Chapter 221: Your lordship's matters have nothing to do with you
Tang Li should have succeeded?
Han Yunxi found the news unexpected as she went with Long Feiye to the Wang Clan's estate.
Meanwhile, Leng Shuang Shuang was still rooted to the same spot in shock. The ten assassins exchanged glances, none of them daring to speak. On their left, Gu Qishao was resting lazily atop a tree, hidden by the luxurious cover of leaves. He didn't give a whit about who wanted to kill Long Feiye. He'd rather all the powers in Cloud Realm Continent send forces to suppress the Duke of Qin! He only cared about Han Yunxi. Those poison needles back then clearly came from the Tang Clan, while that Giant Bat Poison was no simple thing. Just what had Han Yunxi done to the bat king in such a short time to create an internal massacre?
Gu Qishao waited until Leng Shuang Shuang and the rest went away before dropping to the ground. He carefully inspected the bat king. Unknown to him, someone else was still hidden in the groves on the right and watching the entire scene. This person was none other than Tianning's Gu Beiyue from the Imperial Physician Courtyard. His focus was wholly on the corpse of the bat king. When Gu Beiyue saw Gu Qishao collect all of the giant bat corpses, a complicated look flitted past his eyes. In the end, he turned back, his figure flickering out of existence in the air. Such a feat would probably render even the highest level experts speechless at the sight.
This was a man with hidden depths and secrets!
It was already daybreak by the time Long Feiye and Han Yunxi reached the Wang Clan's estate in Medicine City. Mama Su had long been taken here by Tang Li. Han Yunxi realized in hindsight that the empress dowager had found Mama Su at the Mu estate in Medicine City after all. She'd released the news on purpose to sound out Long Feiye while offering rewards to the City of Daughters and Carefree City. Such a snare was meant to trap Long Feiye while the palace sent other experts to steal Mama Su away.
Instead, Long Feiye had met a plot with a plot by drawing away the people from the City of Daughters and Carefree City, making it simple for Tang Li to steal Mama Su himself. Actually, Tang Li had easily taken Mama Su away before the City of Daughters or Carefree City had even retreated. Admittedly, the sight of him standing in the courtyard with snow white robes gave Han Yunxi a mistakenly positive impression again. It was a pity that the illusion was shattered as soon as he opened his mouth. A long, long time later, Han Yunxi told Tang Li that every time she saw him, she felt like poisoning him mute, leaving the man in a cold sweat.
Long Feiye walked over and Tang Li spoke up, quick to take credit for his achievements. "I didn't use any assassination tools but finished the job with my bare hands. Only one survivor was left to report back. I bet that old lady's angry enough to lose sleep over it."
"Where's the person?" Long Feiye asked coldly.
Han Yunxi's eyes lit up. She thought that if Tang Li hadn't killed Mama Su yet, he was probably waiting for Long Feiye to come back and interrogate her. Could she use this chance to find out more about his past? She hadn't wanted to know so much before, but since this guy had already told her about the Tang Clan, it'd be strange if she wasn't curious. If Long Feiye's mufei was from the Tang Clan, then who was his father? Women of the Tang Clan didn't marry outsiders. Why was Long Feiye brought to the palace as soon as he was born? If he really wasn't someone who coveted wealth and rank, power or status, then what was the point of staying within Tianning's imperial clan?
"I was bored senseless waiting for you two, so I tried to extort a confession...so then..."
Tang Li didn't get to finish before an unhappy Wang Gong butted in. "He accidentally extorted her to death."
Long Feiye's gaze turned icy at the words, his eyes shooting arrows towards Tang Li. Immediately, Tang Li put up his hands in surrender. "I got everything out of her before she died. Mama Su's never told anyone else what she knew. Those high level experts from the palace brought her away secretly, so the Mu Family has no idea either. She was okay to die in the end."
Okay to die...
Han Yunxi felt black lines trailing figuratively down her face. If not for the fact that Tang Li was the Tang Clan's young head and Long Feiye's close friend, she would definitely doubt his reliability.
Seeing that Long Feiye still looked stone-faced, Tang Li quickly formed an obsequious smile and added, "The body's already been disposed of cleanly, no worries."
"Duke of Qin, although the empress dowager didn't get her hands on the evidence, still...the matter's been exposed in the end," Wang Gong said honestly.
Mama Su's death didn't mean things were over. It only meant that the empress dowager and Emperor Tianhui couldn't get their hands on Long Feiye just yet. Still, they had started harboring suspicions about his birth. Emperor Tianhui had always been on guard against Long Feiye, so suspicions like these would only fuel his paranoia and urge to kill to be safe than sorry. He'd never live this down, so Long Feiye would get no peace in the future. In other words, Mama Su's death marked the start for a new reign of terror!
Long Feiye gave Wang Gong a significant look but didn't speak. Without warning, he walked towards the depths of the flower gardens, Wang Gong and Tang Li hastening to follow in his wake. Han Yunxi hesitated for a minute before trailing along. She had many, many questions, but her final one boiled down to Long Feiye's ambitions! Emperor Tianhui kept watch over Tianning's imperial throne and state power. Did Long Feiye want these, or did he want even more? Just how vast was this man's aspirations? It was something no one could fathom.
Han Yunxi looked after his cold and lonely back and felt, for the first time, a strong desire to know more about him.
Eventually, they reached a pavilion, where there was a table and three seats. The three of them all sat down, leaving her forgotten and standing by the side. Long Feiye seemed to just notice her existence. He gave her a glance before rising to his feet and speaking to Wang Gong in a mild tone. "What's coming is inevitable." He didn't go into details, but had Wang Gong arrange for a carriage to return to the capital city.
