Li Chenyang was not surprised by his brother's question. As much as he liked to joke about how idiotic Wenmin was, there was no denying the intelligence of Wuyi's progressive strategist.
"What will you do if it is treason?" Li Chenyang asked, his eyes hardened. He kept his tone composed and neutral, even when his heart nervously trembled.
Li Wenmin had sworn complete allegiance to the military. His loyalty was to his sword, this country, and its people.
"On what grounds will you commit treason?" Li Wenmin's voice was solemn and bleak.
Li Xueyue was surprised by his complete change of character. He was nothing like his carefree and childish self. For once, he resembled Li Chenyang's seriousness.
A cold gust of air rushed by, their clothes loudly fluttering. Despite the howling wind, nothing could beat the heavy silence that ensued.
Goosebumps rose on Li Xueyue's arms. She knew what this meant for Li Wenmin. It was a clash of duty, a conflict of interest. He had a family to honor, but he also had a Kingdom to keep safe. He was torn.
"It is our right to overthrow an incompetent Crown," Li Chenyang said in a somber tone. "We have no need for a doll on a throne."
"Who is this 'we' you're talking about?"
"The ministers in court."
"And the people? What do they think of this?"
"The people's representative is speaking with Dad as of right now," Li Chenyang explained.
"Why are we disposing of Uncle?" Li Wenmin demanded. "The Wang Family have ruled this kingdom for centuries. Our great-great-great-grandfather helped establish this dynasty. Do you realize what this betrayal means?!"
"Why do we have to continue helping them?" Li Chenyang snarled. "Why does the Li Family have to obey the command of the Wang in each and every generation?!"
Li Wenmin was taken aback. "Because it's our duty. It always has been. The Li bloodline has always been a loyal friend to the Wangs."
"No. The Wang and Li family are not friends." Li Chenyang bit out, "We are servants."
"Servants they exploit and use at their disposal," Li Chenyang snarled, his eyes wide with fury.
Li Chenyang clenched his fist until his skin turned white as snow. He could not suppress his anger anymore.
Just thinking about the Wangs was enough to make his blood boil. How dare they? Each and every generation, they have solely relied on the Lis.
"Why do we have to spoon-feed the Wangs when we also had a hand in establishing this dynasty?! Why do we have to parent them when we don't know anything ourselves? What gives them the right to rule?!" he shouted out.
Li Xueyue flinched from his voice. It was brutal, resembling a furious growl that perfectly embodied his wrath.
Li Chenyang had enough.
He refused to be the next puppet, the next ruler behind the curtain. He refused to bend over for the Crown Prince who did nothing but spend his leisure days with the Crown Princess.
Li Chenyang refused to serve. He wanted to rule.
"Is this because the Emperor pushes his workload onto us?" Li Wenmin asked this time. A look of genuine understanding flashed upon his features. "Chenyang, let's think this properly. We can't dethrone them just because he isn't doing his work—"
"The role of an Emperor is to overlook the country's matters and keep the entire nation safe."
"Do you know who has been fulfilling that role ever since the establishment of the Wang Dynasty?" Li Chenyang harshly asked, his eyes wide and crazed. He could not remain patient anymore. This needed to end.
"Us," he whispered. "IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN US!"
Li Xueyue's eyes grew as large as the moon. She had never seen him lose his composure like this. It was simply frightening, but she could not tear her eyes away from him. The saying was not a lie; nothing was more terrifying than the anger of a gentleman.
Li Wenmin was unaware of this. His specialty was never in politics or the courts. It was always on the battlefield. He did not get callouses from holding a brush for too long, he got it from gripping a sword all day.
It was then he realized how familiar this dynamic was. Duke Li Shenyang was in politics whereas Duke Li Taojun used to be in the military. Both of them played an important role in two of the most crucial areas of any country. The pen and the sword. They were the foundation of every nation.
The Li Family had always been involved in both.
That was how it was supposed to be.
Not because they wanted it to be that way, but because it was instilled in them since birth. The Li Family would help this country prosper, but the Wang Family would receive the recognition. For every one hundred accomplishments the Li Family had, they would only get complimented once. For every achievement the Wang Family obtained, there would be endless praise.
The scale was deliberately unbalanced.
"I didn't know," Li Wenmin muttered, dropping his head. "I've always thought it was our duty to protect the Wangs, for our families have been as close as siblings for generations."
"We were never a sibling to them," Li Chenyang seethed. "We were a tool. We're the step-children forced to let the true heir shine."
Li Wenmin let out a sigh. He was not prepared for this revelation that slammed into him like a powerful blow of a sword. It pierced through his heart, forcing him to question his loyalty.
"There will be a military coup." Li Chenyang muttered, "Are you going to be onboard?"
"It'll never work," Li Wenmin pointed out. "You're forgetting the most important detail."
"And what is that?"
"The Royal Family has a trump card."
"Wen Jinkai, the Demon Lord of War."
There was a pause.
No one spoke, no one breathed. Li Wenmin was right. If the Li Family wanted to obtain the throne, they'd have to kill Wen Jinkai first. That man was the most loyal person to the Royal Family and also the strongest soldier in this entire country.
No one would be able to meet his sword. Not unless the Grim Reaper of the Battlefield stepped forward himself.
Even then, what shall happen? A clash between Wuyi and Hanjian? The other nations would shame them. Hanjian openly supporting a military coup would be a devastating event. It would create mayhem and disasters in all the wrong places.
"That's a shame," Li Xueyue spoke up. "We have a trump card to beat theirs."
Li Chenyang rapidly blinked. "What do you mean, Xueyue?"
"Are you talking about Yu Zhen?" Li Wenmin curiously said. "If there is one person in this entire country who can duel Wen Jinkai head-on, it would be that man. But things will get messy."
"Wenmin is right," Li Chenyang said. "I'm surprised I actually said that, but we can't ask for Yu Zhen for help. He is the Second Prince of Hanjian, the chaos that ensues from his help will cause havoc in the nation."
"No, Yu Zhen is not our best bet." Li Xueyue shook her head. "Wen Jinkai is loyal to the Crown, but his heart is loyal to someone else."
The twin's eyes grew wide.
Simultaneously, they muttered, "Li Minghua, our ultimate trump card."
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