Though she wasn't as tall as the other woman, sitting atop Long Feiye's horse gave Han Yunxi enough of an aura to suppress much of the other party. She looked down disdainfully and said in the same bantering tone, "This wangfei believes that all the women in the world have been having nightmares ever since I married His Highness. Miss Shuang'er's nightmare has really come rather late, hasn't it?"
The entire world? Han Yunxi wasn't exaggerating. Of Cloud Realm Continent's royal trio1, all the women in the world most adored Tianning's Duke of Qin. But none of those women had ever earned his favor. Though Han Yunxi knew she was no exception, she wouldn't allow herself to back down now that she was sitting atop his horse. From the start, she had always remembered Grand Concubine Yi's words, and that was to never lose face for the Duke of Qin under any circumstances.
"So this is Qin Wangfei. Shuang'er heard that on the wedding day..." Leng Shuang Shuang paused here. Instead of continuing, she gave a significant smile before introducing herself. "This one is Leng Shuang Shuang from the City of Daughters."
There were four great cities in the continent: Medical City, Medicine City, Carefree City and the City of Daughters. Medical City had the medical academy, Medicine City had three great clans, while Carefree City and the City of Daughters had city heads that controlled their respective domains under one clan each. Carefree City was under the rule of the Qi Clan, while the City of Daughters was ruled by the Leng Clan. Han Yunxi's guess was correct; this women had remarkable origins. Still, what did that have to do with her?
Han Yunxi's reply was very honest. "I don't know who you are."
Leng Shuang Shuang assumed that her high status would cause the Han Yunxi of common birth to feel ashamed in comparison, but she'd ended up losing her own face instead. Of course, Leng Shuang Shuang didn't give up here, but went ahead as if she didn't mind at all. "I'm the fourth young Miss from the Leng family, one of the future contenders for head of the Leng Clan. I've been acquainted with the Duke of Qin for awhile now. As Qin Wangfei is no kindred spirit, it's only natural that you don't know me."
These words were telling Han Yunxi that they came from different worlds, and that Han Yunxi was unfit to be a match to His Highness Duke of Qin. Despite this, Han Yunxi was lofty and indolent as ever as she replied, "Since you've even told me about your clan in such detail, this wangfei will consider myself acquainted with your sort."
Now it sounded like Leng Shuang Shuang was eager to introduce herself so Han Yunxi could remember her. Only those of lower social status who wanted approval and high connections would go into such detail about their clans without asking! Otherwise, all one had to do was throw out a name, and others would understand without having to ask a thing.
Leng Shuang Shuang's birth status was truly far above Han Yunxi's, but she just happened to meet a woman who didn't care about her own standing. If Han Yunxi didn't even mind her own status, why would she care about others'? Showing off in front of a person like this would only lead to defeat!
Seeing Han Yunxi so collected and composed, the proud Leng Shuang Shuang couldn't figure out where she found the self-assurance. This was her first time facing a girl her own age and feeling inferior instead. She didn't want to admit it, much less accept it, and a flash of killing intent swept past her eyes. But with Long Feiye here, she couldn't lose her temper. Still she maintained her smile as she calmly changed the topic. "Isn't Your Highness Duke of Qin curious about why Shuang'er's in the imperial carriage?"
Compared to Princess Changping and Duanmu Yao, this woman was far calmer and capable of seeing the big picture. She wasn't the type to have spoiled temper tantrums. Truly, she deserved to be called one of the candidates for succession to the City of Daughters' city head. Han Yunxi found her memorable just from this detail alone.
"Your lordship isn't interested."
Compared to Han Yunxi, Long Feiye was the truly aloof one. Leng Shuang Shuang was famous for her frosty elegance, but she didn't even enter his gaze. After speaking his piece, Long Feiye made to turn the horse and coolly retreat. Instead, the experts that Leng Shuang Shuang had brought along suddenly scattered to surround them.
"Duke of Qin, someone paid the City of Daughters an extremely high price to hire ten experts to take your head. Shuang'er took responsibility for them all, so shouldn't you show some proper thanks?" Leng Shuang Shuang smiled.
