All we needed to was go to the imperial palace and seek Sisi’s intervention. I didn’t want to force her hand into doing something. Additionally, if she didn’t help, her imperial capital would be history. Lots of people would discover that they couldn’t withdraw money when they went to the bank in the morning. Lots of businesses would find out that their supplier was bankrupt, so they didn’t have any sources for goods. The entire imperial capital would be a mess. The wealthy would become beggars overnight. Not even wealthy families would be able to buy things. Take a limb if the people don’t revolt after that.
Sisi just needed to repay the debt to settle everything. That would make Sisi the businessmen’s new creditor, except the total sum, including my debt, would exceed one hundred and fifty thousand gold coins. Needless to say, Edward could be considered dead. What needed to be done was to repay his loan from the bank. So accordingly, there were about one hundred thousand gold coins approximately there. Not even the Queen could afford to pay that much.
“I understand now,” stated Sisi, as she placed down the report the bank president submitted.
Although the report was hastily compiled, it was critical for decision making. Sisi, who embellished herself in a white dress, appeared to be aware of what happened already as well as what to do. Hence, she wasn’t angry. She, instead, gazed calm in a way that suggested she had come to accept the outcome. Sisi let out a long sigh: “Dongqing, I have not treated you poorly; why did you have to do this?”
“Your Majesty, please believe me when I say that I have not pursued any personal vendettas in this matter. I was merely exacting revenge on Edward and the businessmen. I had not expected this to happen,” I lied with a straight face and regular heartbeat.
I had accounted for Sisi getting involved and taking the reins, of course. Regardless, I still had to say what had to be said.
“Is that right?” rhetorically asked Sisi. “Edward reaped what he sowed. I won’t compensate his losses; however, I know that it will be problematic if I don’t compensate your bank. Accordingly, I will help. Pardon me. The nation will help with it. I don’t have much myself. I shall withdraw one hundred thousand gold coins from the national treasury to repay Dongqing’s debt and cover the loans you took from the back this time in addition to Dongqing’s debt of fifty thousand gold coins. As such, Dongqing won’t be bankrupt, and your loans will be covered.”
Sisi didn’t look as though she planned to say more. The businessmen only lost their principal. Though that was a large sum, it wasn’t unacceptable. In addition, they didn’t have a choice. It was that or bankruptcy, so being able to repay their debt was blessing as it was. It was a given that Sisi wasn’t going to just be getting the short end of the stick. They still had to repay the principal for it was the nation’s money. Not Sisi’s personal savings. Sisi, therefore, couldn’t just help them repay their debt and get nothing in return.
Sisi exhaled misery: “Five years after I began my reign, the military failed me first, and now you have failed me. I had high expectations for you, only for you to disappoint me one after another. I won’t bring up the military’s incident again, but what about you? I merely wanted one man, yet you were led by the nose by one man. I really don’t know what the point of your existences is anymore. Judging from these events, I just need Dongqing to carry out all the bragging you do.”
Nobody uttered a word. Sisi cordially picked up a parchment to write up her command and then stamped it with the imperial family’s stamp. Then, she handed it to a lady-in-waiting. Once again, she sighed. She clasped her face and bemoaned, “I’ve been diligently working for five years. Five years. I genuinely thought I had resolved anything. I thought you were outstanding talents who could help me manage this empire. Judging from the status quo, though, you’re not all that. I thought I was the best at judging people, but my judgement turned out to be unimpressive.”
Tears began to impede on Sisi’s speech, prompting the businessmen to lower their heads in silence. Sisi knew the law didn’t punish numerous offenders. In other words, while she couldn’t kill all of them, she could impel them to kill themselves. Everybody has a conscience. The businessmen present were all haughty. The fact that Sisi was utterly disappointed with them angered them, made them feel ashamed, despaired and agonised. Sisi didn’t need a blade for her tears could hurt them much more. Nevertheless, I knew that her performance was for me to see. I also knew that I couldn’t trick myself.
I ambled and squatted down to give her a hug. She ignored the eyes of the people around and threw herself into arms, where she softly sobbed. I gently stroked her burgundy hair. Voice gentle, I expressed, “It’s all right, Sisi, it’s all right.”
Sisi wilfully hugged me and wiped her tears on my chest. I sighed in my mind; however, I couldn’t show it on the surface.
“It’s all right, Sisi. I’ll come back in the future. I’ll come to you. If I’m the best among these businessmen, I’ll also be by your side. I’ll always watch over you for the rest of my life, my Queen.”
“Uhm…” answered Sisi, with a nod as she gently leaned on me. She wiped her tears and hoarsely asked, “Does that mean that you won’t be my husband, this nation’s Prince Consort?”
I didn’t hesitate or pull punches. I resolutely looked at Sisi to show that there was no room for discussion.
Sisi knew there was no room for negotiation. She had always lost the only opportunity to keep me by her side. This time, specifically, Edward completely ruined her chance.
I released Sisi. She wiped her tears and implored, “You may all leave. I don’t intend to punish you this time. I only ask that you exercise more vigilance. Dongqing, will you stay? Just one night will do. One night, okay?”
“No,” I responded, shaking my head solemnly. “I need to go and Veirya. I have to go back now no matter what.”
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