Lu Heng spat inwardly—this shameless toad wants to eat swan’s meat! However, he kept a genteel smile on his face.
“My cousin hasn’t completely recovered, and with the fright she received yesterday, her illness has only worsened. She even ran a fever last night, so she’s been in a deep sleep all day. I hope Your Grace understands.”
The meaning behind his words was very clear: if it wasn’t for the harpies in your palace, Qin Yining’s illness wouldn't have gotten worse. Despite that, you still have the temerity to demand her presence?
Sure enough, the cocky expression on Zhou Meng’s face slipped away as awkwardness and worry colored his voice. “Then is she alright? Shall I summon the imperial physician to look in on her?”
“Many thanks to Your Grace, but we’ve already asked the physician to come. If you have any instructions, please tell me and I will pass them on.”
A frown crossed Zhou Men’s forehead. If the beauty’s odious cousin kept using this as an excuse, wouldn’t that mean he wouldn’t be able to see his beauty in the future?
However, he also wasn’t at leisure to debate this irksome man out in the open air.
“There will be a banquet tonight, thrown to celebrate the birth of my newborn daughter. I specifically came to invite Miss Pang to attend.”
“I’m afraid that might be difficult. The birth of a royal is certainly a momentous event, but my cousin is quite ill. It may be inauspicious if she attends.”
“Is that so? This prince hardly thinks so.” Zhou Meng narrowed his eyes dangerously at Lu Heng, his expression turning into a sneer. “Miss Pang is the goddess who brings us food, the goddess the Xiyue tribe reveres. My newborn daughter will be blessed with health and good fortune only if the goddess attends the banquet. Do all your obstinate and vehement refusals mean that you don’t trust this prince?”
So this fellow actually had some self awareness about him! Of course I don’t trust you!
Lu Heng sternly repressed his inner voice screaming curses and smiled faintly. “What could Your Grace be talking about? I am eternally grateful for your aid in sending the godly physician to my cousin’s side. How would I not trust Your Grace?”
“Hmpth! This prince won’t bother talking about such nonsense with you!” A threat laced Zhou Meng’s words. “You better prepare Miss Pang for the banquet tonight, or I will personally bring troops to fetch her!” With that, he stormed off with his entourage of guards.
Harbhara and Caganbhara hadn’t understood Zhou Meng’s words, but the man’s repugnantly smug attitude elicited their dissatisfaction.
“What do we do? Should we go or not?” Uncle Alham pulled Lu Heng off to the side.
“Of course we should go and take a look.” Qin Yining’s voice rang out behind them.
The group whirled around and saw the princess consort standing behind them, looking much healthier and dressed neatly with her loose hair twisted into a simple bun.
“When under someone else’s roof, we unfortunately must do as they say. I fear that his intentions are hardly to invite us to a banquet though,” Lu Heng fretted.
“I know.” Although Qin Yining hadn’t heard what Lu Heng and Zhou Meng had discussed earlier, it was more than clear what Zhou Meng wanted. “Even if we can avoid it for now, we can’t avoid it forever. It’s better just to see what he wants. As long as we’re prepared, we can respond with the initiative. However, everyone needs to reach into the depths of their courage.”
Emotionally speaking, Lu Heng didn’t want Qin Yining to take the risk. On a rational level, however, he knew she was right.
The Minuo viewed both of them as tribe chiefs and had spared no effort to rescue them from Khanbaliq, evading Siqin’s pursuit all this time. There was no earthly way that the two of them could abandon the tribe now.
Lu Heng couldn’t help but sigh.
Qin Yining took some medicine and rested for a little as she conversed with Lu Heng, Uncle Alham, Harbhara, and Caganbhara. Before long, the sky started to darken. While they conversed in Uncle Alham’s tent, a mix of jumbled footsteps grew outside, sounding almost like the continuous slap of the ocean waves.
Qin Yining was about to send someone to take stock of the situation when a panicked tribesman on guard duty rushed into the tent. His voice was anxious as he shouted, “Not good, not good! There’s a lot of people outside and our camp is completely surrounded!”
Lu Heng’s face changed when he heard the report, translating it for Qin Yining.
Her expression also turned grave and she stood up. “I’ll go take a look.”
“You shouldn’t, it’s too dangerous. It’s better if I go.” Lu Heng blocked Qin Yining from moving forward.
“Then let’s go together.”
Lu Heng stared at Qin Yining for a moment before nodding helplessly. “Alright, let’s go together.”
A light flurry of snow had fallen at dusk, highlighting their brightly lit camp in the dark of the night. The crowd of young soldiers surrounding their camp were all stone-faced as they stiffly stood in formation.
They gave way when they saw Qin Yining and Lu Heng emerge, revealing the appearance of Zhou Meng with his hands behind his back.
“Let’s be on our way, the banquet’s about to begin. I was worried that Miss Pang wouldn’t know the way there, so I came to escort you there.”
Qin Yining looked around and raised her brow with a sneer. “Is such an extravagant display necessary for bringing me to a banquet?”
“What’s so bad about an extravagant display?” Zhou Meng waved behind him.
Seeing the gesture, the general behind them unsheathed his sword with a ringing swing, campfire light glinting on his blade. The other soldiers also drew out staffs and swords, weapons gleaming as they threateningly stood at attention.
“I’m afraid such a display is hard for me to enjoy.” Qin Yining’s voice turned ominously sullen.Previous Chapter Next Chapter