Chapter 301: An ice-cold warning Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
It was a dim night.
Long Feiye extinguished the lights in his sleeping quarters and stood alone by the windows of his study, staring out in the direction of the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. Han Yunxi could see his entire building from her garret window, but had no idea he could do the same to her in his study. The lights of the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion were still lit, outlining the slender form of Han Yunxi in the window. If this was the past, Long Feiye would definitely spend seven to eight nights out of every ten at the Serene Pavilion. But this time, he'd always sought to return home every night. Even if his work kept him up until dawn, he would still insist on making a trip back here.
He crossed his arms behind his head and propped his legs on the window ledge, the moonlight illuminating his perfect proportions. In the darkness of the night, he looked exceptionally solitary and mysterious. As he stared at Han Yunxi's shadow, he slowly lost himself in thought. Things about the Poison Sect, the West Qin imperial clan, the Seven Noble Families, Han Yunxi's parents, his own mufei...
The tranquil moonlight shone on his cool, handsome face, but no one could guess the thoughts beneath its expressionless exterior. Suddenly, he spoke. "Aunt Ru, you can come out now."
Aunt Ru emerged from the shadows in front of his window, her long hair piled up atop her head. White gauze was wrapped around her neck and shoulders, a sign of her heavy injuries. She was going to sit on the window ledge when she noticed that Long Feiye had no intentions of removing his legs. In the end, she was left standing.
That day, she'd received news of Han Yunxi's sighting in the City of Daughters even earlier than Tang Li. The first thing she did was rush to the scene, but she found no sign of that woman. Instead, she ran into a bunch of high-skilled professional assassins instead. Her neck and shoulder injuries had come from that day. Fortunately, she'd escaped in time before she lost her life. She really had no idea who had hired the 100 assassins to ambush Long Feiye and force him onto his death.
"What, you've finally lowered yourself to beg that girl back?" Aunt Ru ridiculed.
Long Feiye didn't answer, but simply tossed her a bottle of Jinchuang Medicine.1 "The healing effects aren't bad, try it out."
"Heh, so you still know to care for your aunt's well being!" Aunt Ru's tone was acrid. "If it was you who had gone to the City of Daughters that day, the consequences would've been unthinkable!"
The City of Daughters had been a trap that lured the victim in step by step. If Long Feiye had gone there in his crazed state, he might have overlooked all the dangers and really follow the bait to the end. Long Feiye didn't reply, but Aunt Ru was long used to his silences. She held herself back and asked, "Ye'er, tell Aunt Ru the truth. Have you really taken a fancy to that woman?"
"Ye'er, Aunt Ru's thought it over these past few days. If you really fancy her, I won't object." As she spoke, she cast a glance at Long Feiye. When she saw that he was listening, she continued. "How about this? I'll take her back to the Tang Clan so we can focus on studying the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion."
"Back to the Tang Clan?" Long Feiye finally opened his mouth.
Was this an opening? Aunt Ru rejoiced before entering his study from a side door to stand by his side. "Yes, back to the Tang Clan! Your mother left behind so many rare books on poisons from the Poison Sect. What she doesn't understand, Han Yunxi might unravel. Moreover, Tianning's capital city's a place of dispute. Emperor Tianhui's been waiting for you to come back the entire time."
Long Feiye stared fixedly at the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, not sparing Aunt Ru a glance. A cold smile crept upon his lips, as chilly as the autumn night.
"Ye'er, you.." Aunt Ru's heart chilled as she followed his line to sight and sucked in a cold breath! From this angle, she could see Han Yunxi's study window perfectly. The spot where she'd been standing before was precisely the spot that Long Feiye was staring at!
"Aunt Ru, she's someone under my name. If you touch her without my permission..." As Long Feiye spoke, he slowly turned to look at her, his voice growing even colder. "...you should be aware of the consequences."
This was...a threat!
Aunt Ru felt jumpy at the sight of Long Feiye's chilly stare. This was the first time she felt fear while looking at her nephew. He's threatening me? He's actually threatening me! She was this close to asking him about the Shadow Clan, but she held herself back. That was a piece of information she'd overheard in secret. The most sensible thing to do now was pretend she didn't know a thing, then find a different chance to kill Han Yunxi in secret. Only that could get rid of this woman without making Ye'er clash with her or hate her.
"I understand... If you insist, then do as you wish. I only wish that your mufei's soul can rest in peace," Aunt Ru feigned softness before silently leaving the scene. Long Feiye waited in the dark until the lights went out at Leisurely Cloud Pavilion before lightning his own lamps in the study. Then he opened up an old and yellowed volume of Records of the Seven Clans.
This was the sole written record left of the Seven Noble Families. Long Feiye only had half the book in his possession, while the other half had gone missing. Records of the Seven Clans detailed the origins, distribution, and growth details of the Seven Noble Families. They had been heavily affected by the fall of the Great Qin Empire, their descendents left to scatter across Cloud Realm Continent. Some concealed their identities by living in seclusion away from the world, while others changed their surnames and hid themselves within society. It wouldn't be easy to find any of them now, much less guard against their people.
The Shadow Clan was the first family in the Records of the Seven Clans. The first sentence about them read, 'Shadow Clan, head of the Seven Noble Families. Loyal to West Qin and protects them with their lives.'
And the last sentence about them was none other than, 'When the West Qin was annihilated, the Shadow Clan died with them. A tragedy!'
Records of the Seven Clans was a secret history of these families, written covertly as short articles by the grand scribe of the Great Qin Empire. Later, when the Great Qin Empire collapsed, these records were smuggled out of the palace. They were far more accurate than the official historical accounts. Typically speaking, the accounts of the Shadow Clan wouldn't be wrong. But had something happened that year in the West Qin imperial palace? Something that even the grand scribe didn't know? Long Feiye thought it over for a long time before turning to the next page. He ended up sitting in the study for an entire night...
