Chapter 211: Conditions, coming to terms is necessary
"Since you cared so much, why abandon her in the first place?" Han Yunxi asked mildly as she bent down to pick up the needles. Her careless air made Grand Concubine Yi more angry and terrified.
"Han Yunxi, don't think you can do anything with this secret. I'm telling you now, you're part of the Duke of Qin's estate too. We're on the same ship, so it won't be good for you either if this spreads! Even if Wanru made thousands or ten thousand mistakes, don't even think of touching a hair on her head!"
Han Yunxi was the one who had been schemed and plotted against, yet she hadn't even started feeling mad yet. Instead, it was Grand Concubine Yi who took the initiative to threaten her first. A ridiculing smile rose on her lips. "Mufei, so you knew Wanru was wrong, too?"
Such a sneer offended Grand Concubine Yi's sensibilities. Her tone grew accusatory as she criticized, "Han Yunxi, it's all because of you. Everything's because of you! If you hadn't married into our family, none of this would've happened! It's because you couldn't accept Wanru and wanted her wedded off! What happened at the Plum Blossom Meet was your fault as well! You ruined Wanru! You turned Wanru into this! It's all your fault!"
Grand Concubine Yi clearly knew how many unsavory things Murong Wanru had done in the course of a year, but she still spoke such words? Was it because she was her daughter, so all her mistakes could be faults that were forgiven? So would other people's daughters always been the chief offenders and criminals? For Han Yunxi, who had tried to get along with her mother-in-law, such words only turned her heart cold. She wasn't a saint, but only preserved Grand Concubine Yi's life as a matter of principles. Still, there were plenty of things more cruel and ruthless than death in this world.
Han Yunxi stopped dawdling and wore a cold smile. "Mufei, these three needles were the ones I once stuck in Princess Changping's corpse."
At these words, Grand Concubine Yi fell into silence and looked at her in disbelief. Han Yunxi stuffed the acupuncture needles back in her hands.
"Mufei, take a close look. These are my exclusive acupuncture needles. I can guarantee that I'm the only one in this world who has them. I've never given them to anyone else except for the three I left behind in the palace."
In other words, only the empress dowager could've given these to Murong Wanru, which meant the girl had gone to seek refuge with her. Murong Wanru wanted to kill Grand Concubine Yi because the empress dowager had incited her! Grand Concubine Yi's face paled until it looked purple. She seemed to have aged in an instant as her hands shook. Again, the needles fell to the ground. She couldn't bear the thought of a foster daughter betraying her, much less one who was actually her own flesh and blood. The girl had actually colluded with her mortal enemy to take her life.
No, she couldn't take such a blow!
Suddenly, she clutched her heart and spat out a mouthful of fresh blood. It seemed as if she'd lost her wits as she muttered, "I don't believe it, I don't believe it!"
Whether or not she did, her own heart knew. Han Yunxi didn't have to say any more. Even detestable people had their pitiful sides, just as pitiful people had their detestable sides. Without saying a word, Han Yunxi looked on coldly as she stood up and walked to the side. Once she got out of the way, Grand Concubine Yi saw Murong Wanru lying in the bed opposite hers. She was unconscious, as if sleeping. Grand Concubine Yi hastily got to her feet. Han Yunxi didn't stop her from rushing over.
"What's wrong with her? Han Yunxi, what did you do to her?"
"After the first wave of assassins were beaten back, a second wave of true assassins arrived. She was hit by poisoned needles..." Before Han Yunxi could finish, Grand Concubine Yi cut her off viciously.
"Poisoned needles? It has to be your handiwork!"
All right, Han Yunxi was too lazy to explain and admitted it outright. "Yes, and we've passed the treatment time limit for the poison. It'll never be cured."
Grand Concubine Yi immediately narrowed her eyes and pounched on Han Yunxi like a madwoman. "You sinister slut, you did it on purpose! You had to have!"
Han Yunxi evaded her and kept her tone level and calm. "Grand Imperial Concubine, His Highness Duke of Qin presently...has no idea of these affairs."
Grand Concubine Yi froze on the spot. What else could turn her sober besides the words, 'His Highness Duke of Qin?'
"His Highness brought men to rescue us and bring us back, then went to chase after the assassins. As to what happened in the carriage...only you, I, and Murong Wanru are aware."
Han Yunxi had weaved a roundabout lie. The other three families had all seen Long Feiye beat back the assassins before rushing to the carriage and driving away. How would they be clear on the truth? Even if Grand Concubine Yi couldn't calm down, she had to. Even if she wasn't clear headed, she had to be now.
"Han Yunxi, what are you implying? Just what do you want? Speak!" She wasn't afraid of Wanru knowing the truth, but Feiye. Feiye was everything to the Duke of Qin's estate, her lifelong pillar of strength! Everyone could know except Feiye, because she wanted to be the Duke of Qin's mufei for an entire lifetime! She was Tianning Dynasty's most powerful imperial concubine!
Han Yunxi was waiting for these exact words. "Esteemed Imperial Concubine, I'll trade you my two conditions for your two conditions, how's that?"
If Grand Concubine Yi knew the truth, would she throw up until she died? In any case, she had no way to refuse now.
"Speak!" she spat with gritted teeth.
"Number one. Though I can't cure the poison, I can give you medicine every month to nourish Murong Wanru and preserve her life. She can spend her days in peaceful slumber. Number two. Neither of us will tell His Highness Duke of Qin the truth of this matter in the future." Han Yunxi was very clear-cut with her words, but both conditions were a lie.
