The story of the seal in question was a long and complicated tale.
In the Medicine Requesting Cave, Long Feiye had forcefully undid the seal himself. Although it’d saved Gu Beiyue, he’d incurred internal injuries that only healed a few days ago. Han Yunxi had no idea about this, while Gu Beiyue hadn’t been able to tell. But the doctor was smart enough to keep silent even if he had noticed anything amiss.
The lock inside Long Feiye’s body was called the Lustbite Seal. It was placed upon him two years into his studies under the sword sect master. Celestial Mountain Sword Sect possessed countless sword styles, but only one of them specialized in cultivation of internal energy. The technique in question was called the Nirvana Heart Arts and taught to every disciple of Celestial Mountain. All practitioners of the art were to undergo the seal, which locked up aspects of their internal energy that were unfit for cultivation purposes. Long Feiye’s master had applied the seal before teaching him how to cultivate his internal energy.
Because he was a natural talent and a diligent student, he cultivated to Rank Five in his internal energy within the first year, breaking records at the sect. However, the seal abruptly broke one day while he was studying with his master one day, dissipating his year’s worth of work in seconds. Stunned, the sword sect master continued to apply the seal again, but once again, the seal broke in a year and wasted his year’s worth of effort. The sword sect master had no idea what was the matter and only determined that Long Feiye was unfit to practice the Nirvana Heart Arts.
But that meant he couldn’t learn any swordsmanship as well. In other words, there was no need for Long Feiye to stay any longer at Celestial Mountain Sword Sect. Still, he’d finally become a closed door disciple of the sword sect master himself. Long Feiye’s mother, Tang Yiwan, would never allow him to lose this chance. She was even hoping for the day he succeeded the sword sect master to reign over the martial arts circles!
Thus, Tang Yiwan told the sword sect master the truth about Long Feiye’s origins while revealing the East Qin Dynasty’s never before used Lustbite Seal. She earnestly request that he use the seal to lock up Long Feiye’s skills that way instead. The Lustbite Seal was the treasure of East Qin, but it could only be activatd by those with boundless reserves of internal energy. Without exception, all users of the seal succeeded in internal energy cultivation while sealing off all unrighteous elements as a massive store of energy in the Lustbite Seal itself!
Because it was filled with wicked energy, anyone without the finest shred of control risked losing their mind to the seal. No one knew its effects after that. But as long as the seal was active, the user would be locked from the powers it stored indefinitely. The sword sect master had taken great pains when applying the seal so that Long Feiye could temporarily break it three times in case of an emergency. Naturally, the consequences of each forced breakthrough would grow successively more severe. At the Medicine Requesting Cave, Long Feiye had broken through his seal for the first time and suffered because of it.
In the end, the one who applied the seal was still the one to remove it. For Long Feiye, the only man who had the power to undo his was the sword sect master. He had told Long Feiye never to ask him until he was sure he could control all the negative energy stored in the Lustbite Seal. Another aspect of the seal was its special taboo: the user had to keep an untarnished body or else the seal would destroy itself and take away all of its stored powers within three days as it dissipated.
Last time, Long Feiye had managed to recover from Cang Qiuzi’s blows with his internal energy growing stronger by the day. He was confident he could control the Lustbite Seal’s stored strength once it was formally unsealed. Thus, their next trip to Celestial Mountain meant more than just fulfilling a promise with Han Yunxi to take her there.
In his plans, they would head up after the western regions had been brought under control. The sword sect master had been in closed door cultivation frequently this year while Cang Qiuzi seized the chance to make Celestial Mountain a hazy mess. He’d also sent multiple people to investigate the sword sect master’s daily life, as if suspecting him of something. It was about time for Long Feiye to get involved, too. But if he wanted to face off again Cang Qiuzi’s faction seriously, he needed the Lustbite Seal gone!
So how was he supposed to explain all this to Han Yunxi? How much could he say?
In the middle of his doubts, the driver suddenly called towards them. “Your Highness, esteemed wangfei, please come upstairs and take your meal.”
Having fulfilled his task, the driver looked cautiously at his masters’ shoulders. If they kept delaying like this, they might as well skip lunch for dinner instead.
“Come and get off the carriage,” Long Feiye said without hesitation. One day he would bring this woman to pay respects at his imperial father and mufei’s graves. Then he’d be able to tell her everything about East Qin and the story of the past she never experienced.
A saying went that husband and wife argued at the head of the bed before making up by its foot. For Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, it was both arguments and make-up inside a horse carriage.
When Han Yunxi saw the plate of vinegar-soaked cabbage waiting for them on the table of their reserved room, she almost burst into laughter. Long Feiye kept his cool and cast their driver a cold, wordless glance. The driver was completely at a loss as to where he’d gone wrong. Instead of asking His Highness Duke of Qin, he timidly asked Han Yunxi, “Esteemed wangfei, shall we order a few more dishes?”
“No need,” Han Yunxi said. “Just send over some rice and a pot of tea.”
