Chapter 1196: To make a fool of

Ning Cheng’s disappearance raised a huge ruckus across Cloud Realm Continent. Even Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were left astonished. They were still discussing Ning Cheng’s garrison deployment choices when the news reached their ears. 

Ning Cheng had acted on his own initiative and stationed the Black Clan and tiger army into various locations in Northern Li, including the most important Three-Way Pass. Then he’d ran away. What did he mean by this?

Ordinary soldiers couldn’t handle a country like Northern Li. The Black Clan troops and tiger army were like snakes in their old haunts, while the Ning Clan Troops had become national heroes to the people there after rescuing them from the plague. Under these circumstances, Long Feiye had no choice but to hand over Northern Li to the Ning Clan troops. He was thinking of this long ago, or else he wouldn’t have let Han Yunxi take over all military matters related to the north. 

Private grudges were personal affairs, while military and politics were larger issues. Long Feiye had never mixed them in from the start and he wouldn’t now.[1]

The Ning Clan troops had to remain in Northern Li. Moreover, they needed to continue gathering the people’s trust while absorbing the strength of the Black Clan. As for Ning Cheng himself, it was his own business whether to stay or leave. If he won their drinking contest, he would be made the Northern Li King. If he lost, then Ning Cheng would have to recommend someone else with the skills to rule the Di Clan, the Ning Clan troops, and Northern Li.

Long Feiye’s main target of attack was Ning Cheng himself, not the Di Clan--and even less the Ning Clan troops who had fought all the battles and risked their lives to save civilians. So what if Ning Cheng left? Even if he didn’t recommend anyone to control the Ning Clan troops, Long Feiye could theoretically deploy their soldiers to various fortresses. But Ning Cheng not only left him hanging, but struck back hard enough to make a fool of him!

With Northern Li’s current circumstances, Jin Zi had become a critical figure for their connection to the country. Han Yunxi knitted her brows as she wondered what Ning Cheng was thinking. She told Long Feiye, “Jin Zi has always wanted to leave. He has no interest in the Black Clan, so he’ll definitely bring the tiger army with him when he goes. Moreover, the Black Clan troops…”

“They’re nothing but a wild, ambitious pack of wolves!” Long Feiye said coldly.

Jun Yixie’s personally trained troops couldn’t be outstanding in anyway. If not for Jin Zi’s fake “Black Clan heir” identity, it would have been impossible to bring them under control. Long Feiye wasn’t foolish enough to keep the Black Clan troops, so he’d disperse their forces eventually. But right now wasn’t the time. It was almost autumn. Once Mid-autumn passed, Northern Li would begin to get colder. Materials such as tents, quilts, and charcoal had to be shipped up from the south, but support was limited. To put it bluntly, Northern Li’s herdsmen would especially have to tighten their belts this winter.

At times like these, a single flicker of conflict could erupt into a blaze of mass chaos. In other words, this was the best time for those unscrupulous types to fan the flames. Long Feiye couldn’t touch the Black Clan troops and even needed to use Jin Zi to suppress them utterly.

Since Ning Cheng had left, there was no way Jin Zi could disappear!

A complicated look flickered past Han Yunxi’s eyes. She refused to believe that Ning Cheng would cause problems for her and Long Feiye on purpose. Even if he wanted to make things difficult for Long Feiye, why would he do the same to her? 

Currently, all of the major military factions and counselors were discussing Northern Li. They appeared to assumed it belonged to her as a powerhouse of West Qin and coveted it for themselves! Over the past couple of years, Northern Li had been nothing short of a mess, but once its grasslands begin to make business again, its battle horses would be enough to cast fear into any general’s heart.

Disaster relief depended on goods from the royal court and money from its national treasury. Whoever controlled Northern Li’s grasslands and horse farms then would harvest benefits for their army!

Actually, Han Yunxi had been hoping Ning Cheng would come back to accept his reward and vie with the other generals. During times of unrest, people’s hearts were united. But as soon as peace came, there was no avoiding conflicts of interest. The skills of a sovereign laid in balance. Long Feiye would be the future emperor. Even if he had biases in his heart, he couldn’t show any favoritism on the surface. Ning Cheng and the Di Clan would be his best excuse for refusing the various general’s demands to enter Northern Li. Although it’d be difficult to manage, it wasn’t impossible for Long Feiye. He ordered, “Chu Xifeng, has Xu Donglin returned?”

Xu Donglin had been borrowed by Gu Beiyue and was on call in Medical City the entire time. By now the doctor should have returned to the city himself.

“He’ll be here within the next two days,” Chu Xifeng replied.

“When he’s here, you’ll make a personal trip to Wintercrow Country. No need to follow the clues with the slave trade, but start with those who know the beast language. Jin Zi must have his origins!” Long Feiye said coldly.

They had investigated Jin Zi in the past by following up with the slave trade markets in Three-Way Black Market all the way up to Wintercrow Country. Nothing came from their search, so they stopped. Later on, Bai Yanqing’s matters delayed things.

Since Jin Zi knew the language of animals, there must be something else afoot if he wasn’t from the Black Clan. To truly control Jin Zi, they needed to know the man thoroughly. 

“Yes, this subordinate will make preparations right away,” Chu Xifeng accepted and left.

“I wonder how that girl Linger is doing,” Han Yunxi mused. She had Ning Cheng take charge of investigating Jin Zi but he hadn’t replied to her request at all. 

If he was going to leave, he should have finished obeying his orders first!

As they spoke, a guard reported from outside, “Your Highness, princess, Miss Linger asks for an audience.”

