Ever since arriving in Great Zhou, Qin Huaiyuan had kept to a low profile and exercised a prudent style.
Though he enjoyed great favor from the emperor, he wasn’t the sort to brim with self satisfaction. Standing forward to kowtow as soon as morning court commenced and raising a fuss for the emperor to deliver justice was a first for the Qin patriarch.
Not only Li Qitian, but an entire court of civil and martial officials looked curiously at Qin Huaiyuan.
Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu looked at each other, frowning slightly and looking noncommittally back at the minister.
Some speculations sprang into existence in Li Qitian’s heart, but he could only respond solemnly, as befit the occasion.
“Beloved subject Qin, please rise. Tell Us whatever suffering ails you.”
The minister’s eyes immediately reddened and his whiskers trembled. Closing his eyes tight to conceal the tears in them, he rasped out, “Your Majesty, this old subject has no son and just one daughter. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she wandered the outside world in poverty when young.
“After finally locating her, this old subjected treasured her as my most precious valuable, more than my life itself! She is the veritable apple of my eye.
“Much resignation colors the events of the past, and in the struggle between being loyal subject and a good father, I fell short of taking care of my daughter. My only thought was that all would be a new beginning after coming to Great Zhou. I would be able to make things up to her then.
“But who would have fathomed that apart from unforeseen developments along the way, my daughter would be forcefully carried off by the Faithful Prince of the First Rank as soon as she arrived in the capital!? Though she is home now, her reputation is in ruins and countless tongues wag about her!”
Qin Huaiyuan’s forehead was firmly planted on the ground as tears flowed freely. He sobbed, snot and tears flying everywhere.
“This subject begs Your Majesty to uphold justice for my beloved daughter! My daughter is erudite and mannerly, intelligent and dependable—nothing of that frivolous, flighty sort at all! Yet the outside world talks of her in that kind of manner!
“What wrong has my daughter committed for her to suffer thus?? All dishonorable actions stem from the prince! This subject begs Your Majesty to severely punish the culprit and deliver judgment for my daughter!”
The minister howled out each of his words, agony and fury bleeding through each of them. He pressed his forehead deeply into the ground when he finished, overcome by emotion. He even took off the hat as part of his uniform and kowtowed several times, decrying tragically, “Please take matters into your eminent hands, Your Majesty! Punish Pang Zhixi harshly!”
The crowds of officials were stunned by the scene.
It’d crossed no minds that Qin Huaiyuan would actually criticize the Faithful Prince of the First Rank. Rumors had flown for more than a few days, and when the minister had first borne it all in silence, there were those who quietly mocked him for being lily-livered and chicken-hearted. He was too afraid to protect even his own daughter!
But he’d suddenly submitted a petition today, an obvious sign of how infuriated he was by Pang Xiao flipping the table and insulting his daughter. As a father, he was no longer standing for the state of things!
A smile blossomed on the lips of Minister Cheng of the Bureau of Military Affairs. Since they were both censuring the prince, he wouldn’t fight for the honor with Qin Huaiyuan. Cheng Meng scooched off to the side and settled in for the show.
Li Qitian’s hands slowly tightened on the arms of his dragon throne as his forehead furrowed as well. I never thought that matters would develop to this point!
Under his orders, the empress dowager had invited the daughters of three noble houses, Lu Heng, and Pang Xiao. His goal was simple: Qin Yining would be dangled to create discord between Lu Heng and Pang Xiao.
The emperor had long since discovered that Lu Heng held some interest for Qin Yining. He also knew that Pang Xiao likewise had feelings for the girl, but was caught over the hurdle of his father’s matter.
No man would be comfortable with the girl he liked and known intimately marrying another. Regardless of whether or not Qin Yining married Lu Heng, the two men would form a grudge against each other.
However, he hadn’t entertained the remotest possibility that Pang Xiao, ordinarily very respectful of the empress dowager, would actually flip over the dining table and infuriate Lu Heng so much that the Lu scion would leave with an angry flourish of the sleeve!
With how serious things had gotten, having Qin Huaiyuan publicly submit a petition was wholly outside the range of Li Qitian’s expectations. This wasn’t what he wanted to happen, at all.
While the emperor remained in deep thought, Qin Huaiyuan kowtowed repeatedly and called out, “This subject begs Your Majesty to deliver justice! If Your Majesty doesn’t harshly penalize the Faithful Prince of the Fourth Rank, then this old subject can proceed no further in my position! I am an official, but my daughter suffers such injustices! I cannot protect her, nor can I seek out justice for her! What use am I then, in this official capacity!?”
Tears streaked down the minister’s face as he respectfully kowtowed again.
Li Qitian recovered in the midst of his subject’s tragic wails and coughed. “Beloved subject Qin, do rise first.”
Punish Pang Xiao? That wouldn’t be entertained at all!
Though the emperor was wary of Pang Xiao, the prince was the only one of his faction who sat on the council.
If he came down harshly on Pang Xiao like Qin Huaiyuan wanted, then the emperor would have none of his own left in the council. Were all of his policy decisions to be dictated by the old Northern Ji officials and aristocracy?
Li Qitian shook his head inwardly. He absolutely couldn’t punish Pang Xiao.
And yet, it really was the prince at fault here.
When his thoughts travelled here, Li Qitian could only cajole in soft tones, hoping that Qin Huaiyuan would come to his senses.
“We can certainly understand beloved subject Qin’s feelings in this matter. But both of you are officials of court and Our left and right hand men. How will you diligently go about your duties if you erupt in internal discord? Beloved subject Qin must keep the greater picture in mind!”
“Your Majesty, if my daughter cannot be accounted for today, then this subject will relinquish this position as minister. I will no longer be colleagues with the prince then! If the prince commits such banditry in front of even Your Majesty, then I will list his crimes out on paper and plaster them all throughout the capital! I will have everyone see his soulless villainy for what it is!!”
A vein throbbed in Li Qitian’s forehead. He’d once employed this strategy against the trash emperor of Great Yan. To think that Qin Huaiyuan would use the same idea to elicit public discourse!
If word of this really got out, how would Pang Xiao find his footing on the council? No, the prince couldn’t be forced out, no matter what!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Oh my word. Papa Qin puts on a good show!
This is SO good, where's my popcorn??