Chapter 1288: [Linger] Lost

After leaving the border, Jin Zi returned to his tent and collapsed on his bed. This smuggling case had nothing to do with him, but for some crazy reason he put his life on the line to help Xu Donglin and the Court of Judicial Review capture men and grab evidence. Most regretful of all was the fact that he didn't get any news about Ning Cheng during the process. He would rather rush into Le Zheng's lair this moment to personally interrogate the man, but forceful violence wasn't his strong point.

He abetted Xu Donglin several times to arrest people, but the man didn't act rashly. Le Zheng was of Wintercrow Country and had a legal slave trade with the Mysterious Continent. Great Qin couldn't afford to convict him on his human trafficking. Meanwhile, although they had proof of Le Zheng colluding with the Jiangnan three clans, Great Qin couldn't do anything if Wintercrow Country didn't give the man up. The imperial court could only put down a grounding order that forbade Le Zheng or his people from stepping in Great Qin unless they wanted to be killed.

Actually, Long Feiye didn't put such a trifling Wintercrow Country in his eyes. He had once thought of using this as an excuse to annex the nation once and for all. But Han Yunxi stopped him. First, rashly sending troops to Wintercrow Country in winter would be like the strong bullying the weak; secondly, Le Zheng had a complicated background and business ties with Mysterious Continent. If this led to Mysterious Continent and Cloud Realm Continent falling out, the loss wasn't worth it.

Chu Xifeng was left in the Wintercrow Clan to secret investigate Jin Zi's origins and Ning Cheng's whereabouts. He also started tracking down Le Zheng's business dealings with the Mysterious Continent as well as investigating the Le Clan's strength. 

Jin Zi just wanted to know about Ning Cheng's location, so he could only wait.

He slept for one day and two nights out of pure exhaustion. On the morning of the third day, he groggily lifted his head, his hair like a bird's nest with bangs sticking upwards. Those icy eyes revealed themselves, looking especially pretty in his sleepy state and giving off the aura of a neighborhood big brother instead, rather cute. He rubbed his messy hair before lying lazily back on the pillow. 

After busying himself for so long, he wasn't used to having nothing to do after a good sleep. He looked blankly around the empty tent before his eyes suddenly grew listless at a thought. A long, long time later, he finally recovered his wits and rubbed his hair again, making it thoroughly messy before he climbed up.

His movements were quite big and knocked the pillow to the ground. As he prepared to pick it up, he saw a gold card sitting quietly on the bed.

It's…!

Her gold card.

The gold cards of Cloud Realm Continent were identical from the front, but the backs differed. Although Jin Zi only saw the front of this card, he still recognized it at a glance! After all, he had hid it in his robes for a year. He picked it up and confirmed his guess by looking at the back! 

After repeated thoughts, he finally shot the gold card out until it embedded itself in the pillar in the center of the tent. He cleaned himself up and went outside, busying himself for a day before returning in the middle of the night. The tent was huge and the gold card tiny, but it was still the first thing he saw upon walking in.

"Someone, come!" he said coldly.

A subordinate hurried over. "What are your orders, Your Excellency Jin?"

"Have you paid back the debt this Excellency owed?" Jin Zi asked icily.

"All cleared," the subordinate replied.

"And interest?" Jin Zi asked.

"All interest has been paid too," the subordinate answered.

Jin Zi stared at the gold card stuck in the pillar and asked, "What about the card? Did you return that too?"

The subordinate didn't notice the card and only felt alarmed. So master wanted to return the gold card to Miss Linger. "This subordinate placed the gold card under Your Excellency Jin's pillow. I'll take it out right away to return it," he said anxiously.

"Mm!" Jin Zi was expressionless.

The subordinate hurried to the bed but couldn't find the card after searching beneath the pillow! He picked up the pillow and saw nothing but empty space underneath!

"How could…" He was scared. He had cleaned this space everyday while the master was gone and the bed every two to three days. He even checked yesterday when he changed the sheets and the card was still beneath the pillow!

How come today… 

Terrified, the subordinate began to search all over the bed, but still couldn't find any trace of the card after flipping through the sheets. "Your Excellency Jin, did you…" he wanted to ask but shut up. If His Excellency Jin saw the gold card, would he be asking me in the first place? He's probably asking because he didn't see it.

"Your Excellency Jin, this subordinate really did put the gold card beneath the pillow, but now…" He was almost to the point of tears. "But, but now…it's gone!"

"Gone?" Jin Zi looked at him frostily.

"Your Excellency Jin, spare my life ah! The servant definitely didn't claim that gold card for myself! Even if I had the courage of Heaven, I wouldn't dare! Your Excellency Jin, please show insight ah!" The subordinate kneeled and begged. 

