As Prince Ying watched Du Zhi Er being dragged away, he knew he had made the right choice in not vocalizing his doubts. If he had, he would be in a more dangerous position than Du Zhi Er – he definitely would not get away with a mere 50 beatings.
Yet all the more this is worrying. The King of Pan clearly has let it got to his head.
// Strong state? He has forgotten that even the allied forces of Donghai, Pan and Xiang were unable to truly defeat Xiwu. This King… cannot be trusted. //
Bowing to the King again, Prince Ying continued, “Since things have come to this state, Ying would like to formally request Your Majesty to lend troops.”
The King looked at Prince Ying in surprise. “What? But you just said...”
“The problem now is that Donghai is in a state where it cannot be mobilized easily. And since that is the enemy’s intention, why not play along?”
“I don’t get what you are trying to say…” The King frowned.
“Your Majesty, if you could lend me some of Pan’s great troops, I could crush my brothers and take over Donghai.”
Without waiting for the King’s reply, Prince Ying quickly continued, “Previously Your Majesty has always rejected my requests. I understand that Your Majesty could have also been worried about Pan’s reputation. What if others see this as Pan taking advantage of Donghai, or being purely nosy? But since there is an excuse now, why not use it?”
The King stared at Prince Ying, surprised.
“I am confident with Your Majesty’s assistance, pulling Donghai back to its feet will be of relative ease. Seeing how none of my brothers have managed to ascend the throne after these years, it is apparent that they do not have the support they needed. It is to my, and to Pan’s advantage if we seize the chance now.”
Bowing to the King once more, Prince Ying added, “And once I ascended the throne, I will definitely not forget Pan’s favour. In return, Pan will gain another strongest possible ally aside from Xiwu. This, I promise.”
The King leaned back on his throne and relaxed. He said nothing, but the smile on his face was telling.
Zhou He kept to one side, his head low, as the Pan officials filed out of the audience hall. He wondered how things went, especially after how he saw an official being dragged away.
Prince Ying was the last one to exit the audience hall and once he stepped out, Zhou He hurried to his lord.
“Your Highness, how did it go?” He asked.
Prince Ying smiles at Zhou He. “No worries, Boyan. Everything went well. I think I might have convinced His Majesty to lend us troops as well.”
Zhou He blinked in surprise. “Your Highness, is that for real?”
“Officially, the King has not said anything, but the likelihood is high.” Prince Ying replied.
“I see. It would be great if that’s true.”
As the two men walked, they heard a few shouts. “What’s going on?”
They turned to the direction from where the sounds were coming from, and saw a youth tugging roughly at a woman.
“You are just a horse merchant! You do whatever I want, okay?! Now strip!” The youth ordered angrily.
“Huh, that’s Crown Prince Kang.” Zhou He turned his nose up the moment he recognised the youth. “Bullying the servants as usual. And at this time he should be studying yet he’s here…”
“Your Highness?” Zhou He looked around, for Prince Ying had suddenly disappeared from his side. It was then he saw Prince Ying hurrying toward Prince Kang.
// Oh no! // Zhou He frowned. His lord’s sense of righteousness is getting in the way again. But it was too late to stop him.
Prince Kang was angry. He had taken a liking to this horse merchant when he came across her, but the stubborn Xiwu officials wouldn’t let him take her. What he did to those idiots? He called the guards to stop them as he dragged the girl away.
“Strip now!” He ordered.
But he couldn’t wait, and his hands shot out, pulling off the poor merchant’s belt. His hands next grabbed at her robes, attempting to tear it off her, but before he could do so, a hand clutched his wrist, effectively stopping him.
“What the hell!” Prince Kang fumed, turning to see who had dared stop him. He sneered when he recognised who it was.
“So it’s you, Prince Ying of Donghai. I thought your head would be chopped off by now. Let go of me right now, or you’d be dead.” Prince Kang threatened.
“I’m not too sure about that, Your Highness.” Prince Ying said stiffly. Rude, ignorant, incompetent, brutal and with frequent but unreasonable bouts of anger, it was no wonder the King wasn’t fond of his eldest son and the court officials kept him at a wide berth.
“Attempting to humiliate a woman like this in public when you should be studying classics at this time… the name of His Majesty and Pan would be soiled.” Prince Ying said quietly as he dragged Prince Kang away and threw him to one side.
“Ah!” Prince Kang cried when his buttocks landed hard on the ground. “How… how dare you!”
“Your Highness.” Zhou He came over.
“Boyan, please help His Highness to get some attention.”
“Yes, of course.” Zhou He nodded. “What… what are you going to do?! Don’t touch me!” Prince Kang yelped as Zhou He dragged him away. To class, that is.
Prince Ying bent and picked up the belt that had fallen to the ground.
“Here.” Prince Ying handed the belt over to the woman. It was then he met eye-to-eye with the woman.
Her face was delicate and beautiful, with a sweet and innocent expression. While Prince Ying had seen his share of beautiful women in both Donghai and Pan, but in his eyes, this woman was the most beautiful of all.
Realising he was staring, Prince Ying quickly tore his eyes away from her.
“Uhh… are you okay?” He asked gently. The woman nodded.
Prince Ying swallowed thickly as he softly asked his next question, “… What is your name?”
The woman looked up and into his earnest eyes.
“My name is Guo Xingling.”