Chapter 522: Never let her knowOriginal and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Pill Fiend Pharmacy’s guest hall was covered in a thick silence. In the end, it was Long Feiye who spoke up first.
“Gu Beiyue, what do you think about all this?”
Gu Beiyue rose to his feet. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, this one is only an expert at treating illnesses and looking after patients. Regarding this matter...this one really is at a loss. There are still a few prescriptions for this one to check on back at the pharmacy, so this one shall take his leave now.”
He left the room as soon as he had finished speaking. Naturally, a doctor like him wouldn’t understand much, in that case, why didn’t he leave the scene earlier? Long Feiye had his reasons for questioning the man, who had evaded his questions just as intentionally. Long Feiye’s own heart carried its share of reservations and precautions against Gu Beiyue. Han Yunxi didn’t consider so much, being too preoccupied with Mu Linger’s matters. She hesitated before asking, “Old Fiend, Mu Linger’s probably out of South Ning City by now. Why don’t you go and escort her to Medicine City?”
Mu Linger’s visitation rights every three months would ensure that she didn’t die while in the Council of Elders’ hands. Moreover, members of the Mu Clan should be around to shield her as well. However, it would be the Xie Clan’s people escorting back to Medicine City. With an attitude like Head Elder Xie’s, it was highly possible that he’d try to torture her on the sly. The Mu Clan had run rampant for so many years that many other clans besides the Xie resented them. Wouldn’t Head Elder Xie take this chance to vent his grievances?
Once Gu Qi Sha took off his giant cape, nobody would be able to link his identity with Pill Fiend. Even if he was caught, it wouldn’t be a big deal. While Han Yunxi was considering all this, Gu Qi Sha removed his cape and teased her, “Poison lass, since when was I ever ‘old?’”
At a time like this, he’s still making jokes?!
Han Yunxi lost her temper. “What, should I call you ‘Little Fiend’ instead?”
Urk… For a second there, Gu Qishao was rendered speechless.
“Follow them. After the Xie and Wang Clans come to discuss prices for their medicinal ingredients, His Highness and I will make our way to Medicine City as well,” Han Yunxi continued seriously.
Regardless of what Ouyang Ningnuo might be planning, their most important goal at present was to stop Jun Yixie from tricking Head Elder Xie into convincing the Mu Clan to marry Mu Linger off. As opponents on opposite sides, they couldn’t simply warn Head Elder Xie outright because the man would never believe them. He would just suspect them of trying to sow discord instead. But they most certainly could use the Wang Clan to pass on the word, making the meaning entirely different.
Gu Qishao seemed unhappy at the suggestion and glanced at Long Feiye. “With His Highness Duke of Qin’s skills, he could even steal the person back without anyone none the wiser. Wouldn’t that be more to the point? Why are we bothering to mess around with those folks in the first place?”
Long Feiye simply sat drinking his tea in silence, while Han Yunxi rolled her eyes. “Then what is Mu Linger supposed to do after that? Hide in a room forever without seeing anyone else? Or change her name and looks?” If brute force was an option, would she and Long Feiye have allowed Mu Linger to be taken away from their very doorstep?
Once again, Gu Qishao was rendered speechless.
“Hurry up, are you going or not?” Han Yunxi sounded brusque.
Gu Qishao could only reply faintly, “I’ll go, I’ll go. But you have to promise me, never ever tell Mu Linger that I’m Gu Qi Sha.” If that lass finds out, how am I supposed to spend the rest of my days peacefully at Pill Fiend Pharmacy?
Han Yunxi gave a minute start before she sprang to her feet. She raised a hand above her head and vowed, “From today until I die, I won’t give Mu Linger half a hint to your identity! Otherwise, may Pill Fiend Pharmacy never make any money!”
Gu Qishao digested her words and felt something about them sounded off, but Han Yunxi simply feigned anger and kicked his leg. “Satisfied now!? Hurry after them already!”
