The Poison Genius Consort - Chapter 412
Chapter 412: The Duke of Qin reveals his weak spot
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi hadn't even reached the Duke of Qin's estate when Emperor Tianhui sent men to receive them at the capital and summon Long Feiye to court.
’’Are you coming along?’’ Long Feiye asked.
Han Yunxi gave a start, never expecting Long Feiye to ask her. She wasn't the clingy type, nor had he ever taken her along on his formal business.
Long Feiye knitted his brows and asked again, ’’Are you coming?’’
’’I'm going!’’ Han Yunxi replied loudly. How could I miss such a good show?
By now, the skies were already dark. Despite this, a throng of people stood outside Emperor Tianhui's imperial study. There was the crown prince Long Tianmo, Great General Mu and his son, the Prime Minister of the Right, Su Shaokun, the high official of the Ministry of War, and the high official of the Ministry of Revenue. Naturally, all of these men were from Emperor Tianhui's side.
’’His Highness Duke of Qin arrives, esteemed wangfei arrives,’’ a eunuch proclaimed loudly.
All of the gathered men exchanged glances at the announcement before breaking out into whispers. Why did the Qin Wangfei, Han Yunxi come? The emperor had summoned the Duke of Qin to discuss serious military matters, so what was a woman like her doing in a place like this? After all, there were no women present at this imperial study, aside from a few court ladies. Long Tianmo and Mu Qingwu's expressions both looked complicated. They were the only people who hadn't made any comments. Emperor Tianhui watched his people talk while remaining silent himself, knowing all too well what was coming.
Very soon, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi arrived. Both of them bowed and offered greetings to the emperor, while everyone else bowed and greeted them in turn. Han Yunxi's gaze lingered on Emperor Tianhui for awhile and discovered that this man in his forties had grown much older in their months-long absence. There were even a few strands of white hair growing from his temples. On the one hand, he'd been battling with an illness, on the other, there were state affairs plaguing his heart. The worries for the upcoming battle were there to vex him as well. It really wasn't easy being an emperor.
’’Qin Wangfei hasn't been to the palace in a long time. It's about time you paid respects to the empress dowager,’’ Emperor Tianhui was obviously trying to drive Han Yunxi away.
Before Han Yunxi could speak, Long Feiye remarked, ’’Chendi1 hasn't seen empress dowager in awhile as well, so I shall accompany wangfei.’’
His attitude silenced the entire crowd. Emperor Tianhui's hands clenched into tight fists. Waiting for Long Feiye for so long had already fired up his temper, but now it was even harder to keep it in check. He slapped his table and stood up with a roar, ’’Duke of Qin, Zhen summoned you here today to discuss important military matters. What right does a woman like Han Yunxi have to stand in this room?’’
Everyone was floored by Emperor Tianhui's rage, but Han Yunxi was unperturbed. After all, she only came because Long Feiye invited her, not because she wanted to!
’’Your Majesty, chendi thought you summoned chendi to the palace to confer rewards upon us. It looks like chendi has misunderstood.’’ Long Feiye's tone was easy and light, but it started a whirlwind in everyone's hearts!
What does he mean by this? He clearly knew that Northern Li was preparing to go to war, and that the emperor that yielded a substantial step just to beg him back to discuss the problem! How could he say such things so easily?
Even Long Tianmo and Mu Qingwu had to shiver-not from cold, but fear. It seemed that they'd only seen the Duke of Qin's true heartlessness today. In the silent room, Emperor Tianhui was so angry that he was panting for breath. It took him awhile to calm down. ’’Duke of Qin, you and your consort indeed relieved the people of the disaster areas. For that, Zhen will naturally reward you at tomorrow's morning court. But tonight's summons is for the sake of the impending battle with Northern Li.’’
’’Imperial brother, after the late emperor passed away, chendi never involved himself in military matters again. Haven't you always known this?’’ Long Feiye's indifferent gaze flashed with contempt.
The silence in the room deepened. Even Great General Mu's expression turned complicated. Han Yunxi was puzzled as well, because she assumed that Long Feiye had also yielded on his side by agreeing to return to the capital. But here, he was still stubbornly persistent in his views. Did he bring her with him to the imperial study just as an excuse to aggravate Emperor Tianhui?
Emperor Tianhui gave Long Feiye a death glare, the wrath in his heart raging but still falling short of what he wanted to do. He had ascended the throne when he was 25 years old to rule over Tianning. In the his youth, he managed to control great swathes of power. There were no outside relatives or family to force his hand, nor pressure from great generals or ministers of merit. Even the imperial tutor was unnecessary to help him rule. One could say that all authority fell into his hands as soon as he ascended the throne.
But he never expected that the Duke of Qin would keep his powers in check now. After the late emperor passed away, Emperor Tianhui had first taken precautions against this Duke of Qin and done his utmost to keep him away from government affairs. He never expected that the consequences would bite him back today! Right now, he still couldn't believe that he'd lost control over half of Tianning's imperial might, but he was forced to face the truth. The empress dowager's birthday banquet was the Duke of Qin's reminder to everyone else that the struggle for power behind the peaceful court had long began.
’’Heheh!’’ Emperor Tianhui suddenly laughed. ’’Zhen really is muddle-headed! There is one thing Zhen still doesn't understand. Since the Duke of Qin is here today, please give Zhen an explanation.’’
’’Please speak, Your Majesty,’’ Long Feiye was very even-tempered.
’’You had General Baili mobilize the navy to transport the fish, so how did they get involved with Jun Yixie?’’ Emperor Tianhui asked seriously.
