The person awaiting Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s arrival was none other than Bai Yanqing. He had been waiting since the beginning of spring, but his patience only brought him extremely bad news.
Han Yunxi, Long Feiye, Gu Qishao and Gu Beiyue hadn’t come to rescue the hostages or head north, but went to Celestial Mountain instead! Not only did they save the old sword sect master and two of the Honored Elders, but also made a mess of the Heretical Sword Sect members. By now, Heretical Sword Sect had been completely destroyed, leaving nothing but Heretical Sword Depository standing in its wake.
Bai Yanqing had no interest in either Celestial or Heretical Sword Sect. His primary motive was the Ganjiang sword! Now look, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had probably found out why their dual cultivation failed and the secrets of the Phoenix energy. Once again, his plans had come to naught!
More importantly, he couldn’t believe that Gu Qishao had gained control of the Moye sword spirit! When did he even find it? How was Gu Qishao bearing the pressure of the sword spirit before he had a blade to store it in?
Once Long Feiye and Han Yunxi gained the Ganjiang and Moye treasure swords, their dual cultivation was sure to succeed! When Long Feiye gained true control over his Lustbite energy, Bai Yanqing would be in danger. No matter what, he couldn’t allow this to happen.
“Master, wasn’t the Ganjiang sword resealed? Long Feiye can’t even subdue its spirit, so why should we entertain such groundless fears?” it was a black-masked subordinate who spoke.
Bai Yanqing only said coldly, “As long as the Lustbite and Phoenix energies combine powers, they can definitely overwhelm any ancient treasure blade. Those old fogeys at Celestial Mountain should already know this!”
Bai Yanqing now dearly regretted not having killed off the old things at Celestial Mountain straightaway. Although Celestial Mountain rumors said that Ganjiang had been resealed, Heavens knows if that was simply a cover-up by Long Feiye and Han Yunxi?
Hearing his master say thus, the black-masked subordinate fell silent.
“They definitely can’t get the Ganjiang treasure sword...definitely not!” Bai Yanqing had finally lost some of his eternal calm. He was planning to toy with Han Yunxi and Long Feiye, but now that his life was in peril, he refused to give them any more time.
“Have Duanmu Yao come here quickly. This old man wants to have a good long talk with Jun Yixie,” Bai Yanqing said.
Jun Yixie had such a great location with Tiger’s Prison and a hostage like Ning Cheng in his hands. Meanwhile, he had two hostages of his own, as well as Third Honored Elder, who was in Duanmu Yao’s hands. Such advantage would be enough to pressure Han Yunxi and Long Feiye to a dead end!
If he couldn’t interfere with their dual cultivation, he could still make them kill each other! As respective descendants of East and West Qin, how could they ever stay together if they went back on their generations of hatred?
A complicated look flitted across the black-masked subordinate’s eyes before he coaxed, “Master, keep calm. Isn’t it all too simple to kill them? Don’t forget how they’ve wronged you!”
Bai Yanqing gave a start at the words. After a while, he turned to regard the subordinate. “Hao San, when was I wronged? I have no grievances, only hatred!”
That’s right, the black-masked subordinate was none other than Jun Yixie’s most trusted agent, Hao San. He was actually Bai Yanqing’s closest subordinate who ended up following under Jun Yixie. Bai Yanqing had used him to see through all of Jun Yixie’s next moves.
“Master, to relieve hatred, we have to keep our composure!” Hao San said seriously.
“Master, Jun Yixie has already given up everything. Within three days, he will give the Di Clan an extortion letter. This subordinate guarantees it!” Hao San took off his mask to reveal a crafty smile. “Master, why not let Jun Yixie test them first? This way, we’ll be able to tell whether the Ganjiang sword is in their hands and what’s the deal with Moye.”
Seeing his master still hesitating, Hao San reminded, “Master, Moye’s sword spirit is in Gu Qishao’s hands. Could it be that they’ve casted its body long ago? One does not fear ten thousand possibilities, but the single possible reality. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi have plenty of talents and treasures in their hands, so it’s not difficult for them to find the metal required to forge such a blade.”
At last, Bai Yanqing relaxed from his nervous state into a sense of calm. As long as Han Yunxi and Long Feiye got the Ganjiang and Moye swords, their dual cultivation could be completed in one night! Thus, it was very important to figure out the situation first before they struck. Bai Yanqing didn’t say much, but patted Hao San’s shoulders to show that he agreed.
Han Sao hastily added, “Master, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi finished their dual cultivation process during the twelfth month of last lunar year. It is now the middle of the third lunar month, so they only have eight months left. As long as they don’t have Ganjiang or Moye, it’d be easy enough to delay them, right?”
As Hao San continued, he lowered his voice until the words were almost inaudible. Whatever he said agreed with Ban Yanqing, who narrowed his eyes and agreed with a ruthless expression on his face. After Hao San left, Bai Yanqing went straight into a building. This was one of the empty houses hidden on a sheer precipice and held Bai Yanqing’s hostages within.