Gu Qishao was far too lazy to dig into his doubts. After all, since when had he ever been serious with Han Yunxi? He stood up in turn and proclaimed, “Don’t worry. Only this old fellow’s allowed to bully that lass!” Then, he turned with a wave. “Poison lass, see you in Medicine City!”
Seeing Gu Qishao’s easy going silhouette, Long Feiye’s lips quirked up into a gloating smile. “Idiot!”
Han Yunxi cast him a doubtful look, causing him to stop grinning immediately. He cleared his throat awkwardly and intoned, “Ouyang Ningnuo should know very well that Jun Yixie and the Mu Clan have a deal in the works.”
“Ouyang Ningnuo’s got considerable connections with all three of the great clans in Medicine City. He’s got plenty of eyes and ears otherwise too, and even knew of the secret drug trades within the black market, much less something like this,” Han Yunxi remarked, before asking curiously, “Your Highness, you’ve already thought of a scheme, haven’t you?”
Long Feiye had been planning to target Medicine City in the first place, so why would he back down now that Jun Yixie had shown up as well?
“Wait until the Wang and Xie Clan representatives have arrived. Write a letter to hurry them up,” Long Feiye answered coldly.
With Gu Qishao looking after Mu Linger, Han Yunxi was free to stop worrying over the girl. She knew that no matter how anxious she felt, she needed slow, deliberate planning to get things done correctly. After all, they weren’t just facing an ordinary enemy.
“Alright!” she had already walked to the door when she turned back and added, “Long Feiye, you...look very attractive when you smile!” Then Han Yunxi grinned cheekily and left a certain man coughing in her wake. Apparently, Long Feiye had choked on his tea...
Han Yunxi penned a letter to Wang Zhongyang and Xie Hongming that very day. Previously, she had told them to get their prices sorted out before coming to her to trade for evidence of their black market deals. Now she set the deadline to 10 days or less. Wang Zhongyang and Xie Hongming had already planned on working together, but the letters spurred them to meet everyday. They even asked many of the people in charge from both clans to join in on the discussion. Apparently, the Wang and Xie Clans even held a large meeting in secret before the representatives had first came to meet Han Yunxi, though the contents of the gathering was unknown.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi spent the next ten days tracking Mu Linger and the Mu Clan’s movements. She originally assumed that Ouyang Ningnuo would call on them again, but he never showed up again. Long Feiye was his usual self, cold and calm in the face of the most shocking of developments. He didn’t even talk about Wang Zhongyang or Xie Hongming unless Han Yunxi mentioned them first. Pill Fiend Pharmacy was her jurisdiction in the end, and he had other matters to take care of as well.
The three districts of the central region had allied themselves with various government officials and prominent clans from Jiangnan to form a “South Central General Governing Body.” They elected South Ning’s Senior Provincial Official Xu Liaoting[1. Xu Liaoting (徐寮庭) - Xu is a surname that means “slowly, gently,” Liao is “small house, hut,” Ting is “hall, front courtyard.”] as their governor-general. Meanwhile, General Baili had reorganized the various militia units and shuffled their leaders around so that they all served the new elected official.
This Xu Liaoting was the very same man that Long Feiye picked personally to watch over South Ning Prefecture. General Baili had long handed over the main military tally to the man, who in turn gave it in person to the Duke of Qin as a show of his fealty, imploring him to kindly accept the gift.
In response, His Highness Duke of Qin said, “Give it to General Baili, he’s the only one qualified to hold onto it.”
Thus, the military tally had made a full circle back to the general. His Highness Duke of Qin remained aloof from any form of power or responsibilities on the surface while controlling everything in reality. Over the same ten day span, Emperor Tianhui and Long Tianmo had been following South Ning’s developments with interest, including the incident with Mu Linger. Unfortunately, both father and son were helpless to meddle. They would already be thanking their lucky stars if the Duke of Qin didn’t decide to battle them instead. Emperor Tianhui’s illness was getting worse and worse, meanwhile Long Tianmo was ready to make trouble at any time to attack West Jing. However, the fear of the Chu Clan’s might stopped him. He instigated a few imperial princes and bribed a few more able subjects of Western Zhou to start a life-and-death struggle with Chu Qingge instead. Meanwhile, Chu Tianyin helped his sister while continuing his search for the West Qin imperial orphan. Sadly, he hadn’t found any clues.
