Of course Ning Cheng would!
He left Gu Beiyue in the forest instead of bringing him forward just so he could show his strength to Long Feiye. Although it seemed like he’d won in the outcome of mobilizing the three armies, he hadn’t gotten any gains at all. Since the Chu Clan had chosen him this time, he had finally wrested one victory from Long Feiye’s hands. His mood had been excellent up until the moment he saw Long Feiye in person, because the man didn’t look defeated or disappointed. In fact, he couldn’t read any reactions from the man at all. The man seemed made out of ice, ever lofty and distant. He’d even displayed his own strength without speaking a work and forced General Chu to obediently fetch their hostage.
How could Ning Cheng accept that?
He didn’t personally move to stop General Chu, but lazily lifted his cup and chuckled. “Someone go, seal up Gu Beiyue’s elbows and shoulders for your lordship.”
General Chu naturally halted at his words and stopped moving. Now there were inferiors to Ning Cheng and couldn’t defy his orders. Han Yunxi’s heart pounded in her chest, but she didn’t show it on her face. She was anxious, but not to the point of losing her self-control. They had come to exchange hostages, but Ning Cheng had hidden his away. It was obvious he was planning to make things difficult for them. If they yielded to him now and gave him the advantage, they would really lose.
Han Yunxi grit her teeth and forced herself to wait.
Aware of Ning Cheng’s intentions, Long Feiye only gave a cold snort. “Since you’re not doing this in good faith, why should we bother wasting time at all?”
He simply took Han Yunxi and turned to leave with Tang Li tugging Chu Tianyin hurriedly after them. Ning Cheng wasn’t surprised. He sipped his wine while watching Long Feiye’s form grew more and more distant. Their steps were neither fast nor slow, but Ning Cheng didn’t move to stop them even when they were a good ways off.
“Do you want to turn back?” Long Feiye asked in a low voice. This was a battle of chess, with the bets on which side would give way first. The ones at stake were Gu Beiyue and Chu Tianyin. Han Yunxi’s heart was beating fast. She could afford to lose, but not when Gu Beiyue’s life was at stake!
Still, she replied back confidently, “No need!”
She knew that even turning back now wouldn’t guarantee them Gu Beiyue. She was also confident in both her and Long Feiye’s judgment. Ning Cheng wouldn’t abandon Chu Tianyin just like that. Each step they took brought them farther and farther away from Gu Beiyue in the woods. She didn’t even know if the doctor was aware that they’d came.
Doctor Gu, forgive me for betting with you this once!
Instead of slowing down, Han Yunxi even quickened her steps as she pulled Long Feiye after her. Seeing this, Ning Cheng had to stand up and walk out of the pavilion to verify the sight with his own eyes. He hadn’t been fooled, it really was Han Yunxi who was dragging Long Feiye away as if she didn’t want to stay another minute.
How can this be?
Chu Qingge was convinced that Han Yunxi was on excellent terms with Gu Beiyue. She wouldn’t just leave the doctor to die, but now look, she was the one leading Long Feiye away.
So Gu Beiyue’s important to her, but not so important that she has to have him?
In Ning Cheng’s eyes, Gu Beiyue was only a doctor. He had kept the man locked up in a cell ever since getting him from Chu Yunyi without a second glance. If Han Yunxi wanted to give up on Gu Beiyue, he’d be completely worthless to his captors. She was really walking too quickly now. Even though Ning Cheng chased after her a few steps, she and Long Feiye were almost out of sight.
What was the use of keeping a single doctor? He could only control the Chu Clan if he had Chu Tianyin in his hands!
Finally, Ning Cheng spoke up coldly, “Chu Yunyi, what are you spacing out for? Hurry and call them back!”
General Chu was even faster than Chu Yunyi and personally went to the forest to fetch Gu Beiyue. Meanwhile, Chu Yunyi was stuck. Ning Cheng might have said ‘call them back,’ but he knew he’d have to convince the couple first!
“Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, the Duke of Ning was just joking back then. The two of you, please don’t take offense. Gu Beiyue is already in the pavilion now, please, this way.”
The high and mighty leader of an entire clan had never prostrated himself like thus. Chu Tianyin witnessed the sight but kept quiet, though he harbored both disappointment and anger within his heart. It hadn’t been more than a few days since he had been kidnapped. But why had the Nether Cland Head been reduced to such a servile, obsequious man before his eyes?
Han Yunxi looked at Long Feiye with a brilliant smile. “Long Feiye, we’ve won yet another bet!”
Long Feiye only smiled back wordlessly. He brought her around to face Chu Yunyi just in time to resume his usual expressionless face. When they returned to the pavilion, Gu Beiyue was already there. Han Yunxi’s heart ached at the sight. She really wanted to embrace him just for the sake of a hug, but she couldn’t do that now. She quietly summoned Lil Thing from the poison storage system into her sleeve instead. Lil Thing was still sleepy, but grew alert as soon as it sniffed the familiar scent in the air.
Gentleman! Lil Thing was stunned. It quickly darted out from Han Yunxi’s sleeve and saw the man it’d been missing for ages. But…. The second it saw Gu Beiyue, Lil Thing started to cry. It didn’t even cheep, but shed tears instead.
