Ji Zeyu lowered his eyes with a faint smile upon hearing this. “There’s nothing wrong with letting go of enmity and hate. You and your family don’t share much of a bond to begin with, and your father wasn’t even aware of your existence.
“You are now absolved of all that emotional burden and stress, which frees you to live your days as you will. What’s so bad about that? You don’t have to follow those silly conventions anymore. Your happiness is what counts. ”
Pang Xiao was deeply moved by his brother’s heartfelt remarks.
Only those who truly cared for him would take to heart his emotional welfare and happiness.
The two sworn brothers had partnered seamlessly with each other for the longest time; they took what they wanted from each other, and kept each other on their respective toes. However, the prince was well aware that this was just for self-protection. They never meant hurt each other intentionally. Keeping this friendship intact despite the mayhem and destruction that plagued the imperial court was truly a triumph. The prince smiled at his friend. “Ah Lan, I can’t thank you enough.” His smile brimmed with pure joy. Ji Zeyu looked into his brother’s handsome face and felt an involuntary smile tugging at his lips. “There’s no need to stand on ceremony between brothers.”
Pang Xiao grinned again at his friend’s comments. The pair journeyed forward slowly on their steeds. Pang Xiao asked with amusement, “I wonder how beside himself His Majesty would be if he ever figures out how we truly are?”Ji Zeyu beamed at the common-born prince’s comment. “There would be nothing for it. Life goes on. You and I can talk to His Majesty about the importance of fraternity, but with the caveat of staying alive! Besides, you’re a family man now, you can’t risk everything without a thought of the elders and wife at home.” Pang Xiao nodded at the prince consort’s admonition. “You and I and His Majesty used to be sworn brothers. If he weren’t so overly suspicious of me and plotted like this against me, I wouldn't mind at all sacrificing myself for him. It’s too bad that things didn’t pan out the way we hoped.”Ji Zeyu nodded with regret, but grinned a tad later. “Don’t take it so hard, my friend. Friendships are reciprocated in kind. He’s schemed against us, which is why our guards are up against him. But things are different between you and I. Although we share a tacit understanding with each other at times, I am still willing to lay down my life for you.”Pang Xiao knew only too well how cold and reclusive his friend was. And yet, the prince consort was able to make that declaration with candor and sincerity after all they had gone through. He saw only guilelessness when Ji Zeyu looked at him. Not a hint of falsity or scheming were to be found in those eyes. “You and I both, brother,” replied Pang Xiao with earnestness.
Ji Zeyu laughed heartily upon hearing this answer. “That’s more than enough for me. How fortunate are we that our commitment to this brotherhood remains as strong as it was in the beginning!”
Pang Xiao felt equally blessed.
The two prodded their horses and made another circuit in the woods, returning to the city through different gates after bidding farewell. Ji Zeyu didn't return immediately to his manor after returning to the city. Instead, he took a detour to the Qin manor.
He led Whitecloud to a quiet entrance of an alleyway located diagonally opposite the manor, revealing only half of his body. The other was half hidden by a thick tree trunk. He appraised expressionlessly the bustling activities within the complex.
The Qins busied themselves with preparations for their fourth miss’s wedding, and the manor thronged with people and their hubbub. Ji Zeyu had no inkling why he stood guard here. His heart was a great void at the moment as he stared at the doors that opened into the manor, now awash with the Qins.
On his way back to the city, a flash of an impulse drove him to go interrogate Qin Yining about her feelings for Pang Xiao—whether they were genuine, or if they were a honey trap borne of her family’s fear of Pang revenge.
But now, he felt that he was in no position to demand such answers.
For one thing, he’d be out of bounds. Secondly, this marriage was set in stone to begin with after the imperial edict. In all honesty, Pang Xiao and the fourth miss had to tie the knot, come hell or high water. So what good would it do to stick his nose in this business now?
Not to mention, the prince was deeply enamored with Qin Yining. Even if Miss Qin bordered on being willful and arrogant, it might appeal to that brother of his as part of the fun. Lowering his eyes for a minute to collect his thoughts, Ji Zeyu smiled self-deprecatingly and took the reins, getting ready to be on his way. No sooner had he taken his leave than a carriage rounded a corner to slowly roll to a stop by the front gate of the Qin manor. A svelte figure that the prince consort knew well alighted from the carriage with the support of a maid and headed inside.
