Chapter 236: The Prince in a Rage (II)
Being tall and limber, Jiyun was a beauty that easily caught the eye. However, she’d taken pains to disguise herself today, turning her complexion sallow and creating moles next to the bridge of her nose and sideburns. She was also keeping her eyes downcast, avoiding attention from Xingyu and Bixue.
Xingyu had just reached out for the vase when Qin Yining expressed interest, “Are those lilies? Let me take a look.”
The two maids assigned to the Qin fourth miss jockeyed to take the vase. This was the perfect chance to earn some credit with the future empress!
But Jiyun was a step faster than them and offered up the vase with two hands held high.
Riceball knew Jiyun; it perked up on its owner’s stomach and fixed round, watery eyes on the approaching guard. Using her left hand, Qin Yining touched the flower petals with a smile. “Lilies are my favorite. All of you have gone to great effort.”
“This servant doesn’t dare take credit. His Majesty knows the miss likes lilies and specially ordered them prepared. Even the vase was chosen by His Majesty. He says that the miss doesn’t like things that are too ornate or complicated and so chose this simple, white porcelain one.” Jiyun snuck a swift look at Qin Yining.
The girl’s spirits seemed to be uplifted by her favorite flowers and she shook off some of her earlier dejection. She nodded cheerily. “I see, well done. You may put the flowers here.”
“Understood.” Jiyun put the vase on the square table next to the reclining couch and left with a bow.
Xingyu and Bixue had already forgotten about that completely ordinary palace servant. They were wracking their brains for flattery related to their mistress’ favorite flowers. However, they didn’t think of any before they were sent away.
“I’m tired, you are dismissed.”
That single line brought them up short. They weren’t the miss’ confidantes, so it was too much to expect that Qin Yining would immediately treat them warmly, even if they fawned over her. There was nothing to do but curtsey and take their leave.
Qin Yining remained leaning on the couch and poked at the flowers, seemingly wanting to rearrange them in the most pleasing order possible. When everyone had cleared the room, she quickly assessed her surroundings and outside the windows. When she saw that no one was watching her, she placed Riceball on the floor and scrutinized the vase closely.
Jiyun wouldn’t have brashly entered the palace like this. With her in disguise, she must be carrying a message. She’d also given a hint to the fourth miss earlier, so Qin Yining rummaged inside the vase first. Coming up with no secret compartments, she inspected the bottom of the ceramic and discovered a small hole in it.
Poking a pinky in, there was indeed a note inside.
Her heart racing, Qin Yining hastily fished it out and hid it in her handkerchief, rearranging the flowers back to how they were before.
She rested a moment longer on the couch, only taking the note back out when she was certain that no one was keeping an eye on her. There were just five simple words on it. “Yao will cut supplies soon.”
She swiftly crumpled it into a ball, planning on burning it when lamps were lit later that night. After that, she carefully noodled over the message.
Yao must mean Pang Xiao. He’d gone by his mother’s surname when they first met. What did he mean by cutting supplies soon?
When they’d first met, he’d styled himself as a merchant. If Sir Yao was a merchant, supplies being cut meant that there was no business to be conducted. But Pang Xiao was actually a commander leading armies…
Enlightenment struck Qin Yining!
He’d stop fighting soon!
Jiyun was one of Pang Xiao’s and had gone to the trouble of slipping into the palace to deliver this message. What did it all mean?
She’d suggested to her father that after she entered the palace, he should send word to Pang Xiao that Weichi Yan wanted to make her empress. She wanted Pang Xiao to think of a way to help her, so… pausing the war was his plan? But what did that have to do with the emperor wedding her?
She wracked her brains but couldn’t puzzle out the logic. Despite that, receiving such a fast response comforted her greatly.
She didn’t dare express helplessness and fear in front of her father. She’d been alone since young, having a very deep understanding that she had to fight for anything she wanted, that she had to work hard for anything she sought to do. She’d try her best even if no one helped her.
But now, Pang Xiao had sent word and let her know that she wasn’t alone in this fight. He let her know that he too was trying hard to help her escape Weichi Yan’s control.
This answer reassured her that her staunch convictions weren’t in vain. Qin Yining smiled faintly, her mind at peace. She hadn’t been able to sleep even though she was very tired, but now drifted easily into a deep sleep after resolving this great burden weighing on her mind.
Weichi Yan came by after the noon hour. He couldn’t bear to wake her up when he saw that she was sleeping soundly. He stood silently next to the reclining couch with his hands behind his back, gazing upon her for half an hour before caressing her cheek and reluctantly taking his leave.
The emperor’s deeply besotted look stunned Jiao-mama and Xingyu. They respected the miss even more after witnessing the visit and served her even more carefully.
The next day at breakfast, Qin Yining asked her usual question of whether anything major had occurred outside.
Jiao-mama was quick with her answer and quite worried as well. “The Prince of Ning suffered a defeat yesterday. Those Great Zhou brutes are too ferocious when they fight. We have three hundred and fifty thousand guarding the city, but were tricked by a scheme and lost a few thousand men. The prince was also injured.”
Qin Yining frowned at this. “The prince is such a brave person, but even he’s been injured? Great Zhou’s never won a victory like this off of us before.”
“Indeed.” Xingyu and Bixue were also feeling nervous. “The prince has always been valiant. He’ll be able to defend the city.”
Qin Yining nodded as well. Her thoughts turned back to the five words of yesterday. The war would be put on a pause in about three days, but Pang Xiao had severely injured the Prince of Ning yesterday? What is he trying to do?
Her lips tightly compressed, Qin Yining took another bite of porridge. Inspiration suddenly struck. She understood!
He wants to use the war to force Weichi Yan to let this issue go!
Her hand tightened around the ivory chopsticks. Qin Yining used an enormous amount of effort to maintain her expression, but she was already lighthearted with anticipation. When she thought of Pang Xiao’s handsome face, she longed to see him like she’d never felt before.
It’d been a long time apart from each other.
News of the Prince of Ning being injured and the defending army eating an enormous loss spread like wildfire. However, there was also another version that said with the prince’s unparalleled skills, he’d heavily injured the Valiant Tigers as well despite coming off worse in the exchange.
The latest news from Xihua traveled to the capital at the same time. The Valiant Tigers announced they were taking a break from fighting, that they would resume only after Emperor Yuan Kang took his throne!
As the Qin miss was ordained to be a holy girl by the Soothsayer herself, it was too tiring to fight Great Yan while the nation was under her protection. She stood guard over the country’s fortunes, after all.
Therefore, the Valiant Tigers would wait to resume fighting only after this talisman was rendered impotent with marriage. They would see twice the effectiveness at half the effort then!
And so the notion of marriage neutralizing Miss Qin’s ability to ensure the nation’s peace was forcefully instilled into the people’s minds, clashing with the long-time rumor of their emperor wanting the lady to be his empress.
“Aiyo! What can we do about this all? If the emperor really does make Miss Qin empress, then she won’t be able to keep the country safe!”
“Miss Qin is a holy girl. Holy girls lose their abilities after they get married.”
“For the sake of the nation, the emperor can’t wed Miss Qin!”
Such conversations flourished in every street and alleyway in the nation and weren’t limited to the citizens. Various officials raised their concerns during court the next day, anxiously expressing that the emperor should reconsider his candidate for empress.
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