Chapter 145: Opportune, formidable
The one who delivered their orders was none other than the man who'd taken advantage of Han Yunxi a few days ago, Gu Qishao!
He was, as always, dressed in luxurious, bombastic red robes that trailed on the floor. Despite carrying plates of food, he still managed to look stunning and gorgeous, those long eyes deviously bewitching enough to stir up a crowd. There was a perpetual smile on his face, as if he had no worries in the world.
Han Yunxi was shocked enough to stand up and slam the table. "Why is it you?"
Gu Qishao wore a cheerful smile. "It's rare for esteemed wangfei to honor my establishment with your presence. Your appearance truly brings light to my humble shop. As the owner, it's only natural that I serve you personally."
He walked over and gracefully put down dish after dish, ignoring Han Yunxi's astonishment. Celestial Fragrance Teashop, Tender Fragrance Teahouse...this rich and imposing guy probably had properties all over the place. Why didn't she think of that?
His spirit really lingered over everywhere!
Since Gu Beiyue was here, Han Yunxi didn't want to waste time arguing. She composed herself and sat down to properly wait for the shop owner to serve her. Gu Beiyue's gaze turned complicated for a second, but he tactfully kept quiet. When Gu Qishao placed the last dish on the table, Han Yunxi waved her hand in a graceful, but haughty, manner. "There's nothing else for you to do, you can leave."
Gu Qishao grinned, purposely detouring around Gu Beiyue to walk to Han Yunxi's side, his manner strictly professional. "Esteemed wangfei, you ordered all of our shop's signature dishes. The ingredients, preparation, and use of each item was done after careful study. Take your time eating while I explain them one by one."
As he spoke, he personally picked up an osmanthus cake and placed it on Han Yunxi's empty dish. She glanced at him before calmly lifting the dish and dumping it aside!
"Do you believe me when I say that this wangfei will close down your business for good if you don't get out?"
Gu Qishao wasn't angry, but elegantly lifted his robes to sit down. "Of course I believe it. If esteemed wangfei likes my things, she's welcome to have them."
Tsk tsk, he was an old hand when it came to flowery words!
Han Yunxi pasted on a fake smile and suddenly scattered poison powder in Gu Qishao's face. The latter purposely took a deep breath, unconcerned by her poison at all. Fine, poison tricks like this were more useful against hoodlums in the streets, but useless against an expert hoodlum like Gu Qishao. Han Yunxi once again thought of Madame Li's dying words. A detoxification expert is the true poisons master. These words were practically false accusations against herself!
She really wasn't an expert at poisoning others, especially with formless poisons! Han Yunxi's expression turned dangerous as she narrowed her eyes. Seeing this, Gu Qishao liked her all the better. He'd actually just been passing by when he happened to spot Han Yunxi coming over. It wasn't as if he had nothing better to do than to bother her since he was a busy man.
"All right, all right, Poison Lass. Just treat me to a meal as payment for me saving your life," Gu Qishao turned proper and serious. But even so, he didn't look very proper at all.
"Is it that easy to repay you? A single meal will make us even?" Han Yunxi was itching to settle accounts with this fellow as soon as possible.
Gu Qishao looked pensive before he replied, "If you want to repay me with your heart, that's all right too."
At the same time he finished, Han Yunxi raised her hand to slap him while Gu Beiyue harshly slammed the table. "Impudence!"
Gu Qishao caught Han Yunxi's hand as his eyes narrowed, looking haughtily at Gu Beiyue as his killing intent spiked. He might be a mischievous fellow at first glance, but he definitely wasn't someone so simple!
Immediately, the atmosphere grew tense.
Still, Gu Beiyue held no fear as he stood up. "Sir, please let go of esteemed wangfei's hand immediately!"
Han Yunxi didn't know that the warm and gentle Gu Beiyue could be so fierce. She recovered enough to break free of Gu Qishao's hand and stood up as well. "Imperial Physician Gu, we're leaving!"