These ten days passed quite quickly. Soon enough, Mu Linger had almost reached Medicine City, while Wang Zhongyang and Xie Hongming’s deadline was almost up. The older and younger pair were closer than ever before when they finally arrived. Han Yunxi invited them to sit, Xie Hongming was someone who liked to put on airs, but this time he waited until Wang Zhongyang sat down first before following suit himself. The sudden show of good breeding made Han Yunxi secretly chuckle.
“Esteemed wangfei, here are the final prices we two agreed on, please review them,” Wang Zhongyang handed over a list of all of the Wang and Xie Clan ingredients and their respective costs. The Mu Clan had agreed to sell theirs to Han Yunxi for ten taels, but the Wang and Xie Clans were offering 12 taels.
Han Yunxi glanced at the list before she queried absently, “Higher by two taels?”
“Esteemed wangfei, we won’t hide the facts from you, but this is already our lowest possible price,” Wang Zhongyang replied seriously.
Xie Hongming was quick to add, “Esteemed wangfei, the Mu Clan has always undersold us in the markets, you know this as well.”
Han Yunxi’s eyes flashed craftily before she drawled, “How did they, a single clan, manage undersell both of your clans?”
“Esteemed wangfei, the Mu Clan has large stakes in Medicine City’s most fertile plots of land. They then rely on their superior strength to suppress the salaries of the pharmacists,” Xie Hongming hastened to explain.
“I know all of that already, but that can’t add up to more than a paltry sum,” Han Yunxi said unhappily.
Xie Hongming was left at a loss. He couldn’t find any other reasons besides that one for the Mu Clan’s low prices, but Wang Zhongyang dropped his voice and murmured, “Esteemed wangfei, there is one thing…” He trailed off, leaving Xie Hongming puzzled as to his intentions. The two of them had discussed ahead of time how to tackle this meeting, but did Wang Zhongyang leave an ace up his sleeve? What does he want to say?
Now Long Feiye was looking at the group as well.
Wang Zhongyang looked like he was left in an awkward dilemma when he spoke. “Esteemed wangfei, this one doesn’t know the validity of such claims, but…”
“There’s no need to say anything at all if you’re uncertain of its truthfulness,” Long Feiye rebuffed coldly.
“But…” Wang Zhongyang really was in a tight spot. Finally, Xie Hongming lost his patience with trying to shoot the man meaningful looks.
“Second Old Master, just tell us what you know already! Esteemed wangfei will believe us!”
Finally, Wang Zhongyang spoke up. “Esteemed wangfei, a few years ago this one got wind of some startling news, if true. Supposedly, the Mu Clan was testing a crop of high-production medicinal plants in Northern Li’s snowfield plateaus. The plants are considered on the low-end of precious plant types, yet capable of surviving in ordinary fields as well! If this is true, then even if the Mu Clan’s selling to you at 10 taels per ingredient, they won’t lose any money at all!”
Everyone grew startled at his words, especially Xie Hongming. He blurted out, “How could the Mu Clan get ahold of land in the snowfields of the high plateaus?”
“That was the gossip I had heard. I don’t know if it’s true, so I didn’t dare say it out loud. After all...it involves complicated...relationships,” Wang Zhongyang murmured.
“There’s no need to share your gossip with us here. This wangfei just wants to know, is 12 taels really your lowest possible price?” Han Yunxi grew quite aggressive.
Wang Zhongyang kept quiet, but Xie Hongming only felt that the tide was turning against them. He braced himself for it and then...
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