Chapter 137: His Highness Duke of Qin personally appears
"I don't know, I didn't know a thing! Sobsob, sob...mother, why did you do it!?"
"It was my mother that told me to gift the tea leaves, I didn't know a thing! Let me go...no! Sob..."
"Mother, why did you do it? Why?!"
Han Ruoxue didn't dare to fight back. All she could do was dodge and evade the blows, crying like a child. Mu Liuyue had turned into a complete shrew, clutching and beating at Han Ruoxue's clothes as the people around them backed away. But just as things were turning chaotic, Madame Li slipped past Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng to grab at Grand Concubine Yi.
"Ah!" Grand Concubine Yi shrieked. Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng rushed over, but both of them were too late. A step away from Grand Concubine Yi, Madame Li closed her hands around the woman's neck, sharp nails sinking into the skin to take away her life at any second.
Grand Concubine Yi was so frightened that her face turned pale. With wide eyes, she trembled, too afraid to make a single move.
"Move aside or else I'll kill her this instant!" Madame Li said coldly. So what if Han Yunxi had exposed her? Catching her wouldn't be that easy. Nether Mu Qingwu nor Chu Xifeng were willing to yield, each of them clutching their swords. They didn't advance, but neither did they retreat. At the same time, the imperial guards that were concealed in their surroundings revealed themselves to encircle the pair.
"All of you, back away!" Madame Li warned, tightening her grip.
"Back away! Back away! All of you back away!" Grand Concubine Yi shouted in fear. This was too frightening. One wrong move and she'd be dead!
These events were completely unexpected. Chu Xifeng and Mu Qingwu were forced to retreat along with the guards, Han Yunxi, and the rest of the crowd. Only Han Ruoxue stood dumbfounded, looking in disbelief at her mother. Mu Qingwu's longsword came to rest along her neck. "Madame Li, release Grand Concubine Yi or else your daughter..."
Before he could finish, Madame Li gave a cold laugh. "Do as you like!"
Han Ruoxue was just a daughter she'd adopted to go through the motions of satisfying Han Congan. She wasn't her real daughter at all. After staying undercover in Tianning Country for so many years, she'd been entrusted with heavy responsibilities by her master. Things such as sons or daughters were only burdens to her, so Han Ruoxue was just a tool of no importance.
Han Ruoxue couldn't believe her own ears. Immediately, she began to bawl, but Madame Li only commanded, "All of you, stay at least three meters away from me!"
At her words, the frightened Grand Concubine Yi immediately opened her mouth. "Back away! Do as she says, everyone back away!"
Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng exchanged glances, sullen enough to kill, but all they could do was retreat even further. Seeing this, a ruthless look flashed past Madame Li's eyes. She reached out a hand to pull Grand Concubine Yi closer, but it was right at this moment that a sword suddenly appeared in the air like lightning to cut through the space between Madame Li and Grand Concubine Yi. This was beyond all expectations. Even Madame Li hadn't anticipated this, and instinctively withdrew her hands in self-defense! At this critical moment, Long Feiye appeared, his long legs viciously kicking her aside and into the air. Madame Li wanted to use poison, but had no chance as her body crashed heavily to the ground, bruising her organs until she spat out a mouthful of fresh blood.
Chu Xifeng and the guards immediately circled her with swords on all sides, making it impossible for Madame Li to even move. Meanwhile, Long Feiye kept his hands behind his back, his tall silhouette dressed in black robes that fluttered in the wind as he slowly descended to earth like some sort of Immortal. Everyone looked over in shock as silence fell over Heaven and Earth.
It was His Highness Duke of Qin!
His Highness Duke of Qin had personally appeared!
Quite a few females fainted away in the crowd. Mu Liuyue saw him and forgot everything else, filled with infatuation. She couldn't help but wish that time would stop right at this instant so she could stare at His Highness Duke of Qin and be satisfied for the rest of her life!
He came as well.
Han Yunxi's tension finally relaxed. Unconsciously, she revealed a glad smile. With Long Feiye here, she didn't have to worry. Long Feiye gave her a careless glance first before moving towards Grand Concubine Yi. "Erchen came late and caused mufei to be frightened," he said mildly.
The scared witless Grand Concubine Yi calmed herself before realizing what had happened. Tears filled her eyes as she clutched her son's hand, shaking uncontrollably. She wanted to cover up the fear in her heart but found herself unable to hide a thing. Long Feiye lightly patted her shoulder.
"It's fine now. Mufei doesn't need to fear."
Right at this moment, the panic-stricken Murong Wanru hastily rushed over to pull Grand Concubine Yi into her arms. She comforted her in a low voice, "Mufei, it's fine, it's all right, His Highness is here. We're safe now, no fear, no fear!"
As soon as she was pulled aside, Grand Concubine Yi leaned into Murong Wanru's embrace. What she desperately needed now was a hug. She'd never experienced something so horrific. She was this close to losing her life!
"Mufei, don't be afraid! In the future we won't bother with sister-in-law's affairs, they're really too dangerous," Murong Wanru took the chance to sow further discord, but it had no effect this time.
Grand Concubine Yi had truly been spooked. How could she have time to bother about Han Yunxi? All she could think about was her own safety. She looked at Madame Li from a distance, frightened and flustered, ashamed and angry.
"Son, she's the true poisoner. You have to punish her severely! No, you have to kill her to prevent future troubles! My Tianning capital can't tolerate such people!"
Mu Qingwu and Chu Xifeng split ways to take Han Ruoxue and Madame Li into custody. Han Ruoxue was like a walking corpse. Tears kept falling from her eyes, but she didn't say a word. On the other hand, Madame Li kept glaring at Long Feiye, her eyes spitting venom.
It was Long Feiye all over again! How many of her subordinates had this man killed? If it wasn't for his interference, she would've accomplished her goals long ago. She wanted to tear him to pieces!
Long Feiye gave Madame Li a derisive glance. Her hatred of him was nothing in his eyes. Even if Han Yunxi hadn't been able to reveal the poison today, he still would have used force against Madame Li. He refused to allow the existence of any dangerous persons. Of course, Han Yunxi's display had completely exceeded his expectations. She had done a beautiful job and he was very satisfied.
He didn't want to waste any more words with Madame Li but ordered, "The eyewitness testimony and material evidence are both conclusive. Someone, take these true culprits to the imperial prisons to await trial!"
Imprisoning them was just a pretense. Madame Li and Han Ruoxue would both be taken in for clandestine interrogation. What Long Feiye wanted to know were the details regarding the concealed spies.
But Madame Li actually started to laugh. "Duke of Qin, I advise you to let me go immediately. Otherwise..." As she spoke, she gave Grand Concubine Yi a significant look. "Otherwise, I guarantee that your mufei won't live to see the sun tomorrow!"
Grand Concubine Yi's face darkened at these words. What did she mean?
"You don't have the skills!" Long Feiye said coldly.
"She's already been poisoned with my secret formula!" Madame Li said, giving Grand Concubine Yi a disdainful look. "Old lady, don't you feel that your throat's started to itch, as if you want to cough?"
Grand Concubine Yi was so scared that she forgot to pay attention to her body. Hearing Madame Li's words, she really did feel an itch and turned anxious. "Feiye, this..."
"Send us to the city gates and I'll give up the antidote. Otherwise, hehe..." Madame Li arrogantly outlined her conditions.
Long Feiye hated being threatened in any way. He completely ignored Madame Li's bluster and ordered, "Come, take them into custody!"
Even Grand Concubine Yi had been awed into silence by him. Although she was anxious, she didn't dare speak up. Chu Xifeng held Madame Li in place, but who knew that as soon as they turned, his hands would turn numb? Suddenly, they lost all their strength in the same instant Madame Li fished out a dagger and rushed towards her nearest target, Han Yunxi. How could Han Yunxi know that Madame Li was still capable of fighting back? Stunned, she forgot to dodge but stayed rooted to the spot as the dagger drew near.
"Ahh-!" she gave a shout and closed her eyes. As soon as she did, a spray of warm blood flew to land on her face.
Was it her blood?
But she didn't seem to be in any pain.
Han Yunxi carefully opened her eyes, only to see Madame Li standing stock-still before her, blood trailing out of her mouth. The dagger in her hand was less than five cun away from her heart. Suddenly, Madame Li's hand slackened as her weapon fell to the ground. Han Yunxi's line of vision slowly lowered until she saw the sharp arrow impaling Madame Li through her back and out her stomach. Long Feiye was standing behind her, his cold eyes filled with a vicious, heinous rage.
Han Yunxi was too astonished. Madame Li was one of the leaders of the Northern Li spies. Interrogating her would definitely yield lots of information, but Long Feiye had actually killed her. Was it a split-second decision because the situation had turned dangerous? Or was he simply too angry? But what was he angry about?
Madame Li slowly, very slowly, turned around to look disbelievingly at Long Feiye. "You...you...."
"Your lordship won't even give you the chance to kill yourself," Long Feiye said, aloof and audacious. After taking care of Madame Li, the other hidden spies were as good as scattered sand, loose and disorganized. Why wouldn't he be able to take care of them?
Madame Li spat out another mouthful of fresh blood before breaking out into laughter. "Good, very good! You deserve the titles of Tianning's Duke of Qin and Qin Wangfei! The people all know that Tianning has a Duke of Qin, but not an Emperor Tianhui! The people all know that Qin Wangfei can treat poisons, but not that the detoxification expert is the true poisons master! HahahAHAHAH..."
She laughed and laughed as she fell to the ground and exhaled her last breath. Upon the silent audience, Madame Li's words were still swirling in their ears. Long Feiye's face was utterly cold. Within the crowd, many faces of the nobility had taken on unpleasant expressions, while Crown Prince Long Tianmo's face had turned completely black.
Madame Li's words had raised the Duke of Qin to the skies while throwing Emperor Tianhui to the dirt. If Emperor Tianhui got wind of these words, the results would be terrible. Soon, Grand Concubine Yi broke the silence. "This nonsense-spouting shrew! She dared to instigate the Duke of Qin and the emperor! Her death was too cheap!"
Although she harbored dissatisfaction towards the empress dowager and emperor in her heart, although she'd always thought that the throne in the imperial palace should rightfully belong to her son, losers were always the wrong party. You were called a king if you were successful, and a thief if you failed. Everything now had already been fixed into place.
Emperor Tianhui was already taking precautions against the Duke of Qin. But such dismissive words would definitely incite him! The situation had turned severe enough for Grand Concubine Yi to forget all about her poison.
Still, Long Feiye seemed to disdain Grand Concubine Yi's attempts to mediate a compromise. Without anyone noticing, his lips curled up in scorn before he had someone take away Han Ruoxue and Madame Li's corpse.
 cun () - See the link for further explanation. A traditional cun is equal to ~3.7cm (~1.5in).