The girl immediately jumped to her feet and ran over to hug Lin Dongqing around the arm when she was drinking tea and intimately conversing with Sisi a second ago, not minding that her breasts were firmly against his arm.
Sisi, who had the same burgundy hair as her daughter, stood up as joy bloomed on her full lips. “Irena, let Dongqing go.”
“No!” Irena clung to Lin Dongqing’s in elation. “Lord Lin has not visited in days. I missed him. Plus, it’s all thanks to him lending me materials that I could revise for my exam and become a legitimate tax officer at the tax bureau!”
“You did?! Congratulations on your new instatement, Irena. You’ve always been hard working and have finally reaped the reward of your labour. You must continue to work earnestly!”
“Yes, Lord Lin! I promise to work hard!” replied Irena, nodding affirmatively.
Irena may have been the empire’s Princess, but there was a mystery no one could ever figure out: everybody always wondered who her father was. Although Queen Sisi never mentioned her father’s identity, her mother declared her the empire’s successor.
Under normal circumstances, everybody would oppose Sisi’s decision to name a child, whose father’s identity was unknown, as a successor. Yet, everybody in the imperial palace never spoke about it, seemingly privy to the identity of her father but refused to say mention it. Furthermore, the Princess never seemed interested in ruling the nation. She was interested in business and finance, instead.
After travelling with him to various warzones and watching him do various things, Irena returned to the imperial capital worshipping Lin Dongqing. She subsequently took the examination to become an official tax officer under his tutelage and passed. Indeed, she took the exam in spite of her status as a Princess. What was admirable was that the examination to become a tax officer was absurdly difficult.
Lin Dongqing was unaware of Irena’s aspiration and achievements as he never got involved with her exam. He, however, did get involved with his son’s exam, thereby allowing him to be an assistant at the tax bureau without taking the exam. While Veirya and Lin Chucheng lived in the imperial capital, Irena and Lin Dongqing were taking on countless other brilliant people away from the capital.
“I’m glad to see you here, Dongqing.” Sisi touched Lin Dongqing’s hand as she watched her most trusted and beloved man sit down next to her.
Lin Dongqing nodded.
Irena sat down in her chair with a lively air, silently admiring the man she missed and liked most as well as her most beloved mother. She always felt that Veirya and Lin Dongqing weren’t a good union. She couldn’t grasp how a dull and slow woman could be in love with such a lively and smart man. She went as far as to wildly assume that Veirya forced him into a marriage, a conclusion she came to after learning that Veirya once captured him.
“How nice would it be if Lin Dongqing was my father…? If Lin Dongqing was my father, my life would be perfect; my family would be so blissful. I could lie in his arms every day and stargaze; listen to his stories; go out with him to learn and visit people. My mother is the empire’s Queen. Can’t she use some tricks to make him mine?” Irena would question multiple times daily.
“Your Majesty, I came because of the war. The shooting of our duke and duchess has led the uproar to what it is now. Everybody is preparing for war now. The question is just ‘when’,” explained Lin Dongqing, hiding nothing and not beating around the bush.
“I’m aware,” replied Sisi, nodding. “What do you think? I highly regard your opinion. Do you think we should ignite this war? I don’t see my military losing.”
“It is not a question of losing or not. We wage war to gain, correct? We will not gain anything even if we win this war, though. To add, one minor move will cause a snowball effect for everything else. If we start a war, we will need to bear the risks. I do not consider it rational to sacrifice our young lives for a war with no goal.”
Sisi nodded: “You’re right; I understand your reasoning. That said, is there any better way to resolve this issue? Dongqing, do you plan to go and negotiate with them? You are not young anymore. They just killed one of our nobles. You are not an exception; you will also be in just as much danger.”
“I know, but when have I not been in danger all these years? I am not concerned about danger. I just do not want to be involved with this. I am no longer prime minister. Therefore, I should not get involved. If I dip my hands in, people will most likely condemn me, claiming that I refuse to let go of my power and influence and controlling the nation’s development. They might go as far as attacking you, which I do not want to see happen. Still, I think the young ones will be impulsive.”
“Who dares criticise Lord Lin?!” fumed Irena, slamming the table and getting up before Sisi could comment. “When Lord Lin risked his life out there the nation, they were gloating in the rear. If it was up to me, I’d exchange a hundred of them for Lord Lin! Mom, I think there will not be any more of those scum if we kill a few!”
“That would’ve worked in the past but not now,” lamented Sisi, hopelessly smiling. “I won’t disturb you two. You must miss our Lord Lin very much. I’ll go and get changed; you keep Lord Lin company. Then, we’ll go for a stroll together.”
Lin Dongqing only ever saw that sort of excessively besotted gaze from Leah.
*Irena – Pronounce ‘Ai-reen-ah”
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