Ning Cheng finally stopped to study Han Yunxi, the first time he’d ever paid so much attention to any woman in his life. Unfortunately, he didn’t get any insights before Long Feiye pulled her behind him. His other hand unsheathed his sword as he asked, “Are you exchanging them or not?”
Just like multiple instances in the past, Long Feiye had quietly placed Han Yunxi behind himself again. He only stepped up to the plate when Han Yunxi’s usual display of brilliance and abilities weren’t enough to win the day, but this was his first time hiding her even when she wasn’t in any apparent danger.
Ning Cheng finally realized that his thoughts had been wandering just then. He immediately withdrew his gaze, disliking the sudden loss of control. Still, there was no time to entertain the thought when Long Feiye was already brandishing his weapon.
“We’ll exchange them! At least let my men bring Gu Beiyue over!” Ning Cheng replied.
“Lil Thing, step aside!” Han Yunxi beckoned to Lil Thing, who understood but was still reluctant to leave. But for the sake of getting the gentleman sooner, it relented. It carefully released its paws so that Gu Beiyue could lie down on the ground, then stepped a little ways away to watch. The people to deliver the hostage were none other than Chu Yunyi and General Chu.
They were distressed over Chu Tianyin’s sealed acupoints and would rather unseal Gu Beiyue’s acupoints on the spot, but Lil Thing was watching their each and every move. Its gaze was sharp and cold, enough to remind one of a wolf. Dreading the sight, both men couldn’t do anything beyond bringing Gu Beiyue to Ning Cheng’s side. At the same time, Tang Li brought Chu Tianyin to stand by Long Feiye.
Long Feiye rested one hand behind his back while the other pressed on Chu Tianyin’s shoulder to keep him in place. Ning Cheng stood up and cradled his wine cup in one hand while the other grabbed Gu Beiyue around the neck so he wouldn’t topple to the ground. The two men faced each other, separated by less than a foot. Their heights were similar, their bearing tall and proud. Both of their eyes exuded pure frost as they sized each other up. It was like a meeting of enemy kings, with the winner still uncertain. Everyone present was focused on the pair and marveling at the sight. These two young men were very similar, but minute differences kept them apart.
When it came to looks, Ning Cheng had strong features and deepset eyes. A heroic air surrounded him, making it hard for anyone to pick out any flaws. Long Feiye’s frozen features seemed to be carved out of solid ice and looked perfect from all angles even as it chilled his observers to the bone.
In terms of status, Ning Chen had the Cloud Realm Trade Consortium in his hands and controlled one third of the continent’s commerce. The jade crystal ring on his thumb was ten times more exquisite than the one with Northern Li’s emperor, a clear proof of his wealth. However, Long Feiye was by no means inferior. He disliked wearing jewelry himself, but the bracelet on his woman’s wrist defeated any other accessory in the world in an instant.
In terms of military strength, Ning Cheng was a notch ahead, especially after gaining the Chu Clan troops. But if Long Feiye added the mermaid soldiers to his ranks, then he might not lose, either. The Baili Navy didn’t just fight above the seas but throughout all of Cloud Realm Continent’s waterways, lakes, and streams.
In terms of martial prowess, Long Feiye was the better party. Celestial Mountain Sword Sect’s sword arts and his own skills with the whip weren’t to be underestimated.
In terms of air and bearing, Long Feiye won as well, because he was inherently inviolate. His consummate air of a sovereign was naturally domineering, a remnant of his royal East Qin blood. Even if Ning Cheng didn’t know this, he still felt a sliver of dread in his heart upon facing this man. Han Yunxi was looking at them both, but she didn’t make any comparisons. She would never compare Long Feiye to other men because there was simply no need. This man had both good and bad points in her heart, but she’d accepted them all. Did loving him in spite of his flaws count as true love? Or am I simply hopeless?
Abruptly, Ning Cheng set his wine cup down, earning everyone’s attention as the exchange of hostages was nigh. Seemingly at the same time, Long Feiye’s other hand came to rest on Gu Beiyue’s shoulder even as Ning Cheng’s rested on Chu Tianyin. Their respective free hands were still gripping their own hostage. It seemed like neither men had moved, but their measure of strength had already ended. Han Yunxi couldn’t tell what had happened, but she could guess at the results. She picked up the restless Lil Thing and held it lightly as she waited.
Long Feiye didn’t make her wait long. Very soon, the unconscious Gu Beiyue fell towards Long Feiye while Chu Tianyin was still in his grasp. Both Chu Yunyi and General Chu were martial arts experts, so they could tell that Long Feiye and Ning Cheng had been comparing their internal energy with each other. During the entire process, Gu Beiyue had been too unconscious to give Long Feiye any support, but Chu Tianyin had been working with Ning Cheng the entire time. Still, even the two of them combined wasn’t a match for Long Feiye. Just what is the extent of his inner strength? It made one wonder whether he had already surpassed his master, the Sword Sect master.
Gu Beiyue was now leaning against Long Feiye’s shoulder. Although Ning Cheng hadn’t let him go, the victor was already decided, so his actions were pointless! Meanwhile, Long Feiye still had a death grip on Chu Tianyin as he fought against Ning Cheng. Ning Cheng finally released Gu Beiyue and shrugged his shoulders, backing away to acknowledge his defeat. Long Feiye’s lips curved up in disdain before he pushed Chu Tianyin over.
