Chapter 571.1: Depose

Paramount rank?

Jealousy gnawed at the old dowager’s heart. What hadn't she seen before when they were still in Great Yan? She’d looked forward to her firstborn raking in further honors and glory after arriving in Great Zhou, but he was estranged from her instead. She had yet to receive a title of honor, but it’d already landed in the lap of a granddaughter who’d married out of the family!

That granddaughter had first been made a princess consort and now added a paramount rank to the list. The more the old dowager thought about it, the more green-eyed she grew.

She wasn't the only one. Qin Huining stood off to the side with a lowered head, her nails digging into her palm so much that they almost drew blood. Everything Qin Yining enjoyed now should’ve been hers!

She was the fourth miss of the Qins in the past! Everything she’d possessed had been stolen from her the moment Qin Yining appeared!

Just look at the two of them now! One lived under another's house while the other was a princess consort. This unbridgeable gap filled Qin Huining with the thwarted frustration that she would never catch up to Qin Yining, no matter what she tried. This would be how things were in their lives, forever! How she burned with resentment at the brazen theft of what had once been hers!

The scene turned peculiarly quiet.

It took only a quick glance for Qin Yining to determine what the old dowager was thinking. Her waist ached from prolonged standing anyway, so she returned to née Sun’s side to sit. 

Anger flared when the girl walked away before the old dowager could ask her very important questions. “You walk away without so much as a by-your-leave before I'm finished? Is this the kind of good manners that you've been taught? Née Sun!”

Bystander née Sun responded to her mother-in-law with an enormous eye roll and took her daughter’s hand, quietly asking about her experiences.

The response made the old dowager flush beet red with indignation, to which Qin Huining and the eighth miss quickly offered tea and patted her back.

Fortified with a sip of tea, the old dowager caught her breath and pointed at née Sun and Qin Yining.

“What kind of decent children will you be able to raise with these manners, huh?!” the old dowager cursed. “All you’ll do is birth good-for-nothing whelps who can only hope for mediocrity!”

Her words were still echoing when a displeased, resonant male voice traveled in from outside. “What's going on here?”

The door curtains lifted to admit Pang Xiao. He entered just in time to catch the old dowager’s caustic sneer, to which he answered with a frosty look. That stopped the old dowager in her tracks; she didn't dare say anything she wanted to say after that.

“I hadn't thought that my wife would elicit so much anger from the old dowager upon her return. That truly makes her unfilial, but she is this prince’s concert. Her mistakes are this prince’s mistakes, so let this prince make my apologies on behalf of my Yining.”

Pang Xiao walked forward with a smile and cupped fists. “The old dowager is the elder of the family and most magnanimous.” Hw bowed from the waist. “You are ever tolerant of your junior’s mistakes. After all, we need to be given the chance to redeem ourselves, no?”

It was a deftly delivered response and Pang Xiao tendered his apologies from the position of a common-born prince. Such a tremendous display of deference and filial piety won great approval from everyone. The second and third elder master nodded merrily, highly satisfied with their nephew-in-law. Here was a notable personage who didn't conduct himself with overweening arrogance just because of his rank. He remained exceedingly respectful and filial!

Sadly, no one knew of the old dowager’s struggle. She’d almost wet herself from the ruthlessly keen look in Pang Xiao’s eyes!

She finally truly understood the saying that those who led men into war emerged with hands covered in blood. A simple narrowing of the eyes was the precursor to them chopping heads off! Though the prince was bowing to her, he was also warning her not to challenge his bottom line.

Color drained from her face due to fright and she trembled like a leaf. So much cold sweat dotted her forehead that it streaked down her temples.

Pang Xiao worried over the sight. “What’s wrong with the old dowager?” He looked beseechingly at Qin Huaiyuan. “Father-in-law? Have I said something wrong?”

Qin Huaiyuan sighed with resignation. “Everything’s fine, the old dowager hasn't been in the best of health lately. When Yining went missing, she worried herself sick and has been beset with aches and pains since then. She's yet to make a full recovery and is likely too emotional at seeing her granddaughter.”

The explanation salvaged the old dowager’s dignity and pinned her constant disrespectful acts on growing muddleheaded in her old age. Everyone present knew that she’d tried to foist the eighth miss onto Pang Xiao, including the prince himself.

Such words represented a son’s concern for his mother’s dignity.

Pang Xiao nodded and respectfully retreated to the side, displaying highest regard for his father-in-law.

When the old dowager calmed down and thought clearly again, she wanted to get in a few jabs at Qin Yining to recover lost face. But Pang Xiao seemed to sense whenever she looked in her granddaughter’s direction and always met her eyes with a supercilious half-smile. Her heart quailed to be regarded thus, which resulted in her looking away.

After a few repeated instances, the old dowager no longer dared displayed any sort of negative inclinations in her expression.

Qin Yining and née Sun quietly took note of their subtle struggle. Née Sun ducked her head to repress her chuckles while Qin Yining cast a long-suffering look at her husband. Since there wasn’t any anger or condemnation in the followup eye roll, it rather seemed like she was flirting with the prince instead.

Highly amused by his beloved’s reaction, an entertained Pang Xiao kept himself a bit more in check and refrained from scaring the old dowager further. It was only because she was his darling’s grandmother that he settled for this kind of intimidation. 

If anyone else had treated his Yining this way, he would’ve already slapped the other silly and pounced on any toe out of line.

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