Tang Yuan was terrified. His grandfather had brought him to the entrance and gone back. He had left him to face the great Emperor on his own. So, the Fatty was extremely nervous.
"Stand up. Come; have a seat," The Emperor could not help but chuckle a smile after he saw Fatty cut such a sorry figure. His voice was affable as he waved his hand.
"Many thanks, Your Majesty." Tang Yuan used his plump hands to support himself as he crawled and stood up. He carefully wiped-away the sweat and cautiously moved to take a seat.
He didn't know whether it was intentional or not… but the court eunuch had moved a circular chair for him. Fatty found that the chair wasn't very big. A regular-sized person would've easily fit into the chair and would've sat in a relaxed manner. In fact, he would've had plenty of space left to spare. In case of Fatty on the other hand… fitting into that chair had become a very difficult task.
Tang Yuan recalled his grandfather's instructions, "When facing the Emperor — don't sit arrogantly if he asks you to take a seat. Always sit with only half of your butt on the chair. Remember this by heart!" However, that chair would become a problem if he were to sit with half of his butt on it. [I doubt that even the half-of-my butt can fit into this. This chair is too small. No wonder people can only place half of their butts in it.]
He huffed and puffed until half of his butt went in. But that part was large enough to fill the entire chair. A circle of fat hung all-around the chair. His fat had overflowed the chair's dimensions and had come out.
"Ha Ha…" the Emperor couldn't bear it anymore, and started to laugh. Tang Yuan felt his sweat seeping out as he accompanied that laugh.
"Tang Yuan, I've heard that you were the head auctioneer of the Aristocratic Hall?" The Emperor, intentionally or otherwise, stopped laughing and asked the question. A cold light flashed from the depths of his eyes.
"Yes Your Majesty… young official… common person… I…" Fatty Tang stammered before he become speechless. He wanted to call himself 'young official', but that was improper since he didn't have an official position. Then, he tried calling himself 'common' but that wasn't true. He then tried to refer to himself as 'I'… but then talking like that would be very disrespectful in this situation…
He unexpectedly started to choke…
"Never mind the courtesy; speak your mind," the Emperor spoke in a mild manner. "Tang Yuan, can you tell me whose idea it was to conduct this auction at the Aristocratic Hall in such a manner?"
"This… that… Your Majesty… he he… that is, this way…" Tang Yuan's mind raced. [Crap! No wonder Elder Brother solemnly exhorted me again and again. It seems that this old man knows that there's high-end person behind this entire arrangement…!]
"Your Majesty, I was ahem, ahem, very young at that time… and not quite sensible… I had made a huge mistake. My grandfather evicted me from the house for it. So… I decided to do something which would make the old man wonder that expelling me from the house wasn't the right thing to do." Tang Yuan embarrassingly scratched his head. "But what can I do? I'm only interested in making money…"
"You… are you telling me that this idea was yours?" The Emperor's expression sank. Then, some kind of an invisible power came down to put pressure on Tang Yuan.
This was not the Qi from a Xuan Qi expert… it was in fact the pure force of the Emperor's personality.
This was something that even the Young Master Jun or even the 'Eight Great Masters' could not imitate.
"Yes! Your Majesty… it was nothing; just a small business transaction… and nothing else!" Tang Yuan's clothes were seeped in sweat within seconds. He could feel sweat-rashes over his entire body. His mouth was somewhat parched, his red mouth and ivory teeth managed to utter these words still.
"It's nothing? Just a small business transaction? Tang Yuan, do you know the sin you've committed?" The Emperor narrowed his eyes to a small crack as he keenly observed Fatty Tang's expression.
"Insignificant, this insignificant… guilty… I… was unaware… made a mistake… I invited, invited my grandfather to make…" Tang Yuan became even more nervous. In fact, he still didn't know how to address himself. Then, he recalled what that small boy at the brothel had called himself when he had visited. He pondered on it for a while, and decided that it was appropriate for use.
He only remembered the boy's words since he has panicking in this moment. He hadn't taken the boy's tone into account. He couldn't figure that the boy would use this tone with the brothel's customers since he only wished to avoid provoking their arrogance in case he unknowingly made a mistake.
Suddenly, it seemed like Fatty was a street-seller who held two teapots, while the Emperor was a careless patron…
"Are you guilty of it? Your auction resulted in widespread disorder in the city, and everything has been drawn into turmoil. It's a hideous mess!" His Majesty the Emperor snorted as he continued to exert his power. The Emperor was a learned man. He had understood that this unfathomable mystery was done for since this guy had caught up.
"I didn't think that much at the time. I just wanted to stand on my own two feet. I had planned to earn some money from the guests in order to scrape a living. That was it. I didn't think on such matters. I didn't force anyone to buy those jars; they did it by their free will, Sir." Tang Yuan's sweat flowed down in a single stream.
This sentence made the Emperor feel like a patron. Moreover, Tang Yuan didn't know that the Emperor and his sons… the relationship between those four was just a step away travel buddies.
"To speak nothing of earlier… you first put forward those characters depicting 'Aristocratic.' You provoked the rich and powerful of the Capital to make comparisons with this. And the situation became critical every passing day. Then, the prices of every commodity in the city rose rapidly because you sent just one invitation card per industry. And the fact that those invitations were sent to the 'true aristocrats' caused fierce internal disputes in the industries. The entire salt and cloth business of the Tian Xiang City are openly fighting and secretly plotting against each other as we speak! The situation is such that there've even been incidents of bloodshed due to it! Moreover, the entire political situation is unstable…" The Emperor couldn't talk about this final part openly. However, the matters he had raised weren't trivial. In fact, they were enough to intimidate Tang Yuan.
