Chapter 444: Is there, isn't there
Su Xiaoyu always liked to dart about, so her actions now didn't incite any suspicion from Zhao mama. Instead, the old woman smilingly took Baili Mingxiang by the hand. "Mingxiang, have a meal with me as well. Don't starve yourself."
Baili Mingxiang was in a panic. Esteemed wangfei was right in the middle of creating a antidote compound and couldn't hear any of the commotion by the door. Moreover, when Han Yunxi grew serious, she often tuned out the rest of the world. Letting a suspect like Su Xiaoyu inside the study would be disastrous if she saw the wet charcoal samples on the table.
Ignoring Zhao mama, Baili Mingxiang shook herself free and chased after the girl with a shout, "Little Yu'er, don't disturb esteemed wangfei! She has things to do!"
A shout like that should be enough to remind esteemed wangfei, right? But reality proved that Baili Mingxiang had grossly underestimated Su Xiaoyu. Soon enough, a crash came from inside the room! Scared to death, Baili Mingxiang dashed inside with Zhao mama at her heels, only to see the floor covered in broken porcelain and Su Xiaoyu splashing cold water over Han Yunxi's back like mad.
"The soup spilled, sobsob....hurry and fetch more cold water, there's not enough here!"
"Sobsob, I didn't mean it, sobsob..." Su Xiaoyu was a wretch, her face covered in tears as she splashed Han Yunxi. The latter was creasing her brows from the acute pain on her pain. Everything had happened too suddenly for her to react! She was so focused on her poisons that she hadn't noticed anything until Baili Mingxiang's shout. Even then, she'd only registered the fact that Su Xiaoyu had arrived, but didn't expect her to appear so soon. She was about to go back to her research when the girl suddenly walked over with a bowl of soup and bumped into her back. Then there was nothing but pain!
Su Xiaoyu had used lightness techniques to creep closer, so Han Yunxi naturally had no chance to notice her approach. She had given her all this time, because she didn't care how much Han Yunxi suspected or handled her now. She had to make the woman strip and see what was on her back!
Zhao mama's face had turned completely white. Her first thought wasn't how to help Han Yunxi, but how to explain the situation to His Highness Duke of Qin!
"Zhao mama, get some water, quick!" Han Yunxi shouted. She could feel the skin on her back start to blister from the heat and was afraid to make large movements lest it made her clothes stick to her skin. Zhao mama finally recovered enough to run for cold water.
Meanwhile, Baili Mingxiang snatch the pail of water from Su Xiaoyu's hands and started cooling Han Yunxi down as she angrily rebuked, "Damned girl, you've done it now! So stupid and clumsy, hurry and go to the corner!"
Heaven knows if the girl had done it purpose or not! She was getting way too suspicious now! There was no way she could get close to esteemed wangfei anymore. Su Xiaoyu was about to cry injustice, but when she saw Han Yunxi starting to take off her clothes, she shut up and went to kneel in a corner. Han Yunxi knew that she had to treat her back quickly or else the burns would end up as serious as Baili Mingxiang's. Ignoring Su Xiaoyu for now, she took off her clothes while they were still wet so as to get them away from the burns. She was only wearing an undershirt over her outer robes. The top layer was easy enough to take off, but she grit her teeth for the bottom layer since some of it had already stuck to her skin.
"Esteemed wangfei, I'll do it!" Baili Mingxiang doused her with water as she carefully peeled the fabric off. Soon enough, Zhao mama arrived to help as well. The undershirt had already been taken off her shoulders and was now working its way steadily down her back. Places where the fabric and skin had fused together needed copious amounts of water to separate them both. It was careful, painstaking work.
Han Yunxi sat there unmoving, while Baili Mingxiang and Zhao mama both hardly dared to breathe. They inched the shirt off bit by bit. Zhao mama had seen her share of accidents in the palace and was usually very calm, but right now her hands were shaking like mad. This was because the injured victim was Qin Wangfei! Though she told herself not to think too much, she couldn't help but dread His Highness Duke of Qin's reaction when he found out. What would they do when he came back?
"Zhao mama, hold yourself together!" Baili Mingxiang couldn't take the sight of her anymore.
"His Highness will explode when he returns! All of us will die!" Zhao mama said truthfully.
Baili Mingxiang's hand stiffened, but her voice was as steady as before. "Even if we have to die, we need to serve esteemed wangfei well first!"
Han Yunxi heard the words and privately committed them to memory. "The ones who deserve death will definitely die, but this wangfei can protect the ones who don't!" she said coldly.
Zhao mama finally calmed down a bit, while Su Xiaoyu felt her heart thump. She had mentally prepared herself for death, but these words gave her a hint of fear. Still, she quickly ignored it. They'd need proof before they could kill her! Wouldn't Zhao mama's fear mark her as suspicious, too?
By now, half of the undershirt had been removed. Su Xiaoyu stood crouched in a corner with wide eyes, staring unblinkingly. Her tension grew as the shirt went lower! After staying so long at the Duke of Qin's estate, she'd tried multiple ways to complete her assignment and pass on information to her master. Unfortunately, most of her schemes had failed until she had no choice but to use the stupidest, most direct method.
