Chapter 125: A Title
The emperor nervously wiped off sweat from his brow and piled smiles on his face. “What kind of words are these, Your Highness? Successful peace talks are greatly anticipated, wondrous events for both our nations. How would We be dissatisfied with them at all?”
“If you aren’t unhappy, then what’s with this big display today? If this prince hadn’t happened to be in the neighborhood, then it would appear that the wife of your grand preceptor would’ve lost her head. This prince doesn’t care how many you kill, but you happen to be putting the family of the main negotiator under the blade. This can’t help but make this prince think more deeply. I’m a crude person and can’t discern the twists and turns this may entail, so I’ll report this to my liege for his judgement.” Pang Xiao had actually witnessed bloodshed before, so he naturally exuded a different air when he grew serious.
The emperor was used to being fawned over, so how could he hold up in the face of someone sending hostile intent his way like this? Sweat broke out all over, soaking through his undershirt. His stomach also churned, sending vague impressions that he needed to take a long moment to relieve himself.
Pang Xiao snorted with laughter when he took in the emperor’s cowardly form.
“How dare you!” Weichi Yan could finally bear it no longer and walked up to criticize lowly. “Your Highness is just a prince of the first rank, how dare you act this way in front of the emperor of Great Yan?! Since when was it an outsider’s turn to judge and comment on how we do things?”
“Tsk tsk, the crown prince certainly has much self pride. I suppose you being so threatening is also your emperor’s intention?” Pang Xiao crossed his arms and looked down at them loftily. “This prince may only be a prince of the first rank and unable to denounce the harming of loyal subjects, but my Valiant Tigers are still commanded. by. me!”
A threat! This is a naked threat! Weichi Yan’s pale face flushed beet red with indignation and he wanted to carry on, but the emperor slapped him viciously across the face.
“How dare you! Is it your turn to speak when We are here?” He turned to smile apologetically at Pang Xiao. “This is all a misunderstanding, you don’t need to pay heed to it, Your Highness.”
Weichi Yan was holding his face and looking at the emperor with incredulity, hurt and anger written all in his eyes. The citizens were likewise outraged and conversed in low voices, while Pang Xiao flicked a look at Weichi Yan and snorted with yet more laughter.
The emperor noted Pang Xiao’s lack of reaction and understood that the prince wasn’t willing to give him a face-saving way out of this, even with the emperor’s open display of goodwill. When he heard the buzz of conversation around him, he felt that he’d been stripped of all clothes and was being paraded around the streets. The emperor grew angry from the humiliation, but had nothing he could do against someone like Pang Xiao.
The empress understood her imperial husband’s thoughts and smiled charmingly. “Your Highness may not be aware, the matters of today…”
“Piss off! Did this prince ask you? And who the hell are you?”
The empress widened her eyes unbelievingly, tears welling up in her beautiful eyes as she looked at the emperor, aggrieved. His expression was exceedingly ugly as he both seemed to explain and find fault with Pang Xiao.
“This is Our empress, née Cao.”
“A hen crowing at dawn is like a woman in power, completely upending the balance of yin and yang. This will cause the destruction of a nation. Are there no men left in your nation to allow someone of the rear court to jump up and down like this?” Pang Xiao sniffed dismissively.
The emperor was livid, but had to pretend all was fine because he was deathly afraid of the consequences otherwise. And while the crowd around them immensely disliked Pang Xiao’s arrogant methods, they somehow exulted in his censure of their emperor. He was saying what they didn’t dare say, and damn it was a sweet thrill to see the sour expressions on the dog emperor and trampress’ face!
The emperor took a deep breath in and forced himself to calm down. He wore an apologetic smile instead. “Actually, the matters of today are a test that We are giving beloved subject Qin and his madame. Beloved subject Qin and née Sun are a wonderful match who are deeply in love, deploying gratifying Us and the empress. We feel that this love is truly touching. It’s perfect that Your Highness is here, you can be a witness for us.” He turned back and roared angrily when he saw that née Sun was still hogtied on the stage. “Why haven’t you untied Madame Qin yet?!”
