Chapter 159: A show of strength, you asked for it
Did she mind?
So what if she did? Could Han Yunxi still say she disapproved? Duanmu Yao was intentionally asking her question to show off her strength! Han Yunxi grew so still that her entire person turned quiet. Seeing this, Duanmu Yao's smile turned even more scornful. Today, she was definitely going to make this woman say 'I don't mind.' Even if she was Qin Wangfei, she still wouldn't be able to have half a word in this house! She didn't count for anything!
Duanmu Yao pressed on. "Esteemed wangfei, since you're not speaking...does this mean you do mind?"
But Han Yunxi's cool gaze suddenly focused on Duanmu Yao as she said icily, "Of course I mind!"
Duanmu Yao was caught unawares and too stunned to retort. Both Grand Concubine Yi and Long Feiye looked back with equal surprise. In the midst of their silence, Han Yunxi's lips curved up into a smile. "Princess Rongle, I was just kidding. You weren't scared, were you?"
Again, Duanmu Yao was caught off-guard. She looked at Han Yunxi's playful expression and didn't know what to say. Fortunately, Grand Concubine Yi spoke up in her place. "Yunxi likes to joke, don't mind her, Yao Yao."
"I won't...of course I won't. I knew she was joking too," Duanmu Yao smiled brilliantly now that she had a platform to speak from.
But Han Yunxi asked back, "Princess Rongle, I beat you in the Plum Blossom Meet. You don't mind that, do you?"
Again, her words had shocked the crowd. Duanmu Yao's expression turned black. She had been rejoicing this morning because Murong Wanru's matters would suppress the news of her defeat yesterday. At the very least, it wouldn't spread so quickly. But Han Yunxi actually brought the matter up before Grand Concubine Yi and senior brother. It was obviously meant to embarrass her, so how should she reply?
"Princess Rongle, since you're not speaking...does this mean you do mind?" Han Yunxi's words were an exact copy of Duanmu Yao's earlier question, paying her back the same way she'd played her!
Since you dared to provoke me today, I'll let you know what it means to live a life worse than death!
She'd kept quiet for so long in her presence, but this woman still tried to reach for a yard after getting an inch. Trying to provoke her? Han Yunxi didn't like to compete and beat others, but she had a temper too. Don't think I'm some sickly kitten just because I don't show off my might!
Duanmu Yao still hadn't replied, but Grand Concubine Yi had grown curious. "You won the Plum Blossom Meet? What happened?"
"Mufei, you don't know yet, right? At yesterday's Plum Blossom Meet, Princess Rongle bet with chenqie that the loser would never write another verse of poetry, or line of song. Chenqie...accidentally won the bet." Han Yunxi spoke in a free and easy manner, as if it was just a little detail. But Grand Concubine Yi was astonished.
Han Yunxi grinned and nodded, a picture of innocence. How could Grand Concubine Yi believe her? In her eyes, Han Yunxi's sole talent came from poisons. As for poetry and song, qin, chess, and calligraphy, they were classified as high art. A girl from a common family like hers, where nobody doted on her, had little chance of understanding such things. Her only wish for Han Yunxi at the Plum Blossom Meet was to not bring her shame! Moreover, Yao Yao's poetry and song skills were well-known throughout all of Cloud Realm Continent!
"Yao Yao, this...is it true?" Grand Concubine Yi asked in disbelief.
Duanmu Yao was even more shamed by the question, but had no choice but it admit it openly. She put on a smile and said, "Mm, Qin Wangfei's talented and learned. Yao Yao willingly admitted her superiority, so how could I mind losing?"
Only then did Grand Concubine Yi believe the facts and see Han Yunxi in a different light. Duanmu Yao was displeased by the sight and was going to change the topic when Han Yunxi still had more to say.
"Princess Rongle, last time I accidentally won against you in Pill Fiend Valley as well. You don't mind, do you?"
Duanmu Yao choked on her words. What was Han Yunxi trying to do? Was she raking up old scores between them one after the other? Whenever she recalled the hunt for medicinal plants in Pill Fiend Valley, she felt nothing but humiliation. At that time, she'd been so confident of winning. Who knew that Han Yunxi had thoroughly played her and left her in sore straits.
This time, Grand Concubine Yi was puzzled. "You had already met each other when searching for medicine last time?"
Han Yunxi gave a concise summary of the hunt at Pill Fiend Valley while Duanmu Yao narrowly stopped herself from shutting her up. Grand Concubine Yi was left amazed and proud before she realized that Han Yunxi was actually putting Duanmu Yao to shame. Her eyes flashed inwardly with anger before she mediated the situation. "You two certainly have the luck to meet up. When we're having dinner, we should all have a good talk."
Yet Han Yunxi rose to her feet. "Mufei, chenqie's already made an appointment to meet with someone tonight. It's inconvenient for me to decline, so I have no way to help entertain the guest of honor. If Princess Rongle doesn't mind, chenqie will take her leave first."
Although she was speaking to Grand Concubine Yi, her eyes were on Duanmu Yao. The provocative look in her pupils was an equal match for Duanmu Yao's earlier scorn. This princess hadn't even entered through the gates yet and wanted to walk all over her. She wouldn't have the chance! Han Yunxi could let things pass if she didn't make a fuss. Once she did, she'd give her a good show!
Naturally, Grand Concubine Yi could sense the tensions between them. She shot a glance at Long Feiye, only to see him with head bowed, drinking his tea. He had a relaxed and comfortable posture that kept him intentionally out of their affairs. With her son's stance on Princess Rongle still uncertain, Grand Concubine Yi didn't dare to decide things on her own. She gave Han Yunxi an unhappy stare, but the latter was unmoved. It was hard for her to force her hand for the sake of her face, so she resigned herself to giving Duamu Yao room to speak. "Yao Yao, since Yunxi's already made arrangements with someone, you two can chat another day. You don't mind, right?"
