Shangguan Yao said, “Sir Yuan, Sir Ji, when it’s all said and done, we are subjects. We have no authority to decide such important matters for the king.” He turned to Tan Qiao. “Sir Prime Minister, the way this humble official sees it, it’s better for Sir to ask for His Highness’ opinion first. In all likelihood, His Highness’ condition should have started to recover. Otherwise, how could he be intimate with Her Highness, so that she could prepare to give birth to a child for this country?”
Once his words had left his lips, the hall fell in a state of uproar. The high-ranking ministers of Xinyuan Country all shared a look. Then, they could not help but whisper among themselves. Especially those officials who were of Han descent. They couldn’t understand why their king once again became close with Her Highness. Hadn’t Feng Qiang almost been deposed? If His Highness actually started to recover, why hadn’t he made an appearance?
The expressions of the Qi subjects also weren’t good. In an instant, cold sweat appeared all over Tan Qiao’s body. How would Shangguan Yao know about Feng Qiang’s situation?! Did he place some spies in the palace?! Did he know that Feng Qiang and himself had committed adultery?
The gazes of Yuan Rong and Ji Huan met. They were able to discern some abnormalities from the expressions of the Xinyuan Country subjects.
Tan Qiao hastily said, “May the two envoys temporarily return to the consulate. This humble official will report to His Highness then give a response.”
Yuan Rong slowly nodded. Apathetic, he said, “Since the king of your distinguished country has started to recover, yet is unwilling to meet with us, is it because he looks down on our position? Or is it that he is discontent with Great Kang…? Hopefully Sir Prime Minister will quickly give us a response on our discussion prior.”
Wearing a smile, Tan Qiao sent them off. Under the gazes of the many different subjects, he calmly said, “The condition of His Highness has in fact started to recover. I will go visit and ask for instructions.” He and Feng Qiang had planned to reveal the news of her pregnancy during an appropriate time. But there was no way he could refute Shangguan Yao’s words right now.
A Han official said in a peculiar way, “Minister Tan, just what is going on? During the period in which His Highness was previously injured, you actually summoned Mistress Feng to take care of him? What are you planning?” He thought that if the king truly started to become intimate with Feng Qiang, perhaps she had taken care of him when he was ill and moved him greatly. But could Feng Qiang truly change her personality? How could that be possible?
Tan Qiao’s face darkened. Not a word escaped his lips. But a Qi subject turned to the previous Han subject and said, “Are you unsatisfied with His Highness’ arrangements? When can you decide on His Highness’ family matters?!”
The Han subject from before took his time saying, “If an ordinary woman of Han descent became the queen, it would be His Highness’ family matters. However, if it were a woman of your Qi ethnic group, then this is the affair of our Xinyuan Country.”
That Qi subject was so angry that it seemed he wanted to brawl. Shangguan Yao glanced serenely at Tan Qiao. And then smiled. “In any case, His Highness will make an appearance soon. If anyone has any questions, you can directly ask His Highness!”
Another Han subject sighed with emotion. “Speaking of which, this humble official has not seen His Highness for a long time. In the future, His Highness should stay in the country for long periods. Then we can be at ease.” Today they had experienced the coercion of the Great State of Kang, and it was not a good feeling. Long ago, when they had taken the initiative to dispatch an army, it was precisely because His Highness spoke of their pitiful circumstances that the envoys of Great Kang were struck speechless. When they compared the two situations, Tan Qiao truly was incompetent.
“This time we have to implore His Highness together not to leave the country!”
“Yes! We must request this of him together!”
Tan Qiao clenched his teeth. His expression grew more and more unsightly. These past few years when Cheng Sijie had not been around, he was the one who handled the court. He was the one who read, edited, and approved memorials and proposals. The current Xinyuan Country thrived and lived in peace. Yet, the moment Cheng Sijie returned, they all forgot his contributions!
Once Tan Qiao returned to the palace, Feng Qiang had already heard the news. With a dark expression, she said, “Don’t tell me we actually have to release Cheng Sijie?”
Cold enough to freeze, Tan Qiao said, “Then what do you suppose?”
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
Feng Qiang’s face was filled with ruthlessness. She sneered. “Why don’t we just kill their good king?! We can say his injuries couldn’t be healed!”
“Ktfc ktja mjc kf rjs jybea sbeg qgfucjcms? Ktbrf tlut-gjcxlcu boolmljir jii tjnf fsfr. Tbe’gf jigfjvs obeg wbcatr qgfucjca. Jtfcu Vlplf tjr bcis gfaegcfv obg bcf wbcat! Snfc lo kf mjc obbi atfw, ktja lo j ulgi lr ybgc?”
