Yi Binghu conscientiously bathed himself and lit incense before opening a secret imperial decree with utmost devotion. The shock from the simple sentence within it almost made him burst into tears.
The secret decree ordered him not to be rude to the prince and princess consort, to escort the prince with all pomp and circumstance that should be accorded to him, and to treat the prince with utmost courtesy on the way back.
What did His Majesty mean by this?!
His first orders had been to seize and escort Pang Xiao back to the capital like a felon, to transport the prince in a criminal’s carriage for sentencing and judgment!
Why had His Majesty suddenly changed his mind?!
Yi Binghu had already shed all pretense of cordiality with the prince, but now had to suddenly turn all deferential and respectful in accordance to his new orders. He would be made an utter fool, a laughingstock, a, a, a nothing!
Yi Binghu was furious, but didn’t really dare to be angry at the emperor. He could only redirect all the pain and anguish onto Pang Xiao’s head.
If it weren’t for Pang Xiao, why would he have to endure such humiliation??
He’d lost face in the Valiant Tigers many years ago, but finally regained some of it when escorting a disgraced criminal. But now that sinner was someone he had to bow and scrape before?!
A hot knot of anger and frustration in his chest, Yi Binghu had nowhere to vent it. Despite everything, all he could do was clench his teeth and change his attitude. The next time he saw Pang Xiao, all manner of proper greetings and honorifics were on full display. Finally, the steady stream of daily abuse exhorting the prince to depart for the capital came to a halt.
This naturally didn’t go unnoticed, and Pang Xiao had a good laugh with Qin Yining when he returned to their quarters.
After indulging in a fit of giggles, Qin Yining asked doubtfully, “Why has he suddenly changed his attitude for no good reason? There’s always something untoward behind an unexpected turn of events. You should thoroughly investigate this, there must be a reason for this sudden change in attitude.”
“Our thoughts have traveled down the same path.” Pang Xiao looked at Qin Yining with deep praise and affection. “His Majesty sent Yi Binghu a secret decree that our people intercepted before delivering it to him. His Majesty has ordered him to treat us with all due courtesy.”
“It looks like they’ve finished preparing for us at the capital.” Qin Yining instantly understood. “His Majesty is afraid of startling us, lest we run away en route and waste all his preparations, correct?”
“Precisely. Furthermore, His Majesty also wants to save face. Very few people believe his proclamation that I committed treason. Even if you put aside my own moral conduct and achievements, just the fact that my wife killed the Tatar khan makes it impossible for me to have defected to the Tatars. His Majesty must’ve been slow from anger to make such a claim earlier.
“He's changed tactics now. Perhaps too many don’t believe his version of events, or public opinion is just too much... he wants to smooth things over so his dignity is salvaged. The best option is to coax us back to the capital first, where it’ll be much easier to punish us."
Qin Yining nodded, her brows still creased with worry. Her stomach turned and a wave of nausea washed over her, possibly due to a surplus of anxiety. However, she didn’t want her husband to worry, so she swallowed down the reflex and suppressed the disgusting feeling.
Pang Xiao was very observant and Qin Yining was his greatest love. Her appetite hadn’t been too good these days, and she’d suffered nausea and dry heaving this morning, moaning her stomach felt unwell. Seeing her pale complexion now and how she swallowed like she was forcing something down, he couldn’t help but worry.
“Does your stomach hurt? Are you still nauseous?”
Qin Yining shook her head, tears pooling in her eyes as a biological reaction from suppressing the urge to throw up. It proved too much for her to endure in the end and she pushed Pang Xiao away, stooping down to throw up.
Pang Xiao panicked, not knowing what to do as he patted her back. “What is it? What’s happening?” He roared in the direction of the door, “Somebody hurry for a physician!”
Tao Jun’s family wasn’t with him and there were no womenfolk in the office. Even the maids in the courtyard had only been hired after Pang Xiao’s retinue arrived.
The maids were scared witless by Pang Xiao’s thunderclap of a roar. Dazed, it took them a while to collect their wits before they scrambled every which way for a doctor.
Throwing up all of the porridge she’d had for breakfast, some of it even overflowed to Qin Yining’s nose. She screwed her eyes shut from the biting pain in her head, unable to help tears streaming down her face.
Pang Xiao was so heartbroken that he almost started crying with her. He grabbed a handkerchief to dry her face and fetched water to rinse her mouth. Finally, he picked her up and carried her to the bedroom, setting her down on blankets laid out on the heated platform.
He sat down beside her, holding her ice-cold hand. “What should we do about this? I didn’t see you eat anything either. Don’t tell me… has somebody poisoned you?!”
The more he thought about it, the more likely the possibility seemed. Why, Yi Binghu’s face twisted whenever he saw the prince! He was definitely the one behind all this!
Pang Xiao flew into a sudden rage, “Yi Binghu, that damned bastard! I’ll have his head for this!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter