Chapter 526: No one received them as guests
Jun Yixie had just returned from visiting the empty poison pond when he received Head Elder Xie's invitation. He immediately went to honor the appointment and rushed to the Xie Clan villa located outside the city. A retainer led him into the guest hall where Head Elder Xie had been waiting for a long time already.
Unlike Ouyang Ningnuo's leisurely and modest tones, Jun Yixie was blunt and straight to the point. "Has Head Elder Xie come to a decision?"
Head Elder Xie nodded back just as bluntly. "This old man can agree to your terms. However, you will have to give this old man ideas as to how it should be done."
How it should be done? In other words, how to exert pressure on Mu Yingdong so he would agree to marry Mu Linger off to Northern Li's crown prince. Jun Yixie immediately said, "It can be an expression of meritorious service!"
Head Elder Xie's eyes flashed with disdain before he asked, "What do you mean by that?"
"At the Grand Medicine Testing Convention, this lord can act as Northern Li's representative to ask for Mu Linger's hand in marriage. The betrothal gifts will be one of Northern Li's five snowy mountains, Skypeak, and its high plateaus as well as a special token that permits access into the area. Head Elder Xie can seize the chance to exert pressure on Mu Yingdong in public so that he'll hand over Mu Linger as a meritorious service to improve relations between Medicine City and Northern Li via marriage. Naturally, Head Elder Xie yourself will be the one to accept the betrothal gifts, but Skypeak's entry token can be shared with the rest of Medicine City. The Council of Elders will watch over the item," Jun Yixie explained.
Head Elder Xie laughed coldly. "Heheh, you said that it would benefit my Xie Clan, but why does it belong to the entire Council of Elders now?"
"On the left of Skypeak snow mountain is Skydark, which will be given to Head Elder Xie as thanks for playing matchmaker!" Jun Yixie said jovially. "Head Elder Xie, in this way you'll gain both fame and wealth!"
By arranging Mu Linger's marriage affairs, Head Elder Xie would be able to show how selfless he was. He didn't create particular difficulties for the girl on account of the silent feud between the Xie and Mu Clans, but gained benefits for all of Medicine City. That would be his claim to fame. The extra gift that Jun Yixie promised to give him for the Xie Clan would be his claim to wealth.
Head Elder Xie stroked his beard and seemed to be deep in thought, but he was silently admiring Jun Yixie for his well-executed moves. If his grandson hadn't picked up that gossip-if the Lin Clan man hadn't died from roundworm poison of all things-then he might've fallen into Jun Yixie and Mu Yingdong's trap long ago!
Header Elder Xie purposely drew out his silence before speaking. "Your Highness Duke of Kang has indeed proposed a good plan, it's just that..."
"Just what? Go ahead and say it!" Jun Yixie said grandly.
"It's just that, Mu Yingdong is a crafty and cunning type. There's no guarantee that he'll agree to this... If so, this old man would rather not risk it!" Head Elder Xie was firm in his views.
Jun Yixie had been so assured of success that these words made his furrow his eyebrows. His manner was rude as he asked, "Xie Deyi, isn't it enough to pressure Mu Yingdong with the benefit of the entire Medicine City at stake? Where is your dignity and prestige as the head of the Council of Elders?"
Head Elder Xie knew exactly what he wanted and was unaffected by the accusations. He grew even firmer and said, "This old man doesn't want Mu Yingdong to trump up countercharges against me at the Grand Medicine Testing Convention. In any case, I won't do this unless I'm absolutely certain that I'll succeed!" He stroked his beard and muttered to himself, "The Mu Clan can't go far without Mu Linger anyways. My Xie Clan has all the time in the world to wait and see!"
Impatience flickered in Jun Yixie's eyes, but he held himself back. "What do you count as 'absolute certainty?'"
