Chapter 283: Asking him outright
Once they stepped through the wooden door, they saw another secret passage. It wasn't made of stone, but looked like a natural tunnel that had formed in the mountain. The inside was pitch black with no night-luminous pearls to light the way. The strange thing was that they were hit by a strong acrid odor as soon as they stepped inside. Anyone could tell that it came from a highly corrosive agent.
"This is the right way," Long Feiye took a luminous-night pearl from the other passageway to light their path. Between going out and coming in, he could sense the marked contrast between the smell in the air. Han Yunxi had long started up her detox system and activated the deep level scanners. Despite this, she still couldn't tell whether this scent was poisonous. Her vigilance grew along with her caution. The one thing she feared was that this was a poison the detox system couldn't recognize. Then, they might be poisoned after inhaling too much of the air.
"Is the air poisonous?" Aunt Ru was very worried as well.
"You two stay here, I'll go take a look." Long Feiye was very clear-cut, but Aunt Ru held him back with a severe expression.
"Ye'er, your life is more important than anyone else's! You can't go!"
Actually, her words weren't too off the mark. Long Feiye's life was really worth a lot to the extent that he had no equal in Cloud Realm Continent. But Han Yunxi only felt that there was something off about this phrasing. She was still puzzled when Aunt Ru suddenly cried, "Han Yunxi, you go, quickly!"
She was simply ordering her around! It sounded as if her life wasn't worth anything at all. Actually, Han Yunxi wanted to volunteer and go ahead anyways. With Lil Thing here, she'd at least have more protection than the other two. But Aunt Ru's commanding words really left her feeling uncomfortable.
"The Perplexing Butterfly Illusion belongs to you guys. It has nothing to do with me, so why do I have to go?" Han Yunxi blurted out.
Long Feiye was about to speak up when her words made him turn silent. His expression was cold, making it impossible to tell what he was thinking. But Aunt Ru immediately furrowed her eyebrows. So much for looking at Han Yunxi with new respect. So this was her attitude! Even if Long Feiye favored her and doted on her, she still couldn't rely on that favor to act conceited! It looked like she didn't need to interrogate Tang Li after all. They couldn't afford to use this woman no matter how good her skills were!
Aunt Ru didn't avoid the topic, but said outright, "Ye'er, you've never left useless people by your side. But as for a certain useless person, hehe..." She didn't continue, but her chuckle was filled with significance.
'Certain useless person?'
It was obvious that Aunt Ru was referring to Han Yunxi.
Was she making a threat? Eliminate those who were useless? Seal their mouths?
Han Yunxi didn't rebut, but fell silent as well. She knew that the greatest meaning of her existence to Long Feiye was how 'useful' she could be! She still didn't understand why Long Feiye had saved Duanmu Yao after refusing the marriage alliance with Western Zhou. Perhaps Duanmu Yao had her uses as well.
When Aunt Ru left, the silence between Long Feiye and Han Yunxi was drawn out even more. Soon enough, Long Feiye followed Aunt Ru leaving Han Yunxi without a word. As Han Yunxi saw his retreating back, she couldn't help but bite her lips. Even when her teeth broke through the skin, she was still unaware of anything. In the end, she still chased after them. Since we've already come this far, I might as well help to the very end.
By the time Han Yunxi caught up, she discovered that the tunnel led to a mountain cave which ended at an overhanging cliff. It was a very small cliff, only wide enough to fit four or five people. Above the cliff grew all sorts of unknown poisonous plants that somewhat resembled orchids, though none of them were in bloom. These were the very plants that were giving off that strong acrid odor. It was a little unbearable if one stood near the cliff for too long. Aunt Ru simply snorted when she saw Han Yunxi show up, while Long Feiye didn't say a thing.
"These plants contain a highly corrosive poison, probably the result of crossbreeding between multiple poisonous plants. The toxin itself is located in the rhizomes, but the smell itself isn't toxic." Han Yunxi explained what the detox system had analyzed for her. It was capable of discerning multiple poisons within a plant, but unable to tell what poison they made up as a whole. This must have be a completely new strain of poison - at least to the detox system!
Aunt Ru ignored her, while Long Feiye nodded his head. He put on his silver thread glove and picked one of the plants, while Aunt Ru rolled up her sleeves to put it away.
"You can't!" Han Yunxi stopped her. "Your clothes will be melted away by the corrosive agent."
Aunt Ru coughed lightly a few times, but didn't say a thing. Han Yunxi immediately retrieved a colored glazed box from her medical pouch and handed it to Long Feiye. "All of these plants are the same. It'll be enough if you just pick a few of them."
Long Feiye didn't speak, but did as she said. He chose five to six plants to fill up the box before holding onto it personally. The clues that Aunt Ru had discovered told her that the highly corrosive plants used in the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion were located in these poison grounds. It looked like they hadn't come in vain after all. Long Feiye withdrew his sword and chopped the giant rock blocking the entrance of the cave, thus sealing off the entrance to the cliff. Han Yunxi looked at the mess of rubble as her thoughts began to wander. It looks like the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion might be a treasure of the Poison Sect. If that's the case, why is it in Long Feiye's hands? If his mother's a woman of the Tang Clan, then what about his father? Why does he keep investigating the origins of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion? Is it related to the Poison Sect?
