No one anticipated that Pang Xiao’s heartfelt words wouldn’t pacify the rioters, but add more fuel to the flames instead. Spurred by the forces of starvation and anger, the crowd surged forward like the tidewaters.
It’d be one thing if the prince had his old Valiant Tigers to command. The two dozen Dragon Riders present didn’t have that kind of coordination with him at all. Even factoring in the soldiers from the yamen, all of the troops wading in with kicks and punches wouldn’t be able to stem the flood.
Seeing people sprint toward the yamen, Pang Xiao hastily retreated to the side with Qin Yining. The crowd charged into the ramshackle government building like a plague of locusts swarming the crops. Perhaps shocked by the tents and collapsed walls in the yard, the intruders came to a half after entering the complex.
A shocked sob rang out from the crowd. “This isn’t right. Magistrate Li has stuck with us through thick and thin. He invites us to stay in the yamen if our homes are destroyed. He eats the watery porridge right along with all of us.”
“That’s right! The imperial court didn’t give us silver to buy rice. What we’re eating these days is donations from the prince and princess consort. They’ve always been with us too.”
“What kind of people would we be if we ran over everything now?”
With these voices directing public opinion, violent tendencies quickly dispersed from part of the crowd. Desires for revenge and destruction lessened as well. However, there were still people who wanted to charge in.
In the back, someone shouted, “They must have food! The prince and princess consort is hiding it all!”
That cry stood out too much from the crowd; it was vastly different from the tones of the people before. Its abnormality immediately struck Qin Yining. “Your Highness, I think someone’s stirring up trouble!”
“I know, I’ve already sent someone to investigate.” Pang Xiao easily soothed his wife with real actions and facts, but couldn’t do the same for the starving citizens.
Thanks to that shout just now, some unwilling to accept the situation rampaged through the yamen. Others didn’t want to continue, but they were carried along by the movement of the crowd. The momentum pushed and shoved to the ground those weakened by hunger; some never rose again, thanks to the feet of their neighbors.
It was a chaotic, bloody affair. Roars of adults interwove with cries of children and women, howls from those being trampled to death peppered the din, and citizens smashing and looting the yamen added to the cacophony. It was a sight that Qin Yining couldn’t bear to keep watching.
She shut her eyes and murmured, “This can’t be allowed to continue on. Yang County is only one county, what of the other counties and cities? And the old capital? I also suspect that someone behind the scenes is intentionally making this worse, but the most important thing is that we really have no provisions.”
A ferociously frowning Pang Xiao brought Qin Yining in for a tight hug. “All of the food is in the hands of the rich, but they won’t relax their grasp. I can only continue to negotiate with them.”
When Qin Yining wiggled her fingers, she realized they’d frozen stiff with cold.
Such a frenzied episode of anarchy really shocked her. In fact, the faces of Magistrate Lee and the Dragon Riders behind Pang Xiao were likewise pale. Everyone was having their eyes opened today.
Failing to find food, the rioting citizens began bawling loudly, compelling the magistrate to call out words of comfort and succor. At this time, Huzi and two Elite Tigers escorted over a woman in ragged clothing.
“Your Highnesses, we found a suspicious woman.”
Pang Xiao took a glance and noted that she looked healthy and well-fed, her skin fair and she looked to be in her early twenties. Though her clothes could be better described as rags and soot was smeared across her face, it was easy to tell that a real refugee wouldn’t be in such good condition.
“Take her to a quiet location and interrogate her closely. Who told her to incite the people? Use military methods to crack open her mouth if she won’t talk.”
“Understood.” Huzi dragged the women away with the help of the two Elite Tigers.
However, Qin Yining remained staring at the back of the departing prisoner. “Why do I feel like she looks familiar? I feel like I’ve seen her before.”
“Can you give it some more thought?”
Brows knitted deep in thought, Qin Yining thought over it carefully. She really had seen this face before, but the prisoner’s current outfit interfered with her memories. Nothing was immediately forthcoming.
At this moment, the citizens rampaging in the yamen spilled back out onto the streets. The man who kept complaining loudly was roaring, “They must’ve hidden the food somewhere! Capture the prince and princess consort! We’ll make them tell us where the food is!”
“That’s right! Those corrupt dogs must’ve hidden the food!”
“Get them and make them tell us where it is!”
Screeching and snarling, people rushed at Pang Xiao. The prince’s guards and Dragon Riders partially unsheathed their swords to block the rioters. At the same time, some soldiers infiltrated the crowd to silently arrest the man who’d been fanning the flames.
A livid Pang Xiao declared, “Conserve your energy. The precious little bit of food we got over the past few days isn’t for you to revolt with after filling your bellies! I know everyone’s afraid and I promise that I’ll get food to you! You should believe yourselves, if not me. Ask your conscience, have I not tried my best to protect all of you since I’ve come?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Okay, someone is seriously stirring up a LOT of crap behind the scenes here.