Chapter 113: Fortune amidst misfortune Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Will or won't she confess?
Hearing thing, Bilü's heart gave a violent thump! She assumed that Guard Shangguan would say something or ask her questions so she'd know what was going on. But his first words were for her to confess!
What was she supposed to confess to?
What did they know?
Besides stealing the canister of tea, what else did she had to admit to? Bilü hung her head, heart thumping in her chest. She was very, very nervous.
Should she admit it?
She couldn't resist stealing a peek at the godlike man sitting up high. A single glance was enough to make her retract her gaze in terror. Her heart narrowly avoided leaping out of her chest. She didn't know who this man was, but she was certain that he had a very honored position. That's why even the young general treated him with utmost respect. Something major must have happened at the teashop, so it shouldn't have anything to do with her stealing the tea leaves, right?
"Are you going to confess or not?!" Guard Shangguan asked again.
"I don't know...I don't know anything!" Bilü burst out, her mouth moving quicker than her head.
"Don't know? I think you're just refusing to cry until you see the coffin!" Guard Shangguan raged, before taking out a whip to hit the air. Shua! The crack of the whip was swift and fierce. Terrified, Bilü instinctively covered her ears and shrank to one side, trembling. Her mind had turned completely blank as she forgot about everything! No matter how intelligent she was, she was still an ordinary tea servant. This fright was enough to bring her to tears.
"Guard Shangguan, spare me! Spare me!"
"Bilü, you're a smart girl. Confess and we'll go easy on you, resist and we'll be serious. You should understand this logic!" Guard Shangguan reminded her coldly.
Unexpectedly, Bilü capitulated as soon as he said those words. Shaking until her teeth started to chatter, she spoke, "I confess...I...I con, confess. I confess everything!"
At this, Long Feiye's eyes turned cold as he finally looked at the tea servant head-on.
"Speak!" Even Guard Shangguan had turned nervous. He never thought that they'd get results from pressuring her.
"I just...I...I..." Bilü's lips shook, making it hard for her to speak. Mu Qingwu was burning with impatience. He took large strides over and grabbed Bilü by the collar, disregarding the fact that she was a female.
"Speak!" he cried out angrily.
"I...I stole...stole a guest's tea leaves, I..." Bilü stammered, but Mu Qingwu and Guard Shangguan were already astonished before she could finish.
Stole tea leaves?
An amazed Mu Qingwu released Bilü, allowing her to breathe normally. She crawled to Guard Shangguan's feet and hugged him tightly, pleading pathetically. "Guard Shangguan, please spare me! I'm begging you! I still have that tin of tea leaves hidden in my rooms, I haven't even opened it yet. I'll give it back to Second Young Miss Han, I'll apologize to her, just spare me!"
Perhaps if Bilü had been calmer, she wouldn't have confessed. But her guilty conscience couldn't withstand the threat of Guard Shangguan's whip, so how could she keep her cool? She had never experienced something so frightening before. It'd left all her thoughts in disorder and turned her mind completely blank. Her only recourse was to confess.
Guard Shangguan only felt that he had lost a lot of face. Instead of finding out details about the southern mountain ambush, the interrogation had revealed this disgraceful scandal instead! He shook his head, eyebrows tightly knitted as he started at Bilü, unsure of what to say. Had he been too busy this year and neglected disciplining these servants?
"Guard Shangguan, please spare me...spare me, I won't dare do it again, I really won't!"
"Shut your mouth!" Guard Shangguan roared. A terrified Bilü immediately fell silent. Guard Shangguan braced himself and nervously looked towards Long Feiye.
Unexpectedly, Long Feiye seemed interested as he asked, "You hid Second Young Miss Han's tea leaves?"
Bilü only thought that this cold voice, despite being low and deep, was pleasant to the ears. It was just like the low notes of a qin playing against her heartstrings, whose sound mesmerized her until she forgot she was being questioned.
"What are you dawdling for, His Highness Duke of Qin is asking you a question!" Guard Shangguan rebuked. Abruptly, Bilü recovered her wits and gave Long Feiye a look of disbelief. His Highness Duke of Qin?
Heavens, he was the Duke of Qin!
No wonder, no wonder this man was as venerable as some Immortal of the night. His Highness Duke of Qin was already a godly man! Bilü felt herself seized with panic as she gaped at Long Feiye, too stunned to talk. Her expression reminded Long Feiye of Han Yunxi, except Han Yunxi's eyes were much prettier!
He felt extremely fed up as he expression turned colder and colder. Mu Qingqwu knew his temper and hurried to speak up. "Were Second Young Miss Han's tea leaves meant as a gift for Liuyue?"
"Yes...no..." Bilü said incoherently.
"Was it or not?!" Mu Qingwu demanded. He thought there was some logic in how His Highness Duke of Qin abhorred lovestruck women.
"Your servant isn't clear. Those tea leaves were brought over by Second Young Miss Han, who forgot to take them with her when she left. In the past, she'd always leave tea leaves in a certain place before giving them to Miss Mu. This time, she left without handing them over...and...and I don't know if it was because she forgot to," Bilü explained in a rush.
Afraid at Mu Qingwu wouldn't believe her, she was quick to stress, "Your servant hasn't touched the tea, it's still in my rooms."
Mu Qingwu was both surprised and thrilled; he hadn't expected to wrangle something like this from an interrogation. He and esteemed wangfei had just about given up on investigating tea leaves for poison when they found some at this criticial point! According to their conjectures, it was very possible for Second Young Miss Han's tea leaves to contain poison. As long as they discovered poison within that tin, then all the doubts surrounding the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison would be dispelled.
