Chapter 385: Esteemed wangfei is impressive
The attendant was prepared to throw his life away on Long Feiye's sword. As long as Long Feiye killed someone here, he'd be in big trouble! But Long Feiye simply hit the man with the flat of his blade then he fell to the ground, before resting his foot on the man's back. He glared at the mob and said sternly, "Your lordship came precisely to deliver the grain. If anyone else dares to take a step forward, they won't get a single granule!"
The teeming masses grew still at his words, none of them daring to utter a peep. His Highness Duke of Qin is really here to deliver grain?
That was all they wanted, in the end. At his words, nobody wanted to riot anymore. But Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu were cut from a different cloth. They exchanged glances of tacit understanding through the crowd, their hearts filled with scorn. The higher-ups had already looked into the Duke of Qin's grain stores in his various estates down south. They knew exactly how much grain he had left-and it wasn't very much. His Highness Duke of Qin might have plenty of silver, but there was no place to buy grain at times like these. Even if he went shopping in the black markets, it'd be an impossible feat. Most of the larger grain stores there were being sold by the imperial uncle's estate. How could they ever do business with His Highness Duke of Qin!
Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu were smiling as they were precisely because they'd achieved their goal! They had fanned the flames of the famine victims' discontent just enough so they could force His Highness Duke of Qin onto a path of no return. But instead of fleeing, he'd said such words instead. He was simply seeking trouble for himself. Once he was unable to make good on those claims, the peasants would be even more furious. Perhaps by then, the peasants wouldn't even need our instigation. They'd find the Duke of Qin unforgivable on their own!
See here, Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu hadn't even made a move yet, and someone had already started to speak. "Dare I ask Your Highness Duke of Qin how much grain you're planning to deliver?"
Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu were filled with a vile delight, especially Nanguo Mingde. He silently released a breath, happy to have escaped his looming calamity! Now I can sit back and enjoy the show. The Duke of Qin was praised as eminent and a mess in degrees by the crowd. How would he take care of this pretty problem? It won't be long before that high and mighty duke regrets ever provoking my precious son.
"As much as the national treasury sent down. South Ning Prefecture is a big prefecture, so they would have been allocated substantial quantities of grain," Long Feiye answered in a sub-zero voice.
Many of the people grew joyful at his words. Some were even excited beyond belief, and asked in a tremulous tone, "Is Your Highness Duke of Qin speaking the truth?"
Instead of getting affronted, Long Feiye simply said icily, "It's the truth!" At this, the courage of the crowd grew.
"Dare we ask Your Highness Duke of Qin, when the grain will arrive?"
"That's right, that's right! Your Highness Duke of Qin, will it arrive within the next few days?"
"Can Your Highness Duke of Qin speed up the grain delivery? Everyone's been out of grain for days now!"
Nanguo Mingde only smiled coldly at the sight of the happy peasants. He never expected the Duke of Qin to have the gall and lie to so many people. He'd like to see how the man would justify his falsehoods later. Official Yu wore a similar expression. He was looking forward to seeing the Duke of Qin's blasphemy exposed. He wanted to see whether that peerless duke would drown beneath the spittle of the populace! Even the thought was enough to give him a thrill!
Official Yu hid himself behind the person in front of him and couldn't resist a jab at a perceived weakness, "Your Highness Duke of Qin, why don't you give us all an exact time, so that...so that we won't be disappointed!"
Long Feiye's cold eyes glanced over to his side before he intoned, "It'll be delivered immediately!"
The crowd burst into cheers, their shouts absolutely deafening. Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu were stunned. How could this...that's a little too much, even for a lie! How was it possible for him to deliver the grain immediately? Where was he supposed to get so much grain?
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, then where's the grain? It's not the bunch that Official Nanguo brought, is it?" Official Yu couldn't resist asking again.
Long Feiye didn't answer him this time, because surprised cries rose from the back of the crowd. "The grain is coming! It's here! We have food now!"
What's going on? Everyone in the crowd turned back, including Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu. But there were so many people that all they saw were each others' heads. Despite this, the distant cry came over in waves to crash against their eardrums.
"The grain is here! We have grain! There's so much! Enough for everyone!"
"May His Highness Duke of Qin prosper for thousands and thousands of years! May esteemed wangfei prosper for thousands and thousands of years!"
This... Why are they bringing up Han Yunxi, too? She didn't even show up!
Both Nanguo Mingde and Official Yu wore flustered expressions, unable to make head or tails of the matter. Gradually, the cries grew closer and closer, louder and louder. The crowd that had surrounded Long Feiye now moved backwards to seek out the source of the commotion. Just what was going on back there? Everyone was saying there was grain, but what was that all about? Official Yu and Nanguo Mingde were starting to get antsy. Nanguo Mingde couldn't go anywhere, but Official Yu decided to follow the rest of the crowd after some hesitation. However, he stopped walking very soon, because all of the peasants had long parted ways to opposite sides of the street. In their place was a wide avenue, upon which a distant caravan of horse-drawn carts were coming their way. Each of the carts were piled full of grain, and the entire caravan looked like a long dragon snaking its way through the city. Under the gazes of the populace, it looked especially grand and imposing.
