Chapter 143: A chance encounter, brushing past
Princess Changping was secretly delighted at Eunuch Xue's enigmatic expression. "There's hope?"
Eunuch Xue smiled without saying a thing, further convincing Princess Changping, who rejoiced inside. Compared to Mu Liuyue's bet, she was much more interested in this affair. Of course, she still had to help out her best friend who was facing imminent disaster. After all, this friend was none other than the little sister of her heart's desire.
"Eunuch Xue, I have to see Imperial Father today. Can you help me think of a way?" Princess Changping asked him urgently. Whether or not Mu Liuyue refused the bet or ran out half-robed, everything would be over after today. Mu Liuyue's namesake would definitely be ruined! Just as Eunuch Xue was placed in a difficult position, Shuang Hong hurried over and whispered something in Princess Changping's ear. Shocked, Princess Changping's expression completely changed. She gave out a cry of alarm before turning to run.
Shuang Hong had said that the general's gates had opened!
Someone had come out, but it was none other than Mu Liuyue's big brother, Young General Mu Qingwu!
By the time Princess Changping rushed back, the general's estate was surrounded by a watertight crowd with Mu Qingwu standing before the gates. He'd just finished explaining to everyone that Mu Liuyue had fallen ill ever since three days ago, so there was no way for her to fulfill the bet. Instead, he'd take her place to take off his outer robes and run around the streets.
Even though he was a man, standing in front of everyone to take off his clothes was still a form of humiliation! The entire crowd exploded into commentary, with quite a few people raising their voices to protest.
"Mu Liuyue, get out! Out! You're not keeping you word, girl! What right do you have to be the general's daughter?"
"Mu Liuyue has to be pretending to be sick. Why is she letting someone else take her place? This doesn't count!"
"Great General, there's no room for levity in the army. Are you really going to let your daughter's conniving ways go? Too fake!"
"If you can't stick to your word, then don't bet in the first place!"
Little by little, the topic shifted to Mu Qingwu.
"Young General, you don't need to run! It wouldn't count even if you did!"
"Heheh, Young General, you don't need to strip either. If you did...no one will watch!"
"Young General, it's not worth doing this for a person like your little sister. You ought to wake up!"
Princess Changping heard all these words as she looked at Qingwu gege in the distance, her heart so distressed that it was hard to breathe. She stood a long ways off, tears streaming down her face as she hated Han Yunxi bitterly! It was all due to Han Yunxi. Without Han Yunxi, this bet would've never happened, and Qingwu gege wouldn't have fallen to this extent.
The gossip reached a frenzy. At this moment, Han Yunxi was in the crowd as well, her eyebrows furrowed. Somehow, she'd started biting her lip. She expected Mu Liuyue to keep feigning illness, but never thought that Mu Qingwu would come out for her sake to finish the bet. Ignoring the facts of Mu Liuyue's natural disposition, the fact remained that her reputation would be ruined regardless of whether or not she ran. Mu Qingwu's display of integrity and moral courage should be enough to conclude things.
Han Yunxi was about to go forward when Princess Changping burst from the crowd and grabbed Mu Qingwu's arm.
"Qingwu gege, I won't allow you to do this! I won't, I won't!"
Changping was back?
Caught unawares, Han Yunxi backed up a few steps. Mu Qingwu was surprised as well, but he quickly pushed aside Princess Changping's arm to speak in a low voice. "Princess, men and women shouldn't be so intimate with each other. Please conduct yourself with dignity."
Princess Changping feared nothing on Heaven on Earth except for Mu Qingwu. Even if she didn't listen to anyone else, she'd listen to him. She didn't dare to touch him anymore, but looked at him with a tearstained face. "I won't let you do this, I won't!"
Princess Changping's appearance had silenced the entire crowd. Mu Qingwu's gaze turned complicated as he further suppressed his voice. "Princess, everyone's watching. Don't make a fuss."
"I'm not making a fuss. Madame Li is from the Han Family, so Han Yunxi probably..."
Before Princess Changping could finish, Mu Qingwu's gaze turned frighteningly fierce, scaring her away from speaking any further. She'd never seen Qingwu gege so ferocious, as if she'd committed some unforgivable error.
A bet was just a bet, but if it started entangling the matters of the hidden spies, the effects would be far-reaching. The Duke of Qin and the emperor would have even more difficulties on their side. Beneath the gazes of the crowd today, Mu Qingwu had not choice but to be serious. Seeing that Princess Changping had shut her mouth, Mu Qingwu raised his head to face the assembled people. His eyes shone with a magnanimous light. "Ladies and gentlemen, you've all seen with your own eyes. My general's estate keeps to their word."
So speaking, he undid his buttons and belt without the slightest hesitation to remove his outer robes.
His white under robes and black boots, combined with his tall, thin figure and vigorous military bearing, gave off an open and upright impression to his viewers. In a moment, all of the sneers and scoffs, ridicule and questioning, turned into respect.
Mu Qingwu was a real man!
Princess Changping covered her mouth, staring dazedly at the sight. At this moment, it felt as if a knife had sliced through her heart. But in spite of her distress, there was a certain sense of pride. She was more determined than ever to marry Mu Qingwu and no one else in this lifetime! Han Yunxi watched on in silence. She knew that there was no need for her to make an appearance anymore. Nobody would be able to convince him otherwise.
Mu Qingwu walked down the steps one at a time as the crowd parted for him. After descending the last step, he immediately started running through the people towards Xuanwu Street. All along the way, countless spectators halted to observe his progress. A few jogged after him until the streets of Tianning's capital turned empty!
