Chapter 205: War
What would Qin Huaiyuan, an official for multiple decades, think when even a little girl was thus? The trash emperor had disappointed the marquis’ talent and proved unworthy of the lord’s loyalty.
“Never mind this. The crown prince should have vented enough of his ill will by now. I’ll go take a look.” Qin Huaiyuan exited the house with a flourish his sleeves.
“Did Meng’er say all that just now to purposefully delay going out?” The old dowager suddenly realized what had been going on.
The second elder master smiled in affirmation. “Big brother probably felt that the crown prince had suffered too much frustration lately. If he’d gone out earlier, His Highness would’ve gotten the short end of the stick. He might as well just turn a blind eye. The grand preceptor can’t do anything to the crown prince anyhow.
“But as unfavored as the crown prince might be, he’s still a royal descendent and the emperor’s son. The grand preceptor is just a subject. He’s much too full of himself and overly arrogant to argue with a prince!” The second elder master laughed coldly.
The family quite agreed, but what else could they do now other than criticize the grand preceptor in private?
“It still won’t do for things to continue this way.” Qin Yining remarked pensively. “Grand Preceptor Cao knocking on our doors today with this accusation means that he might visit again another day to raid our house. We need to be extremely careful. I think the grand preceptor wants to make use of when the emperor needs the Tatars to whittle away at us.
“Now that father’s been forced to take a leave from politics, the only one left at court with a slight sense of justice is the crown prince. The others are too busy protecting themselves. Who would risk offending the grand preceptor to speak up on father’s behalf? If things continue to develop this way, we’ll have to take this pail of dirty water sooner or later.”
The girl paced worriedly, thinking the matter more frightening the more she thought about it.
Grand Preceptor Cao held the reins of power now, backed by the emperor and trampress. He wasn’t lacking in either motive or authority. If the grand preceptor took things a step further and spewed random nonsense at court, her father wouldn’t be able to even defend himself since he was at home!
“Daughter Yi speaks rightly, what should we do?” Née Sun was growing worried.
Furious storms were about to descend upon them. The family was gathered together and the men no longer avoided talk of politics around the women. This allowed the womenfolk to fully experience the schemes and plots of court in a way that they’d never had before, and understand how difficult their men had it in the outside world. Although fear gripped their hearts, everyone was trying to think of solutions.
Qin Huining, quiet up to this point, looked hesitantly at Qin Yining. “Fourth Miss, you’re familiar with the crown prince. Perhaps you should leverage this relationship on father’s behalf? The crown prince is the crown prince after all. Perhaps he can help some if he speaks up for father.”
The foster girl flushed hotly when she collected everyone’s gazes. She quickly tried to explain. “I’m, I’m just worried about father. I want to help some too. I don’t mean anything else by it. I’m just saying whatever I’m thinking of.”
Qin Yining too had thought that the foster girl was looking to cause trouble, but she only read fear in the girl’s face this time. There was no sense of hostility or maliciousness.
The Qin fourth miss was particularly sensitive to looks from others and pointed hostility. It’d been something innately bred into her thanks to her upbringing. Now facing a placid Qin Huining, she only nodded and responded blandly, “I’ll consider it.”
Qin Huining heaved a visible sigh of relief when she heard this. Chaos was about to engulf the world and she had to remain with the Qins to ensure her own safety. Qin Yining’s status was unshakeable now, whether in terms of the family’s hearts or morality. Even if the foster girl still didn't want to accept things, she wouldn’t be so dumb as to continue smashing an egg against a rock and make life difficult for herself.
She had to fawn over the fourth miss like she used to do with the old dowager and née Sun. Qin Huining offered a tentative smile to the noble girl.
Qin Yining looked away and continued analyzing the situation.
“I think it’s fine if I don’t reach out to the crown prince.” That was her answer after a while. “The crown prince will surely stand out on father’s behalf, just like he’s giving tit for tat with Grand Preceptor Cao right now. But his abilities are limited and his words don’t carry enough weight. This matter won’t be resolved with asking the emperor for mercy either. We have to pull the rug out from beneath them.”
