It wasn't the first time Mu Liuyue had mentioned Princess Changping in front of Han Ruoxue.
"Are you for real? You've already promised me so many times," she said, sounding aggrieved.
Mu Liuyue laughed. "Weren't there things that delayed the last few times? How's this, when the Plum Blossom Meet starts, I'll have Princess Changping send you an invitation too?"
These words made Han Ruoxue light up to the ends of her eyebrows. "Liuyue, you can't just be saying things to make me happy!"
The Plum Blossom Meet was held once every three years, organized personally by Princess Changping. It was a chance to enjoy the plum blossoms, drink tea, and amuse oneself. All of the participants were females selected by Princess Changping herself with a personal invitation, and most of them were from Tianning Country's noble families. Anyone who was invited would be recognized in Tianning's highest social circles, so all girls looked forward to this distinguished gathering. Before Han Congan was sent to prison, the Han Family was considered a prestigious family as well. Unfortunately, they were still commoners with no influence, so Han Ruoxue never had a chance to join in from the start.
"I'll swear to it, all right? You doubt me this much?" Mu Liuyue said, a crafty look in her eyes.
"No need no need, I'll believe you!" Han Ruoxue's excitement had muddled her brains to the point that she didn't suspect why Mu Liuyue had agreed to get her an invitation. Of course, despite her delight, she didn't forget her purpose for coming here today. She smiled as she teased, "Actually, it's not that I don't believe you. It's just been so long since we've met up that I thought our eldest young Miss Mu forgot about me."
These words seemed to dampen Mu Liuyue's good cheer. She set down the second cup of tea that she just picked up and gave Han Ruoxue a significant look. "You still dare to blame me? I've nearly been harassed to death recently by that eldest young Miss of your family!"
Han Ruoxue knew her chance had come and dawdled for a while before speaking in a low tone. "She's Qin Wangfei now."
Mu Liuyue gave a cold snort. "So what if she's Qin Wangfei? The Duke of Qin has to acknowledge her first."
"I heard..." Han Ruoxue trailed off.
"What did you hear?" Mu Liuyue knitted her brows, her expression turning ugly. She hated people who hesitated when they spoke.
"I heard that she saved your big brother. It was being spread all over the streets recently. They say her medical skills were exceptional with hidden depths, and there were even people who saw important officials asking for treatment at the Duke of Qin's door," Han Ruoxue said timidly.
Mu Liuyue's gaze turned evasive. These matters were closely related to her older brother's attempted assassination. Currently, the culprit was still missing along with the poisoner. Her father had warned her again and again not to make things public. In addition, Han Yunxi really had helped with these matters, but it wasn't something she wanted to mention. Still, seeing Han Ruoxue's face of amazement really irritated Mu Liuyue.
"Liuyue, it's not true, right? Han Yunxi's really that formidable? She was a useless trash in the Han house before. She couldn't have been pretending all that time? She's a genius?" Han Ruoxue was all exaggeration. Seeing that Mu Liuyue remained unmoved, she continued to speak. "If that's the case, then we've truly underestimated her. This girl..."
Before she finished, Mu Liuyue lost her patience and cut her off with a swear. "Like rubbish she's some genius!"
Han Ruoxue hastily looked around her, flustered. "Eldest young Miss, hush...you need to take care with your words. If someone overhears, you'll be the topic of gossip in the capital instead!"
Mu Liuyue's little face was dark and somber as she curled her lips contemptuously. "Han Yunxi only knows how to treat poisons. She's not some miracle doctor. Plenty of people can cure them in this world." After saying this, Mu Liuyue was still unsatisfied and added, "So what if she can treat poisons? With an antidote, anyone can treat poisons, all right?"
But Han Ruoxue was very surprised. "So your big brother was poisoned! Didn't they say it was an assassination attempt?"
"There was poison on the assassin's sword!" Mu Liuyue replied.
"Is that so...but...why did the rumors say that she was locked in prison and then released? The justice court official was even replaced, what happened with that?" Han Ruoxue pressed on.
Seeing Mu Liuyue's hesitation, she knew that there had to be a secret buried here, so she added, "I even hear a few other girls say that the Duke of Qin sided with her. They say he didn't bother to find the one responsible and personally brought her out of jail?"
The Duke of Qin sided with her?
These words made Mu Liuyue slam the table. "Ridiculous! As if Han Yunxi's worthy!"
Han Ruoxue looked at her from a distance, doubt in her eyes. Mu Liuyue detested the sight and gave a deep sigh before speaking. "I'll tell you a secret. You definitely can't spread it around, or else you can forget about seeing me in the future."
Han Ruoxue hastily nodded. "Liuyue, you should know that I never spread the things told to me."
Mu Liuyue only paused a second before nodding and lowering her voice. "Actually, my big brother was afflicted with two poisons."
"What?" Han Ruoxue was shocked. She really didn't expect this.
"Hush..." Mu Liuyue glared at her, and Han Ruoxue covered her mouth, afraid to show any reaction. Only then did Mu Liuyue continued to explain. "Han Yunxi treated the first poison, but my big brother reacted with a high fever. He didn't get better, so Han Yunxi was accused of the crime. Who knew that the second type was a slow-acting poison that'd been hidden in him for years? Luckily, she knew how to treat that one too, so she absolved herself of her crimes."
As Mu Liuyue spoke, she added in some lies to purposely slander Han Yunxi. "Actually, she's just a blind cat that ran into a dead mouse. She just happened to know how to treat both poisons, that's all. From start to finish, the Duke of Qin never showed up. He doesn't care whether she lives or dies, so don't you believe those wild rumors outside."
Han Ruoxue's gaze turned complicated. Of course she knew that Mu Liuyue hadn't spoken all the facts, but Han Yunxi's rescue of the young general was probably true.
"So that's what happened. Hehe, I didn't know she could treat poisons," Han Ruoxue whispered.
Mu Liuyue felt very uncomfortable hearing these words. She couldn't help but feel that Han Ruoxue was looking at Han Yunxi with increased respect. Her eyes turned calculating as she spoke again. "Ruoxue, there's one more thing that I can only tell you. You have to keep it a secret."
"Of course, don't you worry!"
Seeing Mu Liuyue act so secretive, Han Ruoxue was very nervous. She came originally to ask about the young general's affairs, but she didn't expect to find out even more. If she knew this earlier, she would have invited Mu Liuyue for tea long ago.
Mu Liuyue's voice was very, very soft. "Ruoxue, your father's imprisonment...is actually related to Han Yunxi as well."
These words stunned Han Ruoxue, who looked at Mu Liuyue with wide eyes.
"What are you looking at? Have you lost your wits?" Mu Liuyue waved a hand in front of her face before pulling her close. "I only overheard this a few days ago in the palace. Though I don't know the facts, you should probably take it into consideration."
"Just what exactly happened?!" Han Ruoxue grew anxious.
"I heard Han Yunxi helped Imperial Physician Gu to treat the crown prince's illness. Han Yunxi even completely rejected your father's diagnosis," Mu Liuyue said.
The crown prince's situation had been proclaimed by the emperor as Han Congan's misdiagnosis, but nobody knew the facts behind his recovery. Yet who was Mu Liuyue? She knew the facts long ago. Of course, she wouldn't tell Han Ruoxue the truth, but only use it as a foundation to embellish her own details on top to smear Han Yunxi's name. Seeing Han Ruoxue's shock, Mu Liuyue lowered her voice to its softest volume.
"Han Yunxi engaged in an unlawful plot!"
Han Ruoxue had always wanted to find a husband to marry into her family so she could settle down as the Han Head of House. With Mu Liuyue's instigation, how could she not end up hating Han Yunxi?
"What you're saying is, she's the one who ruined father!" Han Ruoxue cried angrily. Only then did Mu Liuyue sit back in her seat and personally pour Han Ruoxue a cup of tea. She didn't say anything else, but nodded her head.
"That's all well and good! No wonder she won't let us see father! No wonder the Han Family's storehouse key is in her hands. She's a married daughter, yet she still wants to come back and compete over the family properties?" Han Ruoxue had lost her cool and was all in a huff. How could she have the leisure to sit around drinking tea now? She had to return and tell this to her mother.
"Liuyue, things have gotten serious. I have to go back!" Han Ruoxue rose to her feet seriously.
Mu Liuyue had accomplished her goal and simply nodded with a reminder. "Don't you dare sell me out."
"Don't worry! I'll be leaving first, then," Han Ruoxue left in a rush, completely forgetting her canister of tea. These were leaves personally selected by her mother that Han Ruoxue would gift to Mu Liuyue every time they met.
After successfully sowing discord, Mu Liuyue's mood improved greatly. She could care less about those tea leaves now. Once she finished a few more cups of tea, she lazily rose to her feet and headed to the tea leaf hot spring for a relaxing soak. The Han Family would cause trouble for Han Yunxi very soon, while Princess Changping should've received her letter by now. A few more days, and she'd probably return to the capital. At that time, Han Yunxi would definitely be too busy to track down the enemy agent.
On the afternoon of the same day, Han Ruoxue returned to the Han house and went directly to Madame Li's.
"Mother, Han Yunxi really does want to compete for the family properties. I think we should hold a discussion with Lady Xu and get the storehouse key back first," Han Ruoxue was still burning with impatience when she arrived. This concerned the matter of her position for head of house.
In contrast, Madame Li was only surprised and not the least flustered. "That means that she managed to save the crown prince. Heheh, no wonder she was so full of bluster. Even Official Ouyang had to yield before her, so Lady Xu must know the story behind the scenes, too."
Her words suddenly enlightened Han Ruoxue. If Lady Xu had no fear, then why would she have allowed Han Yuqi to be beaten up the other day?
"But even if she has backing, so what? A married daughter can't own the storehouse key of the head of house. You can't explain this clearly no matter where you go, there's just no such logic!" Han Ruoxue said sincerely.
Madame Li shot her daughter a glance, gaze filled with dislike. Seeing this, Han Ruoxue hastened to explain, but Madame Li reprimanded her first. "How are you supposed to accomplish great things with your personality? How many times have I told you, keep calm and be steady? When have you ever listened to me?"
Only then did Han Ruoxue calm down and resentfully bow her head. She remembered her mother's lessons from before. Lady Xu definitely wouldn't leave the matter at that, so they had no need to reveal their hands to her.
Madame Li allowed Han Ruoxue to stand with her head hanging as she focused on steeping her tea. A few cups later, she finally spoke. "The things I told you to ask after today, did you do them?"
The meeting with Mu Liuyue was mainly to ascertain the affairs of the young general. Of course Han Ruoxue hadn't forgotten, but she didn't understand why her mother wanted to know. Wasn't it just to see how powerful Han Yunxi was? Now that they knew that Han Yunxi saved the crown prince, what did the young general's affairs count for?
"I asked, it's about the same as the rumors outside," Han Ruoxue said mildly.
"I told you to ask for specifics!" Madame Li said sternly, her hands curling into fists. If the girl before her wasn't her own daughter, she might have had her dragged out and beaten long ago.