Anari sneered and briskly shot back at Lu Heng in the Tatar tongue. "Does Sir Lu think he has the right to strut around just because he shared a few conversations with my consort?"
Lu Heng let go of the whip but still firmly shielded Qin Yining behind him, responding lowly, "There’s no need for concern—I only wish to remind the khan that those the wolves are devouring are your people, as are the people watching from the sidelines. If you display such brutality before your own people, do you not fear they will sympathize with those you oppress? Do you have no concern for destroying your benevolent reputation to the point where no one will follow you out of genuine loyalty?"
Anari snarled, "Is it your place to lecture me about my actions?"
"I would never dare so. I mean only to offer a few words of advice. The khan's consort and I have come to an agreement, so we consider each other friends. You two are husband and wife, so you are family. What kind of person would I be if I were to ignore my friend's familial problems when they arise?"
"Complete nonsense!" Anari pointed at Qin Yining, jeering, "You obviously have eyes for this vixen, so you’re trying to cozy up to her! Lu Heng, stop these kinds of tactics if you’re a real man. If you fancy her, then fancy her. If you want to sleep with her, then sleep with her. You have so many opportunities now that you are away from your country, so what have you to fear? Mind your matters between you and her and stop interfering in my issues with her!"
Having his unrequited feelings mocked in such a light had Lu Heng flushing with anger. "If the khan will not listen to my advice," he growled, "then there is nothing left for me to say. I only hope the khan will not come to regret the immorality of your actions!"
"Who do you think you are?! Am I obliged to submit to your manipulation?"
Qin Yining didn't understand Anari's rapid-fire words, and since Lu Heng argued with her in the Tatar language, she had no idea what they were bickering about either. She truly felt morose and sullen, especially when slaves were being slaughtered without mercy by a pack of wolves not far down the hill.
It was impossible to disperse the thick stench of blood that permeated through the air; their shrill screams cut into her heart like sharp knives. Anari had created this living hell with just a few words, yet she had absolutely no awareness of this and thought it to be the way things were supposed to be. What was the meaning of having these dictators who didn't care for their people? How was Anari any different from the trash emperor of Great Yan?
Qin Yining circled around the bickering pair and drew her bow once more, taking aim at the wild wolves.
She’d been able to aim accurately at first because there were no people around them. However, the wolves were now tearing through the crowd—Qin Yining could very well hurt a human by accident, which had her nerves on edge.
Seeing her take aim without firing a single shot, Siqin eventually spoke up. "Do you mean to kill the alpha wolf again? Are you certain you won’t hurt the people instead?"
Qin Yining glanced back at Siqin and laughed coldly. "Shouldn’t the khan's consort be thinking of a way to convince the khan to spare those slaves right now?"
However, Siqin clasped his hands behind his back. "You do know these people are all criminals charged with treason? If them dying makes the khan happy, then their deaths have value."
Qin Yining brought her bow to full draw. However, not only was she unable to take clear aim, she couldn't loosen her bow carelessly without the risk of hurting her arms. As she fretted, Siqin's words set off her temper—her willowy brows knit together, she whirled around and aimed a sharp arrowhead straight at Siqin's nose.
He stared at Qin Yining unmovingly.
Startled by Qin Yining's actions, Anari and Lu Heng forgot all about arguing with each other. Drawing their knives and swords, the surrounding bodyguards surrounded Qin Yining, looking like they’d only be satisfied if they hacked her to pieces.
Siqin, however, showed no sign of fear. His eyes brightened further, the corners of his lips betraying hints of amusement. "What are you doing?"
Qin Yining pursed her lips. A gust of wind carrying the scent of blood rustled the hair framing her face and the strings of red agate hanging above her brow. "Order them to save the people. Kill the wolves. Otherwise, I'll kill you."
"You want me to give the command? The khan's wish is for them to die—what command can I give? Isn't there a saying in Great Zhou that says if the emperor wishes for his subjects to die, then his subjects must die?"
"You are the war god of Tatar. You control the military and your authority is indisputable—will these people not listen to you? You simply don't care whether the slaves live or die. You have been compared to my husband, who’s also led men into battle. I know his hands are stained with the blood of the countless people he had killed, but I know that even if he played the role of executioner, he remains merciful at heart.
"But you? Your mercy has long been devoured by the dogs, has it not? I feel ashamed for you to be compared alongside my husband despite the lack of principles!"
"Shut up!" Siqin's eyes grew dark; every word Qin Yining uttered stabbed straight into his heart.
Anari, on the other hand, was so enraged that her hair seemed to be standing straight. "Someone take her down!"
At her words, the bodyguards swarmed her. Lu Heng frantically stomped his feet and stepped up to protect Qin Yining. He pulled at her, pleading, "Why are you being so reckless? Hurry and aim away from him!"
Qin Yining looked back at the remnants of the slaves down the mountain and gritted her teeth, showing no signs of complying.
The guards came forth and grabbed the hand she used to grip the nock of the arrow, forcing her to release in a direction devoid of people. As soon as her hold on her bowstring loosened, her arms were immediately forced together behind her back.
In a low voice, Anari declared, "This person attempted to assassinate the khan's consort, an offense punishable by death. Off with her head this instant."
"Understood." The guards moved to pull Qin Yining to the side.
Little did they expect Siqin, who had remained silent up to this point, to cough and wave his hand casually. Seeing this, the guards immediately forgot Anari's orders and let go of Qin Yining.
It was at that moment that Qin Yining understood Siqin was truly the final authority in Tatar.
Anari shrieked, "Why are you sparing this scheming vixen?! We haven’t had a day of peace since she came! If we get rid of her today, we can rid ourselves of this calamity!"
A sound akin to dogs barking could be heard traveled down the mountain.
Qin Yining looked back, only to see the guards chase the wolves away from bloodied plains littered with bodies. She closed her eyes—ever since she had to endure Anari's pettiness, pent-up frustrations flooded her mind, making every word with the other woman a tormenting ordeal.
Siqin made yet another hand gesture. Guards immediately came forth to escort Qin Yining and Lu Heng off to the side.
Siqin turned and pulled Anari to an empty patch of land, walking until they could no longer smell the stench of blood from down the mountain. With no one around to hear them, he lowered his voice. "Khan, so many people are dead. Have you calmed down yet?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sigh. Those people. This is gonna end in an ugly and messy way, mark my words.