ARC 1 – The Way to become an Empress Part 47

Loud noises can be heard from the outside. Those loud noises are a mixture of shouts and galloping horses. But reigning above all those sounds is a horn blowing. Why is the horn symbolizing the return of the Emperor being blown?

…..Did Ji Zhen Tian go out of the imperial palace? Why wasn’t I aware of this? When did he even go out?

The gates of the imperial palace then opened. The gates are far, but are still visible from the venue of the event.

Perhaps, this is the event?

Following behind the armor-clad man in front whom I guess is Ji Zhen Tian were more armor-clad men, though of different styles. Perhaps, the styles differ according to their ranks?

But more eye-catching than those men with armors are those men without. Tied to the sides of the horses, looking powerless and tired. The most eye-catching is the man tied to the horse of the person directly behind Ji Zhen Tian. The man looked familiar.

When Ji Zhen Tian and his men neared, blood can be smelled all over, and they are obviously covered in it. The man whom I thought was familiar from afar, became a conviction to my suspicions when they neared.

Li Ming!

He’s been… captured?

Many more armor-clad men entered the palace gates. Each with two bodies tied to either sides of their horses. Perhaps, these bodies are the troops Li Ming was talking about?

Ji Zhen Tian stopped a few meters short of the gathering. Everyone in the venue stiffened with surprise that not one was able to let out a voice, not even one asking what had happened or what’s currently happening.

Ji Zhen Tian’s voice then boomed amidst the silence of the crowd.

“Raising troops secretly without the knowledge of the Emperor… What did you intend to use them for? A coup de etat? A rebellion? Li family, you sure have guts!”

Everyone else looked at the Li family the Emperor was talking about. People alternated their gazes between the Li family members, Li Zhen Zhen, and the highly familiar man tied to the horse of whom I assumed is another General.

The General behind Ji Zhen Tian then untied the man from his horse and threw that person down.

As expected, it was Li Ming. Everyone then gasped in surprise knowing who that thrown down person was.

Li Ming looked… weak… very, unlike his usual self.

How did he end up like this?

What did Ji Zhen Tian do?

As I thought so, I looked at him and our eyes met for an instant. His eyes seemed to convey that it’ll be all over, and he immediately turned away and faced the head of the Li family.

“Zhen wonders what the Li family is going to use the troops you went out of your way to secretly raise for. Prime Minister Li, answer Zhen!”

Prime Minister Li then went down to his knees and kowtowed.

“Your Majesty, this person does not know what Your Majesty is talking about. This may be some kind of misunderstanding. Begging the Emperor for an investigation.” The Prime Minister kept on banging his head on the cold, hard ground.

“Still playing dumb! Zhen had personally witnessed the camp grounds the troops were being trained in! And look who Zhen had captured from those grounds. The honored Great General Li Ming! Does Prime Minister still have an excuse?!”

“Your Majesty, this minister does not know anything about those camp grounds Your Majesty is talking about. That child of mine has been away from home for far too long that this minister was not able to track everything he’s doing. Please forgive this minister for his lapses as a father. Please spare us, Your Majesty.”

…..How cruel. So this father is just going to make Li Ming shoulder all the burdens, putting all the blame on him, making him take the fall for the rest of his clan?

…So the Li family is this cruel. No wonder they raised lunatics like Li Zhen Zhen and Li Ming.

“Enough with your excuses! Zhen has evidences of your involvement! Announce it to everyone!” Ji Zhen Tian said that last line to no one in particular.

But suddenly, the bowing Xi Jiu beside Li Zhen Zhen suddenly stood up and brought out papers.

From the looks of it, they’re… letters?

“Xi Jiu!” Li Zhen Zhen shouted as Xi Jiu walked towards Ji Zhen Tian.

“Heeding the Emperor, this servant was able to collect several letters in the Empress’ private quarters.” Nobody questioned how he did so, as it was an open secret that Xi Jiu frequented Li Zhen Zhen’s room.

Xi Jiu then announced the contents of the letters.

Father, the plan is at its final stage. You probably have already known this as brother is staying over at home. But, I just want to make sure you are informed another time, in case brother forgot to remind you. Brother Ming had just left the capital to head to the town of Qing to fetch the troops our family had raised. The time for the Li family’s dynasty is not far away!” Xi Jiu then continued to read.

“Xi Jiu! You! You didn’t send that?! You… You betrayed me!” Li Zhen Zhen said as she couldn’t believe Xi Jiu could actually do that. Li Zhen Zhen didn’t deny the letter being hers, perhaps because she was too surprised of Xi Jiu’s sudden betrayal.

Xi Jiu paused his reading at that.

“Silence!” Ji Zhen Tian made Li Zhen Zhen shut up. “Guards, shut that witch’s mouth! Continue reading.” Ji Zhen Tian ordered. The guards then readied their weapons, as if ready to strike when Li Zhen Zhen speaks when not allowed to do so.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Xi Jiu then continued reading. “This time, it’s a letter from Prime Minister Li. The contents are as follows:  Zhen Zhen, you should not act on impulse from now. Be more careful and aware of your deeds. The plan of rebellion is entering its final stage of preparation. Be more wary of your surroundings, and don’t let others know of our plan.” Then he proceeded to read another one.

Everyone became even more shocked to the contents of the letters.

As all the letters were read,

“Seize them!” Ji Zhen Tian ordered his soldiers to surround the Li family, including Li Zhen Zhen and the already weak heaving Li Ming sprawled on the ground.

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