Because she was here, he couldn't say any more?
A flash of disappointment flickered in Han Yunxi's eyes. As before, she kept silent until they parted with Tang Li and Wang Gong to alight the carriage. Once inside, she spoke up. "How much have you investigated into Lady Tianxin?"
Long Feiye didn't expect this of all questions. "What do you mean?"
"I want to know about my mother's origins too, as well as her relationship with Medicine City. More than that, I want to know..." Han Yunxi hesitated before firmly deciding to go on. "More than that, I want to know who my real father is!"
She had no way to see through this man. He'd already told her about the Tang Clan but kept her from knowing even more. He'd started training her in using assassination weapons, but still drew clear lines of demarcation between them at times. If the origins of her birth were what troubled him, she didn't mind bringing it up to scatter his doubts. Forgot about the fact that she liked him that tiny bit. Even if she absolutely adored him, she'd still follow her principles. She wouldn't lose her sense of self and forget about her unfavorable plight. The identity of Qin Wangfei meant that she had to hug this guy's thigh to live peacefully in the capital. She hoped that they could trust each other and treat each other sincerely. She could help him with quite a few things, while he might be able to uncover Lady Tianxin's secrets.
Long Feiye looked at her with a complicated gaze. He'd looked into Han Congan long ago and clearly knew about Han Yunxi's birth status. He was more thrown by this woman's attitude now since she wasn't someone easily led astray by emotions or people.
"What are you looking at? Haven't you long known that I'm not Han Congan's daughter?" Han Yunxi said boldly.
"So?" Long Feiye was still unmoved.
"So I'm making things clear today. If you think I'm useful, please don't suspect me or be on guard against me. I've said it before, you're my boat, so there's no need for me to sink you. If you have a sliver of doubt, then please don't bother me again in the future. I'll pretend I didn't hear any of the things I heard before and be content with my lot as Qin Wangfei. I'll watch over the Duke of Qin's estate and just take care not to lose face for you." Han Yunxi looked unwaveringly at Long Feiye, her words ringing with truth. Actually, she'd wanted to tell him these days on the day she moved out of the Hibiscus Courtyard. This had nothing to do with whether she liked him or romance in general, but things that concerned her standing and her life.
Long Feiye's eyes turned even more pensive as he looked back at Han Yunxi. Still, he didn't reply. Han Yunxi didn't speak either, but simply waited. Time passed between the two of them in silence until the carriage stopped at the Duke of Qin's gates. The driver had already set down the footstool, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were in no mood to descend from the carriage.
A long time later, Long Feiye finally opened his mouth. His voice was cold and even carried a hint of warning.
"Unravel the secrets of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion as soon as possible. Your lordship's other matters have nothing to do with you."
He'd rejected her. In the end, he would still draw boundaries between them. Han Yunxi couldn't help but feel her chest tighten. Still, she kept her cool and replied, "Then I'll have to inconvenience Your Highness not to let me know so much in the future. Chenqie's heart and courage are both meager things and can't hold so many secrets."
"Keep your heart and courage at bay, you don't know much at all," Long Feiye mercilessly stated the truth. She really didn't know much.
Han Yunxi felt stifled in her heart. She had no words to counter him, but stared as Long Feiye left the carriage. After all that, she was left disappointed again. Her self confident, proud, and charming self even started to harbor doubts: was she just too full of herself?
Things had already ended up like this, so Han Yunxi didn't mention the matter again. As for the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion, she still had no idea what kind of toxin it was. It was impossible to absorb it into the detox system to make head or tails of it, so she could only keep it on hand for now. After going back to the estate, Han Yunxi only told Grand Concubine Yi that Mama Su was dead and for her not to worry. She didn't explain too many details. Meanwhile, things seemed calm and tranquil at the palace as well.
Han Yunxi spent the next few days feeling extremely depressed. She was quick to anger and lose her temper. The visitors from Carefree City just happened to hit upon her sore spot when they came to demand her antidote at a high price. Han Yunxi went back on her word and required them to pay triple the price before she handed it over. She had no idea that her spell of depression ended up completely offending Carefree City. Qi Yaotian personally vowed to make Han Yunxi spit up the tripled costs one day.
These peaceful days lasted but a spell. Soon enough, Han Yunxi heard news of something major happening at the palace that left all of its military men anxious. Without a doubt, Emperor Tianhui was going to make a move against Long Feiye. Though Long Feiye didn't participate in court affairs, he had plenty of men in different aspects of the palace. His power was quite considerable, so much that Emperor Tianhui had no way to directly oppose him. Of course he'd move against Long Feiye's men instead.
Yet unexpectedly, he targeted Young General Mu Qingwu!
Nobody was sure whether Mu Qingwu was one of Long Feiye's men, but everyone knew he was allies with the second imperial prince, the crown prince's strongest contender. The crown prince's faction had always bore a grudge against him. Emperor Tianhui's move against him told the world that even if Mu Qingwu wasn't one of Long Feiye's men, he was an important chess piece. Or rather, the military power he represented was the important chess piece.
Emperor Tianhui had written orders for Mu Qingwu to raise 300,000 taels for soldiers' pay and provisions and 200,000 dan 1 for army rations and fodder within six months. Otherwise, he'd be demoted to a lower rank and investigated accordingly!
300,000 taels' worth of soldiers' pay and provisions was just a matter of money, but 200,000 dan of army rations and fodder was something hard to amass even with enough money. When Han Yunxi heard the news, she felt that Mu Qingwu was stuck in a situation where he'd be shot even if he was lying down. Unbeknownst to her, trouble was coming her way as well.
This trouble was none other than...
1. dan () - Chinese unit of measurement approximating 50kg or 110lbs