From this day forward, Mu Qingwu became a venerated man amongst the populace. It was also from this day that Mu Liuyue's namesake plummeted a thousand zhang. Many daughters of influential officials cut off contact with her. Of course, these were events that happened later on...
Han Yunxi mixed into the crowd that chased after Mu Qingwu, but suddenly halted in the middle of running. She clearly saw a familiar figure through the windows of a private room at a local teahouse...Long Feiye! Although he was dressed in a low-key manner, Han Yunxi could still recognize him at a glance. Without a doubt, it was him!
So that fellow was here of all places.
She had foolishly assumed that he'd be either in the Solitary Enclosure or the palace to take care of the enemy spy issue. Who knew that he had the leisure to drink tea at a teahouse. Actually, the matters regarding these spies had no connections with her whatsoever. She didn't care if Long Feiye never investigated the mystery of the masked man since she was more concerned with the Han Family's fate. This guy still wouldn't give her a satisfactory answer, but had the time to be carefree and relax? Wasn't that a little excessive?
As Han Yunxi looked more closely, she noticed that Long Feiye seemed to be talking. Was it possible that he was sitting across from someone else?
The windows of the private room were on the second floor, while Han Yunxi was standing by the first floor of an opposite establishment. She could only see Long Feiye with difficulty, so she quickly climbed to the second floor of the opposing teahouse to confirm that he was sitting across from someone. Unfortunately, she still couldn't tell who the other person was after switching to different windows.
Just who could it be?
It had to be someone extraordinary if they could drink tea with Long Feiye. Maybe some honored guest had arrived-but even so, they wouldn't drink at a teahouse on the streets, would they? Han Yunxi's doubts grew until she decided to take a look for herself in their teahouse. But just as she was about to go over, she saw Long Feiye rise to leave. Anxiously, she perched on the ledge without moving until Long Feiye disappeared from his window. Her line of sight immediately switched to the exit of the teahouse across the street as she held her breath and waited.
Not long afterwards, Long Feiye emerged, followed by none other than...
Han Yunxi's eyes widened as she abruptly raised her hand to muffle her mouth. She was too shocked for words by the unfathomable sight. Long Feiye's "honored guest" was actually her...Duanmu Yao!
Western Zhou Country's Princess Rongle, Duanmu Yao!
So, Long Feiye was spending his time with a beauty drinking tea and window-shopping? So, this was why Long Feiye was unable to take care of the Han Family affairs or give her a straight answer? So, this was the reason Chu Xifeng was so equivocal this morning when she questioned him, because he didn't dare to tell the truth?
Once they left the teahouse, Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao started walking shoulder to shoulder. One could tell that Duanmu Yao had dressed up very meticulously. Her expression was as fresh as a spring breeze as she talked and joked, as if discussing with Long Feiye the matter of Mu Qingwu running through the streets. Long Feiye didn't seem as cold as usual, either, but dutifully replied her each time.
The two of them followed the flow of traffic as they walked along the street.
Amazed and shocked, Han Yunxi grew more indignant the longer she looked. She didn't think twice before rushing downstairs, pushing aside quite a few people to chase after them. But for some reason, she suddenly stopped. It wasn't clear what she thought of at that moment, but she quickly hurried into a side alley before exiting again through an alley that placed her in Xuanwu Street, directly in front of Long Feiye's path.
She stilled her steps, took a deep breath, and waited for them to arrive. Actually, if someone asked Han Yunxi what she wanted to do, she wouldn't be able to answer. She just chose to do this without thinking.
Even though Mu Qingwu had just ran past, there were still people on this street. Occasionally, they'd bump against her, but Han Yunxi ignored them and kept standing in place. Finally, she saw Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao walk towards her, getting closer and closer...
When they were just a step apart and facing each other, Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao saw her as well. But Long Feiye's eyes only stopped for a second on her face before he withdrew his gaze. He then walked past her expressionlessly as if she was just another person on the street. At this moment, Han Yunxi felt like something had rammed against her heart. The feeling caught her off-guard, so much so that she wasn't sure what was wrong with herself.
Duanmu Yao was surprised to see Han Yunxi, but Long Feiye's lack of response only turned her smug. She lifted her chin and gazed provokingly at Han Yunxi before taking long strides forward, purposely barging into her as she passed. Duanmu Yao was a martial artist, so one could imagine how much force she used. Han Yunxi couldn't stand still and staggered back a step before falling to the ground, startling the people around her.
"Miss, are you all right?"
"Miss, hurry and get up. It's not serious, is it?"
Long Feiye halted minutely at the commotion behind him, but he quickly recovered to keep walking. Duanmu Yao hurried to catch up, complaining as she did. "Senior brother, walk a bit slower. There's too many people and you'll lose me like this."
Long Feiye neither replied nor slowed his steps, but Duanmu Yao was still smiling like a flower, her mood excellent. She did her best to catch up to him. Senior brother had promised to spend the entire day with her as a host, so she really didn't dare to ask for anything more.
Han Yunxi was helped up by a few good-hearted people as she looking towards the retreating figure. Her heart felt very uncomfortable as she grasped her hands tight enough to hurt.
Long Feiye, just what is the relationship between you and Duanmu Yao?
 zhang () - a unit of measurement about 3.3meters.
 Princess Rongle, Duanmu Yao (, ) - again, this is the same Duanmu Yao who appeared in Pill Fiend Valley as Princess Changle back in chapter 60. The author doesn't explain her name change and it doesn't seem to be a mistake, so we can assume (for purposes of plot) that she gained a new title for reasons unknown before coming to Tianning. Title changes were common in the palace when the emperor had a whim to switch things up. 🙂 As to how Han Yunxi knew Rongle = Changle...*sweats* I don't know either! ^^;