Qin Yining took a quick look around when Pang Xiao helped her down from the carriage. Soldiers from the Metropolitan barracks had parted a way through the crowd and shunted the carriages of various officials off to the side.
What a tremendous display of imperial favor toward the Faithful Prince of the First Rank, that none other may travel before him and even soldiers were deployed to clear his path! That it also happened to emphasize the prince’s overbearing arrogance?
Surely a coincidence.
Qin Yining sneered inwardly and felt that Li Qitian’s methods were becoming ever more low class. He seemed to love pulling little tricks like these, putting him on the same level as petty schemes maneuvering for more face in an inner residence.
When Pang Xiao noticed burgeoning anger peek through Qin Yining’s exquisite makeup, he mollified her with a smile. “Don’t be like this, my dear. You’ll let others get their way and hurt yourself in the process.”
She nodded, it did seem that her emotions were easily influenced ever since she'd gotten pregnant. This was notn’t for her health. Taking Pang Xiao’s hand, she looked up as she alighted from the carriage and happened to meet a pair of familiar eyes through the dense crowd.
That pair of eyes that were so much like hers were filled with joy and care. He was peering through all of the heads in his way, anxiously trying to ascertain her condition.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she almost burst out crying. Her father was such an extraordinary figure who seemed too remarkable for this world. But now he was just like any other father beneath the heavens, waiting on bated breath for a glimpse of his child.
Qin Yining felt incredibly guilty to see her father having become much skinnier. He must have been worried out of his mind all this time. Qin Yining knew full well just how chaotic things at home could be; he’d undoubtedly endured all sorts of pressure to defend her like he’d always had.
Her vision growing blurry through the tears, she made to walk toward her father. Though he nodded at her with a smile, he waved a hand to indicate that she shouldn't approach him.
Qin Huaiyuan could tell that his daughter had undergone severe hardship and trial. She had lost a lot of weight and looked much more feeble than before, but Pang Xiao’s attitude toward her was the same as ever. It was plain to see that he didn't have any reservations about her being kidnapped to Tatar.
All was well in Qin Huaiyuan’s world if the married couple were still of one heart.
Pang Xiao followed his wife's gaze and saw his father-in-law on the outskirts of the crowd. Though it was prior to morning court and hundreds of civil and martial officials were looking at them from the sidelines, he felt that whatever they did now didn't really matter given the circumstances. Li Qitian was sure to hate their faction after all of the arrangements he’d made.
Given the emperor’s character, he was sure to assign Qin Huaiyuan to the prince’s faction since the minister was his father-in-law. Therefore, Pang Xiao took Qin Yining’s hand and walked toward his father-in-law without hesitation.
Eyes tracking their every move, the crowd fell silent at this development.
Qin Huaiyuan first frowned, then underwent the same thought process and smiled at the couple coming his way.
Qin Xiuyuan tagged anxiously on his brother’s sleeve. “Brother, this…”
“It’s fine.” Qin Huaiyuan patted him reassuringly.
Pang Xiao and Qin Yining had reached them, upon which even the soldiers parted way. They greeted Qin Huaiyuan in unison.
“Good, good, there’s no need for further courtesies.” Qin Huaiyuan helped one up with each of his hands, first smiling at Pang Xiao, then looking Qin Yining over. “You’ve gotten skinnier, but it’s good that you’re able to come back.”
“Yes father, I’m doing very well. His Highness got there just in the nick of time. Though I weathered a spell of fright, I didn't suffer much for it.”
“That’s good, that’s very good.” Qin Huaiyuan nodded merrily.
The couple then greeted Qin Xiuyuan. “Second uncle.”
“Good, good. It’s so wonderful to see you safe and sound.” The second elder master’s eyes were reddened with emotion.
“There’s nothing to worry about, father-in-law. Though Yining was kidnapped and plunged into a perilous situation, she is smart, strong, and always able to dissolve danger. She is now three months pregnant and father-in-law will be able to hold your grandson at the end of the year.”
Qin Huaiyuan and Qin Xiuyuan both started at the news. Qin Huaiyuan immediately ran mental calculations, confirming that the child was Pang Xiao’s, that his daughter hadn't been defiled by the Tatars nor disdained by his son-in-law. He nodded joyously and laughed uproariously without a hint of his usual genteel demeanor.
“Wonderful, fantastic! We must nourish you well when we return home, you're really too skinny.”
“That's right, your mother and second aunt miss you dearly,” Qin Xiuyuan joined in happily.
Qin Yining ducked her head bashfully. “How is mother and second aunt? Is everything fine at home?”
“Fine, they’re all doing very well. You’ll know when you return home after morning court,” replied a Qin Huaiyuan wreathed in smiles.
Qin Yining nodded with delight as well.
The casual chat lightened up the previously stern atmosphere. Qin Yining had been a bit worried at first, but relaxed upon seeing her father in natural spirits and full of assurance, as well as her husband walking around with relaxed ease.
Since she was pregnant, there were certain things that Pang Xiao wouldn't raise with her. He’d undoubtedly finished all of his preparations beforehand.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Just wanted to give everyone a quick update on the team as most folks have rolled off. I'd like to heartily thank Emily who helped me with chapters starting from the 400s and Kiki from the 500s. Alas and alack, real life calls and it's back to purely etvo on chapter duty starting from this one. Thankfully I seemed to have leveled up these years, so full speed ahead!