The driver felt even more puzzled and stole a peek at Long Feiye, who didn’t protest. With that, he did as he was told. Just like that, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye ended up eating plain rice with pickled cabbage in the most expensive room of the most expensive restaurant of the county seat. The utterly confused driver watched them secretly from the door and discovered that His Highness Duke of Qin didn’t even use his chopsticks. He didn’t seem to like sour food, though esteemed wangfei was pushing him to eat all the same. She stuck multiple mouthfuls between his lips, which he all swallowed without a murmur.
It had to be said that the driver could barely recognize His Highness Duke of Qin under such circumstances. Who could imagine that Cloud Realm Continent’s iciest duke could spoil his wife so utterly? She was simply ordering him about as she pleased!
The pickled cabbage helped Han Yunxi forget all about her woes. On the rest of the trip back to Yaoshui, she nestled contently in Long Feiye’s arms to sleep while training to break through Rank Two for her Poison Storage Space.
A few days later, they arrived at their quarters in Yaoshui to the surprise appearance of Duanmu Yao sitting by herself on the steps. It seemed like she’d been waiting for them to arrive.
How did she find this place? What was she doing here?
Duanmu Yao was dressed in ethereal white robes and wrapped in a sleeveless red jacket, making her seem fairylike as usual. She hugged her knees as she sat, looking sad and pathetic. Long Feiye’s eyes only flashed with irritation at the sight, while Han Yunxi’s face had turned completely black. She glared at him and said, “She knows about this courtyard too?”
It wasn’t just anyone who had knowledge of Long Feiye’s secret hideouts.
“Someone must have leaked the location. I’ll have Chu Xifeng look into it later,” Long Feiye said coldly.
Now Han Yunxi turned somber. “Could it be...a spy amongst our ranks?”
But who would know the location of their Yaoshui quarters and tell Duanmu Yao, too?
“Head to the northern suburbs and have someone pick up Gu Beiyue to bring along as well,” Long Feiye said. He had another estate there, so Han Yunxi figured Duanmu Yao could just wait here for as long as she liked. The driver was about to turn their carriage away when someone suddenly cried out.
“Han Yunxi! Han Yunxi, are you inside that carriage?”
“Uncle, your wangfei is inside, isn’t she?”
What a...familiar voice! Han Yunxi knew without a glance that it was Mu Linger. Of all the times to run into a coincidence! The darned girl chose this of all times to show up. If Han Yunxi recalled correctly, this wasn’t the first time she’d unintentionally ruined her plans.
If Mu Linger wasn’t Han Yunxi’s cousin by blood, what would be her fate by now? Sigh…
Han Yunxi peeked through the cracks in the curtains and saw that Duanmu Yao was already standing up and heading their way. Mu Linger had just arrived as well on horseback. She only saw Long Feiye’s giant carriage and hadn’t noticed Duanmu Yao yet. Both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye remained silent, while the driver only chuckled.
“Miss Linger, His Highness and esteemed wangfei aren’t inside the carriage. They’re still out and yet to come back.”
“Then Gu…” Mu Linger almost blurted out “Gu Qishao,” but stopped herself in time. “Then what about Gu Beiyue? Is he here?”
Before the driver could reply, she added, “And also, Pill Fiend should be around, right?”
The driver was in a hurry to get his masters out of trouble, so he nodded. “They’re both here, both here. You should hurry on in, this old man still has business to attend to, so I should leave quick.”
Mu Linger was too preoccupied with tracking down her Qi gege, so she turned aside, only to be taken aback by the sight of Duanmu Yao. With a flash, Duanmu Yao approached the carriage, all smiles.
“Uncle Gao, what are you doing here?”
The driver known as Uncle Gao had seen Duanmu Yao the soonest, but still feigned surprise. After serving His Highness Duke of Qin for so many years, he had experienced much and naturally understood his master’s junior sister.
“I have to find my senior brother for an urgent matter. If you’re going to pick him up, I’ll come with you,” she said as she made to get on.
Uncle Gao quickly stopped her. “No, no! His Highness and esteemed wangfei have gone out. They’re not in Yaoshui. This old man is simply...simply taking the horses to see a vet, all four of these horses have fallen ill.”
Mu Linger was easy to trick, but Duanmu Yao was shrewder. She looked at the horses and didn’t see anything wrong with them, so she was certain the driver was going to pick someone up. Uncle Gao would never outfit this carriage without reason unless senior brother wanted to use it. This was Long Feiye’s favorite one. He didn’t even let other people so much as touch the thing. Even she, as his junior sister, had only ridden in other carriages and special sedan chairs from the Duke of Qin’s estate. This one had always been the sole exception.
Actually, she could simply follow Uncle Gao in secret instead of causing him trouble, but she wanted to seize the chance to hitch a ride today. She longed to lean against the same pillows he used, taste the same tea leaves he drank, and breathe in the scent of him inside. It’d been too long since she’d seen him last that she’d nearly gone mad just missing the sight of his face and the sound of his voice.
“Where is the veterinarian?” Duanmu Yao asked.
“In...the south of this city,” the driver tossed out.
“I just happen to be heading there myself, so you can give me a ride.” Duanmu Yao moved to get on the carriage again, but the driver tried to block her. Unfortunately, she simply shoved his arm aside. Seeing this, Mu Linger moved to stop her as well, but Duanmu Yao simply jumped on the carriage and drew its curtains aside. However, she was stunned by the sight that greeted her inside…