452 Little Kids
Eventually, more people trickled into the room. And when nearly all of the seats were filled, except one, the large doors were closed, a low rumbling sound accompanying it.
Representative Wu Shiming was the first to speak. He gave a long-winded report about the performance of their agriculture sector, and stated that their budget this year was sufficient, but it'd still be nice to get a slice of the war budget. His words earned a sharp protest from Commander Zhang.
It was today that Li Xueyue learned he wasn't a gentle giant. His voice was curt and cruel, but his words were sharper than his sword.
"You useless baboon!" Commander Zhang roared, slamming his fist onto the table. "Why the hell does the agriculture sector need more money when Hanjian's soil is fertile as it is, and the crops are plenty?!"
Representative Wu Shiming flinched back a bit as he touched his ears, wondering if it had bled from the roaring bear. "L-let's all be civilized here, Commander Zhang," he said.
Representative Wu Shiming was not afraid of arguing with his seniors, but Commander Zhang was always difficult to deal with. Many people found it difficult to go against him, since his voice was louder than thunder, and his glare fiercer than the brightest flames.
"This is why little kids like you should go back into the yard and play instead of disturbing us adults!" Commander Zhang growled. "Now sit back down you babbling baboon!"
Representative Wu Shiming groaned on the inside. Out of all the people he had provoked, it just had to be Commander Zhang. Usually, the old and wise Commander was quiet. He preferred to be in the background, talking only when necessary.
But whenever the discussion involved the military, Commander Zhang would spring up and intimidate everyone into submission.
"No need to yell at me as if I am a child…" Representative Wu Shiming muttered whilst reluctantly taking a seat. His well-thought out plan was blasted to smithereens, just like this. He didn't even know what else to do or say aside from obeying the fearsome Commander.
"Hmph, youngsters these days are getting dumber and dumber," Commander Zhang barked out. "They need more education!"
"Precisely, Commander Zhang," a sharp voice spoke from close to him.
Commander Zhang did not expect the feminine sound, soft like cotton. He turned his head, and saw who had agreed with him. It was the same little girl from last time, the Crown Princess. She was as tiny as he had remembered, but with the same guts as before.
"It's precisely why I would like to conclude Representative Wu's presentation with an idea of my own."
Representative Wu Shiming didn't even bother to look at the Crown Prince and ask for the voting process to proceed. Commander Zhang had already seized control of the situation. People would be more likely to agree with him, since arguing with him would be too difficult.
"And what do you have in mind, Princess?" Commander Zhang said in a low, rumbling voice.
"Instead of pouring the war budget in the agriculture sector, we should allocate it towards education," Li Xueyue spoke up.
She saw Duke Han narrow his eyes, almost as if he already knew what she was going to suggest.
"Bah! Not this idea again!" Duke Han scoffed whilst rolling his eyes. "Do you hear the Princess, Commander Zhang? Wasting the precious war budget on educating the commoners, what an atrocious suggestion!"
Duke Han leaned forward and interlocked his fingers together. "I agree with Commander Zhang, the war budget should remain as it is, and should not be diverted anywhere. It is better to put it in the reserves and let it build up in case there is another war."
Li Xueyue narrowed her eyes. She didn't think Duke Han would be the type of man to not touch the war budget. He seemed far too greedy. She thought he would suggest the budget would be spent on the kingdom.
She didn't have to think too far out to know what Duke Han was doing. He was purposely siding with Commander Zhang, since the latter was currently one of the strongest voices in the room. Siding with the strong was not a surprising tactic, especially from the cowardly Duke Han.
"So you suggest we should just let the war budget rot in a closet room, forever untouched until we need it again, Duke Han?" Li Xueyue said.
"Precisely, Princess!" Duke Han agreed in a loud voice. For once, he sounded pleasant. "You understand my claims quite well, Princess. I am very proud of you!"
Li Xueyue's lips curled into a smirk. She had fallen directly into his trap. "Do you want to ruin the economy of Hanjian?"
Duke Han's brows shot up in surprise. What did she mean?
"Year by year, we let that money go untouched and unused, but still gather…" Li Xueyue ominously shook her head. "I can't imagine what would happen to the value of Hanjian's money."
Duke Han fumed at her words. How dare she accuse him of having heinous thoughts against Hanjian! He had devoted his entire life for this country and wouldn't mind sacrificing it for the benefit of the Kingdom.
"I object! What an absurd claim you make!" Duke Han growled. He didn't want her to continue speaking, because the more she did so, the higher chances she'd have at convincing the people.
"Listen to me, Princess, I—"
"Furthermore," Li Xueyue glanced around the table, her attention upon Commander Zhang. She was surprised he was actually letting her speak, instead of belittling her into nothingness.
She continued, "Hanjian is allied with all four surrounding nations of this massive continent. Why should we allocate the war budget annually only for it to go waste?"
The Crown Princess glanced around the table, making direct eye-contact with each and every person, which forced them to pay even more attention.
She added on, "Of course, accumulating it there does have its benefits. But the cost of not using the funds immediately severely outweighs the benefits of storing them."
"I am still talking to you, Princess," Duke Han seethed. He scowled at her. How dare she interrupt a man when he's talking? Did her parents teach her nothing?! Bah, some Princess she was!
He shot out of his chair and loudly said, "The taxes on the aristocrats have been too high. If anything, the money should be returned to us, as compensation for all of the money that we've been contributing to the Kingdom!"
"You're suggesting we should make the rich, richer, and the poor, poorer?" the Crown Princess deadpanned in utter disbelief, her eyes widening a bit at him, as if she could not fathom such atrocity could come out of someone's mouth so confidently.
"Yes, Princess, I've always emphasized that, if you couldn't tell," Duke Han scoffed.
He crossed his arms and tried not to insult her directly. The last time he did that, he earned warning glare from the Crown Prince. No doubt, this time, it could be something much worse.
Duke Han was also careful not to roll his eyes, or else it would roll to the ground, and all because of the Crown Prince. Of course the man couldn't just capture a Duke without reason, but offending the Imperial Family was certainly a crime that the Duke could be punished for.
"Then you should no longer remain in power, Duke Han," the Crown Princess coldly said. Her cruel words were met with a dead silence.