Bofu’s eyes wandered as he took his host seat.
“It’s Xu Gong… he’s been writing to Xuchang,” Lü Fan explained.
“…Xu Gong…? …To the capital…?” Bofu murmured.
“This might have been potentially worse than the Shanyue… no, being honest, it definitely would have been worse,” Lü Fan continued. “He’s chosen to speak of you in very unhelpful terms.”
“…What exactly do you mean by ‘unhelpful’…?” Bofu asked. “Stop coating it in honey and just say it.”
Lü Fan turned to his colleague Gu Yong, who said, “My lord, he has obviously been petitioning Cao Cao repeatedly but getting nowhere, so he has tried to petition the throne… to petition His Majesty, asking that you be forced to relocate to Xuchang and-”
“He wrote to the Son of Heaven…?” Bofu exclaimed. “…‘Relocate’…? B-but I forgave the man, and gave him a job! What the hell else did he say? Do we know?”
“Fortunately, yes, we know, and even more fortunately, His Majesty never will, unless Xu Gong sent multiple couriers, which is unlikely,” Gu Yong replied. “He compared you to Xiang Yu, the-”
“The founder of the Chu State, who’s usually blamed for the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, and the Han founder’s nemesis,” Bofu said. “It’s one of the things that I do remember…”
“He’s compared you to a man like that…?” Sun Yi exclaimed. “That means he’s accusing you of…!”
“Cheng Pu’s aware of it, and he’s saying the same thing as Zhu Zhi, which happens to be my own thinking and Ziheng’s as well,” Gongjin said. “Xu Gong will have to be silenced. That carries its own risks, most obviously that Cao Cao will learn of it and may then think worse of us and better of him, but we can’t risk this kind of correspondence getting through to-”
“I want to read it for myself,” Bofu growled.
Lü Fan sighed miserably and passed the intercepted letter to Bofu.
“…This… … …this…!” Bofu whined angrily. “I… was so… patient, so… and when I wanted to kill the man… and he sends this… to Xuchang… this would have meant my death for treason, the bastard! This would have meant death to me, my family, my children, my brothers, my mother, perhaps my whole clan!”
“So he’ll need to die, then,” Sun Ben said.
“If I could fly to his house, kill him and fly back here in the space of one night, I’d do it myself!” Bofu replied. “My only regret is that others will get the pleasure of it… no, this is too much… and I want him dead as soon as it is possible. Speed a man back, tell Zhu Zhi-”
“It shall be done at once,” Lü Fan said as he retreated from the meeting hall.
“…Bastard…!” Bofu whimpered.
“The damage has almost certainly been contained,” Gu Yong said.
“I’ll be in Xuchang soon, my lord, and I will vouch for you!” Zhang Hong insisted.
“We should think no more of it and press on with our plan to eliminate Huang Zu,” Gongjin implored.
“Oh, don’t worry, I intend to,” Bofu chortled. “He isn’t going to demoralise or halt me… all he’s done is remind me that problems need dealing with. Xu Gong is as good as dealt with now… and Huang Zu’s next.”