Protestations, advice, and arguments fired forth at a rapid pace—every word they spoke was logical and reasonable.
Li Qitian sneered inwardly. Was this what they meant by loyalty to their country and fealty to their lord? All of them were biased towards an outsider when push came to shove.
He was much calmer now and had refocused on how to knock down all of the obstacles that had appeared in his path. The agenda of the day was to arrest Pang Xiao. Nothing else mattered.
Seeing their liege remain silent, the one hundred officials below the dais broke out into further debate.
His ears ringing and head aching from the renewed cacophony, Li Qitian was about to speak up when he saw the young man disguised as a eunuch return to the hall. The young man’s footsteps were more urgent than before, and he lowered his voice to whisper, “Your Majesty, word has just arrived that Prince Consort Ji is being confined in the army barracks by some of the main Valiant Tiger generals…”
Li Qitian’s eyes shot wide open. Since the string of topaz he liked to fiddle with had long dropped to the ground, he could only clench his fists tightly to conceal his reaction. He had no attention to spare for the bloody crescents his nails dug into his palm.
Don’t panic, remain still, remain calm. Don’t panic, I must be calm, I can't let anyone tell that something’s developed on my end.
But now that Ji Zeyu was under house arrest, he couldn’t counteract Pang Xiao. Once the affairs of this morning court completely infuriated Pang Xiao and caused his barbaric nature to erupt in full-out slaughter, Li Qitian’s guards wouldn't even be enough for the prince to play with.
And what if regicide occurred to Pang Xiao in the throes of his fury?
It seemed highly likely to Li Qitian that if he sent Pang Xiao up a wall, that madman really might stake everything on a desperate throw!
Anxiety and frustration assailed Li Qitian. Ji Zeyu had run into troubles, House Lu added fuel to the flames, and he’d held back untold rage for all this time so as to lure Pang Xiao into this perfect trap. Success was at hand and he might exterminate this threat once and for all! So was he supposed to suffer boundless humiliation in front of all of his officials now?!
Discourse rose and fell in waves of sound beneath the throne. Li Qitian’s headache deepened and he teetered on the edge of screaming back at them himself.
It was at this time that Pang Xiao stood out and coolly hectored the endlessly squabbling officials.
“Enough, this is the Hall of Governmental Union and His Majesty’s great court session! It is one thing for you all to give voice to your opinions, but this unbridled display of sheer venting is ludicrously over the line!
“This prince followed His Majesty into the battlefields back in the day and we forged our bonds through hell and high water. We are able to entrust our backs to each other because of our brotherhood! When my wife went missing, His Majesty continuously suggested that I return to the capital because he is my sworn brother.
“That this prince refused is also a matter between a younger brother and an older brother. How preposterous that it becomes an act of rebellion in your eyes! Are you so foolhardy as to think that His Majesty will pronounce a punishment on this prince just because of some malicious accusations and intentional creation of discord between us?
“So you accuse this prince of killing innocents without a hint of mercy, how absurd! Is there no killing to be had in war? Does literal shit fill the brains of whoever brainstormed this trumped up charge?
“This prince humiliates the old subjects of Northern Ji? There they stand, free for the questioning. When has this prince ever humiliated them?!
“This prince has misappropriated provisions? That might be the most bullshit fantasy of them all. When we first took control of the Northern Ji treasuries, if this prince may be so crude, that dog emperor of Northern Ji was so poor that the mice in his vaults committed mass suicide after prolonged starvation! Of what does this prince misappropriate? The air?
“Accusing this prince of forcing myself upon the daughter of a court official is even more cock and bull. His Majesty personally decreed the match between me and née Qin, from whence is this forcing upon?
“I left the capital on His Majesty’s orders to relieve the people struck by disaster and search for the treasure along the way. Accusing me of embezzling relief funds is the greatest joke that I've heard so far today! My wife's dowry and all of my personal fortunes were donated to the cause. If not, the citizens of the former Great Yan capital would've long rebelled from starvation after the earthquake! How else are you be able to sit here today and waggle those stupid tongues and point those useless fingers?
“As for me being envious of my peers?” Pang Xiao suddenly threw his head back in uproarious laughter. He pointed at a group of senior officials. “Come come, let’s fight. This prince will allow you to attack me all together! Tell me, just what do you possess that this prince should be envious of?
“This prince raises a private militia? Let me ask you this, does an imperial prince possessing fifty manor guards violate any custom?”
He strode to Imperial Scribe Gu. “Master Gu is a large scholar, so you respond. As a common-born prince with a title personally bestowed by His Majesty, is it so outrageous that this prince possesses fifty men?”
Trembling, the imperial scribe shuffled backwards and couldn’t find an answer.
“As for being unfilial to my official mother, this is a matter I must speak more of since things have developed to this point.” Pang Xiao turned to Li Qitian with a bow. “Your Majesty pities my background and helped locate my official mother, who had survived the events of yesteryear. I am very grateful, but after repeated interaction and some investigation, I discovered that the woman Your Majesty found is a fake!”
Li Qitian arched a brow.
“This subject understands Your Majesty’s kind intentions and didn't want to put Your Majesty in an awkward situation. That was why I sent the fake Madame Pang elsewhere and intended to take the truth of this matter to my grave.”
“Blasphemy! How dare that harlot deceive Us for the sake of fame and fortune!” Li Qitian flew into a towering rage and shot to his feet.
“Please quell your anger, Your Majesty, this matter is not your fault. It was that woman and her greed that led her to use scraps of what she knew to deceive Your Majesty.”
“The crime of defrauding one’s liege cannot be pardoned!” Li Qitian roared. “Take that woman into custody immediately and publicly execute her at noon tomorrow!”
His words meant that the tides had shifted entirely.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Such a nice fiery speech from Pang Xiao and heh, what an about face from Li Qitian.