Chapter 381: Charging Horses (I)

After court the next morning, earth-shattering news spread from one official to another, until all of court knew.

Ji Zeyu had been made the new commander-in-chief of the hundred thousand Valiant Tigers and would be stationed in the capital for the foreseeable future!

The previous Valiant Tigers commander, Pang Xiao, was to supervise the Bureau of Military Personnel after entering the Grand Secretariat.

The Valiant Tigers were one of Li Qitian’s primary weapons in subjugating the south. Pang Xiao’s prestige and status with the men was extremely high to begin with. Many worshipped him as their idol, and even his personally trained guard the Elite Tigers had been selected out of the Valiant Tigers.

Similar to the Valiant Tigers, Ji Zeyu’s Dragon Riders that dominated the north possessed the same level of trust and reverence of the now prince consort.

This, the emperor’s move not only made Pang Xiao lose his Valiant Tigers, but also took away the Dragon Riders from Ji Zeyu.  Though the prince consort’s new command were equally fine troops, relations between the men and their commander wouldn’t be as intimate as before.

The change was neatly wrapped up in a bow of entrusting the two princes with high positions.  And true, on the surface, it did appear to be a mark of tremendous imperial favor.

When Qin Yining received the news, she was combing Lian Xiaozhou’s hair. Her hands stilled. “It looks like His Majesty is particularly satisfied with Prince Consort Ji and also keeping in mind that he is newly wed. Therefore, he’s not sending the prince consort back to the northern border.”

“That’s right,” responded Bingtang. “The emperor looks like he wants to keep both mighty generals at his side to feel more secure.”

Qin Yining chuckled in spite of herself when she heard the reply. She naturally caught the sarcastic tones in Bingtang’s doublespeak and issued a reminder. “Don’t repeat this outside this room.”

“Miss, I’m not dumb. I’m just talking to you about it. Why would I make trouble for myself and talk about this outside?”

Qin Yining placed a pale-blue silk ribbon onto Lian Xiaozhou’s gleaming, pitch-black braid. She carefully tied it into a beautiful bow before breaking out into a smile. 

“That’s right, our Miss Bingtang is no dummy. That’s why she found herself a dependable tiger to be close with.”

Bingtang immediately blushed a bright crimson and stomped her foot. “Miss! What are you talking about!”

The maid’s reaction deeply amused her mistress. “What, do you not understand what I’m talking about? Huzi is a good man. He’s smart and loyal.”

“What’s it to me if he’s a good man or not? I can’t be bothered with him!”

The Qin fourth miss responded with a long ‘uh huh’. “Then next time I see the prince, I’ll ask him for a favor and not let Huzi come see you anymore, alright?”

A beet red Bingtang glared at her mistress and flounced outside. “You’re not a good person, miss! I’m not talking to you anymore!”

Qin Yining burst out laughing and patted Xiaozhou’s shoulder. “Go and keep your big sister Bingtang company. She’s feeling shy.”

Lian Xiaozhou nodded seriously and chased her big sister outside with beaming grin.

When the little girl had left, Qin Yining remarked with emotion, “It looks like Bingtang does have some good feelings for Huzi. I got it all out of her just with a little bit of teasing.”

“You worry too much, miss,” smiled Jiyun. “I feel that even if you don’t set them up, Bingtang and Huzi’s relationship is getting along quite well. They bicker whenever they see each other, but all is right with the world after they squabble.”

Qin Yining smiled as well. “When I have the chance to in the future, I’ll find good husbands for both of you as well. You can stay by my side as overseers.”

It was Jiyun and Xianyun’s turn to turn bright red. They, too, leveled glares at their mistress. “Just like Bingtang said, you’re not a good person, miss!”

Seeing that she’d bullied all the beauties of her household into bashful submission, Qin Yining giggled happily.

But at this time, hurried footsteps came from the yard. A young serving girl sprinted into the courtyard and called out loudly, “Bad news, bad news! Something's happened to the senior elder master!”

The fourth miss’ laughter immediately cut off and her heart skipped a beat. Pale-faced, she rose to her feet and scrambled out of the house. At the same time, everyone living in the rear garden ran out of their residences.

The old dowager came stumbling out of the main house with a tobacco pouch in hand, gripping Qin-mama’s hand and demanding nervously, “Hurry and speak! What’s happened to Meng’er!”

“That’s right, speak up, you!”

The serving girl grew even more frightened when she realized that she’d sent the entire family into a panic. Her knees weakened and she sank to the ground. “It’s, it’s news from outside that says the senior elder master was rammed by a horse on his way back home. In the confusion, the groom lost control and the carriage tipped over!”

“What?!” Horrified gasps rang out from the crowd.

The old dowager quickly ran forward and pointed her tobacco pipe at the little girl. “Quickly, quickly! Is Meng’er hurt??”

A carriage tipping over meant the occupants inside must’ve been thrown every which way. That was the serving girl’s guess, which was shared by the rest of the family. The second wife hugged her seven-month pregnant stomach and swayed, almost fainting on the spot. The second madame hastily helped her daughter-in-law away to rest.

“Where is the lord now?” asked née Sun anxiously. “What about the servants by his side?”

“The messenger didn’t say,” answered the girl fearfully. “He only said that the lord is at the yamen of the eastern Warden’s Office.”

The Warden’s Office? Of the Five Wards?

If that was the case, that meant Qin Yining could heave a sigh of relief. Her father wasn’t in any grave danger if he hadn’t been sent to a hospital.

The rest of the family also came to the conclusion and wiped the cold sweat off their brows. Palms placed together, everyone made bows of gratitude toward the heavens.

“I’ll go take a look at father’s condition.”

With the second and third elder master not present, the Qin custom was to defer to Qin Yining when there was no one who could make the decisions at home.

Née Sun nodded without a beat of hesitation. “Go with your cousins. You’ll be less likely to come off worse for the wear if you have helpers by your side.”

The old dowager nodded as well. “Go see how things are now and hurry back.”

“Understood, Old Dowager.” Qin Yining dipped a curtsey and returned to her house to grab a cape. She called for Jiyun and had servants prepare a carriage as soon as she reemerged.

Qin Yu and Qin Han didn’t drag their feet either. They jumped on their horses and followed the carriage to the eastern Warden’s Office.

When they reached the yamen and explained the reason for their visit, not only were they not sent away, but treated with enthusiastic courtesy when led in.

The Qin fourth miss quietly speculated which faction these people belonged to. There was the old aristocracy, imperial family, titled nobles, Northern Ji officials, and surrendered Great Yan officials. Troubled waters made for the best cover.

Though guesses flooded her mind, she didn’t dwell on them. She and her cousins strode straight for the inner office buildings.

At this moment, East Warden Sir Zheng happened to be giving instructions to his men. When he caught sight of Qin Yining, Qin Han, and Qin Yu, he approached politely to greet them. “So it’s the Qin young masters and Miss Qin.”

The three didn’t know the warden, so they bowed or curtsied politely back.

“Your Lordship, how is my father?” asked Qin Yining anxiously.

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etvolare's Thoughts

After only a hundred years in closed door cultivation... I can finally deliver my review of A Hero Born, the first in the Legends of the Condor Heroes. TL;DR -- I had some severe issues with the translation, which is why this review took so darned long.

Check it out here!