Chapter 1240: [YeXi] Imperial uncle

The crown prince was here? So was the Prince of Yu, Gu Qishao?

In a flash, everyone looked out in surprise. They all assumed that the crown prince would arrive with the emperor and empress, but instead he came with the Prince of Yu. While everyone had been busy fighting over statues, the arrival of the new duo pushed the struggles from their heads. 

Tang Li’s anger soon dissipated into amusement at the words! When it came to poison tongues, he could have the better of anyone here, but it was impossible for him to retort with his current position. However, Gu Qishao was different. He was the only Qinwang in the Great Qin! The top ranking noble! With his status, everyone present had to yield him three steps!

Tang Li suddenly realized for the first time that he could adore Gu Qishao too!

Everyone had already risen to their feet before the two guests showed their faces. When the crown prince and Prince of Yu entered the hall, they all fell to their knees, Tang Li and Ning Jing included.

“May Your Highness Crown Prince live thousands of thousands of years!”

“May Your Highness Prince of Yu live thousands of thousands of years!”

Gu Qishao was dressed in a fresh red robe specially embroidered with golden hems. He was covered in lots of gold accessories—even down to the hairstick holding his hair in place! Red and gold was supposed to be a tacky combination, but he somehow pulled it off and managed to look luxurious! 

He had customized this outfit all for the sake of Rui’er’s first birthday!

Who cared what was going on in Northern Li? Since it was his godson’s birthday, the bigger and merrier, the better. They had to have a grand row of a time. In fact, he could have reached Yunning last night, but was delayed a day because of his clothes. 

Little Rui’er was seated right on Gu Qishao’s right shoulder. He was dressed in violet robes prepared by his mother and looked incomparably regal. Although he was young and tender-faced, he showed no fear while seated loftily above the kneeling masses. Instead, his cold brows seemed handsome and elegant, cowing people from looking at him directly. 

Everyone was waiting for the masters young and old to bid them rise, but Rui’er didn’t speak. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao simply treated everyone else as air. They were more interested in the Tang Clan trio seated up front. Gu Qishao strolled past the prostate people and stopped to stoop in front of Tang Li. “Tang Li,” he said in a doubtful tone, “What are you doing?”

Tang Li lifted his head and said earnestly, “Paying respects!”

“Heheh!” Gu Qishao placed Rui’er in the seat of honor before picking up Tang Tang to set her on one side. Rui’er immediately jumped off his seat to crouch in front of Tang Li, looking at him lopsidedly. While everyone else was still on their knees, a few stole peeks at the crown prince, curious as to his intentions. Suddenly, Rui’er opened his mouth for a shocking statement.

“Imperial uncle, imperial father says you don’t have to kneel for me,” Rui’er said curiously.

Imperial uncle!

Forget about the kneelers, even Tang Li and Ning Jing were shaken. Although Rui’er’s “imperial uncle” wasn’t an official title or post, just a name, it was still much more unique than a Guogong. Of the Royal Relatives (皇亲国戚Huang Qin Guo Qi, “Huangqin” (皇亲) consisted of relatives to the imperial clan who were part of the emperor’s inner family, while “Guoqi” (国戚) referred to outer family, or  those from the concubines’ sides. Guogong were considered outer family, but an imperial uncle was direct, inner family!

This status was far more noble than the others here! 

If Long Feiye had conferred Tang Li the title of Prince, Baili Yuanlong would definitely object and request the same for his son. But he could say nothing when it was only Rui’er calling Tang Li imperial uncle. “Imperial uncle” was purely a moniker. If Rui’er wanted to call Tang Li that, that was his business and related to matters of the imperial clan. None of the kneeling courtiers were part of that family, but all outsiders. Who would dare to speak out? Who even had the right?

If Baili Yuanlong wanted to complain, he could only blame himself for having no relations in the royal family.

Nobody expected this move from Long Feiye, nor could they counter it in any way. From this day on, the Tang Clan would be placed in a unique position thanks to Tang Li’s status. His lips curved up in a grin as he almost laughed out loud! His big brother had certainly put a lot of thought into this! He’d given him such a big favor yet hid it for so long. 

Immediately, Tang Li pulled Ning Jing to her feet with him and sat back in their seats with an affected sigh. “Aye, Your Excellencies Baili and Xiao. The two of you are certainly something! You can even read the emperor’s thoughts so thoroughly! It’s true, His Majesty wasn’t planning to leave any spots here for the Royal Relatives!”

Leaving aside Baili Yuanlong and Xiao Dong, even Guogong Xiao An was extremely displeased by his words!

Tang Li was sitting there with full rights because of his status as imperial uncle! With this behind his back, he was much more impressive as he cleared his throat and proclaimed, “Crown prince, it’s about time to let the subjects rise.”

Rui’er had truly forgotten. After all, he wasn’t used to such things. Usually, he met the servants with his parents and they told them to get him. He’d never done it himself. Now he sat back down in the seat of honor and grew serious. In a childish voice, he imitated his father to proclaim, “All of you may rise!”

