Chapter 142: Stifled, not to one's liking
Han Yunxi left his rooms in a huff and returned to the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, narrowly avoiding running into Zhao mama who had came out.
"Esteemed wangfei, you...what's happened to you?" Zhao mama said in concern. Of course she knew that esteemed wangfei had just left His Highness's quarters.
Han Yunxi had a stomach full of hot air and started going upstairs without saying a word, but Zhao mama held her back. "Esteemed wangfei, there's a letter for you!"
Han Yunxi stopped.
Who would write letters to her? In this world, she didn't seem to have any penpals.
"Esteemed wangfei, which friend of yours wrote the letter?" Zhao mama asked with curiosity. It was a little child that had delivered the letter, which had been addressed: To be personally opened by Qin Wangfei. There was nothing else written on the envelope.
Zhao mama was an extremely curious old lady, but she didn't have the guts to open the envelope for herself. Seeing this curiosity, Han Yunxi simply snatched the letter before continuing to go upstairs without a word.
Just who had written the letter?
Han Yunxi was filled with curiosity as well. Yet as soon as she opened the envelope, she discovered that it was Gu Beiyue. He'd arranged to meet her tomorrow at Tender Fragrance Teahouse.
That guy should've left the palace by now!
With his personality, he'd definitely use this method to meet with her if not asking her outright. But what kind of private business did he have with her? Well, she'd probably find out when she went tomorrow. Han Yunxi didn't muse on it, but walked towards the window to stare at the lights from Long Feiye's quarters, feeling a bit stifled.
This hateful Long Feiye, why did he act so ferocious? She'd waited for him for three days, only to be met with his temper. He was the one who promised her in the first place, so couldn't she ask a few questions to find out what was going on? It was true that the Han Family was perfectly fine now. In the best scenario, he'd keep protecting them. Otherwise, she'd be just as ferocious back.
Han Yunxi was doomed to a sleepless night.
Next morning, she rose as soon as the skies were light to sit in the gardens and steep her tea. It wasn't long before she saw Long Feiye preparing to leave.
"Cough cough!" she purposefully coughed lightly. Long Feiye actually stilled his steps to glance at her.
"Your Highness, come have a cup of tea?" she asked calmly, as if none of the unhappiness from last night had happened.
Long Feiye didn't even think before he refused. "No need."
Afterwards, he put on his cloak and hurried out as if he had urgent matters. Han Yunxi maintained her carefree expression until he disappeared, upon which her eyes narrowed. This guy! She'd even yielded a step on her own initiative, so what else did he want? Couldn't he just sit and talk with her properly for once? If there were truly difficulties with the Han Family, she could understand and even help him think of solutions, right?
She was even aware of the issue regarding the hidden spies, so what else did he have to hide from her? Was he hurrying out because of spy affairs again?
Han Yunxi had a strong mentality. She estimated that it was only Long Feiye who could anger her to such extent. Right in the middle of her bad temper, Chu Xifeng walked by. Han Yunxi immediately called him back. "Chu Xifeng, come over here."
Chu Xifeng was instantly at her side. "Esteemed wangfei, what are your orders?"
"Has His Highness been at Solitary Enclosure or the palace these few days? As for the case with the spies, how is his progress?" Han Yunxi asked seriously.
These questions placed Chu Xifeng in a difficult position. Though he was His Highness's personal guard, he wasn't clear on all of his matters. Even if he was, he couldn't just disclose them freely! As a subordinate, one of his most important duties was to keep tight-lipped.
"To reply esteemed wangfei, your subordinate isn't clear," Chu Xifeng replied just as seriously.
"He's still interrogating prisoners at Solitary Enclosure? Han Ruoxue's been questioned as well? I don't think she knew anything about the poisoning," Han Yunxi asked again.
"Esteemed wangfei, your subordinate really doesn't know. How about you ask the duke again when he returns? Your subordinate still has to..."
