"Let's not keep the guest waiting," Li Chenyang said. He wondered if Xueyue was on her way home now since Yu Zhen was here. He hoped she would return safely and quickly.
Li Chenyang wanted to see her before he would leave for his court duties. He vaguely remembered the Palace Courts were opened to guests today; something about exposing the younger generation to the way inner politics worked.
Nonetheless, Li Chenyang didn't care. It wasn't like he was going to bring Xueyue to tour around the Palace when so many people were after her.
Li Chenyang sighed. There was so much to be done today, and the Court Ministers still had time to bring in people? He scowled. Perhaps it was time he increased their workload.
"What are you doing standing there like a tree? Hurry along now," Duchess Wang Qixing ushered him. She was now standing at the end of the hallway, looking back at her son.
"I'm coming," Li Chenyang said. He hurried in her direction and it didn't take long for the two of them to stop outside of the drawing room.
The Eunuch opened the door for them, loudly announcing, "Welcoming Madam Wang Qixing and our Young Master Li Chenyang!"
Duchess Wang Qixing was the first to step inside the room. She was followed by Li Chenyang who shared the same puzzled expression as her. What was going on?
Seated on the chair was a well-dressed Hanjian soldier. Indeed, he was more equipped and had the aura of someone who was more than a regular soldier. He seemed friendlier but they knew that was just a facade to lead people to lower their guards.
"I apologize for coming here on such short notice," the man said, standing up to greet them. "My name is Hu Dengxiao."
Li Chenyang vaguely remembered seeing him in the Palace with Yu Zhen.
"I've come bearing grave news, my lady." Hu Dengxiao took off his helmet and held it against his chest.
"What is it?" Duchess Wang Qixing asked, sitting down and gesturing for him to do the same. "Please, have a seat and enjoy some tea. It's freshly brewed."
"I'm afraid time is escaping me." Hu Dengxiao glanced at the Prime Minister's son. Even from this distance, he could feel the man's analyzing eyes raking all over him.
"I've come to inform you that something abrupt has happened in Hanjian. Thus, our Commander and every soldier had to return to our homeland as soon as we could."
"What happened?" Li Chenyang asked. "Why isn't your Commander telling us this in person? The disrespect of sending you is astronomical."
Hu Dengxiao bowed his head. "Our Commander had received word of the issue two weeks ago. The Second Prince was supposed to return the exact day he heard of the problem, but he stayed in Wuyi to finalize his business with the Young Miss of this household. Just yesterday, another letter was delivered and this time, the matter can no longer be ignored."
"Finalize?" Li Chenyang hissed. "Your Second Prince tells us he's interested in Xueyue. Then he ups and leaves like it's nobody's business. What do you mean he was supposed to leave two weeks ago?"
Duchess Wang Qixing vaguely remembered what happened. Xueyue had urgently chased after Yu Zhen and had grazed her knee. Luckily, there wasn't a scar.
Duchess Wang Qixing wondered what was so urgent that Yu Zhen had to hop onto his carriage. The Li soldiers conveyed to her the look of urgency on Yu Zhen's face and the speed he left the manor. It was as if he was chased by malevolent spirits!
"We can't disclose any information as it's confidential. However, our Commander wrote her a letter." Hu Dengxiao reached into his pockets and pulled out a neatly folded letter.
Duchess Wang Qixing took it from him, her eyes narrowing onto the wax seal. It irritated her that every male that came Xueyue's way always seemed to have some sort of baggage.
"Very well, I will have it delivered to my daughter," Duchess Wang Qixing said, placing the letter into her sleeve pockets.
Hu Dengxiao bowed a bit. "Thank you, we will truly appreciate that, Madam."
Li Chenyang's lips curled irritably. "You tell your Commander that we've never been so disappointed in him. If he ever wants our Xueyue, he will have to come and fetch her himself."
Hu Dengxiao bit his tongue to refrain from saying anything. He could do nothing but nod his head.
Talking to aristocrats wasn't his specialty. It was Lu Tianbi's. She was originally supposed to be sent here, but he volunteered in her place. She would have to lag behind from the troops, and that was too dangerous for a woman—even if she was a trained soldier.
Duchess Wang Qixing glanced at the soldier, knowing he wasn't an ordinary one. This Hu Dengxiao must've been the Commander's trusted man. Why else would Yu Zhen send this soldier to deliver the important information?
"When will your Commander return?" Duchess Wang Qixing asked.
Hu Dengxiao worriedly turned to look at her. "As soon as he finalizes everything in Hanjian."
"What exactly happened in Hanjian?" Li Chenyang muttered. "The Prime Minister will catch wind of it eventually. Better for you to tell us now than never."
"With all due respect, Minister Li," Hu Dengxiao began. "It will be news that you will never hear."
Duchess Wang Qixing narrowed her eyes. This soldier was getting on her last nerves, but so were they. "Is there anything you can say to reassure us that we shouldn't promise our Xueyue to another man?"
Hu Dengxiao jolted out of panic. Li Xueyue belonging to another man? Yu Zhen would have his head for this!
"Please rest assured Madam, our Commander will rush here on the first opportunity that he can get. Do not promise her to another man. Our Commander is still very interested in her. If not, he wouldn't have sent me, his right hand man."
Duchess Wang Qixing frowned. She wanted to know why Yu Zhen couldn't come here and beg to take Li Xueyue with him back to Hanjian.
This soldier mentioned Yu Zhen was finalizing something. Did that mean the courts in Hanjian were too hectic and chaotic for Xueyue to step foot in?
Li Chenyang let out a sigh. There was not much they could say or do to this man. It wasn't like he was Yu Zhen.
Duchess Wang Qixing placed a warm hand on her son's elbow, hoping to alleviate his annoyance.
Duchess Wang Qixing turned to face Hu Dengxiao. "Tell your Commander that the Li family is extremely disappointed and displeased by his actions, but we will respect the effort he has spent on our Xueyue. We will wait, but not for too long."
Hu Dengxiao felt like a mountain was lifted off of his shoulders. He was so grateful for her actions that he bowed deeply at her words. "Thank you very much, Madam, your decision is greatly appreciated!"
Li Chenyang forced a tight smile. "Anything else?"
��None at all," Hu Dengxiao said. "Everything that must be said is in the letter. Please have it delivered accordingly to the Young Miss of the Li family."
Duchess Wang Qixing reluctantly nodded. She was quite curious about what was inside this letter.
"That is all," Hu Dengxiao said. "Please excuse me, Madam Wang, and Minister Li. I'm afraid I will have to leave as soon as I can."
Li Chenyang took a step to the side. "Have a safe return to Hanjian."
Hu Dengxiao nodded. "Thank you."
Hu Dengxiao left before Duchess Wang Qixing could escort him out.
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