Chapter 371: Who's the one who can't help it?
It was unclear who caught the ball, but he wrapped it in his arms and started running away from the crowd. As a result, the entire mob went chasing after him, spreading the chaos across the entire grain district. Long Feiye sent out a scout, who came back quickly to report, "Your Highness, the Sky Domain Association has sent men to surround the entire grain district. All of them are black-robed figures wearing face masks that look quite skilled. They sent word that the chaos may continue as long as it doesn't affect sales in any of the other districts."
Long Feiye's eyes flickered with appreciation before he dismissed the scout. Truly, the Sky Domain Association's lax rule was worthy of admiration. Even Han Yunxi was curious to know just who controlled this black market behind the scenes. Long Feiye's attempts to probe them had failed this time, it was but a passing try that couldn't compare to their real objective-which was the Lin Clan's grain store. Han Yunxi had asked around and found out that the Lin Clan head was here as well. Without a doubt, the imperial uncle's men would have no luck tonight. Perhaps they too, were mixed up in the crowd right now.
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye wouldn't make a move either, of course. They were just here to enjoy the show. Besides, doing anything against their foes tonight would be too obvious. Eventually, the one-hour limit drew closer and closer. The crowd grew more and more wild, wild enough that Chu Xifeng was almost tempted to jump into the fray himself. Still, he held himself back. His Highness Duke of Qin should be able to afford the loss of 10,000 dan.
Finally, he spotted a 16 to 17 year old youth that had snatched the silk ball. Chu Xifeng recognized him on sight, but he didn't dare say anything in public. Once everything was done, he entered the back courtyard and prepared to slap the boy across the face. He was none other than one of His Highness Duke of Qin's men, a guard named Xu Donglin.1
Han Yunxi blocked Chu Xifeng's hand and exclaimed, "What are you doing?!" Chu Xifeng gave a start before he understood. How could any of His Highness Duke of Qin's guards act independently without an order? But he was equal parts astonished. This woman Han Yunxi was already able to order about the Duke of Qin's guards!
"The disaster areas are in dire need of grain. We can't sell a single granule!" Han Yunxi said before she released Chu Xifeng. "Tomorrow, it'll be your turn!"
Chu Xifeng's mouth twitched. Trying to snatch that ball while being forbidden from using martial arts really was a thankless job!
The second night was more or less similar to the first, with the added addition of Chu Xifeng's mournful wails amongst the crowd's noise. Far away, in the capital, the imperial uncle panicked upon receiving news from the black market. Still, he didn't show himself in person. He only sent a secret missive that had exchanged multiple hands before arriving at the Lin Clan's grain shop. The Lin Clan's middleman opened the letter and only saw a single sentence written inside:
Take advantage of the low prices to sell off everything cheaply!
The imperial uncle was a cornered dog looking to jump off the wall now. He'd actually managed to come up with such an idea-to get rid of all the grain in his possession. Even at low prices, the total would still be a considerable sum. At the very least, it'd be enough for him to pay off the auction fees and those usury loans. The middlemen of the Lin Clan fell into an urgent discussion over the matter.
"Sell cheap? What kind of price is he thinking of? Those other folks are selling 10,000 dan for 10,000 taels. What's he got to offer?"
"Who cares about them. We need to get the money by tomorrow night at the latest. Otherwise, things will look bad!"
"Despite everything, we still need people to come and buy our grain in the first place!"
"Are we really going to sell the grain at 10,000 taels per 10,000 dan to get rid of it all?"
Everyone fell silent at those words. That seemed to be the only way to get rid of the grain fast. The person in charge immediately wrote a letter back to his superior. Though they could guess the man at the top was the imperial uncle, none of the secret missives they received had ever bore his seal. Both incoming and outgoing messages were exchanged through multiple hands before arriving at its ultimate destination. Despite his dire straits, the imperial uncle was still very cautious with the little details.
While the Lin Clan was waiting for news, Han Yunxi's side was preparing their next move as well. Wu Shu had already retreated into the back courtyard while the chaos raged outside. He respectfully reported, "Your Highness, this subordinate has already arranged for two trusted aides."
Now was the time for them to head to the Lin Clan and ask to buy grain. Long Feiye found Wu Shu quite dependable. He was about to nod in approval when Han Yunxi suddenly stood up.
"Your Highness, chenqie will come along!"
Long Feiye furrowed his brows unhappily. "What are you going for?" He had always been the type to plan strategies from a distance and didn't like to take any personal risks. His personal preferences extended to Han Yunxi as well.
"I'll go and haggle!" Han Yunxi said reasonably.
"They know how to, as well," Long Feiye retorted mildly as he rejected her.
If this were the past, Han Yunxi would only relent with an 'oh,' but she'd grown bolder as of late. She scooted over with an ingratiating smile and said, "Your Highness, just let chenqie go! Chenqie promises that she won't expose her identity. I can also guarantee that I'll get you the lowest possible price and clear out all their stocks of grain!"
