Chapter 103: Unexpectedly, she's the one in most danger
Looking at Long Feiye's expression, Han Yunxi grew uneasy. She took the namelist and skimmed through the names before her heart came to a stop!
There were 20 names on this list, but five of them were children, the oldest being no more than 10 years old. All were sons of the first wives of noble families in Tianning, even including an imperial grandson!
What did Long Feiye's cruelty compare, to a list like this?
But that wasn't the most shocking point. What stunned her most of all was a name she was intimately familiar with...Mu Qingwu!
Mu Qingwu was one of the people listed, scheduled to be killed within the next three years. Han Yunxi had wondered whether his poisoning had any connection with the Northern Li spies, but it was just a flyaway thought. She didn't think too deeply about it since the general's estate occupied a high position in Tianning Country. With its power and prestige, it naturally had many enemies within and without the country. But as it turned out, Mu Qingwu's poison really had been administered by these women, which meant they had to have concealed themselves around the general for many years already!
If not for that one-off chance, no one would have discovered Mu Qingwu's hidden poison. According to the enemy spies' plan, Mu Qingwu would continued to get poisoned for the next three years. Once the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison had reached a certain threshold, he'd definitely die, and even an Immortal wouldn't be able to save him.
Han Yunxi abruptly raised her head to look at Long Feiye in disbelief. In response, his thoughtful grin grew wider and turned frosty. "Han Yunxi, your lordship will take you to the Han estate now. I hope you won't disappoint your lordship."
At these words, Han Yunxi's heart lurched as her face turned deathly pale! She backed up a few steps, knitting her eyebrows. "What do you mean?"
"You told your lordship that you suspected Han Family's Third Madame Li. Did you forget so quickly?" Long Feiye asked.
The results of today's interrogation left him very pleased, and now he had high expectations for Han Yunxi's information. Although he didn't understand poisons, he knew that Mu Qingwu's Ten-Thousand Snake Poison was a very peculiar type. A female agent who could quietly poison him all these years without exposure couldn't be anyone ordinary. Perhaps their trip to the Han estate this time would yield great gains!
Of course, Han Yunxi understood Long Feiye's considerations very well. She was quick to explain, "It's not a suspicion, more like a clue. I ask that Your Highness not to hold high hopes in case you're too disappointed."
She wasn't trying to defend Third Madame, but the Han Family.
Han Congan's criminal status was enough for the Han Clan to face extermination. Fortunately, his previous diagnosis hadn't been made public, and she'd made amends for it with good deeds. This time, if something was discovered in the Han estate and someone there really turned out to be a Northern Li spy, then it'd be hard for the Han Family to escape calamity! After all, collaborating with the enemy was a severe crime that meted nothing but death. Even things like general amnesty had stipulations against such criminals.
It was almost the deadline for her bet with Mu Liuyue, so Han Yunxi wished more than anything else to find something from Madame Li's quarters. But at this moment, she also wished more than anything else that the true poisoner wasn't in the Han Family. Leaving aside all the innocent lives, she couldn't even bear for a single person like little Yi'er to suffer.
"Even if it's just a possibility..." Long Feiye raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Your lordship is still very interested."
Han Yunxi peered at him as she scrunched her eyebrows, unable to speak. If she knew he'd hand her this list of names, she wouldn't have mentioned the Han Family's affairs. She'd find her own way to investigate first and get a handle on things before figuring out what to do.
"What, does esteemed wangfei want to do wrong to help her own relatives?" Long Feiye asked. It was rare to see this woman flustered, and amusement grew in his eyes.
"I'm not!" Han Yunxi rejected immediately. But after meeting Long Feiye's eyes, she still had to look away.
"Why don't we go before it gets light?" Long Feiye pressed.
There was no wall in the world that didn't divulge its secrets. Han Yunxi knew that once there was really something suspicious about Third Madame, it'll be impossible to hide from this fellow's eyes. Sooner or later, he'd find the truth. Rather than hide anything from him, she might as well say it all now to guard against possibilities.
She bit her teeth before speaking, "Your Highness, I guarantee that I won't do wrong to protect my own relatives. But how about you agree to something for me as well?"
Long Feiye found this rather unexpected. He sat back down and asked thoughtfully, "Is esteemed wangfei wrangling concessions from your lordship?"
From what he understood, Han Yunxi had been maltreated since childhood at the Han estate. She didn't have any sentiments towards the Han Family and even sent Han Congan to the imperial prisons. Who else couldn't she part with in the family?
Who was she speaking on behalf of?
Such a thought turned Long Feiye's previously good mood into something uncomfortable.
Han Yunxi very much wanted to say 'yes,' but she didn't have the guts right now. She didn't even know if Third Madame was innocent.
"Your Highness, chenqie is intimately familiar with poisons and can give you a helping hand. As long as you agree to chenqie's very small request, chenqie will wholeheartedly work in Your Highness's service to uncover all the spies!"
"So you're not wrangling concessions from your lordship, but threatening me instead?" Long Feiye asked coldly in a rare moment of patience.
"You!" Han Yunxi huffed. Is this guy being difficult on purpose?
Seeing that Han Yunxi was angry, Long Feiye said no more, but his gaze resting on her was deep and thoughtful.
Han Yunxi paused for a long time before speaking again. "Your Highness, why don't you listen to my conditions first. It won't be too late to consider them afterwards."
Long Feiye seemed pensive as he nodded. "Speak."
