Inside the room, Han Yunxi had just inserted the first needle. Although she didn't want to, she could still hear the argument happening outside. At this critical juncture, anyone rushing into the room would make things more difficult. They'd definitely accuse her of an assassination attempt! And yet she still had to urgently dispel the poison, while her needles could only be inserted one-by-one. General Mu, you absolutely have to hold them back!
Disregarding the growing sweat by her temples, Han Yunxi gritted her teeth and refocused her efforts, inserting the second needle.
With the North Court Official's words, the officers drew forward one after the other. General Mu knitted his brows before he couldn't take any more and unsheathed his sword. "Come, protect the young general!"
When his words fell, a squadron a soldiers appeared from one side, each holding a spear in their hands. Upon seeing this, He Ze of the Northern Court drew out a cold breath and demanded, "General Mu, what is the meaning of this? Are you mobilizing your troops?"
Meanwhile, everyone else stood stupefied, not expecting the general to act this way. Though there was saying called, 'A general in the field is not bound by orders from his sovereign,' General Mu was still residing in the capital. Without the emperor's orders, he couldn't move any troops. The soldiers under his personal command could only be stationed outside the capital, leaving him with a handful in his residence to serve as guards. How could soldiers face off against officers and attendants? Especially against He Ze of the Northern Court, who'd received arrest orders? A sufficient reason was needed to deploy any troops. If General Mu disobeyed the empress dowager's decree like this, wouldn't that be considered a public rebellion?
General Mu was very clear on the consequences of his actions, but he'd throw everything to the winds for the sake of his son's life!
"General Mu, I'm arresting someone because of my orders. You dare gather these troops to resist me, are you really planning to revolt?" The North Court Official asked sternly.
"Father!" Suddenly, Mu Liuyue cried out. "Father, please calm down!"
Meanwhile, the household steward and chamberlain had also grown nervous. They never expected events to progress to this state. Even if it was for the young general's sake, the old general calling out troops for his son like this would only be pretext for gossip! If the emperor got word of this, then punishment for rebellion, especially that of military officers, would be the nine familial exterminations! How many people were waiting to exploit the weaknesses of the general's house in this capital?
Hearing his own family call him that way finally calmed General Mu down. He gave an ugly glare towards He Ze of the Northern Court as grief rose in his heart. This was the sorrow of an official, his weakest point. No matter how highly the emperor placed him, if he resisted the authorities or called upon troops without any reason, he'd meet with death. There wouldn't be room for any discussion. A general in the capital during peacetime was one of its most powerless men.
General Mu hatefully relinquished his sword while his soldiers were forced to retreat. Seeing this, the North Court Official was very pleased. A single glance had his officers taking General Mu prisoner. Though he could easily resist them, he was helpless in his identity as general. They brought him to one side while the North Court Official spoke as a small man intoxicated by his success. "General Mu, don't worry. After we've found Han Yunxi, this official wouldn't dare accuse you of harboring a criminal. I'll say that you assisted greatly in delivering her to justice! Heheh!"
General Mu was so angry that he could grind his teeth to dust. He shot a glare at the North Court Official, before shouting mournfully at the princess. "Princess Changping, Qingwu really is poisoned! Han Yunxi didn't misdiagnose him. But it's crucial to treat the poison immediately, and she's trying to save Qingwu's life right now!"
Princess Changping wouldn't believe in a useless trash like Han Yunxi. "You've been possessed by some spirit, haven't you? What kind of nonsense are you saying?" She raised her voice next. "Imperial physician, come! Find the imperial physician, where is he?"
The North Court Official lowered his eyes and something cold flashed through them. The empress dowager had given him secret orders to take away Han Yunxi's life with this opportunity. It was good that she'd come here, because she'd be a perfect fit as a murderer.
"Come! Hack through that lock on the door!" the North Court Official said suddenly.
Such a loud noise gave Han Yunxi a fright. Her hand holding the needle shook for the first time. A few more were in her other palm, but her hands were trembling like her heart as the distinct sounds of people removing the lock came from outside the door. By the next instant, they'd be pushing it open and coming inside! Right now, Han Yunxi's delicate, pretty face was drawn, her eyes downcast as her lips pursed in a solemn frigidity. One of her hands continued to insert the needles while the other took out the dagger that Mu Qingwu always kept by his side and held it in her own hand.
She only needed ten more minutes to expel all the poison and decided to press her luck. If someone tried to stop her, then she'd take Mu Qingwu hostage with this dagger and have them try to stop her! Time flowed on, but Han Yunxi quickly discovered that no other sounds followed the noise of removing the lock from the door. There was only silence, but still nobody came inside.
It was so quiet outside that it sounded like no one was even moving. Exactly what was going on? Han Yunxi couldn't figure it out and decided to stop thinking. Nothing was better than something at this point, and she still needed to expel the poisons with her needles! Without further interference, her concentration was much better than before. Her speed improved as well as needle after needle sank neatly into corresponding acupoints. In a short period of time, Mu Qingwu's injury was covered in over 20 odd needles. His fair white skin slowly turned red, then darker and darker until red became black.
Han Yunxi was delighted at the sight, because the poison was being drawn out at last. She took out another needle just as a series of loud proclamations carried rang through the air.
"May His Highness Duke of Qin live for thousands and thousands of years!"
Han Yunxi's hand turned stiff. Her focus had always been exceptional so that nothing short of the extraordinary could ever distract her. But this time, the announcement made her turn around.
The Duke of Qin!
Her groom and husband, Long Feiye?
Heavens, had he come? So that's why everyone was so quiet?
