Chapter 205: Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain, exclusivity
Although this Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain paled in comparison to the Pear Blossom Rain Needles, Chu Xifeng wasn't clear on its exact strength and speed. He only knew that young master Tang Li of the Tang Clan had personally created this weapon, so it couldn't be that simple.
Chu Xifeng stood far away, his entire body on guard. Han Yunxi was still slowly loading the needles one by one, not anxious at all. But who knew that she'd stop after she was done halfway to press a switch? Immediately, three needles flew out at once like a flash of lightning towards Chu Xifeng.
Fortunately, Chu Xifeng had prepared himself ahead of time and swerved to avoid them, but a needle soon aimed for the location where he'd dodged to. Chu Xifeng leaned back and bent his waist to dodge again, but three more needles came flying towards the back of his head next! Of course, as Long Feiye's constant bodyguard and most able assistant, Chu Xifeng still had a few moves left. He did a backflip and went airborne.
But then! At the same time he leapt up, three high-flying needles came to meet him. Their speed and strength were such that he had narrowly avoided them.
A close shave...
Chu Xifeng hissed, never expecting that Han Yunxi could predict where he'd dodge to next. He'd eavesdropped on His Highness and Tang Li's conversations and knew that this woman was a waste at martial arts, which was why His Highness wasn't teaching her about assassination weapons. The Duke of Qin also told Tang Li that there would never be a need for him to teach her either as long as he made her a weapon that could make up for her lack of strength and speed.
But judging by her natural talents now, was she really a waste?
As Chu Xifeng grew distracted, a dozen or so needles instantly poured down onto him like a rainstorm, tempestuous and imposing. This time, Chu Xifeng had no way to dodge. Instead, he was forced to counterattack. A sweep of his sword scattered half the needles, while a twist of his body turned the blade enough to block the rest with series of clatters. Seeing this, Han Yunxi wasn't disappointed, but felt very satisfied. If these weapons could force Chu Xifeng to counterattack, then they were already worthy of praise. If she used them against ordinary guards, it should be enough to defend herself against killers. In terms of strength and speed, she was both pleased. Any future potential from this weapon would have to come from her own hard work as its owner.
Han Yunxi stayed her hand.
After making sure she had really stopped, Chu Xifeng landed on the ground, filled with praise. "Esteemed wangfei's eye strength isn't any inferior to that of those who practice martial arts."
Even with a convenient weapon on hand, those with insufficient eye strength wouldn't be able to manage such a feat. Han Yunxi was as happy as if she'd found a priceless treasure. Judging by this treasure's power and speed, she could use it to replace her useless hands. Even if she wasn't a waste, there was no guarantee she'd train up anything in a short amount of time. Why painstakingly practice when she had this now? If this was the future, it'd be called mechanization. With this in mind, Han Yunxi stopped wondering whether she was a waste at martial arts anymore.
"Where is His Highness?"
She hadn't seen him for days, but not only did he not dislike her, he even gave her something this good. He'd taken a lot more care than she had expected, so she had to thank him in person.
"Your subordinate isn't clear either. He should be back in a few days for the Spring Hunt," Chu Xifeng really was clueless. He only felt that His Highness Duke of Qin had been acting abnormal these days, though he couldn't say what was strange.
"Is he busy with the Duke of Kang's matter? Has the opposition made a move?" Han Yunxi asked casually. Last time, Long Feiye had completely demolished his fortified mountain village. With the Duke of Kang's personality, wouldn't he counterattack?
To this day, Chu Xifeng still didn't understand why His Highness trusted this woman so much, even giving her the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion to research. After some hesitation, he still shook his head and said he wasn't clear. Han Yunxi was intelligent enough to stop probing once she saw Chu Xifeng's reaction. She had the faint sense that Long Feiye carried some sort of secret, while this fellow Chu Xifeng didn't regard her as a person on their side. But this was good, too. She didn't want to know too many secrets, because the more one knew, the more dangerous it'd be! The Spring Hunt was very close by, so she'd see Long Feiye sooner or later.
