Chapter 416: Ten Miles of Beauty

Madame Miao took the scarlet veil covering and enshrouded Qin Yining’s head with it.Qin Yu was already standing at attention by the door, his back facing the room. “Fourth sister, come, this elder brother will carry you.” 

The Qin fourth miss placed her hand into that of Madame Miao and the bridesmaid’s for support. She stepped over the door threshold and climbed onto Qin Yu’s back. 

Qin Yu steadily carried his sister down the steps, treading the red carpet to head to the outer residence. 

The bride heard her brother’s loving reminders amid the racket of the wedding music. 

“Fear nothing if they bully you at the prince’s manor. The prince may be a high-ranking official and powerful, but the Qins are no easy pickings either. Three stooges can outwit Zhuge Liang, not to mention the fact that we have a capable and shrewd senior uncle on our side. Don’t ever suffer silently and allow yourself to be pushed around. Keep your family in the know if need be. We’ll settle the score for you.”

Qin Yining felt as if her heart was soaking in a luxurious hot spring bath in the coldest of winter months.

The Qin family had been bludgeoned by harsh realities and a myriad of afflictions. Indeed, some in the family nursed their own petty schemes. Yet overall, the family wasn’t lacking in warmth. Its members were also nice to her. 

“My thanks, big brother. I’ll keep that in mind. You have to take good care of yourself too. I’ll come home as often as I’m able to. Please keep me in the loop about anything that happens. You could come and tell me even if my father doesn’t..”

“Ai, rest assured, sister. I’ll come to you for sure if there’s a need to. I was a little concerned at first, but the way the prince looks at you grants me peace of mind.”   

The pair made it to the bridal sedan as they conversed. 

Flanking the bride on right and left, the bridesmaid and madame of all-encompassing fortune supported Qin Yining onto the bridal sedan, then handed a precious vase to her. “Hold this carefully, miss. Don’t drop it at any cost.”    

Qin Yining assented, and the sedan curtain closed.

Her scope of vision was overwhelmed by a sea of bright red. Though curious about what was transpiring outside, she wasn’t allowed to raise the curtain for a look.    

Bingtang, Qiulu, Xianyun, Jiyun, and Xiaozhou followed on both sides of the sedan. They were all part of Qin Yining’s dowry gifts and would follow their mistress to the prince’s manor. Holding Xiaozhou’s hands in hers, Bingtang gawked at the spectacle around her, her eyes sparkling with excitement. 

“Miss, it’s not peanuts nor jujubes that the prince is showering the spectators with, it’s copper coins! Showers and showers of copper coins! Listen to the cheers of the people! They’ve all had their fill and are congratulating His Highness!”  “That’s right, miss!” Jiyun looked over her shoulder and gaped at a sight some distance afar.

Flabbergasted, she proclaimed, “Our sedan is trailed by a parade of musicians, then tracked by a procession of dowry bearers! Miss, milord has prepared 120 litters of dowry, that’s in addition to 210 litters of betrothal gifts from His Highness! That’s 390 total! The lord’s hired elite troops to deliver the dowry. A pair of two carries a litter, and the carriers have formed a long tail behind us in a wash of red! We’ve taken two turns, and I reckon that the dowry carriers in the very back are still stuck in the manor!”

“Isn’t that Prince Consort Ji?” Xianyun craned her neck and declared with surprise. “Miss, the prince consort’s in the lead of the Valiant Tigers, escorting us in a convoy!”……

The bride, in the bridal sedan with eight bearers, listened to the surprised and overjoyed chatter of the maids. She felt just a tiny bit sorry that she was to miss out on the spectacle and fanfare. The bittersweetness of bidding farewell to her parents and the sense at being uprooted from her past washed away, thanks to the cheery atmosphere. What lay before her was a different identity and new life. She was to become Pang Xiao’s princess consort, and he her husband. They would support each other and share in their joys and troubles. They’d be by each other’s side until they were old and gray.  

Her mood lifted, Qin Yining chuckled with delight. She was again convinced that the ordeals she suffered in her decade of life were just a trade-off for future happiness.  

If time turned back to when she was seven, she’d never anticipate that the ‘Brother Beauty’ who helped her in that time of need would also be her future husband. 