Medicine City placed importance on medicine, while Medical City placed importance on doctors. But the City of Daughters and Carefree City were mercenaries. While the former favored women over men, the latter was the opposite. Both cities held hidden dragons and crouching tigers, and the Leng and Qi Clans had always existed as history's oldest assassination families. Han Yunxi glanced around them and found that exactly 10 black-robed experts were present. In the end, she was still shocked. Even if she could ignore Leng Shuang Shuang's status, she couldn't ignore her ability. The empress dowager had actually paid an expensive price for the City of Daughters to eliminate them, how ruthless. One versus ten wasn't much fun, but since Leng Shuang Shuang had accepted the empress dowager's bounty, would she have come for nothing?
Long Feiye swept his gaze over the ten figures and smiled coldly. "You fancy your affection is reciprocated?"
What he hated the most was owing others, especially women. Leng Shuang Shuang didn't get angry, but pouted with her tender pink lips as she spoke coquettishly. "Your Highness Duke of Qin is making things difficult for Shaung'er. I can't ruin the reputation of the City of Daughters."
Few men could resist an icy beauty who suddenly started acting like a spoiled child, but Long Feiye didn't even spare Leng Shuang Shuang a glance, much less speak with her. He held onto Han Yunxi and prepared to leave with his horse. In response, Leng Shuang Shuang signaled her men with her eyes. The ten high-level experts suddenly released a whirlwind of arrows from their bows to block Long Feiye's path, before attacking his horse with their swords.
Killing intent flashed in Long Feiye's eyes as he grabbed Han Yunxi and flew up into the air. Almost at the same time, the blades chopped off all four of the horse's limbs, leaving it to whinny in anguish. By the time Long Feiye landed, the ten experts had surrounded them. None of them took a step forward, but Han Yunxi could clearly sense the murderous aura about them. It was different from any of the killers she'd met before. These were professional murderers who were specialized experts in their field.
Leng Shuang Shuang walked over, her eyes sincere and honest as she spoke. "Duke of Qin, since Tianning's Imperial Clan won't tolerate your existence, why not return to the City of Daughters with Shuang'er? The Leng Clan won't treat you unfairly."
Leng Shuang Shuang had come because of her job, but moreso to entice Long Feiye to her side! It had to be said that this was part of her wishful thinking thanks to Long Feiye's innate charm. Han Yunxi expected Long Feiye to say 'no,' but he even disdained to do that.
Instead, he said coldly, "Since you've cut down your lordship's horse, your lordship can't tolerate your existence, either."
Even Han Yunxi felt awed, to say nothing of Leng Shuang Shuang. Her eyes shone with zealous adoration. If not for her clan's mission at stake, she wouldn't want to offend this man by any means. But the Leng Clan's head had personally accepted the bounty issued by Tianning's empress dowager. The clan head wanted to use this as a chance to rope in the Duke of Qin, so she couldn't disobey orders. Somehow, she had to bring the Duke of Qin back.
"May Your Highness Duke of Qin condescend to teach me2!"
Leng Shuang Shuang had hardly spoken when the ten experts simultaneously made their move. In a flash, the glint of swords filled the air with killing intent. Long Feiye kept one hand around Han Yunxi as he held his sword with the other to hold off all ten blades at once. The clash of metal was akin to thunder resounding intensely in the air. The ten experts were fast with their swords, but Long Feiye was even faster. Han Yunxi wanted to help out with her hidden weapons, but couldn't even find the chance. She only saw countless swords flash past her, making it impossible to tell which blade belonged to whom. Her fear was that she'd help the wrong person.
