Chapter 122: Piqued, the wangfei pardons Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The tense atmosphere that had dispersed upon Gu Qishao's arrival turned taut again at Long Feiye's words. He hadn't blamed wrongly, since it was Huo Yang's collaboration with the spies that made it so easy to snatch Qin Wangfei away.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin..." Guard Shangguan was about to explain, but Gu Qishao cut him off with a laugh.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, this one's been chasing after esteemed wangfei ever since the southern mountains to protect her from harm. I don't know if my merits can make up for my shortcomings?"
Guard Shangguan was quick to chime in. "Your Highness Duke of Qin, it was fortunate our owner was here, or else we would've been one step too late."
These words carried a hint of vying with the Duke of Qin for contributions in the rescue effort. Guard Shangguan was usually an intelligent man, but his nervousness before the Duke of Qin always turned him blunter than usual. In this situation, being too honest was a mistake. Long Feiye didn't like the sound of his words and his eyes grew even colder. Of course, he couldn't refute the truth.
But he could ignore it.
"What about the wound on her arm?" Long Feiye asked immediately.
If not for his reminder, Han Yunxi would've forgotten about it. This was inflicted by Gu Qishao with his whip so he could gain the chance to grab her from the masked man's clutches. The injury was worth it.
"That was something I did accidentally during my rescue," Gu Qishao was very truthful.
"An injury's still an injury, there's no excuse," Long Feiye denied everything with one sentence.
Gu Qishao smiled indifferently, prepared to allow him to do as he willed. But Guard Shangguan wasn't satisfied and said, "Your Highness Duke of Qin, I beg you on behalf of our owner's contributions to give him merit where it's due and absolve the Celestial Fragrance Teashop from blame."
Gu Qishao didn't seem to care either way, but he didn't stop Guard Shangguan for pleading mercy either. Yet Long Feiye once again left him speechless. "It's only natural to save Qin Wangfei, this doesn't count as merit. How can it make up for other things?"
Mu Qingwu listened from the side, wanting to help Guard Shangguan but without the guts to speak. He couldn't help but feel that the Duke of Qin had been offended by Guard Shangguan's earlier comment and was in a bad mood.
Finally, a sinister look flashed through Gu Qishao's laughing eyes, though he kept it concealed. His smile was like a flower as he spoke. "Your Highness speaks rightly. Would the Celestial Fragrance Teashop allow offenders to do as they pleased?"
He chased after Han Yunxi to save her, first because he was interested in this woman and wanted to make friends, secondly because he wanted to see what kind of person dared conceal enemy spies in his Celestial Fragrance Teashop. As for using merit to absolve his blame, he'd never given it a second thought, nor did he need it. The Celestial Fragrance Teashop was his favorite property in Tianning. It'd be a lie to say that he didn't cherish it. But no matter how much he liked it, it was still a teashop in the end. He could afford the loss.
Yet Guard Shangguan sucked in a deep breath at his words. "Your Highness Duke of Qin is a great and generous man. I beg Your Highness to be lenient with the offenders!"
Enemy spies had kidnapped Qin Wangfei. Such a crime was enough leave to shut down the Celestial Fragrance Teashop for good and have all its assets turned over to the national treasury. The owner had spent money to buy the land, but he was the one in charge of managing all its affairs. Guard Shangguan could feel his heart bleeding at the thought.
Still, Long Feiye was cold. "Your lordship is already being magnanimous by not investigating you and your owner. Beyond this, your lordship will thoroughly trace every matter and figure associated with the Celestial Fragrance Teashop!"
Gu Qishao finally narrowed his eyes at these words. Long Feiye wouldn't investigate him, but the Celestial Fragrance Teashop and its people. Undoubtedly, he'd look into his unsavory past. He hated people that tried to find out about his past!
Gu Qishao prepared to speak when Han Yunxi beat him to it. "Your Highness, if it wasn't for Gu Qishao's timely intervention, chenqie would have lost her life long ago. Chenqie hasn't blamed the young general and doesn't want to blame any member of the teashop. Moreover, Gu Qishao risked his life to save me from danger, fearing nothing in his heroics. Just from this fact, chenqie is willing to pardon his crimes."
Han Yunxi intentionally brought up 'risked his life to save me,' her clear eyes firmly staring into Long Feiye's own.
No one expected her to speak up.
No, in truth, she wasn't pleading for leniency, but outright asking for a pardon. It wasn't clear exactly what had infuriated Long Feiye, but his nostrils quivered as he spoke, "You have no right to issue a pardon."
"Chenqie does. It was chenqie that was kidnapped, not Your Highness!" Han Yunxi spoke out rebelliously, leaving Mu Qingwu and Guard Shangguan dumbstruck. But Gu Qishao's lips curved up as he took pleasure in gloating over Long Feiye's misfortune. Even Emperor Tianhui didn't dare to face off directly against Long Feiye, but Han Yunxi was being contrary to his face?
If one listened closely, they'd definitely pick up the sounds of Long Feiye's fists clenching inside his sleeves. His face remained expressionless as he spoke, word-by-word, to remind her. "Han Yunxi, everything of yours belongs to your lordship. That includes your authority. Before your lordship, you have no rights whatsoever!"
Han Yunxi feared Long Feiye, but she forgot her fear in her anger. She didn't budge a step and replied, word-by-word, with a retort. "Chenqie refuses to give in! Chenqie will enter the palace and find the emperor to ask him to decide!"
If this wasn't a threat, then what was it?
