Chapter 279: One vs. one
Duanmu Baiye's group had been here for a long time. Since they couldn't choose between the five doors, they could only test them one by one. Unexpectedly, the first door had already brought them great misfortune. They'd walked for an entire day without seeing a thing before running into a conflagration at the end of the passage. Luckily, they managed to escape in time or else they would've been burnt to ashes by now.
Of the five corridors here, only one led to the thing they were seeking. All of the others contained life-threatening traps. Duanmu Baiye was a rampant, aggressive type, but he always reserved extra caution when faced with Long Feiye. He wasn't being impulsive this time either, because he had Chu Tianyin and Chu Qingge with him. The Chu family's archery skills had always been used on the battlefield but were rarely utilized in real life. Still, it was just as good in one-on-one combat. As Duanmu Baiye saw it, Chu Tianyin's archery skills were enough to resist Long Feiye's sword skills. Despite his anxiety, the Chu siblings weren't in a rush. Chu Qingge looked coldly at Han Yunxi as her eyes turned shrewd.
"Aren't you curious about why they're here?" Chu Tianyin's low voice had an almost magnetic effect.
"They're probably here for that thing as well. Pin down Long Feiye first, then grab the item. It won't be too late to ask questions afterwards."
If this was any other time, Duanmu Baiye would have unsheathed his sword as soon as he saw Han Yunxi because of how she'd humiliated Duanmu Yao in Medical City. Just what kind of thing had made Duanmu Baiye forgo revenge for his precious little sister, Yao Yao?
Of course, it was the treasury left behind by the Poison Sect!
Duanmu Baiye knew nothing of Medical City or its poisons. He had made few friends in other circles over the past few years, being too busy with concerns and struggles around the imperial throne. He'd only come this time because he was chasing after Duanmu Yao. He was the first to find out the news of Duanmu Yao cooperating with the Duke of Kang. In order to persuade her back, he'd personally set out for Medical City. But he had barely been there a day when Chu Tianyin and Chu Qingge went to seek him out. They told him that Medical City's Poison Sect had hidden a giant reserve of treasure underground in the past. Duanmu Baiye had spent tremendous capital fighting against his brothers for the position of crown prince. He'd been embarrassingly short of money for ages now. Moreover, he'd need that money to pay for soldiers' pay and provisions once he ascended the throne - all the better for buying their hearts as well. Working together with Chu Tianyin was something he'd craved for for years, much less going to hunt for treasure.
He didn't think twice before following the Chu siblings here. As he saw it, Long Feiye's group had to have come for the same goal. Even if he and the Chu siblings had to kill Long Feiye today, they'd do it to get their hands on the treasure. Duanmu Baiye's hand was already resting on his sword when Chu Tianyin murmured, "At most, we can fight him to a draw."
"Han Yunxi doesn't know martial arts, and that woman doesn't looked like some trained expert either. What are you afraid of?" Duanmu Baiye asked unhappily.
"Han Yunxi knows poison arts," Chu Tianyin muttered.
"Doesn't Qingge know them too?" Duanmu Baiye countered. If they hadn't teamed up together, he wouldn't have known that Chu Qingge was skilled in both archery and poisons. If she hadn't told them to chew on mint leaves, they never would have lasted this long in the Violet Miasma.
Finally, Chu Qingge spoke up. Though she used honorifics, her speech was chilly. "Qingge has long wished to test my strength against hers." Han Yunxi only knew Chu Qingge by the ebony bow on her back, but Chu Qingge had investigated Han Yunxi for a long time.
"Qingge!" Chu Tianyin reprimanded her immediately.
But Duanmu Baiye simply drew his sword and said, "Long Feiye, Han Yunxi, you hurt Duanmu Yao to such an extent! Now pay with your life!" His sword was so fast that Chu Tianyin didn't have time to stop him.
Truly, Han Yunxi disdained Duanmu Baiye from the bottom of her heart. This guy simply acted as he wished and just used Duanmu Yao as a pretext. Just hearing his words made her feel disgusted. Long Feiye didn't place Duanmu Baiye in his thoughts at all, much less fight with him. He backed away while shielding Han Yunxi, his attention wholly on the Chu siblings. Aunt Ru didn't budge either, but stood in place and silently shot out a flying dagger. There was a clang before Duanmu Baiye's long sword broke into pieces! Duanmu Baiye stared at his broken sword, then at Aunt Ru, before realizing that he'd underestimated her!
Still, he didn't back off, but flew into a rage from the shame and said coldly, "Chu Tianyin, this crown prince commands you to fight!"
Chu Tianyin hadn't even made a move before Chu Qingge had already taken out her bow and aimed an arrow at Han Yunxi, who was standing behind Long Feiye.
"You're seeking death!"
Long Feiye pulled out the whip at his side without even bothering to touch his sword. At the sight of him, Chu Qingge's eyes flickered with a brief instance of pain. But it was buried too deeply to be detected. Before anyone noticed, she pulled back on the arrow string! At this, Chu Tianyin could only join in. He too, pulled out his bow to stand at the side, aiming at Long Feiye from a different direction. In response, Aunt Ru immediately drew closer to Long Feiye until they were standing back to back with Han Yunxi protected between them. The Chu Family's archery skills deserved its reputation and couldn't be underestimated. Seeing this, Duanmu Baiye tossed his broken sword aside to stand by the side.
"Hand Han Yunxi over to me!" he said coldly.
Crown Prince Ye really was famous for his despicable means. This was the first time Han Yunxi had such a strong urge to poison a person. As the faceoff became three vs. three, the atmosphere grew tense.
