Emperor Kang Cheng was now looking properly at Han Yunxi. He’d dismissed her before, but now he was finally coming to her for help. If Han Yunxi didn’t raise the stakes now, then she wouldn’t be Han Yunxi. In the past, she’d even dared to challenge Emperor Tianhui by herself without Long Feiye’s support, much less now.
Despite feeling the emperor’s eyes on her, Han Yunxi simply pretended that she hadn’t noticed and dropped her gaze towards her teacup instead. Emperor Kang Cheng knew that he’d have to placate this woman first if he had any hope of keeping the Duke of Qin, too. If he had realized that Duanmu Baiye would be such an imbecile, he wouldn’t have given Han Yunxi the cold shoulder at all. Now, he felt nothing but regret.
Emperor Kang Cheng quickly withdrew his gaze and said, “The both of you, the crown prince spoke insolently, losing propriety for my Western Zhou. I ask that you not bear grievances on the matter for Zhen’s sake, or wound your feelings for this time’s official visit.”
‘Losing propriety for my Western Zhou’ was a strong statement. Although it wasn’t an all-out apology, it was still impressive words for a sovereign to say about his own country.
Long Feiye finally opened his mouth. “Your lordship has never held grudges over the crude remarks of little children. Emperor Kang Cheng has exaggerated the situation.”
This was giving Emperor Kang Cheng face while verbally condemning Duanmu Baiye at the same time. But what else could Duanmu Baiye do, but to take it? If Long Feiye’s going to be like this, then fine. I can even accept the ‘little children’ snub. But even though Long Feiye had forgiven him, Han Yunxi’s expression remained gloomy.
She said in a irritable tone, “Originally, I wanted to stay a few more days and seize the chance to appreciate Western Zhou’s desert scenery. Now I’m in no mood for that at all!”
Duanmu Baiye finally got the hint. Although he was unwilling, he quickly raised his tea to Han Yunxi. “Qin Wangfei, this one has always been blunt with my speech. May you forgive me for any transgressions.”
The guilty partner was finally apologizing for his wrongs! But it was no use now!
Han Yunxi secretly smiled coldly to herself and followed in Long Feiye’s footsteps---by ignoring Duanmu Baiye completely. Emperor Kang Cheng knew they still had to pass through her to make any progress, and risked the chance to say, “Qin Wangfei, Zhen has heard about everything that happened at the Court of Dependencies. It really was the crown prince who committed a breach of etiquette. How about this? Shall we have the crown prince accompany you and the Duke of Qin for a proper tour tomorrow as penance?”
Just then, he had been using “the both of you” to refer to them as a pair so that his apology would extend to her too. Now he was yielding even more. Since the Duke of Qin’s yielded as well, she should be satisfied by this.
But Han Yunxi only feigned ignorance. Angrily she cried, “Emperor Kang Cheng, aren’t you simply being too partial to your son? Accompanying us for a tour isn’t a penance, but a reward. I’ve never met people like you! You’re absolute bullies!”
“Yunxi, you cannot be so rude!” Long Feiye immediately lectured her.
Han Yunxi huffed, “Your Highness, how are chenqie’s words wrong? Emperor Kang Cheng is clearing shielding his shortcomings and faults, how unfair! Going touring is a punishment? How will people judge once they’ve heard of such a thing? If the crown prince hadn’t bullied us in the first place, would Western Zhou have given us a tour guide at all?”
Long Feiye had no words to retort and could only let out a soft sigh.
“In any case, chenqie wants to leave today! Chenqie never wants to visit Western Zhou ever again!” Han Yunxi crossed her arms and pouted, looking every bit like she was throwing a temper tantrum. Indeed, she was throwing one on purpose right now.
If this was a formal setting, Han Yunxi’s actions as Qin Wangfei would surely be a breach of propriety. But this was a private meeting, so her actions didn’t necessarily lose her any face. Emperor Kang Cheng could tell that she was being troublesome on purpose, but the Duke of Qin was acting like he was helpless before his wife. What else could the emperor do in this situation?
