Chapter 105: Teashop, another clue appears Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
It was actually Long Feiye. Third Madame had never seen him in person, but she already had a deep feud with him! In these two months, Long Feiye had killed countless of her subordinates, even her most talented and extraordinary senior disciple who could command poison mosquito swarms.
How could she not hate him?
Third Madame was ready to rush out and fight Long Feiye to the death, but her naturally logical side was very clear that she couldn't. If she couldn't kill this man and exposed herself instead, then the years of effort by Northern Li would have all gone to waste. Before, she had been puzzled over why none of her guards had moved against Han Yunxi when she barged inside. Now she finally understood that it was because Long Feiye had come!
It was right that her guards didn't stir; otherwise, she'd never be able to cast off suspicion. But what she didn't understand was why Long Feiye was accompanying Han Yunxi. Didn't he dislike this woman? Unless she'd earned his trust after discovering Mu Qingwu's poison?
Even to the extent that the poisons-proficient Han Yunxi was assisting Long Feiye in his investigation of the enemy spies? And only then was the poison-ignorant Long Feiye able to kill off her senior disciple? In other words, the chief culprit of her death would be Han Yunxi?
At this, Third Madame tightened her grip on the dagger in her hands!
Northern Li Country had spent years worth of effort to train their enemy spies to guard against Long Feiye. She never thought that on the cusp of reaping their years long efforts, Han Yunxi would stick her foot in and mess up all their plans! And now the investigation had led straight to her doorstep.
Han Yunxi, I swear my life won't be complete until I end yours!
Under these pressing circumstances, Li Mingyue had no choice but to suppress the raging flames in her stomach. She quietly withdrew her dagger and lay on her side.
Han Yunxi answered Long Feiye, abruptly lifting the bedcurtains to examine the bed, before drawing nearer to Third Madame to check her hands. There was still no warning from the detoxification system.
"Whew..." With a big sigh of relief, Han Yunxi's heart finally sank back into her chest. "Nothing anywhere, that's great."
She patted the woman beneath the covers and smiled. "Third Madame, I've caused you an affront." Then she carefully tucked Li Mingyue in, put down the bedcurtains, and left.
As soon as she heard the door shut, Li Mingyue opened her eyes, her face frighteningly somber. "That's great? Hehe, Han Yunxi, I'll definitely make you understand the true meaning of great!"
Once Han Yunxi stepped outside, Long Feiye only had to look at her expression to know the general outcome. But still he asked, "How is it?"
"Nothing anywhere. Your Highness, I think I must have made a mistake," Han Yunxi smiled, in a very good mood.
"Though you found no other traces, it doesn't prove there's no suspicion," Long Feiye's voice grew serious. He was very unsatisfied.
"Those three poisons in the wooden building were common snake poisons, it's not strange that they've shown up here," Han Yunxi was quick to explain. "Of course, if Your Highness is still doubtful, you could question Third Madame as to whether she kept snake poison, and for what reason!"
When she came for tea last time, Han Yunxi had already wanted to question Third Madame. But because she feared hitting the grass would startle the snake, she chose to examine the surroundings instead. Now that she'd found nothing, she had no worries.
Long Feiye was about to reply when he heard the sound of water nearby. It looked like the servants were up.
Without another word, Long Feiye pulled Han Yunxi into his arms and instantly vanished into the dusky skies without a sound. When they finally returned to the Hibiscus Courtyard, the sun had already rose. Long Feiye might have been unhappy the whole trip, but he still kept Han Yunxi's foot injury in mind and delivered her to the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, where he set her in the living room and let her sit on the table.
Right at this time, Zhao mama had come in carrying water. When she saw this scene, she unconsciously took a few steps back. But she only paused a moment before walking in with a smile to pay her respects. "Your servant greets Your Highness and esteemed wangfei good morning."
Long Feiye nodded and signaled for her to rise. Zhao mama straightened and quickly poured two cups of tea before bringing them over, eyes darting a glimpse at the loft upstairs with a smile. "Your Highness and esteemed wangfei certainly woke up early."
Han Yunxi nearly spat out her tea at the words. What did Zhao mama mean by these words? Did she make the mistake of thinking Long Feiye stayed here overnight? Long Feiye seemed to realize this as well, and coughed lightly in response before lowering his head to drink his tea in silence.
"Your Highness, your ladyship, please wait shortly. Your servant will prepare breakfast now," Zhao mama hastened to say as she prepared to leave.
But Long Feiye finally spoke up. "There's no need, your lordship still has things to do."
"No matter how busy your lordship is, you still still eat breakfast. Don't hurt your stomach from starving," Zhao mama persuaded.
Yet Long Feiye merely stood up without acknowledging Zhao mama. Instead he spoke to Han Yunxi. "Don't hit the grass and startle the snake with that matter. Your lordship naturally has his own arrangements, understood?"
"Actually..." Actually, Han Yunxi had tried to persuade him otherwise the whole way back, but Long Feiye still wanted to investigate.
"Your actions stop here," Long Feiye's voice grew serious. He'd carried this woman the entire way while listening to her clamor by his ear, and had long lost his patience. Han Yunxi's mouth twitched, but she could only remain silent. Long Feiye seemed to worry that she'd try something again, because he shot her a deep look before turning to leave.
When he was gone, Han Yunxi rolled her eyes. Though she couldn't emotionally accept Long Feiye's decision, her logical side agreed that further investigation was necessary. After all, the spies had concealed themselves so deeply that they couldn't afford to let go of any clue, no matter how small.