Chu Xifeng was slipping away when Han Yunxi lazily cut in. "Could His Highness have gone to report in? I was planning on going to the palace, I might as well have a look."
Chu Xifeng stopped, his face a little flustered. "Esteemed wangfei, His Highness won't be in the palace today. You better not go."
"So he's at the Solitary Enclosure?" Han Yunxi continued to ask.
Chu Xifeng avoided her gaze as he quickly thought up an excuse. "Esteemed wangfei, today's the appointed deadline for the bet. Aren't you concerned with the situation of the general's estate?"
Did she even needed to be reminded? Of course Han Yunxi was aware of the date.
"You haven't answered my question yet," Han Yunxi pressed.
"Esteemed wangfei, your subordinate really doesn't know anything!" Chu Xifeng couldn't resist anymore and disappeared before he finished speaking.
Of course Han Yunxi knew that Chu Xifeng was tight-lipped, but it wasn't as if she was asking for some top-secret intel. Did he really have to cover things up? Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel that something felt off, but she really didn't understand what.
After breakfast, she rested for a while before leaving the house. When she passed by the general's estate, she saw a crowd full of people by the front doors in the midst of gossip and excitement. Those same doors were shut tight. Even the side door, used for exiting from the property, was closed.
Han Yunxi sucked in a cold breath. Although she expected Mu Liuyue to be the center of attention, she never thought things would blow up to this extent! Still, when she thought it over further, she realized that Mu Liuyue's spoiled, haughty temper had probably offended quite a few people. Many of them would probably want to see her downfall and use this chance to sink her further in the well with stones. After all that drama, everyone had gathered by her front doors. Would Mu Liuyue come out? Would the general really shield Mu Liuyue like this?
Han Yunxi was anticipating the results, but she ultimately decided to leave first. She didn't notice a certain sedan chair stopped within the crowd, containing none other than an incognito Princess Changping.
Once Princess Changping had received Mu Liuyue's letter, she'd rushed back to the capital. Unfortunately, she was too far away and only managed to make it back just now. She had planned to take care of Han Yunxi together with Mu Liuyue, but who knew that Mu Liuyue had actually lost! Right now, she was lifting the curtains on her window to watch the bustle with an indeterminate expression. She and Mu Liuyue had been playmates since they were young and could be considered best friends. How could she allow Mu Liuyue to be bullied like this? Moreover, her bully was none other than that despicable Han Yunxi.
"Princess, Miss Liuyue is so pitiful. Madame Li is from the Han Family, so Han Yunxi might've known everything long ago! That's why she purposely incited Miss Liuyue to bet," her servant Shuang Hong said under her breath. She'd gotten no end of good things from Mu Liuyue, so of course she had to put in a good word.
"Heh, Liuyue, that idiot miscalculated! I don't know how the justice courts investigated this case, but as this princess sees it, Han Yunxi and the Han Family are all suspicious!" Princess Changping said angrily.
Shuang Hong rejoiced and added, "Princess, today's the deadline of the bet. If Qin Wangfei is suspicious, then we can postpone it, right?"
Her words enlightened Princess Changping, who ordered the sedan chair to turn around and hurry to the palace. She would ask to see Imperial Mother. If that didn't work, she would find Imperial Father directly and tell him the situation. Perhaps there was still hope! Princess Changping rushed back to the palace and went directly to the empress.
"Muhou, you have to help Liuyue. Moreover, if Han Yunxi's really suspicious then we can't let her off so easily! This is a good opportunity!"
"Muhou, this is our chance to seek revenge! Are you listening?"
Princess Changping really had been spoiled rotten. She tugged and pulled at the empress's sleeves without any sense of decorum.
"Enough! She's your big brother's lifesaver!" the empress said unhappily. Of course Princess Changping knew this too. Still, she wouldn't take that to heart at all. In her eyes, Han Yunxi should be honored to have saved her big brother. After all, he was going to be Tianning's future emperor.
"Mother, you're not really treating her as your benefactor, are you?"
