Han Ruoxue was startled by her mother's fierceness and hastened to reply. "Mu Liuyue said Han Yunxi didn't treat the young general's illness, but his poison instead!"
These words turned Madame Li's fists stiff. But she didn't say a word.
"The young general was sneak attacked by an assassin with a poisoned sword. Han Yunxi knew how to treat poisons and saved him, but who knew he had a slow-acting poison too? Fortunately, Han Yunxi discovered that too and treated it," Han Ruoxue explained.
At these words, Madame Li suddenly relaxed her fists. She was completely speechless, her eyes blank as if stunned. Frightened, Han Ruoxue rushed over to support her. "Mother, what's wrong? Do you feel unwell somewhere?"
Madame Li only just recovered, her expression still stiff. She shook her head. "No...it's nothing, help pour a cup of warm water for your mother."
Han Ruoxue hastily poured the water while Madame Li gave a long exhale to calm herself down. She looked at Han Ruoxue's back with gloomy eyes, mood uncertain as she finally spoke. "How did Han Yunxi find out there was a slow-acting poison?"
"Mu Liuyue didn't tell me the details, so I didn't ask," Han Ruoxue replied.
"How could the young general have been struck with a slow-acting poison? That sort of poison takes time to administer," Madame Li asked again.
Han Ruoxue turned around. "Mother, that's what I thought too. There must be someone trying to harm the young general in the general's estate. It wasn't convenient for me to ask such things."
Madame Li nodded, slowly drinking a few sips. "Xue'er, did you gift young Miss Mu the spring tea you brought along today?"
Only then did Han Ruoxue recall this matter and lowered her head. "I...I left in too much of a hurry and forgot."
Madame Li's heart clenched as she spoke. "Those tea leaves weren't cheap, where did you put them?"
"Right by the table. How about I send someone to get them and deliver it directly to the general's estate?" Han Ruoxue asked again.
"No need," Madame Li rejected the idea immediately. "Forget it, we can consider it given to someone with the fate to pick it up."
A resentful Han Ruoxue didn't dare say anything more despite her mistake.
"I'm weary. I'd like to sleep for awhile, so you can leave," Madame Li said mildly before leaning lazily against her pillow.
"Mother, should I take your pulse for you?" Han Ruoxue was very considerate, but Madame Li only waved at her to leave. She'd been like this since Han Ruoxue's youth, so the latter was long used to it.
"Then, rest well," she poured her mother another cup of water before retreating. As soon as she left, Madame Li sat up, her calm face immediately darkening like black clouds. Even her usual serene gaze had swiftly turned fierce.
"Come out!" she said in a low voice.
At this, a black-robed female guard appeared from behind a nearby screen.
"Immediately go to the Celestial Fragrance plantation and retrieve that item. Additionally, clear out all the snake poison in the wooden shed!" Madame Li ordered.
"Yes! Your subordinate understands," the black-robed guard obeyed before she left in an instant.
Madame Li sat for a long time, her phoenix eyes narrowing. "Han Yunxi, ah, Han Yunxi, I've really underestimated you. You dared to ruin my good plan! Such skill! I definitely won't let you off!"
Time passed until three days went by.
Only fifteen were left until it was a full month. After leaving things to Mu Qingwu, Han Yunxi hadn't been idle, either. She didn't take a step outside the house, but hid in the study of the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion to research the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison. She didn't have ten different snake venoms on hand, but when she was taking samples beforehand, she'd stored Mu Qingwu's poison-laced blood into her detoxification system, where it'd naturally disseminated the various toxins before creating copies to fill up her poison storage space. Han Yunxi had been researching the method of poisoning for the last few days.
In many cases, the poisoning method was a big hurdle for the poisoner, especially if the poison reacted with other items to weaken its toxicity. Sometimes, there would be color changes or smells, so the best place to hide it was in clear water. On the other hand, there were poisons that couldn't touch water because they'd be discovered right away. As Han Yunxi saw it, it wasn't easy to put poison in Mu Qingwu's water often. Both the water house and fire house (kitchens), along with Mu Qingwu's servants, had been thoroughly inspected. Nothing unusual had been found.
Unless she made a mistake and the poison wasn't added to clear water?
According to the records in the detox system, Ten-Thousand Snake Poison could only be added to water to prevent reactions. After it was created, it only had a shelf life of one day before it started changing colors and smell. But the intellectual prowess of the detoxification system was still limited by human ingenuity. Ten-Thousand Snake Poison didn't exist in modern times, so its description came from ancient records compiled from the distant past.
The detoxification system was a powerful tool when it came to examining poisons and allocating antidotes, surpassing the skills of any human genius. But when it came to manufacturing poisons, the detox system was fairly weak. Perhaps there was a way to hide the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison in some other solution without affecting its toxicity or changing color and smell?