If this was Han Yunxi’s room, Mu Linger would have ran in long ago. But this was Long Feiye’s study, so Han Yunxi was probably the only one who could charge in uninvited. Meanwhile, little Rui’er was still too young to walk.

Mu Linger came in and looked skinnier than before, as Han Yunxi expected. Han Yunxi herself was trying to figure out how to lose weight after giving birth and had mixed emotions upon seeing her thin figure.

Mu Linger gave a proper greeting of “Your Highness” to Long Feiye when she saw him, but called Han Yunxi by the more intimate “big sis.” To this day, she still didn’t have the guts to call Long Feiye “brother-in-law” to his face.

Han Yunxi was planning to ask Mu Linger about Jin Zi’s latest news, but Mu Linge quickly exclaimed, “Big sis, Ning Cheng gave the indenture agreement to Jin Zi and he went back to Wintercrow Country!”

Both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye exchanged looks before she asked, “When was this?”

“Three months ago,” Mu Linger replied.

Long Feiye’s face froze over. What a Ning Cheng. He never mentioned something so huge. It also reminded him that he had no men of his own in Northern Li! There were plenty of possible candidates, but few were suitable for Northern Li. Now it looked like he’d have to send a few counselors into the military.

“Is Jin Zi coming back? Who’s been looking after the Black Clan for the past few months?” Han Yunxi asked hastily.

Mu Linger knew nothing about the military. She only knew that everything had been stable for the last three months.

Jin Zi’s gone and so is Ning Cheng. Who are we supposed to find to clean up the mess in Northern Li now? If Ning Cheng wanted to leave long ago, why did he accept the Northern Li expedition in the first place?

While Long Feiye was wondering whether he’d misjudged the man, Chu Xifeng came back with a surprising piece of news.

“Your Highness, Jin Zi requests an audience!” he had bumped into the way on his way out and was highly curious whether Jin Zi was here to see Mu Linger.

Long Feiye and Han Yunxi both looked at Mu Linger, who only seemed lost. “Ning Cheng...Ning Cheng said he’s been gone for three months! I only saw him once then, no more.”

“What’s he here for?” Long Feiye asked.

“He said he wanted to see the princess to collect her debt,” Chu Xifeng said hastily.

Collect debts? What did Han Yunxi owe Jin Zi? Everyone was confused, so Long Feiye immediately ordered Chu Xifeng to bring the man inside. Mu Linger’s gaze was evasive. She wanted to back out, but thought carefully and realized their appointment date had long passed. Jin Zi shouldn’t cause trouble for me here.

Still, Mu Linger wanted to leave. She was always straightforward and feared nothing, but at some point she started fearing meeting Jin Zi.

“Big sis, I’m leaving now…” Mu Linger muttered.

“What, you don’t want to marry him anymore?” Han Yunxi asked back.

Mu Linger finally realized her big sister had always held suspicions about her and Jin Zi! She looked away and said, “Not anymore...I, I don’t want to marry anyone so early! Since..since I’m fine, why do I have to get someone to look after me?”

“You really don’t want to marry?” Han Yunxi asked seriously.

“Really! Back then--back then I was just hotheaded. Now I don’t like Jin Zi anymore,” Mu Linger explained.

“Then you sit down. If Jin Zi starts demanding you from me, you can clarify things to his face. Otherwise, he might really think I owe him in the future!” Han Yunxi’s expression was stern. Mu Linger didn’t dare flee, but sat down in a chair.

Soon enough, Chu Xifeng brought Jin Zi inside. He was very thin and dressed in black robes, his hair cut short like the foreigners while faint bangs obscured his eyes. He stood tall with a cold expression. Although he knew Mu Linger was here, he never expected to see her in this room. Clearly surprised, he quickly ignored the feeling and greeted Long Feiye and Han Yunxi. “Your Highness, princess.”

“Where’s Ning Cheng?” Long Feiye asked.

“I want to know too. Unfortunately, I can’t find him,” Jin Zi intoned. “I’m here to collect my debt from the princess!” As Jin Zi looked towards Han Yunxi, Mu Linger, who was sitting by her side, lowered her head.

“What do I owe you?” Han Yunxi asked icily.

Mu Linger was calm, but once she heard Jin Zi’s words, she began to feel nervous and clenched at her handkerchief. But Jin Zi only said, “The debt is Ning Cheng’s. Since he ran off, I can only seek payment from you.”

Huh…

He’s not here because of us? Mu Linger subconsciously looked up at Jin Zi, only to see that Jin Zi’s gaze was calm and cool. He didn’t stare at her like before as if she was his prey.


1. I’m not sure if I’m missing something but didn’t an earlier chapter point out that LFY did by making that bet with NC to conquer Northern Li undefeated all by himself?

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Ning Cheng had acted on his own initiative and stationed the Black Clan and tiger army into various locations in Northern Li, including the most important Three-Way Pass. Then he’d ran away. What did he mean by this?

*throws up my hands* I mean, from one angle I get it. He wants to leave something for HYX and leave himself since he can't get the girl he loves or revive West Qin with her, y'know? I can't imagine him ever being resigned to serving under LFY like ugh, it'd be a slap to the face everyday to see your love rival ruling the continent with your crush and having babies together and all that sap, then bowing whenever you met him and pledging allegiance to him and his brood...

Yeah, I'd be out of there too, especially if I could ahem spite my love rival along the way by forcing him to leave my arrangements untouched in favor of strengthening my own faction's empress. Mwahaha.