Very soon, the news of Long Feiye and Han Yunxi's return to Tianning's capital spread, causing much bustle at the once-quiet Duke of Qin's estate. Seventh Madame and little Yi'er were the first to visit. Han Yunxi had been too busy, or else she would've seen them herself. She realized that little Yi'er had grown taller once again in the space of a few months. Before Seventh Madame could even say a word, little Yi'er was dragging Han Yunxi over to ask her all sorts of questions about medicine and the medical arts. He'd even brought over a few poisons he made himself for Han Yunxi to guess.
"This is Bone Softener Powder, that's Black Bee Venom, and here's a laxative-but the effects can't even be compared to croton!" Han Yunxi said, recognizing them all with a sniff.
Little Yi'er's face had been filled with expectation before his eyes dimmed at her answers.
Han Yunxi rubbed his little head and grinned. "Try again when you're more formidable." She wasn't trying to beat little Yi'er down, but hoped that he could be even more diligent so that he'd get some real skills when he grew up. Then he could support the Han Clan.
"Big sis, when will I be amazing enough to protect you?" little Yi'er asked sincerely. When she had asked him how he'd repay her in the past, he had said he'd grow up and protect her.
Han Yunxi was about to answer when Zhao mama laughed on the side. "Silly child, your big sister has His Highness Duke of Qin to protect her. What are you worried about?"
But little Yi'er was very serious. "She should have someone from her parents' home, too. If His Highness Duke of Qin ever bullies her, I'll protect her."
Han Yunxi laughed at these words. "You little squirt, you certainly think far ahead."
Little Yi'er wanted to talk some more, but Seventh Madame quietly grabbed his hand and gave him a big pinch. He had no choice but to shut his mouth. He had wanted to tell Han Yunxi how His Highness Duke of Qin had ordered a lockdown on the Han Clan to restrict anyone from coming or going. Silently, little Yi'er promised himself to try hard and grow up faster and stronger. This way he'd be a source of strength to his big sister, rather than a burden.
Seventh Madame and little Yi'er only left after dark. Han Yunxi was about to retire when Gu Beiyue and Mu Qingwu came calling next. Han Yunxi thought that Gu Beiyue had returned to the capital with Long Tianmo, but their conversation revealed that the doctor had stayed in Medical City for a few more days before coming back on his own. As soon as they entered the rooms, he gave her a few packs of medicine. "Esteemed wangfei, this is good medicine for keeping one warm. If you drink a pack every other day, it'll be good for your body."
"Thanks!" Han Yunxi wasn't too formal or polite. She liked the medicine made by Gu Beiyue, because its effects were truly beneficial for the body. She could still remember the bowls she drank while stuck in Tianning's imperial prisons.
Gu Beiyue gave her a gentle smile filled with warmth.
"Esteemed wangfei, has the emperor summoned you yet?" Mu Qingwu asked seriously. He'd wanted to help Han Yunxi out this time, but found himself helpless. Moreover, he was having trouble preserving his own life. Emperor Tianhui wanted him to gather 30,000 liang of soldiers' pay and 20,000 dan of rations and fodder. Otherwise, he'd be demoted and investigated accordingly.
"What would he summon me for? To apologize to me and admit his wrongs?" Han Yunxi laughed, then asked Gu Beiyue, "Imperial Physician Gu, has the emperor admitted his mistake to you yet?"
The truth about Long Tianmo's illness had already been spread far and wide. Long Tianmo himself had returned in good health to the capital. If Emperor Tianhui still possessed an iota of magnanimity, he should've publicized the facts and formally absolve her and Gu Beiyue of guilt.
Gu Beiyue smiled and shook his head. "This official is already content with the fact that my post is intact."
"Esteemed wangfei, many things happened in court after you all left. There were great changes in all of the officials of third rank or higher. Rumors say that the emperor's planning to tackle His Highness Duke of Qin," Mu Qingwu said in a low voice.
Actually, Han Yunxi had an inkling of such matters. Because of Mama Su, Emperor Tianhui and the empress dowager had both started suspecting Long Feiye's birth origins and made many changes in court. Few people could tell his intentions then, but now it couldn't be any more obvious. Most likely, Long Feiye would be very busy during this period of time.
"Young General, how are you doing with your soldiers' pay and provisions?" Han Yunxi asked seriously.
Mu Qingwu felt extremely helpless. Not only was he unable to help Han Yunxi, he'd ended up making her worry for his sake instead. He smiled and said, "There's some positive prospects, but it'll be some days before I get any news."
All right, he didn't have any prospects at all.
Han Yunxi didn't probe, but simply smiled. "Young General, if there ever comes a day where the emperor and His Highness Duke of Qin..."
Before she could finish, Mu Qingwu panicked and shot to his feet. "Esteemed wangfei, you can't speak rashly! There won't be such a day!"
Han Yunxi shrugged her shoulders to show that she wouldn't speak. In her heart, she was wondering which side the general's family stood on. Everyone said that the young general was in the same faction as the second imperial son. Was that the truth?
As they continued their talk, a person suddenly arrived from the palace. Emperor Tianhui had summoned the Duke of Qin and Qin Wangfei to court and a carriage was waiting for them right at the gates. Han Yunxi looked at Mu Qingwu and Gu Beiyue before she smiled. "See there? We can't bring up such topics casually."
Mu Qingwu slapped himself on the lips. "It's all because of this official's crow beak2 mouth."
But Gu Beiyue simply asked, "Esteemed wangfei, has His Highness returned yet?"