Chapter 433.1: To Lose

What remained unsaid was that where others may fail when making requests to Cao Yuqing, she would always agree if Qin Huaiyuan was involved.

Previously, Qin Yining had only considered things from née Sun’s perspective. Given that, of course she didn't want Cao Yuqing to wade into her parents’ marriage. 

The Silver Masks leader was a stunning beauty, possessed adept martial arts skills, and boasted a rich breadth of life experience. Her feelings for Qin Huaiyuan ran deep and she'd remained steadfast and true all this time. After such a long period of impartial observation, Qin Yining could note Cao Yuqing’s sincerity and straightforwardness.

Madame Cao could also tell that the subject of her affections didn’t return her ardor, which was why she'd taken a step back to protect him as a guard instead.

Love for the house extended to even the crows on the roof. Qin Yining often felt that Cao Yuqing was particularly tolerant and trusting of her. Even with that, an extended verbal bout still may have resulted in failure to deploy the Silver Masks. But if her father asked, the Qin fourth miss was almost certain that he would receive whatever he wanted.

Honestly speaking, Qin Yining rather pitied Cao Yuqing not being able to find fulfillment in love and having to take a step back as a guardian. There was pity, but also admiration.

If it’d been a crooked person in Cao Yuqing’s shoes, it’d be the work of a moment with her martial arts skills to take née Sun out of the picture and create space for herself. However, she hadn’t done so because she respected Qin Huaiyuan's decision, and life itself.

Qin Yining, Pang Xiao, and Qin Huaiyuan continued their discussion in low whispers. When they wrapped up the conversation, the prince had Huzi surreptitiously send his father-in-law out.

“Escort Minister Qin and make sure no one discovers you two. Be careful.”

“Understood, Your Highness.” Huzi smiled.

The next day, Qin Yining used the excuse of buying spices to meet with Missus Liao, left some reminders with Steward Zhong, and returned to Pang Manor at noon.

The family took their meal together. The wedding having taken place not long ago, the nuptial bed hadn’t even been fully warmed before His Majesty sent Pang Xiao on such an assignment. The family was reluctant to see them go—even née Yao, who was at slight odds with Qin Yining.

They could scheme and plot against each other behind closed doors, but were one family outside of the home. Née Yao truly feared that the emperor would be up to no good again after the youngsters set off.

“Ai, good thing Dafu can take lass Yi with him, or I’d really be out of my mind with worry,” sighed née Ma.

Yao Chenggu doused her relief. “Dafu is off to deliver emergency relief to the south. We don't know if he’ll be in danger or not.”

Née Ma’s brow furrowed when she heard this, and née Yao worried even more.

“I hear that it was quite a severe earthquake this time. The disaster zone is a very wide area, and with such hot weather, it will be difficult to rescue those buried beneath the debris. If the heat and humidity accelerates decomposition…”

“That’s enough, mom.” With resignation, Pang Xiao interrupted née Yao’s words. “It’ll be fine. I’m just escorting the commandery prince. I won’t have to actually do anything.”

Née Yao was also feeling that her speech wasn't too auspicious. She quickly changed the topic. “That’s good, that’s very good.”

Discomfort crept in when her eyes fell on the smiling Qin Yining off to the side. Since marrying in, the girl had ignored all of the unfriendliness projected from her mother-in-law. No matter what disquieting words were voiced, Qin Yining brushed them all off with a smile, showing only a docile appearance.

This kind of girl is either truly kind and open minded, or her schemes run deep, very deep.

Naturally, née Yao leaned towards the latter.

“Daughter Yi, you and Dafu must take care of each other outside these doors. It’s hot down there, so be careful of coming down with sun poisoning or illness.”

“Yes mom, your daughter-in-law understands.” Qin Yining smiled. “Grandfather, grandmother, mom, there’s no need to worry. The old capital was once my home. I’m familiar with the area and I have some businesses there. The prince won't have a hard time while he’s there.”

“That’s good, that’s good.” Née Ma caressed the girl’s cheek. “We’re all very much at ease with you taking care of Dafu.”

Née Yao nodded as well, and the atmosphere grew warm again.

The time to set off was set. Qin Huaiyuan mixed his messenger pigeons in with the thirty from the emperor. No one anticipated that the newlyweds would bring their own, so when combined with Pang Xiao’s lofty status, no one really dared inspect the prince’s carriage.

The relief mission convoy was quite vast; it gathered interested crowds when it left the capital.

Soldiers at the front cleared the way via banging on gongs. Ceremonial troops behind them raised signs marked with “Solemn Quiet” and “Make Way”. Following them was the carriage holding the Commandery Prince of Yan and his father-in-law Gu Shixiong. Li Yanyan and Gu Chang remained behind in the capital.

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