Chapter 438: Careful, there's a high-level expert Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The heavy fog rolled in slowly, just like all the other times it had appeared, covering the entirety of the island and the surrounding seas. The Baili Navy had thoroughly prepared their defensive positions, their eyes focused on every inch of the isle despite the low visibility. However, abnormalities soon sprang up all around those on watch. The sentries on guard at each ship suddenly lost consciousness!
When the ship’s doctor arrived on the scene to examine the men, he cried out, “Not good! The fog is poisoned! They’ve been hit, but I don’t know what kind of poison it is!”
The man in charge of the ship, Deputy General Baili Delong’s[1. Baili Delong (百里德隆) - De is “virtue,” Long is “grand, magnificent, prosperous, thriving, intense, deep.”] third young Baili Yuqi[2. Baili Yuqi (百里聿齐) - Yu is used at the beginning of sentences to means “then, and then,” Qi means “uniform.”], slapped his leg at the news and cursed. They were neither in a valley or a place with unique air currents, yet the fog was heavy and thick. There was no way it could be natural. In other words, someone had created this poison fog!
Jun Yixie was highly accomplished in the poison arts and backed up by the Hundred Poisons Sect. Anyone who had a handle on the man had to be extraordinary. He and his father had once asked Qin Wangfei about the possibility of attacks with poison. She had told them that it was impossible for Jun Yixie or the Hundred Poisons Sect to cover such a wide expanse of sea to oppose the navy. Moreover, there was some distance between the ships and the shores of the island itself. Even if Jun Yixie had formidable poisons on hand, he should never to able to reach them from there.
In short, esteemed wangfei had told them not to worry! But somehow, this had happened instead!
“Third Master, this shouldn’t be the Hundred Poisons Sect. Could another high level expert have arrived to rescue Jun Yixie?” his left-hand man asked urgently. If the Hundred Poisons Sect really had such skills up their sleeve, why would they have waited so long to save their leader?
“No matter who it is, we’re in big trouble now!” Their Baili Navy had no way to resist such poisons at all!
Baili Yuqi was starting to panic, but he came to a prompt decision to sound the alarm. All ships went on high-alert as their crew put on face masks and set wormwood on fire as an attempt to dispel the poison fog. He personally penned a missive and tied it to the eagle that his father had left for him, hoping to get the news as fast as possible to His Highness Duke of Qin and esteemed wangfei. Unfortunately, the fog soon spread to cover their entire fleet. The eagle hadn’t flown far before it fell into the sea, overcome by the potent poison.
Baili Yuqi’s heart lurched at the sight! It looked like news wouldn’t reach them in time after all. Their gauze masks seemed ineffective as well; moreover, many of the sentries on deck was already unconscious. Fortunately, none of their lives were in danger.
“Third Master, what should we do? Should we lock down the ship’s hold?” his retainer asked, worried.
The sentry guards stood on the front lines, while the archers were farthest back. Most likely, it wouldn’t be long before even their archers fell prey to the poison as well. The only place to avoid the toxins was to go below decks and shut all the doors and windows until the fog lifted. Yet Baili Yuqi only punched his retainer for the suggestion.
“Scoundrel, we can’t fall back!”
Once they did, not only would Jun Yixie escape, it was possible that the enemy could ruin their ships as well while they were huddled up in the holds!
The retainer rubbed his head. Despite his fear, he still asked, “Then what should we do now?” If they didn’t take cover and kept breathing in the fog, Heaven only knows how many of them would fall unconscious, or for how long. It had to be said that poisons were an especially terrifying art, especially one as widespread as this fog. It had the power to cripple an entire army!
Baili Yuqi had no other ideas, either. He shot a look to the doctors on the side, who replied, “Third Master, judging from this subordinate’s observations, the fog isn’t fatal.” Doctor Li was quite prudent with his conclusion, but Doctor Chen was even more firm.
“As this subordinate sees it, this poison fog isn’t hypertoxic, nor does it affect every person! It’s very possible this is nothing but a bluff from our foes.”
“What do you mean by that!?” Baili Yuqi asked hastily.
“Esteemed wangfei told us that the waters around Fishery Island are very particular. Sea winds and ocean currents alike can flow as they will, so it’s rather difficult for anyone to poison the air currents here. Even she herself wouldn’t be able to manage it. This subordinate surmises that the poison fog won’t last long and should disperse very quickly. And judging from its current effects, we’ve had less than 10 victims fall prey to the fog, but they only become unconscious. That’s why the fog doesn’t seem to be hypertoxic---at least, not enough to take a life,” Doctor Chen finished his explanation.
Baili Yuqi long had his own thoughts on the matter, but Doctor Chen’s words cemented his convictions. He immediately issued orders. “Someone come, pass on my words. The poison fog isn’t fatal! It will disperse quickly, so don’t panic! Increase the men on guard and watch Fishery Island well!”
After steadying the soldiers’ morale and increasing their defenses, Baili Yuqi alone descended into the ship’s hold. The main warship was home to a special branch of the naval forces---their mermaid soldiers! Though their numbers were scarce, they were amongst the true members of the Baili Navy and were familiar with everything about the sea. They could even live freely in the ocean itself! As the honorable representatives of the Baili Clan, they were part of its most secret strength.
Baili Yuqi finished writing his missive and handed it over to a mermaid soldier with his instructions. “You must use the quickest possible speed to deliver this to our master!”
Their master was none other than His Highness Duke of Qin.
“Yes, sir!” the mermaid soldier obeyed before slipping unseen into the sea.
The messenger eagle had failed to reach its mark, but there was still a path via the sea. It was likely the poisoner hadn’t foreseen this. The mermaid soldier quickly left Fishery Island behind and headed for Cloud Realm Continent. However, the current situation looked pessimistic for the Baili Navy.
Doctor Chen’s diagnosis wasn’t completely accurate. The fog wasn’t fatal, but it lingered for a very long time. It had already been two hours since it had first appeared. Many soldiers and archers had already fainted away, their numbers only increasing as the fog hung around. Although reinforcements were quickly sent in to replace the fallen, gaps in their numbers were unavoidable.
In the end, even Baili Yuqi himself was beginning to feel unwell. Although he didn’t want to return to the hold, he couldn’t afford to collapse as the commander of the ship. He quickly ducked below decks and inhaled lungfuls of wordwood smoke before he felt a bit better.
“Third Master, if this continues, we won’t have enough men to keep watch!” his left-hand man said, just as another retainer ran over with a report.
“Third Master, it’s bad! Two of our archers retreated into their cabins!”
Baili Yuqi grew alarmed at the news. “Drag them out and execute them in front of the others!”
The most frightening part of an army wasn’t suffering losses, but those who shrank back from a fight! This was especially true when the circumstances looked dire. As soon as one person retreated, the remaining soldiers would be affected as well. Once their morale sank, even the strongest army would break up and scatter!
“We’ve already executed them, but all of our men are asking when the fog will lift,” his right-hand man spoke up.
The poison fog had hung around for so long that the soldiers couldn’t help but ask questions. Moreover, they would start to wonder whether the mist could take their lives. Baili Yuqi ignored his own discomfort to stride forward with angry shouts, “An army trains for a thousand days in order to be used for a single hour. Who cravenly clings to life at such a critical juncture? What use do we have for men like those? I’m telling you now, anyone who wants to retreat can do as they like, but I’ll personally feed you to the fishes! The Baili Clan and His Highness Duke of Qin shall not mistreat the ones who endure to the end!”
Morale had recovered greatly from his words. Still, morale alone wasn’t enough. The Baili Navy held out for a full four hours, but the fog still hadn’t lifted by the time daybreak drew closer. Most of the archers and soldiers had already keeled over, while the remaining few were far from enough to guard the island. Baili Yuqi had long gone to the island itself. Even if they couldn’t guard its shores, they could at least look after Jun Yixie. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it past the forest before he too, lost consciousness.
If Jun Yixie was still awake, he would’ve been amazed by this fog as well. Unfortunately, he had long been whisked away on a mysterious fishing boat that was slowly heading its way towards Northern Li. The unknown high-level expert had long completed the rescue…
When daylight broke, the poison finally fog dispersed. The navy and its archers gradually woke up, as well as Baili Yuqi, only to find signs of a boat docking on shore. Jun Yixie had been saved! Baili Yuqi was in shock for a few moments before he quickly returned to the main warship’s hold in a fury. “Didn’t I tell you all last night to guard the shore?!”
As long as the mermaid soldiers were around, they could overturn any boat that had tried to leave the island.
“Third Master, the person on that boat brought poison with him. Wherever he went, he contaminated the water as well. It was impossible for any of us to get close. We’ve already sent men to follow after him, but that’s all we can do. We cannot reveal ourselves without His Highness Duke of Qin’s orders!” the head of the mermaid soldiers replied.
His actions had not been wrong. The unique existence of the mermaids meant that they couldn’t even fight their enemies, much less reveal themselves. Following the culprits from a distance was the limit of their powers. An accidental exposure would yield more losses than gains.
Baili Yuqi’s temper subsided, but he was still sighing repeatedly. “I can only be blamed for not finding Jun Yixie sooner!”
“Third Master, the person possessed extremely high leveled poison arts. I’m afraid that even esteemed wangfei wouldn’t have been their match,” the head of the mermaid soldiers said honestly.
Baili Yuqi had no time to consider such details. He had to write up the situation as soon as possible and send a flying pigeon back to their master. After trapping Jun Yixie there for three months---nearly enough to make the man become insane---they’d lost him in the course of a single night. There was no telling how His Highness Duke of Qin and esteemed wangei would react to the news.
The mermaid soldier with the missive was still swimming through the ocean, while the flying pigeon was still flying through the air. Even Gu Qishao, who just finished getting his revenge on Jun Yixie, was still sailing back towards shore! He was currently calculating with his fingers how long Jun Yixie had before he died from poison. How could he have expected someone else to rescue the man less than half a day later?
At present, both Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were ignorant of the previous day’s events as well. As soon as Long Feiye came back from Pill Fiend Valley, he had started investigations into the exploding stove. Baili Mingxiang was still recovering from her injuries in her room, while Han Yunxi was puzzling over the charcoal pieces in her study. After Long Feiye joined her in order to analyze the situation, he said coldly, “If it wasn’t Zhao mama, then it was Su Xiaoyu. As your lordship sees it, that little girl is most suspect!”
“Your Highness, if the explosion was premeditated, then there’s a 80 to 90 percent possibility that Su Xiaoyu’s to blame. But we can’t rule out the possibility of an accident yet!” Han Yunxi said seriously. She had already ordered Xu Donglin to keep a close watch on Su Xiaoyu and Zhao mama both. Despite the suspicions of her heart, she didn’t want to malign someone without proof in case they were innocent. She had personal experience with being unjustly accused and knew it to be unpleasant.
Long Feiye glanced at the charcoal before his voice grew colder. “Do you really have to go through all this trouble yourself?”
She’s been analyzing this pile of things for the past few days. Doesn’t it tax her patience to no end?
“I’ve already thought of a solution. Give me a couple more days and I’ll be able to prove whether or not it was an accident!” Han Yunxi was very confident in her plans.
Long Feiye was both impatient and displeased, but still he yielded to Han Yunxi in the end. In fact, he even ended up spending the entire day in her study with her. However, the mermaid soldier’s missive reached them one day later. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi both received the news with great alarm. They were about to head for Fishery Island when the flying pigeon arrived at the estate as well.
Long Feiye’s expression had finally softened over the past two days. When he finished reading the message from the pigeon, his face froze over once again. “Jun Yixie was rescued!”
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