Grand Chancellor Zhaos residence.

Seated on the top seat of the main hall in the middle of the residence, was an old man with long grey hair. The old man held a hot cup of tea in his hands and gently stirred the tea leaves, To his right sat his eldest son Zhao Haoyu and his second son Zhao Mingze.

Seated on the seats opposite his sons were General Nie, Prime Minister Gao and Assistant Minister Fu. The close subordinates of both men, Yang Yize, Wang Yuwen and Gao Yiping sat on the seats next to their masters.

”The bell has rang nine times, Grand councillor. Isn it about time we joined Prince Feng at the palace ”, Assistant Minister Fu said impatiently.

The Grand Chancellor Zhao looked over his cup at the impatient assistant minister and smiled. He calmly took in their expectant expression, they were all itching to bask in the successful takeover.

Which he found amusing but he did not let that show. Grand Chancellor Zhao unlike his hasty partners remained calm. He had planned every single detail for years and would not relax until his beloved student was crowned Emperor.

He placed the cup of tea on the table and leaned back in his seat,

”Don get ahead of yourselves, the Emperor just died and the nation is in mourning. This is not the time to be hasty, lets not draw unwanted attention to ourselves. We need to ensure a smooth transition for his highness and to do that we should avoid being too forward ”.

”Grand Chancellor Zhao is right, his highness and the late Emperor were very close. If we start making moves this early, people might get suspicious. He has a very good reputation among the commoners and the noble families, No one would question his taking the rein ”, Prime Minister Gao said cautiously.

General Nie and Assistant minister Fu smirked, General Nie glanced at the prime minister and shook his head. He wasn in the habit of sucking up to people and found people like prime minister Gao an eyesore.

The arrival of the Grand Chancellors right-hand man Bai Jun brought an end to that conversation. They all looked expectantly at the younger man as he walked forward and bowed at his master.

”Master, Minister Yins steward just sent word that the minister met with the Left-wing General in secret ”, Bai Jun said in a quiet voice.

General Nie glanced at the Grand Chancellor, ”Minister Yin and Shen Xiaoriu are going to be a problem, is it really necessary to keep them alive? ”

Grand Councilor Zhao picked up his cup of tea and waving away the steam replied, ”Minister Yin is too huge an obstacle to be left alive but Shen Xiaoriu can still be of use.

”He is a celebrated general and the commoners find him relatable since he is one of them. it is not in our best interest to get rid of him, at least not when he could be of use. We need the commoners to support Prince Feng, keeping him alive would be highly beneficial. For now ”.

General Nie frowned, ”Shen Xiaoriu is just a low-class commoner, of what use is he to us. I say we kill him and Minister Yin ”.

Zhao Haoyu glanced from his father to the General and sighed, He did not see the point of the argument the General wanted to start. ”it won be easy to break someone as stubborn as him, Why don we test Shen Xiaoriu and then make a decision based on the results ”, he said calmly.

His suggestion intrigued everyone including General Nie, Zhao Haoyu had long proven himself to everyone in the room. Even the hot-headed General Nie respected him, Grand Councilor Zhao looked proudly at his eldest son. Of all his children, Zhao Haoyu was the child that was the most similar to him. Which was why he was confident in letting Zhao Haoyu handle the most sensitive tasks.

”Shen Xiaoriu isn the easiest to deal with but since you are confident that you could handle him. let us do things your way ”.

Zhao Haoyu stood and bowing replied, ”Thank you father, I won disappoint you ”


Once all the guest left, Grand Chancellor and his sons learned that Shen Xiaoriu and Minister Yin was the least of their problems.

The Empress had sent him a secret letter through Bai Jun. Grand Chancellor Zhao squeezed the letter, rolled it into a ball and threw it into the open flame of the room heater set up at the centre of the room.

Zhao Haoyu was a little taken aback by his fathers actions. He stepped forward and glanced down at the fire, he watched as the piece of paper turned into ash. ”Father, what is_ ”

”Your sister didn do a very good job ”, Chancellor Zhao cut Haoyu short, his expression darkened immediately, ”the Imperial seal is missing ”.

”What! ” his second son Zhao Mingze said. Zhao Mingze unlike his brother was more hot-tempered, He slapped the table beside him.

”She has gone and ruined our plans. I knew that we shouldn have let Ronglei handle anything, she is too weak. Women should just stick to raising children and looking pretty ”.

Zhao Haoyu glared at his younger brother for a few seconds, sometimes he failed to understand his brothers reasoning. Their elder sister played a very important part in their plan, she made everything go smoothly.

The grand chancellor ignored his second son and said to his attendant, ”Bai Jun, investigate all of his majestys aides. Find out who could have the seal most especially Minister Yin and Shen Xiaoriu ”.

”Yes, master ”.

Zhao Haoyu placed a hand on his fathers arm and stepped forward. ”we don necessarily need to search for the seal. It is most likely with Minister Yin, that must be why Shen Xiaoriu met him in secret. I asked around and Shen Xiaoriu was on night watch today. The Emperor must have gotten suspicious and handed the seal over to him ”.

”All the more reason why we should kill them both. father, I say we kill the two of them and take back the seal ”, Zhao Mingze said.

Zhao Haoyu rolled his eyes at his younger brother, ”or we stick to the original plan, we need someone to take the fall for the assassination and Minister Yin is the best option. As for Shen Xiaoriu, we can use the opportunity to test him and determine the best way to handle him ”.

”Why waste all that time, father I suggest we kill them both. Shen Xiaoriu is too loyal to Xiang Ziwei, do you think he would easily betray him. just get rid of them and avoid any future threats ”.

Zhao Haoyus nose flared and his eye grew cold. He gave his brother a sharp glare, ”Zhao Mingze! are you so dumb that you do not understand why we need to keep Shen Xiaoriu alive? ”

”What so special about him? it is not like he is an excellent strategist or have a powerful family behind him. if not for Xiang Ziwei, he would be nothing more than a village champion! ”

Zhao Haoyu glared at his brother, ”That Village champion, is the best person to keep General Nie in check. We cannot allow him to have full control of the entire military power ”.

”….. ” Zhao Mingze swallowed as his father glared at him, ”well, I hope he is worth all this trouble ”.

it took all of Grand Chancellors control to avoid backhanding his second son, he took in a deep breath before turning to Zhao Haoyu, ”We will do things your way, Haoyu. Mingze, you are already a father. Learn to see the bigger picture. Don cause a mess ”, Grand Chancellor Zhao said.

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