Qin Yining was rather surprised by Pang Xiao’s sudden visit. Logically speaking, he should avoid the premises. Otherwise, the emperor would suspect that his relations with the surrendered Great Yan officials had warmed up.
But enlightenment was soon in coming when her thoughts spun in another direction. Pang Xiao wasn’t a fool; he’d probably prepared another show in advance of his arrival.
Twin flames of fury burned in his eyes as he glared at Yuchi Yan, almost burning straight through the skinny prince.
“It looks like the Commandery Prince of Yan is having a ball of a time being the ruler of a dead nation?”
“You!” Those words stabbed deeply into Yuchi Yan’s heart. His face beet red and body trembling from rage, he glared furiously back at Pang Xiao.
The Faithful Prince of the First Rank sniffed. “Out of you Yuchi men, the only one worth anything was the Prince of Ning. He was a real man! He knew that his country would fall, but would rather fall in the battlefield than on his knees! Though he met his end at my blade, he also left scars on my body. I admire and respect him! As for you?”
Pang Xiao slowly closed the distance, forcing Yuchi Yan down with both height and aura.
“If you had the slightest inkling of being a true man, you would take your sword to your neck to give your ancestors an explanation. I would respect you as a real man then, a different stock from your useless tyrant of a father!
“But just look at you, not only do you not know the shame of having your nation die on your watch, but you’re of a mind to admire the scenery and dabble in a bit of love. Do you think you’re still the emperor??
“Though I’m the one who didn’t want this woman, go take a look at yourself in the mirror! Take care of someone? Why don’t you take care of yourself first!”
Pang Xiao’s voice wasn’t loud, but every word smashed harshly onto Yuchi Yan’s heart like a sledgehammer.
His heart was being mashed into a paste!
His face flamed painfully, and there was a voice inside his head that agreed with everything being said.
Just like the hateful Pang Xiao said, Yuchi Yan wasn’t the least bit hot-blooded. He didn’t have an iota of courage that his royal uncle did…
He wanted to defend himself, but couldn’t find a single word to say. They were in Great Zhou territory. He was just a commandery prince now, while the one strutting around in front of him was a much higher ranked imperial prince—even if a common born one. Pang Xiao had joined the Grand Secretariat on account of his own battle merits and would participate in the grand affairs of policy making in the future.
Yuchi Yan felt complete and utter shame in comparison.
Qin Yining was both amused and annoyed that her beloved was being so harsh and obviously picking a fight. Likely only one third of this was for a show, the rest of it was because he was jealous.
A big, grown-up man like him being jealous? She hadn’t done anything out of bounds and Yuchi Yan had only asked her a question. With his current identity, there was no way he could get up to anything. Yet her beloved had taken it to heart like a child whose candy had been stolen.
She looked primly at Pang Xiao, but her eyes brimmed with laughter, which made the imperial prince flush.
Maybe I’m going a bit overboard… He flung a strong glare back at the girl in return. If it hadn’t been for him running into this today, he wouldn’t have known just how popular his darling was!
When Great Yan was being attacked, Yuchi Yan had done all that he could to pursue Qin Yining, even to the point of forcing her to enter the palace so that she would be his.
If it hadn’t been for Pang Xiao’s plot, she would’ve long become part of Yuchi Yan’s harem! So how does that silly girl have the good temper to smile at that fop now??
Though irritated thoughts ran madly through his mind, the imperial prince’s anger was mostly assuaged by the gentle look in her eyes. He coughed and stared coldly at Qin Yining.
“What, found another future path after leaving this prince’s manor? Don’t worry, if someone really doesn't mind your past and is willing to wed you, this prince will add a great present to your dowry. We knew each other for a while, after all. But you can’t go be a concubine, can you? One of this prince’s women settling for anything but the lady of the household? Isn't that just wallowing in degeneration?”
“You, you go too far!” Yuchi Yan could finally no longer hold it in upon seeing Pang Xiao humiliate the girl this way. “I wonder how His Majesty will judge if I send in a petition censuring you!”
“That would be later in the future, and absolutely nothing to do with you!” jeered Pang Xiao.
Yuchi Yan’s complexion was turning an alarming shade of red. Just as he was about to really dive into things, Lu-gonggong reported that Qin Huaiyuan and the others had walked out into the yard.
“What might the Faithful Prince of the First Rank need, having graced us with your honorable presence?” Qin Huaiyuan smiled faintly and spoke gently.
The imperial prince arched a brow. “Nothing much, just taking a spin around and checking in on an old friend.”
His attitude was extremely arrogant and at disparate odds with how he treated Qin Huaiyuan before.
The Qin patriarch narrowed his eyes, filtering through numerous possibilities in his mind. Behind him were née Sun, the second elder master and madame, and third elder master. They were very put out by Pang Xiao’s contemptuous attitude, especially née Sun.
Back in Great Yan, Pang Xiao had sought to shorten the distance between them and called her mother-in-law. He’d done everything possible in the realm of flattery for Qin Yining’s sake.
And look just how long it’d been? He changed his mind as easily as flipping the pages of a book!
They’d heard of a few rumors between the prince and their fourth miss upon their return, but née Sun hadn’t thought much of them at all. So it turned out that she’d been too optimistic?
Cheeks crimson with anger, née Sun held a firm grip on her temper and didn’t say anything.
Qin Huaiyuan remained as elegantly refined as ever. “I see. I had no idea that the Faithful Prince of the First Rank and Commandery Prince of Yan were friends. Is this a new way to greet friends? Or is this a custom of the Great Zhou capital? I’m afraid I have little talent and even less learning. It’s my first time experiencing this.”
