Chapter 92: Taking Advantage
Bingtang huffily prepared silver needles and adroitly stabbed Pang Xiao with one of them.
“How long will it take for my injury to heal? How long will the acupuncture and medicine be necessary?”
“Half a month for the medicine, but the acupuncture will be a bit more tricky. It needs to be performed every day for half a month.”
Pang Xiao nodded, and turned to look seriously at Qin Yining. “Since this is the case, lend me your maid for half a month.”
“That won’t do.” Qin Yining frowned and shook her head without hesitation. Bingtang wasn’t a normal maid. The trampress might try to hurt her if she left Qin Yining’s side. It was better to keep the maid with her.
Pang Xiao screwed up his face pitifully again. “Such a ruthless person. It looks like a lady’s word really can’t be trusted. You just said that you’d take care of me for the rest of my life if I was paralyzed, but now you won’t even lend me a maid with medicinal skills.”
“You!” Qin Yining had gone beet red with indignation. She bit her lip as she thought furiously. “Don’t worry, although you’ve been delayed, all expenses you incur within the Cloudsoar Inn are on the house. I’ll have someone bring Bingtang to you for treatment every day until you’re well. What do you say?”
A smile twinkled in Pang Xiao’s eyes as he drew out his response. “I suppose this could be a solution… but how can I take advantage of you by staying at the Cloudsoar Inn for free?”
“Don’t worry, I own the inn. Plus, you were injured because you saved me, so this is my responsibility.”
“Oh~” Pang Xiao once again drawled. “Since the miss wants to be responsible, it seems I have no choice but to take advantage of you then.”
Qin Yining blinked her long lashes; it took her a moment to realize the double meaning in his words. She was instantly so enraged that she wanted nothing more than to send him flying with one kick. On the other hand, Pang Xiao didn’t seem like an injured patient as he laughed heartily.
“Stop moving around like that! Aren’t you afraid of your wound splitting open?!” Bingtang quickly inserted another silver needle into him. Is this man made of metal and not afraid of any pain at all?
Pang Xiao was in a great mood and started haggling again. “I was only wounded because I tried to save you. And now, you only send a maid to give me acupuncture. Isn’t this glossing over things too much?”
“I also waived all room and board fees for your stay in the Cloudsoar Inn.” Qin Yining had a vague idea of where he was going with this.
“And what does that do? It’s not like I lack that bit of silver. I’ll pay you double room and board if you come see me tomorrow and serve me tea and water. How about that?”
“What, do I lack that bit of silver?” Qin Yining’s face was burning. The only thing holding her back from punching him was the the worry that it could worsen his injuries and kill him from blood loss.
The impulsive thoughts surprised her. Although she was still relatively young, she’d been through so much that being mature had become a habit. There were very few people who could thoroughly rile her up like this.
Even still, it was a different anger, not the like Qin Huining would normally provoke. That fury could be allayed with schemes and plans, appeased by an outcome. But this, this anger wasn’t something that plotting could solve. She just wanted to beat some sense into this infuriating good-for-nothing.
Meanwhile, Bingtang had put away her needles and was cleaning up. Qin Yining felt that the longer she stayed, the more her blood pressure would soar from the continued teasing. She had Qiulu prepare the carriage and asked, “Will you be staying here for now, sir? Or should I have someone take you to the Cloudsoar Inn?”
“I’ll have you take me there, naturally.”
When did I say I was going to do that? Qin Yining pursed her lips and sighed. “Alright, then we’ll be off shortly.” She turned politely to the priestess. “I leave my grandmother in your care, priestess.”
“God’s blessings! I will take care of my charges well.”
“We’ve brought trouble to the nunnery today. Although the Warden’s Office has gotten involved, send word to the Qin Manor if you run into any troubles.”
Thanks to the assassination attempt, they’d lost two grooms and the nunnery had lost three nuns. Compensation would be sent to the grooms’ families, and Qin Yining felt apologetic towards the innocent nuns.
The priestess opened her mouth to solicit another sum of money, but swallowed her words when Pang Xiao glanced over with a supercilious smile. She swiftly changed tack to beam merrily at Qin Yining. “Thank you, Miss Qin. I understand.”
“Stay here for now, sir. I’m making a quick trip to the side yard.”
She didn’t wait for a response before stepping out with Bingtang. The side residence had been cleaned up, with only the lingering scent of gore in the air ruining the area’s tranquility. Dusk had fallen, and gray clouds loomed threateningly overhead, signaling the imminent arrival of snowfall.