Han Yunxi really wanted to summon the authorities over and accuse this fellow of harassment. At the same time, she could close up his shop-since he had so many, she could close them as she saw them. But Gu Beiyue was here with her this time. Though there was nothing wrong in meeting privately, it still wasn't established custom. She wasn't afraid of people criticizing her, but she couldn't implicate Gu Beiyue!
If Gu Qishao made a big fuss, what would Gu Beiyue do then?
Han Yunxi walked very quickly, forcing Gu Beiyue to chase after her. But she'd hardly taken a few steps out of the private room in the restaurant when she saw Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao walking in.
This...what a small world!
Han Yunxi stopped abruptly. This time, Long Feiye stopped as well, looking flabbergasted at the sight of Gu Beiyue. In turn, Han Yunxi glanced towards Duanmu Yao. Were they here to eat together? What a Duke of Qin, he really was carefree! He'd spent the entire day strolling around with Duanmu Yao!
Duanmu Yao looked at Han Yunxi, then at the white-robed Gu Beiyue beside her. She didn't recognize this man, but thought that he was uncommonly handsome, with a gentleness like jade that matched well with Han Yunxi. Gu Beiyue recognized Duanmu Yao but only felt puzzled. Why would the Duke of Qin take Princess Rongle to a teahouse?
Thus, the four of them all remained speechless with their own thoughts.
When Han Yunxi and Long Feiye crossed gazes, one of them stared fixedly in silence while the other was terrifyingly dark. In the middle of this scene, Gu Qishao walked out from inside the private room, grinning deviously. "Aiya, what kind of breeze is blowing today? Even the Duke of Qin..."
But before he could finish, Han Yunxi suddenly turned around with a laugh. "Gu Qishao, didn't you say we should eat together? Go back inside!"
So speaking, she hauled Gu Beiyue along as well. "Imperial Physician Gu, you too. I've caused you so much trouble, but I still haven't gotten the chance to thank you yet!"
This...what kind of mood was this?
Before Gu Qishao could understand, or Gu Beiyue recover, both of them were dragged into the private room. As soon as she stepped inside, Han Yunxi turned around and slammed the doors shut without even looking at Long Feiye. She leaned against them for a while, taking deep breaths. This time she'd managed to abandon Long Feiye before he did the same to her. It felt great!
The two men she dragged inside exchanged glances before looking at her doubtfully. What was she doing? Why did it feel like she had fought a battle after shutting those doors, and why did she need to catch her breath?
"Esteemed wangfei, this isn't appropriate, is it? His Highness is..." Gu Beiyue felt a little uneasy.
"His Highness is very busy so we won't disturb him. Let's eat...here, everyone come over."
Acting completely out of character, Han Yunxi casually picked up her chopsticks. Gu Beiyue scrunched his eyebrows, while Gu Qishao thoughtfully rubbed his chin before he came to an understanding. He grinned as he sat down.
"Poison Lass, just then that was Western Zhou's Princess Rongle, right?"
Han Yunxi's chopsticks paused in mid-air as she nodded. "Mm."
"I heard that Western Zhou's emperor wants Princess Rongle to cement relations with Tianning through marriage. Looks like she's here this time to find a son-in-law for the emperor," Gu Qishao said playfully.
This time, Han Yunxi even stopped chewing, but she quickly started again, speaking as she ate. "Cementing relations isn't the same as inviting a potential groom home. It doesn't matter who she looks for, it's not her choice who to marry."
"This princess is the daughter of the first wife and the little sister to Western Zhou's crown prince. In any case, there's not many candidates for her to pick for marriage here in Tianning." Gu Qishao's fervent gaze stared at Han Yunxi's lips as she chewed. This woman even ate differently from other females, he really liked her the more he saw her.
When was Long Feiye going to divorce her? How about she divorce him instead?
Han Yunxi really didn't understand much about marriage relations between countries. She feigned indifference as she asked, "Then who are the candidates?"
By now, Gu Beiyue had sat down on one side to carefully study Gu Qishao. He didn't interrupt their thought but mused over the connection between this man and esteemed wangfei. It didn't seem like they were enemies.
