Baili Mingxiang gave Zhao mama none other than a list of foods.
“Mama, I was in charge of the princess’s meals for the past half month,” she explained. “These are things she likes, dislikes, and what makes her nauseous.”
Zhao mama was overjoyed. “Good good, excellent! I’ll study it carefully later.” Today she’d prepared all sorts of dishes and soups just because she was worried they wouldn’t suit the princess’s appetite. Pregnant women sometimes lost their appetites before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or in late pregnancy. In any case, there were vast differences.
Zhao mama hadn’t served the princess in a long time, so she wasn’t clear on her situation. With Baili Mingxiang’s list, she suddenly felt more at ease. Baili Mingxiang spoke with Zhao mama about a few more things, specifically details regarding everyday life. The old woman took them all to heart.
Zhao mama couldn’t help but feel regretful. How wonderful it would be if this girl could just stay by the princess’s side. But when she pondered it in detail, she realized there were only two possible paths with that choice: either Baili Mingxiang would have to be one of His Highness’s concubines or remain a servant for the rest of her life.
Leaving aside the royal family, even normal wealthy ones had servant girls who married into the clan. Unfortunately, Zhao mama was very clear that it wouldn’t work in His Highness’s case. Miss Mingxiang’s prospects would only be delayed if she stayed here.
“Has little Yu’er written any letters? She’s been gone for so long,” Zhao mama asked carefully.
“Not yet. It’s a far way from Medical City to the Mysterious Continent. I heard Guard Chu say that they have to cross the snowy mountains of Northern Li and the Ice Sea. She must still be traveling,” Baili Mingxiang replied.
“That girl...aye, I rather miss her,” Zhao mama sighed.
Baili Mingxiang didn’t linger, but left after a couple more exchanges. Meanwhile, Zhao mama took a careful look at the list and saw that the number one item on the “Nauseous” list was old hen.
Zhao mama paled. After all, she had prepared lots of old hen soup today! There was old hen soup with Chinese yam, with pork belly, with ribs, with red carrots, with water chestnuts, and pure chicken soup on its own. In any case, all of the hot dishes centered around old hen meat.
“Not good!” Zhao mama cried and hurried to the kitchens. Naturally, she was going to make new soups.
As a result, Han Yunxi had a very comfortable meal tonight while Chu Xifeng and the ten or so shadow guards with him all drank chicken soup. Long Feiye joined them.
After the meal, Long Feiye told Han Yunxi, “That soup wasn’t bad.”
“You think so too?” Han Yunxi smiled. “Do you know what tastes best of all?”
“What?” Long Feiye asked curiously. Han Yunxi was a foodie, so whatever she liked had to be excellent.
“Lobster stewed with old hen. Have the mermaid soldiers catch some from Fishery Island. You have to taste it!” Han Yunxi said seriously.
“Alright,” Long Feiye agreed easily. Han Yunxi almost laughed out loud; fortunately, she held herself back.
After the meal, Long Feiye was planning to stay put when Han Yunxi said, “Baili Yuanlong is still waiting for you.”
“He’ll come if there’s an emergency,” Long Feiye said. He had prepared a huge tent at Rear Camp just for meetings. It was big enough to hold about a dozen people because there were less than ten men who held the right to speak with him directly in the Baili Army.
Baili Yuanlong had brought twenty or so deputy generals to welcome them to camp. If he didn’t seize this chance to show the man his severity, when would he ever? Although the Yunning army camp was an important location, he wasn’t tied to this place. He could head straight fo the western battlefields or the war grounds of Northern Li. By settling down outside the main camp here, he could 1) give Han Yunxi a quiet environment and 2) tell the world’s people that he wasn’t biased towards the Baili Army, and 3) inform Baili Yuanlong and his subordinates, especially, that despite their massive military strength, he didn’t favor or fear them.
Next on Long Feiye’s agenda included reviving the Great Qin Empire as well as a whole new kingdom and dynastic rule. Besides the battles with the west and Northern Li, everyone was interested in the ranks and positions conferred to chosen lords and civic and military officials for the new kingdom.
Long Feiye wanted to tell the world that he had the skills and courage to stand independently without cozying up to any specific faction!
Han Yunxi’s gaze grew complex. Without needing to ask, she could more or less guess his thoughts. When Long Feiye prepared to head for the meeting tent, she immediately followed after him. He glanced at her wordlessly, his gaze profound.
Han Yunxi only chuckled. “Xu Donglin’s letter should be arriving today. I’ll wait until I get his message before I rest.”
Xu Donglin’s letter had long arrived. As a top-secret missive, it described how Gu Beiyue was hunting down the three poisonous medicines cultivated from the bloodstream of plague patients. He discovered that small scale plagues had broken out in the chaotic western regions. The patients exhibited similar symptoms to the ones Gu Yuntian chose in the past, so he had personally rushed to the scene to collect samples. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao was still combining medicines back in Medical City.