[Elder brother came-up with this plan in secret, and then controlled everything from behind! He is… amazing! And I thought this was just about the money. I was so stupid! I don't have enough face to break through the enemy lines… yet the boss sits far behind as he does it. This was genuinely 'calling the shots of the operations from thousands of miles away'!]
His Majesty, the Emperor was certain after looking at Tang Yuan's perplexed expression that he hadn't planned any of it. Or at least… he wasn't the instigator of that plan. He slowly got up from the Imperial Throne. He then took two leisurely steps and stationed himself thirty meters from Fatty Tang. "Tang Yuan, you're the grandson of a brave and loyal Marquis! You may be a debauchee… but you shall receive rank and wealth in the future even if you're ignorant and incompetent. So why're you bothering to suffer like this on behalf of someone else? Would you ruin yours and your Tang Family's future because of it? Do you think it is worth it?"
This was a psychological attack! This was clearly a psychological attack!
No person of the younger generations would remain calm after such a threat was made towards their family. The Emperor was certain of this. Therefore, he spoke these words and then stared 'nails' at Tang Yuan's face as he observed him carefully.
However, the Emperor was entirely unaware that Jun Mo Xie had discovered such rhetorics, and had exposed them a long time ago. In fact, he had grilled Fatty Tang in that manner many times for practice. The Young Master Jun didn't have the power like that of the Emperor's, but his killing intention surpassed such a trivial power. However, how would Fatty cope?
In fact, the Emperor would trick Fatty Tang if were to continue to talk about his family like this… such was that old fox's trick? The young man would give away some of what he was trying to hide sooner or later. Then, the dots could be connected from that information. No matter Fatty's training — he wouldn't be able to resist sustained efforts such as these.
However, there were thousands of people waiting outside. So, the Emperor was seeking a quick method to achieve his aim. However, the fact was that Jun Mo Xie had predicted this exact situation in his plans.
Tang Yuan's situation could be compared with… it was like… learning wasn't helping the student's grades. Therefore, the student had decided to memorize the previous years' test papers on the eve of the exams… but had discovered that those questions had comprised the entire set of test papers of the next day's exam…
[Elder brother is a divine strategist! Tang Yuan worships you!]
"Your Majesty… you do not understand. This insignificant person has told you. I was expelled from the house by my grandfather. In any case… I deserved that punishment. My grandfather gave me a thorough beating that day, and I left my family home covered in cuts and bruises. I was left alone and helpless. I moved around the Capital without any money. But the Gods refused to abandon me. My good brother Jun Mo Xie from the Jun Family appeared! He didn't abandon me and brought me back to his home. He rescued me from my situation and saved my exhausted body. He took care of me and nursed me back to health with the utmost care…" The emotions seemed to be appearing on Fatty's face.
"So that plan was the Jun Family's Young Master's idea?" The Emperor felt a little frustrated since the Fatty seemed to be rambling incoherently. It was extremely loathsome.
"Your Majesty, you've misunderstood what I've said. Please allow me to properly finish what I was going to say. I received a warm welcome at the Jun Family's residence by my good brother. The Jun Family provided me with food, clothing and a roof over my head. And even though I am a debauchee… I could recognize their kindness… and the fact that I was a guest under someone else's roof. I started to ponder on how to repay such kindness. Business is a bit of a forte for me… so I struck upon an inspiration! I thought that I and my good brother Jun have something in common…"
[What would be common between you two? That you both are debauchees? You both are failures? Both of you fail to live up to the expectations? What else could it be?]
"Your Majesty must know of the marketplace rumors that I and my good brother Jun are the city's number one and two debauchees. This insignificant person sought inspiration in this fact. I recall that in the past — I didn't value money! This insignificant person used to wantonly and randomly squander money… often on things which were of little value. I continued to throw away money recklessly. And now as I looked around — I found that I and the Young Master Jun weren't a minority in our generation. It seemed that the term 'debauchee' could be a substitute for the term 'aristocrat.' However, how come no 'aristocrat' was ever considered a 'debauchee'? But this could be considered as a way to make money since these people didn't take money seriously either!
"Coincidentally, I had come to know the greatest wine maker under heaven a few days back — senior Song Sheng. And he agreed to ferment his unique and exquisite wine for the Aristocratic Hall. We've come to today's situation due to various situations and incidences of good fortune. If Your Majesty still has some questions — Tang Yuan is more than willing to answer them all!" Fatty's 'air duct' didn't know whether it should obey or not. Nevertheless, Jun Mo Xie had accurately predicted the Emperor's reactions. Fatty hadn't done so yet… and was thus terrified.
He could easily answer any number of questions that the Emperor would ask; in detail.
The Fatty wouldn't have been this flustered if he realized this. He would've easily answered each and every question with impregnable logic… and on reasonable grounds. When it came to being expelled from his house… the fat man went according to the great director Jun's wonderful script. He passionately brought tears into his eyes as he bawled.
A pile of tears and sweat splattered around from the Fatty's face. The scene was rather difficult to imagine…