“Don’t worry, Miss Qin and young masters Qin,” responded Sir Zheng with a smile. “Master Qin is just fine. You’ll see when you go inside.”
The Qin fourth miss quickly thanked the warden and followed her cousins through the door behind Sir Zheng.
The decorations inside were the same as any to be found within the central room of an ordinary residence. The Qin children were greeted by Qin Huaiyuan’s glowering face at the head seat as soon as they crossed the threshold. Four nondescript followers stood behind him, the sort who’d blend into a crowd as soon as they were tossed in.
“Are you alright, father?” Qin Yining rushed forward. “Are you hurt?”
“Yes, senior uncle. We were all horrified when we heard you'd been in an accident,” added Qin Han.
A hint of a smile finally crossed the Qin patriarch’s face when he saw his daughter and nephews. “I’m fine. It's all thanks to my men catching me. Otherwise, if I’d fallen from the carriage and been trampled by the herd of charging horses, you wouldn’t be seeing a living me at the moment.”
Qin Yining's heart shook when she heard the details.
“Father, you travel through a bustling district in the capital after court is dismissed. Why would there be a herd of horses?”
“I’m just as surprised to find that there would be a group of officials’ sons charging their horses around the city, right under the watchful eye of the Son of Heaven! They didn’t care about possibly hurting pedestrians. They rammed my carriage today, but what if they trample someone to death tomorrow?”
The Qin fourth miss had postulated that something might be amiss when she saw her father brooding here. So it was a group of noble scions racing horses in the capital!
Great Zhou’s system of law was mostly complete and sound. But even the most holistic regulations applied only to ordinary folk. After all, it was the older relatives of these scions who created these laws.
These days, it was nothing unusual for any rule-breaking to be swept under the table.
Qin Han and Qin Yu’s expressions were less than pleasant by now. The Qins had come from Great Yan and suffered through the trash emperor’s rule. This was a worrying sign, one that induced concern for their new home. The decay of a nation didn't happen overnight—it was a function of chronic rot.
Great Zhou hadn’t been established for long but already showed signs of corruption. This made for a highly disquieting future.
Just as silence reigned in the room, the door opened to admit Sir Zheng.
Qin Huaiyuan looked calmly at the warden. “Were you able to find out who did it?”
Fine sweat beaded Sir Zheng’s face and he disregarded fumbling for a handkerchief. He swiped at his face with a sleeve and beamed merrily. “Master Qin, don’t be in a rush. Us at the Warden’s Office of the Five Wards specialize in cases like these. We’re already combing the city for the culprits. But the capital is so big, therefore we won’t have immediate news. Therefore, why don’t you…”
Qin Yining and her cousins looked at each other, fully understanding what was afoot. As large as the capital may be, how could some noble children galloping horses through a market remain uncaught for so long??
The only possibility was that there was someone in the group whom even the Warden’s Office didn’t dare offend. Or some august personage in the background had pulled some strings to protect those good-for-nothings.
The Qin fourth miss fumed quietly. Those brats are bullying father because he’s a foreigner! If things had been as before, though Great Yan was on the decline, no one dared bully her father apart from the trash emperor!
Qin Huaiyuan smiled gently at this and responded politely, “Thank you for your troubles, Sir Zheng.”
“Not at all, not at all.” The warden heaved a subconscious sigh of relief to see Minister Qin so easygoing. He opened his mouth to persuade Qin Huaiyuan to await news at home when the minister stole a march on him.
“I’m sure that with the Five Wards’ capabilities, they’ll find the culprits very quickly. The Warden’s Offices are in charge of the security of the capital. This sort of incident is a piece of cake. Plus, these people behaving in such a fashion is indeed a hidden threat to the people.
“I bumped into them today, but naturally won’t think much of it since I know His Majesty is wise and just. But what if one day a commoner runs afoul of them and is trampled, hurt, or even loses their life? What will the people say about the emperor then?
“Therefore, this official feels that out of consideration for His Majesty’s reputation and for the brothers at all five wards of the Wardens’ Offices, and especially for my own justice, I shall wait here for further development.”
A slack-jawed Sir Zheng took quite a bit of thinking before a simple man like him understood what Qin Huaiyuan was expressing.
The minister wasn’t leaving! He was going to wait until they caught the culprits. Otherwise, it would be a gesture of them disregarding the emperor’s dignity, which meant the minister could absolutely censure old Zheng in front of the emperor.
More sweat dotted the warden’s forehead, while Qin Huaiyuan remained smiling. “Why don’t you take a seat, Sir Zheng? It’s been a tiring day for you too.”
“Not at all, not at all.” Wreathed in smiles, Sir Zheng took a seat while inwardly goggling at the terrifying look in Qin Huaiyuan’s eyes. Wasn’t the minister a scholar? He looked as weak as a limp noodle! But why was he able to make one subconsciously want to submit with just a glance of his eyes?
Qin Yining and her cousins looked at each other again, finally able to relax.
This was also when the Qin fourth miss realized that as long as her father held down the fort, she really had no fear of anything else. She wasn’t the slightest bit nervous even with putting on such a demonstration at a warden’s office!
The Qin contingent might be coolly composed, but Sir Zheng wanted to cry. He was just doing his job, what did a fight between the gods have to do with him?
He wanted to send off this metaphoric Buddha, but understood that Qin Huaiyuan wouldn’t let things go so easily. The minister occupied a lofty position and received significant imperial favor. Add to that what had happened with the Lus just a few days ago, everyone now knew that the Qins were a group of tough nuts. If anyone wanted to crack the newcomers, the bullies might end up worse for the wear instead.
But what could he do?
Only send out his men again and have them search thoroughly. They had to find the culprit even if they lifted the very roof tiles off of houses!
A stiff atmosphere, conducive to developing irritation, stretched on as the group waited silently. Sir Zheng’s sweat threatened to soak right through his clothes. Qin Huaiyuan remained as relaxed and unflappable as ever. Affected by her father, Qin Yining was equally cool as a cucumber.
Two hours passed before there was finally a disturbance from outside.
Some men of the Five Wards walked in, carrying a young man wearing brocade robes of light blue.
The young man looked ordinary, but there was a timid air about him. He smiled awkwardly when everyone looked at him, unsure of what to say.
“This is the one who charged into Master Qin today,” declared Sir Zheng happily. “What does Master Qin say we do?”
The young man grew even more nervous, but maintained a collected front. He lifted his chin high. “Slice and dice or do whatever you want, I’m not afraid of you!”
Qin Huaiyuan stood next to the young man for a close look, ignoring the theatrics. “Who is Master Han to you?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter