Chapter 1250: [YeXi] Secondary seat

Long Feiye’s laughter left Xiao An supremely satisfied. He was certain he had made the right choice and only anticipated being conferred the highest possible rank. 

“Since no one else is bidding, the Zhen declares the No. 7 Teahouse has been auctioned off to the Guogong of Ding. All proceeds will be donated to the disaster areas in the north! Someone come, give him the deed.”

Xiao An quickly spoke up, “Your Majesty, this subject merely wishes to offer my meager efforts towards the cause of the Northern Li victims. No. 7 Teahouse is the grand birthday gift from the Prince of Yu to the crown prince, so I dare not covet it.”

So saying, Xiao An took the deed and presented it personally to the crown prince. Little Rui’er looked at his imperial father, then his imperial mother, and finally Grand Tutor Gu Beiyue without saying a word. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi didn’t speak either, while Gu Beiyue only smiled at him.

“Your Highness Crown Prince, this is a token of the Xiao Clan’s sincerity. I hope that Your Highness Crown Prince will consent to accept it,” Xiao An said respectfully.

Little Rui’er looked at him severely as if deep in thought. Patiently Xiao An remained bent and waiting. Everyone else watched as well while sighing in their hearts—mostly at the Xiao Clan’s wealth. With Great Qin’s national coffers so poor, the Xiao Clan could still prosper richly. Wasn’t the Xiao Clan Head going a little too far? Moreover, they were sighing at Xiao An’s efforts to get in the crown prince’s good graces. All of the southern powers were coveting the position of empress and noble consort, everyone knew. But the Xiao Clan Head had actually offered his gift here at the crown prince’s birthday banquet. Had he gone senile?

Xiao An’s heart was fixated on the empty secondary seats, so he was too lost in his pleasant daydreams to consider so many details. Finally, little Rui’er reached out a hand to accept the land deed.

He said, “Imperial father, this son likes him.”

Long Feiye laughed out loud. “Zhen likes him too! Zhen believes that the Northern Li citizens will like him as well. Someone come, issue a decree to make Guogong of Ding a Junwang of Ding.”

The crowd was thunderstruck by his words. Xiao An gave a start, then hastened to bow and express his gratitude. 

Just like that, Xiao An rose from Guogong to Junwang and sat in one of the empty secondary seats before the entire crowd. It had to be said that many of the people present, including the high ranking officials from the south, had no way to penetrate the fog of today’s proceedings. 

Next came the auction of various other items. Both Xiao An and Gu Qishao remained quiet to give the other officials chances. Long Feiye conferred two more Guogong during the bids. Now the original four Guogong, with the exception of Xiao An who had risen in rank, became five with the two fresh additions. As everyone eyed the sole remaining secondary seat, they began to think of the Baili Clan. Could it be that the spot was originally prepared for Baili Yuanlong?

Although the emperor had used various tactics to cheat everyone’s money, this matter couldn’t be so simple. Many people donated more than 50 million today, but the emperor had only conferred two new Guogong. Why two and not three? 

The Baili Clan would definitely be dealt with after the banquet. Most likely, the Great Qin’s chessboard was due for a chance, thus affecting everyone’s positions. The hungry guests couldn’t help grow pensive over the impending changes. 

Once all the gifts were auctioned off, Long Feiye declared, “Someone post the list of today’s presents and their auctioned prices for the world to see! The generosity of the official is a blessing to Zhen and the crown prince as well as the people in the north!”

Everyone was in a somber mood, but the Jiangnan and Baili factions, as well as the high officials who presented ordinary gifts, felt like crying after this declaration. They thought they could save money on account of the empress’s extravagance, but who knew it’d end up like this? How would the common people knew what happened at the banquet tonight? Or all its details? If this gift list was published, wouldn’t they be cursed for being stingy and shameful?

What a pit! 

This pit was too much for them!

No matter who they were, what power they held, or how considerable their family backgrounds were, it was impossible to take advantage of these two rulers! 

Just as the banquet wrapped up, Mu Linger emerged from the sidelines. She knelt in the hall and presented a red envelope with both hands. “Your Majesty, Esteemed Empress, Your Highness Crown Prince, Linger wants to show the disaster victims my sincerity too. This is the red envelope gifted to me by the empress during New Year’s. It’s the first red envelope I’ve ever gotten from Esteemed Empress, so Linger was originally thinking of keeping it as a souvenir. However, Linger would like to donate it to the auction proceeds so as to warm the hearts of the northern people.”

Gu Qishao grew puzzled. When did Mu Linger learn how to talk? Did she really mature since the last time I saw her?

How much money could a single red envelope hide? Yet her words made it sound especially sincere and genuine. 

“Haha, Your Majesty, our family’s Linger has grown up!” Han Yunxi smiled.

“Our family” raised Mu Linger’s status to untouchable heights. The various high-ranking madames all exchanged looks at this point. After all, they had brought empty red envelopes today with plans to face slap the empress. But all of them had lost their nerve and chosen self-restraint after Baili Lixiang was thrown in jail. 

Mu Linger offered up her red envelope. After the banquet, many madams and young ladies would surely follow in her wake. What were they to do about their empty envelopes?

Sitting next to Xiao Dong, Lady Xiao grew anxious, “Old man, what do we do?” she asked her husband.

“We’ll speak when we return!” Xiao Dong muttered unhappily. He was still lost in the joy of Xiao An being made Junwang to worry about such a trifle.

Just like that, the crown prince’s birthday banquet ended with Mu Linger donating her red envelope. Long Feiye’s group left the scene first with the various other officials following in their wake. Once outside the palace, all the ministers circled Xiao An to offer congratulations, including various members who were Baili Yuanlong’s supporters. This infuriated Baili Yuanlong’s two trusted subordinates who went that night to tattle at the Baili Estate. 