“Thanks to Your Highness Crown Prince!” the crowd chorused before they rose to their feet. No one dared to sit down. Seeing this, Rui’er looked lost and glanced at Tang Li for help. Feeling rather smug, Tang Li cleared his throat again. “Cough, cough! Crown prince, it’s time to let the subjects sit down.”

At last getting the point, Rui’er put on an aggressive tone and loudly chirped out his orders, “All of you sit down!”

Everyone was stunned. What kind of attitude was the crown prince showing? Although they felt dissatisfied, they could only do as they were told. If this was a normal exchange, they should have replied with Thanks to Your Highness Crown Prince!

But with the boy barking orders, they instead nodded and cried, “Yes, orders obeyed!”

Seeing the helpless courtiers almost made Ning Jing laugh out loud. At last, she could tell what was going on. Although this looked like child’s play and even rather ridiculous, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were actually using Rui’er as a show of their strength! This was their way of reminding the crowd—especially Baili Yuanlong and Xiao Dong—that the royal family’s authority wasn’t something to challenge, nor their orders something to defy. If the duo didn’t restrain themselves after this, Long Feiye would stop trying to reason with them but simply crush them with his power alone.

Although he couldn’t afford to see Jiangnan fall into unrest now, although Baili Yuanlong had many troops under his command, Long Feiye simply preferred to avoid chaos. He never feared it, nor was he helpless to deal with their schemes! 

If even an outsider like Ning Jing could understand these subtleties, then so could everyone else present in the hall. All of the guests exchanged looks at their seats. Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An did multiple times as well, but neither of them could read the other side’s thoughts. It was also inconvenient for them to speak publicly here, nor leave to discuss matters in private when the crown prince was already seated. 

Behind Baili Yuanlong, Baili Lixiang observed the two men trading glances but she too, failed to understand Xiao An’s intentions. After a while, she leaned forward and murmured, “Father, His Majesty must have sensed we have dealings with the Xiao Clan. As I see it, we should hold back regarding matters of Northern Li. I believe the Xiao Clan Head intends to act this way as well.”

“Mm,” Baili Yuanlong would heed his daughter’s advice. 

“But regarding the birthday banquet, all blame falls on the empress! Whether it’s a matter of justice or reasons, this involves the heart of the people. We can’t miss this chance!” Baili Lixiang added.

Baili Yuanlong thought that made sense and nodded. “All right, we’ll proceed as planned.”

Originally, everyone had been socializing in groups of three or five, but now nobody dared to chat idly with Rui’er and Gu Qishao present. 

Gu Qishao couldn’t care less for this lot! He took up both Rui’er and Tang Tang so they were sitting on his legs and laughed as he teased them both. 

Tang Li was suddenly bored because no one dared to provoke him now as the imperial uncle. He got some grapes and started peeling them one by one so he could give them to Ning Jing to eat. Meanwhile, the hall full of civil and military officials, ministers and subjects, all watched them with bated breath. If the crown prince was older, they could at least praise the boy, but he was only one years old. What were they supposed to flatter him on? They could only try to play with him! But who would dare to do that?

Tang Li had just tussled with Baili Yuanlong and the Xiao Clan. If someone tried to barge their way over, he might become the butt of his temper.

Gu Qishao was someone even Baili Yuanlong and the Xiao Clan Head avoided speaking to. 

Thus, everyone had no other choice but to wait! There was still an hour before the banquet began!

Finally, someone came to save the day: the Grand Tutor and Head Imperial Phyisican Gu Beiyue!

“Announcing Grand Tutor Gu!”

As soon as Rui’er heard the eunuch, he jumped off of Gu Qishao’s knee and ran out the doors. Very soon, the crowd witnessed Gu Beiyue walking in. He looked the same as always in his snow-white robes and warm, gentle expression. Despite being a mild-mannered man like an April spring breeze, those who stare at him long enough would feel he was more akin to the lone moon high in the autumn sky, distant and far out of reach. Currently, Rui’er was hanging onto his back, his arms warmly intimately around the doctor’s shoulders. 

Meanwhile, Baili Yuanlong fully accepted Gu Beiyue despite the man being an heir to the Shadow Clan. The Xiao Clan Head Xiao An had once objected to Gu Beiyue in Medical City, but now both accepted and feared him. Both men often wished Gu Beiyue wasn’t Han Yunxi’s underling or a Shadow Clan member. How much better that would be!

The tension in the air all but dissipated with Gu Beiyue’s appearance. Most of the guests rose to their feet to greet him, which he returned politely. The Grand Tutor wasn’t a very high rank, so Gu Beiyue did the appropriate bows to those who outranked him and showed proper courtesy to the four Guogong. All four stood up to return his greetings with equal tact.

In fact, Gu Beiyue had just arrived after rushing here nonstop for one day and one night. At the palace, he heard that Gu Qishao and Rui’er had gone on ahead and immediately rushed to change his clothes and joined them, forgetting about resting or even meeting Long Feiye and Han Yunxi.

Neither Gu Qishao nor Tang Li cared about making a big ruckus and Rui’er was only a child. How could he not worry about them all?

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Ruyi's Thoughts

feeling nostalgic? go ahead and read up on ruyi's old april fools escapades in this post while i...brainstorm about what to do for the next one!

also, tune in to volare on chinese new year for a special event announcement!