Court erupted in astonishment when the order was given. No one had anticipated that the emperor valued the Faithful Prince of the First Rank to the point of considering the prince’s recent wedding. The prince was allowed to bring his new wife on official business!
It looks like His Majesty relies just as much on the prince as before!
No matter what others thought, Pang Xiao was well aware of Li Qitian’s plotting.
The emperor just wanted to create trouble and oh-so-subtly remind him that Yuchi Yan had once lusted after Qin Yining. With Qin Yining by his side, it would greatly decrease the chances of Pang Xiao colluding with a love rival.
“My gratitude for Your Majesty’s great favor! This subject receives his orders!”
Conniving, black-hearted snake! Why don’t you take a stand like a real man?
Whereas, Li Qitian was thinking back to how Qin Yining had once been a candidate for Yuchi Yan’s empress, and the commandery prince often displayed a soulful, lovesick attitude towards the girl. These two will cause a lot of trouble for each other on this trip, hmm?
What the emperor didn’t know was that Pang Xiao no longer harbored any resentment, didn’t doubt Qin Yining’s loyalty in the slightest, and possessed utmost self-confidence. There was no way Yuchi Yan could get up to anything in front of him!
Li Qitian interpreted Pang Xiao’s solemn expression as dejection, which put him in an even better mood.
“The matter is thus decided,” he proclaimed. “Everyone is dismissed to prepare for the trip. The relief mission sets out at dawn the day after tomorrow. Court is dismissed.”
“Your subject hears and obeys! Long live Your Majesty! Health and prosperity to Your Majesty!” The officials fell to the ground in kowtows.
A wooden-faced Pang Xiao trailed the group of people filing out the doors. Thinking that he needed to discuss with his father-in-law about what to pay attention to on this trip, a eunuch caught his attention before he got too far.
“Your Highness, His Majesty requests your presence in the imperial study.”
A few around Pang Xiao heard the summons and knew that the emperor must have some critical mission to assign. Such ardent favor induced both jealousy and fear!
Pang Xiao nodded and had the eunuch lead the way. He entered the door to find Li Qitian sitting on a round chair off to the side, quite relaxed.
“Hail, Your Majesty!” Pang Xiao bowed after walking up.
“You’re here.” Li Qitian smiled. “Forgo the courtesies. Come, have a seat.”
However, Pang Xiao didn’t dare actually skip out on proper manners. He went through all of the motions before carefully selecting a lower seat and cautiously sitting down, his body averted.
Li Qitian smiled faintly to see the prince so circumspect.
“We are sure you know why you were summoned. We arrange only one mission for you on this trip to the south, and that is to surveil everything and anything the commandery prince and his men do. We will grant you thirty messenger pigeons. Send one back immediately if you find anything of suspect.”
The pigeons were specially trained. No matter how far away they were, they would hone in on their home coop if set free. Thus, message-bearing pigeons didn’t fly about haphazardly.
“Is Your Majesty worried that the commandery prince is still in contact with his former officials in Great Yan?” intoned Pang Xiao.
The emperor nodded. “That’s part of it. The other, and most important, is that he might find the treasure on this trip and keep it for himself. He’ll be able to recruit new troops and rise again. If that comes to pass, then We really will have freed the tiger back into its home.”
“Your Majesty is noble and wise. Your foresight is all-encompassing. It’s impossible for what you speak of to happen! Don't worry, your subject will do all that I can to fulfill my mission.”
“Very good. We trust you. It’s your first time leading the Dragon Riders out, so you must be prudent and cautious. We will arrange a capable vice general for you. He’s part of the Dragon Riders to begin with, so don’t tire yourself out and give him whatever orders you have.”
Such blatant installation of a spy!
“Understood, your subject obeys.” Pang Xiao bowed respectfully, not showing a single flicker of emotion other than docility.
His goal accomplished, Li Qitian couldn’t be bothered with keeping up the act and gave a few more orders with a smile. “You should head back soon as you need to make preparations for your princess consort as well. Is she doing better now?”
The prince frowned slightly and responded with some concern, “She’s not in the best of health, probably because her early years were too harsh. That’s harmed her foundations, and the imperial physician’s written a prescription to improve her constitution.”
What did Li Qitian care about Qin Yining? He was just being polite. But seeing how sorrowful Pang Xiao was, the emperor had to keep his impatience in check and murmur some words of comfort before summoning Li Guanwen.
Pang Xiao respectfully backed out of the imperial study and followed the head eunuch down a long palace path.
Grass stubbornly poked through the cracks between square limestones. The path was framed into a narrow corridor by red walls, turquoise tiles, and an azure blue sky.
“Overseer Li, in the time that this prince is away from the capital, it will fall to you to help His Majesty. If he overworks himself, you must try to speak some sense into him. He mustn’t tire himself out. All of court relies on the pillar that is His Majesty. What happens if he too falls ill? The government will dissolve into utter chaos!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Okay, Pang Xiao can play the BS game equally well lol.