At Ji Zeyu’s side, Whitecloud seemed to recognize the figure and clip-clopped anxiously. He sneezed and whinnied loudly. The prince consort smoothed Whitecloud’s mane reassuringly, but Qin Yining seemed to intuit his presence and looked directly his way.
Their eyes locked, taking the girl slightly aback. She’d just paid Grand Steward Zhong a visit to discuss opening an inn in the capital, and to elicit a promise from her trusty steward to attend her wedding banquet.
Little did the Qin fourth miss expect to be greeted by a fleetingly familiar neigh as soon as she returned home. As she turned for a look, she saw a young man clad in red, a man whose presence could still be strongly felt even if half of his body was concealed by a large tree trunk. The prince consort was strikingly handsome, so much that his presence couldn't at all be ignored. Qin Yining looked around. She wasn’t sure whether there were scouts on His Majesty’s order in the neighborhood; nor could she be certain whether Ji Zeyu was aware that the Qins were possibly under watch. Yet if they were indeed under surveillance, the scouts undoubtedly had spotted the prince consort as soon as he arrived. If she didn’t make a move to talk to him, it would rather seem that something illicit was going on.
With that thought in mind, Qin Yining took Jiyun and circled around the carriage, making their way toward Ji Zeyu.
The prince consort recovered his signature cold composure. He watched impassively as Qin Yining drew closer.
He couldn't help but concede that the girl undeniably had what it took to stir Pang Xiao’s interest; her looks could easily launch a thousand ships. Also, as stunning as she was, she didn't strike him as crass, nor did she have the toady looks shared by many women. Rather, her appearance radiated intelligence and poise. It was immediately apparent that she was well-educated and a model of propriety. “Prince Consort Ji, what brings you here today? Why don’t you come in for a visit?” Qin Yining came near and curtsied with a smile.
Ji Zeyu answered coldly, “I’m simply passing by. I saw the excitement of preparations underway and stopped to take a look.”
Qin Yining offered a smile in return. “I appreciate your concern, Prince Consort Ji.”
“I am not at all concerned. I’m just passing by,” replied the man, his tone cold and hard.
Slightly discomfited by Ji Zeyu’s answer, Qin Yining’s smile turned awkward.
She could tell that the prince consort had always found her loathsome. What could she have possibly done wrong to incur such dislike? Did he hate her as a person, or the fact that she was the daughter of the man responsible for the death of Pang Xiao’s father?
She coughed dryly. “Very well. I won’t force an invitation if the prince consort has other business to tend to. But please do come by the manor for the wedding banquet.”
Ji Zeyu looked at her, his face inscrutable and unresponsive.
Qin Yining felt at a loss as to when she had offended Ji Zeyu. Otherwise, how could a veritable god of war, who led troops and had fought many wars, be so lacking in polite speech?
Simply put, the cold and indifferent prince consort just happened to despise her.
She didn’t feel like being snubbed anymore, so turned around to head back to the manor.
But at this time, Ji Zeyu blurted out, “Miss Qin, do you truly like Pang Zhixi? Will you treat him with a true heart? Will you be able to put Pang Zhixi above all else if the histories of your two families resurface to complicate things?” Startled by the questions, Qin Yining’s eyes snapped up to look at Ji Zeyu.
He definitely isn’t just passing by! He made this trip specifically to grill me with these questions!
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Omg. Ji bro you're the real bro! UwU
And shout out to Shannon, the translator for this chapter! Going forward, we'll see some chapters from Shannon here or there. I will be TLC'ing and editing her chapters to keep everything consistent. I know, I've always said that ROS is my baby (which is why I've stubbornly stuck to being a one woman army for 400+ chapters), and it still is, but it's high past time I took on some help to make sure that you, dearest readers, get some more stability and consistency in the schedule. <3
師大翻譯所的朋友好！真害羞在各位大能前面耍大刀，請鞭小力一點 XD 所有看到的任何typos or errors都是我的，寫得好的都是Shannon的 :D 如果大家對這個圈子更有興趣，歡迎到我的個人站看一些嗯... 廢話連篇的自我介紹哈哈哈