Or perhaps, the poisoner adjusted the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison formula so it wouldn't change so quickly, and thus found a completely different method to poison the victim? It was a small possibility, because making Ten-Thousand Snake Poison itself was already a challenge. Trying to add improvements to the formula would be even more difficult.
But after so much investigation yielded no clue, Han Yunxi couldn't help but carefully consider the possibilities. If the poison wasn't added to water, then it would be in something Mu Qingwu ate or drank often. Besides his three meals, Han Yunxi quickly thought of another item: tea!
Tianning Country people were all addicted to tea. In the capital, each household had its own store of tea leaves that they drank from day to night.
"Could it be the tea?" Han Yunxi muttered to herself. She was about to summon little Chen Xiang when she remembered that she left her with the Han Family to protect Seventh Young Master. She could only walk out of Hibiscus Courtyard herself and find a young pageboy to get a few kinds of tea leaves for her. And yet as soon as she finished that, she saw a familiar figure in the distance strolling along the covered corridor.
Tall and haughty, imposing and threatening, his steps were graceful and noble. That distant figure seemed to make his surroundings dim in comparison, making it impossible to overlook him. In the quiet afternoon, the sight of such a coldly handsome man walking along the corridor was like an immortal strolling through a painting.
It was him...Long Feiye.
Han Yunxi stared and stared until she inexplicably lost her train of thought. Suddenly, the immortal disappeared from the painting...no, Long Feiye himself suddenly disappeared! Han Yunxi recovered her senses, extremely astonished. Where did he go? She unconsciously took a few steps forward and looked around. But there was no sign of him anywhere.
She only thought that it had been a long time since she saw him. The last time they met was at a teahouse, but she had seen him without him seeing her. She had worried that he'd caught her hiding away the dregs of the decoction in her detox system when she was treating the crown prince. But this guy hadn't asked her anything up to this day, so maybe he didn't see anything in the end.
Right now, it was just past noon. He sure is home early.
Actually, Han Yunxi was very clear on when he came back and on which days. Who made it so she could see his lighted rooms from her windows anyways? Where did this guy go when he wasn't home? Why was he back so early today, and what did he want?
"Weird..." she murmured to herself, before withdrawing her curiosity. That guy had always been like some sort of mysterious dragon, showing his head without ever showing his tail. It wasn't so unbelievable if he vanished out of the blue. Yet as soon as Han Yunxi made to step forward, a cold voice sounded from behind her.
"Han Yunxi, do you have business with your lordship?"
A frightened Han Yunxi turned back to see the same figure that was before her, now standing behind her. His towering form was like a mountain at her back, exerting a sense of pressure. She took an inadvertent step back to increase the distance between them and keep herself safe. Of course, she couldn't make heads or tails of him.
"Your highness, I wasn't looking for you."
"Then why were you standing here looking around?" Long Feiye asked. At these words, Han Yunxi felt embarrassed. She'd been discovered? Reluctantly, she lifted her head to meet Long Feiye's extremely impatient, disdainful look.
"You need something?" he asked.
Just because she looked at him, he thought he was the main event? All right, even if he was, Han Yunxi was going to deny it. Why did he always look at her with those eyes? Could it be that no matter how hard she tried, she'd still be unbearable to him? She never liked proving herself to others, nor did she care about their stares. But Han Yunxi didn't realize that she was placing more and more importance on this man's gaze. Right now, she only felt that this was an insult.
The angrier she felt, the more brilliantly she smiled.
With a cocky grin, she said, "Nothing. I think your highness has misunderstood. I was looking around for someone else, not your highness." These words turned Long Feiye's cold eyes three parts colder, almost enough to lower the temperature around them by several degrees.
Hmph, that'll teach you to be so arrogant.
Han Yunxi ignored the ice in his eyes and continued. "If your highness has nothing else, chenqie will go first." She lifted her chin and turned away elegantly to leave, but Long Feiye opened his mouth to speak.
"Hold it, your lordship still has things to discuss."
Han Yunxi halted and turned back, still smiling sweetly. "I don't know what sort of business your highness might have?"
"I'll speak inside." Long Feiye didn't give her a second glance before turning to leave. Han Yunxi thought he'd go back to his quarters, but he actually started walking towards the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion.
"Something's really up?" Han Yunxi said doubtfully before hastening to follow.
As soon as Long Feiye entered, he smelled an unpleasant stench. Though he'd never entered a woman's rooms before, he knew that they should be clean. His eyebrows knitted together as he followed the smell inside to Han Yunxi's study. There he saw a table covered in reeking bowls of blackish liquid raising up a disgusting stink. Long Feiye's eyes scanned around the study and saw nothing but filth, mess, and chaos. He had an unhealthy obsession with cleanliness that loathed such disarray. Despite this, he wasn't sure why he hadn't left immediately.
Han Yunxi followed him in, surprised to see that he'd gone to the study.