“Someone come, pass on Zhen’s words. Confine the crown prince for three months and forfeit his salary for an entire year from today on. Without Zhen’s express permission, everyone is denied entry to the Eastern Palace!” Emperor Kang Cheng proclaimed with reluctance as he inwardly bore his pain.
“Imperial father!” Duanmu Baiye finally lost it!
Emperor Kang Cheng glared at him. “Someone come, take the crown prince into custody and escort him back!”
“Imperial father, your son knows his wrongs! I know my wrongs! Imperial father, please give your son another chance!”
“Imperial father….imperial father!”
Duanmu Baiye struggled and shouted and begged for mercy as he was dragged out of the doors. To him, three months’ worth of confinement was nothing short of a nightmare. He had always been ruthless when it came to the competition for the throne, crushing all possible opponents with extreme means. Three months of confinement was more than enough time for his adversaries to rise up again. If anything, they’d use even more relentless methods against him now.
How could he not be afraid? He was scared that he’d lose his position within these three months!
This time, Han Yunxi quit while she was still ahead.
“Emperor Kang Cheng is wise and brilliant. A son who disgraces you like this deserves such heavy punishment! Kill the chicken to warn the monkey!” she smiled.
Emperor Kang Cheng couldn’t find it in him to smile, much less stay any longer. After a few cursory words, he left on the pretext of urgent business and sent orders for General Chu to receive the pair instead. General Chu had hardly received news of the crown prince’s confinement before he received Emperor Kang Cheng’s orders as well. He had been in the middle of discussing counter strategies with the rest of the Eastern Place, but now his teacup narrowly slipped from his hands. He never expected to face Long Feiye and Han Yunxi so soon, much less to have to receive them personally.
With the lessons from Crown Prince Ye’s before him, and the secrets of the Nether Clan behind him, General Chu couldn’t help but feel nervous despite his years of experience braving storms! By the time he’d arrived, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were rowing around the lake. It was Long Feiye himself at the oars, and no servant accompanied them. In other words, nobody could hear what the husband and wife were talking about. General Chu had naturally sent his spies ahead to Carefree Restaurant when it was reserved, but now he had no way to get any further intel. He knew that Long Feiye’s true target wasn’t the crown prince, but the Chu Clan, but he wasn’t clear what the man was planning.
Currently, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had stopped in the middle of the lake.
“Your Highness, chenqie must have lost face for you after provoking trouble on purpose, right?” Han Yunxi asked him teasingly.
Long Feiye arched an eyebrow as he gave her a rare word of praise. “You’re getting smarter and smarter.”
“Isn’t it all because I’m learning from you?” Han Yunxi indulged in a rare moment of flattery.
Long Feiye examined her silently and returned her words with a grin. It was much harder to make him smile than to make him talk. Still, Han Yunxi had gotten used to his smiling expressions nowadays as well.
“Where are Tang Li and Chu Xifeng?” she asked.
“They went to scope out the Thousand Buddha Cave,” Long Feiye replied.
“Have they found anything?” Han Yunxi asked hastily.
“Chu Xifeng’s been there a few days but hasn’t sent any word back. Tang Li joined him only yesterday, but there’s no telling if he can get in,” Long Feiye said mildly.
To them, the Thousand Buddha Cave was far more important than the Nether Clan. The Chu Clan knew that Wood of Ten-Thousand Poisons existed, but they hadn’t moved to take it yet, which proved that the venture would be extremely difficult.
Han Yunxi had a premonition that they’d be staying in Western Zhou’s White City for a while...
When the sun had started to set, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi headed for shore. General Chu immediately welcomed them with a smile, using all the proper courtesies without mentioning a word about the Chu or Nether Clans. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi played along as they followed him back to the Court of Dependencies for the night.
Before leaving, General Chu remarked offhandedly, “Duke of Qin, the meeting with His Majesty has been arranged for tomorrow after morning court. When the time comes, I shall pick you up and take you to the palace.”
