Chapter 360: Constantly protecting you
After leaving the palace, Long Feiye accompanied Han Yunxi back to the Duke of Qin's estate. Han Yunxi was planning to discuss the famine with him when they got home, but Long Feiye had to leave for business immediately. When she saw him going, she anxiously cried out, "Your Highness..."
Unexpectedly, Long Feiye turned around at the same time, intending to talk to her too.
"Your Highness, you go first." "What is it?"
The two of them spoke at the same time, causing Han Yunxi to smile. She got straight to the point. "Your Highness, take chenqie with you to the disaster areas. Pestilence runs rampant in those places, so chenqie can constantly protect you if I come along."
On one side, Zhao mama couldn't resist a soft cough. Esteemed wangfei's getting more and more thick-skinned. She's a doctor of poisons and skilled in detoxification, but her medical skills are only average at best. Many times, she had to consult Imperial Physician Gu for help with medical matters. More importantly, she didn't knock a lick of martial arts, but she even said she'd 'constantly protect' His Highness.
Although Zhao mama dearly wished that esteemed wangfei could go along with His Highness Duke of Qin, an excuse like that was too much, even for her.
"Constantly protect me?" Long Feiye asked with interest.
In truth, Han Yunxi just wanted to come along. Long Feiye would definitely bring along his own guards and doctors from the Imperial Physician Courtyard to the disaster areas. She didn't need to worry at all. The longer Long Feiye stared at her, the more she was struck with a guilty conscience. Still, she held it well. After all, in their journey of 100 steps, she had to keep walking towards him with a smile, step by step.
Her grin was as bright as flowers as she said with confidence, "That's right, like a constant bodyguard!"
Long Feiye was amused. For the first time ever, he broke into bright, hearty laughter. "Hahah, alright! Your lordship will take you along!"
Han Yunxi had seen Long Feiye laugh a few times, but never so candidly. A word from her and a laugh from him seemed to close the distance between them further.
"What did Your Highness want to say just then?" Han Yunxi asked next.
"Nothing. Go and get ready, we'll leave in three days' time." Long Feiye would never tell this foolish woman that he'd been preparing to ask her about the very thing she requested.
A delighted Han Yunxi didn't bother to probe. "Alright, chenqie will prepare herself and wait for you."
Once Long Feiye left, Zhao mama started pestering Han Yunxi back the whole way. "Esteemed wangfei, bring this old servant with you!"
"This old servant can constantly protect you as well! Moreover, I can help you and His Highness do the laundry and cook meals. You'll still need someone to wait on you when you travel."
"Esteemed wangfei, this old servant's never left the capital city in her entire life..."
Han Yunxi simply looked at Zhao mama without saying a word, making her anxious to death. One mistress and servant entered the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, Su Xiaoyu came to meet them.
She was very curious about the pair. "Esteemed wangfei, where are you planning to go?"
"Children shouldn't ask so many questions," Zhao mama lectured instantly.
Su Xiaoyu blinked her eyes pitifully before stealing a peek at Han Yunxi. Then she obediently retreated to the side. Han Yunxi knew enough of them both to realize that Zhao mama usually doted on Su Xiaoyu. She didn't pay much attention to the aggrieved looking child.
"Zhao mama, it's fine if you come along, but you have to promise me something," Han Yunxi finally spoke.
Zhao mama was so touched that she immediately agreed without asking for any details. "Esteemed wangfei, go ahead and say anything."
"Come with me on a trip to the Gu Estate," Han Yunxi smiled. Zhao mama's smile instantly stiffened on her face.
"Esteemed wangfei, you...what do you want to do at the Gu Estate?"
Even though there was nothing going on between esteemed wangfei and Imperial Physician Gu after the misunderstanding was cleared up last time, it would still be better if her mistress had no contact with that doctor at all! Just look at His Highness's temper! Imperial Physician Gu had been recuperating from his severe injury. Even now, he was still on sick leave from the Imperial Physician Courtyard. It would be impossible to take him along to the disaster area, so what other reason could Han Yunxi have to see him?
Han Yunxi grabbed a random fruit and tossed it at Zhao mama. "You're not young anymore, so why do you still have so much nonsense in that brain? What could ever happen between Imperial Physician Gu and myself?"
That's right. I like Long Feiye a lot. Why would I be interested in other men?
Zhao mama felt greatly wronged. "Mistress, then why are you looking for him?"
"You'll know if you go with me," Han Yunxi said mysteriously. Zhao mama felt helpless, but could only agree. Of course, she knew they had to hide the facts from His Highness Duke of Qin. Su Xiaoyu listened to them both as she watched from the sidelines, her eyes spinning in thought like a crafty fox.
"Little Yu'er, tell the kitchens to prepare some rations for a journey. And also, tell Steward Luo to prepare some tea leaves. Just say that His Highness and I are planning to take a long trip in three days' time." After leaving instructions with the child, Han Yunxi and Zhao mama set off for the Gu Estate.