After Chu Xifeng left, Han Yunxi went to the study. She was going to thoroughly refine this "Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain" so her abilities could reach the apex!
At this moment, Long Feiye stood up. He'd been sitting on the roof the entire time. His pupils were as callous and unfeeling as always, observing Han Yunxi like he would a subordinate. He thought, all I want is to foster this woman into an exclusive poisons master, that's all.
Even so, that penetrating gaze held an aggressive air that even he himself hadn't noticed. His gaze was still on the house after Han Yunxi walked inside. It took him a long time to pull away and leave.
Chu Xifeng assumed he'd be called back as target practice again, but Han Yunxi spent the next few days refining the Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain in her study without finding him once. He didn't understand how she could improve upon an already perfect weapon. If she wanted to use it well, shouldn't she practice with it more? Only Han Yunxi knew what she was doing in the study. One thing worth mentioning was that the detox system was still upgrading, but her energy was slowly returning to normal levels. She mused that the system was going to give her a pleasant surprise soon.
In a flash, the day of the Spring Hunt arrived.
The four hunts of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter were called sou, miao, xian, and shou1, respectively. Though the Spring Hunt was a grand event in Tianning Country, it wasn't as ceremonious as the Autumn Hunt and didn't take place in the hunting grounds. Circumstances changed every year, but it was usually held where there was fertile farmland. On one hand, it helped the farmers get rid of birds and beasts that trampled crops underfoot; on the other, it allowed the sons and younger brothers of the aristocracy and old, well-known families to stretch their limbs after wintertime and get moving. Meanwhile, the noble ladies and wealthy young misses got a chance to step out and enjoy the Spring flowers as well.
Still, these were all highfalutin words in the end. For both men and women, the Spring Hunt was a social gathering to meet people they usually couldn't meet. At the Spring Hunt, such parties could exchange a few words and even become companions who fought side by side. If you wanted to find someone, regardless of your motive, all you had to do was chat them up and use other methods and the deed was as good as done.
Emperor Tianhui didn't usually attend the Spring Hunt. For the past few years, the crown prince had been sick in bed, so the Duke of Qin had been in charge of heading the the hunt. Now that the crown prince had recovered, Emperor Tianhui naturally pushed him forward. Long Feiye didn't mind and was only too glad to turn idle. Still, the ingenious crown prince had sent the first invitation letter to the Duke of Qin's estate. Compared to his Imperial Father, he was even less willing to make an enemy of this Imperial Qin Uncle. Moreover, His Highness Crown Prince wanted to seize the chance at this year's Spring Hunt to accomplish many things. The presence of Imperial Qin Uncle was very important to him.
This year's Spring Hunt location was set in the northwest corner of the capital in North Pond County. The fertile farmland there stretched on endlessly as Tianning capital city's figurative rice bowl. Even if they set off first thing tomorrow morning, it'd take them until nightfall the next night to reach it at the fastest speeds. The journey was far and the company large, so Crown Prince Long Tianmo had long set off for North Pond County ahead of time to personally deploy and arrange his men. He didn't organize for the entire invited company to leave at the same time, but left them with a timeframe for arrival. Most of the people invited would have to make their own traveling groups together. But Long Feiye and even Grand Concubine Yi habitually rejected all offers of people wanting to join their group. The Duke of Qin's estate was incomparably noble. Not just anyone could seek connections with their house.
On this night, Grand Concubine Yi found Han Yunxi for tea for the first time since her disappointing pregnancy pulse diagnosis.
"Has your body gotten better?" Grand Concubine Yi could still be considered considerate with her words.
"After receiving mufei's care, it's much better," Han Yunxi's words were a touch more formal.
"Feiye still hasn't returned yet, so you might as well go in my carriage. Make some preparations and we'll leave tomorrow morning."
