“Lord Lin, Chu is not an ignorant child. He only said that because he was angry. You do not need to mind it. We all know you care about him. We all sincerely feel you are a noble father!”
Ascillia, who revered and loved Lin Dongqing, genuinely considered him the best father. He provided her with everything she needed. She didn’t know Lin Chucheng and Lin Dongqing’s relationship was terrible to that extent. She couldn’t comprehend why Lin Chucheng couldn’t understand his father when Lin Dongqing was brightest star in her eyes.
Lin Dongqing reclined in his chair. Though he gave off a nonchalant vibe, Ascillia saw his grief-laden eyes. Lin Dongqing never spoke up again after Lin Chucheng flew off the handle with his parents, but he looked as tired as if he aged decades after what his son said.
Lin Dongqing left right after Lin Chucheng’s birth to stabilise the empire. Before he could have a respite, the empire’s rapid expansion led to it being faced with the fury of the indigenous people, while the restless businessmen in the South wanted to establish their own kingdom. As a result, they started a conflict with the Kingdom of Zhu in the East.
Lin Dongqing travelled from place to place. While he carried the nation, warfare and negotiations on his own, his son and wife were lonely in the imperial capital. Lin Chucheng was right. He didn’t have memories of Lin Dongqing in his childhood. Veirya didn’t loathe her husband for it. Lin Chucheng, however, knew the misery of not having a father. Yes, he suffered despite being a noble.
The guards respectfully opened the carriage’s door when the horse pulled up at the front of the imperial palace. The mere sound of Lin Dongqing’s cane hitting the ground had everyone nearby turn to look in his direction. Even though there were elites of various ranks attending the conference commencing today, they were cognisant of who truly led the conference.
Although the Queen would give the final verdict after a conclusion was reached, the prime minister and the six department leaders combined didn’t wield anywhere near as much power and influence as Lin Dongqing alone. He shouldn’t have been considered one man but the empire’s representative.
Lin Dongqing brightly greeted everyone he passed by on his way into the imperial palace with Ascillia accompanying him. A few people around quickly approached them to ask what the former prime minister thought, but he just smiled.
At the conference, the military in the North and the imperial capital’s nobles’ main combat faction exchanged opinions with the faction from the South, which consisted of businessmen from the South and the colony’s nobles. They only calmly exchanged ideas and opinions because Lin Dongqing once asserted that arguing and fighting was forbidden at meetings. They weren’t at a park, after all. Of course, their self-restraint was most solely attributed to Lin Dongqing silently listening in on the discussion.
Every single speaker stole glances in Lin Dongqing’s direction after speaking, though he never did anything but keep a smile on his lips. The reason he eventually resigned as prime minister and left the conferences was because he didn’t want his presence to influence debates. Nevertheless, due to the brewing war, he showed up at the conference hall again, thereby giving everybody present pressure. His presence implied whatever was being discussed was of utmost importance.
Lin Dongqing went to the smoking corner in the imperial palace during the interim break and leaned on the window. The imperial palace was exceptionally organised after he vehemently pressed for hygiene practices to be upheld. Howbeit, the majority of people didn’t go to the corner to smoke. Hence, the place was essentially a less formal place for meetings. Lin Dongqing silently leaned on the window.
The people around felt pressured by his presence and, consequently, kept their voices down. Someone sporting a red cape and dangled a cigarette from his mouth sauntered up to Lin Dongqing’s side. The military officer endowed with pointy ears offered Lin Dongqing a cigarette. “Lord Lin, when did you start smoking?”
“I never did. I just came to take a look around,” Lin Dongqing answered. “I didn’t think you started smoking, though, Ross.”
“Sorry, Lord Lin, I shall put it out if you do not like it.” Even though Ross was already a rookie in the Northern noble’s military world, he still respected Lin Dongqing as he always did.
Lin Dongqing patted Ross’ shoulder. “No need. I never thought you’d be here.”
“As a military officer, I had to come and join the war discussion. Of course, it is all thanks to you entrusting the North to me that I could be here. If possible, can I visit your home tonight?’
“Of course you can. I told you, Ross, it’s always your home, so you can come whenever you like. What does your military have in mind at present?”
“What do we have in mind? We simply plan to expand our army to prepare for battle.”
Ross, who was always one of Lin Dongqing’s most trusted news sources, didn’t hide anything from Lin Dongqing, much to Lin Dongqing’s delight.
“What do you think, then, Lord Lin?”
“Me? Hahaha.” Lin Dongqing pointed at the badge on his chest. “I’m an audience member. Audience members don’t give any opinions.”
Their break time was over, so Ross bowed and headed back in first. Lin Dongqing waited around for a while. He only went back to his seat after Ross almost back in his own seat. He was an audience member, so he couldn’t give his input. Lin Dongqing needed to wait to avoid anybody picking bones with Ross. Lin Dongqing chose to be an audience member for he didn’t care what their opinion was. His battlefield started after the physical war’s outcome.
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