A servant quickly strode up and pulled out the gag in her mouth, cutting off the ropes as well. Qin Huaiyuan placed his own dark-gray cloak around his wife and fixed her hair slightly, voicing a sigh.
Née Sun craned her neck to look behind Pang Xiao, crying anxiously when she saw that Qin Yining was still unconscious. “My lord, daughter Yi…”
Qin Huaiyuan placed a forefinger by his lip, making a sign for quiet and indicating that they would speak later. Née Sun nodded and followed her husband to the emperor, both of them performing grand ceremonies of greeting.
“Grand Preceptor Qin accomplished a great deed with the peace talks and demonstrates a steadfast love with his madame,” the emperor spoke with great satisfaction. “We are immensely pleased and thus hereby bestow about Grand Preceptor Qin the title of the Marquis of Anping, a hereditary title to be passed down through the generations, and Madame Qin to be the Marchionness of Anping of the Paramount Rank.” 
“We thank Your Majesty.” Qin Huaiyuan and née Sun kowtowed together as this provided more fodder for the crowd.
Just what did the emperor want? First he wanted to kill the madame, now he says it was to test their relationship? What kind of bullshit was this? It was just him being afraid of power and authority! He was almost on his knees in front of little Prince Pang, and while this hereditary title of marquis sounded like an enormous display of favor, everyone knew that Qin Huaiyuan didn’t have a son. There were even rumors that there was no hope for the grand preceptor to have any. So what hereditary title? Hereditary for who? If the emperor truly wanted to elevate the grand preceptor, he might as well bestow the title Defender Duke, one of the highest titles there was!
A steady undercurrent of conversation rippled throughout the crowd. The emperor couldn’t make out the continuous buzz, but he figured it wasn’t anything good. All of his planning today had been utterly ruined by the stupid brute in front of him, but he couldn’t even express his displeasure because of the status of his station! He had a bellyful of anger and nowhere to vent it, and still had to show Pang Xiao a pleasant face.
“We have already given orders for a banquet to welcome the Faithful Prince of the First Rank…”
Pang Xiao waved and cut off the imperial majesty’s words. “There’s no rush. Miss Qin’s been scared into a faint because she was worried about her mother’s death. I’m not at ease and won’t have the mind to do anything else until she’s better.”
The emperor almost choked on the interruption but still didn’t dare explode into a rage. He could only nod and laugh awkwardly. “Of course, of course. Heroes really do fall victim to beauties, haha!”
Pang Xiao couldn’t be bothered with that old dog and turned to check on Qin Yining. Qin Huaiyuan and née Sun also took their leave from the imperial couple. The emperor cast a meaningful look to the grand preceptor.
Qin Huaiyuan walked up understandingly. “What orders do Your Majesty have?”
“If that demon likes her, you know what to do.” The emperor responded lowly.
Qin Huaiyuan looked at the emperor with utter shock and urgently pleaded, “Your Majesty, your subject caused the death of Pang Zhongzheng back in the day and so have a blood feud with the prince. He harasses my daughter constantly, who knows what he has in mind! How could I give my beloved daughter to an enemy?”
“You want to defy imperial orders?!” However, these words dispelled the emperor’s suspicions that Qin Huaiyuan was turning traitor.
“This subject… wouldn’t dare.” Qin Huaiyuan bowed, finally satisfying the emperor. The son of heaven returned to his carriage with a woeful empress in his wake. Weichi Yan had heard everything off to the side. He looked at the emperor’s departing figure and then at the immensely worried Qin Huaiyuan. Combined with what the people were saying… he ardently wished for a hole in the ground to crawl into.
“Grand Preceptor, I, uh, this seat shall be returning to the palace first.” Weichi Yan turned away awkwardly.
Qin Huaiyuan waited until the crown prince was a long ways away before putting away his anxious and resigned expression. He rose and looked calmly in the direction of the imperial entourage.
Née Sun had run to Qin Yining by now and was holding her fainted daughter.
“Daughter Yi, don’t scare your mother!” She sobbed. “I kept shaking my head at you because I wanted to tell you that they weren’t really going to kill me, but they gagged me! Oh wake up, daughter!”
Pang Xiao arched a brow off to the side. It looked something was greatly amiss with everything that had happened today.
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