Chapter 207: Plotting (II)
Jiyun wasn’t sure where her mistress was going with this and shook her head.
“Things won’t be over if we kill only him. The trampress will still be there, the trash emperor, the Cao descendants, and probably Grand Preceptor Cao’s heir amongst them. What if whoever succeeds him is even worse? At least we’re very familiar with the statesman now. We’d have to take time and effort to get to know a new opponent. It’d be better to think of a way to get rid of them in one fell swoop, wouldn’t you say?”
The guard nodded in agreement and followed her mistress automatically before screeching to a halt. “Miss, you talked about erasing the ultimate source of trouble before, and now you’re saying to get rid of them in one fell swoop… are you… are you thinking of destroying the entire Cao clan?”
Qin Yining didn’t deny it. And actually, she didn’t want to just get rid of the Caos, but the trampress and trash emperor as well!
Although her thoughts were high treason given her status as a Great Yan citizen, she had no other recourse given the sheer lawlessness of the emperor. The people were suffering, and even her father had been trampled into the ground.
An involuntary smile crossed Qin Yining’s face. Her thoughts were likely the same as those of her grandmother and Azure Justice by now. But if one looked at her calm demeanor, they’d think that she was just discussing what to eat or embroider today.
The Caos were influential and had an exceedingly complex network at court. Even a great official as Qin Huaiyuan was firmly suppressed now, so what could an unmarried girl like Qin Yining do?
Jiyun at least, was completely stumped. But for some reason, even if the guard didn’t know what was to be done, she felt that anything the fourth miss spoke of was doable. “There isn’t anyone good amongst the Caos. They should be utterly destroyed. If only His Highness was here! It would be so easy to just raze them all into the ground.”
Bingtang nodded fervently. “That’s right, how would the Caos dare act like this if the prince was here? He would’ve flung some hefty slaps over a long time ago and made them stop! Even that dog emperor is like a mouse meeting a cat when he sees the prince. Can the Caos be any better than the emperor?”
Qin Yining lightly squeezed Jiyun and Bingtang’s hands. “Don’t say stuff like this in the future. Things are very tense now, so we have to be alert all the time.”
“Understood.” The two realized that their words just now could’ve brought serious trouble down on their mistress’ head.
“Although there are instances of one prevailing against many enemies, life still goes on,” Qin Yining murmured lowly. “We don’t need to break a jade vase for the sake of killing a rat. It’s just as easy to resolve things with a quick plot sometimes.”
“That’s because you’re smart enough, miss,” Bingtang whispered back. “Do you think everyone can do that?”
Qin Yining burst out laughing. “Have them prepare the carriage. Let’s visit the Prince of Ning Manor.”
“The Ning Manor?” Bingtang was taken aback. “You’ve only ever met the prince once, miss. Are you going to ask him to help the marquis?”
“Yes. Although we’ve only met once, it’s still worth a try. I’ve thought about it a lot. The Prince of Ning is the only person with a sufficient sense of justice who’d worry about the future of the nation, and who’s able to speak in front of the emperor. There’s no one else we need to consider.”
“Even so, he’s not a simple character. Will he be convinced with just a few words?” Bingtang was quite familiar with the prince.
The fourth miss shook her head with a smile. “I’m not certain of anything, but I can only ask the Prince of Ning for help now. My father has been suppressed so thoroughly that he doesn’t have the slightest opening. We need to have someone who will speak up for him at court. Even if we can’t convince the emperor to change his mind, we need to make it so that the Caos don't say anything to mislead the emperor further.
“The Prince of Ning is a hot-blooded man. Although he has a few quirks, he’s an upright and principled person who knows to repay gratitude. He’s someone we can rely on for this.”
Jiyun thought for a moment. “Miss, why don’t we send a calling card first? And should we discuss this with the marquis first?”
Qin Yining waved a hand. “We likely wouldn’t be able to see the prince if I sent a calling card. He’s a slippery fellow and probably wants to avoid trouble. He’d refuse to see anyone from our family. I might have a chance if I just suddenly show up instead. I won’t discuss this with father yet. If I botch things up, then it has nothing to do with the family. But if father knew about it beforehand, things wouldn’t be so simple then.”
