Ten days. The armies that attacked Youyun and Yaoshui Prefectures were coming in from the north and south, Ning Cheng’s own troops were closing in from the west, and the Chu Clan had no reinforcements in sight nor a place to retreat. The entire situation looked hopeless for them!
Long Feiye’s words were both a threat and a call to surrender.
“Do you want to absorb the Chu Clan’s army?” Han Yunxi asked doubtfully.
Ning Cheng had tricked the Chu Clan, leaving them with nowhere to go. If Long Feiye used Chu Tianyin to pressure them or demand a surrender, they might really become his troops by the end. After all, their elite archer forces had each man equal to the force of 10 normal archers. If those archers were on their side, their strength would be unthinkable.
“Yes,” Long Feiye admitted. His wealth might not lose to the Ning Clan, but his military strength needed work. It was about time to cultivate new talents for his forces and engage in arms expansion. Although the outcome had already been decided, it was only the end of a single battle. Soon enough a new one would begin, where his only opponent was the Di Clan’s Ning Cheng.
Hearing that the situation was changing, Tang Li grew thrilled. He prepared to go when Han Yunxi suddenly added, “Tell General Chu as well that if he doesn’t surrender, this wangfei guarantees that he’ll never be able to pick up an arrow again!”
In other words, if General Chu did surrender, she could cure his poisoned arm. Like Long Feiye, she was offering them a type of amnesty. Tang Li glanced at them both. Why didn’t I realize it earlier? The two of them are a lot alike.
He quickly left the tent. Now Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were left to wait---both from news on Western Liang, and the Chu Clan’s situation. What would the Chu Clan choose?
As Han Yunxi saw it, a man like Chu Yunyi couldn’t ever be considered ‘loyal.’ He was simply using the banner of the West Qin imperial heir to cheat the world’s people. When weighing the advantages and disadvantages, he’d cave and surrender eventually. Once again, the memory of her bet rose in Han Yunxi’s mind. She remembered how Long Feiye and her had gambled on Ning Cheng’s identity. As she slowly turned towards him, she began to realize that he might have lost.
….no, no, no, there’s no ‘might have,’ but definitely!
If he lost, he was supposed to hug Lil Thing. But the current Long Feiye was spacing out while staring outside the tent. Han Yunxi was clearly the victor, so she had full right to claim her win, but she always felt a hint of dread when interrupting Long Feiye in one of his current moods. She coughly lightly a few times before opening up the topic. “Long Feiye, what’s Noble Consort Ning’s full name?”
“Ning An,” Long Feiye said automatically.
“So that was it…” Han Yunxi sighed with emotion. “The president that replaced Ouyang Ning Nuo was Ouyang Ning Jing. Ning An and Ning Jing combined have their names make a phrase, Anjing (peaceful silence). Heheh, what an interesting way to name their children.”
Han Yunxi assumed that Long Feiye would bring up Ning Cheng and Ning Nuo as well, but he only muttered an assent and declined to continued the conversation. Han Yunxi scooted over and sat by his side. “Ning Cheng and Ouyang Ning Nuo’s names are interesting too. Ning Cheng and Ning Nuo, which combined makes ‘chengnuo’ (promise). Hey, I say, why didn’t we realize it earlier?”
Cloud Realm Trade Consortium and Great General Ning dealt respectively in trade and war. The two sides didn’t have much of a connection with each other, so nobody would automatically assume they were related---much less be bored enough to pair up their names for fun.
Long Feiye remained expressionless as he ignored her. Han Yunxi scooted even closer and looked at him. “So, Ning Cheng is part of the Di Clan.”
“Mm,” Long Feiye’s tone was noncommital.
Han Yunxi grew puzzled. He didn’t react at all. Did he forget about our bet? He agreed to hug Lil Thing if he lost!
Han Yunxi waited a bit longer. When Long Feiye didn’t mention anything else, she came straight to the point. “Long Feiye, we had a bet. You lost, so you have to fulfill the terms of the agreement!”
Long Feiye’s mouth visibly twitched. Actually, he knew what Han Yunxi had been hinting at as soon as she brought up Noble Consort Ning’s name. Being hoodwinked by Ning Cheng once had already left him in a bad mood. Anyone who knew him well would have left him alone by now instead of bothering him, but this woman had came right up to his face instead.
He looked over and said coldly, “Han Yunxi, this is the first ever loss in your lordship’s life. Aren’t you afraid that your lordship will lose his temper?”
But Han Yunxi only asked, “Are you talking about your loss to me...or to Ning Cheng?”
Long Feiye’s face turned black as he glared silently at Han Yunxi. She wasn’t afraid, but had to fight back an urge to laugh while looking at his expression. Fortunately, she managed to suppress any giggles. She didn’t dare bring up Ning Cheng again, but quickly summoned Lil Thing from the poison storage system. Then she drew him out of her sleeve and placed him in her palms for Long Feiye to see.
“We came to an agreement. You were going to hug it.”