At the head of the caravan was a woman dressed in purple robes, riding atop a tall, strong horse. From her lofty perch, she looked down at the people as a noble, elegant, and inviolate spirit! This woman was none other than Qin Wangfei Han Yunxi!
"It really is grain!"
"Esteemed wangfei, that one has to be esteemed wangfei!"
"Esteemed wangfei came to deliver us grain!"
"There's so much grain! So much...so much!"
As the caravan came closer, the famine victims all grew excited and danced with boundless joy. After all, esteemed wangfei wasn't just giving them grain, but hope and their very lives! There were no more instigation or duplicitous acts. In an instant, swathes of people fell to their knees and hailed loudly, "May Your Highness Duke of Qin prosper for thousands and thousands of years! May esteemed wangfei prosper for thousands and thousands for years!"
In the end, nearly everyone was kneeling on the ground. One could only imagine the magnificent sight of all those tens of thousands of people, bowing down in the city streets and alleys before her procession!
Official Nanguo was left dumbfounded, staring at cart after cart of grain until he recovered his wits. He couldn't believe his eyes. How could this be possible?! Even if His Highness Duke of Qin did have all this grain, where did he get them from? Aside from the imperial uncle's estate, there was nobody else in the world with so much stock. But...but the imperial uncle would never sell his grain to the Duke of Qin! Meanwhile, Official Yu so astonished that his entire body had stiffened. He found himself unable to move an inch. Everyone else around him had knelt down, but he was still standing there like an idiot, unable to recover his senses. How was he supposed to accept the reality before his eyes?
I have to be dreaming!
Graced with the kowtows and gratitude of the crowds, Han Yunxi smoothly reached her destination before jumping off her horse. She purposely took the time to straighten out her robes before ascending the steps to the provincial official's estate.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, chenqie has successfully fulfilled her mission. All 1,500,000 dan of grain have been delivered, may Your Highness inspect the delivery!" Han Yunxi's voice wasn't loud, but everyone present heard her speak.
1,500,000 dan! Heavens, no wonder there were so many carts. There was that much grain!
1,500,000 dan of grain was enough to feed all the famine victims in South Ning Prefecture for two to three months!
The cheers and cries of gratitude from the peasants intensified again in wave after wave of earthshaking shouts and exclamations! Right now, all they knew was that they had grain-real, tangible grain that they could see with their own eyes! As for the rumors-well, they'd long forgotten those at the back of their heads! His Highness Duke of Qin and Qin Wangfei were their great benefactors. How could they ever have embezzled the grain? Someone else must have done it. His Highness Duke of Qin must have come to capture the corrupt officials responsible for the deed!
"Official Nanguo, why don't you make a personal inventory?" Long Feiye said coldly.
Nanguo Mingde's legs collapsed beneath him as he fell to his knees again, unable to speak. Official Yu finally came back to his senses. He wanted to kneel, but it was already too late. Long Feiye had long taken notice of him. Chu Xifeng had already done a preliminary investigation of the places where the famine victims had gathered in droves. Why wouldn't he be able to uncovered Official Yu as the culprit fanning the flames behind the scenes?
"Or would you like to do that instead, Official Yu?" Long Feiye said in a chilly tone.
Official Yu's legs crashed to the ground as he too, fell to his knees. But as one of the imperial uncle's hand-picked men, he was still steady in the face of this crisis. "The number must be as esteemed wangfei says! Your Highness Duke of Qin has finally delivered grain to us. Truly, Your Highness Duke of Qin is the fortune of our people, the fortune of our entire Tianning! This official cannot describe the admiration I hold within my heart..."
Official Yu looked even more moved than the people around him. As he spoke, he worked himself into prostrating repeatedly before Long Feiye, mimicking the peasants' cries. "May Your Highness Duke of Qin prosper for thousands and thousands of years! May esteemed wangfei prosper for thousands and thousands of years!"
Nanguo Mingde felt like crying at the very sight he was seeing. He had no idea what would happen next. Meanwhile, Long Feiye only snorted in contempt at Official Yu's display. He glanced at Nanguo Mingde and asked, "Official Nanguo, don't you want to know where I found my grain?"
Of course Nanguo Mingde did. Official Yu wanted to know even more. Thus, Official Nanguo feigned ignorance and said, "Perhaps it was bought with the silver from the relief funds set aside for the disaster areas."
"Exactly so!" Long Feiye said.
Official Nanguo and Official Yu were both floored by the answer. They had no idea why His Highness Duke of Qin was asking such questions. At this moment, Han Yunxi laughed. "Your Highness, we bought this grain, but what about the supplies that the imperial court sent to the disaster areas? Chenqie already heard news on the road that people were asking Your Highness where it'd gone. Chenqie didn't get it, either. It was clearly Official Yu who was in charge of distributing grain to the famine regions, so why were the people questioning Your Highness instead?"
Official Yu didn't even dare to lift his head and look at Han Yunxi. Official Nanguo remained silent as well. The peasants all waited to hear more, while the few that had instigated the crowd before were now too scared to talk.
Where did the original grain meant for the disaster regions go?
Long Feiye coldly issued orders. "Men, search the senior provincial official's estate. If you discover any grain, don't leave a single granule behind!"
Just then, Official Nanguo had expressed that he'd emptied the estate of all his grain already. He was supposed to have none left, but if anyone found any more...