"It's good to know your place, let's go," Aunt Ru muttered to herself, though it was obvious she meant for Han Yunxi to hear her words.
Han Yunxi seriously couldn't figure out what Aunt Ru took her for. Long Feiye's assistant? Or a wangfei and subordinate in one? She didn't want to argue anyways since they found their clue. It was better to just return the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion and cut off all ties with that man. Still, Long Feiye grabbed her hand before she could take it out and led her back along the way they'd came. Again, he didn't say a word.
Han Yunxi's other hand was already holding the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. She held onto it for a long time before silently putting it into her medical pouch. Even she didn't know the reason why. On one side, Aunt Ru couldn't help but feel that she'd been cast aside. Her brows furrowed tightly. Undoubtedly, Ye'er's actions right now were like a slap to her face!
How could this be?
They continued their return journey in silence. Unfortunately, they came out of the entrance to the first door at the same time Duanmu Baiye and the rest emerged from the second. All three of their party was left in wretched straits, each wearing a face paler than the other. It was obvious that they'd lost a great deal of blood. Duanmu Baiye and Chu Tianyin's arms were bare, their bodies covered in bites from the black butterflies. As the first person to charge inside, Duanmu Baiye was filled with injuries from head to toe. There were even two gashes on his face. His outer robes had gone to who-knows-where - perhaps even bitten to pieces. Chu Tianyin's outer robes were draped across Chu Qingge's shoulders, the surface covered in butterfly silk. The thick, white layer of silk even looked like cotton thread on the fabric. Heaven knows how wretched their last two days and nights had been!
The two groups emerged out of the tunnels at the same time to stare at each other in surprise. In the silence, Han Yunxi noticed how Chu Qingge still looked alarmed. She couldn't help but burst out into laughter. "Haha, there's a lot of black butterflies inside, right?"
Leaving aside Chu Qingge, even Duanmu Baiye was embarrassed and furious. One took out her bow, while the other drew his sword.
"Han Yunxi, you liar!" Duanmu Baiye was the angriest one of all.
"What did I lie to you about? Did I tell you there were good things inside?" Han Yunxi really couldn't help but laugh again as she spoke.
"Slut! Hand over your life!" Chu Qingge was utterly discomfited as she drew her bow to shoot.
But Chu Tianyin quickly stopped her and urge, "Let's go!"
"Big brother!" Chu Qingge was angry enough to lose all reason. She didn't realize that the three of them now weren't enough enough to face a single Long Feiye. Their injuries were too severe, and the butterfly bites had to be treated posthaste.
"Let's go!" Chu Tianyin's tone grew stern. When Chu Qingge had set her bow down just then, he'd exchanged looks with Duanmu Baiye before silently taking her away. Duanmu Baiye brought up the rear, but gave them a cold warning as they withdrew.
"Long Feiye, our Western Zhou's imperial clan isn't someone easy to bully!" So speaking, he simply turned and fled. Long Feiye didn't say a thing, but kept his grip tightly on Han Yunxi as he gave chase. The secret road leading back only had one path and one direction, but before Long Feiye could catch up, Duanmu Baiye and the rest suddenly disappeared around a corner. It was only after Long Feiye caught up that he discovered there was a switch hidden here that led to a different path. No wonder the tree trunk outside had looked perfectly fine when they entered.
"It's not wise to tarry here. Let's go back by the way we came," Aunt Ru said seriously. Heaven knows what kind of dangers laid in the route that Duanmu Baiye's group had picked. Long Feiye listened to Aunt Ru's words and stopped chasing, but walked very quickly with Han Yunxi until Aunt Ru had trouble keeping up with them. Han Yunxi could tell he was doing it on purpose and wondered whether he was trying to shake off Aunt Ru.
Instead, Long Feiye took the chance... to start asking questions. After staying silent for so long, he was still as domineering as ever. His first question came straight to the point.
"What did you use to save Long Tianmo?"
Han Yunxi was still getting used to the situation, because she assumed that this guy would never speak to her again. "An antidote I was working on before. Luckily, I succeeded by the deadline that night," Han Yunxi had long thought over her answer. If Gu Qishao asked, she'd reply him the same way. Heaven knows whether either of those two would do something bad to Lil Thing. Right now, Lil Thing was still recovering, so his self-defense skills were too weak. If they really tried to snatch it from her, she wouldn't be able to fight back at all.
Actually, if Lil Thing hadn't scampered onto Gu Beiyue that day, she wouldn't have told him about Lil Thing's existence, either. She didn't want anyone to know about this. Who knows how the medical academy would treat her if they knew? All the people in the world fighting for the poison beast wouldn't let her off either.
"That coincidental?" Long Feiye obviously doubted her words. But if Han Yunxi stubbornly stuck to her story, he wouldn't be able to find any flaws even if he had his suspicions.
"How did that white-robed man save you?" Long Feiye asked next.
"It was a chance encounter," Han Yunxi replied mildly.
"Why did he save you?" Long Feiye asked again.
Han Yunxi wore a face filled with helplessness. "I want to know, too."
This was the truth. When she saw Long Feiye's complicated expression, she laughed and asked, "Long Feiye, do you suspect me of being West Qin's orphan as well? AThe person the Shadow Clan needs to protect?"