Both Gu Qishao and Tang Li were thrilled at the sight of Gu Beiyue and rose to welcome him. Gu Beiyue was a smart man, so his lips curved into a knowing smile as soon as he spotted the seven empty secondary seats. Although his rank wasn’t high, he openly piggy-backed Rui’er to sit next to Gu Qishao. The post of Grand Tutor was also unique and held different ranking and power depending on the country and dynasty. Some Grand Tutors were equivalent to a prime minister and as teacher to the future emperor, could help him manage palace politics during his youth. Others were simply instructors and didn’t involve themselves with court affairs at all. Still others had no real power and were simply fancy titles. For example, Tianning’s crown prince Long Tianmo’s Grand Tutor was one such man. Although he was concurrently the prime minister, he had never assisted the crown prince with any rulings, merely advised him from the sidelines.
The Grand Tutor of the Great Qin was a fourth-rank official. Gu Beiyue not only taught the crown prince classes and classics, but also politics. If Long Feiye had raised the Grand Tutor rank to first rank, Heaven knows how busy he’d be, much less extricate himself from the power struggles at court? At fourth rank, he lacked any real power and could easily refuse any offers from people to draw him to their side. He was also free of the various competition between factions and evaluate senior officials more objectively from the perspective of an outsider.
He had no power, but his words held much weight when he spoke to the emperor and crown prince.
General advice went that people should speak lightly to avoid hassles, but Long Feiye turned this reasoning on its head. He gave Gu Beiyue low rank, no power, and all the weight to his words to protect Gu Beiyue from the turmoil of court politics and maintain his neutrality when suggesting advice to him and the crown prince without favoring a certain side. Once the crown prince grew older, Gu Beiyue would be assisting Long Feiye to teach him how to look after the country. These matters would range from national policies to small memorials. Gu Beiyue’s stance there would be extremely vital.
Despite his fourth tank, Gu Beiyue’s position was unique. As the crown prince’s instructor, nobody objected to him taking one of the secondary seats.
Gu Qishao only felt jealous when he saw Rui’er clinging to Gu Beiyue. He waited until the boy was distracted before filching him off Gu Beiyue and setting him back on the seat of honor. Rui’er immediately glared at him with such hate that he mirrored Long Feiye’s glares at Gu Qishao exactly! Meanwhile, Gu Beiyue narrowed his eyes in the same way he squinted at Long Feiye in disapproval.
Stuck between stares and glares, Gu Qishao froze. But Gu Beiyue eventually picked Rui’er up and murmured, “Rui’er, you cannot sit in the host’s seat before outsiders. This is a grave taboo.”
Since the birthday banquet had yet to officially begin and Rui’er was still too young, no one had noticed the breach. The boy looked up and asked, “Why not?”
“You’ll understand in the future when you have brothers,” Gu Beiyue replied. “Just remember that for now. Grand Tutor will tell you slowly in the days to come.”
“Okay!” Rui’er was eternally docile before his teacher.
Gu Beiyue placed Rui’er into the one seat below the seat of honor and knelt in front of him. “Sit well. Rui’er, remember: your seat is on the right hand side of your imperial father. No matter what happens, don’t change your seat for any reason without your imperial father’s approval.”
Rui’er nodded and asked again, “Why not? Grand Tutor, where do you sit?”
“Grand Tutor will explain these things to you when you’re older,” Gu Beiyue thought it over, then reached out a finger with his back to the crowd. “Rui’er, Grand Tutor will promise you one thing: as long as you don’t switch seats whenever you please, your Grand Tutor will sit behind you and never change my spot either. Alright?”
Rui’er hooked his finger with Gu Beiyue’s without hesitation to seal the promise. “I want to make a promise with imperial father too,” he said.
Gu Beiyue smiled and almost ruffled his hair, but he did not. He retreated back to his seat and sat down.
Meanwhile, Guogong Xiao An had withdrawn his gaze. He was planning to let the crown prince sit in the seat of honor for a little while longer before causing difficulties, but who knew Gu Beiyue would come just in time?! To claim the seat of the sovereign here was both a big deal and no deal at all. They could say the child was too young to know any better, or say the empress and Grand Tutor were both in the wrong for misleading him, or even claim that they had designs to usurp the throne!
Although Xiao Dong and Baili Yuanlong were preparing to impeach Han Yunxi, Xiao An felt that the situation today didn’t feel right. He hadn’t understood what any of Baili Yuanlong’s looks meant, either. For now he decided to see which way the wind blew and act accordingly.
The crown prince and Grand Tutor were now both in their seats as well as Gu Qishao, Tang Li, and Ning Jing. Only two seats were left as Tang Tang was sitting in Tang Li’s lap. As soon as Gu Beiyue sat down, multiple courtiers struck up conversation with him.
It always felt like everyone had no end of things to say to Gu Beiyue. That didn’t mean they had endless topics to discuss, merely endless questions to ask for his guidance. A discussion was two-way while questions were a one-way street. True conversationalists for Gu Beiyue were probably people with enough brains, like Long Feiye and Han Yunxi.
