Li Qitian continued, “Regardless of whether there truly was an assassination, the information spread by Siqin is already quite detrimental to Great Zhou when it comes to public opinion. Thus, We think that Siqin has another ulterior motive.”
“Your Majesty is noble and wise.” Qin Huaiyuan stood up and bowed. “In this old subject’s humble opinion, the Faithful Prince of the First Rank’s analysis from earlier makes sense. Siqin might be shifting a disaster elsewhere and leveraging this to stir up conflict. His ambitions are not limited to Tatar.”
Li Qitian nodded and recalled Siqin’s journey to the top. The new Tatar ruler had climbed to his current position through various schemes. He’d used Anari as a springboard to bound to a high position, then rid himself of her in the end so that he alone would be on the throne.
Perhaps Lu Heng and Qin Yining just had the most unfortunate timing of being scapegoats. Even if the two of them hadn’t been captured, Siqin might have had some other ways to frame Great Zhou and stir up trouble from there.
War was a perfect excuse. Why, all of the evil deeds had been committed by others! Not only did he become khan in the end, he also earned a sterling reputation for loving his wife.
Even Li Qitian had to admit that this man was highly shrewd.
“Well then, beloved subject Qin, what is the next course of action?” Li Qitian looked to Qin Huaiyuan for answers.
Qin Huaiyuan lowered his gaze and thought for a while before speaking, “No matter who murdered Anari, Siqin is ready to throw the dirty water at us. This old subject thinks that it’s now time for us to prepare for Siqin’s next steps. I agree with the Faithful Prince of the First Rank that he might seize the opportunity to invade south. With two war gods in Great Zhou, there is naturally nothing to fear about Siqin. Yet, this old subject knows that Your Majesty dearly loves the people.”
Li Qitian instantly nodded, Qin Huaiyuan’s words spoke to his heart. Not only was he worried about the people, but more importantly, the nation was too poor to meet their enemies!
Though Great Zhou was glorious on the outside, it was quite hollowed out on the inside. Money was required to mobilize an army and fund rations to keep it going. Where could he possibly find the silver to do that? He wouldn’t have to worry if they’d found the treasure, but no one knew its whereabouts anymore.
Li Qitian’s mind was so occupied by both the treasure and potential war that he momentarily pushed Lu Heng and Qin Yining to the back of his head. He pulled Qin Huaiyuan, Patriarch Lu and Pang Xiao into a long discussion, only releasing them when it was very late into the night. When they left, he immediately gave an order to Li Guanwen, “Go summon Prince Consort Ji into the palace.”
Nowadays, Ji Zeyu was Li Qitian’s most trusted person.
Outside the palace gate, Patriarch Lu was being lifted into a carriage. Qin Huaiyuan and Pang Xiao respectfully saw Patriarch Lu’s vehicle off before heading to their own respective carriages.
Pang Xiao seized the opportunity to whisper, “Father-in-law, we have to find a way to save my darling. From what I see, His Majesty is very likely to shift all the blame to her and Lu Heng once news gets out about the assasination. After all, sacrificing two people and a bit of compensation is much cheaper than starting a war.”
“I think so too. It is unfortunate that Jingzhe and the rest are under surveillance, along with the other Silver Masks after returning to the capital. I have no one to use for the time being.”
“What was your plan, father-in-law? I have some people available on hand. All the one hundred Elite Tigers are my weapons who can be trusted.”
“Then please send your men to Tatar. Find my daughter and protect her, but don’t let them come back to Great Zhou. They are to wait in Tatar for the time being and see what develops with the situation.”
“It shall be done as you’ve instructed.” Pang Xiao nodded, then looked lost. “How I wish I could go there myself! I just don’t feel right if it’s someone else going.”
Qin Huaiyuan clapped Pang Xiao’s shoulder. “Stay calm. The more critical the moment, the calmer we must be. If we lose our heads, my daughter would be even more at a loss out there, wouldn’t she?”
Pang Xiao nodded after hearing that. “You are right, father-in-law.”
They climbed into their respective carriages, not daring to leave together and headed off in different directions instead.
As soon as Qin Huaiyuan’s carriage returned to the Qin Manor, he went upstairs to look in on the sick old dowager.
“Mother,” Qin Huaiyuan bowed.
The old dowager was leaning against a large cushion and wet her throat with a spoonful of wood ear soup from Qin-mama before speaking. “You’ve returned, but are you going to be busy with work again?”
“There is nothing critical going on. Are you feeling better, mother?”
“Yes, much better.” The old dowager nodded merrily. “The imperial physician that came this time was highly skilled. You should express your gratitude to him later too, Meng’er.”
“Your son understands,” Qin Huaiyuan nodded with a smile.
Off to the side, the second madame and second wife joked in their capacities as caregivers, “Old Dowager has greatly recovered after just seeing senior uncle. Naturally, she has fully recovered now after being examined by the imperial physician.”
“You two little rascals.” The old dowager chuckled delightfully, then turned to Qin Huining and Qin Baoning, who were standing attentively at the side. “Granddaughter Hui and eighth lass, you two should go rest. Don’t stay here lest you get sick yourselves.”
The girls immediately understood that the old dowager didn’t want them to stay because she had something to say.Previous Chapter Next Chapter