Seeing Long Feiye sitting unmoving, Han Yunxi’s eyes flickered with a complicated expression. She knew Long Feiye had let her do her duty because he had a private grudge to clear with Ning Cheng. She had no idea what he was planning for him and was a little perturbed. After all, the matter concerned both of their bottom lines.
On a typical day, Long Feiye would want to kill her if she exposed so much as a foot, much less…
She was even worried that he’d blind Ning Cheng’s other eye with his sword!
At this moment, Gu Beiyue rose to his feet. “Your Highness, princess, this subordinate will have to prepare some medicinal ingredients for use on the road. I will take my leave first.”
He purposely shot Han Yunxi a look, who recovered enough to remark, “Let me go with you, we can have Linger help us too.”
Gu Beiyue seemed afraid that Han Yunxi wouldn’t leave, because he even gestured for her to go first with his hand. Han Yunxi thus left the rooms and personally shut the doors on Long Feiye and Ning Cheng.
“Princess, let’s go,” Gu Beiyue didn’t coax her a whit.
But since he’d spoken, Han Yunxi knew she could stop worrying. Long Feiye shouldn’t do something as extreme as murder. She left with him for the rear courtyards.
“Have you checked Ning Cheng’s hand at all in the past few days? Is it really beyond hope? Did we see wrong?” Han Yunxi murmured in a low voice. Looking at Ning Cheng’s movements just then, they seemed very natural. She couldn’t tell he had prosthetics in his arm at all. Han Yunxi dearly hoped she and Gu Beiyue had been mistaken that night.
During the Spring and Autumn Period, there was a cruel form of torture called yuexing (刖刑) that cut off the prisoner’s feet. Because so many fell prey to the torture, someone invented prosthetic limbs. There were even traders that sold them as a business. In both Greek and Roman history as well as archaeological records, prosthetic limbs existed as well.
Cloud Realm Continent’s medical levels far surpassed any historical dynasties that Han Yunxi knew of. She was certain there was the art of crafting prosthetics in this continent, but Ning Cheng’s arm was made of flesh and blood! You couldn’t tell it was a fake at all!
Gu Beiyue helplessly shook his head. “Princess, there’s no mistake. This one gave him a careful examination again. Although the Ning Clan Head’s arm muscles are alive, his bones are dead and fakes. You can also call it an artificial bone. Although the treatment effects weren’t great, that doctor had some skills to preserve his flesh and blood. I am willing to help him, but unable to do so.”
Han Yunxi finally gave up. “Forget it, forget it.”
Gu Beiyue not only examined Ning Cheng’s arm, but his hand too. Naturally, he’d discovered the hidden acupuncture needle in the palm, but he’d never tell anyone as long as he lived. Back at the rear courtyard, Mu Linger was already picking through a delivery of medicinal plants from the shadow guards. All of them sported burn injuries in some way or another, so they needed to treat them. Moreover, they were planning to head for the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds after delivering Ning Cheng over to the army so they could lure Bai Yanqing out with Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. As a meticulous man, Gu Beiyue would definitely bring some common medicinal ingredients with them.
“Princess, shall this subordinate take your pulse again?” Gu Beiyue asked suddenly.
Han Yunxi wanted to ask him more questions, but relented in the face of Mu Linger. If that chatterbox of a girl heard him ask, she’d definitely end up spilling to not only Long Feiye and Gu Qishao, but Jin Zi as well. Unlike last time, Gu Beiyue only checked her pulse briefly before he said, “Princess, you have to rest as much as you can over the next two days. If you keep tiring yourself out, your body won’t be able to take it.”
“Is anything wrong?” Han Yunxi asked.
“Only a little issue with your blood and qi,” Gu Beiyue said while writing up a prescription. He had Mu Linger prepare it for him. “But little problems can add up to big ones.”
Mu Linger had been in low spirits recently, so she didn’t pay much attention to the prescription beyond picking out its ingredients. “What luck, we have them all here,” she said offhandedly.
Han Yunxi didn’t pay attention to this coincidence either. She figured that there was no hope for her this month. After drinking Gu Beiyue’s medicine, she’d try even harder next month! Long Feiye hadn’t mentioned this issue since, so who knows if he was worrying about it? Maybe he’d even forgotten by now.
“Princess, what are you thinking of?” Gu Beiyue asked.
“Nothing!” Han Yunxi recovered her senses as she looked towards Mu Linger. Immediately, she noticed that the girl had puffy eyes from crying again.
Suddenly, Mu Linger looked up. “Big sis, Ning Cheng’s awake, so can Jin Zi go see him?”
“Why?” Han Yunxi was puzzled.
“Big sis, Ning Cheng and Jin Zi have been master and servant for years. They’re also friends. Jin Zi...Jin Zi’s been concerned about Ning Cheng this entire time, so just let him see him!” Mu Linger urged. This couldn’t count as a lie, because Jin Zi had made this request in the past. Of course, she had a big selfish stake at heart too, and that was for Ning Cheng to convince Jin Zi for her.
“You can bring him later then!” Han Yunxi agreed easily. How could a foolish girl outwit her shrewd big sister? Han Yunxi wanted to seize this chance to let Ning Cheng sound Jin Zi out and ask what had happened between him and Mu Linger. More importantly, she was hoping Ning Cheng could convince Manager Jin to help them out. Whether or not he was from the Black Clan, his beast taming skills would subdue their cohorts for sure. With his help, Jun Yixie’s faction in Northern Li would surrender, leaving them less battles to fight. It would save suffering for the soldiers on both sides.
Manager Jin was filled with hostility towards them, especially herself after she’d taken his entire fortune from him. Naturally, it wasn’t good for her to step out, but Ning Cheng could talk with him slowly.
