Chapter 146: On this matter, the emperor reaches a compromise
After staying outside all day, Han Yunxi was summoned by Grand Concubine Yi as soon as she returned home. She'd already finished two sessions of acupuncture and moxibustion for her since the poison, so this was the last time. Grand Concubine Yi was a person who truly cherished her life, so she wouldn't be careless when it came to treatment.
Murong Wanru had been penalized with being shut up in her room, so every time Han Yunxi came to see Grand Concubine Yi, things would be very quiet. She could speak a few words with her without any misgivings. Right now, Grand Concubine Yi was reclining on her bed while Han Yunxi sat by her side. Although she had a lot of things on her heart, she quickly assumed a professional air upon picking up her needles and set to work. Some doctors liked to make conversation while trying their patients, but she didn't. No matter whether the case was hard-to-treat or simple beyond simplicity, she was forever serious and focused. Her attitude alone was good medicine in itself, allowing her patients to calm down and feel at ease.
After a hour or so had passed, Han Yunxi withdrew the needles one by one before speaking. "Mufei, the poison in your body's been thoroughly expelled. There won't be any aftereffects, so you can set your mind at rest."
Grand Concubine Yi nodded. Though she appeared unperturbed and indolent, her heart was filled with joy. She could finally stop worrying about her own body. Seeing her so calm, Han Yunxi's eyes flashed with cunning before she spoke. "Actually, acupuncture and moxibustion are both beneficial things. They can be used to expel poisons and nourish one's skin. It's inevitable that poisons have built up in the body at mufei's age. Though they won't cause death, they'll accumulate beneath the skin and make one's complexion dismal and gloomy and cause melasma."
Hearing this, Grand Concubine Yi's eyes shone with excitement. Within her social circle, ladies at her age always liked to gossip and compete about their looks. A few years later and they'd be discussing their health.
"In other words, you're an expert at such things?" Grand Concubine Yi probed.
"I can't be considered an expert, but if I follow a course of treatment, it'll still yield results. Detoxifying poisons to nourish one's skin can promote longevity," Han Yunxi was quite modest. She wasn't here to do false advertising because expelling poisons to maintain a youthful appearance was a simple matter for her.
Grand Concubine Yi couldn't remain calm after these words and hastened to speak. "Then why don't you try a course of treatment with mufei first?"
"Chenqie will be honored. Tomorrow I'll write up a treatment plan and have someone bring it over to mufei for approval," Han Yunxi was pleased. She wasn't going to lose a chance to get closer with Grand Concubine Yi. The more intimate they were, the more precarious Murong Wanru's situation would become.
Grand Concubine Yi's mood brightened as she exercised her neck. "I heard that Mu Qingwu stood in for Mu Liuyue's bet today?"
"It's fortunate that chenqie won, otherwise..." Han Yunxi laughed lightly but said no more. Grand Concubine Yi had been waiting for her to lose back then. If she fulfilled the bet and lost her reputation, the Duke of Qin would be able to divorce her. Of course Grand Concubine Yi remembered how she'd acted, but after doing so many things just like it, she wasn't embarrassed by the fact at all. Instead, she offered her earnest exhortations. "I haven't lectured you about this yet. Don't make bets like this with others in the future. If you lose, you'll suffer losses!"
Huh, even Grand Concubine Yi was teaching her this lesson when she'd been so eager to see her lose before? Han Yunxi was rather overwhelmed by the unexpected favor. It looked like her "detoxification diplomacy" was starting to take effect.
"Chenqie doesn't mind suffering losses, but this time it looks like someone took advantage of the Han Family's affairs to implicate mufei. Chenqie really deserves to die ten thousand deaths." Han Yunxi said, before adding, "It's still quite strange. Just what kind of person gave Lady Xu the guts? Were they aiming for chenqie or for mufei?"