Long Feiye nodded without a word.
General Chu made a bow with clasped hands and turned to leave, but couldn’t resist turning back once he was out the door. He had discussed this with the Nether Clan Head before. If Long Feiye wouldn’t find them to talk, then they could only seek him out instead. Otherwise, they’d be stuck being the passive party the entire time. Now there was nobody here, the perfect time to discuss such things. Otherwise, who knows what Long Feiye would say to Emperor Kang Cheng after morning court tomorrow?
As if sensing his return, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were sitting exactly where he’d left them last. General Chu signaled all of the servants to withdraw once he entered the room, then put on a heavy face. Still, neither Long Feiye nor Han Yunxi made a move to speak, leaving him quite uncomfortable.
“Duke of Qin, you should know why this servant is here,” General Chu came straight to the point.
Long Feiye only said coldly, “I don’t know!”
“Then why did you send Witch Aunt back to us?” General Chu asked next.
“To your lordship, having one Chu Tianyin is already enough,” Long Feiye replied breezily.
“You!” General Chu lost it. “What have you done with Tianyin?”
Long Feiye only laughed coldly. “Someone once told your lordship that the Nether Clan’s secret arrow techniques consisted of shooting an infinite amount of arrows without a bow. Your lordship didn’t believe it then, but I never expected to witness the technique in person.”
General Chu grew frightened at Long Feiye’s words!
He, the Nether Clan Head and Witch Aunt all had no idea how Long Feiye had recognized their technique as the Nether Clan’s Driving Arrow Arts. Why would he connect the Chu Clan’s skills in arrows to be that of the Nether Clan’s own? After all, Driving Arrow Arts was one of the Nether Clan’s greatest secrets. No layman knew it even existed. Only the most trusted members of the clan were even taught the technique in the first place. Even Chu Qingge hadn’t been taught the technique, much less let in on the clan’s secrets!
According to Long Feiye’s words, someone must have told him the information. But who could that be? General Chu was convinced that nobody in the Nether Clan would dare to reveal such secret information. But if it wasn’t their clansmen, that left only one other possibility: the only outsider in the world who knew of their secrets, Gu Beiyue!
When he recalled how Gu Beiyue had refused the Nether Clan Head’s pleas to rescue Chu Tianyin or to induce early labor in Chu Qingge, his suspicions only grew. He wasn’t stupid enough to ask Long Feiye who’d told him the secret right then, though. Even if he did ask, Long Feiye would never tell him.
“Duke of Qin, since you’ve left some face for the Nether Clan, why don’t we come straight to the point? How about another meeting at the Carefree Restaurant today to discuss things with the Nether Clan Head?” General Chu suggested in a low voice.
Han Yunxi had always assumed that Chu Tianyin’s father was the Nether Clan Head. Now she realized that it was someone else.
“General Chu, it’s getting late. Please go on back,” Long Feiye rejected him coldly.
His attitude made General Chu grow even more uneasy. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, it was Tianyin who acted impetuously back at the underground palace. This old man will compensate you two for the losses in his place. Out of discord friendship grows, isn’t it? Your Highness is after the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion as well. Why not ally with the Nether Clan in this great undertaking? I trust that our Nether Clan won’t disappoint Your Highness, so may you give it some consideration.”
Long Feiye once again rejected him outright. “General Chu, we won’t be seeing you out.”
General Chu had already made things very clear, but Long Feiye was still against him? It chilled him to his bones. As soon as he left the Court of Dependencies, General Chu went directly to the Nether Clan Head and told him what had happened. Now the Head was even more lost as to Long Feiye’s true motives. His curiosity, unease, and agitation grew larger by the minute.
One could well say that Long Feiye’s attitude had nearly driven the heads of both the Chu and Nether clans towards insanity. Neither of them could sit still. Despite the late night, both of them snuck back into the Court of Dependencies for a meeting with Long Feiye.
Would Long Feiye relent this time? To tell the truth, even Han Yunxi herself didn’t know...