# 128. Opportunity From All Directions
Xu Qi’an felt rather fucked over.
Yesterday, when he took the second princess’s jade pendant, he knew that one day in the future he would have to face this situation. He didn’t expect that it would be so quick.
If this situation happened in his past life, then he would most likely respond with one sentence: Only little children do multiple choice questions!
At the most he would get two slaps in return.
But in this setting, he may suffer two bowl-sized scars.
“This subordinate came over to ask the eldest princess about a question, related to the Sangpo Case.” Xu Qi’an turned, facing Biaobiao and clasping his fists, implying that he had official business.
But he overestimated the second princess’s intelligence, or underestimated her headstrong nature. She put her hands on her hips, and snorted coldly “Why didn’t you come to ask me?”
Hearing this, Princess Huaiqing immediately laughed coldly, “Lin’an’s biggest strength is her self-confidence.”
Even an idiot could hear the mockery.
*The eldest princess is taking fire for me…* Xu Qi’an let out a sigh of relief, *you fight, just pretend I’m invisible.*
The second princess and her sister had bad blood between them; since they were little they fought, and even up to now they fought both openly and secretively, neither backing down.
“Huaiqing, Xu Qi’an is my person, he’s accepted my jade pendant, and has already agreed to work for me.” The second princess, still with her hands on her hips, laughed coldly, “When a fine eagle finds a tree to roost, does it ever hear the blathering of stingy people? If one wants a horse to run, why not give that horse grass to eat? I’m much more generous.”
Seeing the eldest princess not speak, she walked to Xu Qi’an’s side, her beautiful eyes violently cutting into Xu Qi’an, before continuing to proclaim her authority, “If you want to use my people, that’s fine, but you must get my agreement. Today this princess’s mood is not good, and I don’t want you to summon my subordinate.”
Princess Huaiqing took a sip of tea, and did not reply, smiling, seeming very confident in herself.
The second princess hated most this posture, as she gave the eldest princess a sharp stare, then saying to Xu Qi’an, “Are you still not leaving with us?”
Xu Qi’an did not move, not looking at the second princess or the eldest princess, “Your Highnesses, this subordinate is a Nightwatcher, and we are loyal to His Majesty.”
“Shut up!” The two princesses exclaimed simultaneously.
Xu Qi’an understood now. The two princesses’ strife was so immense, and it wasn’t even single-sided: The second princess Biaobiao liked to provoke the eldest princess, and the domineering eldest princess also liked to challenge her on everything.
He was just a small lowly simp stuck in the middle.
This was like two rich family daughters fighting over a toy, and then letting the toy pick who it was going to follow.
Meeting the two princesses’ gazes, Xu Qi’an let out a slow breath, and looked towards Lin’an: “Please may the second princess forgive me, but your subordinate has public matters to discuss with the eldest princess.”
His words were very tactful, but in reality he had already given his intention; he had picked the eldest princess.
The second princess suddenly bit her lip, her peach blossom eyes becoming watery. She looked deeply at Xu Qi’an for a moment, before turning and leaving.
She’d lost again. Again she’d lost all face in front of Huaiqing. The latter sat proudly, letting a small Bronze Gong cut away her pride.
The proud and arrogant Princess Lin’an had never felt so chagrined, and had never lost so badly before.
She left in silence.
Xu Qi’an pretended not to see the second princess’s departure, continuing to talk calmly for a while with Huaiqing. He suddenly touched his chest, seeming to think of something, and laughed helplessly,
“Aiya, I haven’t returned the jade pendant to the second princess. Then, your subordinate should take his leave?”
The eldest princess nodded agreement, her spirits high.
Xu Qi’an leisurely left the courtyard, and apprehended one of the guards by the door: “Where has the second princess gone to?”
The guard pointed in a direction.
Xu Qi’an, like a wild dog free from his leash, rushed in pursuit, and after a few minutes, he saw the second princess’s fiery red figure, leading two palace maids, walking quickly, her shoulders trembling slightly.
“Second princess, please wait.” Xu Qi’an caught up to them, and shouted.
Princess Lin’an heard it, but did not respond, rather walking even quicker, her hips swaying from side to side, her dress hems flapping behind her.
Xu Qi’an quickly caught up again, and blocked their path. He hadn’t even started speaking, when he was briefly stunned: “Your Highness is crying?”
*Your mental fortitude is a little too weak no…?*
Princess Lin’an immediately turned her head away, giving him a beautiful side profile, saying coldly, “Running dog, what are you doing following this princess, are you trying something sinister?”