If this was anyone but Han Yunxi, Long Feiye would’ve sent them flying with a kick by now. But he only looked at Lil Thing with hooded eyes. Ever since Lil Thing had started drinking the poison pond water, it would always fall asleep from overstuffing itself. If not for Mama Yunxi’s summons, it’d spend most of its time sleeping. It had fallen into the habit of stuffing its stomach and going to sleep, then sleeping its full then going to eat. This was the fastest way to aid its recovery. It wanted to recover quickly, not only to get the poison back in its teeth, but the curative properties of its blood, too. Only then could it help the gentleman and protect Mama Yunxi. Currently, it was still groggy and half-awake. It lazily turned on its back with four limbs in the air before wiggling a bit and stretching comfortably. As its back arched, its eyes flew open as well.
Hm? That face in front of me looks familiar….
Lil Thing had been asleep for days, so it was impossible for it to wake up right away. It rubbed its eyes with its little paws and took a closer look. The face was extremely handsome with fine features that were perfect from all angles. It was something sculpted by Heaven itself. Still, it wore a rather unpleasant expression that was way too cold. Those eyes were practically like ice without a hint of warmth in them. As Lil Thing stared and rubbed its eyes, it became to feel that this face was very familiar indeed. Almost as if it’d seen it somewhere before…
Suddenly, its paws stopped as its eyes widened!
His Highness Duke of Qin!
Lil Thing was finally awake! Or rather, its souls and spirits were all alert, causing its fur to stand on end and tremble in pure fright!
Wahhh...why did this happen?!
Lil Thing wanted to flee, but there was no time. Long Feiye’s fingers were quicker and had already grabbed it by the tail. He hated high-pitching squeaking like this the most and wanted to toss Lil Thing out the window, but Han Yunxi had the foresight to grab Lil Thing around the neck and ask, “What are you doing? Going back on your word?”
Lil Thing had no idea what Mama Yunxi was saying, much less any insight into the bet between her and Papa Long.
What’s Mama Yunxi doing? She’s never stopped Papa Long from throwing me away before, is she getting serious with him now?
Lil Thing’s heart began to pound. Even it couldn’t guess who would win if Mama Yunxi and Papa Long fought each other. Or rather, it couldn’t guess if Papa Long would yield to Mama Yunxi in a fight. No matter how they argued, Papa Long would always win. The only reason he’d lose is if he let Mama Yunxi win on purpose.
If Papa Long doesn’t give way this time, will Mama Yunxi keep persisting? And if she does and he still doesn’t yield, will they end up arguing?
And if they argue, will I be the chief culprit of it all? Should I fight Papa Long once as well? Or….or know my limits and run away?
Lil Thing quickly sank into an internal debate with itself while Han Yunxi looked seriously at Long Feiye.
“You’re not allowed to go back on your words,” she reminded him seriously.
Long Feiye was silent for a long time before his mouth twitched. “I’ll owe you.”
He could fulfill any other request she wanted, no matter how difficult it was. But for him, hugging a squirrel was really…
“You can even owe stuff like this?” Han Yunxi arched a brow as she asked.
“I’ll owe you, I’ll owe you!” This was the first time Long Feiye had ever felt so embarrassed, so much that he voluntarily released Lil Thing.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi was internally laughing up a storm. The fact that he’s let Lil Thing go instead of tossing it out the window is a promising start already!
She wasn’t planning to force him, anyways. Because of that, Long Feiye went to sit on one side and emphasized one more time, “I’ll owe you.”
Han Yunxi cradled Lil Thing in her arms like a hot-water bottle as she softly stroked its fur. “Alright. In any case, I’ll never forget this. You just make sure you don’t go back on your word.”
The teacup stopped at Long Feiye’s lips as he lost all appetite to drink. In a low voice, he murmured, “Of course I won’t.”
Of course I won’t. He’d always been true to his word.
In the end, he didn’t break his promise, but by the time he hugged Lil Thing, Lil Thing wasn’t ‘Lil Thing’ anymore. Neither was Han Yunxi the Han Yunxi he knew now…
Han Yunxi sat by his side while holding Lil Thing. Long Feiye glanced at the animal briefly, but didn’t seem as eager to pry it away from Han Yunxi as before. It was almost as if he’d accepted that Han Yunxi would always have Lil Thing from now on. Since he’d relented on his part, Han Yunxi stopped her prodding too and ceased to bother him. Meanwhile, Lil Thing remained nestled up in Mama Yunxi’s hands, its tummy full of doubts.
Heavens, I was only asleep for a few days, but Papa Long’s now doting Mama Yunxi to the skies? They didn’t even argue. Mama Yunxi’s one action was enough to get Papa Long to keep me and even let me stay in Mama Yunxi’s arms?
This was something it’d never dared imagine was possible.
Could it be that I missed something while I was asleep? Did something happen between of two of them?! Lil Thing raised its head and stole a peek at Long Feiye. Although Papa Long hadn’t chased it away, his face was still as frighteningly cold as ever. Whenever Lil Thing got too closer, it would always be frozen stiff by the chilly air coming off of his body. It struggled free from Mama Yunxi’s grip and scurried back into her sleeve. Inside, it sighed lightly to itself. Aye, no matter how many times I look at him, I still prefer the gentleman. He’s more soothing.
Who knows where the gentleman is now? The weather’s so cold. I really miss his gentle voice and warm smile!
Gentleman, where are you?
Lil Thing is thinking of you...