Chapter 401: Treasure (I)

“Old Master Gu? Which Old Master Gu?” Qin Yining rose, perplexed.

“The one who came to Great Zhou with us, the emperor’s strategist, Master Gu Shixiong. His granddaughter, Gu Chang, is the commandery prince’s concubine.”

“I see now.” Qin Yining frowned and paced around in the room, in spite of herself.

She and the old strategist normally had nothing to do with each other. Her father also had no interactions with him, so why the sudden visit?

It certainly was in relation to recent happenings in the palace.

Gu Shixiong had been Grand Preceptor to the Heir Apparent when the former Great Yan emperor had been crown prince. As decrepit and utterly useless the former emperor had been, he had always been very respectful towards his teacher. It could be said that Gu Shixiong was the former emperor’s most trusted confidante.

This character’s sudden arrival gave rise to many, many speculations from the Qin fourth miss.

“Bingtang, go to the front hall first and wait on the old master carefully. I’ll be over as soon as I change out of my clothes.”

“Understood.” The maid nodded and quickly stepped out.

Qin Yining put on a new outfit and was just about to head over when Jiyun came in, huffing and panting from the outside. Her hasty appearance startled the fourth miss as well as Xianyun and Qiulu, both helping their mistress with her hair.

“What is it?” Qin Yining looked back at the guard from the dressing table.

Jiyun sucked in two quick breaths before reporting rapidly in a hushed tone, “Miss, I’ve just come from the outside. Someone came from the palace to invite Madame Cao and all of the Silver Masks into the palace. Also, there’s a rumor in town.”

Flabbergasted, Qin Yining stared at Jiyun.

“Everyone’s saying that the former emperor’s treasure was found, but it was empty!”

“What?!” The fourth miss had no idea what to say.

The former emperor had robbed and pillaged his own people to amass an enormous sum at the end of Great Yan’s days. Everyone knew that he’d wanted to use this wealth to rise anew in a new location.

How would such a selfish person leave an empty treasure for himself?

“It’s true. News has spread everywhere that the men sent to Great Yan found only an empty hidey-hole.”

Qin Yining nodded. She finally understood why Li Qitian would suddenly keep Yuchi Yan, Li Yanyan, and Gu Chang in the palace.

The emperor really is a wily old fox!

First, he wanted to interrogate the real treasure location out of Yuchi Yan.

Second, he wished to use Yuchi Yan as a hostage. Even if the commandery prince didn’t know the location of the treasure, the emperor could curtail the actions of those in the know. After all, Great Yan’s treasure was to be left for the Great Yan royal bloodline.

Third, and most important, those who cared about Yuchi Yan would naturally spring into action after he was taken. All Li Qitian had to do was to observe who acted out of the ordinary to glean knowledge on who knew where the treasure was!

Therefore, the sudden visit from Gu Shixiong meant that it would certainly appear suspiciously out of the ordinary in Li Qitian’s eyes!

Qin Yining suddenly felt this to be a very sticky issue.

As an experienced official, Old Master Gu was certainly no fool. Paying a visit to the Qins at this crucial moment and asking for her specifically… was he doing this on purpose or purely by coincidence?

But no matter what he said, it would appear dubious in the emperor’s eyes.

The fourth miss quite suspected that this senior official wanted to drag the Qins down. After all, the family had landed on their feet in Great Zhou and was doing quite well for themselves!

“Miss, what should we do now?”

Seeing how solemn their mistress was, the maids were all slightly nervous. But they’d been through thick and thin with Qin Yining, so although they were nervous, they weren’t afraid. 

The girl smiled comfortingly at them. “No worries, I have a plan in mind. Xianyun, Qiulu, stay in the room. Jiyun, come with me to meet Old Master Gu.”

“Understood, miss,” chorused the maids.

Jiyun followed Qin Yining to the front hall.

Gu Shixiong was more than seventy years old with a head of stark-white hair. Thin and lean, he wore straight, plain satin robes of navy-blue. He looked very much like an elderly teacher.

Qin Yining quickly sized her visitor up and curtsied respectfully. “Old Master Gu, apologies for keeping you waiting. This little girl truly has no manners, please do forgive me.”

Gu Shixiong smiled faintly and rose to offer cupped fists. “There’s no need to be so concerned with the formalities. It’s this old man who has imposed on you.”

Surprised by the great politeness, the Qin fourth miss came to a few swift conclusions.

“Please take a seat, Old Master Gu.”

“After you.”

After a round of pleasantries, Qin Yining insisted on taking a chair of lower status. She tilted her body sideways and occupied only half of her seat, displaying the utmost of good etiquette. The presentation greatly warmed Gu Shixiong’s heart.

“What insights might Old Master Gu have to impart with your visit today?”

“This old man wouldn’t dare have insights. I’ve come to impose today because I have a piece of good news for Miss Qin.”

The girl only smiled with composure. “What good news might the old master mean?”

Gu Shixiong stroked his snow-white beard and smiled quite benevolently.

“I trust that Miss Qin has already heard of the news as it’s everywhere in the city. Then men sent to Great Yan to locate our old nation’s treasure have found it, but they report it’s empty.”

“I have indeed heard of that.”

“Then what might Miss Qin think about this matter?”

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etvolare's Thoughts

*whistles* Okay damn, this emperor really is something!