Chapter 164: A Token of Love
The black horse launched itself continuously forward. Whitecloud had caught up at some unknown time and was following close behind. Huzi and the other two guards were tagging along further in the distance, but so were the three dozen assassins hot on their heels.
Scattered hoof steps, thuggish yells, and clashes of weaponry sounded behind them. An anxious Qin Yining didn’t know how her father was. She wanted to turn back, but was solidly blocked by Pang Xiao’s stalwart body.
“Hold on tight, don’t be afraid!” He wrapped an arm around her waist and shouted into her ear.
Thundercloud picked up more speed. A biting wind howled past them and made her hair snake wildly and scraped her cheeks painfully. Since she was sitting side saddle in a small saddle, it was an extremely uncomfortable position. But she was also quite afraid that she’d fall off the horse, so could only hold tightly onto Pang Xiao’s shirt and bury her face in his chest.
The prince looked down at the girl in his arms tenderly, his arms firmly ringed around her like a set of indestructible walls.
“Don’t worry, it looks like they’re here for me. The officials sending me off should be fine.”
Qin Yining was startled that he understood what she was worried about.
“But you’re dragged into this now because I pulled you onto my horse. Do you resent me for that?”
“Why are you asking this at this time?” Qin Yining looked up at him, but then felt their position was much too ambiguous. She stiffened and quickly ducked her head. “What would I resent you for?”
Low and happy laughter rolled forth as soon as she finished speaking. She was so close to him that she could feel his chest rumble. Her cheeks flamed and she wanted to keep her distance, but there was limited distance on the back of the horse, so she didn’t know quite what to do.
Pang Xiao fiercely wished that he could keep her by his side for eternity and just ride off like this, leaving all mortal worries and cares of the world behind. He’d read many emotions from her eyes just now, such as conflict, nervousness, and uneasiness. But the emotion he was most afraid to see wasn’t there—resentment.
She wasn’t an ordinary, run-of-the-mill girl. She was wise and rational, sly but kind. She understood the depths of his efforts, so wasn’t angry even though she was endangered because of him. His arms tightened their grip.
Qin Yining resigned herself to being hugged like this, but a small flame flickered into being from the bottom of her heart. The heat slowly spread to her cheeks until her face was as red as an apple. She dearly wanted to roll an eye at herself. Here they were, being chased by a group of assassins, but her thoughts had gone off on this sort of unserious tangent!
Thundercloud pushed itself to its hearts content, flying ahead with Pang Xiao and Qin Yining. However, the assassins still nipped at their heels. Thundercloud’s stamina wasn’t infinite, particularly when caring double. After two hours, Pang Xiao whistled Whitecloud over and adroitly swapped horses with Qin Yining.
Whitecloud looked gentle, but his stamina and endurance were on par with Thundercloud’s. However, Huzi and the Elite Tigers’ horses were completely exhausted.
Pang Xiao made a motion back at his men and they instantly let up. However, Whitecloud and Thundercloud galloped even faster, leaving behind the sounds of the chase in the distance. It was almost sunset.
“Your Highness! What about Huzi and the others if we leave just like this?” Qin Yining was worried about this development.
Pang Xiao laughed with gratification. “You’re worrying about someone else at this time? Don’t worry, they’ll have their ways to get free.”
The girl frowned. “But there are so many assassins…”
“No worries, I know what I’m doing.”
Qin Yining fell silent at that. All she could do now was rely on Pang Xiao and nothing else.
The sun handed the baton off to the moon, which made quick work of the night and climbed up high into the sky. Sounds of pursuit still rang out from behind them. Thundercloud and Whitecloud had traded bearing them on and off, but even Ferghana horses would be tired after twelve straight hours.
Qin Yining raised her brows anxiously. “Your Highness, what should we do? They refuse to give up the chase.”
Pang Xiao looked back and spent a moment in deep thought. Half of Qin Yining’s torso was numb with cold by now. The spring night was humid and she’d spent the last twelve hours on swiftly moving horses. The breeze was very refreshing beneath the sun, but bone-achingly chilly at night.
The prince’s sigh sounded by her ear as she sensed the horse begin to slow down. She raised her head worriedly. “What’s wrong?”
Pang Xiao’s large hands pulled her in and rubbed her cold shoulders and arms. “Are you cold?”