If Han Yunxi could be used by the empress dowager, of course the empress would treat her as her benefactor. But Han Yunxi had ignored the olive branch that the empress dowager tossed her last time. Right now, the empress dowager was still in a state of 'wait and see,' so it wasn't convenient for the empress to make a move.
Princess Changping wasn't the type that could keep a secret. Since the empress dowager was trying to win over Han Yunxi covertly, the empress wouldn't tell her these details.
"Changping, the imperial harem doesn't involve itself in politics. Madame Li's case is something neither you nor I can censure, so don't meddle. As for Mu Liuyue, this girl's just a source of trouble. Don't associate with her so often!" the empress warned. Princess Changping wouldn't accept these words at all. She stomped her feet and ran off. She'd go find Imperial Father!
But Eunuch Xue stopped her as soon as she arrived at the imperial study. "Princess, His Majesty is entertaining guests at the moment. If you have any business, please come by another day."
"It'll be too late if it's a different day! Move aside!" Even the crown prince had to respect this Eunuch Xue, but Princess Changping acted wholly aggressive against him.
Eunuch Xue was used to this but still held her back. "Princess, they're guests from Western Zhou..." he lowered his voice and continued, "...Western Zhou's....Crown Prince Ye."
Princess Changping gave a start and blurted, "Did his little sister come too? Is it for marriage reasons?"
Tianning and Western Zhou were allied by marriage. Successive dynasties would always have relations via marriage, though in the past it was always Tianning's princesses marrying Western Zhou princes. Princess Changping had heard that this time, Western Zhou's Princess Rongle Duanmu Yao had a mind to visit Tianning for the purpose of marriage, though it wasn't clear who she'd choose.
This Princess Rongle was a remarkable person. Of noble birth, she was the daughter to the Western Zhou empress and the crown prince's little sister. In addition, she was a beautiful as a flower and skilled with both brush and sword, the only woman so thricely talented in all of Cloud Realm Continent.
Within the court, there were two guesses as to her fate. Some people predicted that Princess Rongle would marry Crown Prince Long Tianmo and become Tianning Country's empress. Others speculated that Princess Rongle would marry her fellow sect disciple Long Feiye, establishing two consorts of east and west in the Duke of Qin's estate. No matter whom she chose, it'd only promote relations and cooperation between Western Zhou and Tianning.
Of course, Princess Changping personally preferred Duanmu Yao to marry her Imperial Qin Uncle. That way Han Yunxi's days would be more difficult. It'd take guts to be a Qin Wangfei right next to a woman of such accomplishments!
"Princess Rongle came as well. The Duke of Qin should be accompanying her at this moment. As to whether or not this visit involved marriage talks, this old servant isn't clear," Eunuch Xue smiled.
"Imperial Uncle Qin is with her?" Princess Changping was surprised. Ever since she was young, she'd never heard of Imperial Uncle Qin spending time with any woman.
Eunuch Xue gave a mysterious nod. He had been surprised as well. Yesterday, the Duke of Qin had spent the entire day with the emperor behind closed doors to discuss the case of Madame Li. As for the details, he wasn't clear.
Unexpectedly, when Princess Rongle came for greetings today, the Duke of Qin had taken her away. In his eyes, there was hope for a match between the Duke of Qin and Princess Rongle!
 Tender Fragrance Teahouse () - mingxiang chalou, in which Ming refers to "tender tea leaves,"
 Shuang Hong () - her name literally means "red frost."
 Princess Rongle () - Rongle means 'prosperous/flourishing/glorious joy,' this is the same Duanmu Yao previously referred to as Princess Changle who appeared at Pill Fiend Valley in chapter 60. It's not clear why the author suddenly changed her name-perhaps it was too similar to Changping? Or perhaps Duanmu Yao's title was changed before coming to Tianning for a more fortuitous meaning? In any case, she is referred to as Princess Rongle/Duanmu Yao for the rest of the story.