Lil Thing couldn’t remember how many years it had been alive, but it knew for certain that it had never cried in its life. It didn’t even know it was capable of shedding tears. It jumped to the ground in a mad flurry and scurried to the gentleman’s feet. If this was any other day, it would have clambered up his clothes or back or side to sit in its favorite spot on the gentleman’s shoulder. It would always act like a spoiled brat while curled around the gentleman’s neck, but he never shooed him away. He even used his finger to rub its head and stroke its tail. That finger was warm and gentle as well.
But Lil Thing didn’t dare to do that this time. It simply sat by the gentleman’s side and looked up at him with crying eyes. The gentleman was too weak right now! It seemed like his body would fall over at any moment. Even now, he was only half-conscious and could only stand with support from the two handlers at his sides. This was only the surface. Lil Thing had even caught the whiff of blood in the air and realized something was wrong.
It knew that both the gentleman’s leg and shoulder were heavily injured, but his dantian had been extravasated too, leaving him with no inner energy. His internal injuries were severe.
What happened to the gentleman?
Lil Thing looked dazedly up at him even as its claws pawed at its tears. Its vision had long gone blurry from crying as it fervently hoped for the gentleman to open his eyes and see it…
Gentleman, what happened to you?
Ever since Lil Thing had appeared to protect Gu Beiyue during the Chu Clan’s ambush on Han Yunxi in Tianning Country, its clansmen had taken notice of the creature. Ning Cheng was aware of its existence as well. He was currently staring at Lil Thing with amusement as he let out a cold, wicked laugh.
“Whose rat is this? Such lack of manners.”
Han Yunxi could control herself before, but not before a Gu Beiyue like this! Even though they had tortured Chu Tianyin, they hadn’t reduced him to a coma and even treated the poisons they’d used on him. Just what had these men done to Gu Beiyue? She looked coldly at Ning Cheng and said, “You can’t even recognize that it’s a squirrel? Sure, it’s fine if you’re blind, but if you don’t have any common sense, you should go back and find your mother to teach you some again.”
Ning Cheng’s face turned black at the words. Han Yunxi’s even tone only made it seem like she was stating a fact, thus adding to his humiliation. He wanted to retort, but found himself unable to since she hadn’t outright mocked him. On the side, Tang Li couldn’t help but glance at Long Feiye. Good, good. My cousin’s done nothing but call that animal a rat as well, but he doesn’t seem affected by the insult.
Ning Cheng finally gained another impression of Han Yunxi---she had a sharper tongue than Chu Qingge! Unfortunately, those were the types of women he hated the most.
“Someone come, chase that thing away!” he ordered.
A few guards immediately rushed forward. Sensing danger, Lil Thing grew alert. It didn’t understand human speech, but it knew that these people had kidnapped the gentlemen. Mama Yunxi had come with Chu Tianyin to exchange hostages!
These bad guys! It narrowed its eyes at the guards that hemmed in and bared its fangs. They’re unforgivable for bullying the gentleman!
As one guard swooped down to grab it, Lil Thing agilely leapt onto his face and claw furiously at him until he tore his face off. It was angry!
“AhhhH!” the guard screamed in horror as blood poured from the gashes. Everyone around him was stunned by the sight and unconsciously backed away. Before any of them could recover, Lil Thing was already flickering to the next target. Like a shadow, it darted between each of the guards surrounding them, aiming for all of their faces. It accurately pinpointed its victims’ eyes and clawed them all blind!
As piteous wails rose up from the guards, Ning Cheng rose to his feet in alarm to stare incredulously at Lil Thing. Even the two guards in charge of holding Gu Beiyue weren’t spared. As soon as they released their charge, he began to fall forward. Han Yunxi hastened to help but, but Lil Thing darted ahead and managed to prop him up by his chest despite his tiny frame, preventing him from falling to the ground. Afraid to hurt him with its claws, Lil Thing had curled them up inside its paws. Loving someone meant wanting to spare them all possible forms of pain. But…
...but gentleman, how could you be so seriously injured?
Lil Thing propped him up with tears streaming down its face, the liquid mixing with his bloodstained paws.
“Driving Arrow Arts!” Ning Cheng commanded. How can we be provoked by a single rat? The Chu Clan’s archers drew their weapons and aimed it all at Lil Thing.
Covered with a face full of blood, Lil Thing looked around before baring its fangs again. Killing intent swelled up around it, painting it as a savage beast even as the sight made one’s heart ache. Even the archers felt trepidation and kept their distance.
Han Yunxi’s heart broke at the sight. She wanted to rush over, but Long Feiye kept a tight grip on her hand. “Ning Cheng,” he demanded coldly. “What are you dawdling for? Exchange the hostages!”
“How are you planning to pay me back for injuring all these men?” Ning Cheng countered.
“All those men couldn’t even catch a single squirrel. You still have the nerve to talk terms?” Han Yunxi mocked with a cold laugh.
“You…” Ning Cheng was left speechless again.