Chapter 1011: Vanished, just like that

The Imperial Noble Consort was bitten by a venomous snake?

How could the palace have poisonous snakes? Moreover, it was the dead of winter, so where did they come from? Long Tianmo immediately recognized Mu Liuyue’s handiwork in all this.

“If Zhen finds the culprit, Zhen will show them no mercy regardless of identity,” he tossed back before hurrying to Duanmu Jin’s Refined Orchid Palace.

Great General Mu and Mu Qingwu couldn’t enter the harem as they please, so the latter said in a calm voice to his son, “Let’s go back.”

Mu Qingwu obediently followed his father, but it wasn’t long after leaving the study that he exclaimed, “Father, Liuyue’s acted too inappropriately!”

Great General Mu didn’t reply and kept walking. If this was the past, he would feign a rough, coarse manner and loudly lecture Mu Liuyue on her wrongs. But there was no need to play pretend anymore. If a general had the heart to stay calm and scheme in politics, his sovereign would fear his existence. However, his Mu Clan Troops had long set their sights on Long Tianmo. Naturally, he would have to tear off the mask he’d been wearing for years.

Perhaps if Tianning had never broken out into civil unrest or split apart, Cloud Realm Continent could continue existing in peace and he’d pretend for a lifetime. But with things are they were now and his precious daughter married to Long Tianmo, he couldn’t stand her being wronged like so.

Mu Qingwu had long sensed his father’s change. Although he couldn’t pinpoint when it happened, looking at his father’s back now made him think of a stranger. He caught up to him and said earnestly, “Father, Liuyue’s actions now hurt others as well as herself. If she forces the emperor past his breaking point, it’ll be nothing but bad returns!”

Great General Mu abruptly stopped to regard Mu Qingwu with a dark look. Still, he said nothing and soon resumed walking. Mu Qingwu quickly followed. After hesitating a few times, he finally got to the point. “Father, you acting like this will hurt Liuyue!”

Great General Mu spun back and raged, “Are you doubting your father or interrogating him?”

Mu Qingwu quickly shook his head. “This child doesn’t dare! This child only...only wants to stop Liuyue from making mistake after mistake!”

“What do you know of right and wrong?” Great General Mu demanded.

Mu Qingwu’s head drooped, but it hid his dissatisfaction. He couldn’t accept this despite the fact that he always respected his father’s words without rebuke. However, when it came to Liuyue, he and his father had more and more divided views. As Mu Qingwu saw it, his father couldn’t afford to offend the emperor because of his sister. A forcibly picked melon wasn’t sweet. As long as Liuyue didn’t fuss, she would always have the empress’s status unchallenged.

But if father enraged the emperor again and again because of Liuyue and caused unceasing waves at court, the emperor wouldn’t bear it indefinitely. The fact that he’d made Duanmu Jin an Imperial Noble Consort was already a clear warning.

“Go back and face the wall. Without father’s orders, you’re not to step out of the house a step!” Great General Mu fumed.

Yet Mu Qingwu only lifted his head and asked, “Father, are you planning to usurp the throne? Just what were the reasons for those spies in the Chu Clan Troops?”

Great General Mu hastily looked around to check the coast was clear before easing enough to glare at his son. “I see now. My son’s grown up and his wings have gotten harder! Shall father report to you on everything I’ve been doing in the future, then?”

“Father, that’s not what I meant! I only...father, I’m the Mu Clan’s Young General and your son. I have the right to know everything!” Mu Qingwu said.

He had already endured for so long. Father actually had agents planted within the Chu Clan Troops, which was no small affair. If he guessed right, his father had many more secrets hidden up his sleeve. 

Great General Mu’s eyes flickered with complex emotions, but he kept them well hidden. As before, his attitude was hard and unyielding. “You--either go face the wall or leave this instant. You don’t have to enter my Mu Clan gates again!”

Then he tossed his sleeves and stalked off. Naturally, he was convinced that his son wouldn’t dare to defy his orders, but Mu Qingwu really did end up not returning home. Great General Mu was busy with Mu Liuyue’s affairs all night. He had already warned her not to move against Duanmu Jin. The Mu Clan had a complicated relationship with the Western Zhou imperial family, so it was too early to move just yet. Thus, Duanmu Jin’s snake bite had to be someone pushing the blame on Mu Liuyue’s head or a scheme by Duanmu Jin herself to frame Mu Liuyue and raise pity for herself.

