Qin Yining couldn’t help but stand to give herself room for pacing. The more she thought about this, the thornier the problem became.
“The emperor’s actions are simply too sinister. He told the prince just now to not turn the position down. But what if the Northern Ji officials and aristocrats ally together and publicly oppose the prince in tomorrow’s grand court session?”
“His Majesty is skewed towards the old Northern Ji officials to begin with. If they speak with one voice, His Majesty will have to let the idea go.” Xu Weizhi shook his head. “What will outsiders say then? They’ll laugh at His Highness for overestimating his worth in wanting to join the council. The prince’s illustrious reputation is known wide and far. He won’t withstand such a loss of face. A bad reputation will also be nothing good for His Highness’ future.”
“The most important thing is that the emperor is bestowing this as commendation for His Highness conquering Great Yan. This will turn into His Majesty giving out a reward, but His Highness’ fault for not being able to digest it.” Xie Yue’s brows were tightly furrowed when he considered the point. Cold sweat dotted his forehead. “This old man thinks the emperor wants to use this opportunity to plunge His Highness into the abyss and become a laughingstock. He’ll be rid of His Highness once and for all.”
The three analysis tied into each other, every word pleasantly elegant, despite their meaning hardly so. Though Pang Xiao’s fervor had been somewhat stirred by Li Qitian, he realized how inappropriate the situation was once he had some time to calm down.
Silence reigned in the study.
Xie Yue broke it after a long while. “Ole Xu, hurry and think of something. We can’t have His Highness refuse the position tomorrow. That’s defying an imperial decree.”
Xu Weizhi stroked his chin. “Defying an imperial decree is out of question, of course. Joining the Grand Secretariat is a good thing, but the prince’s future career is the most important. We need to look at this in the long run.”
Pang Xiao nodded. “I can’t just follow His Majesty’s wishes in this. We also can’t wait until tomorrow’s court session, when everyone can have a go at denouncing me when the order is announced.”
“At the end of the day, this isn’t only a dispute between the prince and emperor, but also a struggle of power between the emperor and the old Northern Ji officials.” Qin Yining had taken her seat again with shining eyes. She’d patently thought of something already.
Xu Weizhi was skilled at scheming and usually the one brainstorming plans for Pang Xiao. But now that he saw a young girl with a mind even faster than his, he smiled with interest. “Does Miss Qin have an idea already?”
Her eyes glittering, the girl answered rhetorically. “Tell me, what would you guys if someone stole a string of coins from you?”
“I’d take it back, of course,” responded Xie Yue. “Then beat the robber up and report it to the authorities.”
Qin Yining nodded. “But what if not only were a string of coins taken, so was your wife sold off, and your child thrown into the well? What would you do then?”
It was a bloody analogy, but these were all sharp individuals. No one minded whether or not it was appropriate. Understanding flashed through their hearts.
Pang Xiao, Xie Yue, and Xu Weizhi looked at each other, then broke out into smiles when they looked at Qin Yining.
Xu Weizhi rose to offer cupped fists at the girl. “Miss Qin is a female Zhuge Liang alright! This old man accedes defeat. I am thoroughly bested this time!”
“What kind of words are these, Sir Xu!” Qin Yining hastily rose to return the gesture.
Pang Xiao’s eyes brimmed with admiration, approval, and pride as he looked at his girl. He then looked questioningly at Xie Yue.
Being the decisive sort, Xie Yue could always pick the best course of action out of multiple plans.
The strategist nodded with a smile. “Your Highness, I think Miss Qin’s idea is grand. His Majesty’s announcement of making you Grand Secretary means robbing a strong of coins from the old Northern Ji officials. They won’t do anything to the emperor, and will at most strenuously oppose your inclusion. They’ll muster quite a bit of effort to try and expel you.
“But it’s different if the matter blows up. We’ll spread rumors right now so that the Northern Ji officials and aristocracy know that, during tomorrow’s court session, the emperor is going to swap out all Northern Ji officials in the Grand Secretariat for his own confidantes.
“Things won't be as simple taking a string of coins then. If there’s no one from the Northern Ji faction on the council, that’s the same as the child being thrown into the well and the wife being sold. These two camps will spare no effort in defending their turf. All Your Highness needs to do then is to watch the show.”
Pang Xiao nodded with a smile. “You’re so very right.” He looked gently at Qin Yining. “And, not only will I have a good show to watch, I’ll be getting a plum position as well.”
The Qin fourth miss blushed furiously from his look and lowered her head.
Seeing the development, the two strategists knowingly rose and took their leave. “Since we’ve decided, we’ll go make the arrangements now.”
“I’ll be troubling the two gentlemen then.” Pang Xiao politely sent them out.
When he returned, he grabbed Qin Yining for a hug like he was grabbing a child. Strong arms hoisted her bottom as he spun in place several times.
The girl almost shrieked from fright. She clutched his neck and shoulders to stabilize herself.
What are you doing?! Let me down!”
“My wonderful darling! You really are my wise wife. You brought so much honor to me just now! Sirs Xu and Xie must envy me so much right now!”
“Just what are you talking about? You’re acting like a kid.” Qin Yining burst out laughing. Who would’ve thought that Pang Xiao would be like a proud child, wanting to show off this small thing?
Setting her down, the prince planted a loud smack on her cheek and swayed with her in his embrace.
“My dear, it’s so nice having you by my side. I feel like I can deal with any trouble that arises. I’m not worried at all. I’m full of energy and have a drive to tackle everything. My dearest, don’t go, stay and keep me company, alright? Just forget about that imperial selection for a while. Let me go find out some more before you decide, alright?”
Such domineering, stalwart man was almost wagging his tail at her like a large dog? How could Qin Yining bear to let him down?
“Alright, I won’t go today. Go find out more first. We’ll decide what to do then.”
Pang Xiao bobbed his head rapidly with delight. “Then don’t go to the imperial selection either, alright? You already promised just now that you’ll be with only me. You can’t go back on your promise.”
“You’re so bossy.” Warmth flooded Qin Yining’s heart as she lightly pounded the prince’s shoulder with mock anger.
Pang Xiao responded with utmost seriousness. “Yes, I’m bossy, but just in this one instance. You must belong to me! As long as you satisfy that one condition, then I’ll put up the ladder if you want to fling tiles down from the roof. I’ll be your assistant if you want to slack off and do nothing at all. I’ll do anything that you want!
“I don’t ask that you do anything for me. I can make delicious food for you. My cooking skills aren’t bad and I know how to make a lot of dishes. Even my grandfather compliments my cooking.
“I can take you on trips anywhere and won’t restrict your freedom. I won’t bury your talents either. You can do whatever you like as long as you satisfy that one requirement. My darling, you’re so smart. Agree to such a good deal, alright?”
Qin Yining buried her beet red face into his shoulders and nodded. “Of course I’ll agree to such a good deal. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of the selection.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Awww I CANNOT!!! PX's words are so sweet. UwU