Chapter 334: For the estate's matters, you decide
It was rare for Long Feiye to be at the estate at this time of day. Han Yunxi saw him as he strode into the hall. Mu Qingwu was both excited and nervous, because he never expected to run into the Duke of Qin today. Even though asking Han Yunxi for help yet again left him remorseful, he still couldn't help but feel happy. His Highness Duke of Qin had certainly picked a good time to show up.
Mu Qingwu quickly fell to one knee and exclaimed, "This soldier greets Your Highness Duke of Qin!"
Long Feiye shot him a glance. "Rise."
Although Long Feiye was always cold, Han Yunxi sensed something off today. He seemed to be in a bad mood. Han Yunxi was still considering how to help out Mu Qingwu when Long Feiye sat down and said icily, "You two still have business?"
Both Han Yunxi and Mu Qingwu grew awkward at the words. Long Feiye was asking the question after he sat down-wasn't that an obvious order for the guest to leave? With his intellect, it'd be easy enough to guess the purpose of Mu Qingwu's visit. His current attitude was a clear sign of his refusal to help. Han Yunxi felt even more unable to speak up. Of course, Mu Qingwu was no idiot either. If the Duke of Qin was still like this even in front of Qin Wangfei, then there was no hope for his case.
Despite his disappointment, Mu Qingwu kept a smile on his face, "Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, this soldier shall take his leave."
But Han Yunxi suddenly said, "Wait!"
Long Feiye sipped his tea as he glanced at Han Yunxi without saying a word.
"Young General, take a seat!" Han Yunxi said good-humoredly.
Mu Qingwu had found her because he had no other ways left. He knew that Han Yunxi was favored, but he didn't know whether those rumors matched the reality. He was only certain of one thing: no matter how much Long Feiye doted on Han Yunxi, it'd be hard to change his mind if he was already showing this attitude. Tianning's Duke of Qin wasn't a man who was swayed by women! But when Mu Qingwu saw that Long Feiye didn't protest, he sat down on one of the guest chairs.
"Your Highness, Young General's come to borrow grain from you," Han Yunxi said skillfully, earning Mu Qingwu's private admiration.
"Borrow? Then when does the Young General plan to return them?" Long Feiye asked.
Both Mu Qingwu and Han Yunxi rejoiced, but Long Feiye's next words dashed their hopes. "Young General, you should know that Tianning's been suffering from droughts throughout the country ever since last year?"
Mu Qingwu nodded. "This soldier knows."
"Could it be that Young General is planning to borrow grain from your lordship to send relief to those disaster areas?" Long Feiye asked next, effectively shutting up Mu Qingwu. "If Young General is borrowing grain to relieve the people's suffering, then there's no need to pay it back. But if Young General is borrowing grain to make up for the soldiers' provisions..."
Before Long Feiye finished, Mu Qingwu immediately stood up. "This soldier shan't borrow any! Many thanks to Your Highness Duke of Qin, this soldier understands now!"
Mu Qingwu didn't know about the widespread famine, but the imperial court had already sent out relief grain two to three times from its national stores. Not only that, they'd allocated a large sum from the national treasury to buy grain from the merchants in Jiangnan to relieve the disaster areas. There had been nothing but good news of late from the famine regions. It wasn't just Mu Qingwu, but everyone else, who assumed that the problem had been taken care of. Emperor Tianhui had told him to gather grain in the first place because the national granaries were all emptied out!
Mu Qingwu's expression was serious. He knew that the Duke of Qin's words today meant that the famine situation was still unresolved. If that was the case, where did the grain from the national coffers go? The emperor's maternal granduncle, Li Zhiyuan,1 was in charge of relief efforts. Where did all the grain and money go?
Because Mu Qingwu had left in a rush, Han Yunxi suddenly didn't know what else to say. She looked at Long Feiye and said, "I...acted on my own initiative."
She never expected a cold man like Long Feiye could actually show consideration for victims of natural disasters. She liked to praise herself for being intelligent, but she couldn't keep track of the times she'd shown her stupidity before this man. There had to be a reason why Long Feiye hadn't reached out to help an easy ally like Great General Mu.
"Mm." Long Feiye even nodded his head.
Han Yunxi felt like a child who'd done something wrong as she hung her head pathetically. But Long Feiye simply said, "Starting from tomorrow, you'll be the judge for everything in the estate."
Although Han Yunxi was already the true mistress of the Duke of Qin's estate, many details were still under Long Feiye's rule. Overwhelmed by the unexpected favor, she said, "Your Highness, I..."
"Your lordship has to take a trip to the Tang Clan, I'll be leaving immediately," Long Feiye explained. This was probably the first time he'd ever told Han Yunxi what he was up to. Han Yunxi wasn't even used to it. She simply replied with a 'Oh.'
"Aside from 'oh,' do you know how to say anything else?" Long Feiye said, his tone chilly.
Immediately, Han Yunxi changed her tone. "Ah?" she said instead.
"Anything besides that?" Long Feiye asked again.
Han Yunxi gave up with 'ah' and simply stared doubtfully at Long Feiye. She suddenly felt like he was acting differently, though she couldn't tell where. Maybe he's speaking more than usual? Han Yunxi was about to speak when Long Feiye rose to his feet. "Be careful. If anything comes up, find Chu Xifeng and Zhao mama."
Han Yunxi was feeling perfectly fine until Long Feiye's words suddenly made her sick at heart. Only then did she realize he'd been by her side over the past few weeks. "Have you packed your luggage yet? How about I help you?" she felt like she should do something.