"The crown prince, the young general, and..." Gu Qishao intentionally paused before continuing. "...the Duke of Qin."
Han Yunxi gave Gu Qishao a profound look before laughing lightly. She immediately switched the topic. "Eat."
As she spoke, she looked towards Gu Beiyue as well. "Imperial Physician Gu, there's no need to be polite. Go ahead and eat."
Duanmu Yao was a princess of the first wife of the emperor. She wasn't any Lady Xu, so how could she be satisfied in marrying Long Feiye to be a mere concubine? Looks like it was more probable for her to choose the crown prince, in which case she'd have to call Long Feiye Imperial Qin Uncle and her, Imperial Qin Aunt. Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi's bad mood suddenly vanished like smoke in the air.
She picked up a sparkling, translucent piece of water chestnut cake and enjoyed it immensely. However, Gu Qishao began muttering to himself. "I heard that this princess is thricely talented in the arts, martial prowess, and appearances. She has lofty tastes and probably wouldn't be interested in anyone else besides the Duke of Qin. Perhaps the Duke of Qin will house two wangfeis of left and right instead."
A household with two wangfeis, how did Han Yunxi overlook this? After all, it was even possible to have dual empresses in the Eastern and Western Palace, so why not the same for wangfeis? Whether it was East or West, left or right, though both were considered proper wives, they still differed in seniority.
By now, Han Yunxi's hands and mouth had thoroughly stilled.
Gu Qishao's gaze turned complicated, but he tried to feel her out with the same sardonic tone. "Come now, esteemed wangfei, you have to dip the water chestnut cake in vinegar for it to have flavor!"
How could Han Yunxi miss the meaning behind Gu Qishao's words? Still, she only smiled softly and said no more.
He married, she wedded, what business was it of hers?
If she was angry, it would only be because he didn't do what he promised.
Han Yunxi allowed Gu Qishao to probe her all he'd liked without paying him any attention. She didn't eat more than a few bites before losing her appetite and getting to her feet. "You enjoy yourselves, I'll be leaving first."
When she opened the doors, she saw that Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao hadn't reserved a private room, but were sitting openly in the restaurant. In fact, they'd chosen the table closest to her room. Long Feiye's inherently frigid gaze turned even colder at her appearance. But Han Yunxi only glanced at him before staring straight ahead and walking away with long strides. Her retreating back looked both stubborn and lonely.
Long Feiye's gaze followed her as she descended the stairs, a complicated and unreadable expression slipping in amongst the ice.
Duanmu Yao noted the change with some dissatisfaction. "Senior Brother, you should eat. The dishes will get cold."
There were clearly private rooms still available in the restaurant, but senior brother had insisted on sitting here. They'd sat for so long with a table full of dishes but he hadn't even touched a bite. Even though he spent the day with her as host under Emperor Tianhui's orders, he'd kept taciturn and indifferent the whole time.
She was long used to his personality, but he had turned even more withdrawn after bumping into Han Yunxi at noon.
Had that woman disturbed his heart?
She'd already made inquiries about the last visit to Pill Fiend Valley. Senior Brother hadn't been trying to protect that woman, but was more concerned with the Life Blood Pill. Yet what about this time?
It wasn't clear whether Long Feiye had heard Duanmu Yao speak, but he hadn't touched his chopsticks since the beginning. He only drank a few sips of hot tea before deigning to speak. "The driver's waiting by the door, you can go back by yourself later."
"Senior Brother, I heard that Tianning capital's Huai Blossom Lane has a night market..." Before Duanmu Yao could finish, Long Feiye rose to leave. In an instant, her tender, delicate expression turned fierce and sinister.
Han Yunxi, it's all because of Han Yunxi again! I'll remember this grudge for good!
 How could Han Yunxi miss the meaning behind Gu Qishao's words? - referring to Qishao's last line about dipping the water chestnut cake in vinegar. Vinegar commonly represents jealousy when used in Chinese speech.
 Huai Blossom () - huai hua, or Styphnolobium, a species of small trees and shrubs in the pea family known for its small clustered flowers.