Chapter 333: So many things she doesn't know
What was Lil Thing's motive in seeking out Gu Beiyue?
Lil Thing couldn't understand what Gu Beiyue was saying, but it listened intently because it liked the sound of his voice. Gu Beiyue played with Lil Thing by scratching it under its chin, making Lil Thing burst into laughter. Despite this, it didn't forget the most important thing. Soon enough, Lil Thing leapt from Gu Beiyue's palm to land on the ground in a corner of the room. It then opened its mouth and spat out a giant luminous-night pearl. Gu Beiyue's placid expression turned stunned at the sight.
"Night Moon Pearl!"
Wasn't this the very present that Qinwang Rong had gifted the empress dowager at the birthday banquet? Recently, the empress dowager had lost her temper multiple times because of her missing presents. The entire inner palace was suffused in fear. He never expected Lil Thing to be the thief! But why had it spat out the Night Moon Pearl here?
While Gu Beiyue was still puzzling over the mystery, Lil Thing spat out four more goods in succession. They were the crown prince's blood lingzhi mushroom, the Ministry of Appointments magistrate's Thousand-Year Knotweed, Marquis Pingnan's Purple Summerblossom, and Great General Ning's Century Scorpion Tail, which he had someone offer in his absence. Aside from the Night Moon Pearl, these four medicinal ingredients were amongst the empress dowager's most valuable birthday presents! Lil Thing deserved the title of poison beast for its discerning taste!
Anyone else would be nervous at the sudden sight of all the empress dowager's missing treasures, but Gu Beiyue was quite calm aside from his curiosity. He picked up the various treasures and examined them carefully. Although Lil Thing had spat them out from its mouth, each of the treasures were very clean. Lil Thing now jumped about as it waved its paws at Gu Beiyue, seemingly wanting to take credit for providing all the gifts.
Gu Beiyue smiled helplessly. "Lil Thing, are you planning to give these to me? I'm not your master."
But Lil Thing simply spat out a purple walnut into Gu Beiyue's palm. "Chee chee!" It cried at him, before retreating quietly to a corner.
Purple walnuts were a common medicinal ingredient, almost negligible in sight of all the other precious treasures. But it was this very walnut that left Gu Beiyue stunned!
Blood lingzhi, Thousand-Year Knotweed, Century Scorpion Tail, Purple Summerblossom, and Night Moon Pearl powder could be combined with purple walnut to create a prescription for medicine! Moreover, this type of medicine was extremely effective at repairing essence qi injuries! Even sixth-ranked Primogenitor Doctors would be hard pressed to know the formula, but the fifth-ranked Divine Doctor Gu Beiyue was quite clear. His medical skills were actually above fifth-rank, his knowledge of medicine far exceeding what he revealed on the surface. He looked at Lil Thing with interest, a half-smile playing upon his wan features. A devious air shone through his gentleness to make for an extremely alluring sight. Lil Thing felt dazed just looking at him. Aiya, how he adored this gentleman! What to do, what to do? Feeling bashful, Lil Thing shyly lowered its head.
Gu Beiyue laughed softly. "Haha, Lil Thing, so you really do know who I am."
Lil Thing didn't understand Gu Beiyue's words, but it knew that Gu Beiyue had realized the purpose of all its gifts. It quickly scurried over and onto the pile of medicinal ingredients, stamping its feet to show that Gu Beiyue should start making them into a decoction right now. When Gu Beiyue simply placed the ingredients into a drawer, Lil Thing darted over before he shut the drawer and started taking the objects out one by one, tossing them by a medicine-making stove in a corner.
Gu Beiyue could only smile helplessly. "Alright, I understand."
Lil Thing wanted him to brew the medicine and drink it immediately. Indeed, there was no safer place than his stomach when it came to keeping such imperial treasures. This little building was Gu Beiyue's usual resting area. It had a full set of tools from his trade, so he quickly washed up all the ingredients. When he was about to reach for the Night Moon Pearl, he discovered that Lil Thing had long silently reduced it to powder. It offered Gu Beiyue the best pearl powder from the center of the pearl before gobbling up all the rest.
"You're even more discerning than your mistress, haha," Gu Beiyue smiled warmly.
With Lil Thing's supervision, Gu Beiyue combined the other precious ingredients with the Night Moon Pearl and created a small bowl of nourishing medicine. Under Lil Thing's urging, he then proceeded to drink the whole bowl.
Lil Thing was planning to stay around a little longer, but soon after Gu Beiyue finished his medicine, someone came to find him at the door. Gu Beiyue softly stroked Lil Thing's head and said, "Thank you, Lil Thing."
Lil Thing nuzzled its head against his fingers, feeling reluctant to leave. But in the end, it still slipped out of the window and escaped. If it was gone for too long, Mama Yunxi would worry.
Actually, Han Yunxi wasn't worried about Lil Thing at all. Currently, a guest had arrived at the Duke of Qin's estate. Everyday, there were enough people who wanted to see the Duke of Qin to form a line stretching all the way out of the capital. Few had the chance to be invited inside, and most of those few came with Han Yunxi's permission. His Highness Duke of Qin rarely entertained guests.