Despite living outside the palace, Great General Mu was still able to get timely news from within. He helped Mu Liuyue scheme various plans and blocked plenty more suspicions against her. It wasn’t until afternoon of the third day, when Duanmu Jin’s life was out of mortal danger, that her lifelong court ladies found a few perfumed sachets in Refined Orchid Palace’s back courtyard. They were filled with an unknown aromatic. Long Tianmo invited over some poison doctors to investigate, but they couldn’t figure it out either. They only suspected that the poison snake had been lured there by the scent.

Long Tianmo immediately had men investigate the origins of the aromatic, but didn’t find a single clue. No matter what, he couldn’t pin the crime on Mu Liuyue’s head, either. Without evidence, Great General Mu was certain Long Tianmo wouldn’t dare try anything against Liuyue. His worries eased, he asked after Mu Qingwu’s status, only to discover that he’d been missing from home for days.

Great General Mu immediately rushed into Mu Qingwu’s courtyard and searched it from the inside out before he believed that his son was gone. After such a shock, he could only stand there in a daze. He doted on Liuyue, but he cherished Qingwu even more! There were many things he kept from the boy because it wasn’t time to tell him yet. Qingwu wasn’t a person who could hide secrets. Until he finished his arrangements, he would never reveal the Mu Clan’s secrets.

“He dared to disobey my orders, the gall! He dared!” Great General Mu grew agitated.

“Old master, could something have happened to the Young General?” the steward asked worriedly.

Only then did Great General Mu realize that was a possibility too. Qingwu hadn’t defied him ever since childhood, so there was no reason the boy would balk when his orders had been so ruthless this time. Something must have happened to him! Without a doubt!

“Search! Quickly, find him for me!” Great General Mu panicked. At the same time he sent out a search party, he reported the news to Long Tianmo. 

At this, the emperor grew too agitated to even bother about Duanmu Jin’s life and death and immediately sent out men and horses to join the hunt. But days passed with no news of Mu Qingwu. It was like he’d vanished into thin air. Long Tianmo was anxious enough to send out a proclamation on behalf of Tianan Country, but Great General Mu advised him not to startle the snake in the grass. They stuck with secret investigations. Great General Mu seemed to have aged by years in the wake of his son’s disappearance and even stopped caring about Mu Liuyue.

Just like that, news of Mu Qingwu going missing went unknown by anyone except Long Tianmo, Great General Mu, and a few servants of the Mu Estate. Even Mu Liuyue was left in the dark. 

Had Mu Qingwu left home of his own accord, or ran into a kidnapping? It remained a mystery.

--

On this day, snow fell upon the Celestial Mountain range, sealing all paths up and down the peaks. Within the center of the range was a deep and dangerous precipice upon which stood a strangely-styled building--the headquarters of the Heretical Sword Sect.

Bai Yanqing was standing on its tallest floor, watching the pure white snow and clouds blanketing the peak. All of his sword skills had been learned from this sect, so he could naturally hide away at its base of operations. 

After leaving the abyss at Hundred Poisons Sect, he knew Long Feiye and Han Yunxi would tell lies to the audience awaiting them. He had been thrilled by the thought and wanted to expose them right then so that their factions would betray them and the world cast them aside. Unexpectedly, the duo was a step ahead and discovered his undying body! He thought it over before realizing the fact that Lil Thing was still trapped in his poison storage space gave them the key to exposing his secret. 

It was impossible to show his face now, so he could only choose to hide here and lick his wounds. Despite this, he kept an eye on the movements of every power faction across the continent. He was observing the battle between East Qin and the Ning Clan Troops, the Northern Li civil war, the marriage alliance of Western Zhou and Tianan, and sending people out to discover the ingredients of Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. Like before, he was an old fox who laid low while observing the rest of the players.

Bai Yanqing’s thoughts were unknown as he watched the swirling snowflakes above him, but a faint smile rose to his lips. He seemed to be in excellent spirits.

“The roads to Celestial Mountain are all blocked. It’ll be spring next year before anyone climbs the peak,” a woman’s voice suddenly rose behind him.

“That’s true! The beginning of spring next year will be very lively,” Bai Yanqing grinned.

He didn’t turn around, but the woman simply walked to his side. She was dressed from head to toe in black robes and a dark veil obscured her features. The only discernible detail about her looks was that she was young.

