Tongue-tied, Anari lifted her head to stare at the glowering Siqin. “What do you mean?!” she demanded incredulously.
“My dear khan.” Siqin squeezed out the three words from the cracks of his teeth. He grabbed Anari’s wrist and pulled her in front of him, almost nose tip to nose tip. “Have you vented enough of your temper?”
The tassels on Anari’s hat swayed and chimed against each other, her wrist aching from Siqin’s grasp. However, she didn’t have much effort to spare for other thoughts at the moment. Her entire mind was preoccupied by a gravity she’d never seen before from Siqin.
"I am the khan! I have a plan for everything I do, and you say I’m having a fit of temper??”
Siqin ground his teeth together. “You are the ruler of a nation and your people watch your every move and word. Acting like such a shrew and not controlling your emotions in public at all, do you still care for your dignity with all these tantrums you’ve been throwing? What about losing face in all of this? What about my face?”
“Enough! What about your face? You’re only thinking about that vixen right now, you don’t care about how I feel at all! Why am I acting like this toward her? If you really love me with one heart and soul, if there wasn’t room for any suspicion and hurt—then why would I be like this?!”
Anari didn’t care about face or no face. Siqin had purposefully kept his voice down so as to not attract attention, but who cared about that? She was suffering! She’d bottled up so much irritation and grievance! And there was absolutely nothing wrong with her actions!
Thus, her shrill tones traveled far and wide, drawing the attention of everyone in the area. It seemed like she wouldn’t rest until the entire world learned of what was going on.
Though Qin Yining didn’t understand what they were talking about, she frowned with distaste at the sight of Anari ranting and raving.
The khan happened to turn back at this moment and meet the princess consort’s gaze. Her face burned hotly, like someone had slapped her a few times. She was the great khan, the most noble of Tartar women! But her husband was acting roughly to her, and on behalf of another woman as well!
Furious and humiliated, she struggled free of the vice-like grip and forcefully smacked Siqin’s face.
The crisp slap rang out and the man’s head snapped to the side. No flicker of emotion registered on his face, but the surrounding guards and soldiers all quieted down. They turned to look silently in the ruling couple’s direction.
Regret set in as soon as Anari slapped her consort. Siqin was an outstanding and great man, the antithesis of petty characters who curried favor for power and profit. Their marriage was a result of her initiative—Siqin hadn’t wanted to be a consort at first. After all, any man with talent and ambition wouldn’t want a label of well, sleeping his way to the top.
As the khan consort, he would only ever be Anari’s accessory. No matter how hard he worked for all his achievements, there would still be those who said he’d only accomplished those because of his woman.
Anari knew all that and knew that a knot of exasperation had slowly built in Siqin from all the years of repeated skepticism. It was precisely because of all this that she was insecure and obsessive, vowing to keep a close eye on him so that he would have no chance to leave her.
But what had she done now?
She’d slapped this proud man in public view!
Frantic, Anari groped for Siqin’s hand. “I didn’t mean that, it was just the heat of the moment…”
The man flung her hand away before she had a chance to finish. He turned and raised his voice, “Return to the palace.”
Four simple words sent the guards scurrying around in solemn action.
Qin Yining and Lu Heng traded a glance, reading deep meaning from each other’s eyes. It seemed that their guesses were right, that Siqin’s authority in Tatar army was the same as Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu’s in the Valiant Tigers and Dragon Riders of Great Zhou.
Would such a man be content to take a place behind a woman and fall beneath her helm?
It seemed that Anari’s bodyguards and soldiers all highly respected Siqin, and she in turn was very used to the situation. This meant that it was actually Siqin who held the reins of power in Tatar, and that very few people rankled at the arrangement.
When it came to Anari, Siqin’s success knew no bounds. No matter how formidable the khan may be outside, she turned into a capricious little girl when it came to her husband. She displayed all of her wants and fears without reservation, making it easy for Siqin to completely grasp her.
That didn’t matter much for a woman in love, but it was a bit too dangerous for a woman wielding power.
Qin Yining and Lu Heng followed the guards to their horses, and a cold-faced Anari followed behind them.
On their way back, Lu Heng kept close to Qin Yining and steered his horse next to her so he could whisper, “Our situation is very dangerous, so you better be even more careful. Check all the food you eat and be on your guard around the servants. With how badly they’ve fought, the khan might even blame it all on you in the end.”
Qin Yining nodded. “You need to be careful too.”
“I’m fine, I can still work with them, but you’re different…” Lu Heng sighed. “You’ve gotten embroiled in this for no reason at all.”
The princess consort shook her head with a wry smile. “There’s no point in thinking too much now. We can only look ahead to the future.”
The gentleman nodded and stared at for a moment before murmuring, “A character like yours is most precious.”
“What?” Hooves clopping and the sounds of travel drowned out the soft murmur. Qin Yining could only vaguely make out that he’d said something.
Lu Heng abruptly came back to his senses and shook his head. “Nothing.”
Upon seeing him like this, she didn’t ask further.
Coming back empty-handed after a hunt but feeding all the slaves to the wolves—if it weren’t for Anari already losing her mind from rage, Qin Yining rather wanted to mock her and ask if she’d gone hunting or to feed the wolves?
The group flew past the city gates and headed for the palace when they saw the two youths appear in the distance again. They quickly stopped their horses, and Qin Yining finally got a good look at the two in the light of day.
Both young men sported handsome features, deeply set eyes, and rags for clothes. Though it was a chilly day, they were barefoot like the group of slaves from earlier.
The two knelt on the ground and respectfully kowtowed, asking reverently with their foreheads on the ground, “Great khan, please release our aav and eej!”
Already sullen with anger, Anari couldn’t control her temper when these two miscreants showed up to block her way. She cracked her whip and landed it on the bigger youth. “Out of my way!”
The young man cried out in pain, but didn’t dodge the blow. “Please release our aav and eej! The Minuo tribe submitted to the khan long ago, we are your people! Why do you not pardon us?”
Completely out of patience, Anari roared, “They’re all dead! Now get out of my way!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I remember why I skipped over almost all of the Tatar section when I first read ROS. I found the characters too annoying. XD