"Don't worry," Long Feiye murmured. He glanced at Chu Tianyin a few times. Of the three people facing them now, only Chu Tianyin entered his eye. He'd had a chance of experiencing Chu Tianyin's archery skills before. As things stood now, they wouldn't lose, but there wasn't a big chance of winning, either.
At the height of tension, Chu Qingge suddenly said coldly, "Han Yunxi, come out if you have any guts. Don't tell me you're used to hiding behind a man's back?"
This was a provocation!
Han Yunxi could tell by the words. She knew poisons and had hidden weapons, but she was still the only one here who didn't know martial arts. Duanmu Baiye and the rest would rather she step forward right then and there. This cold beauty didn't seem like all looks and no brains. Despite seeming to act impulsively, she was quite shrewd.
"What, jealous? Why you don't hide behind one as well?" Han Yunxi replied with a grin.
That's right, she was so jealous, she was about to go crazy. Chu Qingge's arrow narrowly flew out right then and there, but she kept her cool in the end. Not only did she conceal her indignation, she even revealed a smile. "No wonder Princess Duan says you're a burden to the Duke of Qin. All you can do is weigh him down. It looks like Princess Duan wasn't just smearing you out of jealousy."
Han Yunxi felt unwell all over at these words. If this was any other day, she'd kept calm even if the other repeated such words ten times over. But right now, the name 'Duanmu Yao' had become the reason for the cold war between her and Long Feiye.
Very good. Chu Qingge, I'm convinced that you're Duanmu Yao's best friend!
Originally, Han Yunxi had no plans to really start fighting. She could tell their chances of victory weren't that great, but now she'd really lost her temper. "What, does Miss Chu want to go one on one with me?" Han Yunxi asked coldly.
Everyone assumed that she'd step forward, but instead she'd mentioned 'one on one' instead. Han Yunxi, ah, Han Yunxi. The other woman's a high-level archery expert. Are you seeking death?
Long Feiye didn't say a thing, but tightened his grip on Han Yunxi's hand and refused to let go. He was afraid that a moment of carelessness would see her struggling free. Chu Qingge was only too eager to have a bout. Instead of answering, she actually walked forward three steps to look provokingly at Han Yunxi. But once again, Han Yunxi's reaction was beyond expectations.
"I don't know martial arts or archery, so what are you planning for our duel?"
Long Feiye's mouth twitched at the words and even drew itself into a smile. Aunt Ru simply laughed outright and said, "Naturally, it'll have to be a duel in martial arts and archery. Otherwise, how can she beat you?"
When faced with a formidable foe, Han Yunxi was very willing to cooperate with Aunt Ru despite her bad impressions of the woman. She adopted an earnest expression and looked at Chu Qingge. "Is that so?"
A one on one duel only involved matters of victory or defeat; as long as both parties were willing, it was done. Who cared about other details? But Han Yunxi and Aunt Ru's tag team duet made it seem like Chu Qingge was the one bullying others. Chu Qingge's face alternated between shades of red and white before she finally put away her bow with reluctance.
"Qingge!" Duanmu Baiye immediately spoke up to stop her, but Chu Qingge was too angry to pay him any mind.
"Then what do you want to duel in?" she asked coldly.
Han Yunxi was amused. Was there anything else Chu Qingge was good in besides martial arts and archery? She was about to speak when Chu Tianyin hastily said, "Your Highness Duke of Qin, is it possible for this one to say a piece first?"
Anyone could tell that Chu Tianyin didn't even want to fight in the first place. Long Feiye pulled Han Yunxi's hand behind him and kept it there with his other hand on top. With both his hands on hers, Han Yunxi knew that Long Feiye was intending to give Chu Tianyin some face. Indeed, he next coldly said, "Speak."
"Qingge and Qin Wangfei will have a one on one duel. If Qingge wins, I ask that Your Highness Duke of Qin gives us the convenience of leaving this place. If Qingge loses, then we'll leave, how's that?" Chu Tianyin said seriously.
His words touched on the main point. He was very clear that the Chu Family was aiming for the secret hidden behind these five doors. In a situation where both sides were equally matched, nobody would be able to get what they wanted. But a one on one duel was a way to resolve such issues.
"What will be the subject of the duel?" It was clear that Long Feiye had agreed.
"Poison arts!" Duanmu Baiye said in a rush so before Chu Qingge could expose her own skills in the subject.
Chu Qingge knew poisons? So that was how they knew to use mint leaves to deal with the Violet Miasma? Han Yunxi was very surprised, but she was perfectly willing to compete in poisons.
However, Chu Tianyin immediately rejected the idea and said, "Let's just compete to see who can return safely from one of these five doors. Each of you can pick a door to enter yourself."
Everyone became on guard at these words. Han Yunxi couldn't help but look at Chu Tianyin with increased respect; this guy really was something. Not only had he solved Chu Qingge's predicament, he even avoided a straight out confrontation so as to make things more fair. Choosing depended on luck, while making it back out depended on skill.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, this is the fairest method. What do you think?" Chu Tianyin asked, modest and polite. Compared to Duanmu Baiye and Chu Qingge, Chu Tianyin was really too formidable. His smile hid daggers that cut the flesh to pieces, like needles in silk that picked at the marrow and muscles. Though he looked polite and unassuming, he was a tough person to deal with. Indeed, this was the fairest method, so it was hard to reject his ideas.
Long Feiye very much admired Chu Tianyin, but he wasn't planning to agree. Han Yunxi's combined strengths really couldn't match up to Chu Qingge's. Moreover, no one could be sure what kind of dangers lay hidden behind the five doorways. He was about to refuse when Han Yunxi nodded her head and said, "All right!"
Even Chu Qingge had said she was Long Feiye's burden. How was she supposed to let Long Feiye refuse Chu Tianyin's request here?