At the same time, since Zhao Yarou was barely twenty years of age, there were many who decided she was their ideal partner in life. Many fantasized about how great life would be if they could marry her.
Within the aristocratic community, those who were of age and still single all thought the same. They all tried very hard to get closer to her in hopes to catch her eye.
However, the chances of success were minute. There had already been too many overzealous admirers who were sentenced to death by Zhao Yarou, and she had even warned everyone to not come to take advantage of her or they would meet the same fate.
The stubborn ones thought they would be different, and that was how the number of executed men grew.
Right now, everyone understood that their plan must be subtle or death would be certain.
“Maybe she wants to offer me a better title, or give me land, or perhaps she’s interested in me…”
Li Yan was muttering to himself as he walked, excited to see how the empress would reward him. His mind was filled with possibilities, even wondering if the empress liked him romantically.
However, no one would ever know if she actually was interested in him for the empress’ expressions were often unreadable.
When the summon was issued, Li Tianjun himself also asked Zhao Yarou about it, to which she mildly replied, “We’ll talk when he’s here.”
Even Li Tianjun, a keen observer, could not read her flat tone. Zhao Yarou’s thought had always been difficult to grasp, no one in this mainland could guess what she was thinking. Her sadness, anger, happiness, fear were all not expressed on her face at all.
No one really knew if she was happy when she smiled either. Thankfully, she didn’t smile much so the opportunities for guesses were few.
They hoped Li Yan hadn’t offended her…
Because if he did, the consequences would be terrifying…
“Your Majesty,” greeted Li Yan with a bow as he arrived, full of anticipation.
“You are Li Yan of the Li clan, the eldest son of Li Tianjun?” Zhao Yarou asked calmly, staring at him.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” he replied.
“Were you the one who re-opened Romantic Floor?” Zhao Yarou was holding a document as she spoke calmly.
“Y---Yes.” Although Li Yan didn’t know why Zhao Yarou would ask such a question, he answered honestly.
If she asked a question, that meant she had already conducted investigations. Lying would only bring trouble.
“Since you admit to it, this will be easy. I hereby sentence you to death. Guards!” Zhao Yarou still spoke with her eerie calm as if executing a man was nothing.
Almost everyone was stunned when they heard her. Although they knew the eighth princess had an erratic mood, they never would’ve imagined she would summon Li Yan to the palace just to execute him.
“Your Grace, he is ignorant, please enlighten my son as to what he did wrong.”
Only Li Yan and his father spoke because no one else wanted to get themselves involved. They weren’t emotionless, nor did they think Li Yan should die- they were just terrified.
This eighth princess was insane, she’d do anything! Anyone who went against her would only aggravate the situation.
“I’ve already told you. We have another matter to discuss, which is…” she said coldly without explanation. This meant the matter was complicated and would have almost no grounds for negotiation.
If Li Tianjun wanted to keep his son alive, he would have to pay a hefty price for it--- and he might not even succeed.
Li Tianjun didn’t understand what Li Yan had done to offend her, he refused to believe that she would execute him just because of the Romantic Floor. No one thought it was a big deal, and even if there was a problem, it wouldn’t be severe enough for execution.
“Your Majesty, please forgive my ignorant son! Let him live!” Li Tianjun could only kneel and beg for mercy to keep his son’s life. Begging for mercy was more important than knowing what happened now.
“You ask for mercy? Zhao Yarou stopped, then turned to Li Tianjun.
“Yes,” replied Li Tianjun. What that even a question? Who would let their son die like this?
“Hand over some of your businesses to pay for his crimes, then I will spare his life,” declared Zhao Yarou, clearly stating that she was taking the Li family’s wealth in exchange for Li Yan’s life.
Everyone knew the businesses she spoke of must be significant or the empress would not have asked for it.
Very quickly, a list was handed to Li Tianjun as if it had been prepared earlier-- she must’ve expected this.
“...” Li Tianjun’s expression changed as he read the list but in the end, he nodded.
After the incident, more people would know of her requests. The request was not very complicated, the Li family could still afford to lose these and hence there was no hesitation.
This list was, in fact, a list of businesses that the Li family had taken over for themselves during the past few years. These properties weren’t theirs in the first place anyway, hence they did not see a problem in handing it back.
Li Tianjun’s grave look wasn’t because of the losses they were facing, but his realisation that Zhao Yarou had always planned to keep the Ye family’s businesses for herself and not the Li family.
After this incident, it would mean Zhao Yarou had ‘rightfully’ taken over the Ye family’s properties instead of being named a criminal for forcefully taking them for herself.
The Ye family would not blame her then, they’d only blame the Li family. And if she ever returned some of the property back to the Ye family, they would even kiss her shoes for it.
Zhao Yarou did exert much effort from the beginning to the end of this matter, yet she benefitted the most. On one hand, she was entertained by the conflict between the two families, and on the other, she was reaping all the benefits from it.
This empress was a terrifying schemer, you wouldn’t know it if you fell into one of her traps. One should never offend Zhao Yarou!
Right now, although she didn’t take away the Li family’s original businesses, they still felt no relief for it was as if she could wipe them out anytime if they offended her.
This warning was also a confirmation- it meant their initial businesses hadn’t offended her in any way yet.
The most frustrated person of the story was Li Yan though. He hadn’t expected himself to used as an ‘excuse’ for Zhao Yarou to take away so much of his property, it was unfair!
If only Li Tianjun was paying attention, perhaps he would’ve been able to stop Li Yan before he did something so stupid...