The second elder master nodded as well. “I agree. The crown prince isn’t someone who’d ignore what’s happening to us, but he’s limited to what he can do at the moment.”
Qin Huining was beet red by now. The color had crept to even her ears. She’d offered this idea because she wanted to acquit herself in front of the family and salvage some of her reputation. But to think that her idea had been the worst of the worst!
The sixth miss pulled on Qin Huining’s hand and smiled at her in comfort. The foster girl returned a smile that was even uglier than a teary face.
Qin Yining didn’t notice the small interlude. She was running her fingers over the red bean bracelet on her hand and thinking deeply. This was a habit she’d formed recently, to unconsciously toy with the beans whenever she needed to consider something.
The second and third elder master were also frowning tightly. “How do we pull out the rug from beneath them?”
“If we want to remove the ultimate source of trouble,” Qin Yu joined in, “Then we need to prove that senior uncle’s innocent.”
Qin Han nodded. “Precisely. Senior uncle’s been an honest official for so many years and really shouldn’t have to shoulder this kind of unwarranted blame. The Ministry of Revenue lacking silver has nothing to do with us. Can they push responsibility off of themselves with so many pairs of eyes watching them? We’ll be able to get to the bottom of this!”
“That may be the case, but how do we prove that senior uncle’s innocent?” Qin Yu’s wife piped up.
Everyone fell silent once more.
The old dowager was leaning against a large cushion as she watched her sons and grandchildren brainstorm together. They were a united strand of rope in the face of trouble. She almost cried at the touching sight.
When she’d been in charge of the inner residence, she sometimes felt that each branch of the family had their own goals and concerns. They were a pile of loose sand, so it was tremendously surprising that they could come together like this in the face of trouble.
Now that she thought about it closely, it’d all seemed to start when Qin Huaiyuan had been thrown into the dungeons and Qin Yining taken control of the residence. It seemed like her granddaughter was quite a character! Thank goodness for her during that time. The matriarch looked smilingly at the fourth miss.
“Granddaughter Yi, what do you think?”
Qin Yining hadn’t thought that the old dowager would look to her, especially with a benevolent look, as if nothing ugly had ever happened between them. She didn’t mind improving relations with her grandmother, so she responded honestly, “I think that we can prove that father’s innocent, we’ll just have to go through some additional effort to do so. It won’t be easy to do so either. But I’ve actually been thinking just now what removing the ultimate source of trouble really means.”
Qin Han looked at her. “What does fourth sister think is the final solution?”
Qin Yining smiled and answered softly, “My final solution involves spilling blood, so it’s best not to talk about it.”
Her voice was pleasant to the ear and her smile easy, but the nondescript way she flung out ‘spilling blood’ sent chills down backs.
The second elder master adopted a stern look. “Niece Yi, do you mean…”
“It’s enough that we understand certain things. There’s no need to say them out loud.”
The only way to keep Qin Huaiyuan safe and forever more was to send everyone who wanted to hurt him to the underworld.
Qin Han sucked in a deep breath when he thought this through. The sixth, seventh miss, and Qin Huining also understood, their faces draining with color when they did so.
Née Sun put her arm around Qin Yining’s shoulders and patted her cheeks lightly. “A girl shouldn’t talk about killing and blood. Don’t have such a violent air around you.”
Qin Huaiyuan had finished sending off the crown prince and was walking along the covered hallway. He happened to hear Qin Yining’s words and raised a hand to stop Ruyi from announcing his presence. He paused to listen further.
Qin Yining smiled. “I’m just saying. It’ll take a lot of effort to prove father’s innocence. Why don’t we take the same amount of effort to put all of our worries to rest once and for all?”
“That sounds easy, but this is just all talk. Do you know how difficult it’d be to really do that? That’s a large tree that’s unmovable even with many people encircling it! Don’t talk about this in the future, niece Yi!” The second elder master lectured solemnly.
Qin Yining nodded with a smile and didn’t argue, but passionate feelings to take action rose in her again.
Could they really not kill their enemies? Really?
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