Ning Cheng was already losing his patience and getting ready to leave by the time Chu Yunyi arrived with a white-robed man. This was the first time that Ning Cheng had seen Gu Beiyue, but it didn’t leave any lasting impressions. His arrogant gaze swept the man from head to foot, taking in the injuries on his shoulder and leg without much thought. They probably struck him there when they captured him.
Gu Beiyue’s head was bowed, his entire figure listless. As he stood there dejectedly, he looked weak enough to topple over at any moment.
“A famed physician?” Ning Cheng asked disdainfully. He couldn’t figure out why Han Yunxi would be on good terms with a man like that. It was extraordinary enough that she’d catch Long Feiye’s eye, so her friends had to be remarkable as well, right? But this Gu Beiyue looked less like a doctor and more like some weakling scholar!
“This is the man you wanted,” Chu Yunyi said simply without revealing a thing.
Ning Cheng understood the meaning behind those words: He wouldn’t reveal his identity lightly, either. With a nod, he grabbed Gu Beiyue by the collar and prepared to haul him off, but Gu Beiyue abruptly raised a hand to push him away.
“I can walk by myself!” he declared. His voice was very low and sounded depressed, lacking its usual calm and warmth.
Ning Cheng stared at his hand, which had been shoved aside, with a look of disbelief. Then he coldly stated, “Keep up, unclear phrasing - what does he mean?.”
With that declaration made, he took several long strikes towards the door. Gu Beiyue turned back to look at Chu Yunyi one last time, his glare incisive enough to kill. Chu Yunyi subconsciously took a few paces back and couldn’t help but wonder whether he’d made the right choice.
Gu Beiyue’s right hand was dangling by his side, his shoulder wound making it impossible to lift his arm. He used his left hand to press against the piercing pain in his dantian region before following after him. The most important thing for him now was to lie down and rest, to refrain from any strenuous physical activity. But he still persisted on taking large steps, walking faster and faster until he caught up, and then surpassed, Ning Cheng.
He didn’t want to become a waste---and he hadn’t been defeated yet!
He still had his life, which meant his mission as the Shadow Clan, and his promises as Gu Beiyue, still held true!
Ning Cheng gave a scornful chuckle at the sight of the frail figure hurrying ahead of him. He looked down upon these weak bookish types above all else. Their bones weren’t hardy, and all their declarations came for naught in the end. Why show off your skills? How long can you last like that? Do you think that just by walking a few steps, you’re suddenly strong and capable? What a joke!
If not for the fact that Gu Beiyue could threaten Han Yunxi, Ning Cheng would never waste his time on such a useless person.
“Someone come, keep him under close watch. Without my orders, no one’s to get near him!” Ning Cheng ordered.
His retainers immediately appeared out of thin air. The moment Gu Beiyue turned around to speak, they struck him in the back of the neck and rendered him unconscious. Ning Cheng had ended up taking Gu Beiyue away, but whether he’d actually give the man a chance to speak was unknown. In Chu Yunyi’s eyes, Ning Cheng’s personality would ensure that he didn’t waste words on the man. Even if the two had an actual conversation, their own precautions would keep their personal secrets hidden. He exhaled a long breath once they were gone.
Now all he needed to do was wait. Once Ning Cheng’s cavalry forces arrived, they could join with the Chu Clan troops to attack Western Zhou. Then, after Emperor Tianhui died, Witch Aunt could help the young crown prince take the throne. Without the Ning Clan meddling in their affairs at the capital, it would be a single night’s work for Witch Aunt to place the baby on the throne.
“We need to be living in Western Liang before the end of the year!” he told General Chu.
General Chu didn’t get to reply before a soldier hurried over with a message. “Report to the general. A special envoy has arrived from Western Zhou. He’s waiting right by the gates with a matter for consultation!”
Chu Yunyi and General Chu exchanged glances. Their armies had been facing off against Western Zhou for ages. Why would their enemy send over a messenger to talk now? It was impossible that they were pleading for peace, so could it be related to Empress Xue instead? Without wasting time, General Chu went to meet with the envoy, while Chu Yunyi sat on one side to listen.
Upon seeing the room full of servants, the Western Zhou envoy gave a meaningful look to General Chu, who promptly dismissed them all.
“You can say whatever you have to,” General Chu said brusquely without even inviting the man to take a seat. Typically speaking, the etiquette of war dictated that all envoys were to be kept alive and treated with respect. The Western Zhou envoy already looked down upon these Chu Clan rebels, and this act of disrespect further cemented his bad impression.
With a lofty tone, he replied, “General Chu, this envoy has come to deliver the emperor’s words today. First, if General Chu surrenders, the emperor will look upon your years of hard work and service and treat you leniently. However, if---”
“Go back and tell Emperor Kang Cheng that this is just a waste of words!” General Chu interrupted.
The envoy hid his fury and continued. “Secondly, the emperor said that if General Chu doesn’t want him to expose the truth of the Driving Arrow Arts….heheh, then release Empress Xue immediately, or else shoulder the consequences!”
Here was the true purpose for this visit. Back in Thousand Buddha Cave, the Chu Clan had revealed their Driving Arrow Arts, which had long been connected to the Nether Clan thanks to Long Feiye’s strategic rumor-mongering across the continent. Once Emperor Tianhui found out what happened at Thousand Buddha Cave, he would realize that the Chu Clan were descendents of the Nether Clan!
