Chapter 390: A white-robed gentleman comes for tea
The noisy door shattered the calm of the inner courtyard, startling all the birds inside into taking flight. Long Feiye shut the gates behind him, effectively locking out Chu Xifeng when he arrived. A few guards revealed themselves at his approach.
"Leader, why did His Highness come personally?"
"Leader, just what kind of person's been locked up here? We've never done something so secretively before. Could it be that...it's not even human?"
"Leader, speaking from the heart, we fellow brothers have followed you for years now. Don't you trust us after all this time? Why won't you tell us what Little Li Fourth knows?"
Chu Xifeng had bore with all the complaints from his guards until now, but the last statement made him crease his brows. Coldly he said, "Trust? Could any one of your mouths be more trustworthy than a dead man's?"
Everyone fell silent at his words. A dead man's mouth was the most trustworthy one of all. Without a doubt, Little Li Fourth wasn't going to live much longer.
"Even I can't ask about His Highness's business, much less you lot. Behave yourselves!" Chu Xifeng said, before leaping onto the courtyard wall to stand guard.
Inside the courtyard, all had returned to silence after the birds flew off. But none of that mattered to the woman there, who couldn't hear a thing. She stood by a wall, two sharp stones clutched in her hands as she chiseled madly at the surface. Unfortunately, her strength was too limited to even make a mark. Her nerves were agitated, her face serious. She grit her teeth and looked as surly as an ox. Long Feiye had already walked up behind her, but she still had no idea he was there.
He looked at her coldly before he asked, "Who gave her those rocks?"
Little Li Fourth sprang out from his watchpost on the side and reported, "Your Highness, she found them herself. When this subordinate took them away, she threatened suicide. This subordinate could only let her do as she liked."
"Useless thing." Long Feiye's glance sent Little Li Fourth breaking out into a cold sweat. He wanted to back away, but it was already too late. Long Feiye's blade was shockingly fast. Little Li Fourth didn't even see him draw his sword before he saw blood spraying from his own abdomen. By the time Long Feiye resheathed his weapon, Little Li Fourth had already crashed to the ground. Despite all the ruckus, the woman chiseling at the wall remained oblivious to it all. Long Feiye had tested her multiple times and found that she really was completely deaf. However, this time wasn't meant as a test. Nor was Little Li Fourth the first guard he'd killed off.
For the sake of protecting this secret, he'd already changed guards five to six times on the way here.
"Chu Xifeng, clean up the mess," Long Feiye said coldly before he entered the rooms.
Chu Xifeng originally assumed that His Highness would personally talk to that person, but he allowed her to continuing chiseling at the wall. He didn't understand why, nor did he dare to ask. He only busied himself with getting rid of Little Li Fourth's corpse. After following His Highness for all these years, this was his first time seeing him protect a secret so carefully. His Highness didn't even take such cares with his own life! Chu Xifeng knew that the person wasn't the biggest secret, but the knowledge and secrets she held inside her.
At this point, Han Yunxi had already finished changing and walked out, only to see no Long Feiye in the guest hall. She looked around for him, but found no signs of the man. Where did he go?
"Xu Donglin," Han Yunxi ordered, and the young guard appeared out of thin air. Ever since the black market, Long Feiye had handed this guard over to her as a personal attendant.
"Where's His Highness?" she asked.
"I didn't see him. But I did see my leader run out towards the southern outskirts," Xu Donglin replied honestly.
Han Yunxi was puzzled. So Long Feiye must have gone out. Was it urgent business? Her time with him over the past month outnumbered all the times they'd spent together in the last year. Although Long Feiye had never particularly told her where he went, she usually knew when he was missing. Where did he go this time? And for what purpose? To find more grain?
The imperial uncle's estate had already fallen, but the famine still existed. Their grain was enough to help the people past the beginning of winter, but there was still the new year ahead of them! They still needed to find ways to get more grain! Han Yunxi thought and thought before going to change her clothes again. If Long Feiye was in a hurry to find grain, then he'd at least tell her before he left. Could it be...personal business?
"Did the Tang Clan sent people over again?" Han Yunxi muttered to herself.
"Esteemed wangfei, what did you say?" Xu Donglin asked timidly.
"Nothing. Call for lunch," Han Yunxi couldn't help but think that forming habits was a scary thing! When they returned to the capital city, Long Feiye would probably be busy everyday again. She wouldn't be used to that again, she figured. Han Yunxi stood by herself in the doorway, looking at the skies above. Her thoughts began to wander off until a warm voice spoke from behind her.
"Miss Yunxi, long time no see. May I request a cup of tea?"
Startled, Han Yunxi whipped her head back to see the white-robed man from the Sky Pit sitting at her tea table. Somehow, he'd already started making tea. She quickly entered the room and shut the doors!
"You...why are you..." she sputtered in agitation.
"Miss Yunxi seems very nervous." the white-robed man smiled, tempting one to daydream about what he looked like beneath his face veil.
