185. His Majesty Requests Your Presence!
After Yuxing Tianrui escaped from the house with Ada, he met Eunuch Desheng sent by the Emperor. As Eunuch Desheng noticed the hastiness in Yuxing Tianrui’s pace, a ghost of a smile touched his lips. “Greetings, Your Highness. You have something urgent to attend to?”
Yuxing Tianrui hurriedly halted and put on a calm face. “What are you talking about? I just finished my lunch and I’m going out for a walk.” Seeing as how fast he had been walking a moment ago, nobody would believe that he was going out for an after-meal walk. But Eunuch Desheng, though having perceived it, did not give voice to his suspicon.
“Your Highness have been helping His Majesty deal with state affairs all day, so you are naturally very tired, but His Majesty requests your presence in his chambers, so please come with me, Your Highness.” This eunuch was probably the only one in this palace apart from the Emperor who dared talk to Yuxing Tianrui like this.
Yuxing Tianrui, naturally, was aware of how important this eunuch was to the Emperor, so he didn’t say anything redundent. “Please lead the way then.” He did not have to ask why the Emperor wanted to see him. Given that the Emperor had had this eunuch come here personally, it was no doubt about the things that they argued about on a daily basis during courtmeetings. He could not be bothered to ask about it.
The two of them walked very quickly towards the Emperor’s palace. Along the way, everyone who saw them greeted them respectfully. When approaching the palace, the eunuch suddenly turned his head and glanced at Yuxing Tianrui. “No matter what happens next in there, it’d be best if Your Highness keep your objections to yourself. It would be better to just agree with His Majesty.”
Yuxing Tianrui was stunned for a moment. He had been studying beside the Emperor all this time and thus had learned something about this eunuch. Though not exactly a coward, this man was not a fool either, seeing as how he had survived in this palace for so long. At least this eunuch had been doing a good job staying out of harm’s way for so many years.
“Thank you for your reminder.” Yuxing Tianrui thanked the eunuch with hands folded in front and then walked into the palace, his mind working very fast as he pondered what the eunuch meant, but before he could figure anything out, he spotted the crowd in the hall and instantly came to realize that this banquet was a trap.
“His Highness approaches,” cried Eunuch Desheng, taking a step forward. Then he inclined his head at Yuxing Tianrui, hurried to the side of the Emperor and fixed the crowd with an unblinking stare.
Having noticed that everybody was here, the Emperor cleared his throat and interrupted everybody’s train of thought. “Now that everybody has arrived, let’s get things straight right here. Do not say that I never gave you a chance, but there won’t be a repeat performance of this.”
Yuxing Tianrui walked to his usual spot and turned to glance at everyone. Most people present were members of the Zhao Family. Not all of them were, but his supporters were few and far between.
“Your Majesty, since His Highness has arrived, I’ll spit it out.” Old Master Zhao promptly rose to his feet. “When the third prince returned, he said that Manlou was problematic. Now that they’ve caused such great trouble, we naturally have to mete out severe punishment to them. I have no intention to shield anybody.”
“But if we accuse Manlou of working for Turk just because of a granary robbery, it would not only lead to conflict between the two countries but also compromise the people’s confidence in the government. And evildoers might take advantage of it to pin the blame on others to achieve their own ends.”
His tone of voice was imbued with righteous indignation and sorrow. Coupled with his gray hair, it made him look as though he had been terribly wronged, but Yuxing Tianrui appeared utterly unaffected.
He had long since anticipated that things would come to this. His eyes swept across those old courtiers’ faces. There were probably some of them who had come here for their own interests. As for which ones of them were working for Manlou, he would have to look into it after this meeting to find out. As regards the remainder of them, they probably had been coerced into coming here by the Zhao Family.
“Do you agree with him, Mr. Fang?” The Emperor suddenly turned to glance at Old Master Fang. Yuxing Tianrui, naturally, had noticed the old man the instant he had entered the house. Now he was actually somewhat curious as to whether the Emperor had invited the Fang Family here to help him or to enjoy the show.
“The way I see it, the theft in the food undoubtedly caused the people in the south a lot of pain,” said Old Master Fang unhurriedly. “If there’s indeed some evidence, no matter how little it was, that Manlou is colluding with Turk, we must not tolerate them making any more trouble in our country.”
“You’re right, Mr. Fang,” the Emperor nodded, obviously very satisfied with his words. Yuxing Tianrui shook his head inwardly again and again. It could be said that the Fang Family, as a family of scholars, naturally had their own moral standards, but Old Master Fang, now of advanced years, had become very suave to a large extent.
The Emperor glanced at Yuxing Tianrui who had been silent since he’d entered and said, “The third prince was the first to become suspicious of Manlou. I believe it would be best if we let him continue to look into it. If he does find some proof, it’ll be more convenient for us to make our move.”
There was a general who worked for Yuxing Tianrui standing among the crowd down below. Having realized that such a golden opportunity was going to slip through their fingers, he was just about to say something when he noticed that Yuxing Tianrui was standing still as though this whole thing had nothing to do with him. Though anxious, the general did not dare say anything for fear of ruining Yuxing Tianrui’s plan.
“You’re right, Father.” Yuxing Tianrui expressed his opinion unhurriedly while the Emperor paused. Old Master Zhao slightly frowned. He did not believe that Yuxing Tianrui, who had been hanging on for two days in the court, would suddenly pass up this opportunity. Why had he suddenly changed his mind?
“Didn’t Your Highness not agree to it at the court meeting this morning? What made you change your mind?” Because of his status, Old Master Zhao had nothing to fear from Yuxing Tianrui, so his tone of voice was naturally aggressive.
“I always consider things from the perspective of the people. Turk will never stop being a great threat to us unless it is eliminated. It doesn’t matter when we do it. Every time there’s a chance to get rid of Turk, we should seize it.” Yuxing Tianrui smiled, paying scant regard for Old Master Zhao’s words.
Old Master Zhao was rendered, unable to say anything else by the explanation. He turned to glance at the couple of old courtiers on the side and was just about to speak when Yuxing Tianrui’s voice was heard again.