King Dragon sends his regards.

--ProZD

 

Chapter 277 – Not easy

 

General Yin was still outside, having stewed in raging silence the entire time. The Jin guards who were eyeing him with caution silently exhaled with relief with Huang Ming reappeared.

 

The general stared venomously at Huang Ming. Huang Ming on his part came out with a half-grin on his face, as if he had just gone though something enjoyable.

 

“My goodness, have you been waiting here all this time?” Huang Ming asked in feigned surprise. “But as you can see, I am perfectly safe and sound, o’ general.”

 

The smug tone in his voice made the general clench his fist tighter.

 

Huang Ming paused as he walked past the general to say, “The general should not wait in vain. The Princess of Jin is very preoccupied.”

 

Without waiting for his response, Huang Ming went on his way.

 

For a few pregnant minutes General Yin Yanzhao stared at the doors, still guarded by the wary Jin soldiers. The object of his obsession was inside the residence, but he knew better than to storm inside and sweep her off her feet.

 

Instead, the general spun on his feet and marched away.

 

In his mind, he was not yet worthy of that yet. Compared to the Prince of Jin, there was still a gap in their status.

 

Only after he had accomplished his goal would he be able to stand with her…

 

***

 

When Huang Ming reached home, he was immediately accosted by a half-worried, half-furious Qiong Ying.

 

“What the hell are you thinking?” she hissed as she tugged on his ear.

 

“Why, hello there,” Huang Ming smoothly took her hand away and encircled her waist.

 

“You actually met her?” Qiong Ying was too astonished to protest the intimate gesture.

 

“Mmm,” Huang Ming murmured as he nuzzled her hair.

 

Qiong Ying flushed and she tried to disentangle herself. She used both hands on his chest to push herself back as much as possible even as Huang Ming’s arm continued to wrap around her waist like some barbarian warlord.

 

“Why are you so strong at times like this?” she grumbled discontentedly.

 

Huang Ming smirked. “She has your eyes,” he suddenly said, causing her to stop struggling and lean in closer.

 

Huang Ming was delighted by her apparent willingness… until she narrowed her eyes and he himself drew back warily.

 

“Confess, what did you do?” Qiong Ying demanded.

 

“Don’t worry, I wasn’t bewitched by your sister,” Huang Ming chuckled.

 

“She didn’t try to sway you to her side?” she asked suspiciously.

 

“She did.”

 

Qiong Ying arched an eyebrow. “And you didn’t give in?”

 

“Give yourself some credit,” Huang Ming grinned as he eyed her chest lecherously. “Your sister has nothing over you. You have your advantages over her.”

 

Qiong Ying rolled her green eyes charmingly, not entirely able to suppress the tug at the corner of her lips.

 

“What happened?” she asked.

 

“She wanted me by her side,” Huang Ming shrugged, “I declined, of course.”

 

“Because of me?” Qiong Ying tilted her head, a lopsided smile on her face as she gazed into his eyes.

 

“Well, she didn’t really offer anything substantial,” Huang Ming teased. “Besides, I have a pretty good thing going here. There’s nothing she can offer that would beat having two wives.“

 

“She could easily offer you an entire harem,” Qiong Ying scoffed.

 

“Yes, but then you two won’t be in it,” Huang Ming replied with an exaggerated leer that exasperated her.

 

“Please be serious for a moment. Tell me everything,” she almost pleaded.

 

“Truthfully, nothing much happened,” Huang Ming admitted. “She was more interested in you.”

 

He could feel her shudder.

 

There was no need to tell her about Jin Hua’s false theory, or ask about the assassination attempts. It wouldn’t change anything.

 

“She said she will see us at the mass wedding,” he said instead. “Oh, and something about making renovations to the residence.”

 

“She must have something planned,” Qiong Ying mused. “You need to keep an eye on what she is doing.”

 

“Of course.”

 

“You shouldn’t underestimate her. She is unfathomably deep.”

 

“I won’t,” Huang Ming assured her. “I had Sunli prepare some things and already sent word to my parents.”

 

“You really need to give Sunli some tender loving care. It seems you only call on her if you wanted to get something done,” Qiong Ying groused on behalf of the Amazon.

 

Huang Ming gave her a look. “Do you see me all day, every day?” he asked.

 

“No…”

 

Huang Ming smirked, and she rolled her eyes once more.

 

“She is still quite prickly,” Huang Ming said.

 

“Does that mean you think I am easy?” Qiong Ying asked with a disarming smile.

 

Huang Ming sweated as he knew behind the smile was a dagger.

 

“I only meant that she feels differently than you. She wants to be constantly moving and doing something.”

 

“Does that mean you think I am lazy?” Qiong Ying continued in the same dangerous vein.

 

“I wish your sister was lazy,” Huang Ming mumbled in a half-hearted diversion.

 

It worked because Qiong Ying was still worried. “You should have went along with her,” she admonished. “You should have pretended to join Jin Hua and then spoil whatever she had planned.”

 

“What? And risk my body? What if she wants me to perform to prove my loyalty?” Huang Ming exclaimed in feigned aghast.

 

“It would have been difficult but I’m sure you can rise to the occasion,” she replied dryly.

 

“Maybe you are right. Ah, what a missed opportunity to put my body on the line,” Huang Ming sighed.

 

Even though she was the one who started it, Qiong Ying could not help but give him a slap on the shoulder.

 

***

 

Over the next few days, Jin Hua really did proceed to renovate portions of the former Prime Minister’s residence. Perhaps it was out of spite, perhaps it was something she really wanted, but she did it openly and hired local labourers. They entered the premises and cleared out an area so that the open-air compound became much larger.

 

The Princess of Jin had guards stationed to oversee the operation but she paid no mind to screen the hired hands. Of course there were Wu agents slipped in with the labourers but they saw nothing amiss as they knocked down the walls. It all looked liked an ordinary demolition job, because in reality it really was just that.

 

Having seen the rudimentary cannons during the siege of Beihai, Huang Ming was aware of the possibilities of Jin Hua planning something dramatic involving explosives, but there were no signs of such a thing. The Jin baggage had been checked as they were allowed into the city and all seemed aboveboard.

 

Even as the Princess ran roughshod over the luxurious residence, Huang Ming continued with the mass wedding plans and the spectacle to accompany it.

 

To say Huang Ming was not puzzled by Jin Hua would be a lie. After all, the Princess of Jin had practically allowed overt observers to check on and her and she seemingly did nothing but to vent unspoken anger on the roof and walls of the residence. Debris were carted out but nothing new were carried in.

 

Perhaps it was all a diversion, to distract him from the borders. But Huang Ming was prepared, having reserves ready to move either to the north towards Beihai or west towards Tigertrap Fort to reinforce his father if the Kingdom of Wei decided to attack. Trusted bodyguards guarded the royal couple and stringent security was all around the capital.

 

Just where would the Princess of Jin strike?

 

 

Away from the glitz and glamour,

Awaiting the fall of the hammer.