"Do you know how many guards are outside?" Heaven knows the number Long Feiye had left around the estate, but this white-robed man was able to avoid them all and sit in Long Feiye's seat to brew his tea! A worried Han Yunxi even took special pains to lock the door.
"Could it be that His Highness Duke of Qin doesn't welcome me here?" the white-robed man teased.
Every time Han Yunxi brought up the Shadow Clan or the West Qin imperial family, Long Feiye would avoid the topic. Perhaps he wasn't interested; perhaps he just didn't want to say. She had no idea what he felt about this gentleman from the Shadow Clan. But she wasn't a fool! What kind of coincidence would herald his arrival just as Long Feiye vanished? It was obvious the white-robed man had chosen a time when Long Feiye was away to show up!
"You should know better than me whether he welcomes you or now," Han Yunxi smiled back.
"Miss Yunxi is very smart." the white-robed man poured her a cup of tea as if he was the master of the house, his movements extremely elegant and easy.
Han Yunxi was in no mood to enjoy her drink. She rested a hand on the table and asked earnestly, "Are you here for me, or the poison beast?"
She'd asked him the question before, but he said he'd tell her the answer when they met next time. Now was the time for his reply! He had to be from the Shadow Clan, so if his goal was herself, then she could ascertain her identity for sure!
Han Yunxi was very anxious, but the white-robed man was quite leisurely and carefree. "Good tea," he remarked. "His Highness Duke of Qin indeed uses extraordinary leaves."
"People who can't trust each other can't be considered friends. You can leave," Han Yunxi grew unhappy. This man had clearly promised to give her an answer, and she'd waited months for him to show up. But now that he was here, he said those things instead!
"Miss Yunxi, my aim was for...the poison beast," the white-robed man finally admitted, his eyes flickering with helplessness.
"Then why did you risk your life to save me!" Han Yunxi wouldn't believe that so easily.
"If Jun Yixie was assaulting any other woman that day, I would've risked my life all the same," the white-robed man replied seriously.
Han Yunxi shook her head. "You're lying."
"Miss Yunxi, could it be that in your heart, people only help each other when they have a motive?" the white-robed man asked.
Han Yunxi gave a cold snort. "You're lying! If you were aiming for the poison beast, why didn't you take it with you?" The white-robed man had saved Han Yunxi's life, but she still treated him with objective logic and a calm mind.
"The poison beast's already recognized its master. Do you think I would've been able to take it away?" the white-robed man retorted.
It was true, Lil Thing clung to her so much that no one could snatch it away. Han Yunxi's gaze turned complicated before she probed, "You already knew that the poison beast would recognize a master?"
The white-robed man laughed. "Miss Yunxi, if I knew the poison beast would pick you to be its master, why would I have taken the pains to go to the Sky Pit with you?"
After talking around in the circles, Han Yunxi realized that the white-robed man's calm answers had explained away all of her suspicions. Could it be that she and Long Feiye had over thought everything?
"Are you from the Shadow Clan?" she asked next.
But the white-robed man simply stood up with a mild smile. "Next time, perhaps. If we meet again, I'll answer you then."
This again! Han Yunxi wasn't about to let him off that easily, but Xu Donglin chose this of all times to speak up from outside the door. "Esteemed wangfei, open up. Lunch is here."
By the time Han Yunxi looked back at the tea table, the white-robed man was gone. Even the teacups and teapot had been cleared away, leaving no sight that he was here at all.
White-robed man, ah, white-robed man. You might have answered all my questions, but you never told me why you're avoiding Long Feiye.
Han Yunxi opened the door, her appetite completely gone. She wondered whether she should tell Long Feiye what happened today, or hide it from him for now. In truth, the white-robed man wasn't very far away at all. In fact, one could say he had been around the entire time. Originally, he thought that he'd never have to lie to her if they never met again. But the simple sight of her solitary back proved too much of a temptation to him. As he watched the listless Han Yunxi sit there with no mood to eat her lunch, he silently sighed and vanished into the shadows outside the house.
Meanwhile, the woman at the compound in the southern outskirts finally stopped chiseling at the wall. All she managed to do was carve out a little hole into its surface. She dejectedly tossed aside her rocks and slowly turned around, her face filled with hopelessness. Chu Xifeng had been keeping watch for over two hours, but finally heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that she'd given up. He quickly ran forward and gestured with his hands to invite her inside.
"Mute Granny, His Highness has come for a personal visit! You're certainly putting on airs!"
Yes! The person that Long Feiye had locked away was none other than the same Mute Granny that Chu XIfeng was in charge of escorting back to the capital. The attack by bandits mid-way and the fall off the cliff were all fabrications. Long Feiye's original orders was to take Mute Granny into the Hidden Pavilion and keep her imprisoned there! Naturally, Mute Granny had no idea what Chu Xifeng was saying, but simply stormed angrily into the rooms.
Inside, Long Feiye had been waiting for quite a while. Why had he locked up Mute Granny? And why was he keeping this fact from Han Yunxi?!