Chapter 442: Long time no see
If this was the past, none of the estate guards would have listened to Han Yunxi. But now they all halted at her words. Gu Qishao turned around from the center of the crowd too look at Han Yunxi. His killing intent instantly evaporated at the sight of her tall, slender, and beautiful form. Wearing a smile, he said, "Poison lass, long time no see. Have you missed your Qi gege?"
Exactly how long had it been since he saw this girl? He was probably the only one who knew for sure.
Han Yunxi was pondering over the exact same questions. She couldn't even recall the last time they had met, and was convinced that this unscrupulous fellow would never bother her again!
She walked over and said, "Long time no see, I thought we'd never meet again!"
"So you thought I died?" Gu Qishao's smile grew even more brilliant as he walked towards her in turn. Though the guards didn't want to fall back, they were reluctant to offend their esteemed wangfei now. If they did, who would speak up for their sake in the future?
Han Yunxi stood right in front of Gu Qishao and surveyed him from head to toe. She sighed softly and said, "Aye, it's a pity, but you're still alive."
Gu Qishao was enjoying every minute of this, staring at Han Yunxi as he wordlessly shook his head. Han Yunxi then got straight to the point. "Do you have business with this wangfei?"
"What's so impressive about being a wangfei? I don't like the sound of that," Gu Qishao said, the picture of a respectable man.
"If there's nothing else, then I'm off. You guys can keep fighting," Han Yunxi said as she turned around.
In a moment of panic, Gu Qishao actually grabbed her hand in front of the crowd and exclaimed, "I really have business!"
Everyone else sucked in a cold breath at the sight. Han Yunxi shook him off as if she'd been electrocuted, and shouted, "Stop getting so physical, or else I won't be polite!"
Although Gu Qishao had been rejected countless times, his heart had never changed. He could clearly tell that this woman seemed different than before. She used to get mad at him for being so touchy-feely, but never as much as this. Now, her anger seemed to carry a hint of loathing as well.
How could this be?
Han Yunxi might not put much stock into men and women keeping their distance, but after staying with Long Feiye for so long, she began to care more about such details. Gu Qishao's hand-holding hadn't been such a big issue in the past, when she'd only found him annoying for belittling her. But now she harbored lingering traces of remorse towards Long Feiye for doing something that was unforgivable to him. She didn't notice the flash of disappointment in Gu Qishao's eyes, but urged him, "Speak if you have something to say, fart if you have gas to pass!"
Gu Qishao had long recovered his usual smile. "It's a very important matter. Aren't you going to invite me inside for some tea before we talk?"
"Fine then!" Han Yunxi was quite generous despite her private bewilderment. This fellow really knows how to pick his times. As soon as Long Feiye left, he came!
One of the guards quickly ran up and murmured, "Esteemed wangfei, His Highness has orders..."
"The visitor is a guest, I'll make my own explanations to His Highness," Han Yunxi had never treated Gu Qishao as an enemy in her heart. Moreover, the man said he had serious business!
The guards had no choice but to relent. Gu Qishao made a show of straightening out his robes before following Han Yunxi into the estate. The guards seemed to scatter, but all of them were keeping an eye on the new visitor. Han Yunxi brought Gu Qishao into the guest hall and treated him to tea. Gu Qishao took a sip and remarked, "This tea is only so-so at best!"
Han Yunxi had a servant girl take the tea away, too lazy to waste idle words. "Now can you tell me what's going on?"
But Gu Qishao simply took out a canister of tea leaves from his pack. "Red South Peak! I know you like to drink this, so I brought some just for you."
Red South Peak was the Celestial Fragrance tea plantation's exclusive brew, and named such because the leaves came from the plantation's southern mountains. This was Long Feiye's favorite type of tea. In the past, Han Yunxi had gone to the mountains just to pick their leaves, only to be kidnapped by Jun Yixie's subordinates. Ever since then, Gu Qishao had mistakenly assumed she liked Red South Peak best.
"Hasn't Celestial Fragrance been shut down? Where did you get the leaves?" Han Yunxi asked doubtfully.
"Another tea plantation. It's the same variety of tea, have a taste," Gu Qishao was all eager attention.
But when had Han Yunxi ever accepted any of Gu Qishao's gifts? She avoided the subject and asked, "Just what's this serious business you're talking about? Are you telling me or not? I still have important things to do!" Indeed, Han Yunxi was a busy woman. She had already figured out a way to testing the charcoal ash for signs of sabotage, but needed to get the experiment going before she got any results.
When Han Yunxi smiled at Gu Qishao, he smiled back even brighter. When Han Yunxi lost her temper at him, he could still manage a grin. He opened up the giant parcel he'd brought with him and gestured Han Yunxi to look closer with a mysterious expression on his face. "It's good stuff, you'll never be able to guess."
Curious, Han Yunxi rose and came over for a look. But as soon as she saw the contents, she felt ill and wanted to throw up.
She quickly jumped out of the way. "Get it away, get it away! Disgusting!"
Gu Qishao was both clueless and confused. "These are giant lobsters from the Illusory Sea Lake. They're great for nourishing the body. This young master was super lucky, but only managed to catch three of them!"
In fact, his original plan was to camp out a month at the island to fish for lobsters while poisoning Jun Yixie to death at the same time. Then he'd toss the man's corpse into the ocean to feed the fishes. If he hadn't been in such a hurry to make sure his Poison lass got fresh seafood, he would've stayed a few days longer. Jun Yixie wouldn't have been able to escape, either!
But she was telling him that he was...disgusting?