Baili Yuanlong was still unconscious while Baili Minxiang had wept her eyes red. She was personally guarding his bed, so Baili Qiyu came to receive the guests. By the time he returned, it was the middle of the night.

“Minxiang, you should go beg Esteemed Empress…”

“I’m not going!” Baili Minxiang cut him off sharply. “You guys have to clean up your own messes! Esteemed Empress has never looked kindly upon the Xiao Clan. Big brother, father and big sister might be muddle-headed, but you are too?”

The invitation for the crown prince’s birthday banquet had been given to the Baili father and older brother as well as their family members without specifying any names. She had full right to join them and her sister had urged her to hurry back, but she purposely delayed her arrival until after the banquet began. Of course, Baili Minxiang had wanted to go. She wanted to see the emperor and empress as well as the little prince, as well as the Grand Tutor and Miss Linger. But in the end, she chose to stay at home. 

In the past, she had a part in their bustle, but that was no more. The most lively part of her present life was to have the fortune to keep living. 

Baili Qiyu gave a start. He had never seen his younger sister lose her temper. 

“Minxiang, you know what father and big sister’s tempers are like. Could I have stopped them?” Baili Qiyu retorted.

“You know what the emperor’s temper is like too. What could I ever say?” Baili Minxiang asked.

“You can go beg Esteemed Empress! As long as she shows her grace, the emperor will too!” To Baili Qiyu and the rest of the Baili Clan, Baili Minxiang was their last hope. 

“Little sister, this is brother begging you. Go to the palace right now! It’ll be too late when it’s morning court tomorrow!”

Baili Minxiang shook her head. “As expected, none of you understand her! Big brother, Esteemed Empress won’t see me.”

“You!” Baili Qiyu was furious. “Little sister, do you know that Xiao An was conferred as Junwang? This time, we were schemed against by the Xiao Clan! Go tell Esteemed Empress that the Xiao Clan’s partially responsible for inciting the mobs too! They were the ones to instigate our big sister!”

Baili Minxiang sat there unmoving, her expression wooden. 

Baili Qiyu was almost insane with frenzy, but it was then that Baili Yuanlong regained consciousness to look blankly at Baili Qiyu. “You, you...what did you say?”

“Father’s awake!” Baili Minxiang went to take his pulse, but Baili Qiyu pushed her hand aside.

“Conferred as wang...who, who was conferred as wang?” Baili Yuanlong fixated on his son.

Baili Qiyu was reluctant, but he had to speak in the face of his father. “Father, the emperor auctioned off all of the crown prince’s presents. Xiao An gave a large sum of silver to please His Majesty, so His Majesty conferred him as Junwang.”

Baili Yuanlong was startled by the news. It took him awhile before he recovered enough to ask, “Xiao An...Xiao An got to sit in the secondary seats? Who...who else was there?”

“Father, of the two secondary seats, one went to Xiao An while the other was left empty.”

Baili Yuanlong seem to recall something before his gaze seized up. He suddenly cried out, “Master, this old official was wrong! I was wrong! This old official—” 

Before he could finish, his eyes widened and he spat out a mouthful of fresh blood. Then his hands fell limply down as he stopped breathing altogether.

“Father!” “Father!”

Baili Minxiang and Baili Qiyu were both taken aback. Baili Minxiang threw herself at her father and burst into sobs. “Daddy! Daddy…”

Baili Qiyu fell to the ground and lost his wits.

Daddy...is dead?!

He remained there numbly until he finally pulled himself off the floor and ordered his subordinates to report the death to the palace. 

Currently, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had just finished dinner with the rest and hadn’t gone to bed. Gu Qishao was very resistant to losing his bet against Gu Beiyue and even accused the other of cheating by teaching Rui’er to pick the stamp on purpose. Nobody knew whether this was true, but Gu Qishao held the boy in his lap and asked him multiple times. Rui’er refused to answer.

Mu Linger dearly wanted to try betting again. Since Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, Tang Li and Ning Jing, had no results from their bet, Han Yunxi proposed they bring out the 66 items again so Rui’er could pick one anew. Rui’er only rolled his eyes at his mother’s back. Heaven knows what he was thinking, but he cooperated with the game.

Since it was an all-new bet, everyone placed their wagers on different things and kept the same terms for the losers as before. Little Rui’er stared blankly at the 66 items while the adults wrote down their guesses on paper and handed it to Zhao mama. As a new participant, Mu Linger glanced at Qi gege and grinned.

“Qi gege, I want to bet against you too!”

Gu Qishao’s heart was full of doubts. This lass hadn’t bothered him at all in the banquet hall, which wasn’t strange. He assumed that she would pester him immediately afterwards and ask him about his whereabouts, but she didn’t. Her attitude seemed to show that nothing had happened between them at all. 

This behavior made Gu Qishao even more uneasy.

“Qi gege, do you have the guts?” Mu Linger pressured him.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

first off, congratulations to yanyan and Jevanka926 for being the winners of ruyi's reader reviews raffle! i will be contacting you both via Discord to figure out the details of the Steam key. i really hope you enjoy My Vow to My Liege, because it's a lovely game full of feels, awesome male leads, and plot twists!

onto chapter comments:

foolish baili yuanlong. by the time he realized his master had always meant to honor his service, it was already too late and he'd betrayed long feiye's trust. i guess the shock, shame, and anger at himself was too much for him...

and oh, baili minxiang! if crushing on LFY and living with poison for the first two decades of her year wasn't bad enough, she had to be part of the power-hungry baili family as well. i really feel like she's going to have a long and lonely life...

onto happier news. what do you think rui'er will pick?