Walking over as well, Jiang Chen looked at Sun Yuan coolly. Generally speaking, he didn’t approve of useless dandies like him. The world was full of people like this. Sun Yuan was simply of a slightly higher level than most of those fops.
“So, you’re Sun Yuan, hmm? I don’t know how strong your aunts and uncles and whatever the rest of your family are, but I’ve seen more than my fair share of dandies like you. If you beat up someone today, you should be prepared to be beaten up by someone else tomorrow. It’s all well and good when you bully someone, but you’re crying foul when we put you in your place?” The sarcasm hung heavy on his face.
Having gotten his breath back, Gu Xintang strode to take his place beside Jiang Chen.
“Sun Yuan,” he glared at his fellow captain. “Ah Li and I love each other. No matter how shameful you plan on being, we will always be of one mind. If you want to be an obstacle to our relationship, then I’ll fight you to the death, regardless of the cost!”
“Good!” Emperor Peerless laughed, applauding loudly. “This is the kind of statement I approve of. Sun Yuan, mark my words! My little friend Gu’s problems are also mine. If you think your family is so great, then call up all your relatives. Why don’t you see for yourself how easy I am to deal with, or not?”
The emperor’s words commanded a great deal of authority. Jiang Chen clapped as well. “As expected of a worthy senior. Little Gu, you should thank Senior Peerless right now.”
Gu Xintang felt immensely grateful. He rushed up hurriedly. “Thank you very much, Senior Peerless.”
Senior Peerless? Sun Yuan blinked. Who was that? Was there a ‘Senior Peerless’ in Frostmoon City? Did the Moon God Sect have someone like that? ...no, right?
It was at this time that one of the smarter folks in the crowd remembered something important. His face changed color, and he rushed to Sun Yuan’s side, murmuring a few words in the latter’s ear. Sun Yuan’s face colored as well when he heard the details. He gave Emperor Peerless a conflicted look. He knew now who the old man before him was.
Mo Wushuang, Emperor Peerless! One of the most influential characters among wandering cultivators. The discovery was extremely embarrassing for him. Should he press on? Back off? Throw down a few harsh words? But he’d be in a lot of trouble if he couldn’t take back a hard attitude. Angering this titan of the wandering cultivation world meant that he could possibly be swatted to death.
Sure his was a prominent family, but he wasn’t really all that important in the family’s grand scheme of things. They might feel pity at his death, but it was doubtful that they would attempt to avenge him with all resources at their disposal. After all, he was only one of the backup talents of middling proficiency in the Sun family. There was a reasonable gap between him and the top geniuses. It was unrealistic to ask his family to feud with a great emperor realm cultivator on his behalf.
But was he going to turn tail and flee? Where would his dignity be then? How would he live it down once he returned to Bleakmoon Hall? If Gu Xintang gained the upper hand… if Gu Xintang’s guests delivered such a withering blow… how would he fight with him for Ah Li then? Sun Yuan sank into a period of brief conflict.
Emperor Peerless ignored the youngster. “Little Gu,” he turned to his acquaintance. “I asked whether you had a dao partner, back at your place. You answered me that it’s easy to find the right person, but hard to have a marriage after your heart. Is this crook the obstacle to that?”
Gu Xintang nodded. “He’s completely unreasonable. Ah Li and I made private vows to each other long ago. Our commitment holds true unto death. Sun is a player and has ruined the innocence of countless maidens. How honest can he really be?”
A man like Sun Yuan never stuck with a single girl. He wanted to seize Gu Xintang’s woman solely because Ah Li’s appearance caught his fancy. The raw lust and possessiveness on display was absolutely despicable.
Emperor Peerless nodded back. “I see. Well then, I shall host your wedding. Hold it right here in Frostmoon City and pick a good day for you. I’d like to see if there’s someone fool enough to try to ruin your marriage.”
It was better to demolish ten temples than a single marriage; such went a piece of ancient conventional wisdom. Breaking the relationships of others was typically seen as something negative, almost criminal.
Sun Yuan’s eyes burned with hatred. He knew that Emperor Peerless was giving him a public beating, but he didn’t dare resist a bit.
“You over there, Sun something-or-other. Mark my words. If you or anyone wreck Little Gu and Ah Li’s relationship, I’ll make sure they don’t even have a full corpse left..” The emperor’s gaze was bottomless, his tone frigid. Sun Yuan was shaken to the core. He glared viciously at Gu Xintang, who scowled back without fear.
Emperor Peerless’s backing allowed Gu Xintang to face Sun Yuan without worry. Before now, he had never backed off from the other man, even without outside help. It was even more unlikely that he would do so given the emperor’s assurance.
“Well? Scram!” Emperor Peerless growled.
Sun Yuan was about to utter a snappy retort or three, but his lackies permitted him no such opportunity. They lugged and dragged him away in a scramble.
