Chapter 286: Casting the Bow Aside Once All the Birds Are Gone
If it’d been anyone else delivering such brazen insults and threats, Lian Shengjie would’ve long since exploded into a fit of fury. But when facing Pang Xiao, his temper didn’t dare rear its head at all.
He could only tamp down a bellyful of dissatisfaction and jealousy to respond stiffly, “As opposed to wasting time arguing with me, Your Highness would make better use of time by packing carefully and preparing to return home. His Majesty means that since the Valiant Tigers have tremendous battle strength, they should remain temporarily stationed here in case any trouble flares anew in the Yan capital. Your Highness has always preferred a minimalist style, so I’m sure you won’t fail His Majesty’s good intentions.”
Lian Shengjie was back to grinning mockingly at this point.
How much were your deeds of valor worth now, Pang Zhixi? The emperor can decide where you should go with a single command, and even take away your life!
Leaving the Valiant Tigers at the Yan capital meant that Pang Xiao couldn’t head back with his direct subordinates. He would be completely helpless if the Great Zhou emperor wanted to make any moves against him.
With this development, Lian Shengjie felt all of his bottled up anger disperse. Pang Zhixi could only tyrannically throw his weight around outside. He still had to tuck his tail in and be as meek like a cat when facing the emperor.
Though Pang Xiao knew that his emperor was highly wary of him, he hadn’t thought that the emperor would be so blatant as to cast aside the bow as soon as all the birds were gone.
They’d only just conquered Great Yan!
It looked like the emperor’s wariness of the prince had reached new heights, in which he didn’t care about his own reputation. He just wanted to keep Pang Xiao down.
It was nauseating to look at Lian Shengjie’s smug face. But this was only to be expected. The emperor himself was showing that he was threatened by Pang Xiao, so how was it possible that this attitude wouldn’t be reflected by any of his subjects?
At the end of the day, this was all thanks to his good brother.
Pang Xiao rose and flicked the dust off his outer robes.
The dashing flair of his movements made Lian Shengjie’s heart skip a beat. He frantically took a few steps backwards, his heart pounding, deathly afraid that Pang Xiao would just outright murder him.
If the prince did, the emperor probably wouldn’t do anything to Pang Xiao for it.
Pang Xiao snorted derisively to see Lian Shengjie cower with dread. It’d only dirty his hands if he really did kill this milksop, and it’d give rise to future troubles.
He brushed past the nuisance when his thoughts took this course.
Lian Shengjie heaved a long sigh of relief after Pang Xiao’s figure vanished from the door. He sat down to continuously wipe away sweat. That demon was finally leaving! He would be scared into a heart attack sooner or later if Pang Xiao remained at the army camp!
The prince had just lifted the flap to his own tent when he heard Qin Yining cough. He frowned anxiously and asked Bingtang, “Why isn’t your miss’ health taking a turn for the better? She’s been taking a lot of medicine. How am I supposed to be at ease about this?”
“If my miss wants to fully recover, she’ll have to spend at least a year and a half resting.”
Pang Xiao sat down next to Qin Yining with furrowed brows.
The girl took the tea that Jiyun brought over and had a few sips. She asked with a smile, “Does His Majesty have further orders for you? You’re departing, right?”
The prince blinked. “How did you know?”
“I could tell that you’re preparing to leave when you said ‘how am I supposed to be at ease’.”
Jiyun and Bingtang dismissed themselves when they saw the couple engross themselves in conversation.
Pang Xiao took Qin Yining’s hand and kissed her fingertips before pulling a long face. “His Majesty has sent urgent orders for me to return to the capital. I’m not allowed to participate in the ceremony of surrender.”
Qin Yining nodded understandingly. “I see. He doesn’t want you to have any of the limelight. Since an imperial order’s come, you have to answer it.”
“That’s right.” Pang Xiao agreed glumly. “This sucks. I can’t bear to leave you. Why don’t you come with me? We may not have spent most of our days together during this time, but we still saw each other everyday. I can’t handle having to suddenly leave you.”
Qin Yining was teased into laughter by this rare display of childishness. “Look at you, saying such irresponsible things at your age. How can I possibly leave at this time? That’d be elopement! Whoever elopes becomes a concubine. Do you, Pang Zhixi, want to fob me off with just the identity of a concubine?”
Her tone was light, completely joking right back at the prince, but Pang Xiao considered it very seriously. He adjusted his posture upright and thought carefully, then responded gravely, “Forget it. You’re right. I’ll send you home in a bit. We can decide the rest when you reach the capital with your family.”
“How can you be so sure that my family will be summoned to the capital?”
“His Majesty means to treat generously all surrendered officials that are fourth rank and above. A renowned subject such as Grand Preceptor Qin will naturally be summoned from the Yan capital. Once the ceremony is over, the first batch of officials will set off with Weichi Yan.”
Qin Yining heaved a long sigh. It was still a very depressing affair that Great Yan had fallen, just like that. It stabbed at her heart despite knowing that this had been an inevitable outcome, given trash like the former emperor.
Seeing a frown cross her forehead, Pang Xiao’s heart ached and he gathered her into his arms, patting her back comfortingly. “Don’t worry and come to the capital with your father. I’ll figure out a way for us to marry when you’re there.”
Qin Yining closed her eyes and nodded morosely in his embrace.
Pang Xiao personally sent Qin Yining back to the Qin Manor. When they reached the avenue that the manor was on, he had the carriage halt.
“My darling, I won’t go any closer. You can go on, I’ll watch you from here.”
“Why aren’t you coming inside with me?”
Pang Xiao shook his head with a smile, but didn’t say anything else. Understanding dawned on Qin Yining.
Qin Huaiyuan was now a surrendered official and Pang Xiao possessed an exceedingly grand position. Her father would have to bow and greet the prince if they met. Pang Xiao plainly didn’t want to make things awkward or embarrassing for her father.
Qin Yining wrapped her arms around Pang Xiao’s neck and kissed his cheek. “I see. Take care of yourself. I’ll see you in the capital. It won’t take too long.”
A wave of heat rose in Pang Xiao’s body at her initiative. His heart racing, he hugged her and spent quite a while whispering sweet nothings into her ear before finally resigning himself to her departure.
Seeing the girl reach the manor’s door with Jiyun and Bingtang’s companionship, Pang Xiao put down the window curtains and headed back to the army camp.
News of Qin Yining returning home quickly traveled to the Garden of Loving Piety thanks to a fleet-footed runner.
Those in the manor were the same as the group who’d made it up Mt. Eternal Spring. Thanks to the fourth miss and Steward Zhong making early preparations, life had been difficult on the mountain, but no one had died of starvation.
In the residence, née Sun completely ignored the old dowager when she heard that her daughter was back. She came out in welcome, along with Jin-mama.
Awkwardness crept over the old dowager’s expression, but she had Qin-mama help her up when she thought of how the future looked. She too came out to welcome Qin Yining, along with the second madame, eighth miss, and Qin Huining.
Née Sun and Qin Yining had already entered the inner residence by the time the group made it to the flower-hung gate.
The old dowager smiled. “Aiyo, granddaughter Yi’s finally returned. The emperor’s given us orders to travel to the capital. We were wondering if you would be coming with us or the Faithful Prince of the First Rank.”
Qin Yining looked at her mother, askance. “Travel to the capital? So the date for the ceremony and journey have been set already?”
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