Han Yunxi’s lips curved into a cold smile as she stared at Long Feiye and Gu Qishao. What an interesting pair of fellows. They didn’t even ask me before deciding in my place. What does this count for?
After Long Feiye and Gu Qishao came to a consensus, Tang Li happily slapped his thighs. “That works! Then when are we going to rescue them?”
“It doesn’t work!” Han Yunxi finally lost her temper. “Don’t you guys forget, Bai Yanqing’s still hiding in the shadows. We’re the ones in the light!”
As soon as the East-West Qin alliance headed north, Long Feiye’s whereabouts would be exposed. Bai Yanqing could seek him out at any time and he and Jun Yixie both knew poisons. With her and Gu Qishao gone, who was supposed to fend off poison attacks? How could she leave him without worrying? Moreover, it’d be even harder to keep the Di Clan troops in check without her there, making communications between the allies difficult. Although she had no absolute dominance over the Di Clan, her presence as the princess would keep them in check.
Han Yunxi had no idea how this group of men could come up with such a stupid suggestion!
Gu Qishao didn’t care about anything else beyond Han Yunxi’s own safety, which was why he could turn his back on the world for her sake; Long Feiye cared about many things but also Han Yunxi’s safety, which was why he chose to shoulder all of the pressure and dangers while thinking of the bigger picture and her sake. He had already mentally prepared to face Bai Yanqing and Jun Yixie alone. Before, he and Gu Qishao had talked it over. Although they couldn’t kill a man who was effectively immortal, there were ways to pin him down. When it came to Jun Yixie, his present martial arts skills would make it a challenge for the other to poison him. For things like the East-West Qin alliance and the northern expedition, the loss of Han Yunxi would bring more troubles, but he was confident he could deal with them. The Phoenix energy was an unknown existence. How could he allow it to remain so long in Han Yunxi’s body unchecked?
Faced with Han Yunxi’s wrath, Tang Li could only suppress his anxiety and didn’t dare to speak. The rest of the group had fallen silent as well.
In the end, Long Feiye remained stubborn. “This is how it’ll be!” he stated coldly.
“I object!” Han Yunxi retorted.
“Your rejection is null. The bigger picture is more important!” Long Feiye was extremely stern, but Han Yunxi grew sterner.
“If the bigger picture is more important, then I have to stay! After we quell Northern Li, we’ll head up to Celestial Mountain together!”
“Impossible,” Long Feiye refused to budge an inch. Once the northern expedition began, it’d drag on for a couple years.
“In any case, I’m not leaving!” Han Yunxi persisted.
Long Feiye didn’t speak, but furrowed his brows as he stared at her severely. Han Yunxi allowed him to glare while peering into his eyes. Still, as time passed, she saw no signs of him relenting. Such a cold and dominating Long Feiye felt like a stranger to her, almost as if they had returned to a few years ago when they first met. At most, she would fear his frostiness then, but now it only made her heart feel miserable.
“Long Feiye, these are my personal affairs. Don’t I have the right to make a choice?”
“Han Yunxi, you never listen to my words. Can’t you listen to them this once?”
Both of them spoke at the same time, each standing on opposite sides. Then they fell silence as the surrounding crowd stared on mutely. In the end, it was Gu Beiyue who made a suggestion.
“Your Highness, why not try inviting the three Honored Elders off the mountain?”
If they couldn’t go up, surely the sword sect master and honored trio could come down.
“It’s impossible for the three Honored Elders to descend the mountain,” Long Feiye replied. If they were willing to come, they wouldn’t be arguing here in the first place. Long Feiye simply gave up on fighting with Han Yunxi and made an executive decision. “It’s final. Contact Myriad Merchant Hall’s Council of Elders. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the rescue mission and the punitive expedition to the north!”
Han Yunxi didn’t argue, but stood blankly in a daze, her thoughts unknown. Long Feiye left as soon as he finished speaking, but paused by the exit to the courtyard to look back at her unmoving form.
“Han Yunxi, you’re still not leaving?” he asked coldly.
“I’m not,” Han Yunxi’s voice was cold too.
A heavier silence fell upon the yard. Even the north wind beyond the courtyard seemed to abruptly die down. Long Feiye’s chilly face grew even colder, but Han Yunxi simply turned to head for the house. “I’m tired, so I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to catch up on some sleep.”
Then she shut the door behind her. Long Feiye turned on his heel and stalked off. The people he left behind exchanged looks, but didn’t dare get involved. Did this count as a fight? No one knew what to do. Gu Qishao was the first to leave, perhaps off to catch up on sleep himself. Gu Beiyue left with Tang Li, who was quiet the entire way. Inexplicably, he ended up following the doctor to his rooms.
“Tang Clan Head, you’ve had a weary time of traveling. You should go back and rest.”
Gu Beiyue’s words stirred Tang Li to his senses as he realized he was in Gu Beiyue’s courtyard.
“Gu Beiyue, should I wait until they’re back from Celestial Mountain before asking them to launch a rescue mission?” Tang Li asked with his head bowed. Gu Beiyue couldn’t see his expression, but knew he didn’t want to say such words at all.
“Tang Clan Head, do you want to hear the truth, or a lie?” Gu Beiyue asked patiently.