Han Yunxi drew forward to look at Gu Beiyue, but Long Feiye simply handed the man over to Tang Li. Seeing this, the anxious Han Yunxi kept her mouth shut. Lil Thing immediately jumped onto Tang Li’s shoulder to examine its gentleman and wipe its tears at the same time. Its paws were stained with a mix of tears and blood, a pathetic sight. Han Yunxi went to take Gu Beiyue’s pulse and discovered that it was very weak, as if he’d suffered through a serious illness and had yet to recover. Just like before, she couldn’t determine the specific illness, only that he was weak. She couldn’t be sure whether Gu Beiyue had a unique pulse or her medical skills were simply too limited, because she couldn’t tell what was wrong.
After Chu Tianyin was pushed across, Chu Yunyi and General Chu immediately had him taken away so a doctor could treat his hand. He looked back at Ning Cheng first, as if wanting to say something, but left in the end with silence. Now that the hostages had been exchanged, it was time for the two parties to leave. Han Yunxi quickly went to write Third Elder Shen a letter so he could hurry over and do a detailed examination of Gu Beiyue and help him recover his health. A doctor shouldn’t treat himself, so an invalid like Gu Beiyue wouldn’t be able to cure his own sickness.
Long Feiye didn’t want to dawdle and turned to leave, but Ning Cheng called him back. “Duke of Qin, it’s rare for us to meet. Why not drink a cup before you leave? It won’t be too late then.”
“Not interested,” Long Feiye rejected coldly.
“Could it be that you’re afraid of getting drunk? Heheh, I forgot that the Duke of Qin only drinks tea. Come, someone bring out the tea,” Ning Cheng smiled.
Thanks to the provocation, Long Feiye would have to drink or be labeled a coward. Long Feiye also knew that Ning Cheng loved wine and had an endless capacity for liquor. He redoubled his steps and sat down in front of Ning Cheng, who cried out in delight before he could speak. “Someone come, bring out the dishes! Your lordship will not return today until both I and the Duke of Qin are drunk!”
Very soon, a row of servant girls arrived with wine, vegetables, and fish in tow, covering the entire table. This was simply a pre-planned Hongmen Feast! Han Yunxi glanced at the contents of the table and smiled mockingly without saying a word. Since Long Feiye had sat down, she’d accompany him to the end. It was no use to get impatient since there was no way she and Tang Li would be able to get Gu Beiyue out of Fenglin City without Long Feiye’s protection. She had Tang Li prop up Gu Beiyue while she went to sit against a nearby tree. Although her medical skills weren’t very impressive, she could at least use her needles to ease Gu Beiyue’s breathing so he could feel more comfortable and recover slightly. Tang Li was about to set Gu Beiyue down when Han Yunxi suddenly stopped him.
“Take off your robes,” she said.
Tang Li nearly choked as he looked at her in disbelief. The tips of his ears turned red as he stammered, “Y-you...I, I….my big bro...he, big bro he---”
“What are you stuttering for? Take off your clothes and spread them on the ground so Doctor Gu can sit on them. He can’t stand the weather when it’s cold like this,” Han Yunxi said sternly.
Tang Li exhaled and wanted to roll his eyes, but Gu Beiyue’s pallid complexion made him soften. He quickly took off his outer robes and spread them on the dirt. Lil Thing looked anxiously from the side, wishing it could turn big again so the gentleman could lay comfortably in its fur.
Once Gu Beiyue was sitting down, Han Yunxi fed him an emergency life-saving pill. Lil Thing wanted to tell Mama Yunxi that the gentleman’s shoulder had been injured, but it was afraid to touch the wound. It didn’t know how to tell her otherwise as the gentleman was dressed in a set of clean white robes with no hint of injury. Still, its nose was never wrong. It ended up tugging frantically at Mama Yunxi’s dress, fretting in vain.
Han Yunxi was currently sitting behind Gu Beiyue and carefully placing needles into his body. She had noticed Lil Thing’s actions, but only took them as the squirrel worrying over Gu Beiyue. Meanwhile, Long Feiye had already started drinking with Ning Cheng in the pavilion. The two of them were simply racing with their wine cups, downing a single cup per turn as they sped through the alcohol!
Han Yunxi only glanced over briefly as most of her attention was on Gu Beiyue. But once she was finished with all her needles, she looked over in earnest and quietly raised her hand. No one else could tell what she was doing, but Tang Li knew at first glance. This woman was going to use her Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain needles. Whatever happened, they couldn’t be the first to attack in a place like this. If that was an option, His Highness Duke of Qin would have long moved to finish the fight instead of drawing things out with Ning Cheng.
This woman isn’t crude or rash. Just what is she thinking?
Han Yunxi was making adjustments in her aim. Tang Li knit his brows and followed her gaze before finding her target instantly. His experience in hidden weapons served him well here. But the realization made him uneasy. In alarm, he cried, “Sister-in-law, you...just what do you want to do?”
Han Yunxi ignored her and activated her bracelet, shooting a single needle into the air.
Just why did she shoot? And who was she aiming for?