scheme. Fortunately, Xiao An stopped him in time. Otherwise, he’d be the one spitting up blood and fainting right now.
Baili Lixiang had used her alliance with Xiao Dong to use the southern generals to pressure Long Feiye. He too, wanted to use the Baili Clan’s support to pressure Long Feiye. The two clans were both eyeing the empress’s seat and noble consort’s spot, so there was no problem with their cooperation. Fortunately, he was prudent enough to not rush things! Otherwise, he’d be tangled up in tonight’s mess too.
The Baili Clan knelt on the ground as the hall filled with their pleas. Long Feiye was like an emotionless god as he gazed at them from above. How many people could read the anger and disappointment in his eyes? Han Yunxi knew he was feeling awful without even looking at him. How could she not feel terrible too?
She wasn’t even the true West Qin princess and hadn’t interacted much with the Di Clan, but if they betrayed her like this, she’d be angry and disappointed too. Yet Long Feiye’s relationship with the Baili Clan was much more than simply master and retainer. Baili Yuanlong should have been the man who understood Long Feiye best. Even if he was a crude, coarse man who didn’t think things thoroughly after all these years and still failed to understand his master’s heart, he should at least be his staunchest, most loyal follower!
But after establishing the country, the Baili Clan had the most outrageous, unbridled actions when vying for power in the court. Forget about the people gloating from the sidelines, they’d be lucky if no one threw stones after their fall into the well. Even those who gained favors from Baili Yuanlong in the past, or knew him for years, didn’t dare to speak up before a furious Long Feiye.
The unconscious Baili Yuanlong suddenly coughed and spat out another mouthful of blood.
Both Baili Lixiang and Baili Qiyu were at a loss. Everyone else was stunned too. This was the old general who had followed Long Feiye the longest and saw him grow up with his own eyes. As the head of the Baili Clan, was he destined to die right here in the banquet hall?
At last, someone stood up in the silence: the Grand Tutor Gu Beiyue.
“Your Majesty, the crown prince’s birthday should be a joyful affair. For his sake, I ask that General Baili be spared from death. There are still many uncertain factors to this case that requires investigation,” Gu Beiyue said sincerely.
It was impossible for the empress to plea mercy now, so besides her, only the Grand Tutor had both the courage and ability to persuade him. Baili Lixiang and Baili Qiyu both tensed with the rest of the Baili Clan as their hearts leaped into their chests.
But Long Feiye only replied, “Empress, the crown prince is too young to understand such matters. You be the judge in his place.”
Now Baili Lixiang was utterly despondent. The rest of the clan grew listless as well. If Han Yunxi was calling the shots, it’d be strange if she didn’t trample their entire clan to death!
The Baili Clan was done for!
2. Just a note here to not mix novels with real history. Yes, some court intrigues got nasty, but dynasties didn’t last for hundreds of years in peace and prosperity when nobles and rulers are always second-guessing each other. Courts like that usually show up during a weak ruler’s rule or when dynasties declined. Novels like to play up the drama, so please don’t think ancient China was a scary place to live! ^-^
lol sorry guys translator rant below:
okay i honestly think the author wrote herself in a corner and dropped baili lixiang’s IQ here just so the protags could have an easy way to pin the crime on the criminal. What happened to lixiang's years and years of court intrigue experience in northern li? she just reveals herself as the guilty party in the lamest way possible here? oh my god, there wasn't even any buildup besides her being convinced the eunuch wouldn't sell her out, then throwing herself at him when he squawked. it's almost out of character for her character settings of quiet, experienced, calculative, ladylike, etc. *rolls eyes*
say hello to the main character halo! this had potential to be good, but i guess author didn't want to drag it out for an after story. i've seen this kind of scenario play out beautifully in cannon fodder novels where they face slap the female lead tho. here it just feels like a letdown, both to the readers and HYX's supposed smarts. sigh.