As the atmosphere within the hall improved, the crown stopped feeling bored. Gu Qishao started out by listening in to the conversations, but soon he felt restless. The ministers were all asking questions he didn’t understand or weren’t interested in. He wanted to tease Rui’er, but the boy was staunchly ignoring him to listen to Gu Beiyue answer the questions. Although he didn’t understand most of the meaning, he liked to hear the Grand Tutor talk. Besides his parents, the Grand Tutor’s voice was the best of all.
Finally, Gu Qishao got mad. Before the next courtier could speak, he cut in by pulling Gu Beiyue towards him to whisper in his ear. “Your Excellency Gu, did you get this prince’s wedding gift?”
Seeing this, no one dared to interrupt as they waited.
“I did,” Gu Beiyue replied calmly.
“Did you look at it?” Gu Qishao persisted.
“I looked at the cover,” Gu Beiyue didn’t even flush or speed up his heartrate, his reply absolutely honest.
Gu Qishao gave him a long look before he chuckled. “Do you like it?”
Gu Beiyue grinned back. “Thank you for the generous gift.”
Gu Qishao gave him another long look, his expression full of doubt. This guy’s such a straightlaced gentleman, all gentle and elegant. He doesn’t even blush when we talk about those kinds of things?
“Gu Beiyue, I heard Qi Min got pregnant not long after you married? You’re sure something!” Gu Qishao was smiling warmly, but Gu Beiyue simply returned with an earnest statement of his own.
“When it comes to matters of obstetrics, I know a few things and Qin Min is even better acquainted.”
Gu Qishao spat out his tea; fortunately, not all over Gu Beiyue.
Matters of obstetrics, huh?! No wonder Gu Beiyue was so calm. He simply took bedroom activites as matters of obstetrics!
Gu Qishao stared at Gu Beiyue before rolling his eyes. “You medical fanatic!”
Gu Beiyue maintained his sincerity. “Qishao, if there’s anything you don’t understand in the future, you can simply ask me.”
Gu Qishao was so downhearted he didn’t want to talk to him anymore. No fun!
Meanwhile, Gu Beiyue returned to his seat with his head bowed. His lips curved into an unconscious grin as he felt a little embarrassed. Unfortunately, Gu Qishao didn’t notice.
“Grand Tutor Gu, where is your family’s Qin Min? Did she come with you? Or is she at home?” Tang Li asked. As the imperial uncle, this meant Ning Jing was a royal relative as well. She had rights to enter the hall, but Qin Min did not as Gu Beiyue’s wife.
He wasn’t looking to cure Ning Jing’s affliction either, since he didn’t care how many children she could give him. Moreover, his sister-in-law had already asked Qin Min about Ning Jing’s condition and got a response that it was incurable. Tang Li simply wanted to see what Qin Min looked like. Gu Beiyue’s eye was on par with Long Feiye’s, so Qin Min couldn’t be an ordinary woman.
“Is Madam Min’s body a little better now?” Ning Jing added.
“Not so well. She is still convalescencing in Jiangnan. Since time was so tight, I couldn’t bear to have her rush about,” Gu Beiyue replied lightly.
“It’s not anything serious, right?” Ning Jing was a bit bewildered. As someone who had gone through pregnancy herself, she knew much of its aftereffects. Since Gu Beiyue and Qin Min were both doctors, couldn’t they handle any pregnancy complications?
“Nothing serious, it’s just that she can’t take the cold,” Gu Beiyue responded before quickly changing the subject to talk with the other officials.
The four Guogong and various first-rank officials and generals all remained extremely silent. None of them ventured forth to speak with Gu Beiyue as they were busy considering who would fill the last two secondary seats. According to calculations, the imperial clan was out of relatives. Within the court, there were no members that qualified for those positions, either! They couldn’t simply be given away haphazardly. No one could guess the emperor’s intentions. A few began to wager whether the emperor would confer two Junwang on the occasion of the crown prince’s birthday.
At last, the eunuch outside spoke up to announce their hosts.
“Announcing the emperor and empress!”
Everyone rushed to rise and walk out of their seats so they could bow down to pay respects. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were both dressed in violet robes. Even in such a setting, he didn’t neglect to hold her hands so that their fingers were intertwined.
Once the couple reached their seats, Long Feiye said coldly, “Beloved subjects, please rise and return to your seats.”
The crowd did so quietly. They next waited for Long Feiye to ask the eunuch if everyone was present, but Long Feiye simply left the two secondary seats unoccupied and turned to Eunuch Li. “Prepare to start the banquet. Zhen sees that everyone should be hungry by now.”
“Yes!” Eunuch Li respectfully withdrew.
Soon enough, two rows of court ladies filed in from both sides, each of them carrying ceramic plates filled with exquisitely covered dishes. The line of plates seemed endless, but the delicate workmanship of the plates suggested that the guests were due for a feast!
The Baili father and daughter smiled coldly at the sight. They only hoped that tonight’s dishes would be even more spectacular!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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