“Servants, present Secretariat Lu a seat,” ordered Li Qitian in a low voice.
Li Guanwen murmured in affirmation and bade the young eunuchs carry over a high-backed chair with a curved back, placing it in a lower head seat position. This particular design had a strip of wood running down the back and thin armrests.
Dressed in the scarlet red of an official, Secretariat Lu arranged the hem of his robes and tottered down to the ground for a grand gesture of greeting. “This old official thanks Your Majesty.”
Such a respectful and cautious attitude irked the hell out of Li Qitian. Putting on this show when you don’t have a loyal bone in your body. What is this if not the crime of deceiving your liege??
“You are a senior official and Our right hand man. The Lu’s helping hand to benefit the greater good and end the chaos of war has ever been a point of great gratitude. How would there be no seat for Elder Lu before Us?”
Li Qitian’s smile shone with pleasant charisma.
A lean body over eighty years of age trembled with gratitude; Secretariat Lu’s whiskers shook as well. He bowed emotionally, “The old official is willing to brave fire and water to repay the kindness of meeting Your Majesty!”
He made to kneel to the ground again.
A quick look was all that was needed to have Li Guanwen help the old official up.
“Hurry and help Elder Lu into his seat.”
The eunuch smiled. “Please have a seat, elder. His Majesty cares most deeply about you.”
“My gratitude to Your Majesty, my deepest gratitude.” Moved to tears, Secretariat Lu sat on the front half of the chair.
When the old man lowered his head, Li Qitian rubbed his temples wearily, recovering his usual facade when the old man raised his head again.
“Does Elder Lu know the reason behind the summons today?”
Secretariat Lu nodded and responded sincerely, “Your Majesty must be concerned with the drought in the south. Your Majesty need not worry, you are the Son of Heaven and blessed with divine favor. Ever since Great Yan surrendered and their lands came under Great Zhou control, their drought has seen relief. This is all due to Your Majesty’s august fortune that the people benefit so!”
The official truly showed his advanced age. Though he spoke loudly with all his strength, his body trembled with every word. Li Guanwen watched apprehensively off to the side. If the old man used too much force in speaking and couldn’t find his next breath, how would the imperial family explain themselves to the Lus that something had happened to their elder in the imperial study?
The old man’s words were a barrel of oil to the fires of rage in Li Qitian’s heart. He clamped down on his teeth to prevent flames from spewing forth.
Such a loyal and patriotic subject, huh!
If he was such an exemplary subject, why had he let his grandson do such a thing!
If it’d been anyone else, imperial censure would’ve already broken the air.
But faced with Elder Lu’s expression full of sincerity and gratitude and the old man’s identity as the Lu patriarch, Li Qitian held his temper in with great effort. He sighed softly without a flicker of change in expression. Every wrinkle on this wily old fox brimmed with schemes and plots!
“Though We have the protection of the heavens, it is with the aid of able subjects that We completed our conquest. But you also know, Elder Lu, that We took over a Northern Ji full of pits and holes.”
“Ai, that is true. Your Majesty has weathered very difficult years.” Patriarch Lu sighed along with his liege.
“Our difficulties don’t matter, what matters is the people. The national treasury is empty now, and the rations and rewards promised to the Valiant Tigers for conquering Great Yan are yet unfulfilled. A drought rampages the south, the people are destitute and homeless. Tartars prowl covetously in the north. Devastation can be glimpsed everywhere in this country. Stratagems are needed for every nook and cranny, money needed for every crack wherewith. Secretariat Lu also knows of the state of the nation’s coffers.”
The old man raised cupped hands in response. “Your Majesty, this old official is willing to share your burdens. I will return home and think of ways to fundraise and gather funds.”
The response halted Li Qitian in his tracks. This made it seem like he was complaining about being poor to his subjects, and asking them for a handout!
Fundraise? Could he fundraise the sum of the treasure??
This old thing was playing dumb! He refused to admit to Lu Heng’s mistake no matter what he did!
Li Qitian’s patience teetered on the verge of nonexistence. If it wasn’t for his identity as an emperor and no longer that of a commoner buffoon, he would’ve long since pounced on the slippery old man and thrown a few hearty punches!
Even suppressed, the wave of imperial anger caused Li Guanwen to take a few steps back.
Secretariat Lu remained oblivious and seemed to be tearing up. He promised solemnly, “Your Majesty, this old subject will absolutely think of a way to gather the sufficient funds!”
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back!
Li Qitian shot to his feet and denounced, “Secretariat Lu, We respect you, so don’t you take a mile when given an inch!”
Patriarch Lu tottered to his knees and pressed his forehead to the ground.
“Please pull your anger, Your Majesty, this old subject, this old subject doesn’t understand…” His voice shook.
“You don’t understand?! We can tell you see with crystal clear clarity! We ask you, do you know that We are searching for the treasure of Great Yan!”
“This old subject knows.”
“Then how dare you let your grandson leave with Our treasure map!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Wow. Okay. We thought Qin Huaiyuan was a good actor? Patriarch Lu takes the cake!