“Ah?” Patriarch Lu lifted his head with stunned shock, then seemed to feel it inappropriate to look directly upon the imperial visage. He hastily ducked his head and shook his head rapidly. “Impossible, how could this be? If my grandson really did obtain the treasure map, he would report it to Your Majesty immediately. How would he…”
“So you mean that We falsely accuse Lu Heng?”
“This old subject wouldn’t dare!” Secretariat Lu kowtowed. “Your Majesty, is there a misunderstanding in any of this?”
“Misunderstanding? We just learned of the map’s existence and sent men to retrieve it, but received word that your precious grandson left the capital on the back of fast horses, along with an escort!”
“This, this… I don’t know of this. My grandson didn’t report this at all. That brat! How dare he do so! If I learn of where he’s gone, I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”
“So beloved subject Lu means to say that you don’t know of any of this?”
“Of course not!” Tears streaked down an anxious Patriarch Lu’s face. “How dare that little bastard do this! What a travesty, oh the shame!”
The old official wept until he became short of breath. He fell sideways to the ground with shaking hands.
Li Guanwen hastily ran up to support the Lu patriarch. “Secretariat Lu, are you alright?” He looked questioningly at his master. If they didn’t want to create an enormous disaster, they needed to summon an imperial physician.
Li Qitian gnashed his teeth as he looked at the old man. I should just let him die here!
But it wouldn’t sound good if word got out that something happened to the Lu patriarch when he was in the imperial study. The consequences would also be quite disastrous.
When his thoughts travelled here, Li Qitian could only ask in a worried, hushed tone, “Are you alright, Elder Lu? Hurry, summon the imperial physician!”
“This old subject, old subject, is fine. This old subject really is, that unfilial boy, really will be the death of me!”
It was Li Qitian who almost spat out a mouthful of blood when he saw his loyal subject still remember to curse his unfilial grandson in the midst of his pain. The emperor decisively turned around and decided that out of sight was out of mind.
An imperial physician quickly rushed to the imperial study to conduct his diagnosis.
“In response to Your Majesty, Secretariat Lu is advanced in age and just suffered from shock and fright. Anger shot straight to his heart and overly agitated emotions caused an excess of internal fires. This is why he momentarily endured dizzy spells. This subject will write a prescription for the elder, and the elder needs to mind his emotions and refrain from becoming unduly worked up.”
The imperial physician was an exceedingly honest and kind person. He didn’t even dare gaze upon the imperial visage directly, so he had no idea that Li Qitian’s face darkened with each word he spoke.
Li Guanwen had already shrank in on himself, trying with all of his might to decrease the footprint of his existence. He was deathly afraid of being embroiled in flames of imperial rage.
Li Qitian compressed his lips, looking silently at Secretariat Lu.
Cold shudders ran down the old man’s back and he hastily knelt. “Mercy, Your Majesty. This old subject will send servants to immediately bring that unfilial child home. His punishment shall be as Your Majesty decrees!”
Could he really bear to hand over his most beloved grandson?
This was obviously just a show to back Li Qitian into a corner!
If the emperor responded too harshly, then the Lu would officially be on guard.
Being on guard was of only secondary importance.
If the Lus acted on their fear and allied with other aristocratic houses in rebellion, Li Qitian wasn’t so confident that he’d be unable to quell this uprising.
Therefore, even though he had a belly full of anger, he could only uselessly swallow it all.
“Forget it, this matter isn’t Elder Lu’s fault to begin with. We did not properly control our emotions just now in our anger.”
“Your Majesty, the old subject is fearful. This old subject is ashamed!” Secretariat Lu pressed himself into the ground, sobbing loudly.
Absolute irritation washed over Li Qitian to see the old man thus, but he couldn’t do anything other than offer words of comfort.
The final results were: Li Qitian unable to censure and interrogate his subject, instead having to soothe his target’s emotions instead. His closest eunuch personally sending the old official home, and a cartload of medicinal ingredients and nutritional goods gifted as well.
Li Qitian sulked in his study for the rest of the day, refusing to see anyone.
Secretariat Lu politely thanked Li Guanwen upon his return, giving the eunuch a hefty red envelope. He returned to the upper yard of the rear residence once the eunuch took his leave.
First to greet his eyes after entering through the doors was Lu Heng, the very person that Li Qitian said to have left the city. The young man was sitting on the heated platform next to the window, reading a book and eating snacks.
“You’re back, grandfather.” Lu Heng made to stand and bow.
Secretariat Lu waved him off and took a seat in front of his grandson, picking up a snack to nibble on as well.
“Grandfather, did His Majesty give you a hard time?”
The old man smiled. “He would’ve loved to, but he doesn’t have the guts to.”
Lu Heng dimpled. “If he heard grandfather’s words, he’d explode with rage.”
“You didn’t see how he was just now! He was worried that he wouldn't be able to explain himself if I died in his study, but I was also worried that he would pop a blood vessel from fury.” The old man laughed with cheerful ease of mind. “Make sure of your preparations tomorrow before you set out. Safety is of paramount importance when you’re outside. Our family doesn’t lack for silver, so it doesn’t matter if we find the treasure or not. Just come back safe and sound.”
“We can’t let that one find it even if we don’t. But don’t worry grandfather, I’m treating it as a pleasure trip. I’ll take care of myself.”
Looking over his solitary and noble grandson, Secretariat Lu resumed seriousness. “My grandson, you’re not getting any younger. You should really remarry…”
“Grandfather, having seen the vast seas, no other waters enter my eyes. Apart from the one I love, none can move my heart.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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