Grand Concubine Yi hesitated. She couldn't refuse either condition, but glared coldly at Han Yunxi, unreconciled. Still, she had to reply in the end. "Han Yunxi, which two conditions do you want from me?"
"First, tell me why the mama present at the birth is still alive. Who was it, and where she is now..."
At these words, Grand Concubine Yi couldn't help but blurt out, "So you really did hear everything!"
Actually, Han Yunxi wasn't sure if that mama was still alive. She was only sounding things out, but she'd gotten results after all.
"What, Esteemed Imperial Concubine doesn't want to say?"
Instead of answering, Grand Concubine Yi turned icy. "What's your second condition?"
Han Yunxi wasn't in a rush to answer either, and smiled. "The second condition is as easy as easy can be for mufei. Since mufei was frightened this time, she should quietly convalesce in the family's worshipping hall. In the future, the daily matters of the estate can be left to chenqie to manage."
This...if this wasn't asking for authority over the Duke of Qin's estate, then what was it?
The true power lay in the Duke of Qin's hands. Only the Peony Courtyard oversaw some other matters once in awhile, such as the estate's staff and finances. Grand Concubine Yi traditionally took charge of such things. Despite her inability to manage the Duke of Qin, she was still the mistress of the estate. Han Yunxi was asking to replace her! Such wild ambition!
As soon as Han Yunxi finished speaking, Grand Concubine Yi slapped the table and stood up angrily. "Han Yunxi, you dare!"
It was true that Han Yunxi wanted power, but she didn't covet the position or fame as a mistress of the estate. What she desired was a life that was free and unrestrained in an environment that was open and comfortable. Living in a corner at the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion wasn't convenient at all. Now that she and Grand Concubine Yi had ended up like this, how could she have good days in the estate with that woman holding the reins? All she wanted was somewhere she could leave and enter freely, a comfortable place to call home.
"It's almost dark. I believe that His Highness will be coming back soon. If mufei can't take the terms, then we have nothing further to discuss," Han Yunxi said as she prepared to leave.
"You stop right there!" Grand Concubine Yi said severely.
Han Yunxi was very happy to do so as she turned her head. "Mufei, you've thought it over?"
Grand Concubine Yi found it unendurable, but she had to force herself to endure. For Wanru's sake, for her own self, she had no other path to take. As soon as Han Yunxi told Feiye, his personality would ensure that she and Wanru...
She was afraid to continue that line of thought and said coldly, "Han Yunxi, I agree. But no matter what, I refuse to leave the Duke of Qin's estate!"
"Mufei's courtyard has a prayer hall for Buddha, perfect for peaceful and quiet cultivation. Why would there be need to leave?" Han Yunxi said mildly. She'd be more worried if Grand Concubine Yi did end up gone.
"Wanru has to stay, too!" Grand Concubine Yi said forcibly.
"Mufei, Wanru is part of Marquis Pingbei's estate now. Naturally, she'll need to be sent back to the estate and taken care of there..."
Before Han Yunxi finished, Grand Concubine Yi was already in vehement denial. "Impossible, Wanru has to stay, or else..."
But Han Yunxi didn't pay attention. She allowed her to ramble on before calmly interrupting. "Mufei can set your cares at rest. Even if Wanru never wakes up, Marquis Pingbei's estate will take good care of her..."
"I don't agree! Wanru has to stay by my side! Otherwise, I won't agree to anything!"
"With chenqie here, mufei doesn't need to worry. Besides that, we're done talking!"
One spoke with impassioned remarks, while the other was as calm as still water. Their voices seemed to speak out simultaneously before the room suddenly fell silent. It wasn't clear whether Han Yunxi heard Grand Concubine Yi's words, but the vice versa was true. She stood in place, not speaking a word. After a long silence, Han Yunxi turned back with a soft smile.
"Mufei, why don't you tell me about that mama present at the birthing."
Grand Concubine Yi clenched her fists, her chest wordlessly rising up and down. Han Yunxi waited very patiently. Finally, Grand Concubine Yi gave in and lowered her haughty head. "She's called Mama Su1, one of the midwives. The day after the child was born, she slipped into a well and died. His Majesty was thrilled with the imperial son, so news of her death were suppressed and never reported. The corpse was thoroughly taken care of as well. Only afterwards did I know she faked her death and escaped from fear I'd silence her."
"What kind of person was she, and where is she now?" Han Yunxi asked urgently. She never thought this woman would be the one that delivered Long Feiye to the estate.
"She's a villager from the Su Clan north of the capital. I've searched for her for years with no news. I suspect that even if she has the gall to keep living, she doesn't have the guts to spread her knowledge around." Grand Concubine Yi would never have brought her up if Wanru believed her in the first place.
A complicated gaze flitted across Han Yunxi's eyes. She could tell that Grand Concubine Yi wasn't lying. Her thoughts grew tangled before she ventured, "Then His Majesty's origins..."
Currently, Long Feiye was sitting on the roof, looking at Han Yunxi with interest. A smile played about his lips. Hadn't this woman said she wasn't interesting in knowing?
"He came from a village in the outskirts. The villagers who knew about him have long been dealt with."
If Long Feiye's mother came from the Tang Clan, how could he have been born in the village outskirts? And how did he end up being delivered to the palace? Han Yunxi was filled with doubts. She suspected that Grand Concubine Yi knew far from the truth. Right then, Grand Concubine Yi suddenly interrupted her thoughts.
"Han Yunxi, Feiye is the late emperor's son. I won't allow any more questions regarding that fact!"