Han Family, Han Family...aye, she didn't know what its fate would be!
"Esteemed wangfei, why didn't you keep His Highness here for the meal?" Zhao mama asked.
Han Yunxi recovered her senses and blurted out, "Why keep him?"
Zhao mama suddenly grew speechless, unsure of what had just happened.
"No...no reason, your servant will prepare breakfast now," Zhao mama said as she quickly retreated. She sighed with emotion. The hearts of this master and mistress were too hard to read!
Han Yunxi's stomach grumbled as she watched Zhao mama's retreating form. That was the thing with stomachs, once you gave it attention, it'd grow hungry without fail. Filled with doubt, Han Yunxi carefully hopped off the table, only just remembering that she'd left her shoe at the Solitary Enclosure. She hobbled over to a seat before lazily reclining with an exhale. Many things had been accomplished last night, but time had passed so quickly. Even now, she still hadn't completely recovered her senses. Who knew if that fellow was hungry? What kind of things were he busy with this early in the morning? Was he going to protect the names on the list? In her memory, there were quite a few who were still alive. As busy as he was, it shouldn't take him long to eat a meal.
Unbeknownst to herself, disappointment flitted past Han Yunxi's eyes. She pursed her lips next, too lazy to think any more about the man.
What kind of person was the head of the Northern Li spies? Would it be someone they knew who was hiding right by their side? Han Yunxi mused and wondered until she inexplicably fell asleep. When Zhao mama returned with breakfast, she saw her worn out state and didn't dare to disturb her. But Han Yunxi slept clear through the morning and afternoon until Mu Qingwu came to request an audience. He was rather efficient at doing his work, and a few days was enough for him to prepare a detailed investigation report that recorded the details of every person who'd came into contact with him over the past three years, and what happened during their meeting.
After sleeping, Han Yunxi's very blood was clear and alert. She quietly read through the report and all of the instances within it. There was a sizable quantity of people recorded in the document, five of which were Mu Qingwu's good friends, four male cousins, two female cousins, and the last and most conspicuous one, Mu Liuyue!
Though Han Yunxi hadn't ruled out Mu Liuyue, she still couldn't resist a smile at the sight of her name, thinking that Mu Qingwu really was a fine fellow.
"You actually put your little sister on the list too?" Han Yunxi teased.
"Esteemed wangfei said before that the poisoner might have borrowed someone else to administer the poison. If there's a need, I'll even write my own father's name alongside my little sister's," Mu Qingwu had thick eyebrows and big eyes. His pupils shone with spirit, and he appeared very solemn when he was earnest. Han Yunxi secretly esteemed him in her heart, nodding as she continued to read.
The material had detailed annotations on each person, recording the frequency of their visits with Mu Qingwu, the locations of the meetups, and specifics on what happened each time. Han Yunxi read through the names before focusing on the first one and its associated details, working her way down. As she read, she teased, "Young General, these are your private affairs."
"As long as it can help to uncover the enemy spy, esteemed wangfei can even appeal to his majesty to study our military secrets," Mu Qingwu was still serious and earnest.
"Don't! I don't want to know," Han Yunxi hastily refused. She understood the logic wherein the more one knew, the more one found themselves in danger.
As Han Yunxi read on, she finally turned serious. Mu Qingwu stood waiting on one side, afraid to make a sound. When he raised his head and saw Han Yunxi's focused profile, he couldn't shift his gaze away. Ever since he first glimpsed this woman at the Duke of Qin's gates, he knew she wasn't simple. But he never thought they'd have so many interactions. He couldn't help but wonder if they'd ever meet if she hadn't married into the Duke of Qin's household.
Han Yunxi was concentrating on the report and had no idea that Mu Qingwu was staring at her from the side. She read through every single record, most of which had no cause for suspicion. When friends met up, it was usually to drink together. Ten-Thousand Snake Poison definitely wouldn't be in the wine, of this she was certain. And it wasn't often that Mu Qingwu drank.
Those patrilineal male and female cousins might have dropped by frequently, but not in regular patterns. Most times, they'd only visited the estate to pay calls.
Finally, Han Yunxi's gaze rested on Mu Liuyue's records. It went without saying that Mu Liuyue had the most contact with Mu Qingwu. Every time he went home, he'd see his little sister, but this was very normal. Except, there was one record that caught Han Yunxi's vigilant attention.
Mu Liuyue would actually invite Mu Qingwu out regularly to drink tea at the Celestial Fragrance Teashop on the outskirts of the capital! Han Yunxi raised her head to look towards Mu Qingwu, who was currently staring at her. Their gazes met, and Mu Qingwu immediately lowered his head like a thief caught in the act. But the apprehensive Han Yunxi wasn't even conscious of his odd behavior. "Young General," she asked anxiously, "Your little sister often invites you out for tea?"
The tips of Mu Qingwu's ears were burning. He'd never been in such a difficult position before and didn't know what had happened to him. Somehow, he managed to raise his head and reply. "Yes, we'll go one to two times every month. Liuyue's a regular at the Celestial Fragrance Teashop on the outskirts of town."
"Once or twice every month?" Han Yunxi said doubtfully. The timing for this was spread too far apart to match the times for administering poisons. "Do you two buy tea from there?" she asked again.
Most visitors to teashops would buy tea leaves to bring home. This she understood.
 Li Mingyue () - Third Madame Li's full name. Mingyue means 'clear moon.'