Correlates with Ch 179
The Emperor’s anger receded somewhat when the ministers began proposing various relief plans. He gave an order to open the national treasury and granaries and sent a number of officials from the capital to oversee the matter. He also dispatched troops to Leyang Prefecture to investigate and dismiss any local officials who did not fulfill their responsibilities. They were also to organize and execute the disaster relief plan to help those that had been affected by the flood.
After the relief plans had been proposed, the Right Minister, Yu Jing Qing, stepped out of rank and proposed the dismissal of the Feudal Lord. He stated that the Feudal Lord of Yueyang had imposed heavy taxes in the recent years which made it increasingly difficult for the common people to get by and now this disaster had occurred. Just as how Kangning Prefecture was governed by the Feudal Lord, Fang Chu Fan, this Leyang Prefecture was also governed by a different Feudal Lord. As soon as the Right Minister made this proposal, several young officials immediately echoed his sentiment, including the officials that were to be sent to Leyang Prefecture to handle the disaster relief plan.
At the same time, there were several officials who stammered in shock at his proposal. If the Feudal Lord of Leyang Prefecture was dismissed, what would the other two Feudal Lords think? Moreover, dismissing a Feudal Lord was no trivial matter. Throughout the history of Xi Liang, several Emperors had considered dismissing the Feudal Lords many times before, but in the end they gave up on the idea because the Feudal Lords each were equipped with their own army. Moreover at this critical time, the Xiongnu were waiting to make a move on their borders and once war officially commenced, should the Feudal Lords decide to raise a rebellion, Xi Liang would find itself in a precarious situation.
The Right Minister had always supported the Emperor and the group of young officials who echoed his proposal were all men whom the Emperor had promoted in recent years which meant that the Emperor must be of the same sentiment. To propose the dismissal of the Feudal Lord at this critical time, what exactly was the Emperor thinking?
Several ministers had their own doubts and could only speculate the Emperor’s intentions. Other senior ministers quickly stepped forward to voice their opposition, urging the Emperor to remain focused on the heart of the matter. However, Minister Nian who was always at odds with Minister Yu did not do so. He and his faction had actually supported the dismissal of the Feudal Lord whereas other generals along with Wen Ru Kai strongly voiced their opposition.
The Emperor impassively watched on as the three factions engaged in dispute inside the hall. In the end, he stated, “The ancestors of the Feudal Lords had followed the previous Emperors in conquering the world and building the foundation of Xi Liang, contributing greatly to our country. As for the dismissal of the Feudal Lord, it shall be a topic of discussion next time, everyone should return and think it over.”
When all the ministers had left Jin Luan Hall, Long Zi Jin slowly came out with Long Fei Li.
Long Zi Jin’s brows were tightly knitted as he asked, “Ninth Elder Brother, Minister Yu’s proposal to dismiss the Feudal Lord, you knew beforehand didn’t you?”
“That’s to say it was your plan in the first place?” Long Zi Jin asked in surprise.
The concern in his voice was evident as he said in a rush, “Ninth Elder Brother, I know that it’s a long-standing goal of yours to dismiss the Feudal Lords but a natural calamity is the result of Heavens’ will. Yes, the Feudal Lord does have the responsibility to oversee Leyang Prefecture and what happens in it but at this critical time they must not be dismissed. In case of war with the Xiongnu…”
Long Fei Li’s steps came to a halt as he gazed into the distance. “Zi Jin, Nian Yong Hua is about to fall soon, do you know?”
Upon hearing this question, Long Zi Jin was stunned. Behind them, Duan Yu Huan and Xia Hou Chu exchanged glances, they too were not any less surprised than Long Zi Jin.
Minister Nian was about to fall?!
After a moment of contemplation, Xia Hou Chu said in a low voice, “Minister Nian and the Empress Dowager’s powers have been balanced by each other. Once Minister Nian falls, the Wen Family will surely grow stronger. Fang Chu Fan, the Feudal Lord of Kangning Prefecture, has good relations with the Empress Dowager thus Wen Ru Kai opposed the proposal so strongly.”
“But the Emperor had used Minister Yu to remind the three Feudal Lords once again that the Imperial Family’s desire to dismiss the Feudal Lord has never gone away. No matter if it’s the Emperor or the Empress Dowager that outwardly supports the Feudal Lord today, the Empress Dowager will make the same choices as the Emperor had done today should she ever rise to power in the future!”
Coming to a realization, Long Zi Jin grew excited as he said, “Once Minister Nian falls and the war with the Xiongnu commences, the Empress Dowager will surely take advantage of the chaos to raise a rebellion. If the Feudal Lords assist the Empress Dowager, they will surely become ‘the hound that gets boiled once the rabbit has been caught.’ They’ll definitely think that Ninth Elder Brother will dispatch troops to fight against the Xiongnu and won’t think of attacking them. Once the battle between Ninth Elder Brother and Empress Dowager begins, it would be in their best interest if they helped neither side at all!”
Duan Yu Huan nodded his head in succession. Clapping his hands, he said with a grin, “That’s to say Your Majesty wants to provoke the Feudal Lords to betray so that they contain the power of the Wen Family once Minister Nian falls?”
Long Fei Li stood there in silence, his arms crossed, his figure upright and tall. He did not reply but they knew they had just pieced together the thoughts of this young monarch.
Thousands of twists and hundreds of turns, this move was ingenious yet dangerous. Who would’ve thought he would make such a move? Just, is Minister Nian truly about to topple soon? Nian Song Ting was still in possession of an army…..
Outside the palace hall, everyone’s faces were heavy with concern when Xia Sang’s sharp eyes spotted a eunuch running this way. The eunuch’s face was ridden with panic as he called out, “Chief Eunuch daren!”
Xia Sang’s heart sank as he rebuked,”In the presence of His Majesty, why are you so flustered?”
The eunuch plopped down on his knees in front of Long Fei Li and said in a trembling voice, “Your Majesty, Concubine Nian niang niang has just fallen into the water. She was rescued late and is now barely clinging on to life.”
All were stunned.
Long Zi Jin quickly questioned, “Which Concubine Nian?”
The eunuch was startled and secretly scolded himself for being muddleheaded. But before he got the chance to reply, a strong force had swept past him. The Emperor had already lifted the hem of the robes and had left in a hurry in the direction of Feng Jiu Palace.
Feng Jiu Palace had soon fallen into chaos.
When Long Fei Li stepped into the courtyard, it was already crowded with a number of consorts and concubines. When they saw him arrive, they immediately bowed in greeting.
Long Fei Li merely waved his hand, motioning them to rise and then turned to look at the Empress.
The Empress’ delicate brows knitted together, her expression full of concern as she spoke, “Your Majesty, it was my(Chenqie=your servant/subject) fault for not taking good care of Concubine Nian. She seemed to have not been well and Yao Guang mei mei(little sister) was kind enough to ask her servant to support her. But who would’ve known that servant was so clumsy and ended up pulling her into the lake.”
Long Fei Li clenched his fists tightly beneath his sleeves as he turned to look coldly at Yao Guang.
Yao Guang’s face was filled with tears. She was extremely frightened as she dropped to her knees and cried out, “Your Majesty, this concubine only had good intentions, I never thought that servant…”
But before she had the chance to finish, Long Fei Li had kicked her aside. He coldly stated, “If anything happens to Nian Xuan Ji, do you believe I’ll have you and all your servants at Cang Shui Pavilion killed?”