Besides Han Yunxi, he was the only person capable of eliminating a swarm of tigers with poison within such a short time. That day at Tiger’s Prison, he was the mysterious man who attacked Mu Linger and the rest. She and Jin Zi had been his real targets along with Su Xiaoyu, but he had underestimated the man. At least he’d gotten Su Xiaoyu in the end, who was the most valuable hostage in his eyes!
The rooms inside the building were separate jail cells. Su Xiaoyu was locked up in the most hidden one, and he visited her daily for chats. Today as usual, he sat down crossed legged in front of her cell after hanging a lantern by the door. Su Xiaoyu was sitting inside, her body wrapped in chains. It was impossible for her to move and she even had to sleep sitting up.
“Girl, just answer one question for this grandpa and I promise I’ll let you go,” Bai Yanqing’s tone was kind and affable.
This girl had been tortured by Bai Yuqiao for so long but never revealed any of her secrets. He knew that even if he beat her to death, she wouldn’t say a word. For a stubborn little girl like this, one needed plenty of patience.
Actually, Su Xiaoyu greatly feared Bai Yanqing. She kept her eyes shut and told herself not to look at him. Maybe then, I’d feel less afraid? But whenever she did, she would recall the day of their failed escape.
Jin Zi had protected Mu Linger and the baby to flee from the scene, while Bai Yuqiao had wrapped her hands tightly around Bai Yanqing while telling her to escape with Ning Jing. But neither of them had any chance, because Bai Yanqing had poisoned Bai Yuqiao.
She and Ning Jing saw with their own eyes as Bai Yuqiao began to slowly melt away from head to toe like a snowman until she was nothing but a puddle of blood. Su Xiaoyu would never forgot the last look Bai Yuqiao had given her: so plaintive, so reluctant, so sad.
She couldn’t understand the meaning of that look, but she felt like Bai Yuqiao had something to tell her. However, she had simply ran out of time. Over the past few days, she had been pondering this question to get answers. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
Didn’t Bai Yuqiao save us because she had an agreement with Ning Cheng? It should be nothing but business.
Shouldn’t she be feeling regret or resentment before she died?
Why did she look so reluctant about me?
She tried to comfort herself by saying she must have seen the wrong expression, but Bai Yuqiao’s slowing melting form would enter her vision every time she closed her eyes. Like her, Bai Yuqiao had a set of large, bright eyes. Sometimes she even felt like she was looking at herself when she saw her.
Su Xiaoyu had no good feelings about Bai Yuqiao at all. Even if the girl saved them, she still disliked her. Still, she desperately wanted to know what kind of agreement Bai Yuqiao made with Ning Cheng. What was so important to Bai Yuqiao that she would betray both Jun Yixie and Bai Yanqing for their sakes?
“Girl, think it over carefully,” Bai Yanqing added.
Su Xiaoyu kept ignoring him, her brows creased into a line. She wanted to wipe away the pair of eyes in her mind, but failed.
“Girl, how about this? Grandpa will play a game with you,” Bai Yanqing smiled. “I’ll give you ten days to think it over. Every day you can’t decide, grandpa will pull out one of Ning Jing’s teeth. If you still can’t choose after ten days, I’ll end up with ten of Ning Jing’s teeth. Isn’t this a good game?”
“You’re crazy!” Su Xiaoyu raged.
Bai Yanqing’s eyes grew cold with his smile. “Looks like it’ll be extremely amusing. Someone come, bring over the pliers!”
Seeing Bai Yanqing rise to his feet, Su Xiaoyu immediately surrendered. “I’ll talk! I’ll tell you everything I know, but you have to promise me something!”
Bai Yanqing was very satisfied. “What is it? Tell me.”
“Bring Ning Jing here and lock her up with me. And also, I want two warm beds and three warm meals a day,” Su Xiaoyu declared.
Ning Jing had been tormented since she gave birth and had probably lost half her life by now. If Bai Yanqing pulled her teeth next, she’d definitely die! She could tell that Bai Yanqing didn’t plan to hurt her, but was going to use Ning Jing against her. No matter what, she had to do her best to preserve Ning Jing’s life.
Bai Yanqing laughed out loud at her demands. “Little girl, what makes you think you can talk terms with this old man?”
“Either agree to this or kill us outright,” Su Xiaoyu retorted back viciously. “Old coot, it’s easy enough to kill someone, but hard to keep them alive. Don’t think we’re afraid of death! I’m telling you now, both Ning Jing and I don’t fear it!”
Bai Yanqing had always heard of Su Xiaoyu’s stubbornness, but he had to admire her guts when seeing it firsthand. Laughing, he said, “Little girl, how about you come with me and I’ll take you as a disciple to teach you poisons?”
“None of your disciples had any good ends. Heheh, forget about it!” Su Xiaoyu actually broke out into loud laughs.
Bai Yanqing was finally incensed. “If you won’t accept this toast, then be forced to drink a forfeit!”
He was about to order someone to unlock the cell when Su Xiaoyu said, “As far as I know, my family’s master’s been looking for something else ever since obtaining the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion.”
Hearing this, Bai Yanqing dismissed the guards, but Su Xiaoyu only said languidly, “Old gramps, let’s play another game. I’ll give you two hours. If you deliver Ning Jing here along with everything else I requested, I’ll tell you what my master’s looking for. Otherwise...I’ll teach you a skill.”