If Han Yunxi hadn't mentioned Lady Xu, Grand Concubine Yi might've forgotten her altogether. She was not only suspicious, but certain, that someone had been directing Lady Xu behind the scenes. When Grand Concubine Yi didn't reply, Han Yunxi kept speaking.
"Actually, no matter whether they were aiming for chenqie or mufei, in the end their target was the Duke of Qin's estate. But chenqie doesn't know what kind of person would have the audacity to attack the Duke of Qin's estate? Or perhaps..." she trailed off to give Grand Concubine Yi a significant look. "Or perhaps, they were aiming for chenqie after all, to sow discord between chenqie and mufei?"
When she finished speaking, Grand Concubine Yi furrowed her eyebrows at Han Yunxi. She'd once suspected that Lady Xu's backing was none other than that woman in the palace. Of all the people under Heaven, only she would have the guts to provoke her Duke of Qin's estate. But she'd quickly discarded the idea because that woman in the palace had purposely tried to win over Han Yunxi. She wouldn't act against her this way.
After listening to Han Yunxi's conjectures, she couldn't help but wonder if Lady Xu's support was none other than...someone from her own camp, like Wanru?
And yet Grand Concubine Yi was quick to discard that idea as well. Wanru was suspicious, but she still couldn't believe that the girl had the courage to do such a thing. Perhaps Han Yunxi herself was sowing discord right at this moment. She withdrew her gaze and said mildly, "What's passed is passed. It's useless to look too much into it, so just try to make less trouble in the future."
Grand Concubine Yi wasn't someone easy to deal with, after all. Han Yunxi sighed with emotion in her heart and said, "Chenqie is merely speaking on a whim. Actually, there's no use guessing here and there. It might be better to interrogate Lady Xu in prison instead." She rose to her feet as she finished.
"Mufei, it's getting late. Chenqie should go back."
Grand Concubine Yi didn't keep her behind, but waved a hand to let her go. Still, Han Yunxi's parting words had left a seed of unease in her heart. Lady Xu had been personally sentenced to death by Grand Concubine Yi, making it impossible for even Han Yunxi to see her. Still, she knew that Han Yunxi had left those words just because she suspected Grand Concubine Yi would visit the prisons eventually. One could only hope that she didn't go when it was too late.
It was already dark when Han Yunxi returned, but speaking with Grand Concubine Yi had delayed her further. By the time she reached Hibiscus Courtyard, it was already deep into the night. Long Feiye's quarters were still dark, indicating that its owner had yet to return. It was already this late, but was he still entertaining his guest of honor? So tonight...he wouldn't come back?
Han Yunxi looked on from a distance before turning away with her head bowed to walk to Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. When Zhao mama saw her expression, she was concerned.
"Esteemed wangfei, what happened? Do you feel unwell? Was it too cold outside?"
Han Yunxi raised her head, wanting to ask about the Celestial Mountain Sword Sect. It was where Long Feiye and Duanmu Yao stayed under the same master. She'd asked about it once before, but not the specific details. Still, upon second thought, she gave up the idea.
What was the use of finding out more information? Whether or not he took a second official wife, or made her into his left or right consort, had nothing to do with her! It's not as if she liked him!
Staying in the Duke of Qin's estate was her lot in life, a place for her to settle down and get on with her work. It was all so she could have a stable foothold in Tianning's capital. She wouldn't be finished with anyone who tried to get in her way! Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi exhaled before patting Zhao mama's shoulder. Then she climbed upstairs, shut the door, and went to sleep!
Zhao mama was confused. Just what had happened to her mistress today? Had she been possessed?
An exhausted Han Yunxi slept through the entire night. Meanwhile, Long Feiye was with Emperor Tianhui in his study, discussing the matter of the hidden spies all the way until dawn. Long Feiye was fully in charge of the case regarding Northern Li's concealed agents. He was the leader that chose how to deal with the criminals, so much that even Emperor Tianhui couldn't interfere. Madame Li might have come from the Han Family and lived there for years, but with just one word from Long Feiye, he could absolve all their guilt without Emperor Tianhui pursuing the matter. However, the situation had shifted ever since Madame Li spoke her dying words. Emperor Tianhui not only wanted to eliminate the Han Clan and their offspring, but also demanded that Han Yunxi be held accountable.
