Chapter 303: His Highness Duke of Qin loses his temper
Tonight, Han Yunxi was indeed here to receive a reward. But such "favors" were too heavy for her to bear! This was a world ruled by imperial might, and the imperial decree was the highest form of power. Anyone who defied it would be killed without exceptions, no matter how high your status was! Long Feiye was probably the only person in the entire world who was simply placed under house arrest for his defiance. He didn't control any affairs in Tianning, but his connections, wealth, military strength, and personal charm that attracted hundreds were all things that Emperor Tianhui feared.
Currently, the imperial court was a paranoid place that started at every whisper of wind. However, it was only Emperor Tianhui taking action, while Long Feiye had disregarded the tension entirely. The only response he'd given to Emperor Tianhui was visiting Han Yunxi in the prison cells. Nobody knew what His Highness Duke of Qin would do next, but once he really made a move, the moderate faction of the capital would definitely shift as well. Though it seemed like everyone was keeping an eye on the situation, it was more accurate to say that everyone was waiting for Long Feiye to express his stance. Then, various parties would pledge their lives to his side.
True power didn't come from how much one did, but how much one didn't have to do.
Han Yunxi understood all this, but she had no extravagant hopes of Long Feiye defying yet another imperial decree under the circumstances. His tightly furrowed eyebrows were enough indication that they'd have to accept this loss. Of course, Han Yunxi had no idea that Long Feiye hadn't needed her to rescue him the last time he was stuck in house arrest. She merely thought that the plague had arrived at just the right time for her to threaten Emperor Tianhui to release him. Otherwise, Heaven knows how long Long Feiye would've been locked up.
As the eunuch finished reading the imperial decree, Han Yunxi could only accept it with thanks. But as soon as she rose, Emperor Tianhui said, "Yunxi, it's been some time since the empress went to the western mountains to recuperate. None of the imperial physicians at the Imperial Physician Courtyard can do a thing. You should go take a look."
He was giving her a job right after conferring a title on her? And to see the empress, no less? The empress wasn't sick, but insane. Gu Beiyue had examined her before she was sent to the western mountains. He too, had been helpless about the situation. The empress dowager and imperial uncle's estate had sent many Divine Doctors from the Imperial Physician Courtyard to examine her afterwards, but they had no solutions, either. Hers was an affliction of the heart that couldn't be cured with medicine. She might get better the very next day or stay insane for the rest of her life. Although they only wanted her to have a look, it was very possible that they'd keep her there until the empress recovered (if ever) once she went.
Emperor Tianhui was not only trying to wrest her from Long Feiye's side, but probably seeking reparations for the empress and Princess Changping as well. What a dirty ultimatum!
Han Yunxi refrained from speaking, while Long Feiye's icy, handsome face carried hints of rage. Despite this, he kept silent as well.
The empress dowager once again pulled Han Yunxi's hand towards her and said sincerely, "Yunxi, your mother saved my life, while you saved the crown prince's. I can only set my cares at rest if the empress is in your hands."
Han Yunxi chuckled darkly in her heart. Those words were clearly telling her that the decision was set, so it'd be impossible to refuse the request.
"Empress Dowager, emperor, chenqie only knows how to treat poisons, not illnesses. I'm afraid that I'll be unable to help in this situation," Han Yunxi said tactfully.
"None of the people who know how to treat illnesses could cure her. Perhaps she'll recover if someone like you go have a look. That's how it'll be. Imperial Physician Han, report to the Imperial Physician Courtyard tomorrow to discuss the situation with Imperial Physician Gu. You may depart after the empress dowager's birthday banquet."
Imperial Physician Han...
They were even calling her by a different name now. Without a doubt, this wasn't a negotiation, but an order. Han Yunxi cast yet another glance at Long Feiye, only to see his unhappiness written all over his face. Still, he didn't say a word. It looks like Long Feiye can't do anything about this time's imperial decree, either. What else could they do beyond accepting it for now?
"This official accepts the decree," Han Yunxi was very reluctant as she spoke.
On one side, Long Tianmo sat with his fists tightly clenched. He was about to speak up on her behalf when the silent Qinwang Rong pressed a hand on his fists to stop him.
"Tianmo, lack of restraint in small matters upsets great plans," Qinwang Rong murmured in a soft tone. Anyone who treated Han Yunxi well at this moment would be Emperor Tianhui's enemy. Qinwang Rong didn't involved himself in disputes for the throne, but he still favored Long Tianmo. Thus, he'd reminded the crown prince to keep his distance from Han Yunxi the entire way back from Medical City. It wouldn't be too late for Long Tianmo to repay her lifesaving favor after he ascended the throne.
Struggles within the imperial clan all depended on one's tolerance!
"If she goes...she'll definitely suffer. Even her life might be in danger." Long Tianmo's heart wasn't aching with impatience, but distress. The western mountains contained the side palaces of the imperial clan, but was so out of the way that no one would even know if a person died there.
"The Duke of Qin can hold his ground, so why can't you?" Qinwang Rong lectured him in a low voice. In other words, what makes you think you can do anything if the Duke of Qin can't?
Long Tianmo wasn't satisfied, but he was forced to slowly unclench his fists in the end. Thus, a family reunion feast was concluded with the appropriate rewards and titles bestowed in a mixture of imperial grace and power. Emperor Tianhui was wholly satisfied with the course of events. He even had someone bring out fine wine, but Long Feiye didn't give him any face.
"If imperial mother and imperial brother have no further business, we'll take our leave."
Wasn't he like this every time? He would always come to say his piece and leave, never lingering an extra second or sparing another word.
