When Qin Yining heard of Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu brawling in front of the prince consort manor, her jaw dropped clear to the ground.
They weren’t kids of only a few years old! Why would they fight like this?
Two gods of war throwing down because of a woman, and not testing their martial arts skills with each other, but just throwing random punches and kicks at each other! The mere thought of the scene was eye-roll inspiring.
Weren’t the two afraid that their troops would find it embarrassing when they heard about the altercation?
But she didn’t need to think about it too hard to form a rough guess of what had gone on.
Setting aside the question whether the two had agreed beforehand to put on a show, or if Pang Xiao had purposefully provoked Ji Zeyu, this was absolutely something the emperor wanted to see.
It was clear as day what Li Qitian’s machinations were. Step by step, he nibbled away at his two right hand men who grasped military power. No effort or paranoia had been spared to cut the claws off of Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu.
If the target was a more biddable one like Ji Zeyu, then the emperor would seek to bring him into the fold. If he was like the eminent and stubborn Pang Xiao instead, then the emperor would whittle away and undermine the noble.
In conclusion, the current situation should be quite to the emperor’s preferences.
Indeed, when the emperor heard about the brawl before the prince consort manor, a brow arched high into his hairline. He knocked his jade ring happily on the dragon chair’s armrest, maintaining an incredulous frown. “Are you sure this news is accurate?”
Head eunuch Li Guanwen beamed merrily. “Your Majesty, how would this servant fail to accurately gather this little piece of intelligence? I am very much surprised by it as well. Everyone outside the palace is talking about it. They’re all saying that Prince Consort Ji and the Faithful Prince of the First Rank are seeing red at each other because of a shared love. They’re so furious that they’ve thrown out all dignity and reason!”
The joke put Li Qitian in a great mood. He chuckled softly with a shake of his head.
“They’re young men alright, to have this frame of mind to fight over a girl.” Nostalgia appeared on the emperor’s face. “We don’t even remember if We were ever in this kind of mood.”
The eunuch raised an eyebrow.
What’s with His Majesty? Why is he talking to a eunuch about relationships? It’s not like I’ll understand it.
Nonetheless, the flattery didn’t stop.
“Your Majesty, you’re in the prime of life. Countless women admire you. You’re just too busy with the affairs of court to talk about this.”
Li Qitian shook his head smilingly. “Those mundane rouges and crass powders offer Us their affection only because We are the emperor. They wish to scrabble some sort of benefit from Us. Of that We are well aware of.”
“Aiyo Your Majesty! You are the ruler of all beneath the heavens! Everything in the four seas is yours, and you’re in the best of your years. The son of heaven is imbued with the aura of dragons. How can women not fear the magnificent draconic male prowess?” 
These words were spoken with a few degrees of pretend-anger and hints of jest, but mostly it rang with the admiration of a lowly eunuch worshipping the son of heaven and the emperor’s manly charisma.
Immensely pleased by his servant’s words, Li Qitian was in the utmost of good moods.
“For a slave, you know quite a bit.”
“What would this lowly one know? This servant is only relaying the truth of what my eyes have seen.” Reverence and awe appeared on Li Guanwen’s face.
The emperor chuckled again at this and mock-spat. “You glibly tongued old thing. All you know is to ply Us with pretty words everyday.”
“This servant wouldn’t dare. This servant is wholly loyal to Your Majesty and only knows how to speak the truth.”
That finally sent Li Qitian into a hearty clap of laughter. “We know, We know. Alright then, go to the Pang and Ji Manors on Our behalf with medicine and imperial physicians. Take a good look at their injuries to make sure that they don’t worsen.”
The emperor rose and paced a few times, shaking his head. “They’re both pillars of the nation, yet fight amongst themselves before the war’s even begun. This is very unseemly. Have a few words with them as well.”
“Understood. This servant will bring full word of Your Majesty’s concern and admonishment.”
Li Qitian nodded with satisfaction, highly pleased that Li Guanwen had accurately grasped the main points of what he wanted to convey. The august majesty waved a hand. “Go now. Take a close look at their current condition and come back with a report.”
“I hear and obey.” Now serious, Li Guanwen quickly sifted through what news his master would want to hear the most and took his respectful leave.
He first called upon the prince consort manor with Imperial Physician Ma.
The handsome ice sculpture that was Ji Zeyu only responded with faint nods when he met with the head eunuch. This was an imperial servant that even many officials strove to curry favor with!
And yet, the eunuch didn’t dare adopt lofty airs and bowed respectfully. He snuck a quick glance at the reddened bumps on Ji Zeyu’s forehead before lowering his head, afraid to scrutinize longer.
Imperial Physician Ma took Ji Zeyu’s pulse and made an overall checkup. “The prince consort’s injuries are all surface wounds. There’s nothing of import. Applying some medicine to improve circulation and reduce bruises will do the trick.”
A faint grunt of assent was the only response.
When the imperial physician left to instruct the Ji family servants on how to apply the medicine, Li Guanwen began his questioning. “Prince Consort Ji, His Majesty has ordered this servant to inquire as to exactly what went on.”
Ji Zeyu snorted coldly. “Pang Zhixi stepped out of bounds! Absolutely out of bounds!” He left with an angry flourish of his sleeves.
Left where he was standing, the eunuch didn’t mind since he knew this was Ji Zeyu’s personality. After the doctor finished his instructions, they left for the Pang Manor.
Their welcome at the Faithful Prince of the First Rank’s abode was much warmer.
Head butler Xu Weizhi quickly came out in welcome after the doorkeeper sent word in. The butler politely bowed in welcome. “Please come inside and have a seat, Grand Supervisor Li.”
“This humble one wouldn’t dare. We are here on imperial orders and must hurry back to the palace. Is His Highness in?”
A trace of awkwardness flashed across Xu Weizhi’s face and he responded cagily, “Ah, His Highness will be out shortly.”
This reaction gave rise to the eunuch’s curiosity.
Xu Weizhi first showed Li Guanwen to the front hall and personally kept the visitor company. He urged the servants to send word inside and lowered his voice, “Tell them that Grand Supervisor Li is here from the palace. Madame Pang should wait if she wants to enact the kneeling punishment.”
The Pang family servant hastily left with his orders.
Meanwhile, Li Guanwen was rather surprised to catch the words ‘Madame Pang’ and ‘kneeling punishment’. To think that such an overweening tyrant as the prince would face punishment at home?
But further thought brought enlightenment.
Incredibly, Madame Pang was exercising such authority after returning to the manor! And such an accomplished war general would be so filial! Whatever his official mother said seemed to be law.
Li Guanwen tsk’ed to himself. The relationship between the prince and his official mother would surely be of interest to the emperor.
Thus, he fully flexed the bearing of a palace overseer and declared, “His Majesty also ordered me to greet Madame Pang. Why don’t we go pay a visit right now?” He set off for the inner residence without another word.
The color drained from Xu Weizhi’s face when he heard this and he scratched his temples. “Uh, this, this won’t do, will it? The prince will be out very shortly.”
“Mm?” Li Guanwen drew out the note and cast a stern look at the butler. “We are here under imperial orders. Do you want to defy an imperial decree?”
“Not at all, this humble one wouldn’t dare.” A tremor ran through Xu Weizhi and he hastily made his apologies. “Please don’t mind this. Since the grand overseer is here on imperial orders, I’m sure my master inside won’t have any complaints otherwise. Please, come with me.”
Li Guanwen nodded with satisfaction and followed the butler inside.
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Lol wtheck... forcing PX to kneel??
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