Chapter 278: The expert won't let her say
Long Feiye led along Han Yunxi to walk in the front, while Aunt Ru brought up the rear. The secret passageway behind the tree trunk kept stretching downwards, the slope getting steeper the farther they went. By the end, it was practically a vertical passage. Long Feiye held Han Yunxi in his arms and jumped down, with Aunt Ru following close behind. Unexpectedly, they landed in an underground stone chamber illuminated by night-luminous pearls. The chamber itself was completely empty, but had a door that led to places unknown. Moreover, the acrid scent in the air was much stronger than above.
After landing with Han Yunxi in his arms, Long Feiye didn't let her go, but grabbed her hand again. Han Yunxi's eyes drifted to the fingers grasping her own and move her hand experimentally, as if trying to get free. Unfortunately, Long Feiye only tightened his grip in return. Han Yunxi furrowed her eyebrows and looked straight at him, but he didn't look at her. She only saw his face in profile, the chiseled features as coldly handsome and aggressively serious as always. Han Yunxi stared at him for quite a while and tried to struggle free a few more times. It wasn't clear whether Long Feiye realized she was staring at him, but he kept as icy and domineering as always, ignoring her without letting her go. Finally, Han Yunxi conceded defeat. She was too lazy to struggle any further, so she let him do as he liked.
Aunt Ru saw everything with her eyes and decided to interrogate Tang Li for more details on the couple when she returned. Ye'er was someone who had to complete a great undertaking. No matter how useful Han Yunxi could be, he couldn't harbor true feelings for her. Love between a man and a woman would only bungle matters! Ye'er's mufei1 had long told him to kill and discard the people closest to him if it helped the greater goal.
"Since the Poison Sect carved into the mountain to build this chamber, it must be an important strategic point for them," Aunt Ru said seriously. Unfortunately, neither Long Feiye nor Han Yunxi paid her any attention as they headed for the only exit out of the room. She stared after their retreating forms, mouth opening and closing, before finally following suit. Upon leaving the room, they were greeted by a stone path that led into the distance before it rounded a bend. The acrid odor in the air had also intensified. Rather than call this an underground chamber, it was more apt to call it an open grave instead.
After walking for an hour, they discovered that the bend in the path actually led to a stone door. Beyond it shone light even brighter than the luminous-night pearls they'd seen in the first room. Right at this moment, Han Yunxi halted and said, "There are noxious fumes inside from Violet Miasma."
Now Aunt Ru was curious. They were still some distance away from the stone door, but she hadn't discovered anything amiss. How did Han Yunxi know? If she hadn't witnessed Han Yunxi's skills firsthand back then, she wouldn't have believed her, but now she did.
"This is the only path," Long Feiye said. His meaning was obvious-they had to go this way. Aunt Ru was quick to offer an explanation. Violet Miasma had the lower toxicity when compared to other poisonous gases, almost enough to be imperceptible. At most, its victims would only experience dizziness and blurry vision. There was no antidote to this type of poison, but neither did they need one. After inhaling the miasma, the victim would only need some fresh air and rest to recover.
"From my experience, this doesn't even count as poison at all," Aunt Ru was rather confident. After hearing her words, Long Feiye decided to move forward. Han Yunxi followed silently along, but stilled her steps at the door.
"Not so fast." From her medical pouch, Han Yunxi took out three small packets of medicine and handed one each to Long Feiye and Aunt Ru, leaving one portion for herself. "This can be counted as its antidote as well. Just keep it in your mouth and chew on it."
As soon as Aunt Ru opened the package, she recognized the plant inside as fresh mint leaves. Doubtfully she asked, "The antidote to Violet Miasma?"
Ever since her older sister had left the world, she'd dedicated her heart to studying poisons and read through all of her sister's secret notes. Miasmas were one of the most common poison types, but she'd never heard of antidotes to any of them.
"Poisons with no antidotes, nor need for them, are some of the most dangerous types. The best way to deal with them isn't to keep the poison out, but to take precautions. Mint isn't an antidote, but it can prevent the Violet Miasma from entering the body's respiratory system and eliminate the possibility of poisoning. Otherwise, the concentration of miasma will accumulate to toxic levels equal to a fatal, hypertoxic poison!"
As Han Yunxi spoke, she tossed a mint leaf into her mouth, using the opportunity to wrest free of Long Feiye's hand and enter the door first. Seeing her confident, unrestrained figure, Long Feiye grew distracted. Aunt Ru couldn't help but mutter in a low voice, "Ye'er, where did she learn her poison arts from? I've never heard of anyone in the Han Family who knew poisons."
"An expert," Long Feiye answered without thinking.
"An expert?" Aunt Ru was bewildered. "Who is it?"
"The expert won't let her say!"
As soon as Long Feiye placed the mint leaf in his mouth and chewed it a few times, he followed after Han Yunxi. Aunt Ru was left with a face full of confusion. "Expert? There's only a few experts in the poisons world, so who is it? Is there any need for Ye'er to hide their identity?"
Once she walked to the stone door, she realized that the concentration of Violet Miasma was extremely thick. She silently rejoiced at Han Yunxi's precautions, because the scent would have knocked them out otherwise as soon as they went in. Han Yunxi was about to enter when Long Feiye grabbed her hand again. Once more, he forcefully entwined their fingers together. This time, Han Yunxi whipped her head back with a clear, penetrating look. All she did was stare without saying a word. She was obviously asking him for his reasons, but she was also giving him a chance to explain himself.
But Long Feiye had spotted Aunt Ru staring at them from the corner of his eye. He didn't answer Han Yunxi's unspoken question, but avoided her gaze instead. Han Yunxi furrowed her eyebrows and viciously shook her hand. Because Long Feiye wasn't expecting it, she managed to get free.
Long Feiye, it's fine to hold hands in some cases, but you can't just wrap our fingers together as you like! Don't you understand what it means when two people do that?
After getting free, Han Yunxi took large strides through and into the place beyond the stone door. Long Feiye was left dumbstruck in place until Aunt Ru went past him to enter and exclaim, "Ye'er!"
Long Feiye quickly followed, only to see a large stone cavern beyond the door. Beneath the combined effects of luminous-night pearls and Violet Miasma, the entire chamber was infused with purple light. Beyond the dim and hazy smoke could be seen five separate doors leading into different directions. Their entire journey had led them to such a place!
Aunt Ru tested each of the doors and found that they all contained the same concentration of that acrid odor in the air. She subconsciously turned back to Han Yunxi, who was currently furrowing her eyebrows in thought to look at the doors. But all the detox system said was that there were no poisons here!
How were they supposed to choose between the five doors?
"Should we split up?" Aunt Ru asked.
"No good," Long Feiye rejected the idea immediately. Though the method would save time, it was also very dangerous. "Han Yunxi, what do you think?"
After walking for an hour in silence, he'd finally spoken up. Still, Han Yunxi didn't even look at him as she shook her head.
"I don't know. I can't sense any poisons." She was still prudent about things. Though the acrid odor in the air had intensified, she couldn't detect any poison in it. That didn't prove the scent wouldn't lead to corrosive poison plants, only that she hadn't found signs of it yet. If the scent here was related to the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion, then the detox system that couldn't even analyze the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion would have trouble analyzing poisons here as well. She silently required herself to not be led astray by anything. She had to be vigilant and back away as soon as she sensed that she was poisoned.
There were now a total of six paths: five that led before them, and the one that came from behind. Faced with unknown dangers in an unfamiliar environment, their only way out was the road behind them. In the end, they still had to make a choice. Neither Aunt Ru nor Han Yunxi could offer any proposals. Long Feiye didn't delay, but was about to head towards the first door when a woman and two men suddenly came out from it!
Both of the men were in a sorry state, as if they'd been burned. Their clothes were torn and their hair disheveled. Though they'd managed to protect the sole woman, she looked like a mess as well. Even so, Han Yunxi recognized the trio at a glance. With his noble and profound features, tall figure and fierce air, one was Western Zhou's crown prince, Duanmu Baiye. The other man had slanting eyebrows that nearly reached to the hair on his temples and was filled with heroic spirit. He was none other than Western Zhou's celebrated general. Though Han Yunxi didn't know him personally, she recognized the famous ebony bow he carried on his back. Finally, there was the woman with beautiful and charming features, wearing an icily arrogant expression. She too, carried a bow, and her entire being emanated an aura of frosty aloofness. This should be General Chu Tianyin's2 little sister, the Chu family's famed ice beauty, Chu Qingge3.
Duanmu Baiye and Chu Tianyin both gave a start when they saw Han Yunxi and the rest. They hadn't expected them here. For a moment, the two groups simply stared at each other, each harboring their own thoughts as the atmosphere grew tense. It wasn't strange to see Crown Prince Ye around after Duanmu Yao had shown up in Medical City. This crown prince was well-known for doting on his little sister and accompanying her to various places. But seeing him here of all places was merited serious thought! How did he know a place like this existed? What did he come here to do? It was a little impossible that they knew of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion too!
Han Yunxi not only observed Duanmu Baiye, but Chu Tianyin as well. The Chu Family was an old and illustrious family of Western Zhou know for its senior generals. Everyone across Cloud Realm Continent knew this fact. Chu Tianyin was the Chu Family's newest generation of generals and even more well-known than Mu Qingwu. His archery skills were said to be top-notch in Cloud Realm Continent. On the battlefield, a single arrow from his bow could pierce through ten soldiers in one shot.
Why did a person like him show up here with Duanmu Baiye?
While Han Yunxi was deep in thought, Long Feiye suddenly grabbed her by the hand again and pulled her behind him, as if to shield her. Western Zhou and Tianning might be allied countries through marriage, but he and Duanmu Baiye were on bad terms. Add that to the fact that Duanmu Yao's marriage had been ruined, and Duanmu Baiye was probably nursing a grudge to boot. Moreover, this was the secret underground chambers of the Poison Sect. Both of them were here in secret, so whatever happened here wouldn't be spread outside. There was no such thing as a Duke of Qin or a Crown Prince Ye here, just two factions on opposing sides.
Currently, Duanmu Baiye and Chu Tianyin were studying Han Yunxi and the rest as well. Compared to Chu Tianyin's low-key attitude, Duanmu Baiye was much more aggressive. He gave Aunt Ru a cursory glance before silently telling Chu Tianyin, "Han Yunxi doesn't know martial arts. We have higher chances of victory, so if we pin down Long Feiye together, Qingge can use those two women to test out the other four doors."
1. Note: the mufei here doesn't refer to Grand Concubine Yi, but his true mother from the Tang Clan.
2. Chu Tianyin () - Chu is a surname that means "clear, neat, suffering," tianyin can be read as "hidden from the skies/Heavens."
3. Chu Qingge () - Qingge means "clear song."