Chapter 552.1: Parting Ways

Uncle Alham’s eyes lit up when he heard Qin Yining’s words. He nodded rapidly, excitedly translating the princess consort’s words to the brothers behind him; the rest of the tribe nodded 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 sharp-witted 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 to stay in the oasis. Her taut heartstrings could finally relax, seeing that the tribe no longer strongly proposed being their escort to Great Zhou. 

She and Pang Xiao were in a perilous situation themselves; they would never be able to guarantee the Minuo’s safety if the tribe really did follow them to Great Zhou. Furthermore, if the tribe really became embroiled in the matters of Great Zhou, the situation would turn even more complicated. 

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

She rose, pulling Pang Xiao with her and calling 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 it once we’re back 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. Qin Yining would’ve been able to live a luxurious and easy life if she wasn’t married to him. She wouldn’t have to struggle like this, eking out survival as a desperate nomad, suffering all sorts of horrors, yearning for 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. One soft and one firm, the two hands 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 what’s happened to 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 has fallen quite ill and unfortunately, the situation isn’t looking good. The second elder master now grasps the reins of power in House Lu, but Brother Lu needn’t be too worried. Your patriarch is tenacious by nature and won’t give up that easily. Be at ease and don’t blame yourself too much, your own health is the most important thing to take care of.” 

Pang Xiao could tell that Lu Heng was very much like Qin Yining—at the end of his rope. 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. Power struggles and other machinations commonplace in large families was all in a day’s work for him. In fact, what tormented him the most was his forbidden feelings for Qin Yining. 

But since Pang Xiao had misunderstood, Lu Heng saw fit to roll with the punches. Although he would never obtain Qin Yining’s love, he had her friendship and surely, a spot in her heart, no matter how small. This was the best possible result that he could have 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 to 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, flames of anxiety licked anew at his heart.

“This is 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 of the family, but with this singular mistake of his, the entire plan had been ruined. Years of preparation had been wasted and now his grandfather was even at death’s door. The pain that stabbed at Lu Heng’s heart was far 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. 

“Everything has taken place already, 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 people have seen thus far. There is so much more that you can do.” 

Lu Heng raised his head and looked at Pang Xiao. When he saw how spirited Pang Xiao was even in such a plight and how he still viewed the future optimistically, 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, then I naturally have the confidence and ability to do so. However, there are some things that Your Highness doesn’t know, 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 aristocracy with a century of history, and parts of its traditions stretch back to the founding of Northern Ji. It’s only natural that you have a robust set of rules that you operate by.” 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter