Chapter 430.2: Togetherness

Yet today, he spoke with a rare show of presence and dignity. “Your Majesty, this subject asks to be tasked with the mission to the old capital for disaster relief.” 

“Oh?” Li Qitian responded with interest. “The commandery prince truly loves the people as his own. Yet, We are reluctant to give consent. The quake in the old capital was rather severe and a post-quake endemic is highly likely. If you are sent on the mission, We fear We might be sending you into trouble.” 

Those with an insightful eye understood all too well. How would Li Qitian maintain any peace of mind if he let Yuchi Yan loose? 

The disaster zone was the heart of Yuchi Yan’s once-motherland. The people there were all his old subjects. 

No one could say with certainty that Yuchi Yan had no more henchmen or loyalists left in the area. Take the rumored treasure of that trash emperor for example. It had bespelled many for far too long. 

Wouldn’t Li Qitian be freeing a tiger back to the mountains if he let Yuchi Yan go? 

The commandery prince paused and realized what the emperor’s misgivings were. 

“Your Majesty has just arranged for the Faithful Prince of the First Rank to head the relief mission. That is wonderful. The prince is exceedingly capable and a fantastic choice to lead the relief mission. Would Your Majesty consider sending this subject along with the prince?”

At these words, the emperor glanced over the court of assembled civil and military officials. His gaze finally fell upon Pang Xiao. 

The throng of officials waited with bated breath, seeing Li Qitian deep in thought.  

All except Secretariat Lu, who was utterly exhausted from worry over his missing grandson. “Your Majesty, please send someone there as soon as possible.” His emotions were barely under control.

Nothing could be more upsetting than learning that one’s most extraordinary grandson was buried under the debris and yet unaccounted for. They’d just chatted before his departure!

Li Qitian understood the emotional turmoil the elderly man must be going through. And it was because of that understanding, he felt inordinately gratified. 

That asshat Lu Heng had made off with the treasure map. Some nerve he had in keeping it from the imperial government! 

It was all the better if this schmuck perished in the south, so that imperial hatred could be properly slaked!

That might be Li Qitian’s sentiments, but Secretariat Lu was a veteran official at the end of the day. The emperor would wound the feelings of other officials if he acted too callous, and it’d cast an unfavorable light on his leadership down the road.  

Li Qitian found himself unable to come to a decision. 

At that very moment, Qin Huaiyuan stepped out and bowed. “Your Majesty.” 

The emperor placed immense trust in the former Marquis of Anping. His expression kind and pleasant, he asked, “Beloved subject Qin, what do you wish to say?”  

Qin Huaiyuan bowed with great respect. “Your Majesty, this subject feels there is no time to waste. We must immediately mobilize rescuers, prepare appropriate supplies for the relief mission, and allocate physicians in case of an endemic. This is exactly the opportunity Your Majesty needs to display your magnanimity towards your subjects.” 

The emperor nodded in understanding. 

Indeed, Great Yan hadn’t been part of his territory prior. With the old capital so devastated by an earthquake, he’d likely disappoint the people of the fallen nation and alienate them as a result if he was indifferent.  

“Beloved subject Qin and Us are on the same page. The relief mission must and will happen. It just so happens that We haven’t decided on the leader yet. Since the Commandery Prince of Yan is wholeheartedly devoted to his people, it would be best to send him.” 

No sooner had Li Qitian finished his pronouncement than Yuchi Yan bowed with great joy and gratitude. “Many thanks to Your Majesty for the permission! This subject will see to it that this mission be accomplished!” 

Those remarks were music to Li Qitian’s ears. 

Having the surrendered liege of his former enemy nation show this much allegiance would undoubtedly attest to his strength and capability. That hit the sweetest spot in his heart.  

Seeing that a decision was made, Qin Huaiyuan stepped back to his post and kept mum. 

“Very well, with the way things are, We shall send you, Commandery Prince of Yan, as the imperially-appointed special envoy for disaster relief. It won’t do to not have capable help at the ready. With that in mind, We shall also appoint the Faithful Prince of the First Rank with a troop of three hundred Dragon Riders to go with you. They will listen to your commands while serving as your guard.”

Yuchi Yan’s hatred of Pang Xiao ate away at him. Would Great Yan have been breached if not for Pang Xiao? Would Qin Yining have been imperially decreed to marry if it not for his extensive plotting, extinguishing all hope for her to be Yuchi Yan’s concubine?  

This man was born to be a thorn in his side, it seemed. He finally had a chance to return to his motherland for disaster relief, but was forced to bring the prince along! 

Yuchi Yan understood that the arrangement was so that Pang Xiao could keep tabs on him. It was why his services had been volunteered, to put the emperor at ease.   

But as the most awkwardly-positioned official among all the  surrendered ministers, how could Yuchi Yan scrounge up compelling enough of a reason to turn Li Qitian down? 

The sage advice of Gu Shixiong, grandfather to Gu Chang, was ever-present in his mind. Yuchi Yan bowed with utmost respect. “Your Majesty is most attentive. This humble subject is very grateful.” 

“You may rise.” Beaming from ear to ear, Li Qitian looked at Pang Xiao. The prince had moments ago played the lead for the arrangements, but was now brought down a peg and assigned to be a bodyguard!

The emperor was enormously pleased with himself, seeing the baleful look on Pang Xiao’s face.  He didn’t mind at all driving a bigger wedge between the prince and Yuchi Yan. 

“It won’t do at all for Faithful Prince of the First Rank to travel so far right after his grand wedding. Now then, We grant special permission to the prince to bring his princess consort along.”

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etvolare's Thoughts

Sigh. Li Qitian is freaking odious.