Gu Beiyue had coaxed him multiple times to let Mu Linger come help, but he refused. In some ways, Gu Qishao’s reasoning was sound. If Mu Linger found out the truth, she would lose all calm and do nothing but cry. She couldn’t be any help. Moreover, anything Mu Linger understood in terms of medicine, he did too.
“Alright,” Long Feiye agreed to Han Yunxi’s request.
Once they arrived at the big tent, Han Yunxi saw three big piles of letters waiting on the desk. Long Feiye currently lacked a trustworthy subordinate by his side to go through them and take care of the ones that didn’t need his personal attention, like Gu Beiyue.
With all factions unstable and vying for power, it was very difficult to find anyone with a neutral stance! Han Yunxi knew that she would have to do such tasks in their place and hoped that Xu Donglin’s letter would arrive late.
When Long Feiye sat down, she moved to sit across from him and picked up a stack of letters. Long Feiye arched a brow at her, but lowered his head before she could explain. Without a doubt, he knew it was useless to coax her. Letting her see the letters was no issue as long as she didn’t sit here for too long.
The expansive tent was very quiet and husband and wife each buried their head in letters. Han Yunxi soon filtered out a stack of them for Long Feiye.
“I’ve taken care of these on my own initiative, but the rest are urgent matters that require your personal attention,” she said.
“Mm,” Long Feiye acknowledged. He didn’t look up, still absorbed with his own pile. Han Yunxi leaned back in her chair to study his quiet face. Everyone said women looked beautiful when they were concentrating, but men also possessed their own unique charm under the same circumstances. Despite all the years they spent together, she was still entranced by Long Feiye’s looks.
Her gaze drifted to an empty chair nearby as she muttered, “Long Feiye, if we have a son, let’s let him sit next to us in the future. He can help you go through this letters, all right?”
Long Feiye was still reading his letters, but replied immediately. “Alright.”
Han Yunxi smiled and didn’t disturb him, but he soon looked up and said, “Why hasn’t Xu Donglin come with the letter yet?”
“He should be here soon?” Han Yunxi began to fret. “Long Feiye, let’s talk about Northern Li.”
Long Feiye had already spread word to the western regions that he wanted to end things peacefully. As a result, the various generals stationed there were trying to negotiate with the Western Zhou emperor while guessing at his thoughts. That meant Long Feiye didn’t need to worry about them for now. He could let them vie amongst themselves and wait for the final conclusion.
The war for Northern Li was more of a headache. According to Long Feiye and Ning Cheng’s secret agreement, Long Feiye would pounce on the man if he had a single defeat in Northern Li. Ning Cheng wanted to challenge Long Feiye to a drinking contest in return, but that was only possible if he conquered Northern Li undefeated.
Currently, Ning Cheng had already taken down half of Northern Li without a single defeat, but therein laid the problem. Ning Cheng wanted to drag on the war by waiting until next summer to lead troops north. The reason was simple: Northern Li winters were bitterly cold, especially up north. Many divination masters had predicted that this year’s winter would be especially harsh.
If that was the case and Ning Cheng kept heading north, he’d arrive during the coldest month of the year. Northern Li’s far reaches were located on an endless plain atop a high plateau. It was swampy lake ground that would freeze over in the winters. With plummeting temperatures, it’d be difficult to supply goods or adjust one’s body to the weather. Moreover, Ning Cheng’s troops who held experience fighting in snowfields had never fought on ice before. If there were ambushes lying in wait, they would be screwed. Even with Jin Zi’s tiger battalion as support, there was no way Ning Cheng could win.
Unless he was absolutely certain, Ning Cheng wouldn’t take the risk. This wasn’t just because of his bet with Long Feiye, but also because he disliked seeing his soldiers die. As the sovereign, Long Feiye would naturally deal out merits and rewards in exchange for their accomplishments. How could Ning Cheng let his men die on the verge of receiving their honors?
His Di Clan had no interest in conquering the world, nor would the West Qin imperial clan ever claim its lands again. However, his soldiers who had given their all to ensure the kingdom’s peace, who had let their blood flow all across the continent, deserved to get what they earned!
No matter what happened in the future, or who won between him and Long Feiye, or whether his men would follow him in the future or be scattered to other battalions, Ning Cheng wanted to do his best to protect their lives and win them glory and honor.
Thus, he had steeled his heart to stop advancing until next spring. Meanwhile, Long Feiye kept getting letters coaxing him to let Ning Cheng’s army fight as the foreguard while the Baili Navy supported them from the seas. They wanted to force Northern Li’s emperor into a surrender before winter fell.
“What do you think?” Long Feiye asked Han Yunxi.
Writing about all these side characters basically wrapping up their story arcs and saying goodbye really gives me the sense that the world revolves around the ML and FL. Once a side character's done playing their part for the plot/love drama/shenanigans, they go bye-bye for a bit....
...or they're caught fighting for their lives and their rights under the intimidating canopy of the main characters and their power factions.
Honestly, I seriously admire Ning Cheng. For all his flaws, he's a hard worker and true to himself. I guess it helps that I think he's suffered enough for his mistakes, to the point of self-inflicting his own punishments...sigh.