She was threatening him!
“What kind of skill?” Bai Yanqing asked coldly.
“How to off yourself by your own hands!” Su Xiaoyu broke into wild laughter again.
Although she was chained up, she still had full control of her own life. If Bai Yanqing wanted her to live, she could kill herself instead!
That’s right, she was threatening Bai Yanqing!
4. FLASHBACK - HYX: “We’ll trick them by setting up a fake seal mwahahaha!” Honored Elders: “Why, that’s a brilliant idea!” | PRESENT - BYQ: “I mean, it’s pretty obvious where they’re going with this with all the super-specific powers in their hands. The seal is a fake, pssssh.” ( = . = )
5. This, ladies and gentlemen, is once again the powerful plot armor of the protagonists. Pray that you don’t transmigrate into a cannon fodder into their stories. Or that if you do, it’s only because you’re part of a cannon-fodder centric novel that features you. Only then can you hope to thwart fate.
6. This refers to the one-year deadline they have to finish up their dual cultivation completely or lose everything. It was brought up briefly in one of the previous chapters by the elders of Celestial Mountain.
7. While Ning Jing couldn’t have known she’d be wrapped up in all this mess, her situation here clearly shows how terrible it is to try and have a baby when the continent’s on the verge of war. It’s too bad some people on the front lines have chosen to go off birth control anyways in an effort to get pregnant cough HYX cough.
PGC Timeline: Alright, so I've been trying to figure this out and so far I've got...
- Mid to End of 10th lunar month: HYX and LFY seek out Pill Furnace Master and nearly lose their lives refining the Returning Dragon Pill
- Middle of 11th month: Heretical Sword Sect attacks Celestial Mountain Sword Sect with BYQ and takes it over easily. The Honored Elders and sect leader are imprisoned/poisoned while the other disciples of the lower 55 Depositories + Abstinence Courtyard are poisoned with a long-lasting sleeping coma. Sword and Scripture Depositories are among the traitors.
- 11th month: HYX, LFY and GQS remain in the Medicine Requesting Cave, recovering while Pill Furnace Master oversees the furnace refining their pills. During this time, HYX and LFY send a few letters to Celestial Mountain about their cultivation state, which are intercepted by BYQ and replied in Master Li Jianxin's handwriting.
- 12th month: HYX and LFY head back to Three-Way Black Market. They conclude their dual cultivation overnight in their rooms with GQS and GBY standing guard, but fail. They send another letter to Celestial Mountain about the failure, and BYQ replies in disguise again. GBY tells Tang Li about the "best time to attack Northern Li." Tang Li himself tells the Baili Army to go home and come back in late spring. After convincing LFY he's set on the new delay, LFY and HYX hosts a meeting with the Di Clan to tell them of the new plans too. Everyone celebrates the Lunar New Year with a small dinner, and LFY gives Tang Li, his wife, and his soon to be born child red packets.
- 1st month: The gang go off to Tang Clan's poison grounds to retrieve the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace and recover Fire of Ten Thousand Poisons. At Tiger's Prison, Manager Jin gets friendlier with the tigers.
- 2nd month: HYX and LFY go to Celestial Mountain to take care of their cultivation questions and find Chu Xifeng, who tells them the truth about the invasion from last year. They take back the mountain and gain the Ganjiang treasure sword, which LFY subdues. They only need the Moye sword before the 12th month of this year to successfully complete their dual cultivation.
Ning Jing's original due date is the 27th date of the 2nd lunar month, but she has Mu Linger make her medicine to induce early labor. Right after the baby's born, JYX's guards and midwives arrive a few days ahead of schedule. Luckily, Manager Jin sends tigers to scare them off and then escapes with the whole group. JYX finds out and captures Ning Cheng and Uncle Cheng, the traitor who gave him intel, when all the hostages escape. A mysterious figure comes and scatters the rest of the fugitives. Mu Linger, Manager Jin, and the baby end up fleeing with the lone surviving white tiger while Bai Yuqiao, Su Xiaoyu, and Ning Jing go missing.
- Middle of 3rd month (now): HYX and LFY make preparations to go up north even as Tang Li freaks out over the hostages being missing. Bai Yanqing is already on JYX's turf and making plans of his own. JYX failed to gain Ning Cheng's alliance after torturing Uncle Cheng and is now determined to stay here and make sure HYX and LFY die from his many, many, men and traps.
Mu Linger and Manager Jin have been living in a cave with two tigers and the baby girl, now nicknamed Tang Tang. Su Xiaoyu and Ning Jing are revealed to be BYQ's captives. Bai Yuqiao suffered a horrific death in an attempt to save them.
Now it's time for an important message. Some readers might be asking: does Su Xiaoyu ever find out that Bai Yuqiao was her older sister? The answer is below, but if you don't want to spoil yourself, just quick scroll down to the comments section and ignore this message. I made it small font so you can squint and miss it easily. ;)
So the answer is YES, but it doesn't happen in this book. Instead, it's around the middle of PGC's sequel novel. I will be translating the relevant chapter with that reveal RIGHT HERE within this week, so bookmark the link if you're interested!