Still expressionless, Jin Zi said, "If it's lost, it's lost. Go tell Mu Linger so she can have Kangan Private Bank ban the card. We'll end things there."

The subordinate was quite surprised. He never expected Jin Zi not to blame him for something so serious. "Yes yes yes!" 

He was about to run out when Jin Zi added, "You better tell Mu Linger to ban the card quickly. If someone uses it, I'll pin all the debt on your head!"

The subordinate's heart almost burst out of his chest as he turned tail and ran. He used all sorts of speedy methods to find Mu Linger! That very night, flying messenger hawks sent out four letters to Medical City, Medicine City, Yunning City, and Pill Fiend Hall. 

After he left, Jin Zi looked up at the gold card buried high in the pillar before heading for bed. 

A few days later, the subordinate hadn't gotten any news from Mu Linger. He wiped snot and tears while kneeling in front of Jin Zi to ask for suggestions. "Your Excellency Jin, you can definitely track down Miss Linger. Please have mercy! Your Excellency Jin, Miss Linger isn't in Medical or Medicine City, or Yunning City, or Pill Fiend Hall. Can Your Excellency Jin guide this humble one?"

"She didn't go back to Medicine City?" Jin Zi asked.

The subordinate shook his head. "This one asked the Mu Clan. They all say Miss Linger hasn't returned since she left for Northern Li."

As Jin Zi knitted his brow, the subordinate went on, "I asked Vice Head Shen at Medical City and Grand Tutor Gu at Yunning City, but neither of them have seen her." 

Before Jin Zi could speak, the subordinate burst out, "This servant will ask Pill Fiend Valley's people next!"

But two days later, the steward of Pill Fiend Valley replied to say that Mu Linger hadn't been there in over two years. 

Jin Zi had a sleepless night.

Then next day, he received a personal letter from Han Yunxi questioning him about Mu Linger's whereabouts. She assumed Mu Linger had been staying in the military camp the entire time to wait for Jin Zi to plant medicine with her in the snowy mountains! Reading this, Jin Zi came to his senses and rushed out of the tent. 

It was currently cloudy and dark. Snow was falling heavily over the grasslands. Jin Zi looked into the distance, but couldn't see the nearby snow mountains. He was so angry he kicked the stone at his feet. "Mu Linger, just how stupid are you?!"

The snow-capped mountains of Northern Li were each higher and steeper than the last. Some of them had never been climbed and were worshiped by the local herdsmen as sacred peaks. In the northern part of the country, there were activities every winter held in honor of the mountain and snow gods.

Very few plants were suitable for growing in such mountains. Many more peaks hid valuable, precious herbs. No one had excavated them yet. Jun Yixie had developed three mountains in the northwest into planting grounds, right at the border of Wintercrow Country. These mountains weren't steep but very high and covered in snow and ice all year round. It wasn't easy to go up or down the peak. From what Jin Zi understood, Jun Yixie and the Mu Clan had teamed up to plant some very rare and special plants that could only survive in the snow. In other words, the medicinal fields were in the snowy mountains themselves. 

It was approaching the coldest time in Northern Li. A few days later would usher in several days of snow. It would be hard enough getting out the door, let alone getting down a snow mountain. Although Jun Yixie had opened up paths to the peaks, it was extremely dangerous for Mu Linger to travel there alone! Leaving aside the path, there were also wolf packs and snow leopards! Those wild beasts would definitely pounce on humans when they couldn't find any prey in the freezing cold. It'd be strange if Mu Linger wasn't torn to pieces!

Jin Zi's expression turned ugly the more he thought about it!

He suddenly whistled sharply to summon the big white tiger. But the usual prompt beast didn't show up immediately. Jin Zi whistled again, but there was no answer. Alarmed, he ran to the tiger camp near the tents, only to see the place empty and deserted.

"Where's the tiger?" he asked icily.

"It's been gone for days. It's probably…probably in the mountains," the guard replied fearfully. 

Big White was the leader of the tiger army, who usually lurked in the nearby hills. He was the only beast to live in the barracks and often ran to the mountains for a month at a time! Besides His Excellency Jin, no one else dared to approach the beast, much less control its movements. They were only responsible for delivering it roast meat daily.

Faced with the angry and anxious Jin Zi, the guards were very confused. 

Jin Zi's gaze grew complicated as he said, "I'm going to leave for a while. Have the lieutenants take care of matters in my place."

After arranging things, Jin Zi headed for the peaks. He asked around before discovering that Big White wasn't in the mountain forests. The very same day, he brought along ten white tigers and started for the snow mountains' medicinal fields.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

the [Linger] arc begins! woohoo, let's gooooo!