Chapter 552.1: Parting Ways

Uncle Alham’s eyes lit up when he heard Qin Yining’s words. He bobbed his head, excitedly translating Qin Yining’s words to the brothers behind him, making the rest of the tribe nod in approval as well. 

“It’s a little difficult to raise the little guys, but it’s not impossible.” Liao Zhibing smiled. “How about this—choose someone smart and I’ll mentor him for a while. I’ll wait for him to master it before I leave.”

Uncle Alham kept nodding, deeply grateful to Liao Zhibing.

Qin Yining could tell from the expressions of Uncle Alham and the others that they’d agreed on staying. Seeing how they no longer strongly proposed being an escort to Great Zhou, she could finally relax taut heartstrings. 

Pang Xiao and her were in a perilous situation themselves, so how would they guarantee the tribe’s safety if the tribe really did follow them to Great Zhou? Furthermore, if the Minuo really became embroiled in the matters of Great Zhou, the situation would turn even more complicated. 

She didn’t want to make things even more difficult for Pang Xiao either, nor did she want the tribe to follow them into danger. If the Minuo stayed here, they wouldn’t have to suffer under Siqin’s persecution and could start a new, carefree life. For them, this was the best choice. 

She rose, pulled Pang Xiao with her, and called over Lu Heng. The three of them quietly walked away, leaving the area for the excited tribespeople. 

“We won’t be able to breathe air with such freedom in itback in Great Zhou,” Qin Yining heaved a deep sigh. 

Pang Xiao couldn’t help but sigh with her, his big hand patting her shoulder. Nothing could ease the guilt and gentleness in his eyes. If she wasn’t married to him, Qin Yining would’ve been able to live a rich and comfortable life. She wouldn’t have to struggle like this, eking out survival as a desperate nomad, suffering all sorts of horrors, with a home she couldn’t return to.  

Although he didn’t speak, Qin Yining could feel her husband’s regard and gently patted his hand. 

Her fair hands overlapped with Pang Xiao’s, brushing against the clearly defined joints on his hands. The two hands, one soft and one firm, made for a strong contrast. 

Lu Heng moved his gaze away from Qin Yining’s shoulder, pursing his lips as he looked into the distance. A gust welcomed his shift in attention, fluttering his hair and making his pale complexion even more evident. 

“Brother Lu, you already know about what happened in your family, correct?” asked Pang Xiao.

Lu Heng nodded, his expression grave. “I heard from Captain Cao earlier, but I’m not sure about the most recent happenings.” 

“Patriarch Lu fell quite ill and the situation isn’t looking good. House Lu’s power is now grasped in the hands of the second elder master. However, Brother Lu needn’t be too worried. I believe your patriarch is tenacious by nature and won’t give up that easily. Brother Lu can be at ease. Don’t blame yourself too much, your own health is still the most important.” 

Pang Xiao could tell that Lu Heng’s health was just like Qin Yining’s—at the bottom of its dregs. It was very clear how arduous their days wandering outside had been. 

Although Lu Heng was worried about his family, he’d grown up in the thick of things. He was accustomed to matters such as power struggles and other machinations commonplace in large families. In fact, what tormented him the most was his forbidden feelings for Qin Yining. 

However, since Pang Xiao had misunderstood, Lu Heng saw fit to roll with the punches. Although he would never receive Qin Yining’s love, he had her friendship and surely, a spot in her heart, no matter how small. This was the best possible ending that he could’ve strived for. 

What Lu Heng wanted to do was to be able to stand by her side and protect her forever. As such, he naturally couldn’t let Pang Xiao misunderstand him and it was even more important not disturb the couple’s relationship. 

However, thoughts of family were truly painful. Whenever he recalled his grandfather’s high hopes for him and the love and care showered upon him since childhood, it felt like flames of anxiety licked at his heart.

“It’s all my fault.” Lu Heng hung his head with guilt.

If he hadn’t dug out the treasure map and stubbornly pursued it to the end, none of this would’ve happened. His grandfather had spent so many years raising him to be the new patriarch, but with one mistake of his, the entire plan had been ruined. Years of preparation had been wasted and even left his grandfather at death’s door. The pain that stabbed at Lu Heng’s heart was even greater than what could be caused by an actual dagger. 

Pang Xiao and Qin Yining both understood his despair, but Qin Yining wasn’t sure how to comfort Lu Heng. Finally, Pang Xiao thought of something. 

“All of it has already happened, so there’s no use blaming yourself now. It’s more important to think of a solution for the situation at hand. With Brother Lu’s years of experience in business, a lifetime of being groomed as the family head, and all your connections and skills, I believe there’s much more to you than what you’ve shown thus far.” 

Lu Heng raised his head and looked at Pang Xiao. When he saw how spirited Pang Xiao was even in such a plight and his optimistic view of the future, he immediately felt that his earlier attitude was far too lacking for a man.

He took a deep breath. “You’re right. If we’re to talk about tidying up and taking back control of the family, I naturally have the confidence to do so. However, there are some things that You Highness doesn’t know. For instance, there are certain rules and customs that must be observed in our family. After all, we are a clan with a hundred years of legacy.” 

Pang Xiao nodded. “The Lus are a well-established aristocratic family with a century of history, and parts of its traditions even stretch back to the founding of Northern Ji. It’s only natural that you have a robust set of rules that you operate by.” 

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