The hall fell into silence at the Western Zhou envoy’s words. He sat there with his chin high and his expression imposing, but soon grew fearful as the silence stretched on. He saw General Chu’s gloomy face before inadvertently turning to catch Chu Yunyi’s chilly expression.
Just what do they mean by this?
“General Chu, the emperor...the emperor has already said, the outcome of this battle will be determined by the strength of each side. As long as you release Empress Xue, he can simply feign ignorance about the Nether Clan,” the envoy’s tone had inexplicably weakened as he spoke. Still, General Chu and Chu Yunyi remained stoic, staring at him without speaking. Pressured into fear, the envoy blurted, “General Chu, think it over!”
He turned to leave, but he didn’t even make it out of the hall before an arrow pierced through his heart.
When two armies were fighting, it was an unspoken rule not to kill envoys from either side. No matter gruesome the battles were, no envoys had ever been killed like this before! Once news of the Chu Clan’s murder spread, the entire Cloud Realm Continent was shocked.
Western Zhou’s emperor promptly flew into a rage. “A little unclear - is this Chinese syntax that doesn’t translate well?! If Zhen doesn’t slaughter your entire Nether Clan, Zhen will...Zhen will…” He was so angry that he couldn’t finish the sentence, and in his fury, he swept everything from the table with his arm, uncaring that he was in the midst of an official court assembly. All the civil and military officials remained kneeling on the ground, not daring to speak a word.
Finally, Emperor Kang Cheng slapped the table and stood up. “Someone come, spread the Chu Clan’s secret far and wide!”
The court grew alarmed at his words. What secret does the Chu Clan hold? If His Majesty is saying such things, does he mean he’s given up on Empress Xue?
Before Western Zhou could put their plan into action, the Chu Clan had already done the deed themselves: They admitted they were the West Qin’s Nether Clan of the Seven Noble Families, and revealed the truth about the West Qin heir’s faked assassination attempt in the past. Moreover, they announced that they were currently looking for the descendents of the West Qin imperial family so as to revive the dynasty. To that cause, they were willing to recruit people of great talent to join their mission!
The murder of the envoy fell to the wayside in the wake of such stunning revelations. Shockwaves rippled across the continent and aroused the attention of commoners and powerful factions alike. Everyone’s views of the Chu Clan made a 180 degree turn! Of course, the public was less concerned about the Nether Clan and far more interested in the surviving West Qin heir!
West Qin still has survivors? Just who could it be? Where are they now?
The Chu Clan’s move was a fatal blow to Emperor Kang Cheng, whose collateral against them had become utterly worthless. But more angry than him was the Duke of Qin, Long Feiye! For the sake of suppressing these secrets, he had expended every effort to hide Mute Granny’s existence, running circles around Gu Qishao in the process. He’d nearly been found out by Han Yunxi herself! Now things were great, because the Chu Clan had told the entire world that the West Qin imperial heir still lived. When Han Yunxi and the rest started discussing the news, his chilly face grew frozen enough to drip icicles! The rest of the group already knew that the Chu Clan was the Nether Clan, but they were stunned to learn of the West Qin heir’s survival.
“If that’s the case, that gentleman from the Shadow Clan probably knows of it too. He must have been looking for the heir all this time,” Han Yunxi said thoughtfully. The Shadow Clan man was the first person to pop into her head. If not for the fact that she knew her parents’ origins already, she might have been thoroughly scared by the Chu Clan’s revelation. After all, she used to harbor suspicions that she was the heir, herself.
“So what if it’s an imperial clan heir? No matter how glorious the Great Qin used to be, that’s all in the past now. If the Chu Clan really did track them down, they’d probably kill them instead!” Gu Qishao said with disdain.
Chu Xifeng and Tang Li usually had plenty to say of their own, but this time they remained mute. The pair kept shooting glances at the Duke of Qin and his ghastly expression, feeling restless from it all. They were very clear on Mute Granny’s death and the Duke of Qin’s own suspicions towards Han Yunxi. But they didn’t know what the old woman had told Long Feiye before her death. Now that the Nether Clan had spread such news, they couldn’t help but reconsider Han Yunxi’s status again.
If that woman is the imperial heir to West Qin, then isn’t the Duke of Qin…
Tang Li’s pulse quickened at the thought. He didn’t dare to look at the Duke of Qin anymore. Chu Xifeng felt more anxious and simply lowered his head, afraid that his face would betray his emotions and attract the group’s attention.
“Whether or not the imperial clan still lives on, the Chu Clan’s still on their own now,” Han Yunxi said seriously. When she saw that Long Feiye hadn’t spoken a word, she glanced over and asked, “Long Feiye, what do you think?”
Long Feiye didn’t reply, but rose to his feet and icily told Chu Xifeng, “Pass on my orders. Tomorrow at noon...deploy the troops!”
He said the last part very softly, almost as an afterthought, but everyone present was shocked by his words. After all, these were military orders to mobilize! With that statement, Cloud Realm Continent’s greatest war since the fall of the Great Qin was about to begin!
Long Feiye left the room as soon as he was finished, with Han Yunxi hot on his heels.
Something about him...feels off today!
What’s going on?
Reuploaded with edits: 10/10/2021