Seeing Han Yunxi agree, Linger was thrilled. “I’ll go call him right away!”
“Hold on, wait until tonight or tomorrow,” Han Yunxi stopped her.
“Does Ning Cheng need to rest?” Mu Linger asked.
“Your...your brother-in-law has business with him…” Han Yunxi thought a while, then finished, “To discuss in detail.”
“Oh!” Mu Linger assumed they had important things to discuss and obediently decided to wait. Gu Beiyue was crouching on one side, picking through the ingredients, when he glanced back at Han Yunxi. A faint smile rose to his features, both helpless and doting. How could Long Feiye simply be discussing things with Ning Cheng? Jun Yixie might have been all talk and no action, but men of action wasted no words in talk!
Long Feiye’s figure flickered out of sight before he punched Ning Cheng in the face. The impact sent him flying straight back onto the bed.
Long Feiye had been waiting for a long, long time to make Ning Cheng pay for tearing Han Yunxi’s clothes! He didn’t care how injured he was! Anyone who dared to bully his woman had to pay the price!
Ning Cheng spat out a mouthful of blood as he laid on the bed. Although he couldn’t get up, he somehow forced his body upright. As soon as he did, Long Feiye punched him back down again.
Ning Cheng got up again and Long Feiye punched him once more!
Three punches later, Ning Cheng was left sprawling on the bed, unable to rise. He had spat up a large splotch of blood that left his pallid face sickeningly white.
“Do you regret it?” Long Feiye finally asked.
“I regret it,” Ning Cheng replied honestly.
“This crown prince would rather you really teamed up with Jun Yixie,” Long Feiye said loftily from above. If that was the case, he could simply kill the man instead of thinking about the big picture.
Ning Cheng’s lips curved into a cold smile. “It’s a pity, but I didn’t!”
“If there’s a single battle lost during the northern expedition, this crown prince won’t be polite!” Long Feiye said. In other words, if Ning Cheng lost any battle, he wouldn’t agree to Han Yunxi’s offer to raising Ning Cheng to the title of king.
“Does this count as Your Highness Crown Prince avenging personal wrongs in the name of public interest?” Ning Cheng could still grin.
“Yes!” Long Feiye admitted it openly.
“Alright, I’ll remember!” Ning Cheng declared. Actually, he was very clear that if Long Feiye was sincere about abusing his powers to punish him, he wouldn’t even be alive today. If the man had wholeheartedly treated the Di Clan as his enemy, they wouldn’t have the chance to ally with East Qin, either. No matter how unresigned he felt, he had to admire Long Feiye’s magnaminty as a sovereign.
Although Northern Li’s political situation was chaotic and their troops had gained a huge advantage, how was it possible to guarantee victory at every turn? Only a miracle could make that possible. Long Feiye’s motives were clear: he wanted Ning Cheng to disappear from Han Yunxi’s sights forever after the war was done.
“Remember to return those violet robes to this crown prince!” Long Feiye still remembered that.
Ning Cheng wiped blood from the corner of his lips and replied as usual, “Alright!”
As Long Feiye turned to leave, Ning Cheng suddenly called out, “Long Feiye!”
Long Feiye ignored him.
But Ning Cheng next said, “Long Feiye, after the war, do you dare to meet me in a drinking contest? If you win, I’ll leave; if you lose, I’ll stay?”
He wanted to stay, at least to give his brothers who had passed away in the Di Clan some sort of explanation. They were with him when he fought for the kingdom; they couldn’t very well be forgotten once the kingdom was won. Because the ones in charge of managing the Di Clan, there were plenty of silent, respected brothers within it. Once he left, all of his brothers in the Di Clan would disperse as well, relocated to different troops and pushed out of their own army.
He also wanted to stay because of Han Yunxi, his princess. After East and West Qin became one, there would still be different power factions. The Di Clan was the princess’s only backer. How could he set his cares aside and just leave her?
Long Feiye stopped and laughed out loud. “Ning Cheng, if you want to have a drinking contest with this crown prince, take down Northern Li first. Remember, this crown prince forbids you from having a single losing battle!”
This was Long Feiye’s terms and his bottom line.
“Fine, that’s settled then! If I have no losing battles, I’ll ask you to prepare some good wine!” Ning Cheng proclaimed loudly.
As soon as Long Feiye left the rooms, he couldn’t hold back and spat up more mouthfuls of blood. Long Feiye’s three punches had been intense and almost knocked him out. If he hadn’t been clenching his left palm hard enough for the needled embedded inside to stab him, he would have blacked out ages ago.
His useless arm was a representation of his dreams for reviving a nation; his useless hand was a piece of his deeply-hidden heart. When an iron-willed, ambitious man set all of his softer feelings on a single woman, there was no other choice for him. Besides the dead Jun Yixie, Uncle Cheng, and Bai Yuqiao; besides Ning An who had always kept watch in the Tianning royal court, who else understood Ning Cheng’s heart in this world? Even Han Yunxi assumed he’d affronted her just for the sake of figuring out her identity.
She was a woman he wasn’t allowed to love, but could swear loyalty to for a lifetime. Was this punishment or redemption?
Neither. It was simply life.
He was willing to accept his fate, but also risk his life to defy it!
Before Mu Linger could bring Jin Zi to him, Ning Cheng had already sent someone to find the man himself…
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Okay but things aside I am super curious about the doctor who outfitted Ning Cheng with prosthetics. Who could she or he be? Isn't this the perfect place to insert an OC and make your own spinoff series? Hahaha....
Well, there's still a few hundred chapters of the novel left, so maybe we'll find out along the way.
Also, let me say this again: Ning Cheng is hecking awesome.