Now that was an immense threat. Living under such nerve-wracking circumstances with only porridge and wild berries to fill their bellies, Pang Xiao was under colossal stress every day. His only solace was to hold Qin Yining at night when he slept and be embraced in return. This couldn’t be allowed to happen!
However, he didn’t dare defy Qin Yining for fear of upsetting her.
“My darling, I was wrong. I won’t do it again.” Pang Xiao’s apology was sincere. To win back her favor, he smiled and tugged at her arm.
A night of tossing and turning marked fretful sleep for Qin Yining. Despite this, she pulled herself together the following day and visited the soup kitchens with Magistrate Li.
Meanwhile, Pang Xiao visited the Dings and the Peis in hopes of convincing them to sell their rice at lower prices. However, there definitely seemed to be an agreement in place between the two. When they saw Pang Xiao, they immediately turned antagonistic.
The patriarch of the Peis had served in the Great Yan court as a scholar of the Hanlin Academy. A mulish man of antiquated ideologies, he actually spat at Pang Xiao.
“Pah! You murdering demon, how dare you come negotiate with me? I have rice, but I won’t be selling any of it to you! Don’t tell me to lower my prices! I won’t accept anything you offer, even if you offer me a golden fish for half a kilogram of rice!
“It serves you right that Great Zhou is about to meet its end, scum!”
Pang Xiao swallowed his rage and attempted a calm reason. “It’s the government buying provisions from you. We’re not taking them by force. If you sell them to us, you will be saving countless citizens. Even if you resent this prince, Great Yan exists no longer. The emperor of Great Zhou is the one who sits on the throne and rules in the interests of the people now. If you continue with this obstinacy and insult me, do you really think I won’t wipe out House Pei?”
“Hah! Look at your true colors shine so easily! All this talk is nothing more than a ploy for you to swindle your share from so-called procuring provisions!”
Lord Pei’s words grew uglier with every breath. In the end, he managed to curse all of Pang Xiao’s ancestors, paying special attention to his female elders.
Pang Xiao clenched his teeth all the while—how had someone this addlepated managed to secure a position at the Hanlin Academy? No wonder Great Yan had fallen!
“No matter what you say, the prices you seek are exorbitant. I see no honor in effectively leaving the people for dead. If you truly love Great Yan so, why won’t you save the people of your great nation?
“Do you really want to see people starve to death right before your eyes? I realize House Pei has many mouths to feed, but if you’ve stored your provisions properly, you’d be able to feed all of the Dragon Riders with the amount you’ve hoarded! Yet you cling onto your surplus at all costs!
“How dare you fashion yourself as a loyal and courageous patriot when you care nothing for the people? You disgust me!”
Frustration had boiled in Pang Xiao’s veins all morning; his patience finally wore thin.
At the end of the day, Lord Pei was a scholar. The murderous aura emanating from Pang Xiao, nursed from his days in the battlefield, had the lord trembling like a leaf and nearly fainting in terror.
Naturally, Pang Xiao wasn’t about to stop at that. He summoned twenty Dragon Riders to take a menacing stance before the front doors and growled, “It was my mistake to suddenly call upon you today. I didn’t come prepared. However, the people still need to eat. If you will lower your prices by ten percent, that would be a great kindness to the citizens. You would be bringing honor upon yourself and prosperity upon your descendants.”
If they still draw breath, that is.
Pang Xiao didn't need to spell it out, for Lord Pei understood what he was implying. The old patriarch broke out in a cold sweat.
This Faithful Prince of the First Rank was truly a force to behold! It took just a few words to shake him to his core like this. But he wouldn't back down here. He was willing to bet that the prince didn’t dare lay a finger on him!
“I won’t agree to anything Your Highness has to say. Either fork over the ten taels per stone or eat dust! Now see yourselves out!” With a flourish of his sleeves, Lord Pei turned and went back inside.
Pang Xiao watched the old man go, his eyes darkening as he smiled. Only those who knew him well would know the tempest brewing behind his phoenix-shaped eyes.
Not only had he been unsuccessful in his negotiations with the Peis, he’d been thoroughly humiliated. A visit to the Dings brought about the same outcome.
Pang Xiao had tried for days and days. The provisions Qin Yining brought back were running low. Li Qitian had secretly arrived in the area, yet he refused to show himself and certainly hadn’t brought any food.
Every meal was a smaller portion than the last. The people started agitating.
“Isn’t the Faithful Prince of the First Rank the disaster relief ambassador? Has His Majesty given us nothing?”
“Are you corrupt government dogs hoarding food behind our backs, so you can sell them at raised prices to people who don’t have money? Are you going to have us starve if we don’t have any silver for you? You’re sentencing us to death!”
The crowd grew incensed—initially, they were content to mutter amongst themselves, but grumblings turned to curses, which turned to protests in front of the soup kitchens, sparking the flames of a violent riot!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
What an utterly shitty situation @@