"On the off chance that there's an enemy spy in the Han Family, chenqie begs for Your Highness to spare the innocents within the clan," Han Yunxi was very earnest.
"Which innocents?" Long Feiye pressed.
"Your Highness, there are only three wives left in the Han Family now. But added together, they amount to dozens of lives. Chenqie firmly believes that if the spy is really within the Han Family, not everyone would know. There's still plenty of people who are blameless," Han Yunxi replied seriously.
But Long Feiye only gave a cold laugh. "Han Yunxi, don't you know? If the spy really is from the Han Family, even you...would be hard-pressed to escape the consequences! Rather than thinking of how to help others, you should find your own way out first."
Han Yunxi's heart lurched as her mind turned blank. Without Long Feiye's reminder, she really would have forgotten that she was a Han Family member too. Even though she'd married into the Duke of Qin's residence, she couldn't change the fact of her birth. Her relationship with her own family was one that'd never break. Moreover, she was the one with the most chances to get close to the imperial family and endanger them within the Han estate. Once the Han Family was certified guilty, the brash Emperor Tianhui would rather kill wrongly than miss a chance to kill. When that happened, she'd be the one in most danger!
Observing Han Yunxi's ashen face, Long Feiye revealed a satisfied smile. But it vanished quickly enough. His tone was still high and lofty as he spoke. "If esteemed wangfei assists your lordship in finding all the enemy spies, your lordship could consider vouching for you yourself."
Seeing Long Feiye's damned indifference, Han Yunxi almost wanted to hit him. But what else could she do? The imperial family was the most merciless of all. Even brothers could have a falling out, and those of same flesh and blood could turn on each other to kill. What did innocent outsiders count for in their eyes?
It wasn't Long Feiye that was cruel and ruthless, but the dynasty itself. He was just giving her a reminder out of goodwill. At the same time, he was also reminding her that only those with power could survive in such a cruel place. For power and influence, she could attach herself to Long Feiye. But the Han Family had long lost their own might and influence!
If they really harbored a spy, then the spy was to blame for implicating an innocent family!
Han Yunxi knew she couldn't change reality, so she could only take advantage of opportunities as they came. She raised her head and peered at Long Feiye, before asking nervously, "If Your Highness is taking things into consideration, then...then could you consider shielding one more person?"
"Who?" Long Feiye asked immediately.
"My little brother, Han Yunyi. He's not more than six years old and doesn't understand anything," Han Yunxi hastened to reply. Long Feiye seemed surprised by her answer and fell into a long silence.
"Your Highness, you denounced that spy for murdering children just then. Chenqie knows that Your Highness cherishes the young and weak, so you must have a loving heart," Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel these words were rather poor as she flattered him by patting the horse's behind. She wasn't the type to say such words, but she went ahead anyways for Yi'er's sake.
Long Feiye couldn't imagine it either. He had a loving heart? Instead of patting the horse's behind, this woman was patting its head instead, wasn't she?
"Is that so?" Long Feiye replied with a cold laugh.
"Yes..." Even Han Yunxi herself wasn't confident about the answer.
Unexpectedly, Long Feiye agreed with pleasure. "Fine, your lordship agrees!"
This was beyond Han Yunxi's expectations. This is his reply? He agreed this easily? She thought he'd make things difficult for her again. What's wrong with him today? Is he in a good mood because the interrogation went well?
"For real?" Han Yunxi couldn't help but ascertain.
Long Feiye stood up and retorted, "Are you doubting your lordship's word?"
Immediately, Han Yunxi shook her head, not daring to waste any more words. "Many thanks to Your Highness Duke of Qin!"
"Can you go now?" Long Feiye asked again.
Right away, Han Yunxi nodded and turned to leave in a hurry, forgetting that her foot was still injured. Abruptly, she stepped on it...
"Ah!" she cried out in agony as her features twisted. How painful!
The pain came in waves from her foot, enough to turn her scalp numb. Long Feiye glanced down. He didn't see her foot or ask any questions, but as before, bent down slightly in front of her. This fellow's lean and muscular body was tall and straight. Even a slight bend made him seem proud and aloof, honorable and mysterious. Han Yunxi had a sudden, inexplicable feel of safety. She was about to carefully climb on when Long Feiye spoke up.
"It's almost daylight, hurry up."
Beyond a doubt, his cold tone completely destroyed Han Yunxi's feeling of security. Her lips curved into a cold smile as she carelessly clambered on, tightly gripping his shoulders. Who cares if it hurt him or not?
Sense of security?
What a joke, she'd secretly laugh at him if he didn't sell her off one of these days.
When they left the Solitary Enclosure, the skies were already brightening. Now there was only less than two hours before daylight. Long Feiye's speed was so fast that Han Yunxi couldn't even see their surroundings clearly. She only felt that the houses bordering them on both sides were like dark shadows passing by. At this time of day, the wind was still cold. Add that to Long Feiye's speed, and Han Yunxi felt like the gusts were screaming in her face as they lashed painfully against her skin.
With no other choice, she could only bury her face in Long Feiye's back so he could shield her from the wind. Her forehead pressed against his nape, causing the speeding Long Feiye to feel as if something had suddenly bumped into him. It was extremely uncomfortable, but he only knitted his eyebrows and kept silent...
 patting the horse's behind () - pai qi ma pi, an euphemism for obsequious flattery to gain favors.
 instead of patting the horse's behind...patting its head instead - a nice way of saying Han Yunxi's words completely missed the mark.