Pang Xiao raised an eyebrow, his arms tightening around his wife. "If I had been a married man when we first met, would you have brushed me aside without falling for me?"
At this, Qin Yining straightened and tilted her head up to look at him. Pang Xiao gazed down at her in kind. They held each other's gaze.
"You foolish man," she chided, her smiling voice thick with emotion. "Why consider something that never would’ve happened?"
He acted like such a child sometimes, fretting over impossible what-ifs.
However, Pang Xiao didn't stop at that and shook her gently. "That won't do, you have to answer me. If I’d already married someone else before we met, does that mean you wouldn't have liked me and thus wouldn't have come with me?"
The princess consort contemplated the question seriously and considered her likes and dislikes. Finally, she nodded. "If external factors left me with no choice but to go with you, then perhaps I would. But if I were to follow my heart, I’m not willing to be a concubine and steal someone else’s husband. As a woman myself, I’m all too aware of the hardships we face. Do not unto others as you wouldn't want them to do to you, after all.
"But when the heart has stirred, there's no controlling it."
Qin Yining dimpled with a shake of her head. "The heart is one thing. Your actions are another. Would it be right to disturb someone else’s family because of one’s own selfishness? Does the excuse that emotions are difficult to control entitle one to forgiveness? In my opinion, humans are superior to animals because we’re rational and can control our actions. If we let instinct dictate our decisions, how are we any different from the common beast?"
"Some nerve you have." Pang Xiao burst into laughter despite himself, planting a loud smooch on her cheek. "You've denounced all the men who can't resist having a mistress and those who can’t control themselves from being a side piece."
Qin Yining dimpled and rested her head against his shoulder. "Everyone thinks differently. Those are just my thoughts on the matter. Though I support my mother and have no wish to see her live unhappily, I also know Auntie Cao has done nothing wrong. Her feelings toward my father are no less than my mother's own devotion—in fact, I daresay she’s done more for him."
"You trust her, then?" Pang Xiao nuzzled his chin against her forehead.
Qin Yining could only nod at that. "I do. I do because of how she feels about my father, and because she previously showed that she loves even those connected to him. She wouldn't lie to me. Even if the six Silver Masks did turn, I don't think she was in the know."
Having heard Qin Yining's analysis, he pressed a kiss against her forehead. They were in a tricky situation.
Repairs were rapidly commencing on the roads and the disaster zone had been stabilized, so there was no risk of another revolt for the time being. However, Li Qitian was watching their every move. Furthermore, he had the Dragon Riders stationed within proximity of the old capital. If the married couple acted blindly, Li Qitian would show no mercy. The emperor was being driven mad by his lack of funds.
This wouldn't have been a concern for Pang Xiao if he was acting alone, but he now had Qin Yining to consider. If he were on his own, he could do whatever he wanted without regard for the consequences, but it was different with his wife. He couldn't have her shoulder the risks with him.
However, now that the disaster relief efforts had no real need for the treasure, he knew exactly what Li Qitian would do with it if he obtained it first. If that happened, he wouldn't be the only one in trouble—Ji Zeyu would also be forced into an awkward situation.
The emperor already devised all sorts of schemes to weaken their authority and drive a wedge between them when he didn't have any wealth. This was a prime example of disposing of the bow once all the birds had been shot down.
If Li Qitian got his hands on the treasure, only the heavens knew what he would concoct next. No longer a lone wolf, Pang Xiao had others to worry about and thus wasn't about to take any chances.
Alright, we have to seize the treasure first then. Whether or not he needed to use it for his own forces, he had to keep it out of Li Qitian’s hands for their own safety. But what could they do under such tight surveillance?
Suddenly, Qin Yining spoke up. "I thought of a way for us to get close to the treasure, but I don't know if it will work. Tell me what you think?"
Pang Xiao grinned. "Our hearts seem to be beating as one. I was just considering the same problem."
Qin Yining dimpled and rose to her feet to whisper in his ear. Pang Xiao hesitated for a moment after she finished, but in the end, he nodded tentatively. "Very well. Our chances of success notwithstanding, it will allow you to return to the capital. Better that than staying here to remain in danger and suffering.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Pang Xiao's question is brushed off as childish antics here, but I think Qin Yining raises a very valid point. I too wouldn't want to be someone's concubine, and if Pang Xiao had already been married when the two met, I don't think they would've ended up together. You guys?