Chapter 253: Arrival of the Empress (I)
Qin Huaiyuan and the Duke of An, Li Mian, had been waiting for a while in the main hall. Both walked up to make their greetings to the emperor when Weichi Yan and Qin Yining entered the room.
Weichi Yan was still immersed in the excitement of a mass of docile commoners and auspicious phenomenon from the skies. The recent dejection that’d hung over him due to the missing silver had been swept away. He waved an easy hand and commanded lightheartedly, “You may rise.”
“Many thanks to Your Majesty.” Both men rose and took a few steps back.
Weichi Yan turned back to look at Qin Yining and thanked gently, “It’s all thanks to you that the heavens imparted positive phenomenon today.”
Qin Yining didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
A rainbow after the rain was the most natural thing ever. How did it turn into some good sign for the emperor? He was really being too superstitious.
The girl sank to her knees. “This subject would never dare. The heavens sent an auspicious sign because the son of heaven is in Great Yan. I am just a girl and Your Majesty knows as well that I know nothing of the mystic arts. Everything I did today was pure show. How would I be able to command the heavens to send good fortune?”
Describing everything she’d done today as pure show sent Weichi Yan into hearty laughter. His affection for the girl reached new heights.
Even if she felt nothing for him, she was loyal to her liege. She didn’t leverage the status of a ‘holy girl’, one that the people had bestowed onto her, to trick anything out of him. Instead, she’d told him the truth early on. She’d told him what was real and what was purely to keep the people calm.
For a newly ascended emperor like Weichi Yan, Qin Yining’s honesty, Qin Huaiyuan’s unparalleled stratagems, the Prince of Ning’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his country, and the Duke of An’s genuine sincerity were his greatest backing.
With those in hand, it was the first time since taking the throne that Weichi Yan felt that he wasn’t alone, that he could vie with Great Zhou and put up a good fight.
“No matter what, you’ve accomplished a great deed today. You’ve helped Us calm the people and thought of a way to resolve the food shortage crisis. Tell Us, what should you be rewarded with, hmm?” Weichi Yan helped the girl up with both hands, his tone warm and light. He drew out the ending note of his response, infusing it with a few degrees of pampering.
The Duke of An lowered his head, his ears twitching.
Qin Huaiyuan looked down with a frown and no reaction.
Qin Yining took two steps back and made the bow of a Taoist nun. “Your Majesty bestowing Xuan Su Temple onto me is already favor enough. I wouldn’t dare ask for more.”
It’s favor enough that you didn’t force me into a marriage and let me live quietly in this residence!
Weichi Yan didn’t hear the double meaning to her words at all. He smiled. “We must carefully ponder what to grant you. Mundane gifts of gold and silver are simply too crass.”
Qin Yining lowered her head, itching to burst out with: I’m an ordinary person. If you really must give me something, give me crass gold then!
Obviously that couldn’t be said. She could only continuously retreat and minimize her existence.
Weichi Yan’s admiring gaze lingered for a moment longer before turning back to the men. “Elder Statesman, beloved subject Qin, let’s return to the palace to discuss important matters.”
“We hear and obey.”
The emperor cast another fond look at the Qin fourth miss before leaving with everyone.
Qin Yining sent them off with a respectful bow. Still maintaining the bearing of a Taoist master, she left the grand hall with Jiyun and Qiulu. She responded with a polite incline of the head to each nun that greeted her along the way.
Only after the trio climbed the long staircase, passed the flower-hung gate, and set foot into the rear hall halfway up the mountain did Qin Yining heave a long sigh. Taut back muscles could finally relax and she murmured, “It’s finally over.”
“Indeed. We made it through in the end.” Jiyun and Qiulu were also covered in nervous sweat.
The three were about to change their clothes when a guard from outside piped in. “Reporting to the honored master, a noble guest has arrived.”
Qin Yining stopped from disrobing. “Who is it?”
“In response to the honored master, the noble guest isn’t allowing this servant to raise a fuss and requests that the master step out in welcome.”
A ‘noble guest’ who could make an imperial guard tremble and hold his tongue…
Qin Yining had several guesses of her own and quickly went downstairs, kneeling in the middle of the square. She called out crisply, “This subject respectfully welcomes Your Majesty!”
Li Yanyan had been waiting around the corner with Li-mama, head maids Yuegui and Yueji, head eunuch Liu Bao, and a dozen other palace servants. She’d refused to come in until Qin Yining personally came out to welcome her in.
According to Li-mama and Liu Bao’s notions, the wench would feel immensely guilty given her shameful relations with the emperor. The guard hadn’t been allowed to divulge their identities so they could have a good show of how guilty the Qin wench’s expression would be when she saw the empress.
But who knew this person would be so smart as to kneel far away from them?
Did the guard tell her? Li Yanyan glared severely at the guard.
Qin Yining however, quickly rescued him. “In response to Your Majesty, this subject guessed your identity first and wanted to welcome your august self from here.”
The guard cast a grateful look before backing away.
Li Yanyan smiled, but a sharp light glinted in her eyes. The Qin fourth miss’ empathy was actually a way to buy hearts. She looked quite like a fairy in her otherworldly garb of white. Whenever the empress thought of the harmonious pair of Qin Yining and the emperor in the square, and how the people described them as a match made in heaven, Li Yanyan felt that she was on a spit being turned over a fire.
She and the emperor were the loving, married couple! If Qin Yining and the emperor were a match made in heaven, what did that make Li Yanyan?
“You may rise.” Her tone was icily cold as the empress controlled her temper with a great deal of effort, so that she didn’t descend into shrieking and crying in front of the Qin fourth miss.
As for Qin Yining, she was on pins and needles given the glare that the empress was levying. Every muscle in her body was tightly tensed. The empress was exuding hostility that was even stronger than that from the wild beasts in the mountains.
Though the two hadn’t been close before, they didn’t exactly hate each other either. Who knew Li Yanyan would come bearing so much enmity the next time the two met?
Given how sensitive Qin Yining was, she immediately guessed the reason why. If she’d married Pang Xiao, but he had someone else on his mind all the time, she’d probably want to kill someone herself. With that in mind, it was a display of a wondrous upbringing that Li Yanyan could maintain such a gracious demeanor.
All the same, Qin Yining felt quite aggrieved that she’d become the temptress in someone else’s eyes.
“Many thanks to Your Majesty.” Qin Yining rose and respectfully moved to the side, showing humility and obedience. “The day is very hot, will you move indoors for a cup of tea, Your Majesty?”
Li Yanyan was actually only further angered by such an attitude. Look at that! It’s obvious she’s feeling guilty with how polite she’s being.
When one was prejudiced against another, there was nothing that the latter could do right.
Li Yanyan entered the hall with a frosty expression, flanked by Li-mama and Head Enuch Liu Bao. The two palace servants cast contemptuous side glances when they passed the Qin fourth miss, as if they’d glimpsed some disgusting trash.
This shook the girl. I don’t think things will go well today.
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