Han Yunxi had many chances to see Long Feiye's swordsmanship before. His movements were cold and severe, his blade aggressive. One strike was enough to cut the throats and end the lives of multiple assassins. After all, Long Feiye's sword skills came from the Celestial Mountain Sword Sect, who had a well-deserved reputation for being formidable. Yet this time Long Feiye had failed to gain the advantage even after nearly 30 rounds had passed. Instead, he was forced to stand in place, pinned down by his foes. The mercenaries carefully selected by the Leng Clan of the City of Daughters weren't easy to look down upon. Han Yunxi finally realized that there were Heavens beyond the highest Heavens and people beyond the ones she knew. There were many experts in such a wide world. Of course, Long Feiye had to fight one against ten while protecting her at the same time. Although he was stuck, putting up a fight like this up even now was already very fierce. Even the ten high level experts had to silently commend his skills.
If each of them were to face off against Long Feiye one by one, Long Feiye would definitely be the winner. Now that all ten of them were facing off against him, he couldn't win, but neither did he show signs of losing. They couldn't be sure that Long Feiye didn't have troops in reserve. Once the backup arrived, things would get complicated. One of the killers evaded a move and shot a significant look towards Leng Shuang Shuang, who acknowledged it accordingly. Even without the reminder, she knew that she had to personally make a move. Moreover, her target would be Han Yunxi. Though she didn't want to admit it, the woman in Long Feiye's embrace was currently his only weak point.
Very well, she'd use this chance to get rid of Han Yunxi!
Leng Shuang Shuang immediately joined in the crowd of ten, who dealt with Long Feiye while she aimed her sword at Han Yunxi. Long Feiye already had his hands full dealing with the ten killers, so if he wanted to counter Leng Shuang Shuang, he'd have to divide his attention. The ten killers were waiting for that very chance!
And yet, as soon as Leng Shuang Shuang struck with her sword, Long Feiye suddenly pushed Han Yunxi aside, where she tumbled to the ground. Seeing this, a flash of gratification shone in Leng Shuang Shuang's eyes. So what if Long Feiye protected Han Yunxi? In the face of imminent death, he'll push that woman away like she was nothing but trash. Leng Shuang Shuang only wanted to pin down Long Feiye, not hurt him. She immediately withdrew from the crowd of 10 assassins and turned to look at Han Yunxi, who was currently sprawled painfully on the ground. Her butt was probably full of bruises by now because Long Feiye really had used a lot of strength. Still, she knew that he had to do so, or else she wouldn't have been able to dodge those killers' blades. Anyways, it was good that he did, because now he had one less burden to worry about. Meanwhile, she...thinking up to here, Han Yunxi lowered her head as a crafty gleam shone in her eyes.
Leng Shuang Shuang looked coldly at Han Yunxi as she approached her with purposely heavy steps. Her sword dragged against the dirt, creating a long, thin trail. Han Yunxi looked up at her with a nervous expression as she shifted backwards. Timidly she said, "You, what you are planning to do?"
"What do you think?" Leng Shuang Shuang smiled elegantly.
"The Duke of Qin's already cast me aside. You can't use me to threaten him!" Han Yunxi explained hastily.
Leng Shuang Shuang gave a chilly laugh. "Qin Wangfei, so you know your place after all. Though you can't be used to threaten him, ruining your face will make it impossible for him to bring you out in the future, hmm?"
"Ah....help! Don't come any closer!" Han Yunxi cried shrilly as she backed away.
Surrounded by ten assassins, Long Feiye glanced over out of the corner of his eyes. But very quickly, he withdrew his gaze again. It wasn't clear whether he didn't care or if he simply disdained Han Yunxi.
Leng Shuang Shuang was already standing high and mighty before Han Yunxi. She was fully enjoying Han Yunxi's cowardice as she slowly raised her sword.
"Don't...don't come closer!" Han Yunxi covered her face fearfully with her hands. This movement was enough for her to activate her hidden weapons. Without warning, needles flew out from her wrist. The close proximity made up for the Plum Blossom Teardrop Rain's lack of speed and power. Even a high level expert like Leng Shuang Shuang didn't have time to dodge before the needles sank into her wrists!
She'd been played!
1. royal trio - specifically Tianning's Duke of Qin, Northern Li's Duke of Kang, and Western Zhou's Crown Prince Ye
2. condescend to teach () - a polite way of announcing one's intentions to attack by humbly asking for instruction from the fight itself from one's opponent.