“Young master Sun, don’t be too rash!”
“Young master Sun, give Senior Peerless some respect.”
“Yes, young master Sun. We can make other plans after we go back. Making trouble here will only end in our own suffering.” The people who spoke up were clever enough. They knew that falling out with a great emperor was likely to lead to swift and immediate death. Even a delayed death would be a luxury then.
Sun Yuan’s anger didn’t make him mentally disabled. He understood as well as his cronies that he had no right to challenge a great emperor. Thus, he could only take the easy way out and stormed out. The youth’s lack of popularity in Frostmoon City showed. The bystanders boo’ed in their wake. Clearly, they also intensely disliked those who tried to budge into others’ relationships.
Gu Xintang was the picture of gratefulness. “Senior Peerless, I… as your junior, I do not know how I can thank you. When Ah Li and I officially get married, we will surely invite you to the banquet and toast you more than a few times.”
“Hahaha, I’d be happy to oblige when that happy day comes. Don’t worry, Little Gu. Even if your sect head is the one opposed to it, I’d still champion the cause on your behalf. The Sun family is nothing to worry about. They’re not exactly above the Moon God Sect’s rules, are they?”
Gu Xintang nodded. Emperor Peerless’ promise shored up his confidence.
“Go back and make preparations. Pick a good day, and the sooner the better. I will personally preside over your wedding and bear witness for you.”
This was amazing news for Gu Xintang. Thanking Emperor Peerless, Jiang Chen, and Third Master Jing, he left immediately after with his subordinates. He wanted to tell Ah Li as quickly as possible about the change in their situation.
Just as the captain had said, he and Ah Li bore mutual affection for one another to the point of inseparable closeness. She was overjoyed at the announcement and excitedly asked for all the details. She cried tears of happiness as she listened to Gu’s retelling of today’s events over and over again.
“Xintang, we have to thank Senior Peerless properly. Rather than picking the perfect time, why not let decide upon things here and now? Let’s have our ceremony in three days. That’s enough time for us to prepare. We’re cultivators and don’t need pomp and circumstance for our wedding. It’s just something symbolic, you know? It’s just to tell the world that I am yours from this day forward!”
His partner’s considerate words moved Gu Xintang greatly. His resolve to protect Ah Li for the rest of his life strengthened because of it. The date of the ceremony was thus decided. Word went out very quickly of it. Both Gu Xintang and Ah Li were only middle management within the Moon God Sect, so their ceremony made few waves. The captain had only average connections, and his circle of friends was not particularly large. Ah Li had a reasonable amount of relational prestige within the Sect, but wasn’t particularly prominent.
Ah Li’s family had originally felt uncertain towards Gu Xintang. Their opinion was that although Gu was an excellent young man, he lacked the foundations and backing within the Moon God Sect that would assist with future advancement. Though Sun Yuan was a bit of a scoundrel, he had considerable support from his family, and so his future within the Sect was comparatively brighter. This all changed when Ah Li brought back news of the recent changes, particularly those regarding Emperor Peerless. All opposition from her family disappeared overnight.
They all sang a different tune: Gu Xintang was the perfect match for her. No one said another word about his lack of backing. With a great emperor backing him up, how could anyone complain otherwise?
Sure, the great emperor didn’t belong to the Moon God Sect, but how many great emperors did the Sect have? Given their extremely low numbers, could they afford to disrespect Emperor Peerless? Changing her family’s mind made everything else much easier.
Third Master Jing’s family hadn’t cared much about his relationship with Gu Xintang prior either. Since learning about Emperor Peerless’ support of Gu, they suddenly summoned the third master for a good lecture on maintaining the relationship he already had with the captain.
From these two turnarounds, it was evident that even though Emperor Peerless was a wandering cultivator, he still had remarkable influence. He could affect the Moon God Sect’s various factions, despite not being one of their great emperors. Because of this, Gu Xintang and Ah Li’s ceremony had significantly more attendees than expected. The guests who’d come to offer their congratulations were only passing acquaintances, making the captain feel it both strange and remarkable.
Emperor Peerless clearly hadn’t made his offer in a spur-of-the-moment decision. Rather, he did so because he saw the genuine affection between Gu Xintang and Ah Li. He saw something of his past self and Madame Yun in this couple. When he had courted Madame Yun many years ago, the faction she’d belonged to didn’t think much of him either. Emperor Pillzenith’s interference in their relationship, moreover, was a spitting image of Sun Yuan’s actions. Thus, the emperor cared much more about Gu Xintang’s marriage than he let on. He felt empathy with one of his kind.
Because of this, Gu Xintang and Ah Li’s ceremony was greatly livened up. Several of the Moon God Sect’s elders showed up to further boost the occasion. Naturally, Captain Gu wasn’t the person who commanded their respect; they had come because of Emperor Peerless.