As soon as Qin Yining returned to her tent, her limbs gave out from exhaustion and she collapsed onto the cot. After closing her eyes for a lengthy moment, she got up to loosely tie back her hair before lying back down to sleep.
Seeing that she had fallen asleep, her assigned servant girl decided not to disturb her and quietly slipped out. When she lifted the door flap of the tent, the khan consort unexpectedly greeted her. He’d been standing right outside the doorway with his hands behind his back.
She froze at the sight of Siqin, then moved to curtsey. Just as she was about to open her mouth in greeting, the khan consort made a hushing motion and waved a dismissal.
The servant girl felt her heart lurch when she remembered how the khan had attacked the woman earlier in the tent. Judging from the look on the consort’s face, she’d really discovered something incredible!
The lady she waited on was so beautiful that even she couldn’t help stealing a few glances her way, nor could she suppress her desire to offer attentive care. If she found the woman this attractive, what did this mean for the men who laid their eyes on her?
If the khan’s consort was truly attracted to the woman, one misstep could very well mean the maid’s permanent end!
The servant girl lowered her head and hunched over as she made her leave. As she walked away, she wondered whether she should report this to the khan or not.
She blinked, then rejected the notion. Who didn’t know how deep the khan’s infatuation with her consort ran?
If someone with a competitive streak found out that her husband fancied another woman—and learned of it from a servant girl, no less—it was likely the khan would kill her to ensure her silence.
Even if she didn't die by the khan’s hand, the khan consort probably wouldn't show her any mercy once he learned who tattled on him. All she could do now was pray that the khan never discovered this. Well, it was also crucial to think of her testimony in advance if the truth got out and the khan came to question her.
By this point, the servant girl found herself on the verge of tears.
Siqin slowed his gait as he approached Qin Yining’s cot. He lowered his head to stare at her slumbering face and stayed still for a long while. It wasn’t the first time he felt himself irresistibly drawn to her.
He’d always been a highly disciplined person who knew what he wanted and how to get what he wanted. Yet, the sight of Qin Yining abruptly struck him with a fervent desire to possess this woman.
It wasn’t that he’d never seen beautiful women before, but it was the first time he had ever seen someone with her looks. Unlike the women of Tatar, she was like spring water—pliable, yet tenacious. Her every move embodied grace, every scowl and smile a marvel to behold.
Even if he kept her by his side without laying a finger on her, the mere sight of her gave him pleasure. Why had such a person appeared so late to him?
It seemed the Soothsayer had spoken truly. He was fated to squander this life away, and the things he desired wouldn't reveal themselves to him easily—he would have to work hard in order to attain them.
Pursing his lips, Siqin gently took a seat along the edge of her cot. He knew Qin Yining had keen senses, so he elected to visit when she was tired. He withdrew his aura as much as possible and refrained from continuously staring at her to make himself less noticeable.
Gazing upon her delicate features, he was overcome with the urge to touch her. He gently reached out with his right index and middle finger to stroke her cheek.
The princess consort seemed to sense something—her eyes snapped open, hastily batting away the outstretched hand that came into view.
As soon as she struck Siqin with a crisp slap, he withdrew his hand, brows furrowed.
Qin Yining leapt to her feet at once. Though her vision went black from getting up so suddenly, she showed no sign of weakness as she fixed the khan consort with a sharp glare. She slept fitfully to begin with—she was in enemy territory, after all. No matter how tired she was, she forced herself to stay vigilant. If she hadn’t wasted so much energy on taming the stallion, she would’ve noticed Siqin long before he reached out.
Siqin slowly stood and stared into her guarded eyes. He rubbed his fingers together as he strode forward. “A very good idea suddenly occurred to me.”
“None of your ideas are good in my eyes.” Qin Yining stared coldly at him. “The khan’s consort would be wise to treasure the life he has now. Even if your khan is not the brightest woman, her love for you is genuine. Do you not fear retribution if you betray her?”
“Retribution?” Siqin looked as if he had just heard an absurd joke. “Yes, yes, you are correct. Look at your man—his punishment for killing countless people is losing his woman to me!”
He raised his voice, his deep voice radiating with fury strong enough to make people tremble.
Qin Yining’s heart lurched, but she wasn’t afraid. She stared back at him with ice in her eyes.
She was half cloaked in shadow in the dim light of the tent. Faint light radiated off her tousled hair in a pale golden halo, her shining eyes reminding Siqin of the packs of wolves that hunted the grasslands.
Bespelled, he reached out with a tut, “Why does a woman of your looks have such eyes? You...”
“What are the two of you doing?!”
Siqin’s murmurs were interrupted by an angry roar from the doorway.
Anari furiously stomped forward and dragged Siqin two steps backward by the collar, then flung her hands away. “Didn’t you say you had something important to attend to?! So that ‘something important’ was coming to this vixen’s tent??”
Siqin took in the sight of Anari’s ruddy face and eyes of blazing fury. With great effort, he managed to suppress how much his heart dropped from disappointment. “My khan, you misunderstand.”
“Misunderstand? The two of you are alone in a room and you won’t let anyone serve you. You expect anyone to believe you haven’t been entranced by this temptress’ good looks in the slightest?!” Anari screeched, enraged.
“My khan, you are overthinking the situation,” Siqin beseeched. “I came to ask her about the Faithful Prince of the First Rank. She still refuses to talk, but we might still be able to glean some clues about him, no? Even if the khan does not trust her, surely you trust me? What kind of person do you take me for?”
Hearing this, Anari looked back suspiciously at Qin Yining. It was true she trusted Siqin very much. In all the years she’d known him, she’d never seen him show interest in any other woman. He complied with everything she asked of him.
She’d always held herself in high esteem. Not only was she royalty, her horse-riding skills and way with a bow were second to none. As a khan that had the trust of her people, everyone who knew her had nothing but respect and admiration for her. It went without saying that Siqin treated her as his only mistress. And he’d always done so, which only had Anari enjoying the feeling of relying on him more and more.
Yet here he was, actively pursuing a beautiful woman!
How she dearly wished to tear Qin Yining into pieces and feed the remains to the dogs!
Anari had always loved Siqin. Though she would yell at him from time to time whenever she grew impatient, she couldn't lift a hand against her own husband. It wasn’t just because she didn’t have the heart to—it had taken so much effort to help Siqin build his reputation. If they didn't present a united front, outsiders would jump at the opportunity to worm their way into the power vacuum they left behind.
With this in mind, Anari threw everything to the back of her mind, except that she was not to turn to violence. She lowered her voice. “Come with me, husband,” she warned. “If you need to ask her anything, have one of your subordinates do that for you. We return to the capital tomorrow. If you continue to pay her so much attention when we return, I’ll kill her!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter