Chapter 409: Definitely taking liberties Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
There were plenty of troubles in the wake of Fishery Island. Add that to the matter with Mute Granny and the threat of the Seven Noble Families, and Long Feiye was left a very busy man. It was a mystery where he’d gotten the whim to take Han Yunxi sightseeing.
Han Yunxi had no idea how busy Long Feiye was, but even she could tell in the midst of her cheer that this spring sightseeing tour couldn’t be that simple. Still, reality proved that Long Feiye really did end up accompanying her for a walk. The two of them climbed into a spacious open carriage before Long Feiye took Han Yunxi’s hand and rested it on his knees, the motion easy and natural. Han Yunxi only glanced at their hands with an inexplicable feeling. Their interactions had always been calm and simple, without any hint of impulsiveness or solemn pledges of love. If anything, they were like a pair of strangers who’d just gotten to know each other. But sometimes there’d be little actions like this that made her feel like they’d been together for half their lifetime.
She placed her other hand gently over Long Feiye’s own and leaned against his shoulder. “Your Highness…”
“Mm?” Long Feiye replied.
“Nothing, I just wanted to call you,” Han Yunxi smiled lightly. She couldn’t see Long Feiye’s expression from here, but he fell silent.
A little while later, Han Yunxi murmured again, “Your Highness…”
This time, Long Feiye didn’t answer her. Han Yunxi pursed her lips without comment, but after a short while she suddenly cried out, “Long Feiye!”
Long Feiye still remained silent, but Han Yunxi felt his hands stiffen. She couldn’t resist bursting out into laughter. Finally, he asked her coldly, “You’ve grown bolder today?”
Although his voice was chilly, Han Yunxi had long stopped feeling afraid of him. In the past, she’d always doubt herself, but his ornery temper now had no effect on her. Most likely, she’d already forgotten the serious consequences of provoking Long Feiye like she did when they were back at the black market. Right now, she was still giggling over her mischief. This was no prank, but outright teasing the Duke of Qin! Long Feiye turned to face her, his stern expression schooling her features into silence. Despite all this, traces of laughter still lingered in her eyes.
“You’re in a good mood?” he asked as he arched an eyebrow.
Han Yunxi nodded her head. This was their first time going out to purely sightsee. If this was modern times, she’d call it a date, right?
“Do you want to feel even better?” Long Feiye asked next.
Han Yunxi felt a bit confused. She still hadn’t grasped his meaning when Long Feiye cradled the back of her head and leaned forward to press his lips against hers. It was a forceful kiss, almost punishing in its intensity. Despite that, she boldly returned the gesture. Caught up in the moment, the two of them subconsciously lost themselves to their emotions. Although he was holding onto her head, she still couldn’t help but lean backwards from his attack. Instead of holding her up, he followed her back onto the seats, his palm coming to rest against her well-developed chest.
Alarmed, Han Yunxi subconsciously pushed him aside. “Long Feiye!”
Long Feiye still retained his reason despite the fathomless depth to his gaze. It was unclear what he was thinking, but after a moment, he pulled her back up. Then the two of them resumed their seats and fell into silence. The carriage driver in front of them was sitting with his back ramrod straight, not daring to turn around or even move a muscle. He couldn’t figure out when His Highness Duke of Qin, who was ultra conservative and had no interest in women, had developed such bad habits. It looks like I’ll have to put up some curtains for this open carriage, just in case.
After leaving Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea, the driver took them through the mountains, where gorgeous spring scenery surrounded them on all sides. Everywhere the plants were green and growing. Brooks babbled about them while a multitude of wildflowers sprang up from the grass at their wheels. Butterflies fluttered in the air, and in the distance came the sound of song from a shepherd boy’s flute.
Han Yunxi didn’t like skyscrapers or mansions, much less fine houses and jade eaves. She wasn’t interested in famous mountain ranges or well-known rivers nor historic sites and scenic spots. What she loved the most were simple scenes like this one and fresh air. Unfortunately, she was too preoccupied to enjoy the sights right now. Her head bowed, she sat there with her heart pounding out of her chest.
Just then...how dangerous! So even cold, indifferent men like him had times when they behaved like wolves. Although it was viewed as abnormal for her to retain her gecko cinnabar mark so long after marriage--a sign of disgrace, even--that was just going by public opinion. She had always known that she and Long Feiye were husband and wife in name only. Ever since she had treated his poison on their wedding night, their relationship had been a series of deals and agreements. The reason they were still together now could be attributed to fate, or perhaps just coincidence.
Han Yunxi’s thoughts were a swirl as she sat there, somewhat dazed. But before long, Long Feiye pulled her into his arms again as if nothing had happened. He intoned to the driver, “There’s a tea garden up ahead, we’ll stop for a rest there.”
The driver was a stranger to them both, but more nervous than either of them. He quickly replied, “Yes, yes!”
The tea garden that Long Feiye had mentioned was called the Drunken Leaf [1. Tipsy Leaf Teashop (茗酊大醉茶庄) - mingding dazui chazhuang, in which mingding refers to the “hue of tender tea leaves,” and dazui refers to “great drunkenness.” Creative license was used to shorten the name in English.]. It was a leisurely place to enjoy tea, much in the vein of Tianning’s Celestial Fragrance tea plantation and teashop. Typically speaking, one had to wait until the Pure Brightness Festival--which fell on the 5th solar term--before finding the first spring tea leaves on the market. However, this Tipsy Leaf Teashop had a special brew called Tipsy Tea that was currently in season. It was obvious that Long Feiye was a regular to the establishment, because he’d brought Han Yunxi here specifically to taste their tea.
The two of them settled down into a private courtyard, sitting across the table from each other. A tea servant stood on the side, ready to serve them both. Han Yunxi liked tea well enough, but she wasn’t a fanatic. However, longtime exposure to Long Feiye had influenced her into drinking some tea everyday.
“Tipsy Tea, this is the first I’ve heard of such a thing,” Han Yunxi remarked. She secretly activated the detox system after accepting her cup to analyze the contents, and found that the tea actually contained strong traces of alcohol. This cup of tea was equal to a cup of wine. Long Feiye had already polished off two cups himself, making Han Yunxi curious to see what he’d looked like when he was drunk.
She herself was no strong drinker, so she simply tasted a sip before going for the pastries. While he drank his tea, she ate her sweets. This had already become routine between them, because he’d told her to pick from the menu whenever they went to tea together. Without exception, she’d ordered a table full of sweets once more.
“Your Highness, have a taste--it’s not bad,” Han Yunxi probably had no idea that Long Feiye didn’t eat sweets at all. He only took a single bite of her suggested treat before setting it back down.
“Then try this one,” Han Yunxi suggested. Sharing good food increased enjoyment of the consumer.
Without a choice, Long Feiye sniffed the next pastry but didn’t even touch it. “Too cloying,” he commented.
Han Yunxi gave up and indulged herself on her sweets. She couldn’t help but feel that these pastries tasted different than the ones from other shops, but she wasn’t sure how. In the end, Long Feiye drank an entire pot of tea without any ill effects, while Han Yunxi ended up drunk! Nobody had told her that all of the desserts had been infused with Tipsy Tea powder. Like the tea, it was impossible to taste the alcohol inside, but its contents far exceeded that of the tea itself. Long Feiye’s lips quirked into a helpless smile as he watched Han Yunxi sprawled drunkenly across the table.
“Sir Long, it’s easy to get drunk off these sweets. Why didn’t you remind her?” the tea servant couldn’t help asking.
“If she likes them, she should do as she likes. She’ll be sober once she wakes,” Long Feiye said mildly.
After placing a cloak over Han Yunxi, Long Feiye resumed drinking his tea, enjoying himself as one would enjoy a cup of wine as he lost himself in his solitary world. He really had no motive today beyond taking Han Yunxi out to drive away their cares. Whatever she liked, he indulged. It was good for him as long as she was happy.
The tea servant stopped asking questions and silently stood on standby. The entire courtyard was silent and still but for the steam rising from the tea. It was an atmosphere filled with contentment.
Unexpectedly, the sleeping Han Yunxi suddenly started muttering to herself.
“Your Highness… Your Highness…”
Long Feiye quickly put down his teacup as if he wanted to hear her clearly. But all Han Yunxi did was mutter ‘Your Highness’ over and over again, her voice gentle enough to melt one’s heart.
“Your Highness… Your Highness… ...Yunxi really likes you.”
Long Feiye started minutely. It took him awhile to recover as he quietly looked at Han Yunxi. His eyes subconsciously took on a soft gaze for the very first time. He settled himself next to her and picked up a few strands of her hair to look at her flushed cheeks and charmingly drunken appearance. As he stared at her, his heart inexplicably ached.
Han Yunxi, the fact that you met your lordship...was it right? Or wrong?
Long Feiye had Han Yunxi settled into the guest room of the courtyard before he went to sit outside the building by himself. All he did was go out sightseeing, but work found him all the same.
Soon enough, a guard came to report, “Your Highness, Northern Li’s imperial clan has written a letter to His Majesty to reprimand General Baili for mobilizing the navy to trap Jun Yixie. They’re pressuring His Majesty to release the man or prepare for war. His Majesty then immediately summoned General Baili to the capital.”
Emperor Tianhui was smart enough to summon General Baili instead of finding trouble with Long Feiye himself. Naturally, Long Feiye had long predicted this, but he still didn’t know which part of Jun Yixie had piqued the Northern Li emperor’s interest in the first place. Even Jun Yixie’s collaboration with Duanmu Yao back in Medical City hadn’t hurt his standing in the Northern Li emperor’s eyes.
“Your Highness, General Baili is urgently waiting for your reply!” the guard was rather anxious.
Long Feiye only replied with but one line, “Military forces stationed to fight have no need to acknowledge imperial summons!”[2. Military forces...no need to acknowledge imperial summons (有所不受) - yousuobushou, historically speaking, generals and other military troops have the right to disregard orders from the sovereign when on the battlefield, depending on the situation.]
“Your Highness, this…”
In truth, many of Long Feiye’s own subordinates disapproved of his decision to mobilize the naval forces against Fishery Island. After all, it was an action motivated by a private grudge that surely affected relations between two entire countries. Tianning Country’s strength was gradually declining and its political chessboard was unstable. Starting a war with Northern Li at a time like this would be disadvantageous to both sides.
“When did you learn to speak unnecessary words?” Long Feiye said coldly.
“This subordinate obeys the command!” the guard quickly assented before he fled the scene.
By the time Han Yunxi woke up, they were already back at Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea. When she found out how she’d gotten drunk, she was left speechless in her shock.
Long Feiye, you’re such a wicked man!
As soon as she had left her quarters, the young guard Xu Donglin informed her about Northern Li’s threat against Emperor Tianhui. Although Han Yunxi felt that Emperor Tianhui was a weakling to begin with, she was aware that Tianning and Northern Li’s power were greatly mismatched.
Pushing open the study doors, she said, “Your Highness, Tianhui could accuse you of trying to raise an armed rebellion! Moreover, you’ll be labeled a criminal once war really breaks out.”
Long Feiye casually hid away his volume of Annals of the Seven Noble Families and asked, “How about you make a bet with your lordship?”
“What are we betting on?” Han Yunxi didn’t understand.
“We’re betting on whether Northern Li dares to wage war at all,” Long Feiye replied, before adding, “If ever!”
Han Yunxi was astonished. Although Long Feiye kept his tone light, she knew that he’d never make empty claims. Northern Li was the strongest party in Cloud Realm Continent’s Three-Way Battlefield. Where did Long Feiye get his confidence from? And why ‘if ever?’
Just what kind of trap has he laid on this chessboard?
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