Chapter 225: The actual motive is to protect
Long Feiye and Qinwang Rong said a few more things, but Han Yunxi didn't hear them at all. Even after they left, she remained standing in place with her head bowed. Her mood was extremely depressed! Complete disappointment had overtaken her. She hadn't felt this down even after moving out of the Hibiscus Courtyard, or getting rejected on the carriage. This time...
Long Feiye, as it turned out...you're nothing more than this!
As soon as Long Feiye was gone, Official Ouyang returned and put Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue back in their original cells. Gu Beiyue originally wanted to say something to her, but never got the chance. This woman had always been a glowing light. Even in the darkest of worlds, she found a way to shine under with her own strength. Yet now, she was like a luminous night pearl that had suddenly turned dim, lifeless and stagnant. The two of them were led away, one to the right, one to the left. Although Gu Beiyue remained silent as they parted, he turned back to look at her with a concerned, distressed gaze. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi was too lost in her own world to remember his existence.
Long Feiye had decided to cast his own lots, while Gu Beiyue was stuck behind bars with her. Who could find the seniors of the medical academy to save them now? Who could save the Han Family? Actually, Han Yunxi had a trump card on hand that could not only save herself, but many others as well. But from the start, she hadn't placed any thoughts on the business with Mama Su. After returning to the small, dirty, stinking cell, Han Yunxi leaned against the ice-cold walls with hooded eyes. Even her heart had turned cold. Official Ouyang gave her a disdainful look before forgoing taboos to call out orders in front of her face.
"Someone come, in the future her three meals a day will be served according to specifications for death-row inmates!"
Official Ouyang had been recommended to his post by Magistrate Xu from the Board of Civil Offices. When Han Yunxi had been dealing with Magistrate Xu and the Han Family affairs, he had suffered the most. Now that the situation had shifted, why wouldn't Official Ouyang take revenge? Of course, he didn't dare try torture when her status was still there, but he could still tyrannize her for a few days. He assumed that Han Yunxi would be indignant, but she only stood in her cell like a dead person. That didn't make him feel accomplished at all. Extremely discontent, he went forward to humiliate her when a prison guard hastened to bar his way.
"Your Excellency, this subordinate feels that His Highness Duke of Qin's parting words were very odd," the guard said in a low voice.
Long Feiye had only left the prisons after sending off Qinwang Rong. Before he departed, he'd asked Official Ouyang a final question: 'According to law, can they afford to live in the higher grade prison cells?'
According to law, Gu Beiyue's status wasn't high enough to inhabit such a cell, but Han Yunxi's status was sufficient. This was how Official Ouyang had replied as well. Actually, "according to law" was a righteous term. Doing things according to the laws, or conducting oneself impartially meant that there were no exceptions for anyone. At the same time, one couldn't take revenge for personal vendettas or use illegal punishments. But people frequently neglected such details. Official Ouyang wasn't an idiot, but he didn't think too much into things after seeing the Duke of Qin echoing Qinwang Rong's views. He treated the Duke of Qin's parting words as a passing remark.
"What's odd about it? She's already been abandoned. As this excellency sees it, His Majesty won't interrogate her either. We'll just have to wait for the guilty verdict for her crimes."
Official Ouyang had no idea that his words had exposed the true intentions of today's prison visit. Unfortunately, by the time he saw the error of his ways, it was already too late.
As soon as Qinwang Rong left the prisons, he headed towards the palace where Emperor Tianhui had long set up a game of chess to wait. After Qinwang Rong went into seclusion, he'd gotten enchanted with chess matches. He and Long Feiye were the only two people in the world who dared to beat back Emperor Tianhui's chess pieces, while Long Feiye was the only one with enough skills to beat his own. If it was just to play chess, Qinwang Rong much preferred to seek out Long Feiye. Still, today's qinwang had exceptional patience. He actually sat down and played a few pieces before he spoke up.
"It looks like there's no need to interrogate that woman anymore."
Emperor Tianhui had naturally already gotten news of what had happened at the justice courts. He had placed Han Yunxi in his calculations; first, as a difficult problem for Long Feiye to resolve and second, as someone to interrogate so they could find out the truth about Mama Su. But Long Feiye had cast her aside today, expressing that this woman was undoubtedly ignorant about Mama Su's affairs. Otherwise, his careful and precise personality wouldn't allow him to discard something so haphazardly. Han Yunxi wasn't just any woman, so Long Feiye would definitely find ways to get her out of a dead end. If she revealed the details about Mama Su, it'd come back to bite him as well.
"Fortunately, Zhen has yet to prepare the 18 methods of torture for her; they're still on standby," Emperor Tianhui said in a cold, sarcastic tone.
If not for Long Feiye's trip today, how much would Han Yunxi have suffered in the justice courts for the next few days?!
Qinwang Rong found Emperor Tianhui's cruelty towards women beneath his dignity. He gave a cold snort and said, "Instead of going to war like this against a young lass, why not spare more thought on the Duke of Qin's birth origins? The blood of my Tianning Imperial Clan cannot be sullied!"
Though Emperor Tianhui had always been very respectful towards Qinwang Rong, seeing his disdainful expression made him unhappy. As the sovereign of an entire nation, he typically didn't tolerate those who looked down on him. "Yes, Imperial Uncle has instructed aptly."
Emperor Tianhui didn't plan to continue down this topic. Naturally, he didn't plan to subject Han Yunxi to torture either, lest Qinwang Rong looked down on him again. A man like him shouldn't busy himself with countering a woman, much less one in the role of a sovereign. It didn't match with his bearing. Though things had turned out unexpectedly, Qinwang Rong's sudden appearance gave reason to the Duke of Qin's compromise. Han Yunxi's matter was only the first step in getting the Duke of Qin to submit. Emperor Tianhui believed that as long as there was a first step, a second and third would quickly follow. After he took care of all the people by the Duke of Qin's side, he didn't believe the man would have the powers to escape from his net.