Mu Qingwu and Guard Shangguan simultaneously sucked in long breaths, even beginning to feel afraid for this woman. Would this woman lose her life before she stepped into the palace; nay, before she even left these mountains? This was a little too audacious, wasn't it? She had been arranged into this match by the empress dowager, while the emperor had forced the marriage to take place. But now she dared to use the emperor to threaten His Highness Duke of Qin?
Was this woman crazy?
Even Gu Qishao, who had been enjoying the show, raised an eyebrow as he peered at Han Yunxi with a strange expression. This woman was taking a reckless risk. Was she really so thankful to him in her heart?
At last, fine veins bulged out on Long Feiye's forehead. His expression turned so overcast that it looked like it would rain. Just when everyone was certain that he'd lose his temper, he wordlessly grabbed Han Yunxi and flashed out of sight. A complicated look flitted through Gu Qishao's eyes. He was about to give chase when Mu Qingwu held him back.
"Gu Qishao, His Highness has lost his temper. You should watch out."
Gu Qishao laughed and sneered, "What? Since the young general's been pardoned, you can stand tall and speak up?"
This rascal had a poisonous tongue that hit Mu Qingwu's sore spot as soon as he spoke. In truth, Mu Qingwu was the chief culprit for this mess. If he hadn't asked esteemed wangfei for help, brought esteemed wangfei to the teashop, and involved her in the Ten-Thousand Snake Poison case, she wouldn't have attracted the attention of the assassins. Feeling apologetic in his heart, Mu Qingwu resentfully released his hand, not saying a word.
But Gu Qishao had given up on chasing after them. His bewitching eyes darted a glance at Guard Shangguan before he said lazily, "Shangguan, let's go."
"Owner, what should we do?"
"What if His Highness Duke of Qin really closes down the teashop?"
"Owner, can't we discuss this issue any further?"
"Respected owner, why don't you catch up to them for a look?"
Gu Qishao allowed Guard Shangguan to urge him the whole way as if he hadn't heard a thing. His mouth was smiling, his movements at ease. After walking for awhile, he lightly pushed against the ground and took gracefully to the skies, his billowing red robes floating behind him like a scarlet iris.
"Owner!" an anxious Guard Shangguan immediately chased after him. Mu Qingwu watched them both depart before expelling a long breath. He wasn't sure how these affairs would be settled, either. He was more worried about esteemed wangfei. They'd combed the mountain countless times over the past few days, and it'd take a few more to get back. Mu Qingwu wanted to find His Highness Duke of Qin but lacked the nerve to do it.
After seizing Han Yunxi, Long Feiye wordlessly sped through the forests with an expressionless face. His palm rested directly above Han Yunxi's whip injury, making her knit her eyebrows in pain. Still, she didn't cry out. Her complexion had turned much paler than before as she leaned against his chest with hooded eyes. It wasn't clear whether she felt piqued or really listless, but she left all her weight for Long Feiye to bear.
When the sun began to set, an angry Long Feiye finally felt the stickiness on his arm. Only then did he slow down to lower his head and saw that he was pressing against Han Yunxi's wound. Both her arm and his hand were soaked in blood.
"Dammit!" Long Feiye cursed under his breath. He abruptly halted by a large tree and released Han Yunxi with a cold order, "Treat the wound immediately."
Yet as soon as he let go, Han Yunxi leaned against the tree trunk, feet unsteadily as she swayed to one side. The tenseness of the past few days had made her incapable of closing her eyes no matter how sleepy she was. Add that to the seven or eight different poisons still left in her body and the pain in her arm, and her frail body couldn't take it anymore! She'd relied on her will to stubbornly sustain herself, but now she was truly exhausted. At this moment, she didn't even care about the pain, much less Gu Qishao's fate. All she wanted to do was lie down and sleep without ever waking up.
Seeing that Han Yunxi had no reaction but was tilting to one side, Long Feiye urged unhappily, "Did you hear me?"
But when he finished, Han Yunxi actually toppled towards the ground. Greatly alarmed, Long Feiye finally realized that something was very wrong with this woman and rushed up to hold her upright. Han Yunxi cracked opened her eyes to look at him, her pale lips splitting into a faint smile that was half-scorn, half laughter at herself. It made Long Feiye very uncomfortable to see her expression.
"What's wrong with you?" Long Feiye helped her to sitting position, his voice as cold as ever. Han Yunxi leaned inside the crook of his arm with drooping eyes as she allowed his question, neither meeting his eyes nor speaking. It wasn't clear whether she had stopped paying attention, or lacked the strength to do so in the first place.
"Han Yunxi, speak!" a trace of anxiety slipped into Long Feiye's tone.
But Han Yunxi didn't react. In the dim, hazy light, her face was as pale as a corpse. Long Feiye hastily took her pulse, knowing enough medical skills to do that much. Only then did he realize this woman was in a dangerously feeble state. If she kept losing blood at this rate, she'd die. He'd long pushed his anger to the back of his mind and went to dig inside her medical pouch, only to find very little things inside. Besides a few medicines that he didn't recognize, there were just acupuncture needles and some gauze.
Fortunately, he was a man used to fighting who always carried around Jingchuang Medicine. Long Feiye set Han Yunxi against the tree trunk so he could help her bind up her wound, but Han Yunxi was too tired to sit straight. As soon as Long Feiye released her, she slumped towards the side again.
 Jinchuang Medicine () - jingchuang yao, an item often seen in wuxia novels and the like, used to treat cuts and injuries.