"That's difficult..." Head Elder Xie sighed. "That knave Mu Yingdong is Medicine City's most cunning man. Your Highness Duke of Kang, as this old man sees it, Mu Linger's marriage affairs...should just be given up. Besides that, everything else... Heheh, we can always discuss other terms."
Jun Yixie couldn't stop an inward snort. Would he even bother with the Xie Clan if it wasn't for Mu Linger? With Xie Deyi's cowardly, hesitant attitude, it was no wonder the Xie Clan couldn't be great. Although Mu Yingdong was a little sly and crafty, Jun Yixie preferred the man's courage and resolution. After some thought, he said, "Since Head Elder Xie wants absolute certainty, then there's no choice but to benefit the Mu Clan."
Xie Deyi was secretly laughing up his sleeve. "What kinds of benefits?"
"The gift of Skydark snow mountain can be split in half between you and the Mu Clan. This way, both you and Mu Yingdong would have yielded a step," Jun Yixie said.
"Nonsense!" Xie Deyi rejected immediately.
Jun Yixie ridiculed him with disdain, "Head Elder Xie, the world isn't full of easy wins. Since you don't want to take any risks or lose any advantages, you might as well give up entirely. This lord has nothing else to discuss with your Xie Clan!"
Xie Deyi couldn't help but gloat to himself, but he put on a resentful expression. "Your Highness Duke of Kang, what kind of attitude are you putting on?"
Jun Yixie was loath to explain himself and stood up to leave. Head Elder Xie quickly barred his way. "Your Highness Duke of Kang, this old man will agree to your terms! But this old man doesn't want to talk with Mu Yingdong in person!"
Jun Yixie was waiting for him to yield and laughed coldly. "This lord will speak with him."
Xie Deyi hastily added, "Your Highness Duke of Kang, you'll have to put it down in writing after you've talked with him, and get it stamped with the Mu Clan's seal. Only then can this old man set his heart at ease."
Jun Yixie actually agreed to the terms. When he told Mu Yingdong what had happened, the man only burst into laughter. "We can give him the written agreement he wants. This time, I want to sink his ship in the sewers!"
Once Mu Linger married into Northern Li, his clan would have the chance to pressure the Xie Clan to give up the entire snow mountain. The day before the Grand Medicine Testing Convention was scheduled to begin, Mu Yingdong gave a signed agreement to Jun Yixie, who handed it over to Head Elder Xie that very same day. Head Elder Xie accepted it with delight while inwardly crowing. Here was a nice, hefty piece of evidence! He was anticipating the convention more than ever!
Jun Yixie and Mu Yingdong had no idea that Ouyang Ningnuo had snitched on them, much less that Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had tricked the Xie Clan as well. Mu Yingdong was too busy wondering whether Han Yunxi and Gu Qi Sha would try some tricks at the Grand Medicine Testing Convention instead. Meanwhile, Jun Yixie was busy preparing gifts for the upcoming marriage alliance. Once the various figures in the medical community gathered here tomorrow, he could formally request the marriage publicly to them all. They too, were looking forward to a great show at the convention.
Today's Medicine City was unusually lively in preparation for tomorrow's events. People from Medicine City and various other medical academies and famous pharmacies had all sent people here. Those who came with invitation were naturally welcomed and received, such as important figures from Medical City and the biggest merchant of medicinal ingredients, Ouyang Ningnuo. The Council of Elders personally met with them and settled them down in the Council's own guest rooms, located closest to the Medicine Forest. The rest were divided between the more famous guests, who were housed with the three great clans, and their lesser-known counterparts, who were equally enthusiastically received by Medicine City's smaller clans. It was only Han Yunxi's group that...
Once Han Yunxi entered Medicine City's gates with her black-masked bodyguard in tow, news spread throughout the entire Medicine City. Everyone knew that Pill Fiend Pharmacy's Qin Wangfei had arrived, but no one came to greet her! Naturally, the Wang Clan couldn't do so to avoid arousing suspicion, but the Council of Elders and the other clans all...heheh.
Currently, it was evening, and a bright moon hung in the sky. Han Yunxi led her horse along Medicine City's busiest streets with the bodyguard trailing behind her only three to four steps behind. He carried a long sword on his back and walked with his arms crossed, looking like a towering mountain. His presence made others keep their distance from Han Yunxi and part ways when she approached. Some recognized her at first sight, while others were simply intimidated by the guard at her side. Many could only sigh and marvel at how different Qin Wangfei was, to even have a guard with such a domineering air.
Just like that, Han Yunxi made her way through the crowds with ease to arrive at Medicine City's best inn. The owner personally came out to greet her. "Esteemed wangfei, are you stopping for refreshments or staying for the night?"
Han Yunxi replied, "Arrange a clean high-quality room and have a meal delivered to the quarters."
The innkeeper nodded repeatedly and moved to ask the guard next, but he simply shot him a chilly gaze before following Han Yunxi upstairs. The innkeeper was puzzled. Isn't the guard going to stay here as well?
Typically speaking, female servants were allowed to wait on their masters in the rooms, but male guards should by logic live in rooms next door to their masters. In the end, the innkeeper decided that the guard was going to stand watch overnight outside Qin Wangfei's room instead.
After the meal was delivered Han Yunxi's room, her bodyguard shut the door and took off his mask. Who else could it be but His Highness Duke of Qin, the most domineering man in history? Han Yunxi was almost lightheaded with hunger, so she went to attack the food before Long Feiye stopped her with a small bowl of hot soup. "Drink this first."
The weather was cool but her heart was warm, and her mood was excellent. Han Yunxi would never have expected the icy Duke of Qin to be so intimate if she didn't see it firsthand.
"Long Feiye..." Han Yunxi trailed off.
"What is it?" Long Feiye ladled out some soup as he replied.
"You're being rather intimate," Han Yunxi grinned.
Long Feiye had just placed a spoonful of soup into his mouth. Now he coughed before he managed to swallow it down. Rather than replying, he pretended nothing had happened at all and went to focus on his bowl. But when he realized that Han Yunxi was still staring at him, he grew restless and said, "Drink your soup."
"Mm!" Han Yunxi tried to hold back her laughter as she drank, but it was impossible. She choked after one sip and began to cough violently. Long Feiye rushed to her side and helped her pat her back. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi's soup had thoroughly blocked her windpipe this time, so it was impossible for her to breathe. She wanted to cough it all up, but she didn't have the air or the strength. Long Feiye grew desperate and picked up her in his arms so that she was sitting on his legs. Then he had her bend forwards while he furiously hit her on the back.
Han Yunxi hacked for breath as she vigorously waved her hand. When someone's choking, it won't do any good to pat their back!
Long Feiye couldn't understand her. He started out feeling panicked, but now he was at a loss. "Is it better now?" he kept asking. "What about now?"
Han Yunxi couldn't reply, so she simply coughed with all her might as she waved, her face turning red from exertion. Long Feiye grew even more flustered. He had ways to take care of all the problems in the world, but was helpless before such tiny details.
"We'll find a doctor!" he said as he picked Han Yunxi up and headed for the door. Han Yunxi was about to utterly give up. She finally grabbed his hand and pressed it to her chest. The sudden contact with the softness hidden within made Long Feiye give a start. Han Yunxi borrowed his hand strength as she leaned forward, abruptly heightening the sensation against his fingers.
This was an emergency rescue position for choking situations! Han Yunxi was too busy to notice the details, but furiously pounded her back to show that Long Feiye should help her there. Unfortunately, Long Feiye had yet to react. Although he'd bullied this woman in the past, he'd never gotten so handsy with her. He stood dazed while Han Yunxi gave up and leaned forward while coughing even harder.
Luckily, she managed to cough up the mouthful of soup before long and drew in a long breath. Finally, her airways were clear...