Hearing this, Han Yunxi grew doubtful. "Morning?"
Han Yunxi had heard from Zhao mama that His Highness Duke of Qin had always delayed their carriage even when he was in charge of the Spring Hunt. He would usually arrive very late, so why were they leaving ahead of time this year?
"Mufei, why don't we leave a little later and wait for His Highness?" Han Yunxi mused that Long Feiye could probably show up tonight or even tomorrow morning. Hadn't Chu Xifeng said she'd be able to see him at the Spring Hunt?
"We won't wait. He's faster on his horse, too fast for either of us to catch up. Make preparations and don't get up late tomorrow."
Han Yunxi was too lazy to coax Grand Concubine Yi further after hearing the tone of command in her voice. She nodded and left. Long Feiye didn't show up all night. Early next morning, Han Yunxi cast a backwards glance at his sleeping quarters before leaving the courtyard. She was listless and in low spirits the whole walk, though she didn't know why she was feeling disappointed. Still, she grew alert as soon as she reached the gates, because next to Grand Concubine Yi's luxurious carriage were five to six others. They were from Marquis Pingbei's estate, the magistrate from the Ministry of Appointment's estate, and the third-rank minister's estate. Family members young and old stood next to their respective carriages, each of whom came forward to pay their respects at the sight of Han Yunxi.
What...kind of tempo was this? Who had told them to come?
Han Yunxi was still feeling bewildered when Murong Wanru and Grand Concubine Yi arrived from behind her. She wasn't aware of Murong Wanru's arrival, had she stayed here overnight? And Grand Concubine Yi hadn't mentioned a word?
When the three families saw Grand Concubine Yi come out, they turned even more respectful.
"I consider myself most fortunate to be able to accompany esteemed imperial concubine," the old third rank minister said with a laugh. He was an important man of high position who had shouldered his post for the reign of two sovereigns, but his height had shrank today while standing beneath the eaves of the Duke of Qin's estate. Flattering Grand Concubine Yi was a certainty.
Unexpectedly, Magistrate Xu from the Ministry of Appointments spoke up with a smile. "This is all blessings from the young Lady." This young Lady referred to none other than Marquis Pingbei's estate, Zhangsun Che's wife, Murong Wanru. Magistrate Xu's words weren't wrong, but lacked a certain sense of propriety. The third minister was flattering Grand Concubine Yi, but instead of chiming in, he changed the topic to Murong Wanru instead? Han Yunxi watched and listened from the side, feeling puzzled. Yet Grand Concubine Yi didn't get mad, but turned very happy as she laughed.
"Aiya, this is my first time hearing the words 'young Lady,' how strange and awkward. I still haven't recovered from the fact that my Wanru's married now!"
"Esteemed imperial concubine, Marquis Pingbei's estate has robbed you of someone you cherish. They deserved to be punished!" the Lady of Marquis Pingbei's estate spoke playfully.
Tsk tsk, since when was Marquis Pingbei's wife and Grand Concubine Yi on joking terms? Only then did Han Yunxi realize that these people had been on friendly terms for a long time. Grand Concubine Yi could even set aside herself to joke with them, so it wasn't strange for them to be traveling together.
Undoubtedly, Murong Wanru had been at the crux of bringing such things about! Han Yunxi had been bustling about for the last two months without looking after Grand Concubine Yi. It looked like Murong Wanru had still put in quite some effort despite having been married off. Still, there was one thing Han Yunxi hadn't understood...
1. sou, miao, xian, shou (, , , ) - a different type of hunting based on the season. Spring sou avoided hunting pregnant animals (because it was the breeding season), Summer miao focused on hunting animals that hurt the crops (because it was the growing season and the harvest needed to be protected), Autumn xian allowed injuring and killing animals (again, to protect the harvest and minimize losses), while Winter shou had no restrictions on the hunt-all animals were fair game (because everything was at rest). These were proposed by the ancients to maintain a balance in Nature.