While they conversed, Pang Xiao addressed the Metropolitan soldiers who’d cordoned off the other officials, “There's no need for such pageantry in the future. Everyone is fiercely loyal to His Majesty and we are all diligently performing our duties to the best of our abilities. Is there a point to creating a hierarchy and fraying our ties to each other? On whose orders are you here to do so?”
His words rang loudly with connotations of rebuking whoever wanted to sow discord between him and the other officials. But how would those from the Metropolitan dare say that they were here on imperial orders? They backed down with embarrassment, not wanting to inadvertently cause trouble.
The officials closest to him understood certain things when they heard the exchange. However, since they were just ordinary officials, they didn't want to become embroiled in the politics of court and so refrained from expressing any specific sentiments.
It would be another matter entirely when it came to chit chat with trusted confidantes or under the table whispers with the caveat of, “I’ll tell only you, so don't tell anyone else”. Pang Xiao’s goal would be accomplished sooner or later.
This was Qin Yining’s first time attending morning court and also her first time facing such a tense situation without being involved. Due to express orders from Li Qitian, the married couple could only exchange a few words with Qin Huaiyuan and Qin Xiuyuan before moving on to await imperial summons.
Pang Xiao was greatly worried about her health and wouldn't let her participate in anything, thus, Qin Yining was completely oblivious to what was going on. Though she trusted Pang Xiao explicitly, she was still very worried.
Finding that her palms were clammy with sweat, Pang Xiao pulled her hands over and wiped them on his official princely robes. “Don't worry, everything's going to be fine. I will ensure the safety of you and our family.”
Qin Yining smiled wryly. “Of course I trust you, but things don't look very good at the moment and you won't tell me anything. Of course I'll worry if I don't know anything.”
“I told you before to just stick by my side and focus on enjoying life,” Pang Xiao chuckled. “There’s no need to worry about these matters anymore. Isn't it good that I've handled everything?”
Well, of course this was nice, but it was also impossible for Qin Yining to not spare any thought to the straits they were in.
Just as she remained deep in furrowed contemplation and an anxious Pang Xiao wanted to comfort her further, a eunuch’s high-pitched voice cut across the gathering.
“Upon His Majesty’s orders, the Faithful Prince and Princess Consort of the First Rank are to attend morning court and participate in the administration and discussion of state affairs!”
“This subject hears and obeys.” Pang Xiao adjusted his wife's robes and brought her hand up for a soft kiss. “Don’t worry and believe in me.”
Qin Yining nodded emphatically at him. Now that circumstances had progressed to this point, there was no point in shuffling one foot forward while constantly looking behind her. The two of them were together, which was all that mattered no matter what the outcome would be.
The two followed the messenger to the Hall of Governmental Union, passing by waves of announcements that rose and fell in the trademark tones of the palace eunuchs. High pitched delivery of imperial degrees traveled forth into the distance, reverberating in the ears of those assembled in the plaza outside the hall.
“Summoning the Faithful Prince and Princess Consort of the First Rank!” came the call shortly thereafter.
Pang Xiao once again patted his beloved’s hand before heading up the stairs first, striding into the hall with steady steps.
Looking at the hall’s entrance, Qin Yining took a deep breath and smiled when her gaze fell on her husband’s upright back. She slowly followed him in.
Taut as a drawn string, the atmosphere inside the Hall of Governmental Union was gravely tense and thrummed with jeopardy. The married couple’s arrival did nothing to alleviate it—in fact, it only set everyone more on edge.
After entering the hall, Qin Yining kept her head down and eyes trained on the ground, fully displaying every bit of etiquette and protocol that she’d learned before from the palace mamas. She strove with all her might to present a flawless exterior.
Those gathered for morning court were highly familiar with the prince, but it was their first time seeing the “enemy’s daughter” that he’d seized by force and later married. They were immensely curious about Qin Huaiyuan’s daughter to begin with and after seeing her in person today, many had their speculations confirmed.
How else would the Faithful Prince of the First Rank set aside his vengeance if not for stunning looks, delicate skin, and an elegant comportment?
Qin Yining had seen more than her fair share of grand occasions, so she pretended that none of the curious or calculating gazes on her existed. She followed demurely behind Pang Xiao to make her greetings to Li Qitian.
“You may rise, beloved subject,” called out a Li Qitian wreathed in smiles.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Pang Xiao didn’t forget to turn around and help Qin Yining up when he stood up, a gesture that set off a new round of hypothesizing in the assembled officials’ eyes.
Li Qitian graced them with a wide smile. “We have summoned Our beloved subject here today with your princess consort to discuss the sudden death of the Tatar khan Anari. You are sure to be aware of how much this matters to the current Utkin Khan of Tatar. He refuses to set the matter aside and insists that the Faithful Princess Consort of the First Rank killed their former liege. They threaten our borders even now with a Tatar army.”
He looked at Qin Yining and asked gently, “We are sure the princess consort has an explanation for this matter?”
He was the epitome of a benevolent ruler without a single hint of censure on his kind face. His attitude was perfectly in order, a result of his determination to not let anyone find fault with him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter