If Gu Qishao wasn’t entering the Medicine Requesting Cave, that was fine too!
Han Yunxi looked at him silently and simply pretended she didn’t know a thing. She only knew that they couldn’t suffer any losses on this return trip! Even if they had to get physical, they would bring back a Returning Dragon Pill with them.
That very day, Han Yunxi’s group left Qingzhou Water City and secretly headed for Medicine City. Gu Qishao didn’t say anything else, but led the way on horseback as before. He also chose a special shortcut that would only take them 10 days of travel. The whole way, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were kept busy with letters coming in from different places daily with emergencies they had to deal with. At night, they would find time to dual cultivate despite all that. Baili Mingxiang wasn’t idle either, and studiously practiced her own martial arts. Oftentimes, she would find Xu Donglin for pointers.
Gu Qishao didn’t bother with anything except hunting down clues about the Fire of Ten-Thousand Poisons. Their journey led them northwest as the time sped on endlessly like their horse carriage. By now, Ning Jing was already seven months’ pregnant. The fact was impossible to hide no matter how many layers she wore. She hadn’t been so big during her fifth and sixth month, but now it seemed as if her stomach had swelled up with air. She even felt that moving around was inconvenient and had more and more trouble falling asleep at night.
All of the servant girls and guards in her courtyard belonged to Bai Yuqiao, so anything Ning Jing needed could be obtained by using Mu Linger’s use as an excuse. For now, everything was still safe. Within the Tiger’s Prison, Su Xiaoyu lived in a smaller courtyard while Ning Jing, Mu Linger, Manager Jin and the rest had a bigger compound. Mu Linger had once requested Su Xiaoyu to join them in place of Manager Jin and Uncle Cheng, especially since it wasn’t convenient for men and women to live together. Moreover, Ning Jing’s pregnancy had been hidden from the two males as well. However, Bai Yuqiao didn’t agree.
Most of the matters at Tiger’s Prison were arranged by her, but she had to prevent Jun Yixie from getting suspicious. She knew better than anyone how distrustful he could be. It was already no mean feat that Ning Jing had managed to hide her pregnancy for so long! There were about three months left before the birth, but it should only take another month and a half before Han Yunxi and Long Feiye could come and rescue them. With help from the inside from herself, combined with the couple’s skills, it shouldn’t be hard to extricate a few people from the Tiger’s Prison.
The thing that Bai Yuqiao feared most was premature labor on Ning Jing’s end. It was easy to hide a baby while it was still in the womb, but once it was born, Jun Yixie would definitely send something to take it away as collateral, thus increasing their trouble. Besides taking care of Ning Jing’s side, Bai Yuqiao also checked in on Su Xiaoyu in the smaller courtyard daily. She didn’t change her attitude towards the girl, but would regularly threaten and scare her, even if none of it came to pass. Nobody could ever guess that she feared Su Xiaoyu finding out the truth most of all. As it were, the ignorant Su Xiaoyu only assumed that Ning Cheng was protecting her.
While taking care of everyone in Tiger’s Prison, Bai Yuqiao also kept tabs on the civil war front in Northern Li and her senior brother’s safety. Every night, she would sit alone on top of Su Xiaoyu’s roof and wait for letters from the battlefield. Her heart was in knots, leaving her torn between two sides by complex feelings. It was a solitary kind of suffering. She had grown so big and followed her master for so many years, but never felt any problems from being wronged in the past. Nor did she wonder who her parents were or whether they were still alive.
But over the past few nights, she couldn’t help but yearn for a warm hug. Had Little Yu’er ever thought of her missing parents or family? Unable to sleep, Bai Yuqiao was all alone.
Meanwhile, Ning Jing was tossing and turning in bed. It was impossible to sleep comfortably with such a large stomach and she always worried about crushing the baby. Moreover, her longing for Tang Li only grew more intense with time, especially late at night. She always wanted to know what he was doing, or to taste his home cooked red-bean soup.
Mu Linger was awake too. She was sleeping on the long divan to the right of Ning Jing’s bed as her nightwatch. When she heard her tossing about, she asked, “Big sis Ning, you can’t sleep again?”
“Why aren’t you asleep yet?” Ning Jing was surprised. Mu Linger hadn’t moved a peep, so she thought the girl was long slumbering.
“I miss Qi gege,” Mu Linger was always so simple and naive. Whatever she thought of, she’d say, and her feelings were always written right on her face.
“He doesn’t miss you, so why miss him?” Ning Jing asked carefully. She had no good impressions of Gu Qishao.
Mu Linger couldn’t help but touch her belly and mutter, “Big sis Ning, I’ve been pretending for so long that I’ve almost tricked myself. I’ve had so many dreams of having Qi gege’s child!”
After wearing a false tummy for so long, she would almost be convinced that she was pregnant if she didn’t take it off every night. Naturally, one would sink into the part if one played it for too long. Ning Jing gave a start before she burst into laughter. “Mu Linger, you’re so young but you still have wet dreams?”
Mu Linger panicked and sat upright. “I didn’t, I didn’t!”
“Then how could you have gotten pregnant with Gu Qishao’s child?” Ning Jing asked.
“That’s...it’s…” Mu Linger flushed. “I just dreamed that Qi gege touched my stomach and smiled at me. He’s really pretty when he smiles.”
If Gu Qishao could hear Mu Linger’s words now, would he smile?
Ning Jing did. She had no idea what to say to Mu Linger, who was both laughable and pitiable at the same time. Why couldn’t Gu Qishao cherish her? Mu Linger only watched her quietly until her bright eyes dimmed sadly. It wasn’t until Ning Jing stopped that she got off the divan and snuggled next to her.
“Big sis Ning, can I ask you a question?” Mu Linger murmured.
“Go on,” Ning Jing said, puzzled. What does she want to tell me by getting so close?
But Mu Linger only asked, “Big sis Ning, Tang Li’s definitely kissed you before, right?”
Ning Jing fell silent before she lifted her covers and chased Mu Linger off the bed. “I’m going to sleep. You’re still a girl, don’t ask so many questions.”
“Big sis Ning, what does it feel like to be kissed? I...I dreamed that Qi gege kissed me,” Mu Linger said desperately.
Fortunately the room was dark, or else Ning Jing would definitely burrow into her covers with a tomato-red face. Although she’d had her turns doing Tang Li and been done in turn, she was still embarrassed when it came to telling outsiders about their intimate matters.
“Get off, get off, I’m sleeping. Don’t make so much noise!” Ning Jing said impatiently.
“I’m just asking you in secret. I promise I won’t tell anyone else?” Mu Linger pleaded.
“Wait until you see your big ssi and ask her!” Ning Jing dumped the troubles on Han Yunxi instead, but Mu Linger’s reply was timid.
“I don’t dare to ask her, Long Feiye’s too scary.”
“You’re asking her, not Long Feiye,” Ning Jing rolled her eyes.
“But that...that’s related to Long Feiye! In any case, it’s too frightening! I’m not asking her!” Mu Linger declared.
If Ning Jing wasn’t so heavily pregnant, she would have succeeded in kicking Mu Linger off the bed by now. So it’s hard to ask after Long Feiye’s affairs, but easy to ask after Tang Li’s? What is this girl thinking?
Mu Linger pled two more times, but Ning Jing still refused to tell her anything. In the end, she could only get off the bed herself. Thanks to all the ruckus, Ning Jing was even less sleepy now and couldn’t help but recall how Tang Li used to kiss her. Every time he’d start out pleading for her favors before turning all agressive against her! Her lips quirked up at the memory, but she didn’t dare to move in case Mu Linger caught her awake and came to “molest” her again.
Mu Linger waited for a while before she really thought Ning Jing had fallen asleep. She wasn’t drowsy at all, so she finally got up with a flustered heart and went out to get some air. Ning Jing exhaled in relief once she was gone. In the darkness, she didn’t notice that Mu Linger had left her fake stomach behind.
Filled with thoughts, Mu Linger didn’t realize it either and walked in a straight line after leaving the rooms. She and Ning Jing lived in the back courtyard while Manager Jing and Uncle Cheng lived in the front. Between the two compounds was a small flower garden. Mu Linger was strolling amongst the shrubs while kicking aimlessly at a pebble. Suddenly, a single stone flew in from the right and knocked into her own pebble.
“Who’s there?!” Mu Linger demanded.
She turned but didn’t see anyone. Growing guarded, she prepared to walk again when someone pressed a hand on her shoulder. Mu Linger immediately crouched down and swept out with her leg, but the person behind her jumped up and kicked viciously forward, forcing Mu Linger to dodge backwards. But the figure kept moving forward until she was lying on her back with his foot on her abdomen. Only then did Mu Linger recognize her assailant as Manager Jin!
“Mu Linger, where’s your baby?” Manager Jin demanded icily.
Mu Linger abruptly realized that she wasn’t wearing her false stomach and felt her back turn cold with sweat. She fell apart immediately and grew unwell. Manager Jin stared at her flat stomach before stepping harder, causing her to cry out. “Ouch! It hurts…”
Manager Jin immediately released her and knelt down to muffle her mouth. “If you don’t want to lure Uncle Cheng here, then shut up!”
Mu Linger obediently fell silent, but she couldn’t help screaming when Manager Jin pressed against her stomach with his hand. Fortunately, his other hand was still muffling her mouth, or else everyone in the courtyard would be awake by now. Eyes wide, Mu Linger did her best to drag Manager Jin’s hands away while struggling beneath him. Manager Jin gagged her with one hand while checking her stomach with the other. Because he had no more hands to restrain her, he ended up sitting astride her legs…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*looks into the distance* Yeah okay still 7 double releases left 'cause I'm spotty at the moment with releases! Thanks, work commitments!