Why did he come? What did he come here to do?
Did he come back with ingredients for his antidote so quickly?
Well, none of these were important. What was most important was that with this godly figure here, she'd be safe. Definitely safe. Han Yunxi really wanted to say, Long Feiye, you're this girl's destined savior!
With Long Feiye here, Han Yunxi could be certain that she was okay. No matter what they said outside, she could completely ignore it and focus on treating Mu Qingwu's poison instead.
Meanwhile, everyone outside was kneeling on the ground. Even Princess Changping was half-bowing without daring to look up, while the long lovestruck Mu Liuyue was kneeling in the very back, completely senseless as her eyes roved about Long Feiye like they were the only two people left on Earth. She'd long pushed everyone else and their affairs to the back of her mind. Many of the officers and bodyguards here had never seen Long Feiye in person before, but each of them trembled in fear as they lowered their heads, both excited and terrified. They all wanted to look, but didn't dare.
This man was like a god!
Long Feiye stepped casually before the door, his tall, straight figure like a mountain etched with harsh lines. His features were cut as finely as a knife, giving him the appearance of a lofty sovereign who carried the vastness of the skies within his gaze.
"You may all rise," he said, voice cold and unyielding. One after another, the figures rose to their feet, though most of them were too fearful to raise their heads. When Long Feiye had chased after Han Yunxi, he'd ended up watching and listening to everything from the roof until he had a rough idea of what had happened. Now his cold gaze bore through He Ze of the Northern Court. "North Court Official, when did Qin Wangfei become a fugitive? Why doesn't your lordship know?"
He Ze of the Northern Court shivered. He met Long Feiye's gaze and instantly lowered his head again, feeling as if he'd been plunged into an icehouse. A fugitive was someone who had already been locked up in prison. The Duke of Qin was asking him why no one had asked for his permission before capturing the person.
"To...to reply Your Highness Duke of Qin, this is...this is...the arrest warrant was issued by the empress dowager."
Princess Changping wasn't a sufficient enough explanation, so all he could do was pile it onto the highest authority available.
"So you're using the empress dowager to suppress your lordship?" Long Feiye's icy tone grew three times colder.
Terrified, the North Court Official fell to his knees. "It's a mistake, ah, a misunderstanding! Your highness, this humble official wouldn't dare to do that even if I had a hundred heads! The situation's like this: an assassin attacked the young general and his guards found him when he was already unconscious. Everyone saw Qin Wangfei take out a dagger aimed towards his stomach! Later Qin Wangfei said she could treat him. Unfortunately, he still isn't well after all this time."
"General Mu, is this true?" Long Feiye's cool gaze moved to the general next. The irascible general's temper had long faded in the presence of the Duke of Qin. He only replied 'yes' in a low tone.
"Then what is the situation now?" Long Feiye asked again. General Mu seemed to hesitate, as if not knowing what to say.
"Speak!" Long Feiye suddenly turned angry, scaring all the people present into trembling. General Mu shook the hardest of all before noisily kowtowing three times on the ground. He explained everything systematically and in full detail, including waiting for Mu Qingwu's poison to flare up again.
"In short, you arrested someone without reason. And now that that person is trying to save a life, you want to stop her?"
"No no! Your highness, the empress dowager is just being prudent. After all...after all, there's suspicions around Qin Wangfei, so I was ordered to lock her up first and invite another imperial physician over for diagnosis." the North Court Official explained hastily.
"That's right, that's right! Imperial Uncle Qin, imperial grandmother dotes on the imperial aunt, but things have to be done according to official regulations so rumors won't spread! Besides, Han Yunxi still hasn't woke up Qingwu gege yet. Everyone knows she's the Han Family's useless trash, so who can trust her medical skills? Imperial Uncle Qin, you should take a look inside for us first, what if..." Before Princess Changping could finish, she caught Long Feiye's frigid eyes and meekly shut her mouth.
Long Feiye folded his arms behind his back and unexpectedly nodded. "Un, indeed...we have to do things according to official regulations."
Hearing this, both the North Court Official and Princess Changping released a breath. Princess Changping knew that Han Yunxi was just some woman lower than a servant in the Imperial Uncle Qin's eyes. He probably loathed her to the extreme, so why would he protect her? As the atmosphere relaxed, the North Court Official timidly spoke up.
"Duke of Qin, why don't, we let the imperial physician inside, in case..."
But Long Feiye abruptly cut him off. "If by chance, you alarm her and disturb the poison treatment process, can the North Court Official bear responsibility?"
To take responsibility for the young general's life? And for Qin Wangfei's life? The North Court Official was so terrified that he could feel his gall bladder splitting.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin! This old official believes in esteemed wangfei! Just let esteemed wangfei treat him herself!" General Mu said earnestly. With the help from Gu Beiyue's reminder, he was more suspicious of the doctors brought by Princess Changping.
Long Feiye never moved from the door, but swept his icy gaze across all the people present. "Does anyone else want to go in?"
Both the North Court Official and Mu Liuyue shot careful looks at Princess Changping. Of course she wanted to go in, but she didn't have the nerve!
"Since there's nobody else, then I'll have to trouble the North Court Official to wait awhile," Long Feiye said lightly.
 nine familial exterminations () - zhuxia jiuzhu, most serious punishment for a capital offence in ancient China, where the offender was executed along with his/her relatives by proxy, due to "guilt by association." Wikipedia link here.
 Your Highness () - dianxia, another way to refer to Long Feiye besides 'your lordship' () and 'Your Lordship' (). The most formal/polite of the three.