'You don't mind' were already words enough to drive Duanmu Yao mad. But Grand Concubine Yi had asked her so nicely that she had to act graciously even if she was unhappy. Smiling, she replied, "Of course...I don't mind!"
Han Yunxi was perfectly content. She laughed and said, "Then Yunxi shall take her leave first." So speaking, she turned and elegantly walked away. Her steps and posture were natural and unrestrained, unnoticed by all except Long Feiye. He'd long raised his head to look after her retreating form, his lips forming into a satisfied curve.
Han Yunxi hadn't made an appointment with anyone. She went back to Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, where Zhao mama had already prepared a table full of tasty and delicious dishes. She was plainly hungry, but had no appetite once she picked up the chopsticks. Nor did she know what she wanted to eat.
"Esteemed wangfei, the kitchens prepared many dishes tonight, so your servant secretly brought back some portions just for you. Quick, have a taste," Zhao mama urged. Of course she knew that His Highness's junior sister had arrived, but since esteemed wangfei hadn't accompanied them, she didn't dare to ask more.
"Have they started the meal over there?" Han Yunxi asked simply.
"Just now," Zhao mama replied truthfully.
Han Yunxi mused, That flask of ten-year old snow wine should be opened by now, too. Long Feiye must really like that wine to still remember it.
She picked up a few stalks of vegetables and did her best to eat, but in the end still had no appetite. Finally, she decided not to eat at all. Instead, she changed into a set of clothing and prepared to go out for a walk. Unexpectedly, she saw Long Feiye sitting in her yard, facing her door as she stepped out. Her footsteps paused as she unconsciously backed up a step. When did this guy come over? What's he doing here instead of accompanying the guest of honor? Is he here to settle accounts on Duanmu Yao's behalf?
Seeing her back away, the amused curve on Long Feiye's lips deepened. Mildly he asked, "Who did you make an appointment with?"
Han Yunxi didn't approach him, but stared as she replied honestly, "Chenqie had no appetite and made one up as an excuse."
"Where are you planning to go?" Long Feiye asked again.
What's it to you? Han Yunxi whispered in her heart. Yet she typically held a healthy dose of reservations against this fellow, so her answer came docilely, "I just want to go out for some air."
"In a bad mood?" Long Feiye asked further.
Han Yunxi avoided the question and asked back, "Your Highness isn't accompanying the honored guest right now? Isn't that improper?"
But Long Feiye simply replied, "Your lordship has no appetite and wanted to get some air as well. Let's go." So speaking, he stood up and started walking towards the exit to the courtyard.
Han Yunxi was floored. What did this fellow mean? Was he abandoning his junior sister? Wasn't he going to open that flask of snow wine? Was this...all right? Long Feiye had already made it to the exit while Han Yunxi was still standing in place, looking at his lofty back. She felt as if everything was a little unreal.
Long Feiye glanced back and asked coldly, "Han Yunxi, you're still not coming?"
Han Yunxi was still hesitant until Zhao mama shoved her forward from behind, completely pushing her out of the house. Seeing that she came out, Long Feiye's lips rose into a smile. He didn't say any more, but turned to leave. At this, Han Yunxi turned around to give Zhao mama a fierce glare, but she'd long disappeared. Then she looked at Long Feiye's distant form. After some internal debate, she finally hurried after him.
Long Feiye walked in front, while she kept three paces behind him. They walked in silence the entire time. After passing by the flower gardens, Han Yunxi darted a glance at Grand Concubine Yi's Peony Courtyard. It was well lit with lanterns, but she couldn't imagine Duanmu Yao's mood right now. Still, she knew that it had to be terrible. Thinking up to here, she couldn't help but be secretly delighted.
She kept her gaze on the courtyard as she walked, until she suddenly crashed into Long Feiye. Immediately, Han Yunxi backed away, assuming that she'd ran into his back. But when she looked up, she saw that this fellow was facing her instead.
He..when did he turn around?
"What are you looking at?" Long Feiye asked.
Curiosity killed the cat was a saying that Han Yunxi had long buried in the back of her head. She asked probingly, "Your Highness, you should still go over and spend some time with them, right?"
"The food and wine there aren't suited to your lordship's tastes," Long Feiye seemed impatient. This time, he didn't wait for her at all, but walked away at a rapid pace. Han Yunxi was forced to jog to keep up.
The food and wine didn't suit his tastes?
Han Yunxi puzzled over these words, feeling that they carried double meanings. Still, she wasn't sure exactly what Long Feiye meant, much less his stance on Duanmu Yao and the marriage alliance. She mused back and forth before finally suspecting whether this fellow had been forced. Was it just like last time, when Emperor Tianhui had made him marry her?
It was already the end of the year, so the streets were extremely lively. Lanterns and streamers lined the sides as everyone prepared and shopped for New Year's. Business at the vendors' stalls were booming. After leaving the Duke of Qin's estate, their figures were quickly swallowed up into the crowds. Han Yunxi kept her spot behind Long Feiye while walking the whole time. Long Feiye didn't turn back to look at her, but clearly slowed his steps as if afraid of losing her in the crowd.
Han Yunxi really had no idea where this man wanted to go. She followed him at a sedate pace, but suddenly stilled her steps. She discovered that the Tender Fragrance Teahouse she'd visited recently had been sealed and closed down!