Long Feiye acted under orders to accompany Princess Rongle for an entire day before Emperor Tianhui willingly took a step back to open discussions. This exchange didn't show that Long Feiye was powerless; rather, it highlighted Emperor Tianhui's own helplessness against his little brother.
Otherwise, how could anyone have the right to haggle and bargain terms with the emperor?
Looking at the cold-faced Long Feiye, Emperor Tianhui clenched his fists tightly inside his sleeves. The Duke of Qin was the one man he dearly desired to get rid of, but Tianning needed his strength and power to oppose the ferocious and cruel Northern Li Country. They would've invaded Tianning long ago if not for fear of this Duke of Qin. A person like this was someone he loathed to the bones, but he had no choice but to depend on him. This made Emperor Tianhui truly sullen.
"The Han Family's affairs will be settled like so. If Imperial Brother has no other matters, then he should prepare for the morning assembly," Long Feiye said mildly. Warring with words for one night had been enough.
Emperor Tianhui didn't reply directly, but said, "Crown Prince Ye and Princess Rongle will stay here until after the New Year's. Regarding the marriage alliance, you should think it over."
"A marriage alliance involves two separate countries. It's better for Imperial Brother to examine the matter with Western Zhou's emperor. It would be improper for chendi to interfere in such matters. After the New Year's, chendi plans to leave on a journey and will have no time to help with Imperial Brother's burdens."
Emperor Tianhui narrowed his eyes, his voice cold. "The Duke of Qin has been overworked on the case of the hidden spies. It's about time for a break. Perhaps you should hand over the follow-up work to someone else and rest yourself up?"
Was this equal to taking away his authority?
Long Feiye's lips curved up mockingly as he replied. "Chendi has yet to report to Imperial Brother, but he's already aware of follow-up work. Imperial Brother is indeed wise and brilliant."
Emperor Tianhui grew startled at these words. "Duke of Qin, what do you mean?"
"Madame Li wasn't the true leader behind the scenes. Behind her is another person. Chendi has already began preliminary rounds of investigation. He should be a scion of Northern Li's imperial house; as to who it is specifically, and whether or not he'll attack our Tianning, that is still unclear," Long Feiye replied truthfully.
Emperor Tianhui never thought that someone else would be behind Madame Li. If this person hadn't been uncovered yet, then Tianning's capital still harbored untold dangers. It was already hard enough to guard against all eventualities when it came to hidden spies, much less ones skilled in poison. Madame Li had been deep undercover and possessed formidable poison skills. Emperor Tianhui had witnessed it personally. In that case, wouldn't the person behind her be even more fearsome?
The poison arts was a crooked Way. In all of Tianning, who else besides Long Feiye would dare undertake this hot potato problem? Who else was competent enough? Emperor Tianhui's gaze sharpened as he looked towards his young and promising brother. Long Feiye allowed him to stare, his expression cold and detached, those eyes of his as cold as ice. A peerless, noble aura radiated off him, as natural as natural could be. Though he was sitting to one side of Emperor Tianhui, he still gave off the impression of someone much higher and inviolable.
Finally, Emperor Tianhui stood up and gave him four words: "Continue with the investigation."
Then he coldly summoned for Eunuch Xue. "Change clothes, I'm going to court!"
Long Feiye was quite satisfied as he stood up in turn. "Chendi obeys and takes his leave."
Although Emperor Tianhui hadn't said anything explicit, he'd still come to a compromise. Besides the Duke of Qin, it seemed like no one else would have any say regarding the Han Family's relations with a convicted criminal...
 that woman in the palace - most likely referring to the empress dowager here.