Today's guest was Young General Mu Qingwu. As soon as he entered, Han Yunxi asked him what was the matter, but he simply said he was passing by and wanted to have some tea. Han Yunxi couldn't very well probe him after that, so she steeped some tea and received him as her guest. Though she'd saved the young man, she still considered him her friend. The two of them said a few things before falling into silence.
If one didn't compare Han Yunxi to Long Feiye, they would know that she was a reticent type as well. She didn't usually speak up on her own, much less find topics to talk about. On the other hand, there was Mu Qingwu. As a military man, his words were brief and to the point, so he knew even less about small talk. Thus, even when the hostess Han Yunxi tried her best to find conversation topics, Mu Qingwu would drive them to a dead end after two or three replies. He made it impossible for Han Yunxi to keep talking.
Right now, Han Yunxi was asking, "I heard that there's been riots recently at the Three-Way Battlefield. What's going on?"
"It's simply rumors," Mu Qingwu replied.
Han Yunxi next said, "I heard a lot of people died in previous riots there. How did those happen?"
"Those are already things of the past. There's no need to bring them up," Mu Qingwu answered.
Han Yunxi stopped asking questions, but Mu Qingwu neither spoke nor left. He looked even more embarrassed than she did. Finally, Han Yunxi said, "Young General, you must have found me for something. Just say it outright."
Mu Qingwu wore a difficult expression. He paused for a second before rising to his feet. "Esteemed wangfei, this soldier really did come just for a cup of tea. It's getting late, so I won't disturb you any further. Farewell."
Han Yunxi was puzzled, but she didn't keep him. "Alright. Someone come, send off the young general."
Mu Qingwu had already reached the door before he suddenly backtracked. Han Yunxi furrowed her eyebrows at the sight. He had always been a direct and straightforward man, so what was wrong with him today? Just what kind of problem made him so reluctant to share? If it was Gu Qishao or Gu Beiyue, Han Yunxi would definitely laugh at them, but she'd always been more formal around Mu Qingwu.
She simply smiled slightly without saying a word.
Mu Qingwu sucked in a deep breath before he approached her. He was clearly fidgety and irresolute, but he hated hemming and hawing. Finally, he reached Han Yunxi and knelt with one knee on the ground. "Esteemed wangfei, this soldier has a request!"
Han Yunxi guessed as much, but she didn't know what kind of request had made Mu Qingwu so afraid to speak. "Young General, hurry and rise. There's no harm in telling me your request directly!"
Han Yunxi might value Mu Qingwu, but she had her own selfish motives as well. Before she got a stable footing in the Duke of Qin's estate and the capital city, Mu Qingwu had counted as one of her supporters. They had a connection because of that. Moreover, she hoped to gain General Mu's support for Long Feiye's sake.
"This one is ashamed to be constantly troubling esteemed wangfei!" Mu Qingwu didn't rise.
"Young General is treating me like an outsider," Han Yunxi personally helped the man up. "Young General has always been a man direct with his words. This wangfei looks down on your hemming and hawing!"
Mu Qingwu panicked and finally spoke the truth. "Esteemed wangfei, there's only one month left before the six month deadline."
Han Yunxi suddenly realized what was going on. The sixth month deadline referred to Emperor Tianhui's decree to Mu Qingwu. He was supposed to collect 300,000 taels for soldiers' pay and provisions, and 200,000 dan of grain. Otherwise, he'd be demoted and dealt with accordingly.
But what was the use of finding her?
She had money, but it was all from Long Feiye's gold card. She could use the card as she liked, but she didn't have physical gold and silver on her hands. The 200,000 dan of grain was an even harder problem. Even if she did have the money, there was no way she could buy so much grain in such a short time. Han Yunxi thought it over before she suddenly realized something. Her eyes lit up, but Mu Qingwu spoke up before she did.
"Esteemed wangfei, this one wanted to find His Highness Duke of Qin for advice, but he's already refused me three times." A self-deprecating smile rose on Mu Qingwu's lips. "This one didn't even get a glimpse of His Highness's face."
Han Yunxi was surprised. Mu Qingwu had been refused three times by Long Feiye? She didn't know anything about it. In other words, Mu Qingwu had tried to seek help before instead of finding her outright. That did sound like his style.
"His Highness rejected you personally?" Han Tunxi asked seriously.
"I suspect His Highness guessed the purpose of my visits," Mu Qingwu said somewhat helplessly.
Han Yunxi was secretly puzzled. Didn't Long Feiye want Great General Mu's support on his side? His strength was incomparable to the rest, because he had control over the largest source of military power in Tianning, the infantrymen! A second ago, she was all too happy to recommend Mu Qingwu to Long Feiye, but the duke had actually rejected him beforehand.
"Young General, 200,000 dan of grain is indeed..." Han Yunxi affected a difficult expression.
But Mu Qingwu said, "Esteemed wangfei, His Highness Duke of Qin has a large estate in the southern regions. There's been drought all over country except Jiangnan, which managed to produce a bumper harvest..."
What? Long Feiye has an estate in Jiangnan?
Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel her jade crystal bracelet. Just how many more things did she not know about Long Feiye? He was actually that rich! If that was the case, why was he refusing Mu Qingwu's requests?
In the midst of her thoughts, Long Feiye himself returned...