Pang Xiao’s hand tightened around the golden decree; he violently whipped his head around to glare at Gu Shixiong.
Qin Yining was one step ahead of him. “Old Master Gu should first think about how it feels to fall short of success in the last possible second. Or, you can think about how your selfish actions have plunged the commandery prince into the depths of no return. The prince could've lived out his days in peace, but now he’s been completely ruined by your ambitions. Not only did you throw away your family, but also harmed your master and lost everything to your name. How does that feel, good?”
“Oh I’m hardly worthy of that. Compared to an elder who climbs upward by stepping on his master, I’m far behind you.” The married couple helped each other up.
A furious knot of rage stuck in Gu Shixiong’s chest, and he pounded himself as a fit of coughing overtook him.
Each of the girl’s words stabbed into the heart. An old official like Gu Shixiong didn’t care about wealth, he just wanted to leave his name in the annals of history. If peace and prosperity reigned throughout the lands, it was naturally good to be a wise subject serving a noble sovereign. But in times of chaos and war, an able subject who restored order was the more valuable one.
He’d been brainstorming since the day Great Yan fell just how he might utilize the treasure to unite Southern Yan and place Yuchi Yan back on the dragon throne.
The perfect opportunity had never presented itself, so he could only wait in readiness.
Now, it was right in front of him, but he’d fallen into someone else’s trap again!
Last time, he’d eaten up everything Qin Yining had fed him about the treasure map.
This time, her irritating face was once again on the scene of his failure, and she’d jabbed him right where it hurt. When he looked back at Yuchi Yan, he discovered to his horror that some hints of appraisal and suspicion colored his master’s look!
Gu Shixiong’s heart skipped a beat. Yuchi Yan had obviously taken the girl’s provocative words to heart!
The future was already murky after being apprehended red-handed, but now the girl drove a wedge between them with just a few words! Why was the one he offered his loyalty to so biddable by the princess consort??
They say that beauties are nothing but disaster. She’s a disaster alright!
The scene grew dark in front of the old man and he sagged, toppling straight backwards.
Though he nursed some resentment against his once-subject, Yuchi Yan quickly stepped up anxiously to offer support.
“Old Master Gu, are you alright? Old Master Gu!”
Seeing that the old man really had fainted dead away, the resentment that’d been building in Yuchi Yan’s heart evaporated. The old master was one of his, after all!
The commandery prince jerked his head up and stared furiously at Qin Yining. His eyes smouldered like twin flames in the gloom of the dark cave.
“Why must you be this way! You’ve successfully attached yourself to a powerful thigh and can live out a carefree life. Does securing a good future for yourself give you the support you need to treat your old countrymen with self-righteous harshness? No wonder the books say that women and hangers-on are the most difficult to keep around!
“You’re biting the hand that feeds you! I say that you’ve completely forgotten you’re of Great Yan!” Yuchi Yan roared madly without restraint, his voice particularly high and shrill in an open space such as the cave.
Qin Yining’s expression darkened, and she sneered. “Do you even know what you’re talking about? Don’t push the consequences of your cowardice and ineptness onto someone else! You casually blame everyone but yourself, but does that really mean none of this is your fault? I am indeed a woman, but my character and actions are above reproach. I’m not the one who threw my women out with the bathwater to take the fall!”
“You!” Yuchi Yan shook a wrathful finger at Qin Yining, but there was nothing he could say to defend himself.
The princess consort sneered again and couldn’t be bothered exchanging half a word more with Yuchi Yan.
She was quite grateful that she hadn’t previously curried imperial favor or attached herself to the dragon throne out of consideration for the family future. If she’d tied herself to this man, she would’ve crumbled before anyone needed to do anything else.
The sight of his wife silencing Yuchi Yan was more satisfying than receiving his princely title or being inducted into the council. Pang Xiao flung a possessive arm around Qin Yining and turned to You Meng, who was watching the show.
“Though there is an imperial decree here, this prince is still His Majesty’s sworn brother. I must give some suggestions. One, you should immediately notify the local authorities and have the soldiers surround the premises. That will prevent any mishaps from developing. Two, you should wait for all of the troops to arrive and His Majesty’s orders before moving the treasure out.”
A perfunctory smile curved You Meng’s lips and he raised a cupped fist salute. “It won't be necessary for Your Highness to worry about that. His Majesty has given all authority in this matter to me. I have everything under control.”
“Under control?” scoffed Pang Xiao. “I say you're looking for an opportunity to steal His Majesty’s treasure!”
"Shut up with that kind of slander!” The vice general roared. “Though my rank may not be as high as Your Highness’, the heavens can bear witness to my loyalty! What are your ulterior motives in throwing around wild accusations like these!”
“You don’t need to be so worried, vice general. Those with no crookedness in their hearts fear not the sun. If you really don’t lust after His Majesty’s treasure, then you should be opting for full transparency. But here you are, asserting your sole authority over everything. It’s really hard to not look at this suspiciously.”
“I am acting upon His Majesty’s verbal decree! You have accepted the edict, Your Highness, so all you need to do now is remain on-site with the princess consort and await new orders. You don’t need to worry about anything else.”
Pang Xiao fell silent at the rejoinder, the hands behind his back balled into tight fists. The tighter he gripped them, the more it seemed his rage and waspishness could be restrained.
“This prince will report your actions to His Majesty!”
“Alright, be my guest. Do you have enough messenger pigeons? If not, I can lend you some, hahaha!” You Meng brayed with arrogant laughter to see the prince hit a metaphorical wall. He waved a hand to summon the Dragon Riders to take inventory of the silver.
Pang Xiao and Qin Yining were herded to a corner to watch the soldiers spring into action.
“Forget it, let’s head up.”
Qin Yining nodded at the idea. But just as they moved to the slope, You Meng stopped them from taking a step further.
“Please stay your motion, Your Highness.”
Pang Xiao turned back. “What is it?”
“The decree calls for Your Highness to remain on-site. ‘On-site’, you know? Surely Your Highness understands the word.” You Meng smirked meaningfully.
The prince swallowed his temper again. “The princess consort is in weak health and can’t withstand the cold air below ground. Staying on-site doesn’t mean that we need to remain down here.”
“Are you defying imperial orders, Your Highness? You’ll make things very difficult for me!”
The vice general’s words had just echoed in the air when Pang Xiao swung back and delivered a resounding slap.
The impact of the smack was so fierce that You Meng’s head snapped to the side. He stared incredulously at Pang Xiao. “How dare you hit me!”
“Things aren’t difficult for you now, are they?”
“This prince will not be staying in this cave. You tried to talk some reason into me, but I refused to listen and even hit you. You can tell His Majesty all of this. None of the fault will land on you then, so things aren’t difficult for you now, are they?” Pang Xiao tightened his fist until his knuckles cracked.
Understanding dawned on the flabbergasted vice general. “Your Highness is, is a good-for-nothing!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Damn, Gu Shixiong is just as odious. Like begets like huh? All he cares about is his own fame and legacy.