Su Xiaoyu finished her tasks very quickly. Taking advantage of the fact that Han Yunxi and Zhao mama were both away from Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, she found an excuse to slip out of the estate. She was a deviously clever little child, with a prudent and cautious nature. As soon as she left the Duke of Qin's estate, she went to multiple shops and bought a few snacks, before circling around various alleyways to make sure no one was tailing her. When the coast was clear, she wandered into a long alleyway and entered a very ordinary looking house. The rooms were very dark inside, enough to scare any child, but Su Xiaoyu was very happy. She literally skipped her way through the shadows until it got too dark for her to see before her hands.
With a grin, she shouted, "Master, come out!"
Her lively personality was completely different from her conduct at the Duke of Qin's estate.
"Is there any news?" a low voice replied before someone shifted in the darkness.
"It isn't that easy. That woman has a strange hobby. She doesn't let anyone serve her when it comes to bathing or changing clothes for bed." Su Xiaoyu mocked, and went on before the other could ask, "Furthermore, she doesn't even sleep in the same place as His Highness Duke of Qin. Both of them live in separate houses. I only caught them sleeping together once, and it was when His Highness Duke of Qin went to her place. Master, I strongly suspect that woman and the Duke of Qin still haven't done this and that yet."
There was a soft cough from the figure in the shadows, almost as if he choked.
"Master, they're going on a long trip in three days' time. If I can't go with them, what then?" That was Su Xiaoyu's main motive for visiting today.
"No need to rush. We can afford to wait," the man in the shadows said mildly.
"Even if that's the case, master, we still have to think of something! It's not easy to grab a chance and see her body. I'm willing to bet that even His Highness Duke of Qin's never seen her in the flesh!" As Su Xiaoyu spoke, she suddenly grinned. "Master, why don't you go try instead?"
The voice of the man turned cold. "Then why would I need you?"
"Little Yu'er can help create a chance for master! Little Yu'er can accept it if Han Yunxi becomes our mistress." Su Xiaoyu was still grinning cheekily, not at all afraid of her master. She was different from other people, because master had picked her up as an orphan and personally raised her up. Even master's own little sister didn't know she existed. Anyone who tried to look into her past would find nothing but an orphan.
Now the man's voice grew stern. "Enough of that already! If Han Yunxi really is the person we're looking for, your words today would be a gross disrespect!"
Finally, Su Xiaoyu turned well-behaved and fell silent with a pout. She wasn't very clear on what Master Chu was trying to verify, but she only knew the person he was looking for was someone inexpressibly honored and revered. It was someone that master and his whole family-nay, his entire clan-had sworn loyalty to. If Han Yunxi was that person, then she would have a unique phoenix plume birthmark by her tailbone.
"We have at least three years, so there's no rush. You mustn't hit the grass and startle the snake, understand?" the man said seriously.
"Oh..." Su Xiaoyu said docilely.
"I'm asking you, do you understand?" the man said unhappily.
Su Xiaoyu immediately woke herself up and said loudly, "Your subordinate understands! Your subordinate definitely won't disappoint you, master. Please set your cares at rest!"
After Su Xiaoyu left the darkened room, the man in the shadows slipped away through a side door as well. His features were hazy, but he had lofty shoulders and an ebony wood bow slung across his back. Carved into the handle of the bow was an image of a phoenix reviving itself from the flames. Who else would be carrying such a bow besides Western Zhou's Chu Tianyin of the Chu Clan?
Emperor Tianhui and Western Zhou's emperor had already settled on a marriage alliance with Chu Qingge, but news of the engagement were still unknown to the public. Everyone had assumed that Chu Tianyin was already back in Western Zhou with Chu Qingge and Duanmu Baiye, but he had been in the capital city the entire time. Meanwhile, Su Xiaoyu had returned to the Duke of Qin's estate, but Han Yunxi and Zhao mama were still out.
Just what was Han Yunxi planning to do at the Gu Estate? Zhao mama didn't know, but Han Yunxi had already sent people to secretly deliver medicine to Gu Beiyue twice. Since she was leaving three days later, was she going to bid him farewell?
No. She wanted to ask him for a huge favor.
After Lil Thing saved Gu Beiyue's life that day, it'd been stuck in a state between slumber and wakefulness. Whenever it was conscious, all it did was eat and eat until it fell asleep again. Lil Thing was now very weak, so it needed large amounts of time and food to recover. Han Yunxi wished she could simply take Lil Thing into her detox system, but it had rejected Lil Thing because it didn't recognize the toxin in its teeth. Because of that, Lil Thing hadn't been classified as a poison, and thus couldn't enter the system.
Han Yunxi would undoubtedly be very busy after she set off to the disaster areas, which meant there'd be no time to take care of Lil Thing. After thinking it over, she could only leave him with Gu Beiyue without worries. Gu Beiyue's injuries had just about healed when she arrived. He was only a little weak. Han Yunxi gave him a big pile of poisons before carefully taking Lil Thing out of her pouch. Lil Thing was huddled up into a ball as it slept sweetly, just like a newborn baby. If it knew it was leaving its master, it'd definitely feel sad. But if it knew it was staying with its favorite white-robed gentleman, then it wouldn't want to sleep at all!
"I'll leave it to you!" Han Yunxi looked frank and straightforward, but she was quite reluctant to part with Lil Thing.
Gu Beiyue's pale-faced smile still carried its usual hint of an April spring breeze. "Esteemed wangfei, don't worry. The things you entrust to my care, I'll protect with my life."