Her eyes were red and swollen, tear streaks still visible on her snow-white cheeks, having clearly cried in distress.
However, it made her peach-blossom eyes ever more enticing.
Seeing that princess Lin’an didn’t continue walking, nor did she call for anybody, Xu Qi’an immediately felt glee, feeling that he could still save the situation.
In a serious tone, he said “Your subordinate is loyal and devoted to Your Highness, and not to anyone else.”
Princess Lin’an vigorously turned her head back round, laughing coldly, “Xu Qi’an, do you think we can be played with?”
This loyal dog of Huaiqing, double-dealing under the table, still wanted to have his feet in two boats, hateful behaviour.
If not for his talent in poetry, if not that Huaiqing paid him attention, she would never have bothered with this wretched man.
Princess Lin’an’s opinion of Xu Qi’an had sunk to the bottom of the valley.
“Perhaps, in Your Highness’s eyes, this subordinate is a shameless dog that seeks opportunity from all directions,” Xu Qi’an sighed, “Your subordinate cannot argue against this. Please may Your Highness take back this jade pendant. Such a good jade pendant would not suit being put in my grave.”
The second princess had had enough of Xu Qi’an, and was just about to take back the jade pendant, when she heard that last sentence. Briefly dazed, she blurted out “What did you say?”
Xu Qi’an did not respond. He had his head lowered, holding the jade pendant out with both hands, saying “The second princess is generous, never before has any important person wanted to give this subordinate their personal pendant, your subordinate is immeasurably thankful. The second princess treats people with sincerity, how could your subordinate not know what is good or bad for himself.”
He sighed mournfully, and raised the jade pendant higher, “Perhaps I have no destiny with the second princess, please take it back.”
The second princess was slightly moved, but she didn’t forgive him. After all, as Emperor Yuanjing’s favourite princess, she had heard enough flattery.
But this man’s expression seemed rather genuine, his tone of voice also sincere, and so the second princess was willing to hear his explanation. She said “What did you mean by put in your grave?”
Xu Qi’an laughed bitterly, “I originally thought the second princess had investigated me…”
*I really hadn’t…* Princess Lin’an felt somewhat guilty, but then suddenly thought of something, saying in shock “The waist chop sentence?”
That day when Huaiqing recommended him, Lin’an was also present.
*From what Huaiqing said, because he had attacked a superior, he was sentenced to be chopped at the waist…* Princess Lin’an pursed her lips, and took the opportunity to wipe a way the tear tracks on her face. Her tone became softer, but the little temper was still there, as she hmphed “What does this have to do with Huaiqing?”
“The eldest princess is very interested in the Sangpo Case, and wishes to know about the newest developments. She said that as long as I report regularly, she would agree to plead my case to His Majesty after the investigation is over, no matter if I had enough merit for atonement or not.” Xu Qi’an earnestly looked at the second princess,
“So your subordinate thought, Your Highness has treated me with earnestness, but I am a guilty person, and so am unable to repay the second princess’s grace. Thus, I wanted to side with the eldest princess for now, and only after I have escaped my crime, serve Your Highness fully/”
If earnestness could be turned into energy, then the earnestness in Xu Qi’an’s eyes would be like an ocean tide, softening the second princess’s heart greatly.
She said angrily “Why don’t you talk to me? His Majesty dotes on me the most, I can plead your case. Would this not be better than Huaiqing?”
As she said this, she saw a multitude of emotions flit over Xu Qi’an’s face, looking touched, also looking shocked.
She then heard this small bronze gong say with trembling voice “Your Highness… really would be willing to plead to His Majesty for me, a small bronze gong?”
*So he thought that I wouldn’t want to help him, so he put Huaiqing as his saving grace…* Princess Lin’an felt both angered and amused. In reality, those earlier were just empty words, but up to this point now, she couldn’t really change course, and so nodded,
“Naturally. We do not mistreat our subordinates.”
Xu Qi’an stared at her for a long time, before clasping his fists, saying solemnly word by word, “Your Highness, your subordinate right now only wants to buy a plot of land.”
Lin’an didn’t understand, exclaiming “A plot of land?”
Xu Qi’an replied seriously “The land I stand on with unwavering loyalty!”
Princess Lin’an was dazed, as she felt touched. No one had ever said this to her before.
In an instant, all the hatred she had towards Xu Qi’an evaporated. If earlier she had just wanted to fight over a toy with Huaiqing, now she genuinely felt that having a subordinate like him was not a bad thing really.
But thinking how this small bronze gong had earlier just driven her to tears, she snorted, and softly scolded him “Running dog!”