Father-in-law really has airtight logic! Life would be horribly difficult if I’d ever become enemies with someone like him.
Even so, Pang Xiao kept a sneer plastered to his face. “Oh, Sir Qin will have plenty of opportunities to experience this in the future.”
Qin Huaiyuan was even more certain something was wrong with Pang Xiao’s attitude after witnessing it for himself and hearing the prince’s tone.
Even if one had had a change of heart, they wouldn’t have had such a drastic change in such a short period of time. The Qin patriarch then considered his daughter. He naturally knew of the feelings between the two, and her sorrow wasn’t reaching the depths of her eyes, even with how antagonistic Pang Xiao was being.
What are these two plotting now?
Qin Huaiyuan affirmed his speculations and shook his head from the humor of the situation. Playing along, he retorted angrily, “The Faithful Prince of the First Rank has an infinite number of things to do because of his noble self. This old man won’t keep you any longer. Please do as you wish.” He raised a cupped hand salute and called out to Qin Yining. “Daughter Yi, we’re going back in.”
Her head lowered and shoulders hunched, Qin Yining assented and followed behind her family. Her forlorn figure made Yuchi Yan feel like someone had stuck a hand into his chest and was churning around randomly, almost digging his heart and lungs out.
He’d never craved power as he did now.
If he had the utmost of power, how would he ever let Pang Xiao run rampant like this? He wouldn’t be blatantly humiliated as he had today, unable to even step forward in defense of Qin Yining when she was being debased.
With the Qins having returned to the house, Pang Xiao and Yuchi Yan couldn’t remain further in the yard.
The imperial prince leered at Yuchi Yan and sneered softly, “What, got something to say?”
The commandery prince ground his teeth and couldn’t be bothered to rise to the bait.
“Do you know there’s a thing called karma in this world? Everything you’re suffering today is reaping the seeds of what your father has sown.
“What did you do when your father indulged your mother in wanting to eat the Qin fourth miss? What did you do when you held the reins of power? Don’t you disgust yourself in putting on this devoted, lovesick act?”
Yuchi Yan was the stereotypical gentle and frail-looking scholar. Those who’d approached him before had been refined folks with kind intentions. It was the first time that someone was pointing their finger at his nose in denunciation—and unfortunately, all of the insults were true.
Pang Xiao smirked again when she received no response. “Ah yes, there’s another bit of news. Seeing that you were once the emperor of Great Yan and that it’s related to your old nation, I’ll tell you since I’m such a good person.”
Yuchi Yan jerked his head up violently.
“Do you know where your emperor emeritus stashed the silver from his private purse and national treasury, as well as the tax grain that he sold off?”
Eyes widened abruptly when Yuchi Yan heard this.
A dark chuckle answered his shock. “Don’t you worry, His Majesty has already sent out troops in several directions. On behalf of His Majesty, this prince thanks your selfless contribution. I’m sure we’ll find the treasure shortly. I’ll host a banquet then to thank you properly.”
Thinking back to his royal father’s actions, Yuchi Yan shook like he'd fallen into an icy cavern. So much silver had been hidden, not to build up the nation’s strength, but so that his father could one day turn the tables and come roaring back!
Why had he been cursed with such a father?!
The emperor emeritus had refused to use the wealth on the people or on the country, instead earmarking it for his own greed. Now Great Zhou was looking for it everywhere. Didn’t that mean Great Yan’s silver was soon to fall into enemy hands?
Yuchi Yan’s wan complexion flushed a deep red, then turned purple. A tangy, sweet taste welled up at the back of his throat and he almost spat out a mouthful of blood.
Having toyed enough with his victim, Pang Xiao looked at the house with his hands behind his back. He walked off merrily, secure in his unparalleled arrogance and humming a happy ditty.
Countless voices posturing and yelling insults in his mind, Yuchi Yan kept a firm grip on his discomfort as he watched the imperial prince saunter off. Eunuch Lu quickly helped his master back to their own yard.
Vomit burbled out of the commandery prince as soon as they crossed the door. There was even blood mixed in with the unsavory ejection. Shocked, Li Yanyan and Gu Chang hastily ordered servants to go find a doctor.
While everything was a chaotic mess on Yuchi Yan’s side, Qin Yining arrived in the backyard for a stroll with Qin Huaiyuan.
It was an open and airy space. Father and daughter could admire the snowy view and would be able to quickly discover anyone who approached and wanted to eavesdrop.
"Did the Faithful Prince of the First Rank come to specifically stir up trouble today?”
Qin Yining nodded with a smile. “Not just this time, but carrying me off after I entered the capital and me lodging an imperial lawsuit was all part of the plan.” She looked at her father a bit apprehensively. “Father, my relationship with Pang Zhixi isn’t as awful as it appears on the surface. Are you mad at me?”
His hands behind his back, Qin Huaiyuan’s eyes were lowered in grave thought. “I’m not mad at you.” He thought for a few moments more and remarked with emotion, “Life is just a few short decades. We need to live it to our fullest and seize every moment. I was too concerned with too many things in the first couple of decades of my life, resulting in me being hobbled at every turn. I don’t want you to be tied down like me. If you think Pang Zhixi is good, then don’t give up on him and don’t think too much. I’ll take care of anything that happens, understood?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Shows within shows within shows! O_O
Feels like the unexpected vacation has changed the mindsets of both parents!