“Have you arranged for the poison to be delivered to Tianan?” Bai Yanqing asked.

“You don’t have to worry when it’s me doing the task. The poison’s been taken and the poison doctors summoned, but none of them were able to recognize its true identity,” the woman said coldly.

Bai Yanqing grew satisfied, then asked, “Any news of Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s whereabouts?”

Hearing those names made the woman’s eyes flash with hate. “Many news, but it’s hard to tell which ones are true. They’re still investigating.”

Bai Yanqing didn’t press the issue, but only chuckled. “You must want to know their whereabouts even more than this old man. Heheh, go on.”[1]

The black-veiled woman said nothing as she turned to leave. 

Long Feiye had arranged multiple shadow guards to disguise themselves as Han Yunxi and himself, then spread numerous false rumors to confuse their trackers. Thus, they had remained undiscovered, even now. 

Currently, he and Han Yunxi had already arrived at Medicine City. They didn’t dawdle long or alert any of the local clans, but headed straight for the medical cottage. There, Gu Beiyue and Tang Li’s men had also arrived with the hundred-year snow wine. Pill King was pleasantly surprised to see their group.

He had left the medical canon with Han Yunxi as a gift just so he could expect a visit from her in the future to ask him for tips. But who knew the girl would leave and never come back? She even gave the canon to that girl, Mu Linger, subjecting him to her daily demands for information.

“Lass, it’s a difficult thing to expect your visits!” Pill King sighed while stroking his beard.

Han Yunxi had no time to waste civilities with him and said, “The master of the Medicine Requesting Cave isn’t out, right?”

Long Feiye wasn’t patient enough to wait for Pill King’s answer. He immediately issued orders. “Someone come, seal off the front and back exists! Then pile up the wood and start a fire!”


1. This line makes me think the woman’s Duanmu Yao or something, lol...unless?

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Where is the world is Mu Qingwu...? I don't know either. Feel free to ignore another translator rant ahead lol~

On Great General Mu & Mu Qingwu

The author makes a big deal about Great General Mu "pretending" to be a rash, crude musclehead in this chapter, but a part of me keeps thinking she didn't decide on that until much later on in the story. If I read the earlier chapters of PGC, Great General Mu really was the typical military hothead who's stubborn about his views until HYX's wits eventually wins his favor. 

If she planned this "character transformation" from the start, I think she could have done better with foreshadowing or leaving tiny hints that Great General Mu isn't all as "hotheaded dumb" as he appears. Instead, the most we get is a bit of telling, not showing, during the Tianlong power struggle arc where he "acts calm" in a couple of situations. For me, it just feels forced. Even if he's supposed to be this amazing actor with hidden depths. I can't buy the characterization being stuffed down my throat....

Then again, the author's done so many spinoffs and rewrite of PGC (the shorter condensed print version, the adaptation based on the drama series, the now deleted modern take, etc.) that maybe it's better portrayed in the published book. It's not easy to keep things consistent in a webnovel of this length, so consider this just me nitpicking at details.

I love character personality reveals done right, and this one...just kind of fizzles, so I internally cringe translating stuff like "if this was the past" and "but there was no need to play pretend anymore." Oh my goodness, it just sounds lame unless you truly buy the author's words... (=.=)

(And also, how do you explain having an idiot daughter like Mu Linger? 

I can't shake off the feeling that Great General Mu and family were originally just supposed to be 1) battlefield-strong but politics-weak supporting character types that faded after HYX moved on to greater and better things, or 2) stay on as her loyal factions if MQW's earlier performances as an admiring love interest are any hint. I mean think about it--he had a whole character arc about HYX saving him before she even had any significant development with LFY! If that wasn't setting him up to be a second male lead, then what was it? 

Unfortunately, his character fell flat besides even more exaggerated "outstanding" men like GBY and GQS. One is a genius doctor/gentle scholar, the other a wily poisons/medicine master with a secret identity and flirtatious personality. Compared to them, poor MQW only has his upright morals, pure-hearted loyalty, and military bearing to give him "cool points." He'd be a great catch in real life, but pales in this fantasy-like wuxia world. Also, his family [specifically his sister] is such a pain in the neck that even if HYX wanted to marry him, her life afterwards would be a nightmare, ugh. No contest, right?)