Han Yunxi said, “Mu Linger is my most treasured little sister. I too, came to this decision after careful consideration. Head Elder, this northern campaign is crucial to our success or failure. You should know that neither East nor West Qin can afford to take risks.”
“But…” Before Head Elder could speak, Han Yunxi cut him off. “Besides the safety of the hostages, does the Di Clan have any other reasons to convince me with? This matter’s already been set!”
Ning Cheng didn’t give them any suggestions for the punitive expedition north. It was Long Feiye who first suggested going in spring, which had delighted the members of the Di Clan. In reality, Ning Nuo and Head Elder were both clear that the best time to head north wasn’t the start of spring, but the start of summer.
First, as Northern Li was located in the north of Cloud Realm Continent, it was chilly. Its early spring was akin to winter to the central and southern regions. Thus, the start of summer was the best season because all the ice would have melted. It also rained less than the south, making the temperatures just about perfect. Sending out troops then could avoid plenty of issues for soldiers unused to the climate.
Next, the end of spring, approaching summer was a ripe time for growing grass. What laid behind Jun Yixie’s forces was the southern and eastern regions of Northern Li. Once battle began, the horses’ feed supply would be affected by the fray.
Third, Jun Yixie and the Northern Li emperor were currently approaching a stalemate. It would save them a lot of trouble for the man to tire out his troops over the course of two to three months. Besides the hostages, Ning Nuo and the head elder couldn’t find any other arguments, much less things to convince Han Yunxi. Long Feiye drank his tea in silence while Han Yunxi waited patiently. Tang Li and Gu Beiyue were quiet as well.
Ning Nuo and Head Elder had made all sorts of preparations before this trip, but never expected Long Feiye and Han Yunxi to give them this! Although they couldn’t refute Han Yunxi, they found it hard to accept the situation. Perhaps it was now that Han Yunxi truly understood the “cruelty” that Long Feiye had undergone. Seeing the two men silent for so long, Han Yunxi added in a merciless tone, “Then we’ll do it this way. Have everyone nurture themselves well for the next few months so they’re thoroughly prepared.”
Head Elder was shaking his head while Ning Nuo was muttering. “Princess, suppose...suppose my big brother and Ning Jing can’t come back?”
“That won’t happen!” Tang Li leaped to his feet. “Definitely not!”
Ning Nuo laughed coldly. “How can you guarantee that? On what grounds?”
Tang Li’s voice was ice. “Then I’ll swear it on my life! If Ning Jing lives, I live, and if Ning Jing dies, I die!”
Ning Nuo was stunned. A moment back, he assumed that Tang Li had sacrificed Ning Jing for the sake of East Qin. Now he was rendered mute.
“Tang Li, remember your words today!” Ning Nuo said before tossing his sleeves and walking out.
“Young Master Nuo! Young Master Nuo!” Head Elder chased after him. “Young Master Nuo, how are we explain this to everyone else?”
Ning Nuo smiled sardonically. No wonder Long Feiye chased them all out. If the rest of them were here, they’d explode at the news. This left him and Head Elder to be outspoken by the rest. Now they were responsible for convincing the rest of the Di Clan too.
“Just say that those were the princess’s orders. Didn’t my big brother say that we’d listen to everything she said?” In the end, Ning Nuo ended up pushing the blame onto Han Yunxi. He had no other way since the Di Clan couldn’t launch a rescue on their own.
The rest of the Di Clan delegation rushed to meet them as soon as they emerged, but Ning Nuo stopped their questions cold. “We’ll take when we get back. Go!”
Everyone was lost, but seeing Ning Nuo’s unhealthy pallow, they didn’t dare to ask any more questions. Young Master Nuo always loved to smile, so something huge must have happened.
Once the Di Clan members were gone, Long Feiye remarked, “You and Tang Li will definitely gain infamy.”
“Let them talk as they please. I’ve got a guilty conscience, so they ought to speak upt,” Han Yunxi smiled freely.
A guilty conscience?
Long Feiye gave a start before he laughed out loud. “What a guilty conscience, indeed!”
He had heard his share of the saying, “having a clear conscience while letting others say as they please” as a form of solace, but this was the first time he’d heard of having a “having a guilty conscience while letting others say as they ought.” It was a magnamious statement. How many people in this world actually had a clear conscience? If one wasn’t guilty towards events, then it could be towards people or even oneself! Instead of blabbing about clear consciences, why not let people comment as they please while being aware of right and wrong?
Gu Beiyue looked at Han Yunxi with fond eyes mixed with admiration. The princess was as broadminded as any man! If she hadn’t ran into Long Feiye, she might have ended up as a female emperor in her own right. A discussion that should have started with swords drawn and bows bent was resolved in a few statements, courtesy of Long Feiye’s overwhelming momentum and Han Yunxi’s ruthlessness. Of course, Ning Nuo and Head Elder would have enough trouble convincing the rest of the Di Clan just by saying “the princess ordered it.” Heaven knows what kind of unrest would rise within their ranks.
But Long Feiye and Han Yunxi couldn’t deal with that anymore. Han Yunxi would wait until the chaos settled down before having Ning Nuo deliver another letter to Tiger’s Prison to inform Ning Jing of their choice. When the time came, it would be worth having Bai Yuqiao risk a message to Ning Cheng about the exact news.