Mfcu Hljcu iloafv tfg tfjv tlut. “Snfc lo la lr j ulgi, rtf mjc ralii jrmfcv atf atgbcf!”
“In our Han people’s eyes, daughters cannot ascend the throne,” said Tan Qiao serenely.
Enraged, Feng Qiang yelled, “Your Han people! Your Han people! It’s always your Han people who are saying things! This was originally the land of us Qi people! You stole our land! For us Qi people, women can rule too!”
Tan Qiao looked at her without a word. He turned around to head for the place where Cheng Sijie was imprisoned.
Anxious, Feng Qiang rose to her feet. “Come back! Scoundrel! Come back right here! You coward! You’re an idiot! Why did I find a man like you?! What use are you?!”
Tan Qiao finally couldn’t endure any longer. He stopped in his tracks. Turned his head to glance at her.
The chill in his gaze forced her to step back. She fell back into her chair.
The moment Tan Qiao appeared in front of Cheng Sijie, Cheng Sijie was in the midst of a chess match with Qi Yunruo. Qi Yunruo had learned chess from his mother during his youth. He had forgotten how to play among the few years and was learning again.
Cheng Sijie glanced at Tan Qiao, not one bit surprised. And he continued to play.
Although Qi Yunruo held a white piece, he wasn’t as calm as Cheng Sijie was inside. Who were the envoys from Great Kang? Did the prince know them? Would he have a chance to see them?
Tan Qiao said, “Your Highness…”
“I dare not accept the honor.”
Tan Qiao’s face held a trace of embarrassment. Then he calmly stood at the side and reported the negotiations between Great Kang’s envoys today. The gears in Qi Yunruo’s brain spun in overdrive as he thought of the name “Yuan Rong.” But he had never heard the prince say this name before. He did not know this person.
Cheng Sijie did not respond to him. Instead, he advised Qi Yunruo, “It’s your turn.”
Tan Qiao sucked in a deep breath. “Xinyuan Country is Your Highness’ country. If we truly become a vassal state of Great Kang in the future, wouldn’t Your Highness feel pained?”
Baffled, Cheng Sijie said, “What does this have to do with me? You’re the one who wasn’t competent enough to protect Xinyuan Country. The one who’ll become the king of the vassal state to Great Kang is your and Feng Qiang’s child, not a descendant of my Cheng family.”
Sitting to the side, Qi Yunruo couldn’t help but laugh. Cheng Sijie seemed truly suspicious. He said to Tan Qiao, “You’re actually asking me, a person who is awaiting their execution, for help?” He clicked his tongue.
First, Tan Qiao flushed red. Then, his face turned dark. Finally, it were as if he had not heard Cheng Sijie speak prior. “The two people Great Kang had sent this time are members of the emperor’s inner ministerial circle. Yuan Rong is the Grand Secretary. Ji Huan is the Imperial Lecturer of Hanlin Academy…”
At that moment, Qi Yunruo’s hands shook. His chess piece went to the wrong spot. Ji Huan? Brother Ji? It’s him! He came to Xinyuan Country! In an instant, his heart pounded madly.
Cheng Sijie sneaked a peek at him.
Tan Qiao said, “Your Highness, Xinyuan Country was built by the blood, sweat, and tears of three generations of the Cheng family. Your honored self truly doesn’t care?”
Cheng Sijie yawned. Carelessly said, “My Cheng family has lasted for three generations. Isn’t your Tan family the same? The grandfather of the Tan family was the benefactor of my paternal grandfather, saving his life.”
Tan Qiao’s whole body froze. He clenched his teeth. He had thought of it countless times. Back then, his paternal grandfather had such ability. Why did he deliberately save Crown Prince Rui Wen? Couldn’t he have become the king? He also recalled how his father and his grandfather earnestly taught him to be devoted to the Cheng family. And Cheng Sijie had trusted him completely, entrusting the affairs of the nation to him… In the end, what he recalled had been coincidentally catching sight of the thin and pallid Feng Qiang.
At first, Tan Qiao pitied and sympathized with her. Then, he adored her. Finally, she seduced him. And he thought he could replace Cheng Sijie.
At present, he already lost his favorable impression of the overly ambitious Feng Qiang. Now, he strongly believed she had led him astray! She made him do such a disgraceful thing!