“A lie!” Tang Li said without hesitation.
“If it’s a lie, then there’s no need for me to speak. You should just go back and rest,” Gu Beiyue smiled helplessly.
“You should tell the truth,” Tang Li finally raised his head.
Gu Beiyue was a very compassionate man, but he could also be ruthless. His compassion came from his doctor’s pity, while his ruthlessness stemmed from his bright and transparent heart. He would always be calm and see things as they were, without interference. He was so clear that he could have been a mirror, restoring things and people to their true selves.
He said, “Tang Clan head, the fact is that both His Highness and the princess were wrong about this matter from the start.”
“What does that mean?” Tang Li was surprised. If not for the Phoenix energy, everything would have proceeded as planned. Big brother and sister-in-law had even come back ahead of schedule! They had plenty of time to prepare!
“Tang Clan Head, His Highness and the princess had already made an incomprehensible choice by deciding to set the rescue mission and northern expedition in the beginning of spring. This one believes that if Ning Jing hadn’t been pregnant, His Highness would never make such an idiotic decision,” Gu Beiyue began.
Tang Li immediately grew agitated and wanted to retort, but Gu Beiyue blocked him to continue. “Tang Clan Head, the East-West Qin alliance would certainly gain dividends if they headed north after spring arrived. However, the beginning of spring isn’t the best time to attack. When the snows start to melt and the weather is still chilly, battling under such conditions might be even more dangerous than a winter war.”
Tang Li froze at his words. Why hadn’t he thought of that? Although he didn’t understand the art of war, he knew how weather affected battleground conditions.
“Tang Clan Head, the Di Clan is like you, anxious to rescue their people. However, they’re more impatient to save Ning Cheng, not Ning Jing. Thus, they agreed to head north as soon as spring arrived. Yet all of the East Qin forces objected. In their eyes, the best time to head north is the end of spring and the beginning of summer.”
Gu Beiyue mentioned this because Long Feiye had expended massive effort to convince the major generals of the Baili Army and south central regions to head up north in spring. One could well imagine what that must have been like. Still, Long Feiye had never brought it up, so few people would have known of his difficulties without Gu Beiyue stating the facts.
Tang Li was now silent, but Gu Beiyue wasn’t finished yet. Actually, he was planning to coax Tang Li soon after seeing Long Feiye and Han Yunxi part on unhappy terms, which was why he didn’t bother nudging the man who had followed him all the way home.
“Tang Clan Head, His Highness and the princess failed on the final stage of their dual cultivation and still cannot find the cause. You are a martial arts practitioner as well, so you should know such things cannot be delayed. Matters of internal energy mean that an injury will be severe once done. Although His Highness told the princess to head up the mountain first, he’ll be in danger too,” Gu Beiyue stated sincerely.
Tang Li was no fool. He knew Gu Beiyue was saying all this to show him the reality: his big brother had prevailed over all objections and was facing a serious threat to his own life just to help him save Ning Jing sooner. At last, the clueless Tang Li understood everything and had to sit down. He buried his head in his hands and fell all the pressure of making a choice crashing onto his shoulders.
After a while, Tang Li managed to ask, “Doctor Gu, are you coaxing me to give up?”
Gu Beiyue nodded honestly. “Yes.”
“Ning Jing will give birth in the second month of the new year…” Tang Li mumbled.
If the war campaign was delayed until the end of spring, then they would have to rescue Ning Jing after she gave birth. Leaving aside the question of whether that’d expose Mu Linger’s fake pregnancy, there was also the fact that Jun Yixie would assume the child was Mu Linger’s and take it away from Tiger’s Prison. Tang Li really wasn’t an idiot. Everything was negotiable before a war began, but once it did, the main goal of the East-West Qin alliance would be wiping out Northern Li with no exceptions. When the time came, it was very possible that they’d give up on the hostages entirely.
“Doctor Gu, Ning Jing will give birth in the second month of the new year…” Tang Li stubbornly emphasized the time. “She’ll give birth in the second month...the second month…”
“I know,” Gu Beiyue’s eyes were filled with compassion. He was very clear what this would entail, but his words held no mercy. “Tang Clan Head, this one isn’t coaxing you to make any particular decision; however, this one needs to tell you the truth. As the leader of the Tang Clan, you should know the whole story.”
Tang Li didn’t reply beyond muttering Ning Jing’s expected delivery date to himself.
“Tang Clan Head, go back and rest,” Gu Beiyue lightly patted him on the shoulder before retreating to his rooms.
Tang Li turned to leave as well, his expression wooden. He slowly passed through every courtyard in East Origin Hall, walking in multiple circles. By the time it grew dark, he ended up on Han Yunxi’s doorstop. Seeing the lights on indoors, he stopped to sit by the entrance. Although he was old, he’d never stopped to think of “adult affairs” before. Now he finally knew what it meant to “grow up overnight.”
Late at night, the lights were still on in Han Yunxi’s rooms. Tang Li finally rose to his feet and rapped lightly against the door. “Sister-in-law,” he said, “Can I ask you a question?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
This is my favorite version of Gu Beiyue by fair. Kind and compassionate, perhaps a little weak, but still having a heck of a spine and ruthless when he needs to be.
And oh my goodness, Tang Li...is becoming an adult. :')