Now that the Di Clan had been shelved, Xu Donglin spoke up. “Your Highness, princess, tomorrow is Lunar New Year’s Eve. Shall I pass on orders to make preparations?”
Han Yunxi had originally planned to spend the New Year with Gu Beiyue and Tang Li, but completely forgotten while being busy with other things.
“No need to make a fuss. Just have the kitchens prepare the traditional reunion dinner for New Year’s,” Han Yunxi instructed.
Tang Li was in no mood to celebrate at all, so he needed company more than ever. It was much better to share a table and eat and chat instead of leaving him to pine for loved ones far away. Baili Mingxiang overheard from the sidelines and didn’t say a word. However, she spent that night busying herself in the kitchens long after everyone else had gone to bed.
Towards dusk, Han Yunxi paid a visit to check on the greens before discovering Baili Mingxiang discussing soup options with the cooks. She didn’t bother anyone, but stood quietly on one side before finally calling out. “Mingxiang.”
Baili Mingxiang whirled around, surprised. “Princess…”
“Don’t hide in the kitchens tonight. Join us for a meal,” Han Yunxi said before she left.
Baili Mingxiang’s lips pursed as she wondered what to do. Did this count as the princess forgiving her?
When night fell, the innermost Violet Qi Pavilion of East Origin Hall was lit up by dazzling lanterns. Xu Donglin found a big round table out of nowhere, enough to sit seven to eight people. It was currently covered in delicacies and fine wine, each of the dishes a delectable treat that made one drool. Han Yunxi had long led Long Feiye to their seats in the hosts’ places. Tang Li sat next to Long Feiye with Gu Beiyue next to him. Gu Qishao had planned to take the seat by Han Yunxi, but she dragged Baili Mingxiang there instead, forcing him to sit by the other woman instead. Back in Tianning, Long Feiye was required to attend the banquet at the royal palace for New Year’s. Ever since Tianning broke apeart, Long Feiye spent his New Years with Han Yunxi. But besides that time in Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea, the rest had pass by so quickly that he hardly remembered to celebrate at all.
This year’s reunion feast was different from the palace banquets. There were less restrictions and more of a casual air. Still, Long Feiye was as taciturn as ever. Besides putting food in Han Yunxi’s plate, all he did was eat in silence. Everyone had taken Tang Li’s feelings into consideration and didn’t act too jubilant. Even Gu Qishao was very quiet.
After a while, Han Yunxi smiled and said, “Xu Donglin, bring the item here.”
While everyone was wondering what Han Yunxi was planning, Xu Donglin carried up a large copper plate onto the table. Red packets covered its surface. Han Yunxi gestured for him to place it in the center of the table before she grinned. “Our rich moneybags is handing out red envelopes for everyone. Come on, come on, it’s one packet per person. You can’t steal others’ or take any extras! The silver drafts inside all have different amounts, so it all depends on luck!”
So speaking, she grabbed an envelope first, but didn’t open it right away. Nobody else moved as they waited for Tang Li to take one next before moving around the table. As the brother to the main couple, it was technically his turn. But Tang Li only stared blankly ahead without stirring a muscle.
“Mingxiang, quickly, it’s luckier if you get one sooner!” Han Yunxi spoke up.
Baili Mingxiang felt this was improper, but she knew the princess wouldn’t say this without reason. Thus, she stood up and carefully picked out a red envelope before bowing towards Long Feiye. “Thanks to Your Highness for your grace.”
After she was done, Gu Beiyue took one with thanks as well. That was when everyone discovered there were still four red envelopes left on the plate. Only Gu Qishao and Tang Li were left because Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had given Xu Donglin and the other subordinates their red packets separately.
Why is there four of them?
A complicated look passed over Gu Qishao’s eyes before he grabbed one for himself. He had his own style of doing things and waved it at Long Feiye’s face without a bow. “Thanks!”
Now only three were left. Everyone was puzzled until Han Yunxi said, “Tang Li, your big brother’s passing out red envelopes.”
Tang Li smiled a little, although it was obviously forced, then picked one up.
But Han Yunxi then said, “Where’s your conscience? Don’t you know to get one for Ning Jing too? I’m going to tattle on you when I see her again.”
Tang Li gave a start before breaking into a genuine smile. This time, he looked a little helpless, but at least it wasn’t strained. He obediently picked up another red envelope, but Han Yunxi was soon cursing him again.
“The young man is unworthy of tutelage!”
Tang Li looked at her dumbly, clueless as to why she was scolding him.
Baili Mingxiang grinned. “Princess, this is the Tang Clan Head’s first time being a father. He’s not used to it yet, so you shouldn’t blame him.”
Even then, Tang Li didn’t get it.
Finally, Long Feiye opened his mouth. “It’s for your child. Take it!”
Tang Li then realized that his big brother and sister-in-law had not only prepared red packets for Ning Jing, but also the child in her womb.
Ah geez, I've missed little heartwarming scenes like this one... >u<
Do you guys have friends and family that always know how to treat you when you're feeling down?
Will be continued after I wake up! Zzzzz....