“All of this… the Valiant Tigers confining Prince Consort Ji, House Lu gaining a new patriarch and halting the transport of army rations… were you behind all of that?” Qin Yining asked with surprise.
“Of course not.” Pang Xiao grinned broadly. “Ji Lan and Lu Heng did that all on their own. I only took some careful preparations to ensure that everything would come to a head today. Though it may look like we managed to emerge unscathed, that’s only how the situation appears on the surface. His Majesty is sure to look into the events of the day after dismissing morning court. He'll think of a way to assign a few crimes to me, even though I haven't done anything. He'd go mad if I really had pulled the strings from the shadows.”
An unbidden chuckle bubbled out of Qin Yining when she recalled how Li Qitian appeared so infuriated that it looked like he would faint. She poked her husband's shoulder.
“You’re too devious. Igniting all of these issues together lends itself to suspicion that a mastermind orchestrated it all. But on the contrary, you haven't done anything. He can't find fault with you no matter how much he wants to. At this rate, he'll explode from sheer anger.”
Pang Xiao shrugged with resignation and turned his hands up to the sky. Indeed, it was out of his hands. He was so very innocent, the most innocent of kittens and lambs.
Qin Yining laughed uproariously when she saw the gesture and Pang Xiao relaxed to see that his darling wasn’t harboring any unpleasantness from the events of the day.
“But after today, there's only one fragile sheet of rice paper left between you and the emperor.” The princess consort leaned against her husband’s shoulder and thought for a moment. “Though he had no choice but to back down during this court session, he is certain to strike again when he finds the ideal opportunity. You plan carefully and think about how you’ll answer his salvos in the future.”
Pang Xiao smiled to see Qin Yining frowning and fretting over him. He rubbed his forehead against hers. “I know, I’ll take care of all of that. Be at ease, what you need to focus on these days is to nurse yourself back into good health. Don’t worry about anything else.”
Qin Yining rubbed a stomach that wouldn’t be flat for much longer and nodded with a smile. “I know.” She lifted the curtains for a peek outside. “Where are we going now?”
“I think father and uncle-in-law have returned home, so we should pay a visit as well. You haven't seen mother-in-law in a very long time.”
“Alright!” Qin Yining’s eyes lit up and she nodded happily. “How are grandpa, grandma, and mom? When can they return?”
“Don’t worry,” Pang Xiao chuckled, “it's all taken care of. Their trip to the relatives will conclude right about when our situation stabilizes.”
Qin Yining grew more lighthearted the more she thought about things, and her spirits lifted even higher when she thought back to how twisted Li Qitian’s expression had been at the end of the morning court session.
Pang Xiao’s setup had given her a tremendous surprise. Due to their relationship and her trust in him, she hadn't pried into how he would handle everything. She’d entrusted him entirely and her faith in him had been confirmed to be well placed.
The prince was indeed capable enough for her to rely on him, and he was able to properly handle a matter even when she wasn't involved. In fact, he resolved things in a far better way than she would've done.
She leaned back on his shoulder with contentment and discussed what would happen after they returned home.
At the same time in the imperial study, Li Qitian glowered in the head seat and hadn't said a word for a very long time. The palace servants serving the study trembled with fear and dread, ardently wishing that they were invisible and wouldn’t be caught up in imperial wrath.
Li Guanwen kept his eyes trained firmly downward and stood far away, by a paulownia wood display case lacquered with black paint. He’d repeated endless prayers for his master not to notice him.
A deeply frowning Li Qitian seemed to pull himself out of his thoughts and raised his tea cup for a sip. Reviewed rage billowed forth when slightly chilled tea entered his mouth and he smashed the cup to the ground with a roar.
“Who is in charge of this task?! What do We keep you useless trash around for? None of you know to share our troubles in crucial moments and only add to Our burdens! You can't even prepare a proper cup of tea!”
Li Guanwen could immediately tell from his master’s words that he was still irate at Prince Consort Ji and was venting his spleen on everyone else.
The emperor usually had a palace servant dedicated to looking after his tea, ensuring that it remained at optimal temperature and richness for consumption. But given his towering rage today, who would dare refresh his tea without being summoned to do so?
That would just be courting death.
Due to these reservations, the emperor had just taken a sip of cold tea. The trembling maid on tea duty sank to her knees on the spot, ignoring the mess of porcelain shards that cut into her knees and hands. She kowtowed repeatedly and raised in a shaking voice, “This servant apologizes, Your Majesty! This servant knows her wrongs!”
Li Qitian grew even more furious when he heard the voice of a young female. It brought to mind Qin Yining’s earlier composure and complete indifference to all favors, humiliation, and threats. Now that he thought about it, wasn't that a sign of complete confidence when a mere woman was so calm and unafraid?
That meant that Pang Xiao had already made all of his preparations!
All of these people had colluded with each other to gang up on him today!
This line of thought poured a ladle of oil on the fires of his wrath and they burned ever more hotly. He pointed at the maid on tea duty, “Drag this wretched maid out for a hundred beatings of the plank!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I am alive!! Sorry it's been one thing after another the past month. My family and I got our first vaccine shots (woot!! Hope everyone is getting theirs!) and had amazing side effects. I even got the legendary COVID arm after two weeks, like what. Second shot's gonna be :\...
Then we had the Chinese version of Thanksgiving, and finally NECRO hit 1000 chapters and all that it entails (join me for a reading in twelve hours!). Mega apologies, today the show goes on!