Long Feiye had just arrived at the Solitary Enclosure when Tang Li rushed over in an angry huff. "Long Feiye, have you gone mad?"
Long Feiye arched an eyebrow at him but didn't reply. Instead, he looked to the side at Chu Xifeng. "Any movements from Medical City?"
Chu Xifeng didn't get to answer before Tang Li grabbed Long Feiye by the collar and raged, "You've forced Han Yunxi to a breaking point. What if she reveals the truth? And don't you forget, the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion is still in her hands!"
Long Feiye pushed at Tang Li's hand, but he held on with a death grip. Long Feiye gave a second, seemingly weak push, but this time Tang Li was sent flying away until he crashed into a distant door. He elegantly adjusted his collar and retorted, "Isn't this the perfect opportunity to test her?"
"The price is too high!" Tang Li wasn't convinced.
"Your lordship can afford the loss," Long Feiye said simply, unruffled.
"You!" Tang Li felt gloomy, but had no words to counter him. He sat down in a corner as he panted with rage, not in the mood to say anything else.
Chu Xifeng had been shocked as well, but if he really had to pick, he'd still end up trusting Han Yunxi. That woman was different from the rest, even superior to some men. She had her own principles and strength of character as well as convictions! Of course, he didn't dare to talk too much, but reported, "Your Highness, there's temporarily no news from Medical City. However, news from the palace said that Director Xi will need 10 days before he can cure the crown prince, so...esteemed wangfei and the rest should still have 10 days left."
A complicated look flitted past Long Feiye's eyes before he muttered, "Keep following developments from Medical City."
Today's high-profile visit wasn't just done for Emperor Tianhui's eyes, but for Gu Beiyue as well. He was very curious. Why did a genius Divine Doctor like him, who could thrive in Medical City as a fish thrived in water, condescend to stay in Tianning's Imperial Physician Courtyard for so many years?
Three days passed with no news from Medical City. Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue were locked in opposite ends of the prisons and thus had no chance to contact each other at all. The treatment of death-row inmates made things hard for both of them. Gu Beiyue didn't touch any of the spoiled rice and vegetables they brought him, but subsisted on water alone. It was only on the fourth day that an unfamiliar prison guard came to deliver water and took the chance to draw close to the prison bars. A calm Gu Beiyue walked over to meet him.
"How is it?" he asked in a low voice.
"Someone beat us to it. Luo Zuishan's already gotten permission from the Council of Elders, he should arrive at Tianning's capital city tonight."
"Long Feiye?" Gu Beiyue asked doubtfully. While being imprisoned, he still had ways to contact people in Medical City. Naturally, he had his own misgivings that kept him from acting right away.
"Not the Duke of Qin. He hasn't made any moves. It was Gu Qishao," the guard replied.
Gu Beiyue's eyes brightened as if he suddenly understood something. He smiled lightly and said, "He's rather clever to know he should find Luo Zuishan1.
Who was Luo Zuishan?
Besides Gu Beiyue's late grandfather, there were only two other sixth-ranked Primogenitor Doctors on the medical academy's board of directors. One of them was Director Xi, while the other was Luo Zuishan, Director Luo.
It wasn't easy to invite an elder from the Council of Elders. Moreover, those elders often made public appearances so they probably wouldn't be as effective as someone like Luo Zuishan showing up. Director Xi and Luo Zuishan were irreconcilable enemies who couldn't stand each other. As long as Luo Zuishan grabbed onto a weak point from Director Xi, he'd refused to yield an inch and fight to the death without giving face to anymore.
"Master, the origins of this fellow Gu Qishao..." Before the guard could finish, Gu Beiyue signaled him to be quiet. Despite being locked up for multiple days, his robes were still whiter than snow, making him look almost celestial. In the darkness, a simple movement such as placing a white, jade-like finger to his lips carried a noble air of mystery.
"Go on, keep watch silently." His voice was as light as a spring breeze, but he had already concealed himself into the shadows.
Just who was Gu Qishao?
Speaking of the devil, he was currently in Han Yunxi's prison cell. This was already his third trip here. Each time, he'd brought along a giant bag of things. Nobody knew where he'd gotten the keys from or how he could just saunter in after unlocking the door without alarming any of the guards. That was a marvel in itself.
Every time he came, he brought along clean cotton quilts, a pack of dry foods, and a pack of hot foods. Though everything was wrapped up in one giant bundle, it was all done methodically so that even the different scents wouldn't affect each other. Every time Han Yunxi unwrapped the packages, she'd have the misconception that Gu Qishao wasn't some n'er do well, but a stay-at-home husband essential for easing travel woes!
He said her quilt had to be changed every day so she could sleep well. The dry food was there to serve as her snacks between meals, while the hot foods were her proper meals. He said, 'Don't worry. You'll definitely be out of here within 10 days.' Every time he'd also ask her the same three questions, though Han Yunxi didn't pay attention to them: 'What's your relation with the Tang Clan? Who taught you the poison arts? Who's your real father?'
See here, he was asking her again while changing her bedsheets for her. Meanwhile, Han Yunxi was squatting in a corner while heartily eating a bowl of fragrant white rice. Ever since she'd been starved that one time by Grand Concubine Yi, she'd grown sensitive to hunger. Without Gu Qishao, she would've long fainted away from hunger.
1. Luo Zuishan () - Luo is the name of rivers in Shaanxi and Henan Province, Zui means "drunk," and Shan means "mountain."