Contemplation appeared on Qin Yining’s face as she put her words in order. “Apart from wanting to put a mistake in the emperor’s hands, the marquis is also making a friendly overture to His Majesty. He’ll probably do all he can to apologize and indicate weakness after returning to the palace.
“When someone usually strong and tough suddenly submits and emphasizes his place as a subject, that will certainly cause the emperor to look at him in a new light. The prince’s personality will also make the marquis’ gesture even more valuable in comparison.
“After this mess, it also gives the emperor the opportunity to say to the prince to ‘not randomly kill innocents’. After all, he couldn’t very well forbid the prince to take revenge before. This mess actually helps His Majesty keep the surrendered Yan officials that he wants to.
“But the most important thing is that not only does the marquis cozy up to the former Northern Ji officials with all this, but he can do a great favor for the surrendered Yan officials as well.”
“Oh?” Xu Weizhi’s brow was slightly raised, but the light of comprehension exploded in his eyes a moment later. He look at Qin Yining with both surprise and delight, remarking with great sincerity, “Miss Qin is wise indeed.”
Pang Xiao also looked at his beloved, who was speaking with great assurance; admiration danced in his phoenix-shaped eyes.
Qin Yining dimpled and used a tender, pale-white fingertip to draw circles on the teacup lid. She continued softly, ‘I come from Great Yan, so I more or less understand some of what the officials are thinking. There are three batches of subjects to enter the capital. The first are the ten aristocratic houses accompanying Commandery Prince Yan. These are the creme of the crop for the Great Yan officials. They’ll be very important after arriving in Great Zhou.
“But my guess is that the military officials at court must be from His Majesty’s personal party of followers. Apart from putting some of his people in key positions for the civil subjects, the remaining positions are divvied up between the former Northern Ji officials and Great Yan. This makes for limited vacancies.
“With the numbers of people that the marquis killed off in the first batch, that means there are more opportunities of the second and third batch. These people won’t necessarily have a bad impression of the marquis.”
“That’s right. Though it was a matter of life and death, and the people who died were innocent, those who survived may feel lucky and that ‘thank goodness so-and-so died, so that I have the opportunity to take this-and-that position’.” Pang Xiao sighed when he heard this part of her analysis.
One had to know that the prince rarely joined in his followers’ discussion. It was usually the strategists deliberating a problem, then Xu Weizhi brainstorming a few plans. Everyone would analyze the pros and cons of all of them together, then have the decisive Xie Yue pick the most appropriate one from all of them.
Pang Xiao would listen from the side during all this and express his opinions at the very end, but he wouldn’t interject halfway through.
His actions today were quite rare, but to be honest, everyone present wanted to echo his sigh when they thought of just how human nature was. Their impression of Qin Yining had also changed once more.
The Qin fourth miss smiled at Pang Xiao. “We don’t need to dwell on just how much evil lurks in human nature. Everything I just spoke about should be just an afterthought for the marquis, and this also wasn’t the key point of him extending an olive branch to the Great Yan officials. The key point still has to do with Your Highness’ feud with the Qins and Great Yan.”
Pang Xiao had understood her meaning by now. “It was Grand Preceptor Qin who was devised a plot, but the one who told him to do so was the trash emperor. When I attacked Great Yan, rumors within the capital made me out to be a demon who killed without blinking, and who ate the flesh and drank the blood of my victims. Those from Great Yan must be highly wary of me, deathly afraid that I’ll take my anger out on them. Or that I’ll hold them responsible for my father’s death.”
Her forehead tightly furrowed, Qin Yining concurred. “That’s right. Even though Your Highness has conquered Great Yan, you haven’t actually taken revenge for your father’s death. Therefore, the Greta Yan citizens must be afraid that they’ll be toyed to death, now that they’re in your territory.”
She paused here.
Everyone present was highly intelligent. They hadn’t thought of all this earlier simply because they were Great Zhou citizens, which meant an inherent bias in the way they considered problems. That didn’t mean she was much better than any of them.
She didn’t spell everything out, leaving some space for them to draw their own conclusions.
And indeed, expressions of deep thought appeared on everyone’s faces.
The strategist who’d been called out by the Qin fourth miss earlier had been wholly won over.
“It’s just as you’ve said,” he sighed. “The marquis didn’t take targeted revenge, but hacked about randomly and built the impression that the prince is someone who will kill even innocents in his quest for revenge. In this way, if His Highness wants to take action in the future, he’ll be faced with overwhelming public criticism. His reputation might even be ruined if it isn’t handled well. Isn’t this a perfect way to resolve the worries of Great Yan citizens?”
He rose and offered a cupped fist salute to Qin Yining. “I am Tao Hanshan. Please forgive my earlier offenses.”
Qin Yining rose with a smile to return the gesture. “Please refrain from such courtesies, Sir Tao. The prince has provided us an environment for conversation so that we can air our thoughts and exchange ideas. What offense have you given? It’s rather I who’ve been throwing my weight around and running my mouth before all the honored experts.”
“Not at all,” Tao Hanshan refuted. “The miss is wise and sharp with a meticulous mind. I hold high admiration of you.”
The two exchanged another round of humble pleasantries before taking their seats again.
The atmosphere was now very easy and lighthearted. The hostility the crowd had shown Qin Yining before, the desire to push her away from them, had completely evaporated after the previous conversation.
By now, they all understood why the prince was deeply infatuated with her, why he’d rescued her at all costs and why he would sacrifice his reputation to ensure the Qins’ future.
Such a woman was to be treasured.
And the Qins would make for wonderful in-laws, given their ability to raise such a daughter.
Seeing his previously pompous followers now adopt respectful, cautious attitudes, Pang Xiao felt like he’d drank a cup of hot tea in the wintertime. Warm contentment spread from the very bottom of his heart.
It looked like his worries earlier had been unfounded. His darling would never shrink back just because someone had a dismal first impression of her. She would only advance forward in the face of difficulties. She would never be out of sorts or complain.
She was a luminary, never a shrinking violet or a basket of complaints with anything she’d met since she was young. She always tried her best, her very utmost.
Blood boiled within the prince, his affection for Qin Yining reaching unspeakable new heights. He wished ardently to keep her by his side everyday, so that he was the only person she ever saw.
As the discussion continued, Huzi’s voice suddenly travelled in from outside.
Pang Xiao knew that his bodyguard must have some urgent business, so he waved a hand for silence before calling out. “Come in.”
Huzi came in with a solemn expression. “This just came in. The Marquis of Northern Stability requested to wed the Grand Princess of Anyang . The emperor has already assented.” Heart-stricken, he snuck a look at Pang Xiao’s expression.
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Do you follow all the ins-and-outs of all this? This was rather complicated even for me to follow! Hope I did a good job explaining it all!
And who is this Grand Princess!!