The two girls smiled after hearing this. “We knew that you’re a smart one miss! You think of everything so thoroughly!”
“You two know how to run your mouths!” Qin Yining smiled accusingly.
When she left with Bingtang and Jiyun, the fourth miss thought for a moment and decided to swing by Steward Zhong’s first before making for the Ning Manor. The steward was a worldly person with a wide network. He’d be another person to bounce ideas off of.
In the carriage, the four discussed lowly the kinds of reactions that the prince would have. Qin Yining also thought of a few ways she broach the request for help. If worst came to worst, she put on a piteous act or threaten to hurt herself. She had to get his help no matter what!
The carriage drew closer to the Ning Manor, bringing it within range for the fourth miss to lift the curtains for a look. She could glimpse the rear gardens and side alley. But bizarrely enough, there were two figures congregating around the corner door of the rear gardens.
It was a young couple. The man was about twenty five, wearing an ordinary long robe of fine cotton. He was thin and lanky, but Qin Yining couldn’t make out his features because of the distance. She could only tell from his stooped bearing that he was a bit dispirited.
The woman next to him was about twenty one years old. She wore the pale-green dress paired with a cherry-red jacket that was the uniform of the Ning Manor maids.
The woman embraced the man as they spoke, first hugging, then kissing, then exchanging a few low words. She fished out a small cloth bundle from her embrace and hefted it before handing it over.
The carriage was close enough by now that the couple would be alarmed if it came any closer. Qin Yining had the groom stop.
The man shoved the bundle into his clothes and kissed the woman before frantically taking off. The woman checked carefully to see if anyone was around before entering through the door.
Qin Yining considered with narrowed eyes. “Steward Zhong, can you investigate what the maid and man were doing and their relationship?”
The steward nodded. “That’s not hard to do. We have people here. Things will be very clear after some questions.”
“Mm. Then let’s wait for news first. We won’t be going into the manor just yet.”
The carriage was thus parked in the secluded alley behind the Ning Manor while the steward set off to find his people. The ladies remained inside.
“Miss, why aren’t we going in?” Bingtang asked lowly. “The prince should be in. Are you worried that he won’t agree?”
“Yes. If I were the prince, I wouldn’t want to get embroiled in this for no reason at all, to say nothing of anything else. The court is a mess now and the prince has once led troops. The emperor is paranoid and has shown himself willing to do anything. Besides, choosing a side brashly is the greatest taboo.”
Qin Yining looked down, noodling with the strand of red beans on her thin, fair wrist with her right index finger. She mused pensively. “I just don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I’m having Steward Zhong ask around first to see if there are any ins. If there aren’t, I’ll just have to grit my teeth and show up at his door.”
“Miss, you’re doing the right thing.” Jiyun was highly impressed. “Only in trying everything will we be able to grasp all possible chances. That’s how His Highness has always done things as well. No wonder he dotes on you so much. You two are so similar.”
Qin Yining blushed hotly and lectured back, “And what’s all this? Why are we talking about him at such a serious moment?”
Jiyun couldn’t help further testing when she saw how red her mistress’ face and ears were. “That’s odd, this servant didn’t say anything silly. I only mentioned the prince. Or did you think of something silly, miss?”
Qin Yining felt an explosion go off in her head. Her face was so red it was about to drip blood. She rolled her eyes savagely at Jiyun and looked elsewhere, refusing to say another word.
Jiyun and Bingtang looked at each other and burst out laughing.
It would seem that the relationship between their master and mistress hadn’t been impacted by the conflict between the two nations. It was growing ever better instead.
And that was only right. The prince cared so much for the miss. He’d even remembered to prepare some beef for her in the precious amount of time they had to spend together. A man willing to cook for a woman was touching enough, not to mention that it wasn’t an easy thing for even nobles in Great Zhou or Great Yan to get their hands on a hunk of beef.
Cattle were labor. Killing cows was actually breaking the law. But the prince had managed to source a chunk of beef tendon for the miss during a famine. It was easy to see from this how much he cared for her. When even servants such as they were touched by this, how would Qin Yining not be?
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