How could Gu Qishao know that Han Yunxi had been eating nothing but lobster for the past ten days? By now, the very sight of them to her was sickening to the extreme? He was genuinely hurt by her response, and looked at Han Yunxi for a long time in silence. It was right then that Han Yunxi saw Gu Qishao's eyes dim for the first time.
She poked him experimentally with her foot. "Hey..."
Gu Qishao glanced at her before wordlessly packing up his things.
"Hey? Was this the serious business you wanted to talk about?" Han Yunxi asked.
"You glutton, does eating count as serious business to you?" Gu Qishao looked askance at her, his tone as doting as always.
Seeing that he'd finally replied, Han Yunxi exhaled and grew serious. "Gu Qishao, Sir Qi, just what did you find me for?"
Gu Qishao simply chuckled. "I don't want to talk about it anymore. Later!" So speaking, he picked up his bag and turned to leave. Han Yunxi was left dumbfounded. This had to be the first time that Gu Qishao had left on his own accord. Did he really get mad this time?
Just because I rejected his giant lobsters, he's lost his temper for real?
Han Yunxi remained silent as she accompanied him to the front gates. But finally, she couldn't help but burst out into laughter. If I knew it'd be this easy, I would've been meaner to him from the start. Once I offend him enough times, he might stop taking liberties with me all the time.
The guards shadowing them were equally bewildered. Gu Qishao, that sly wretch, had come and gone so quickly? We're not imagining things, right?
Gu Qishao had already strode out of the gates before he turned back for a final look, his eyes shining with their usual mischief. "Poison lass, wait 'til next time. When we meet again, it'll definitely be serious business."
His words seemed layered with meaning, enough to even convince the usually doubtful Han Yunxi. She chased after him and asked, "Gu Qishao, just what are you planning to do? Can't you just talk sensibly?"
Gu Qishao waved a hand at her, indicating that she should go back. "Take care of your body and wait for me!"
Now Han Yunxi was even more puzzled. She wanted to ask him more questions, but Gu Qishao had already used his lightness technique to slip away.
"Is there really something serious coming up? What does he want to do?" Han Yunxi muttered to herself. She sensed that Gu Qishao's attitude this time was different than usual.
As soon as Gu Qishao was gone, one of the guards sent a flying pigeon message to Long Feiye, who was on his way with Chu Xifeng to Pill Fiend Valley. After reading the missive, Long Feiye was both unhappy and perplexed. "It has been a long time since that fellow Gu Qishao's shown himself."
"Your Highness, yesterday I heard news that the City of Daughters and Carefree City have large numbers of top-tier assassins aiming for his life. It's unclear who he managed to offend," Chu Xifeng replied.
Long Feiye only smiled coldly. If he hadn't offended both mercenary cities in the past, he would've offered them a handsome bounty for Gu Qishao as well. And yet, Han Yunxi had invited him in for tea! Very well, I'll get my payback when I return!
By now it was the middle of the night, but neither Long Feiye nor Chu Xifeng had taken a single break. They whipped their fast horses along as they sped forward. In the Duke of Qin's estate, Han Yunxi wasn't resting, either. Gu Qishao's disruption had left her heart ill at ease even though she couldn't guess what he meant. Originally, she was planning to retire early and experiment on the charcoal tomorrow, but now she decided to do it right then and there. Han Yunxi came down the stairs and prepared to head for Baili Mingxiang's room, only to see the just about recovered woman out of her bed and about.
"Why aren't you sleeping yet?" Han Yunxi asked.
"I was thinking of things and couldn't fall asleep," Baili Mingxiang intoned. She had heard of Jun Yixie's escape and wanted to find a chance to console esteemed wangfei, but her mistress had been too busy to speak with her today.
"If you can't sleep, come help me instead. I've already found a way to see whether the charcoal ashes had any suspicious elements in them. Guess what I'm going to do?" Han Yunxi starting arranging porcelain bottles and dishes on the table in her study.
Baili Mingxiang knew that esteemed wangfei was well when she saw her current mood. The woman before her was far more sanguine and optimistic than she expected. She shut the study door behind her as she entered and locked it at the same time. If the exploding stove wasn't an accident, their pool of suspects were so small that even the smallest shred of evidence could lead to a torture and interrogation session! But only the charcoal could tell them that now.
Some of the bottles on the table contained charcoal ash, while others held various liquid poisons. Baili Mingxiang looked at them carefully before asking in confusion, "Esteemed wangfei, Mingxiang is slow and stupid and doesn't understand what these are for."
"A method for poisoning!" Han Yunxi replied earnestly. She had thought of this method during her recent trip to Fishery Island, but hadn't figured out which poison to use until she came back.
"You're going to contaminate the charcoal samples with poison?" Baili Mingxiang asked doubtfully, catching Han Yunxi off guard. She hadn't really expected Baili Mingxiang to understand her methods. Han Yunxi had found a way to use a type of poison that could melt down explosive substances and create a new toxin on its own.
If she could create that new toxin by dripping her poisons into the charcoal ashes, that would prove that the charcoal had been tampered with despite there being no physical signs. Baili Mingxiang understood such logic and automatically volunteered, "Esteemed wangfei, let me try!"
Han Yunxi acquiesed, and Baili Mingxiang carefully started the experiments by mixing the poisonous liquids with the charcoal ash. Soon enough, the two substances became a thick liquid that started bubbling in the bottle before emitting foul, noxious fumes. Both Han Yunxi and Baili Mingxiang exchanged glances with a smile at the sight!
As it turned out, there was explosive material in the charcoal!