The Bloody Reception

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Princess Li commanded her audience flawlessly as though she's an expert in public speaking. She was so natural that everyone quieted as they listened to her. Whether it is out of fear or out of curiosity, their attention was undivided.

"Then what's the problem, darling?" Jingam murmured, inclining his head, he stared at his wife pleadingly as he licked the dried blood from his split lip. "I treated you no less than a woman, I cared for you, I adored you. Why are you doing this, my love?"

"Because of my love..." Princess Li smiled sweetly, "you made a fool of me. You made a fool of my entire family. You and Yuanji. You drew a contract leaving out marital exclusivity!" The princess hissed.

She whipped her glance back to the crowd scanning for Jingam's father, and once she spotted him, she ordered for one of the guards to bring him out. "Bring him out to me!"

Lord Changi was dragged out to the open and brought to the princess. "Make him kneel!"

The guard pushed the older man to the ground, his frailing knees slammed on the pavement so hard that it made him screamed in agony. "Please, princess." Lord Changi moaned. "I had no intention of making a fool of you."

Princess Li cocked her head. "Oh, I don't doubt you, father in law. But I also knew you're the one who hired Yuanji to draw part of the agreement with you."

"I did, but I made no mention of other marriages for it wasn't in my mind at the time. I only wanted a union with your family and that was all I intended."

The princess sneered. "Lies! While you took advantage of my family's kindness, you also lusted for one of the daughters from the house of Yi!"

"Forgive me, princess." He begged. "But I'm too old of a man for the remaining Yi daughter at the time. I had no wish for a younger wife."

"But your son did."

Princess Li turned to her husband who made a loving eye contact with her, but the princess was too angry and too caught up in the moment that none of it got through her hardened shell. She glided her eye contact to her brother, and prince Jingqi made a slight nod of understanding.

Princess Li turned her attention back to the crowd, clearing her throat. "Now, let us show you what happens  to people who dare cross the imperial family!"

A sudden hostility in the crowd, people began to protest, but the princess already made up her mind and gave her order. "Cut their heads!"

With pride and obligation, the guardsman raised his sharp blade. The sun reflected and shone with a blinding glare at the sword before it was lowered to severe the head of Lord Changi, the clan leader of the house of Changi.

Prince Jingqi did the same thing, he struck and gleaned Jingam's head with feral delight as though the act of decapitating heads is a sport to him.

Wild gasps and horror erupted from the crowd as the heads fell on the ground and the limp bodies slumped and soaked in their own blood.

The loud wailing from Jingam's mother shrieked, veiling the entire manor with her anguish. She ran to the side of her dead husband and son screaming.

"Shut her up!" The princess commanded, and away, the grieving woman was dragged kicking and bawling.

The princess quickly drew her attention to Yuanji who wore a face of shock. He fought to free himself from his bind and scuffled with the guards around him.

He had made a realization he's next.

Prince Jingqi gave him a good nudge on the chest that made him suck his breath and a punch in the gut to bring him back to his knees. Yuanji coughed.

Yuanji's mother came out from the crowd, begging on her knees. "Please, spare my child." She pleaded. "He's the future of my clan, he had nothing to do with this."

"Oh, but he's the brain of everything. All that happened was only possible due to his careful orchestration and manipulation. You should be proud, lady Yi." The princess smiled. "You're blessed with a genius child."

"No, please. My child is not cunning like you said he is."

"Clearly, you know nothing of your own children. If you paid attention to them instead of admiring your vanity from time to time, you'll find out the true nature of your children."

Lady Yi tugged on the princess's dress. "Please, take me. Kill me instead and spare my child."

"Do not worry." Princess Li crooned and caressed lady Yi's wet cheeks tenderly. "I won't kill him, I have other things planned for your handsome son." Her smile grew wider. "I want him for a husband."

Lady Yi's jaw dropped. She looked at her son who met her eye contact. She would be casting her own child to a life of hell if she was to agree.

Yuanji drifted his eyes down, too defeated to protest.

"It's not as if you have a choice right now, lady Yi. Your son had wronged the imperial family. This is the only way he could redeem the name of your family. This is not a request."

"But princess..." Her lips quivered, too distraught to form a comprehensible statement.

"How about I keep him as my prisoner for now, huh?" Princess Li mused with a brightened smile. "A time in a cold dungeon, isolated, starving and deprived of light is sure to change someone's mind."

"Please, princess. Don't do this."

The princess merely shook her head softly and turned her back. "Take lord Yuanji to the palace as a prisoner." She commanded. "I'm moving back in."

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