Secretly installed palace agents quickly brought news of the Qins moving into the prince’s manor. Li Guanwen pretended to be invisible after he offered the report with both hands, staring at his feet after he took a position in the corner.
As Li Qitian unfurled the note, his hand tightened into a fist while he quickly scanned the contents. Veins in his hand throbbing with fury, he crushed the paper and swept the porcelain brush pot on his desk to the ground.
“How dare they?!”
Porcelain exploded over the marble tiles in an ear-piercing collision, underscored by an angry roar. Everyone within earshot trembled with fear. Teeth chattering, Li Guanwen and the other servants on duty sank to their knees and pressed their foreheads to the ground.
“Please quell your anger, Your Majesty!”
Li Qitian stared intently ahead and carefully recalled the process of how enemies had become in-laws. He obsessively reviewed every detail and abruptly realized that he’d fallen for a ploy.
Pang Xiao and Qin Huaiyuan had worked together to make a fool out of him!
An apoplectic Li Qitian flushed beet red as he thought of how he’d decreed the marriage in a court session. He’d been played like a toy! Who knew how many had laughed at his idiocy while he basked in self praise!
He was the emperor, the ruler of a nation! He should be revered by all, but now he’d turned himself into a fool that everyone could hoodwink! There certainly had to have been many subjects laughing at him behind their hands, but he’d thought that he was mighty and regal!
Li Qitian’s complexion alternated between bright red and stark white. It felt like someone had slapped him a dozen times across the face.
If one traced events further into the past, perhaps Pang Xiao and Qin Huaiyuan had reached some sort of agreement in Great Yan! They were just using his hand to legitimately become a family!
He’d tried every means to achieve his ends and created all manner of obstacles, but he himself had been the one to tie the knot between two parties that never should’ve been aligned together. Oh, he’d felt so smug for it and thought that he’d fully grasped the balance of power!
How laughable, how damnable!
“Qin Meng, Qin Meng! How dare a dotard like you trick Us?!” Li Qitian had been having a rough time lately and received too many shocks over the span of the last two days. His head spun with emotion; his temples and the back of his head pulsed and ached with pain.
The scene went dark before his eyes and he held his forehead up, almost crashing to the ground.
Li Guanwen had been diligently observing off to the side and jumped up to support his master.
“Imperial physicians, summon the imperial physicians!” he cried out with a shaking voice.
The guards outside the door rushed in when they heard the disturbance, then rushed back out when they saw the emperor’s state.
It wasn’t long until the empress and dowager empress learned of Li Qitian’s condition. They also rushed to the imperial study, adding to the general chaos and mayhem. The empress arrived first and fainted when she saw her husband unconscious on the heated platform, his eyes rolled up to the back of his head.
That placed extra demands on the imperial physicians, who detected she was pregnant when they took her pulse. The dowager empress was delighted, anxious, and wholly unable to manage the unprecedented disorder that gripped the chaos. When word traveled to Li Helan’s manor, she rushed into the palace in the dead of the night.
It was the eighth day of court suspension since Li Qitian fell ill.
Kept under wraps at first, the issue grew as courtiers found themselves with free time on their hands. Whenever they returned home after sitting around in the palace for yet another day, they inevitably discussed the worrisome situation with their family. The inner residence was a breeding ground for rumors to begin with, particularly as the servants frequently had relatives outside the manor.
Thus, “His Majesty is gravely ill” and “anarchy is about to descend” spread through the roads and back alleys of the capital.
Some said that the emperor was sick from constant overwork as he was wholeheartedly devoted to the nation. Others said that he’d lost his temper after failing to censure the Faithful Prince of the First Rank and suffered a mild stroke.
No matter what the gossip said, anyone related to the issue remained quiet. Whether it was the Lus with a new patriarch, or the Qins and the prince at the heart of the matter, no one expressed anything.
One night in the outer residence, Pang Xiao invited Qin Huaiyuan, Xie Yue, and Xu Weizhi to convene in his study.
“His Majesty is fatigued to begin with as he toils day and night. The Tatars are a pressing issue and the empty national treasury is also one of his critical concerns. It is only logical that he is overcome when his other arrangements fall through. As subjects, we can only worry for his health.” Qin Huaiyuan placed a report on the table.
Li Qitian had failed to doom Pang Xiao and war loomed as he sat on empty coffers. The Lus also refused to help—any of these alone was enough to infuriate the emperor, so it was quite a normal response that it’d proven to be too much when all of the issues came together.
Xie Yue and Xu Weizhi nodded.
“I only hate myself for my incompetence, that I cannot shoulder part of His Majesty’s burdens for him.” Pang Xiao quite approved of Qin Huaiyuan’s caution. The walls had ears in these troubled times, even in a place as secure as his study.
“Now that His Majesty is indisposed, my humble view is that Your Highness needs to inquire after his health given the emperor’s favor and trust in you,” Xu Weizhi raised.
“That was precisely my plan,” Pang Xiao nodded with a smile.Previous Chapter Next Chapter