Qin Yining didn’t dare dwell on the shocking violence that’d happened today. She quickly set foot into the house that the duchess and others were in, politely locating and pulling her grandmother to the side. She took out a thousand tael note from her sleeve and shoved it into the matriarch’s hands.
“Grandmother, this note can be immediately redeemed for silver. You’ll have need for money when living here, so don’t short yourself on food, clothing, and other necessities.”
The duchess was touched when she saw the sincere look in Qin Yining’s eyes. Darling Yi isn’t the slightest bit angry by my desire to put a distance between us. The duchess sighed in quiet sorrow and patted Qin Yining’s hand.
“I won’t stand on ceremony with you then. Thank you for the silver, darling. Take good care of your mother when you go back. Although she’s occasionally silly, her heart has always been true towards your father. Before you came back, she would always throw a tantrum for quite a while whenever your father took a concubine. This time’s concubine comes with an imperial order and an uncommon background. You two must stay on guard!”
“I know.” Qin Yining nodded solemnly. “Don’t worry, grandmother. I’ll try my best to keep mother safe and take care of myself.”
“You’re a smart child. Grandmother knows that you’ll do things appropriately.” The duchess gave Qin Yining quite a few reminders and warnings before reluctantly seeing her out the door. When the girl turned back to look at her maternal relations, a wave of heartache hit her.
Destiny was ever the most mercurial of powers. Who could’ve thought that such a powerful dukedom would collapse overnight? Who would’ve guessed that a family would be rent asunder forever in the blink of an eye? Perhaps there had been a couple who had just fought, or siblings who were stewing over a misunderstanding. They’d thought life to be long, with plenty of time to make up or resolve misunderstandings. Who would’ve ever speculated that this time, regret would turn eternal? No one could predict whether disaster or a bright future would be the first to arrive.
Qin Yining took a deep breath in and slowly let it out. No matter what, she would take every step carefully and to the utmost of her abilities. She wouldn’t allow regret to appear in her life.
When she arrived at the main doors, she saw a warmed carriage making its way down the mountain. She didn’t want to take the carriage, so she took Bingtang, Qiulu, and Songlan on a walk down. They climbed into their own carriages at the foot of the mountain, with Qin Yining sending the gentleman off to Cloudsoar Inn first.
They were just in time to bump into a frantic Grand Steward Zhong. He’d been fretting and worrying ever since he’d first heard that the Warden’s Office had caught Great Zhou spies in an assassination attempt at the Celestial Nunnery. His anxiety for Qin Yining had turned him as antsy as mustard seeds on a hot pan. Steward Zhong was finally able to relax when he saw the miss return safely.
Qin Yining relayed what had happened, and the more he heard, the more respectfully Steward Zhong’s looked at Pang Xiao.
“Sir Yao, thank you for saving the owner’s life. The miss is my entire family’s savior, and you're the miss’ savior, so that makes you mine as well.” Steward Zhong smiled gratefully and turned to Qin Yining. “Don’t worry, miss. I’ll take good care of Sir Yao.”
“That would be good.” She looked at the skies and sighed. “I need to go back. I’ll be in trouble if I go back any later.”
While Pang Xiao had a thorough grasp on Qin Yining’s affairs, he obviously wasn’t able to express any of it. As such, it was only polite of him to ask, “What’s the matter? Is there anything I can help with?”
She looked at him and shook her head. “What can you do about something as inevitable as rainfall and marriage?” She sighed and tried to force herself into better spirits. “My surname is Qin and I’m the fourth in my family. Four is pronounced ’si’, so you can call me Qin Si in the future. What should I call you?”
A girl’s full name wasn’t easily given to an outside male. That Qin Yining was introducing herself thus meant that she was willing to be friends with Pang Xiao. He laughed. “My given name is ‘dada’.”
“Yao Dada?”  Qin Yining turned it over in her mouth before she blinked in realization. When she saw the cheeky light in the gentleman’s eyes, she knew she’d fallen for a trick again. She stomped her foot angrily and stalked off. “You are so annoying!”
Pang Xiao threw his head back in laughter, but quickly winced as he grabbed at his wound. “Don’t be angry, miss. My secondary name is Zhixi. You can call me Yao Zhixi.”
Qin Yining’s footsteps didn’t stop, nor did she turn back. She hadn’t seemed to hear anything as she stomped angrily back to her carriage with her maids and left.
Pang Xiao’s smile slowly faded as he watched her carriage disappear into the dusk. A genteel and disinterested expression dropped over his face as he turned. “Then I’ll be imposing on you these days, Grand Steward Zhong.”
“Not at all. Please follow me, Sir Yao.” Steward Zhong smiled.
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