In a quick turn of events, sage official Zhou Min, more noble than everyone else, had morphed a lecherous and greedy criminal weighted down by multiple accusations. The most frightening was that each accusation was followed by evidence of his crimes, making it impossible for Li Qitian offer even a paltry defense of his father-in-law.
The situation was so disgusting that Li Qitian felt like he’d swallowed a live fly, or that he’d glimpsed part of a rat turd halfway through his rice bowl…
He’d already primed Pang Xiao for action and was just waiting for today to slap the prince down. But to think that he’d be the one slapped across the face first!
With how things had turned out, the emperor was forced to proclaim judgment on Zhou Min. But once the Secondary Grand Secretary was removed, there would be none of his own left in the council anymore. How would he able to influence the old Northern Ji officials in the future when it came to policy making?
For purposes of dignity, he had to order a thorough, by-the-books investigation into Zhou Min.
Since he suddenly had none of his own men in the council, there was no need to mention Pang Xiao joining the Grand Secretariat. A weary Li Qitian was about to dismiss the grand court gathering when yet another Northern Ji official popped out.
“The rewards have not yet been announced for the Faithful Prince of the First Rank!” called out the official.
The emperor wholeheartedly ground his teeth in that moment. He couldn’t confer the position onto Pang Xiao, but neither could he afford not to.
For the sake of appearances, Li Qitian made Pang Xiao the Grand Secretary of the Hall of Military Glory. As he did so, he nursed one final shred of hope that some of the Northern Ji officials would jump out in opposition.
But having just driven out the emperor’s father-in-law, the Northern Ji faction felt that they had won a smashing victory and should leave some face for the emperor. Thus, all of them stood out to loudly applaud the emperor’s wisdom and support Pang Xiao joining the council.
This biggest winner in all of this was Pang Xiao. He’d effortlessly won the spoils from a contest fought by others and smoothly sailed into the Grand Secretariat!
“The emperor must be so bummed right now.” Qin Yining burst into chuckles.
When Pang Xiao recalled the barely concealed, spasming corners of Li Qitian’s lips, pleasant delight stole through his heart. “It’s all thanks to your good idea.”
“That’s right,” agreed Xu Weizhi admiringly. “Thanks to Miss Qin’s wonderful plan, His Highness kicked Zhou Min out of the picture without shedding a single drop of blood and won tangible benefits without mobilizing a single person.”
Xie Yue also nodded with high regard.
Pang Xiao looked tenderly at the girl. “My darling, how should I thank you?”
Qin Yining smiled. “I’m happy enough that my plan didn’t backfire, what need is there for thanks? But… my second and third uncle visited today. I have something else to discuss with you.”
“What is it? Out with it all.”
“I want to move out of the manor and back to the welcoming inns.”
Panic descended on the prince. They’d already discussed this yesterday and Qin Yining had agreed not to leave. Why had everything changed in just a day??
Seeing his brow tightly furrowed together, Qin Yining quickly summarized her conversation with her uncles.
“I can only beat the drums and plead for imperial justice if I move out of the manor. If I’m locked up here, how am I supposed to bring a lawsuit against you?”
The strategists were in silent, deep thought. Their eyes lit up when they understood and they looked at Qin Yining with approving esteem.
Pang Xiao also understood the effort his darling was going to on his behalf, but he still didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at her words.
“Tsk tsk, you want to bring a lawsuit against me to the emperor and you want me to let you go? Aren’t you being too overbearing?”
“Me? Overbearing? I’ve just learned from the best.” Qin Yining burst out laughing.
Though this was the last thing Pang Xiao wanted to do, he understood the gravity of the situation. If he couldn’t bear to send her out of the manor now, she probably really would have to enter the palace later on.
And that, would truly be his eternal regret.
So the only thing he could do was nod and, with a gentle expression, viciously smash the teacup in his hand.
In the stillness of the night, the sound of porcelain shattering travelled very far out.
“Get out! This prince is filled with distaste at the sight of you!” Though Pang Xiao’s voice overflowed with violence, he still smiled with resignation when he looked at Qin Yining.
The Qin fourth miss responded with a glare when she saw how half-hearted he was about his acting. She cleared her throat and tears suddenly sprang forth in her eyes.
“Your Highness, what kind of tantrum are you throwing now?” she demanded tragically. “You wanted me to come serve tea, but now you’re picking at everything I do. I’m not a maid. Since you think my service is so poor, why come bother me!”
She shoved the door open, rushing outside with her face in her hands.
Xu Weizhi and Xie Yue were startled by Qin Yining’s spontaneous tears.
Pang Xiao was also taken aback, but quickly settled fully into the role. He too charged out the door and chased her to the covered hallway.
“How dare you?! These are hallowed grounds, how dare the daughter of a surrendered noble just walk about freely like this?! Servants, grab her!”
What on earth would Huzi know about what had happened in the house? All he saw was Qin Yining stumble to a sitting position in the yard, weeping up a storm. His master’s expression was tight with eyes about to spit fire. The guard really didn’t know what to do.
Why was his master so angry? Did he really not like Miss Qin anymore?
“What are you still standing there for?!” Pang Xiao levied a glare at Huzi.
His scalp numb, the guard quickly summoned burly granny servants and had them haul up the Qin fourth miss.
Bingtang and Jiyun was shocked and furious. Their hearts ached for the injustice to their mistress, but Pang Xiao's heart seemed to be made of stone. He showed absolutely no pity and growled his commands, “The manor doesn’t put up with useless personnel. Since this prince has grown bored of toying with you, there’s no use keeping you around. All of you, scram!”
Half-blinded by tears, Qin Yining looked up at the lofty Pang Xiao and was too choked up to protest.
Beet red with fury, Bingtang clawed herself free of the granny servant restraining her. She charged at Pang Xiao.
“You heartless, mean-spirited ingrate! What the hell are you?? Just a stupid prince who can’t even hold onto his position properly! What do you have to be proud of? Bullying my mistress because she doesn’t have any backing at the moment? You’re an animal!”
She’d never thought that the couple who’d sworn undying love to each other would turn into this.
Huzi rushed up to block the maid. “Stop, the prince isn’t someone you can insult!”
Bingtang couldn't struggle free this time, so she spat on the guard’s face instead. “Get out of my way! You’re just the same as him! All of you will go to hell for bullying my mistress!”
It was the first time that Huzi had seen Bingtang so furious. He went slack-jawed with surprise at the spittle on his face.
Both touched and guilty at seeing Bingtang defend herself like this, Qin Yining grabbed the maid’s hand for a quick squeeze.
The pressure stopped Bingtang in her tracks and she looked back at the Qin fourth miss, perplexed.
The fourth miss looked at Pang Xiao. “Since this is the case, we’ll leave. But I’m taking my maids with me.”
“This prince doesn’t want a single one of your people. Take all those who served you these days as well.” Uttering one bald-faced lie after another, Pang Xiao forced himself not to keep her.
Utterly dejected and heartbroken, Qin Yining took Bingtang and Jiyun’s hands and left. When they walked out of the Pang Manor, Xianyun, Qiulu, and Lian Xiaozhou were thrown out with packs on their backs as well.
The crimson-red doors of the princely manor slowly shut in their faces.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Oh wow, Bingtang can be really fierce! And indeed, just how did those officials know about Zhou Min's underwear hmm? Hurrhurr!