Although night had already fallen, Han Yunxi’s group didn’t loiter long but left Tiger’s Prison immediately. They had saved more time than they expected here. Currently, the Ning Clan troops were still attacking the Three-Way Pass. As soon as they left the mountains, Long Feiye received news that the attacks were progressing smoothly. Deputy General Xue estimated that it would take five days to take the pass. The 30,000 calvarymen were on standby in the battlefield already.
As long as news of Jun Yixie’s death spread, the Three-Way Pass might even collapse on its own. Moreover, southern Northern Li could fall into chaos too. Long Feiye had long taken the command token from Jun Yixie’s body and ordered someone to deliver it to Deputy General Xue. To the soldiers there, it would be amazingly great news.
Their group was currently traveling south and could meet up with Deputy General Xue. With Ning Cheng rescued, Han Yunxi didn’t need to fret over the alliance between East and West Qin anymore. Even if there were difficulties, she could hand them over to Long Feiye and Ning Cheng to handle. She was quite happy to be carefree. However, none of them realized that Bai Yanqing was in the very mountains as they headed south.
By the time they left Tiger’s Prison, Bai Yanqing had arrived with a black-robed attendant by his side--Hao San. Hao San knew that Jun Yixie had buried explosives in the place and wanted to die together with Han Yunxi’s group. Thus, he had long escaped. The rest of Jun Yixie’s subordinates either died or fled, leaving nothing but a sea of flames and Jun Yixie’s body behind. Ban Yanqing crossed over with quick steps and loomed at Jun Yixie from above.
“In the end, he was still this old man’s disciple!” he remarked.
“Master, what are the origins of that Manager Jin?” Hao San asked.
“There’s no way he’s a direct bloodline descendant of the Black Clan,” Bai Yanqing was certain. Just because the Black Clan could tame animals didn’t mean no other clans could, either. Bai Yanqing didn’t know about Manager Jin’s origins, but he was certain Jun Yixie was a direct bloodline heir to the Black Clan. Only the Wind and Black Clans had maintained close ties after the chaos of the Great Qin Empire. Jun Yixie’s father was one of his most intimate friends, so he couldn’t be mistaken.
Hao San knitted his brows at Jun Yixie’s undying stare and laughed coldly. “That Jin Zi’s certainly venomous!”
Bai Yanqing didn’t comment, but took out a bottle of poison and slowly poured it on Jun Yixie’s body. Very soon, the man was reduced to a bloody puddle as if he never existed on this world. Hao San observed his master’s expressionless face and felt a measure of dread. Jun Yixie could be counted as half a son to his master, but he had no sentiments towards the man at all.
“Master, looks like they haven’t obtained the Ganjiang treasure sword yet,” Hao San said next. Before escaping Tiger’s Prison, he had specially checked, but didn’t see any treasured blades in Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s hands. Bai Yanqing watched the raging flames, which highlighted his features, and chuckled affably.
“Whether or not they do, this old man won’t give them any more time. Hao San, go tell that Great General that Three-Way Pass is about to fall. It’s time to act.”
“Yes!” Hao San said with a thrill before departing.
What Bai Yanqing wanted to do, and which “Great General” he was referring too, would soon be exposed. Danger was drawing closer to Han Yunxi and her cohorts, but they had no idea.
Back at the town, Han Yunxi’s group switched for a carriage. Tang Li went to deliver little Tang Tang to the Tang Clan first before he would rejoin them. How could such a little baby run about busily like the adults? Han Yunxi and Long Feiye naturally shared one carriage. Besides Gu Qishao, no one else dared to disturb the couple. Despite this, Gu Qishao couldn’t affect them much either. He and Gu Beiyue shared a carriage with Ning Cheng with the latter in charge of the man’s care. Manager Jin and Mu Linger made up the last carriage, and the whole entourage adopted the guise of servants to head southeast from Skyriver City. Exhaustion had overtaken them, so they spent the night resting in their rides.
Han Yunxi was sleeping soundly when she awoke with a start. She could feel Lil Thing cultivating again. Although the sensation used to be murky, it was now getting much clearer. She knew that she was very close to breaking through the third level in the poison storage space. All she needed was a breakthrough.
Lil Thing must be lonely after being separated for so long. She thought of its large, bright eyes and felt miserable. Who knows when they’d meet again? After returning to the army and dealing with its affairs, then delivering Ning Cheng to the Di Clan, they had to figure out a way to lure Bai Yanqing out! Even if they couldn’t kill him, their present strength was enough to trap him in place. And if they could complete Moye’s sword body sooner, then they’d have even more of a handle on the situation.
Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi didn’t want to sleep any longer. She nestled into Long Feiye’s arms, afraid to move and wake him up. Sometimes, she suspected that he wasn’t sleeping at all. Why else would he know as soon as she stirred?
With no thoughts of sleep, Han Yunxi began to think wild thoughts and suddenly remembered something. Her “good friend” seemed to have come late this month as well. She quickly took her pulse, but was soon disappointed. Actually, the pulse differences for a woman in the early stages of pregnancy wasn’t very apparent. Unless one was an expert, it was impossible to tell. Han Yunxi knew this logic, but was still let down. She estimated that her good friend was simply late, nothing more. When it was less busy, she’d ask Gu Beiyue about it. This couldn’t go on!