“This is nothing. It doesn’t matter in an emergency like this.” She responded calmly, but the words made the prince’s heart ache.
The horses slowed down some more, making Qin Yining even more agitated. “Are you hurt?” Knowing that pack of pursuers were close behind them, he would never decrease speed if not for an injury. The assassins were like hungry wolves; how would Pang Xiao hold off against all of them?
Pang Xiao started laughing again, happy and melodious. “I’m not hurt, don’t worry.”
He held the reins with one hand and brought her head in close with the other, lowering his head without forewarning to kiss the girl.
The Qin fourth miss was taken completely off guard. She was so shocked that she even forgot to breath as lips and tongue obtained a deeper understanding of each other. An electrifying sensation spread out from the kiss to the rest of her body, making her forget the cold and the fear of assassins chasing after her.
Pang Xiao ardently demanded from her, growing hot and bothered himself. When he saw how she’d utterly melted in his arms, he truly wished to take her away with him just like this.
Lips unlocked from each other a long while later, reminding Qin Yining to take a hurried breath. “You, how could you…”
“This is for you.”
A cool sensation crept over her wrist. She used the bright moonlight to see that Pang Xiao was slipping a bracelet of red beans onto her wrist.
“I made this myself. It’s a bit rough because I’ve never done anything like this before, so don’t think it ugly. Consider this our… our love token.” He dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I’ll figure out a way to marry you, no matter what’s between us. Don’t fret, I’ll take care of everything. Just remember one thing, you’re mine.”
Qin Yining’s heart skittered frantically, her brains completely useless.
Pang Xiao’s strong tones still sounded by her ears. “No matter who it is, or if you like him, or he likes you, I’ll kill him if I find out!”
“Remember, you belong only to me.” Pang Xiao dropped a kiss on her fluttering lashes.
Hoofbeats drummed behind them, but the prince pulled back on the reins. Qin Yining forced herself to remain calm, some suspicions rising in her heart.
Indeed, the sounds of pursuit stopped in unison a few breaths later. Huzi jumped down from his horse to salute at close quarters.
“Mm, how far away is the Great Yan convoy?”
“They’ve kept up pursuit this entire time, but their battle steeds are different from ours. They’re at least forty five minutes away from catching up.”
Pang Xiao nodded and waved a dismissal. He settled his hands around Qin Yining’s slender waist and looked down tenderly at her, speaking gently. “Don’t be mad, I just wanted to spend some more time with you. Who knows when we’ll see each other again after we part today.”
The girl pursed her lips and didn’t say anything, drawing a sigh from the prince.
“In a moment from now, take Whitecloud and find a quiet spot to hide. Your father’s men will be here soon and your safety will be assured. Tell them then that I was chased by a group of Tatar assassins and found a chance to hide you because I was worried of dragging you into this. If anyone asks how you knew those were Tatars, tell them that they started cursing in their native tongue during the chase. Can you remember all that?”
Qin Yining looked at Pang Xiao with a complicated look. “Did you plan out everything today, starting from when you said to poison had flared up again?”
Pang Xiao was caught off guard and nodded.
“Your Highness’ wits are truly without parallel.” When Qin Yining thought carefully about things, there’d actually been many suspect areas in what’d happened today. When the assassins appeared, they’d chased after only Pang Xiao and hadn’t harmed a single Great Yan official. The prince had protected her well along the way, but never showed a trace of true fear.
She’d just been too distracted by her wildly swinging emotions in Pang Xiao’s embrace and couldn’t think critically at all. She’d lost her usual mentality and also the ability to make clear judgments.
These were his men, but he was calling them Tatars. Why? And how did he know that the Tatars were in the Great Yan capital? What kind of consequences would happen if everyone knew that the Tatars had attempted to assassinate the Faithful Prince of the First Rank when he was leaving Great Yan?
Cao Yuqing should’ve handed the men over to the emperor already, and their confession should be out in the open. The emperor wasn’t a fool. Elder Statesman Cao would be exposed as soon as the captives said anything. Pang Xiao’s plot now was more fuel for the flames. So in this regard, the prince was actually giving her and her father a great gift…
Yining: Your Highness’ schemes are simply the worst!
Pang Xiao: The little bunny seems to be mad…