This should be called fortune within misfortune!
Mu Qingwu glanced towards Long Feiye, whose complexion looked much better than before. Guard Shangguan stood listening on one side, completely out of the loop. But he had the quick thinking to order his men to bring the tea over. As for the Bilü who'd been so scared that she'd confessed regarding the tea leaves, it was certain that she wasn't a spy. Guard Shangguan didn't dare to question Long Feiye directly, but shot a look at Mu Qingwu to ask what should be done with her.
"Lock her up for now to wait for further interrogation!" Mu Qingwu said seriously. When he said interrogation, it wasn't for this kidnapping case, but the case of the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison. If the leaves really had poison, Bilü would be a key witness. Of course, Guard Shangguan couldn't tell the meaning behind his words.
Soon enough, Bilü's stolen tin of tea leaves was found and delivered. It was in an oval porcelain container, about five cun tall. It had no labels and was sealed exceptionally well. Mu Qingwu was just about certain when he saw the tightly sealed opening. Many of the teas that Liuyue had given him were sealed in exactly the same way. Though he was eager to find a poisons expert to inspect the tea for toxins, he could only endure before His Highness Duke of Qin's total silence. After all, finding Qin Wangfei was more important!
He personally accepted the container, checked the seal, and made sure it was actually tea inside before handing it to His Highness Duke of Qin. Guard Shangguan was very curious and expected the Duke of Qin to say something, but he didn't. He set the container of tea leaves aside, his slim and attractive fingers resting on its lid as he wore an indolent, mysterious gaze. Silence stretched on before Long Feiye looked towards Guard Shangguan. "Keep on interrogating."
"Your highness, all of remaining prisoners are people in charge of the south mountain who were locked up together. All were present when esteemed wangfei was attacked and kidnapped. There's the servant who guided the way, two female tea servants, and 15 guards in charge of south mountain's security," Guard Shangguan reported truthfully.
Long Feiye mused for a bit before handing the container of tea leaves in his hands to Chu Xifeng with an order. "Bring this back and have it carefully examined."
Only then did he rise to his feet. "Since there's so many of them, your lordship will go in person."
Taking a step back to analyze the situation, even if the assassins had the skills to silently make an ambush in the tea plantation, someone had to have tipped them off. Otherwise, how could they know Han Yunxi and Mu Qingwu would go to the south mountain? There had to be a spy within the ranks. He refused to believe that he couldn't find them!
While Long Feiye began his personal interrogation, the men scattered in the barren hills, Celestial Fragrance Teashop, and the general's estate were all on edge, using their time to conduct the search. Yet none of them could imagine that the assassin was hiding right in a cliffside cave.
Han Yunxi lay on the ground, face ashen and covered in sweat while she muttered to herself in a daze, as if having a nightmare. Suddenly, she gave a shrill cry and sat up, opening her eyes at the same time. In her dream, she'd kept falling and falling. Right before she was about to hit the ground, she'd been jolted awake, covered in cold sweat.
After recovering her senses, Han Yunxi finally realized that she was in a dim cave. Hadn't she fallen off a cliff? She didn't fall to her death? Why was she here?
She didn't remember how she lost consciousness, only the moment she'd sailed over the edge. Her professional habits had her inspecting herself for the medical pouch; fortunately, it was still there!
Suddenly, a cold female voice spoke. Han Yunxi thought that it sounded familiar, but she didn't think much of it. She quickly looked over and saw two woman standing behind her. One of them wore a black facemask and a bandage around her arm, the exact female who'd kidnapped her. The other masked woman was the one who spoke. Though Han Yunxi couldn't see her features clearly, she could tell that this woman was much older than her young kidnapper.
Putting herself on guard, she angrily asked, "Just who are you people? Why did you kidnap me?"
"You're quite arrogant! This grandaunt hasn't even settled my score with you yet!" the masked girl huffed, stalking over with long strides. If her master hadn't left orders to spare Han Yunxi's life, she'd killed her long ago. This slut was overconfident in her poisoning skills and tried to poison her, she must be sick of living!
"If you have any guts, take off that mask and let me see what you look like! Otherwise, this wangfei can't remember if I owe you anything!" Han Yunxi gave a cold snort.
"You're still talking back!" the girl strode over, ready to give her a resounding slap. But Han Yunxi blocked it with a poisoned needle hidden in her palm that pierced the girl's palm.
"Ah!" the girl shrieked as she kicked with her foot. "You slut!"
"If you're sensible, you'll let me go. Otherwise, I promise you'll die from the poison within an hour!" Han Yunxi said coldly. Since she was in their hands now, she wouldn't allow herself to be bullied!
The girl glanced at her palm in disbelief. "You're still making a fool of yourself with these trifling poisons!"
But Han Yunxi only took more exception to it with a smile. "A trifling Poison Human like you has nothing to be haughty over."
At these words, both the masked girl and masked woman grew alarmed. Han Yunxi knew about the existence of "Poison Humans?"
 refusing to cry until you see the coffin () - bujian guancai buluo lei, saying that means someone who won't be confused until they see the grim reality.
 qin () - ancient stringed instrument, Chinese zither.
 cun () - unit of measurement about the width of a person's thumb at the knuckle, or ~1.3in (33.33mm).
 grandaunt () - gu nainai, literally the sister of one's paternal grandfather. Gu nainai can also be used by a woman to refer to herself when quarreling.