A full two hundred Dragon Riders came next after the commandery prince, led by the specially appointed vice general You Meng.
After them came Pang Xiao in a dazzling purple, python robe. Wrapped in a midnight-black cloak, he sat ramrod straight on a black horse with fur that gleamed coldly. His personal carriage and several more carrying servants trailed behind him.
Finally, a hundred Dragon Riders brought up the rear.
In full regalia, the procession observed all pomp and circumstance before putting it aside after exiting the capital, so that they could make better time on the road.
The same display was brought out again when they entered the next city. This time, Pang Xiao handed his horse over to Huzi and leapt onto the carriage.
Thick blankets padded the spacious vehicle. Out of concern for the hot weather, bamboo mats were laid over seat cushions. Qin Yining laid sideways on one of them, propping her head up with one hand and reading a book of travels with the other.
The curves of her body rose and fell like peaks and valleys, commanding all of Pang Xiao’s attention. He froze in place, kneeling at the door of the carriage.
My wifey is so easy on the eyes that even lying around randomly looks like a painting!
Qin Yining picked up that Pang Xiao was back and raised her eyes curiously when he didn’t come in. “What’s wrong?”
The lazy lift of her eyes sent Pang Xiao’s heart pounding. Though they were already married, his heart always raced out of control at times like these. His hands grew clammy, and his heart ached with emotion because he just liked her so much.
“Nothing, I just lost my train of thought when I looked at you.”
Qin Yining didn’t take the response seriously and rewarded him with an eye roll. “Come rest for a bit. The journey ahead of us is long.”
“That’s right.” He sat down and leaned against a body pillow next to Qin Yining. Wrapping his arms around her, he snuck in a kiss. “But there’s nothing bad about this either. We can spend every day together on this trip. If this was normal times in the capital, I’d have to be busy with this and that. I wouldn’t be able to keep you company whenever I felt like it.”
Qin Yining chuckled and lost interest in her book. She pillowed her head on Pang Xiao’s sturdy thighs. “I think this is swell. It feels more like we’re here for vacation instead of disaster relief.”
Pang Xiao was once again compelled to kiss her forehead.
Their trip to the south didn’t go that smoothly. Apart from the occasional deluge of rain that made travel impossible, they also ran into two bands of ‘brothers in the wild’ that ventured forth from the mountains.
Thankfully, the well-trained Dragon Riders were led by an equally courageous and sharp-minded You Meng. The group weathered the challenges of travel without major mishap.
Along the way, Pang Xiao sent out several imperial messenger pigeons. He didn’t use them to just greet Li Qitian, but also made detailed accounts of everything that happened along the way, dedicating significant space to describing everything Yuchi Yan did and said.
With the size of the procession and how their two parties were at opposite ends of the group, there weren’t many chances for them to speak other than when making camp for the night. Pang Xiao put his dislike of Yuchi Yan on obvious display. Sometimes, he even forbade Qin Yining from leaving the carriage.
Both of them knew that there must be more than one pair of eyes keeping them under constant surveillance. Any discrepancy in their words or actions would certainly arouse suspicion.
On the morning of the fourteenth day, the procession finally reached Great Yan territory. Huzi merrily approached the carriage.
“Your Highness, Yuchi Yan and Gu Shixiong are both missing from the lead carriage. It’s two decoys in place now. They’re just actors and are being paid for their troubles.”
Qin Yining turned to her husband with surprise, but he wasn’t fazed at all.
“I see. Keep a close eye on their movements, but stay away from their party in the procession. Let’s wait for You Meng to figure things out himself.”
“I guessed that Gu Shixiong would take advantage of this trip to goad Yuchi Yan into searching for the treasure,” commented Qin Yining. “But I hadn’t thought that he’d make his escape in this fashion. Isn’t he worried that when this gets back to the capital, His Majesty will kill the women he left behind?”
There was no way that Yuchi Yan would be content to scrape and bow in front of Li Qitian after finding the treasure. Therefore, he’d probably planned on finding the treasure when he departed the capital. His return was unknown, but sacrificing Li Yanyan and Gu Chang was a certainty.
Seeing his wife’s expression turn ugly, Pang Xiao patted her shoulder comfortingly. “Doing the inhumane—he’s certainly inherited the truest traits from his father. But don’t worry, I would never throw you away. Never.”
Qin Yining hugged Pang Xiao’s arm to herself and rested her head on his shoulder. “I know you’re good to me. I just think that he’s not the type. This seems more like a move from Gu Shixiong. But Gu Chang is his granddaughter! He’s willing to leave her in the capital as a hostage, running the risk of execution at any time?”
She sat upright. “Or maybe in his eyes, a mere woman isn’t anything valuable at all.”
The prince nodded. “Don’t worry. No matter how others are, I will never change towards you. My wife is so good that I wouldn't trade her for a mountain of gold!”
Involuntary chuckles worked themselves out of Qin Yining. “My thanks, my prince.”
Pang Xiao laughed heartily and peppered her cheeks and mouth with kisses. “We’re a married couple, what’s all this politeness for? When we have time tonight, we should bend our minds to studying when our little prince is willing to arrive at the manor.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Gu Shixiong, you're gross.