Feng Qiang! It was all her fault!
Tan Qiao left in a dazed state. Qi Yunruo no longer felt like continuing their game of chess. Stretching his back, Cheng Sijie said, “You know the envoys?”
“No.” Not many outsiders knew that Ji Huan had used to stay at Prince Chun’s estate. In the estate, he held the identity of a secret guest. When he was to return to Minister Ji’s estate, he had to leave the city walls and make a few rounds, before entering the city walls again and making for said estate.
Cheng Sijie faintly narrowed his eyes. Grunted his acknowledgement.
“Just when are you leaving?” asked Qi Yunruo.
“Didn’t you see that Tan Qiao could still endure? Once he can no longer hold on, this king will naturally leave.” He fanned himself, a lofty expression on his face.
Qi Yunruo forced a smile. The gears in his head spun in overdrive once more. How could he let Brother Ji know that he was imprisoned here? Then a thought suddenly struck him: if Cheng Sijie were released, he would be even harder to handle than Tan Qiao. At that time, what if Brother Ji had a tough time dealing with him?
Not to mention, Cheng Sijie had countless spies in Yushu Pass, the capital, and the Qiang territory!
The Qiang territory, Bo Tu Ke’s royal tent.
Bo Tu Ke and his birth mother Ayi sat together. Then he stood and started pacing. Every now and then, he would ask, “Have the people we sent to Xinyuan Country returned yet?!”
First he contacted the spies Cheng Sijie had left in the Qiang lands. He was also afraid that once the spies left, they would not return. Therefore, he subsequently sent his personal guards to follow and help those spies. At this time, those people should have long since arrived at Xinyuan Country. However, no news came.
“Presently, Royal Father favors Bo Ge even more. Cheng Sijie is flexible and takes advantage of the situation! Did he forget how I had put in a good word for him in front of Royal Father, giving them so much cows and sheep? And even promised to give them land!”
Ayi calmly said, “Perhaps Cheng Sijie cannot save his own hide right now.”
For a long time, Bo Tu Ke did not speak.
Ayi sighed. “Back then, if you had accepted the Han princess, in the eyes of the Han, you would be considered Prince Chun’s brother-in-law. He would inevitably support you in ascending the throne. Yet you pushed her to Bo Ge’s side. Nowadays, Bo Ge not only received your Royal Father’s favor, the imperial clan of Great Kang also supports him from the back. How could we win against him?”
“If I had known this would happen, of course I would have taken the Han princess!” he said with resentment.
Prince Chun had already begun breaching the territory of the Qiang, gradually encircling the royal capital. So much so that Bo Tu Ke worried he would not only lose the throne to his brother, but he would also become a prisoner. Ayi was similarly afraid. She already lost all her favor, and the Western Owl Tribe behind her was no longer as glorious as it had been in the past. In the future, it was extremely possible that she would be brought into Bo Ge’s tent. And then those humble female slaves and concubines could trample on her.
Three days later, Bo Tu Ke still had not received a response from Xinyuan Country. However, he had received a piece of correspondence from Great Kang’s Prince Chun. Bo Tu Ke hurriedly ripped the letter open. And the moment he read it, fear struck his heart. What did Prince Chun mean when he said to bring out a boy surnamed Qi? Who was this? He continued to read. And it explained the details of the day Prince Chun and that boy had separated. His heart jumped. He had once heard from his subordinates that they had forced Prince Chun to leap into the Yun River. He hadn’t even had the time to feel happy, when he heard the news of Prince Chun coming to their territory. In that case, the person who had actually jumped into the river was probably that youth!
…What if, what if he were dead?
At this moment, Bo Ge was already acting as an envoy and had gone to Li Chen to negotiate peace.
And currently in Xinyuan Country, Tan Qiao looked at the towering Qiang people urgently waiting to see the king to save their country. His headache grew even more splitting.
Thank you Anon for the two ko-fis! Thank you to my patrons in March: Michelle S., Ji Yun S., Amanda F., Selena G., Elena P., Samantha H., AAA22, Jennifer C., AvalonAngel79, RongZhi, Agita P., Angela S., Oyinkansola O., PsychoMidget, Pitcch, Fl3xus, Hafsa A., Ariel C., Auresta, Ine O., yuukiininah, Monique A., Adenise, Laetitia, Izzy, Eileen S., Kimberly A., Kimberly, Nana L., Thanh O., Vern W., Michelle, and last but not least Tangerine!
All I can say is Tan Qiao’s a really dumb man.
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