Is Han Yunxi the person that master's looking for? Does she have a winged phoenix birthmark at the base of her spine? I'm going to find out the secret soon! As long as she could see for herself, she'd find a way to send out a message. This way, even if she died at the Duke of Qin's estate, it'd all be worth it. She could at least pay back her debt of gratitude to her master for bringing her up.
Now the shirt was at her waist, leaving only the thing waistband tying it around her body. She had a lovely back and smooth, exquisite skin, but two sections of it had been badly scalded-one by her shoulders, one in the center of her back. The pain of such burns was unimaginable, but Han Yunxi knit her eyebrows and refused to cry out. Still, she silently exhaled with relief when the they finished removing the fabric from her burns and said, "Mingxiang, bring my medical pouch to me, there's medicine inside."
Baili Mingxiang went to fetch the item while Zhao mama continued to carefully undress her. Su Xiaoyu was now unconsciously holding her breath, staring at the base of Han Yunxi's back for her answer. Finally, Zhao mama took the undershirt off and set it aside. Su Xiaoyu's eyes widen as she saw...
...as she saw absolutely nothing on Han Yunxi's back!
Because of her master's suspicions, he had devised a way to sneak her into the Duke of Qin's estate. He had to have reasons for his guess, but there was nothing here!
No way, right?
After all her efforts, Su Xiaoyu couldn't help but feel disappointed. Still, it was hard to get a closer look with Zhao mama walking back and forth behind Han Yunxi. She looked again a few more times, but saw nothing.
Is there really nothing?
Su Xiaoyu wanted to get closer, but Lil Thing took this chance to land on her head! It had just come back from playing until the sight inside the room stunned it. When it saw Su Xiaoyu crouched in a corner, it realized that she was the one who hurt Mama Yunxi.
That damned girl deserves to die!
As soon as Lil Thing landed on Su Xiaoyu's head, it started stomping and scratching furiously, even biting at the girl's skin. Soon enough, Su Xiaoyu's hair was in a mess as it pulled and pawed at her head.
Badly frightened, Su Xiaoyu cried out, "Esteemed wangfei, save me, ah! Save me! Yu'er didn't do it on purpose! Sobsob..."
"Esteemed wangfei, Yu'er is begging you, have mercy! Sobsob...save me, ah, sobsob..."
It had to be said that Su Xiaoyu's acting skills were top-notch. Her crying was nothing to scoff at either, filling her face with tears and snot. She didn't even bother throwing off Lil Thing, but curled up into a pathetic ball and sobbed wretchedly on the floor.
Han Yunxi glanced over. The last person she wanted to suspect was Su Xiaoyu, a child who was only seven and a half years old! But right now, she was the most likely suspect! Today's burn was way too fishy!
"Esteemed wangfei, save me! Esteemed wangfei..."
"Sobsob, I didn't do it on purpose, I really didn't!"
Su Xiaoyu huddled up on the ground, wailing her heart out as she rolled and thrashed about. Lil Thing didn't let her go but pulled out a pawful of hair. Zhao mama had no idea that the exploding stove wasn't an accident. She hadn't put two and two together either, so she only felt her heart soften at the sight of the tortured child. "Esteemed wangfei..." She wanted to ask for mercy on behalf of Su Xiaoyu, but hesitated when she realized she was hard-put to escape disaster herself.
"Lil Thing, keep an eye on her. I'll deal with her myself!" Han Yunxi finally spoke up. Things had already come to this point. Despite that, she kept a tiny thread of hope that the girl she took in was really nothing more than just a "child."
Lil Thing immediately stopped to sit on Su Xiaoyu's head. Just wait!
Su Xiaoyu didn't dare to move, much less check Han Yunxi's back again.
Han Yunxi laid herself over a low couch nearby, and Zhao mama hastened to cover her lower half with a quilt. She'd been burnt, but she couldn't catch cold right now. Baili Mingxiang was urgently treating the injuries with medicine. She had learned quite a bit herself when esteemed wangfei was waiting on her, so she was qualified for the task. Su Xiaoyu remained lying on the ground and ended up convinced that Han Yunxi didn't have any birthmarks on her back.
Baili Mingxiang was wholly concentrated on treating the silent Han Yunxi. At this moment, Zhao mama saw the samples of charcoal on the study table and finally understood everything. She fell silent as well. Leisurely Cloud Pavilion was supposed to be the freest, most relaxed place in the Duke of Qin's estate. But now the air was filled with an abnormal tension and so heavy that it made it hard to breathe.
Soon enough, Baili Mingxiang finished treating the two wounds without Zhao mama's help. Zhao mama looked towards Su Xiaoyu instead, and her eyes dimmed at the sight of the little figure in a heap on the ground.
"Esteemed wangfei, both of the burns have been treated. There's still a few more patches of red skin. They're not serious, but we should probably treat them with medicine, too," Baili Mingxiang said dutifully.
"Mm," Han Yunxi said simply.
Baili Mingxiang applied medicine to some of the more obvious red patches before carefully inspecting the rest of Han Yunxi's skin from shoulder to base. When she saw a bit of red at the base of her back, she carefully lifted the quilt for a better look.
But the sight only made her suck in a cold breath!
Heavens, how can this be?