Long Feiye ignored her to brew his tea with his left hand. Han Yunxi hastened to do it for him, still keen to get on his good side. "Your Highness, just agree to chenqie's request. Chenqie can also ask after some matters if she goes."
Most women knew how to act coquettishly to get their way. Wu Shu had already gotten used to all sorts of exceptions with His Highness Duke of Qin where esteemed wangfei was involved, and he was looking forward to see how she'd put on her charms.
Why is she kissing up to him instead?
Could it be, she doesn't know how to act spoiled?
That was something only Han Yunxi herself knew for certain. In any case, she really was kissing up to Long Feiye now, not trying to charm him. She eagerly poured out tea for him before respectfully offering him some snacks with both of her hands. "Your Highness, won't you agree?"
Long Feiye drank his tea and ate his snacks without a word. When he finally finished his drink and Han Yunxi was out of her tricks, he rose to his feet. "Go make preparations. Your lordship will come with you."
The two page boys originally assigned to the task felt like crying. It hadn't been easy for them to get this chance, and now it was gone. Wu Shu's face was full of disbelief. His Highness Duke of Qin looked like a cold and frosty type, but he clearly doted on esteemed wangfei and let her have her way!
Han Yunxi cleared up her things before dressing herself up with bright clothes and thick makeup. Her goal this time was to approximate a coldly elegant beauty, the kind with long, willowy eyebrows and fiery red lips. She didn't usually use makeup, so the results seemed to transform her into somebody completely different. Even those who knew her well were unable to recognize her after she was done. Truthfully speaking, having good looks to begin with made it easy to beautify oneself as one wished. Han Yunxi's new look was gorgeously radiant without being vulgar. Her eyes were naturally lively and bright, but looked more chilly and refined after the effects of makeup. It gave her an inviolable, aloof nobility. Han Yunxi had never looked more beautiful than at this very moment!
Long Feiye stared at her for a long time before finally turning away. He was still dressed in his usual black robes with the addition of a face mask to play the role of Han Yunxi's attendant. Perhaps he'd held back his aura; perhaps Han Yunxi had strengthened her own. In any case, when Long Feiye stood modestly behind her, he actually looked the part of her personal bodyguard. When the two of them left the back courtyard, Chu Xifeng had just gotten the silk ball. He didn't even recognize the pair as he ran past them.
There was quite some distance between Wu Shu's store and the Lin Clan's shop. The two of them walked, one in front of the other, avoiding the crowds chasing after the silk ball. Han Yunxi was probably the only person in the world who felt safe in the black market with that great deity Long Feiye walking behind her as her guard. Ever since that incident with Gu Beiyue, they'd grown much closer. Much of Han Yunxi's original fear and dread had been replaced with an unconscious intimacy. If this was the past, she'd definitely feel timid with Long Feiye walking behind her, her heart in all sorts of chaos. But now everything felt so natural that she didn't even notice the change. Because of their positions, she hadn't managed to see anything different in Long Feiye's eyes, either. As she walked, she grew interested in the scenery around them. Suddenly, she halted her steps; naturally, Long Feiye wasn't stupid enough to walk into her, he stopped as well.
He was about to ask her what was the matter when Han Yunxi abruptly quickened her steps and sped up. Long Feiye had no choice but to speed up as well. Suddenly, Han Yunxi stopped again, and Long Feiye did the same.
This woman is clearly fooling around with me.
Long Feiye's mask obscured his entire face except his eyes, making his expression unreadable. When Han Yunxi quickened her pace again, Long Feiye followed suit once more. As Han Yunxi walked and walked, her lips curved up into an impish smile before she suddenly took a large step backwards. Long Feiye was a high level expert, so he could pick up on the most minute of movements. His previous movements had matched hers exactly.
But this time, he stood in place and didn't move at all, causing Han Yunxi to bump against his body.
"Haha! I did that on purpose!" Han Yunxi admitted openly, feeling very amused. She was in a good mood tonight and felt like joking around.
When she started to turn around, Long Feiye suddenly wrapped his hands around her waist and kept them there, his voice low. "Your lordship did this on purpose too."
Han Yunxi stiffened slightly, not knowing what to say. Meanwhile, Long Feiye's hot breath was brushing against her neck. Heavens, he'd bent over to softly kiss her neck from behind. Han Yunxi felt like she'd been electrocuted as her body gave a start. Her previously carefree nerves suddenly grew taut.
What's going on with this guy?! He's suddenly gotten so affectionate!? That's not like him at all!
The light, scattered kisses followed his scorching hot breath to trace a path from Han Yunxi's neck to the base of her earlobe. She didn't dare to move, but her body reacted quickly. Very soon, she found herself unable to take anymore and ended up physically paralyzed in Long Feiye's arms.
"Your Highness..." she called out unconsciously, her voice soft.
Long Feiye didn't answer, but kept covering her in small kisses. He hadn't even realized how soft and gentle he himself had become. This woman probably had no idea how bewitching she looked right now!
1. Xu Donglin () - Xu is a surname that means "slowly, gently," Dong is "east," and Ling is "face/overlook, arrive/be present, copy (of calligraphy or painting).