Chapter 392: Yunxi's intuition
The winter wind chilled one to the bones. As Han Yunxi recoiled from the cold, Long Feiye finally realized that she was only clothed in her under robes and hadn't even bothered with a cloak. He surveyed her from head to toe before pulling her inside with an unhappy lecture. "Why so scandalous?"
Han Yunxi had been waiting the whole night for him to come back. She had rushed out without thinking at the sound of the door because she was impatient! But she gave up on explaining when she knew it'd be useless. Ever since she saw his reaction to her taking off her stockings, she knew he was extremely sensitive to matters like these.
There was a warm stove inside the room that instantly banished the chill, but Long Feiye still took off his outer robes and tossed them to Han Yunxi. "Put those on."
Despite his dressing down, he was actually doting on her. Han Yunxi saw Long Feiye's icy face and enjoyed his bitter expression as if it were malt sugar. She happily draped the robes over her shoulders and fastened it around her neck, surrounded by his scent.
"What else did that man say?" Long Feiye was very interested in the white-robed gentleman's affairs.
"I asked if he was from the Shadow Clan, and he said he'd tell me when we met next time," Han Yunxi told the truth.
"In other words, he'll come again?" Long Feiye said, but his private thoughts were that the high level expert he'd sensed nearby over these recent days was the Shadow Clan member after all. Long before, at the black market, he'd felt the man's existence when they spent the night at the Lin Clan's grain shop. The sensation vanished when they arrived at the disaster region, but it came back after they moved into the senior provincial official's estate.
"Probably," Han Yunxi said before lowering her voice. "Your Highness, that person seems to be avoiding you on purpose?"
Naturally, Long Feiye had long realized this himself. But he never expected Han Yunxi to ask him about it. It was just like when she was digging into the Shadow Clan and asking him directly whether she was the West Qin imperial orphan. If there came a day when she knew all my secrets, would she still ask me these questions so innocently?
"He's saved you once, so your lordship still needs to thank him. There's no need for him to hide," Long Feiye remarked.
"How about I ask him about it the next time he drops by?" Han Yunxi was lost to the reasons as well. There was no way that the white-robed man would behave as atrociously as Gu Qishao, who not only took liberties with her, but provoked Long Feiye in turn with repeated schemes. It was only natural for Gu Qishao to avoid Long Feiye at all costs, but the white-robed man really had no reason for his actions! Han Yunxi couldn't help but think there was a secret hidden there.
Finally, she joked, "Your Highness, could it be that you actually bear a grudge against the Shadow Clan?"
"How could I when I've never met them?" Long Feiye retorted.
Han Yunxi grinned. "But if Your Highness was the East Qin imperial orphan by chance, then you'd have plenty of reason to hold a grudge!" That would be the only possibility, as the East Qin Dynasty had died by the West Qin Dynasty's hands. Internal conflicts in the past had destroyed both families and brought an end to their entire kingdoms. The two imperial clans both possessed a deep set hatred for each other. Naturally, the Shadow Clan's enmity against the East Qin imperial clan matched that of their masters, the West Qin.
For a second, Long Feiye's eyes flashed with ice sharp enough to cut; unfortunately, Han Yunxi didn't notice.
"Do you think that's possible?" he asked frostily.
Han Yunxi laughed. She was only joking, after all. If that was the truth, then how could Long Feiye ever let her get close to him? Moreover, why would the white-robed man allow her to stay by Long Feiye's side?
"Your Highness, is there any news of Mute Granny?" Han Yunxi's true motive for going inside was to ask this question. Three months had passed without any sign of her. If they still couldn't find her, then there'd be little chance of seeing her again.
Long Feiye replied without the slightest hesitation, "I'm afraid we won't even be able to find her bones." His words implied that Mute Granny was probably dead. Han Yunxi gave Long Feiye a piercing look as her bright eyes dimmed.
Finally, she muttered to herself, "How are we supposed to explain this to Mu Linger?"
Mute Granny wasn't the only clue, because what she knew was probably something the Mu Clan head Mu Yingdong knew as well. They simply didn't want to reveal too much to the man himself. Compared to her birth secret, Han Yunxi was more concerned with Mute Granny herself. She would never forget how the old woman had shed tears upon realizing the connection between her and Mu Xin. Those eyes had long resigned themselves to hopelessness until she came. Then they'd been rekindled with hope and anticipation. Mu Linger's accusation hadn't been wrong-she had to take responsibility if anything happened to Mute Granny.
"Your Highness, have we found those attackers yet?" Han Yunxi asked, her eyes flashing with hate. Anyone who hid in the shadows should target her instead if they had the guts. Why bully a mute and deaf granny who'd suffered for half her life?
"No," Long Feiye was very succinct.
"Not a single clue after three months? How is Chu Xifeng doing his job?" Han Yunxi was getting a little angry.
After a pause, Long Feiye simply changed the topic. "It's getting late, you should go to bed."
"Your Highness, are we just going to leave things like this?" Han Yunxi couldn't believe it. That didn't seem like Long Feiye's style.