Long Feiye paused before he agreed. "I only need to bring a few changes of clothing. I'll wait for you by the gates."
"Alright!" Han Yunxi immediately ran towards the Hibiscus Courtyard, crashing into Zhao mama as soon as she entered.
"Aiya, esteemed wangfei, what's the matter?" Zhao mama was puzzled. Her mistress might not be the daughter of some noble clan, but she was usually graceful and calm.
"His Highness is going on a long journey so I'm helping him pack his things. He's waiting by the door!" Han Yunxi explained as she ran towards Long Feiye's sleeping quarters.
Zhao mama was shocked. She'd served His Highness Duke of Qin for years, but she'd never packed his luggage for him before! He disliked people going through his things, especially his clothes! Zhao mama chased after Han Yunxi to the sleeping quarters. When she saw Su Xiaoyu about to follow the woman inside, she suddenly shouted, "Hold it!"
Both Han Yunxi and Su Xiaoyu were startled by her voice. Su Xiaoyu asked curiously, "Zhao mama, what's happened to you?"
"Little Yu'er, hurry and go to Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. I forgot to blow out the fire for my millet stew. Quickly, go take a look!" Zhao mama said in a rush.
Su Xiaoyu shot her a questionable look but didn't move.
"Why aren't you going yet? My old bones can't run that fast. Otherwise, would I need to order you about?" Zhao mama urged unhappily.
"Oh, oh!" Su Xiaoyu finally dashed off.
Han Yunxi was afraid that Long Feiye would wait too long, so she went inside as soon as the matter was cleared up. Zhao mama followed her in and said, "Esteemed wangfei, in the future don't let little Yu'er come over here."
"But didn't you come as well?" Han Yunxi grinned in amusement.
"This old servant rarely drops by as well. His Highness doesn't like it. This old servant is serious," Zhao mama said rather helplessly. Her mistress was such a sharp woman, but why was she always so muddle-headed when it came to His Highness Duke of Qin's affairs? When was she going to understand His Highness Duke of Qin's likes and dislikes?
"Mm, I'll remember that. Actually, I don't come by often either," Han Yunxi said. Soon enough, she entered the large changing room by the main bedroom. She'd discovered this room on her first day at the estate, but looking at it one year later, she realized that Long Feiye only had the same few sets of robes. His clothes weren't even enough to fill up the closet! Han Yunxi couldn't help but think about Long Feiye's daily life. All he had by his side was his personal bodyguard Chu Xifeng. He had no servant girls or mama. Nobody took care of his day to day tasks, including his meals and living arrangements when he left the estate.
Han Yunxi quickly packed up his things before going to pack up her own things at the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion. She wanted to go to the Tang Clan with him! It'd be nice to go because she said so!
Unfortunately, she was rejected. With a smile, Han Yunxi said, "Your Highness, won't you take me to the Tang Clan for a look?"
"Wait for me at the estate instead, don't run about," Long Feiye's reaction was a clear refusal.
"Oh!" Han Yunxi didn't say any more. Long Feiye left immediately after that. Han Yunxi watched his retreating form until it disappeared into the distance, before sighing in disappointment. Was there something important waiting for him at the Tang Clan? Could it be related to Tang Zijin's last visit? She'd asked Zhao mama about the Tang Clan before, but Zhao mama didn't know very much.
"Esteemed wangfei, don't be sad. His Highness doesn't like that place, that's why he didn't take you along," Zhao mama comforted.
"Why doesn't he like it there?" Han Yunxi asked.
"This servant only knows that in his childhood, His Highness would always come back from the Tang Clan refusing to speak. This servant hasn't gone there, either," Zhao mama replied honestly. She had ways to make Han Yunxi feel much better with just a single sentence.
Han Yunxi smiled sanguinely and said, "Then let's go back! I'll stay put for a few days!"
The solitary figure of Long Feiye left the city on horseback. Han Yunxi hadn't been wrong-he really was in a bad mood. First, he went to Pill Fiend Valley and fought another 30 or so rounds with Gu Qi Sha. Even though Gu Qi Sha ended up using poison, he still got the upper hand. But just when he was about to win, Gu Qi Sha sliced the Serpent Fruit in half. He even threatened to destroy the whole thing if Long Feiye got any closer!
Gu Qi Sha was someone open to persuasion, but not coercion. He would definitely fulfill his threat if pressured, so Long Feiye was forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Tang Li had failed in his multiple attempts to escape from the Tang Clan, which meant Long Feiye had to do the rescuing himself. He also told Tang Li to take the Pear Blossom Rain Needles with him so they could use it to face off against Gu Qi Sha later.
All in all, Long Feiye ended traveling all day and all night without rest or sleep. There was some distance between Tianning's capital city and the Tang Clan. If he didn't hurry, Tang Li would probably be married for real. He finally stopped his horse when night fell again in a deathly still, desolate stretch of wilderness. Long Feiye drank a few sips of water from a stream and prepared to keep going until his hand brushed against the luggage on his horse's back. When he opened it up, he discovered a small bag of snacks and a package of black tea hidden amongst his robes. In that second, his cold, stiff lips suddenly softened. He didn't eat the snacks, but hid them in his sleeves and continued his journey.
While Long Feiye was gone, Han Yunxi really did spend her days at home. Unfortunately, she was soon forced to leave the estate-because Gu Beiyue had gotten into trouble.
1. Li Zhiyuan () - Li is a surname that means "plum tree," Zhi is "wisdom, resourcefulness," and Yuan is "far away, distant."