Still, the empress dowager was very conscientious as she replied. "Both of you have just returned, go back early and rest. Feiye, ah, you've been married for so long. You should give your wife some news in her stomach. There's no end of gossip within and without the palace."
She's sending me to the western mountains, but still bringing up things like this? Han Yunxi felt unwell all over.
"Mm." The statement elicited a rare reply from Long Feiye before he took Han Yunxi by the hand and left. His palm was usually scorching hot, but this time, it was frighteningly cold.
As they walked away, Han Yunxi discovered that Long Feiye was gloomy all over. He wasn't keeping silent, but stewing in his temper.
"Long Feiye, the western mountains..." Han Yunxi was about to ask when Long Feiye grabbed her other hand and took off the jadeite bracelet from the empress dowager. Then he simply tossed it into a well on the side.
We haven't even left the Peace and Wellness Palace yet. It's not good to toss it out here, is it?
"Long Feiye, you..."
"Don't you like the medicinal warehouse of the Imperial Physician Courtyard very much? Tomorrow, you'll be fully qualified to pay it a visit," Long Feiye said mildly.
Since when has he known I like the medicinal warehouse of the Imperial Physician Courtyard? Han Yunxi was full of doubts, but she wasn't concerned with that now. She was still curious about the meaning behind his words. Long Feiye didn't say any more, but led her along as he walked. Han Yunxi thought it over in her head before her lips curved up into a smile.
I probably don't need to go to the western mountains, because His Highness Duke of Qin is angry. There'll probably be serious consequences for that.
Because he was angry, she was delighted. Teasingly, she said, "Your Highness, that bracelet was worth the value of an entire city, you know!"
"Another day, I'll give you one worth an entire country," Long Feiye replied.
What did 'worth an entire city' mean? King Zhao of Qin once traded 15 cities in exchange for the jade disc of He, so that piece of jade was worth an entire city. People afterwards used the phrase to describe extremely precious and rare goods.
So what about 'worth an entire country?'
Could it be a treasure that could be exchanged for an entire nation? Would people one day use the term while using His Highness Duke of Qin as an example?
Han Yunxi looked at Long Feiye's ever-icy profile and suddenly felt an urge to laugh. In a flash, all of the grievances she felt at the feast vanished like air. She didn't know what Long Feiye would do, but she knew that Tianning's capital city would lose its ning, or peace, very soon.
By the time they returned to the Duke of Qin's estate, it was already late night. Eunuch Xue was still crouched in front of the gates. As soon as they drew near, they smelled an abominable stench. Han Yunxi then recalled the laxative she'd slipped into Eunuch Xue before they left.
Eunuch Xue was stuck on the ground with his pants completely filthy, disgusting beyond description. He was huddled up in a pathetic ball, his head drooping as he kept shedding tears.
Still, even pitiful people had their detestable sides!
As soon as Eunuch Xue saw their carriage arrive, he ignored his filth to straighten up and bang his head against the ground in kowtows.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, this old servant was wrong! This old servant was wrong!"
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, I beg that you spare this old servant this once!"
"This old servant won't dare to do it again. Esteemed wangfei, please give me a way out."
Long Feiye got off the carriage first before helping Han Yunxi down. He completely disregarded Eunuch Xue's pleas as if he didn't hear a thing. Han Yunxi only glanced at him before feeling utter revulsion. She was about to sidestep him when Eunuch Xue suddenly brought out a big pile of silver with his dirty hands and offered it towards her.
"Esteemed wangfei, I present this to you as a show of my respect. You are a magnanimous and generous soul, so please spare this old servant! This servant won't dare to do it again! I won't dare!"
Everyone had to reap what they sowed. Naturally, Han Yunxi wouldn't accept the silver, only finding it disgusting. She was about to duck out of the way when Long Feiye shielded her and kicked Eunuch Xue's hand aside.
"Someone come, watch over him well for your lordship. He's not allowed to rise until he's knelt for three days and three nights!"
Eunuch Xue had been kneeling here in the dark, so not many people had noticed him. Even leaving aside three days and three nights, an entire day tomorrow would be enough to attract a bunch of onlookers. Then the news would spread far and wide. Long Feiye was planning for the entire capital to know of his plight!
Eunuch Xue was Emperor Tianhui's most favored eunuch. Everyone in court, including the officials, had to treat him well. The imperial concubines placed him on a pedestal as well. Long Feiye wasn't someone that beat the dog without caring about its owner. No, he was someone that beat the dog just so its owner and everyone else could see. When Han Yunxi looked at his solemn, handsome face again, she even felt a thread of fear.
He...really was furious.
Eunuch Xue's sobs came to an abrupt end as he sat dazed in place. After serving in the palace for over half his life, he was extremely sensitive to changes in the political climate. This time, he knew he was done for.
Long Feiye led Han Yunxi by the hand all the way to the Hibiscus Courtyard. He didn't say much, so she didn't ask him questions, either. She had somehow grown used to his reticent personality. They soon reached the fork in the covered walkways, with the left leading to his sleeping quarters and the right to her Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. In the past, they'd traveled the same way many times with him leading in front and her following behind. Tonight was different, because they were walking shoulder to shoulder with him holding her hand.
Long Feiye didn't stop this time, but chose the right path and personally escorted Han Yunxi all the way back to the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. This was Han Yunxi's first time taking a night stroll with a man until he brought her home. Even though they were husband and wife, she suddenly felt like she was in a romance.
"Go on and rest. When you go to the Imperial Physician Courtyard tomorrow...be careful," he said cooly.
"Mm," Han Yunxi nodded earnestly.
Their gazes met, and the silence between them deepened as an ambiguous atmosphere filled the air.