’’Jun Yixie originally planned to steal the fish and sell them to the Tianning disaster regions. Besides competing with your lordship for the fisheyes, he even verbally humiliated Tianning. For the sake of preserving our Tianning's honor, General Baili mobilized his forces to surround the island. Their full force was shown to awe Northern Li!’’ It was rare for Long Feiye to speak such pretentious, highfalutin words. When he was finished, he even added, ’’As your lordship sees it, General Baili has rendered great meritorious service for this deed and deserves commendation.’’
Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel like something was off as she listened on the side. Aside from Long Tianmo and Mu Qingwu, everyone else felt the same way. It was getting harder and harder to guess His Highness Duke of Qin's intentions. But Emperor Tianhui merely stroked his beard and smiled coldly in his heart. The last chip in his hand had finally come into effect.
The news of Jun Yixie assaulting Han Yunxi hadn't been publicized, so very few people knew of the fact. He had only heard it from rumors flying on Northern Li's side. Long Feiye had phrased the situation that way precisely because he didn't want the incident exposed. Thus, he gave General Baili a perfectly justifiable and proper reason. Just then, he was claiming how he doesn't interfere in state matters, but now he's assessing General Baili's deeds.
In other words, Long Feiye's true terms are to keep the details of Han Yunxi's assault a secret!
Emperor Tianhui suddenly found himself in a much better mood. At last, he found a breakthrough in these matters. ’’The Duke of Qin's words are sound. But how long is General Baili planning to uphold his threat? There are already movements from the Three-Way Battlefield. Has General Baili made any plans to fight?’’ Emperor Tianhui's greatest fear was General Baili's troops might not be available if they chose to surround Fishery Island when war broke out. If General Baili could make a surprise attack on Northern Li from the coast with his principal force, then the bulk of the war would fall on Long Feiye's forces instead of his own!
Now that Long Feiye had revealed his weakness to protect Han Yunxi and his own reputation he would have to pay the price!
Long Feiye replied, ’’General Baili's thoughts are unclear to chendi as well. Your Majesty, why don't you ask him directly?’’
Emperor Tianhui's eyes turned shrewd. Duke of Qin, ah, Duke of Qin, you control everything from the palm of your hand, yet you're still trying to avoid getting involved. But now that you've shown your weak point, Zhen won't let you off so easily!
’’Alright! Zhen will ask him thoroughly,’’ Emperor Tianhui said coldly. What was supposed to be a tense military meeting ended just like that. A few of the officials were left at a loss for what had happened.
Long Tianmo stayed behind to ask, ’’Imperial father, are you planning to fight for real?’’
Emperor Tianhui waved a hand and didn't reply, indicating that he should leave.
The next day, Emperor Tianhui proclaimed an imperial edict praising the Baili Navy for protecting Tianning's honor. Immediately after that, General Baili promised that the navy would immediately face Northern Li forces at the coastline and force them to withdraw should battle break out at the Three-Way Battlefield. Emperor Tianhui rejoiced and granted him permission. By now, Long Tianmo and Mu Qingwu fully understood what was going on as well.
’’Qingwu, who do you think won this time, imperial father or Imperial Qin Uncle?’’ Long Tianmo asked.
Northern Li's sea forces were extremely weak, thus showcasing the worth of Tianning's own navy. As soon as the Tianning navy really made a move, Northern Li would either have to stop fighting or shift their main forces to the eastern coast to prevent a disastrous defeat. Of course, they wouldn't gain any major advantages, either.
’’Perhaps His Majesty?’’ Mu Qingwu intoned. The incident at Fishery Island had offended Northern Li, but the Duke of Qin had full power to throw the mess in Emperor Tianhui's hands. Instead, he'd yielded a step for the sake of Han Yunxi's honor.
Mu Qingwu shook his head with a smile. But what kind of yield was that? Nobody could tell he was taking a step back at all! Unless they knew the truth behind the actions, those various ministers and officials of the court would probably remain lost.
’’But wouldn't Jun Yixie have been trapped for nothing once the fighting starts?’’ Mu Qingwu said, somewhat unresigned.
’’Judging from Northern Li's attitude, a war is inevitable... Does Imperial Qin Uncle have no choice but to let him off?’’ Long Tianmo muttered to himself. Although he knew the ins and outs of the situation, he still felt some regrets.
When Han Yunxi got the latest updates, she ran into Long Feiye's study and stood in front of him to stare. Long Feiye leisurely rolled up his volume of the Annals of the Seven Noble Families so that the title was covered from sight, then placed it on the side.
’’Did something happen?’’ he asked mildly.
Han Yunxi looked at him for a long time before she spoke. ’’Long Feiye, you're too black-bellied!’’
Long Feiye immediately creased his brows. Nobody in the world dared to curse him to his face;this woman was probably the first one. Han Yunxi completely ignored his unhappy expression and said, ’’You're certain that Northern Li won't go to war, so you let General Baili give his promise to Tianhui. You looked like you were yielding a step, but you're setting up to trick Tianhui again!’’
Han Yunxi had been puzzling over Long Feiye's motives ever since they returned from the palace that night. Now she finally understood what was going on. This man was simply an expert amongst experts. If he hadn't been too young while Emperor Tianhui was fighting for the throne, he would've played the poor man to death long ago. Emperor Tianhui would never have gotten a chance for the throne at all. As long as Northern Li never went to war, the Baili Navy could keep surrounding Fishery Island with full justification.
Long Feiye saw Han Yunxi's agitated expression and mistook it for fury. He gave a light sigh and said, ’’Your lordship is doing everything for your sake, after all.’’
Chendi (臣弟) - similar to chenqie, but a humble form of self-address for males equivalent to 'your younger brother.'