Meanwhile, Mu Linger was also having a sleepless night. She leaned by the window and spaced out staring at the skies. She had no idea how she’d gotten this far. Jin Zi and her already knew that their rescuers were coming once the poison mosquitoes and snakes fled. Jin Zi said he could bring her to Wintercrow Country as soon as Han Yunxi’s group started fighting with Jun Yixie. Then they’d change their names and never come back. She had a huge fight with him and even tried to snatch little Tang Tang back, but to no avail. She cursed him as a baby-snatcher, but he only said that if he didn’t leave, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye would never spare him. Instead, he could promise to take care of her and the baby both if they left.
Without a choice, she could only beg him and talk terms. As long as he returned the baby to Tang Li and brought her to the group, then tell them the truth about Tiger’s Prison, she would definitely convince Han Yunxi to spare him. She would also marry him and go back to Wintercrow Country together. Jin Zi’s reply back then echoed in her ears now. He said, “Mu Linger, I can give you a year’s time. If Gu Qishao marries you within that year, I’ll just pretend you didn’t make any promises to me today!”
Jin Zi probably never expected that she had no hopes of Qi gege marrying her. It would be enough if he had a space for her in his heart. But Qi gege still hadn’t said a word even though she said she’d marry someone else. After getting kidnapped, experiencing dangers, and then being rescued, she should be relaxing now, but it was impossible. Stuck between Jin Zi and Han Yunxi’s group, she only felt very tired, but had no way to say the truth. She suddenly missed their days in Tiger’s Prison. Although they were prisoners, she could talk with Big Sis Jing at night and wait for their rescue together.
Manager Jin was sitting with his arms crossed in a corner, seemingly asleep but actually very alert. He slowly opened his eyes to stare at Mu Linger for awhile, but she never noticed him. Back at Three-Way Black Market, countless woman delivered themselves to him, some very clever and bright. He had no idea why he’d gotten interested in this one instead, especially when he hated stupid women. Manager Jin started to speak, but ended up exhaling and shutting his eyes.
At this moment, Gu Qishao suddenly came over and lifted the curtains. Loudly he said, “Lass, come here for a sec!”
Mu Linger immediately regained her spirits and said instantly, “Okay!”
It wasn’t until she got off the carriage that Manager Jin opened his eyes. But soon enough, he closed them again and sat there unmoving. Once Mu Linger got off the carriage, she followed Gu Qishao into his. Ning Cheng was still unconscious while Gu Beiyue was dozing off to the side, alert in case the man woke up. Seeing Mu Linger enter, he only glanced at her briefly before shutting his eyes again.
Mu Linger sat across from Gu Qishao, her favorite enchanting face, and finally felt her heart stop aching.
“Speak, how did that surnamed Jin trick you?” Gu Qishao got to the point.
Mu Linger thought for a while before deciding to sound him out. “He didn’t trick me, I was willing! I like him, I like him a lot!”
Gu Qishao arched a brow at her and fell silent. Mu Linger waited, looking calm but nervous inside. Even her heartrate had sped up. Finally, Gu Qishao said, “When did you start liking him? What do you like about him?”
“It was all Uncle Cheng up to dirty tricks after we got kidnapped. Jin Zi took good care of me and Ning Jing the entire way and agreed to all our requests. We got whatever we wanted and he even gave me hot meals for multiple days. At Tiger’s Prison, he found out about my fake pregnancy, but didn’t expose me…”
Gu Qishao shouted at her to stop right there and started rubbing his chin, confused. “Lass, what does Jin Zi see in you?”
“I don’t know either. Anyways, he likes me too, a lot!” Mu Linger declared.
Gu Qishao gave a snort. “Little lass, do you like anyone who treats you slightly well? How is he supposed to fight against your big sister if he doesn’t lure you first? How else could he get his indenture agreement?”
Gu Qishao leaned over and pinched her nose with a doting grin. “Foolish lass, why didn’t Qi gege realize you were so stupid before?”
Mu Linger really wanted to smile at him just like the past, but this time she didn’t. Growing earnest, she declared, “Qi gege, Linger is serious about this. Linger really wante to marry him. Jin Zi isn’t using me, he could’ve escaped long ago. Could a single indenture agreement be more important than his life? He knew he might lose his life if he came to find you guys, but he still brought me here.”
She steeled her heart and released the final blow. “Qi gege, help me convince my big sister!”
Gu Qishao withdrew and said with amusement, “Little lass, so...you really don’t want Qi gege anymore?”
Mu Linger’s heart felt like it was going to burst out of her chest. Unfortunately…
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Oh Mu Linger, you silly little fool....
Once again, Manager Jin proves he's a very sensible man. Eh, doesn't that make him a good match for our airhead Mu Linger? Hmmm....I’m a little flabbergasted that they’re letting Mu Linger and Manager Jin stay in the same carriage when the two aren’t officially married yet? I mean sure, she said she was going to, but that hasn't happened yet. And sure, she ruined her reputation by saying she had GQS's baby, but the group knows that isn't true by now. It breaks immersion from the "ancient setting" and its propriety values for me. I suppose it's for security reasons and because Mu Linger doesn't know any martial arts like Baili Mingxiang, but it's still a little awkward.
Moreover, if GQS and HYX still suspect that something's up or that Manager Jin's threatening Mu Linger somehow, would they really let the two stay together unattended? Wouldn't HYX at least try to separate her cousin away, or stay with her a night to have the talk they wanted to the day afterwards? I'll attribute this oversight to the group's exhaustion, I guess. But my biased eyes just sees "ah, HYX's lost in her own worries and world with LFY again, as usual." Dang it, the woman still wants to get preggers at a time like this! SMH.
If you've missed it, don't forget to check out the parody PGC visual novel I coded for everyone in honor of April Fools! The download link is live in this announcement post.