"Your lordship will keep looking for her. But don't get your hopes up. Mute Granny isn't the only clue," Long Feiye explained calmly. Han Yunxi finally realized she'd gotten too worked up over the thing. Listlessly, she returned to her room.
Long Feiye followed her to the door before asking offhandedly, "Han Yunxi, birth origins are things of the past and concern the previous generation. Look more to the future."
"Your Highness, actually, I..." Han Yunxi wanted to explain, but Long Feiye simply pushed her into her room.
"It's late, go sleep."
"Then Your Highness should rest early as well," Han Yunxi replied.
Very soon, the lights in both their rooms were extinguished. Unfortunately, it was destined to be a sleepless night. Han Yunxi laid on her bed, tossing and turning with a restless heart. Intuition told her that Long Feiye was intentionally avoiding the subject. Was she wrong, or was he really hiding something? She was curious about his secrets, but she'd never forced him to tell her. So why was he hiding her own secrets from her instead?
Han Yunxi dearly wished she was mistaken in her assumptions.
Long Feiye wasn't even in his bedroom. Once again, he was sitting on the roof, standing guard as was his habit ever since settling into the senior provincial official's estate. He didn't sense that high-level expert this night, so it was likely the other man had already left. There was no need to stand guard anymore. Despite this, he remaining sitting in place, the chilly moon casting his figure in a lonely, desolate light.
It was a still moon in a deep night.
At one of the lanes surrounding the estate, Aunt Ru appeared after a long absence.
"Aunt Ru, that high-level expert left," a black-masked guard reported in a low voice. Many people in the Tang Clan referred to her by that name, so much that it had become a title of respect independent of her status or relationships.
Because Tang Zijin's son had ran away from his marriage and offended the bride's family, he'd spent the past two months in a hectic frenzy, trying to hunt down his son. Right now, he had no time to worry about Han Yunxi. He had invited Long Feiye and Han Yunxi to attend the wedding as part of a trap, but it never came to fruition. Thus, Tang Zijin had coaxed Aunt Ru not to act rashly or antagonize Long Feiye in the meantime. Unfortunately, she didn't listen to him.
She couldn't tolerate a woman with connections to the Tang Clan staying by Long Feiye's side. Nobody else knew that Long Feiye had been injured, but she knew quite well. She didn't know what person had been locked in the Hidden Pavilion either, but that was the place where he'd been wounded. Ever since Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had arrived at South Ning Prefecture, she'd followed along from the Tang Clan to find a chance to kill Han Yunxi. It would've been easy enough to do the deed while Long Feiye was still injured.
However, she never thought that a white-robed expert would be shielding Han Yunxi from the shadows as well. Every time she made a move, that man would appear and make it impossible for her to approach the girl. If she didn't guess wrongly, that white-robed expert had to be the man from the Shadow Clan. Speeds like that were only possible from their clan members!
"He left?" Aunt Ru murmured to herself.
"For sure. This subordinate approached the back door of the estate just then and wasn't held back," the black-robed man replied.
Aunt Ru gave a cold laugh. "He certainly knows how to pick his times!" The white-robed man might have left, but Long Feiye's wound had already recovered. How could she have a chance to make her move now? Did Long Feiye knew of the other man's existence? What about Han Yunxi? Had she gotten in contact with that white-robed man?
"Aunt Ru, what is wrong with His Highness? If that person really is from the Shadow Clan, then wouldn't that mean esteemed wangfei is..."
Before the man could finish, Aunt Ru suddenly turn to grip him by the neck. "Who told you that man was from the Shadow Clan?"
"His....his speed..." the man wanted to explain, but he quickly realized he'd made a mistake. He knew too much. "Aunt Ru, this subordinate won't..."
He didn't get to finish the sentence before he permanently lost his ability to speak. Aunt Ru leisurely cleaned off the traces of blood on her hands, her eyes sinister. The more people there was who knew about the Shadow Clan, the worse it'd be for Feiye! Though her heart was filled with hateful rage, she had no choice but to help him keep things hidden. Since Long Feiye had recovered, she now had no choice but to return to the Tang Clan...
The famine victims needed huge amounts of grain, so it took more than a few days to send relief grain to everyone. Neither the senior provincial official's estate nor the local government officials had enough men for the task, so Long Feiye allocated some of his guards and cart drivers to various countries to help out. In the meantime, he and Han Yunxi still had another important job, and that was to find more grain.
Last night's unhappiness seem to have faded with the day, because Han Yunxi was as full of spirits as ever today. She might have her little moods, but generally speaking she was still an optimistic, sanguine kind of girl. Somehow, she'd woken up all hotblooded again at noon, and began to earnestly help Long Feiye figure out the problem of providing more grain. She even made a few suggestions that caught him off-guard.
Long Feiye listened to her speak with keen pleasure, nodding again and again to her words. It was as if nothing had happened at all last night. Just as they finished talking, Emperor Tianhui's imperial decree arrived. Both Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were clear that Emperor Tianhui wouldn't let them off lightly after sending them to the disaster regions.
Just what would the imperial decree say?