Grand Concubine Yi was a carefree and leisurely woman who enjoyed beauty and cleanliness. To one side of the hall she had installed a room just for flowers. Their fragrance wafted into the room and almost made Han Yunxi forget that she was in the realm of dragons and tigers. She only saw Grand Concubine Yi lazily reclining her chair. For a woman of 40, she was remarkably well-preserved, and a pair of pretty phoenix eyes gave her the appearance of a queen.
She fixed her stare on Han Yunxi as soon as the latter entered the room. This daughter-in-law really was very beautiful, and looking at her made Grand Concubine Yi feel less irritated than before. If it wasn't for the empress dowager forcefully wedding her to Feiye, she might have even liked her.
As the grand imperial concubine watched, Han Yunxi kept to herself and quietly walked to Long Feiye's side.
"Feiye, what time did you come back last night? You didn't even tell your mufei when I was waiting all day," Grand Concubine Yi said lazily.
"Did anything happen?" Long Feiye replied, finally showing a trace of emotion in his tone.
"Nothing in particular. I hadn't seen you for a long time, so I missed you," Grand Concubine Yi smiled.
Han Yunxi's heart turned cold. Didn't this mother and son realize there was a wedding yesterday? What were they trying to show by singing to the same old tune? She had held some hope for Long Feiye before, but now that was completely extinguished. If this was the way things were going to be, then she couldn't push her luck. She'd let events flow as they were. It wasn't as if she hadn't experienced disasters before.
Unexpectedly, Long Feiye tugged out a white handkerchief from his sleeve and offered it over. "For the drop of blood on the handkerchief, please take a look, mufei."
As soon as he took it out, everyone present looked over. Han Yunxi was the closest one with the best view. The handkerchief was folding neatly into a thick square, and the side showing on top was perfectly spotless, as white as white could be.
Just one glance was enough to make her lower her head in disappointment. She prepared herself for Grand Concubine Yi's inevitable questioning. On the side, Murong Wanru released a long breath. She knew that the Duke of Qin wouldn't touch this woman by any means. They only came in together because they both were here to meet the grand imperial concubine. Murong Wanru shot a glance at the old mama, who rushed forward to take the handkerchief and offered it with both hands to Grand Concubine Yi.
She gave it one look before putting on a long face. "New bride, what's the matter with you? Exactly how did you serve your highness when he returned last night?" As she talked, she raised up the handkerchief for inspection. Who knew that such a casual motion would reveal a reddish smear on the cloth?
"Ah!" Grand Concubine Yi couldn't hold back a cry. When she stopped to look again, she saw a bloodstain. Han Yunxi unconsciously lifted her head and saw the same red smear-the drop of red!
She gave an incredulous glance towards Long Feiye. As before, the man had no expression on his face like some sort of icy immortal. Despite this, her heart filled with a nameless warmth.
Long Feiye, you're rather interesting, rather righteous! Really, thank you a lot!
"Mufei's already seen it. Come, someone send us to the palace."
Long Feiye's orders were something even Grand Concubine Yi dared not disobey. The old mama hastily carried over a plate to receive the handkerchief. Still showing shows of astonishment, the grand imperial concubine reluctantly parted with the cloth. She gave Murong Wanru a significant look as if to ask, Han Yunxi couldn't have bewitched my son somehow, right? My son's never been moved by beautiful looks before!
That spot of red was like a thorn in Murong Wanru's eye, pricking her to the point of pain. She couldn't believe it! She'd never believe it!
The cloth was put away and warm tea offered in its place.
"Her highness wangfei respectfully offers her highness the grand imperial concubine tea," the old mama announced in a loud voice.
With Long Feiye backing her, Han Yunxi felt much more confident than before. She steadily raised the teacup and respectfully kowtowed as part of the ceremony. "Chenqie Han Yunxi greets mufei. May mufei live for thousands and thousands of years!"
Grand Concubine Yi couldn't stop her eyes from roving around before shooting Long Feiye a look. Although she was both confused and unwilling, she still had to give her son some face. Accepting the tea, she downed it in one gulp before retrieving a gift of a blue jade hair clasp that she personally pinned into Han Yunxi's hair. She kept her tone light. "This one has no particular tasks for you. Just remember this one thing: no matter what you say or what you do, don't lose face for this one or his highness."
"Yes, chenqie will remember this in her heart." Han Yunxi replied sincerely.
"You may rise," Grand Concubine Yi said, waving a hand for Wanru to come over. "Wanru, you're a junior member of this family. Come serve your sister-in-law a cup of tea."
"Yes." Murong Wanru obediently followed those words, looking a little bit pitiable as if someone had bullied her. She lifted a cup of hot tea and walked slowly towards Han Yunxi, her weak and delicate gaze hiding a bitter resentment.
 realm of dragons and tigers () - longtan huxue, literally 'pool of dragons,' 'hole of tigers,' AKA a potentially dangerous spot.
 chenqie () - a humble form of self-address for a lower-ranked female, equivalent to saying 'your servant'.