The citizens of the capital hadn't witnessed a pageantry with this much pomp in a long while; the wedding of the eldest princess last year paled in comparison. 

The dapper bridegroom radiated high spirits atop his gallant steed. A procession of dowry carriers trailed behind the bridal palanquin with eight carriers. Troops and horses in the cavalcade escorting the paraders and the strikingly handsome general at their head pinnacled in an idiomatic expression: ten miles of beauty.

The wedding music picked up again in mirth when the prince’s manor was almost within reach. Firecrackers by the prince’s manor popped deafeningly in succession. The bridal procession halted, and Pang Xiao dismounted with a flourish. He accepted a bow and arrow, and casually drew back on the bowstring to release three arrows at the sedan’s upper frame.

The three arrows neatly embedded themselves in a row and at the same angle, eliciting excited hurrahs from the guests. The Valiant Tigers and Elite Tigers in particular cheered boisterously, having personally witnessed their idol, their god of war, in such a valorous and sprightly bearing.   

The carriers lowered the sedan and kept it steady as Qin Yining alighted with the bridesmaid’s support. She stepped over a lit stove to cross the threshold, handed the vase to the bridesmaid, and accepted one end of a red silk cord. She could see the large silk flower in the center of the cord, the hem of the groom’s scarlet python robe, and his tall, official’s boots. 

It was her husband on the other end of the cord, the one who’d usher her into every aspect of his life.  

The bride entered the front gate of the prince’s manor and walked the length of the red carpet to the front hall amid the loud cheer. Loud pops and claps of firecrackers came to an end, seamlessly followed by the whistles of fireworks rocketing into the skies, and the continued, thunderous boom of fireworks blossoming in the heavens.    

The glorious celestial radiance illuminated their brocade outfits and the courtyard of the prince’s manor. 

The procession of people arrived in the great hall. Grand-Lord Yao Chenggu, Grand-Madame née Ma, and Old Madame née Yao had taken up head seats as dictated by their standings in the family. The front hall was so jam-packed with guests that not a trickle of water could drip through.  

The master of ceremonies cried out shrilly, “The first bow to heaven and earth!”  The bridesmaid supported the bride in making a turn and taking a bow. 

“The second bow to…”

“Announcing His Majesty!”The master of ceremonies had yet to finish his second prompt when a eunuch’s shrill pronouncement drowned out his voice.  

Alarmed, the masses looked out to spot a golden figure clad stride right in, surrounded by numerous guards.  “Everlasting health and fortune to Your Majesty!” The guests greeted the arrival of the imperial majesty with bows, curtsies and salutations in unison.  

The groom and the bride also greeted the emperor. 

Li Qitian had already made his way to the couple. He wrapped an arm around Pang Xiao’s shoulder with a smile. “Good brother, you’re looking fine today! We are tardy, but not too late, We hope?” 

“Your Majesty, how did you leave the palace, what about your safety…”

“Ai, not to worry at all. It is Our sworn brother’s big day. As an elder brother, how could We not put in an appearance and join the feast?” 

The emperor smiled as he eyed Yao Chenggu, née Ma and née Yao. He paused briefly at the absence of the groom’s birth mother, but his expression gave nothing away. 

Yao Chenggu hurried to his feet and guided his wife and daughter to greet their liege.  

But how would Li Qitian accept the courtesies? He raised the three back to their feet and took the main seat at their behest.The emperor smiled. “Well then, do go on. Don’t miss the auspicious hour on account of Us.” 

The master of ceremonies had gone tongue-tied at the sight of the emperor; head eunuch Li Guanwen was quick-witted enough to save the day. “The second bow to father and mother!” Qin Yining turned around with her groom and bowed to his parents.  

“Husband and wife bow to each other!” Supported by the bridesmaid, the Qin fourth miss made another turn and another bow.

“See the newlyweds off to the nuptial chambers! The ceremony is thus concluded!”

No sooner had Li Guanwen’s declaration sounded than firecrackers outside the manor picked up in intensity. 

Tugged along by the red silk cord, Qin Yining headed to the back of the manor and soon arrived at the nuptial chambers.

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