Han Yunxi loomed over Baili Lixiang as she said coldly, “I’m only here to see the consequences of someone acting against me!”
“You!” Baili Lixiang was extremely angry.
“Alright. I’ve seen it, so I’m leaving,” Han Yunxi smiled coldly.
Baili Lixiang was furious and exclaimed, “Han Yunxi, the Xiao Clan is against you as well. Why did Xiao An get conferred as Junwang while my father… Han Yunxi, this isn’t fair! You can’t do this!”
“The Xiao Clan?” Han Yunxi laughed out loud. “Xiao An gave the Northern Li disaster regions more than two billion taels of silver last night. How is the Xiao Clan against the likes of me?”
“Han Yunxi, Xiao An is a man of many secrets. You should know this in your heart!” Baili Lixiang raised her voice.
“I’m not very clear on that. I only know that Xiao An is the Junwang now. Currently, he should be with Xiao Dong in the imperial study drinking tea with the emperor!” Han Yunxi smiled.
“No!” Baili Lixiang’s hair was unkempt, her face as ferocious as a monster. “I have proof that Xiao Dong colluded with me! I have evidence! I want to see the emperor! I want to see the emperor!”
“Xiao Dong?” Han Yunxi sneered.
Baili Lixiang quickly said, “I have evidence of Xiao An colluding with my father as well. Xiao An’s met with my father. They have agreements in Northern Li!”
Hearing this, even Gu Beiyue broke into a grin while standing on the sidelines. Xiao Dong and Baili Lixiang’s alliance wasn’t enough to drag the Xiao Clan underwater. Xiao Dong was only a representative of the Xiao family. It was easy enough for Han Yunxi to dig up evidence of his part in the riots if she wanted. But if Xiao An and Baili Yuanlong were secretly allied, then the Xiao Clan would have to pay heavy consequences! Han Yunxi couldn’t help but exhale. She had been waiting far too long for Baili Lixiang’s second admission!
She had forced the woman to this point just for that sentence!
Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An both sent troops north in an allied front. Long Feiye was long award of this, but couldn’t find any concrete evidence nor clues to what they were planning.
Han Yunxi knelt down but maintained her superior air as she said pointedly, “Baili Lixiang, you finally admit that your father committed crimes as well?”
Baili Lixiang suddenly realized she’d been played. Humiliated, she cried, “Han Yunxi, just what do you want? Isn’t it enough that you’ve pushed the Baili Clan to this point?”
Han Yunxi only murmured, “Baili Lixiang, let me tell you a secret that the whole court doesn’t know. His Majesty is hiding two King seals on his person. One is the King seal of Northern Li, while the other is the King seal of the seas. The Northern Li King seal was meat for Ning Cheng while the Sea King seal was for your father. His Majesty said he’d hold onto them for five years until Ning Cheng returned and your father...changed his thinking.”
She couldn’t help but be choked up as she continued. “Baili Lixiang, all of you hate and resent me. It’s understandable that you want to guard against the Di Clan’s Ning Family. If there was anything you felt dissatisfied with, you could have aimed for me or the Ning Clan! But...how could you hate and resent the emperor? How could you collude with those wolves in sheep’s skins in Jiangnan? Don’t tell me none of you had any idea that the Xiao Clan was long plotting to declare autonomy for the Jiangnan region!”
Baili Lixiang looked at Han Yunxi. She desperately wanted to retort, but had nothing to say.
“Baili Lixiang, I wished your father didn’t die from anger, but from regret! His Majesty gave the Baili Clan five years’ time. What you and your little brother Baili Qiyu should be doing now is all up to both of you!”
So speaking, Han Yunxi got up without a second glance. When she left the imperial prisons, she told Gu Beiyue, “Make it convenient for Baili Qiyu to pay a visit.”
The two of them had hardly arrived at the palace when Long Feiye returned. They ate their dinner in silence. Even the talkative Tang Li and Gu Qishao were mute. In the end, Tang Li said, “Big bro, I already had someone send news of General Baili’s matters to my father.”
“Mm,” Long Feiye’s expression was calm.
After the meal, Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue both waited, but Long Feiye did nothing. At last, she couldn’t help but ask, “You’re not going? I’ll come with you.”
“I’m not going anymore,” Long Feiye said simply.
Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue were both taken aback. She even spent a sleepless night worrying about Long Feiye slipping off to the Baili estate, but he didn’t budge at all. He only remained lying behind her with his hand around her waist. She couldn’t tell whether he was asleep or awake.
The next day, he dressed for morning court as usual. Two days passed this day until the justice courts delivered a secret missive that stunned the entire hall! This was none other than Baili Qiyu’s “evidence.” It proved that Xiao An and Baili Yuanlong had colluded together to plot mutiny in Northern Li. The paper included military orders from both men as well as their clan seals. They had plotted at the end of the month to instigate conflicts between the soldiers and civilians in Northern Li once the weather warmed and increased the occurrences of avalanches. The Baili and Xiao Clan armies would then point the point at the Ning Clan troops and go to war against them on the pretext of the willful soldiers.
If inciting a mob was to protest the empress and her extravagance, there was still room to negotiate. But this collusion between two armies to raise ruckus in the disaster regions was an irreversible crime!
Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An had signed the agreement to prevent the other party from going back on their word. With this as evidence, the ruin of one side would drag the other down as well. Xiao an and Xiao Dong never expected this and fell to their knees in shock. They couldn’t say a word!
Had Baili Qiyu and Baili Lixiang gone mad? After all, Baili Lixiang’s crimes still had room for mercy, but bringing out this evidence would bury the Xiao and Baili Clans for good! They would never be able to rise again! Xiao An and Xiao Dong had been observing the justice courts and Baili Clan for movements in the past few days. After the cooperation left one side a Junwang and the other a criminal, he couldn’t help but feel guilty! After recovering from his joy, he realized that he was in a complicated situation. Just last night, he sent someone to bribe the guards to give him a chance to meet with Baili Lixiang!
He had even planned to promise her to do his best to preserve the Baili Clan! But who knew Baili Lixiang and Baili Qiyu couldn’t hold out that long. He had even prepared himself in case Baili Lixiang sold out Xiao Dong, but never expected her to be so thoroughly merciless! This was a piece of evidence capable of destroying the Baili Clan while dragging the Xiao Clan down with it!
Long Feiye looked at the military orders with its familiar handwriting and clan seals. He was supposed to be furious, but only broke into a bitter smile. Hadn’t he refused to go to the Baili Clan for want of an acceptable excuse? This piece of evidence was the best reason why!
“Your Majesty, my father has already passed away. I shall shoulder the burden of his crimes!” Baili Qiyu’s voice came from the door. Everyone turned to see him kneeling a formal kowtow and resting his head against the ground three times. In his hands was nestled the tiger tally of the Baili Army.
He said, “The sister of this criminal, Baili Lixiang, colluded with Xiao Dong to instigate the common people into slandering the empress. This criminal’s father Baili Yuanlong colluded with Xiao An to plan a mutiny in Northern Li. Today this criminal is here to bear charges for my father as well as accuse Junwang Xiao An in his place. With the military orders as evidence, I implore Your Majesty to shed wisdom on this matter. May Your Majesty mete punishment!”
Xiao An was gasping for breath by the time he finished. “Your, Your Majesty, this official…”
Long Feiye didn’t want to hear a word. He tossed the military orders at Xiao An’s face and snarled, “More sophistry for more crimes?”
Xiao An instantly quieted down. He suddenly had an epiphany. How could Baili Lixiang and Baili Qiyu’s straits or courage be enough to present the military orders within such a short time? They should be crying to the emperor for mercy after Baili Yuanlong’s death! Judging from the current situation, the one who gave the Baili Clan this impetus behind the scenes wasn’t His Majesty, but the empress!
Xiao An was lost in utter despair at the realization. He had lost...he was no longer that high and mighty master!
That master had steeled his heart to sacrifice the Baili Clan this time in order to destroy the Xiao!
With such ironclad evidence, Xiao An and Xiao Dong couldn’t argue back even if they had a hundred mouths. The case wasn’t sent back to the justice courts, but decided right there and then by Long Feiye himself. Xiao An was stripped of his title and the Xiao Clan completely searched with its properties and effects confiscated. Three generations of its family were condemned to execution.
Because Baili Qiyu had willingly admitted their crimes and helped implicate the criminals, the Baili Clan was spared execution. However, Baili Lixiang was given the death penalty and the rest of the clan sent to work in the navy to clear their crimes for five years. There would be no salary or promotion within that period, nor could any member of the Baili Clan be allowed to hold a position in the army ever again.
The harsh punishments of both clans and Baili Qiyu’s efforts successfully saved the clan from utter annihilation. Some people were satisfied with is contributions while others remained unconvinced. Despite this, Long Feiye only transferred the military command token from the central regions to Han Yunxi without touching the one for the Jiangnan districts. Instead, he said that he would select a Great General from among the remaining lieutenants to replace Xiao Dong.
Many of the young lieutenants from Jiangnan came from hefty clan backgrounds! With Long Feiye offering them this chance, none of them would bother helping out the Xiao Clan. Instead, they even threw stones down its well and fought to be on their best behavior for Long Feiye.
Although Long Feiye’s movements made him appear fearful of the southern generals’ strength, he had actually divided them up. With the largest clan gone and the rest vying to fill in the gap for number one, there was no way they’d ally with each other again. Under these circumstances, it became much easier to push forward tax reforms.
Three days later, the case was cleared. Baili Lixiang died in prison and Baili Mingxiang went to retrieve her corpse. She didn’t cry, but her eyes were very red.
The next day, Baili Yuanlong’s remains were buried in a common funeral kept extremely low-key. Besides a few of his close minister friends who came to send him off, none of the civil or military officials in the dynasty dared to show their faces.
Nevertheless, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi brought Rui’er to witness the moment Baili Yuanlong was lowered into the earth. Tang Zijin also rushed over from the distant, dusty imperial capital still under construction…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
the higher they are, the harder they fall...
for the first time in forever, i genuinely feel a little sad for long feiye. he had so much expectation and promise for the baili clan, but they let him down first...
long time no see again! i've been working on a few original fic chapter these days. i can't get thousand autumns or other wuxia/xianxia BLs out of my mind, you see...it's been a sweetly melancholy week.