Xu Qi’an silently let out a sigh of relief, feeling a weight being lifted off his shoulders.
Coming to these kinds of two-choose-one situations, he would never think of how to solve the problem, rather thinking of how to solve the person that had created the problem.
The core factor: to separate them, and then solve things one by one.
The eldest princess was a domineering woman, who was also clever, thus in somewhat public circumstances, he must lean towards her side, and give her some face.
The second princess was childish and headstrong, both a punching bag and a surface-level person, an enticing thing that liked to provoke trouble. But her thoughts were shallow, she was a princess spoiled rotten, so even if she had her tempers often, she was easy to coax.
As long as you had a silver tongue, you could turn hatred into love. She was a woman wants to hear sweet words.
Using these two princesses’ personalities, Xu Qi’an in his Sura battlefield quickly thought up of a practically perfect stratagem.
Not only did he head off danger, but he also got the second princess to agree to plead his case, buying him insurance for the future.
And he didn’t have to spend a single copper coin.
In front of the second princess, Xu Qi’an carefully stowed the jade pendant back into his robe, as if it wasn’t a jade pendant, but rather a priceless treasure.
The second princess’s gaze instantly became much softer.
“Then, your subordinate will take his leave?” Xu Qi’an planned to get out of there.
“What are you rushing for!” Princess Lin’an snapped, “You are this princess’s subordinate, we still have orders for you.”
She had chipped off the corner of Huaiqing’s house, so naturally she must show this off to all her brothers and sisters. Only then would she have face, would she make Huaiqing have no face.
“Your Highness’s wish is my command.” Xu Qi’an said helplessly.
The carefree second princess realised that she didn’t have anything to do. Tilting her head, she said “Mn, it’s a good day today, and there’s no hateful thing Huaiqing, this princess wants to go play with the spirit dragon. You follow us, and we’ll not need our guards.”
Emperor Yuanjing stood by the platform, examining the spirit dragon lying by the lake shore. The latter looked back with its two lively, black button-like eyes.
“What’s wrong with you? Lin’an has played with you ever since she was young, why did you throw her into the water that day?” Emperor Yuanjing scolded the spirit dragon.
The spirit dragon was an ancient mythical beast, that lived off purple qi. It was different from the Yao, and if one had to find some other creature of the same type, then one could only pick another mythical beast, the Gu God.
The population of spirit dragons was very small, and their lives were very long, having been the beast that had accompanied the many royal families all throughout history.
No matter if it was the Great Feng or an earlier dynasty, they always raised a spirit dragon in their palaces.
The spirit dragon lazily snorted, lying by the shore without much energy, not paying much mind to Emperor Yuanjing’s scolding.
Its black, button-like eyes looked up at the emperor.
*Are you getting on or not?*
The crown prince beside him observed the spirit dragon. He remembered that that time it was also lying by the lake shore, though it seemed much more respectful, much more on edge than now?
That time he was far away, and so could not see clearly the spirit dragon’s expression and posture, and only had a vague impression. Thus, the crown prince could not be too sure.
The spirit dragon was the water mount of all the emperors in history. In ancient times, the lands of the Yao and Man were not so clearly split as they were now, rather often overlapping.
Thus often there would be people being eaten by Yao, or Yao being hunted down by man.
Mankind was not skilled in the water, and so were helpless against the monsters in the lakes and rivers. Only the human emperor could easily enter the water and slay these monsters.
And the reason he could was because of the spirit dragon, who lived in the water and the air.
Nowadays, the Great Feng’s emperor naturally did not have to enter the water and fight with monsters, and so their water mount has now become more of a thing to appreciate.
From when he started Daoist cultivation, Emperor Yuanjing had not looked upon the spirit dragon for a long time. He could not help but think back to the time when he first came to the throne, the feeling of riding the spirit dragon through the rivers of the capital.
“We’ve not been close to you for many years, you’ve probably been quite lonely.” Emperor Yuanjing sighed, and lightly jumped onto the flat armoured piece on the spirit dragon’s back, his hands holding onto the sides.
The spirit dragon let out a long happy cry, as its four limbs moved, its body gracefully winding, taking Emperor Yuanjing frolicking in the lake.
*…What a sight!* The crown prince gazed at this scene, and thought to one day when he would ride the spirit dragon, his princes and princesses standing by the shore, looking on with admiration.
Just at this time, the spirit dragon frolicking through the water suddenly roared, as if suffering some sort of excitement. It raised its head high, roaring an ear-shattering roar, and simultaneously shaking its neck, throwing Emperor Yuanjing off.