Long Feiye didn’t like to waste words, much less time, with irrelevant people. Even if Duanmu Yao had considerable clout before the sword sect elder and Cang Qiuzi, he still disregarded her utterly. He didn’t need to gauge her opinion before involving himself in Celestial Mountain matters, nor did he require her assistance. Neither did he dread any attempts she’d try to stop him.
He was planning to order someone take the letter and drive them away, but fell silent when he saw Han Yunxi get off the carriage. Instead he stayed put to quietly drink his tea while opening up his Annals of the Seven Noble Families for further study. If Han Yunxi wanted to fool around, he’d let her do as she pleased. If she went overboard, he could help her clean up the mess afterwards.
Uncle Gao withdrew as soon as Han Yunxi got off the carriage. Duanmu Yao assumed that it was Long Feiye, but only felt disappointed when he never showed. She quickly wiped away the tears on her face to hide her pathetic expression from Han Yunxi’s eyes. Unfortunately, her pitiful state was much harder to hide than some simple tears. Han Yunxi had already jumped onto the ground, but now she leaned back to sit against the carriage, sitting astride its axels as she played with the whip for the horses.
Instead of staring at Duanmu Yao outright, she cast her a sideways glance. She looked towards her shoes first, then traced a path up to her face and back down to her feet. It was a perfect rendition of scorn and disdain that made Duanmu Yao bristle in response. She was already feeling timid, but now Han Yunxi had added humiliation to the mix. In fury, she cried, “Han Yunxi, what are you looking at?”
“I’m trying to see what a pestering annoyance looks like.” Han Yunxi examined her from head to toe again, then added, “I’ve got a clear picture now.”
“You!” Duanmu Yao almost rose to fight, but held herself back. If Han Yunxi had the guts to get off that carriage, then she’d make the woman regret for a lifetime! Although master was ignorant of the marriage agreement between Cang Qiuzi and the Tang Clan, he did know she was looking for senior brother to treat her wounds. No matter what, she couldn’t fight back or make any slip of the tongue that end up putting her at a disadvantage. She had to push Han Yunxi into the fault first so she could go back and tattle properly.
So what if the woman was senior brother’s official consort? Once she left a bad impression in master’s eyes, she’d be over! Master’s temper was the type to hate someone utterly once he formed a bad impression. It would be impossible to change his mind.
Duanmu Yao ignored Han Yunxi’s mockery and said loudly back, “Senior brother, are you planning to defy master’s orders? If you don’t want to see this letter, then I’ll just leave! I’ll bring it back to master as before.”
It was unclear whether Long Feiye had even heard her. Right now, he was absorbed in the contents of his book as he laid lazily on the couch. But Han Yunxi narrowed her eyes indignation. This woman was obviously threatening Long Feiye with the sword sect master!
“Who said that Long Feiye won’t read this letter? It’s obviously you who refuses to give it up! Miss Duanmu, aren’t you afraid of being struck by lighting for lying in broad daylight?” Han Yunxi asked coldly.
She’s cursing me again! Duanmu Yao’s rage simmered in her stomach as she yearned to swear right back, but for the sake of tattling later, she still held back. Taking a deep breath, she asked, “Han Yunxi, you’re a woman, so can’t you speak properly? Do you have to curse others?”
Han Yunxi laughed and tilted her head towards the driver. “Has this wangfei cursed anyone?”
Uncle Gao shook his head, so Han Yunxi looked towards Mu Linger next. Before she even asked, the girl was already scurrying to her side with a retort. “Han Yunxi, are you even cursing someone who’s human in the first place?”
Very satisfied, Han Yunxi told Uncle Gao, “Hey, you should learn more from Miss Linger in the future.”
Meanwhile, Long Feiye’s lips curved up into a grin from within the carriage...in the end, he was still paying attention to every word said outside. Duanmu Yao almost burst into tears from frustration again. Finally she cursed, “Han Yunxi, you’re the one who’s inhuman! Don’t bully me too far! You have no right to involve yourself in matters between me and my senior brother. Scram for this princess this instant!”
This princess? Duanmu Yao’s tone of voice and haughty ways were nothing like the princess of any great nation. Instead, she was more like a spoiled royal of some small, nondescript country. But regardless of the case, she’d long lost her respected status and imperial title.
“If this wangfei remembers rightly, you’ve already been expelled from Western Zhou’s imperial clan for colluding with an enemy duke. You’ve committed the same as treason. Duanmu Yao, you don’t even have the basic precepts of a decent person on hand, much less than of a woman. Isn’t your face turning red from calling yourself a princess?” Han Yunxi rebuked her.
“A noble status is worthy of honor and glory, but it’s also a form of responsibility. You can’t just flaunt it like some sort of display, but protect it with all your might! Duanmu Yao, if you’re still human, then hurry up and bury your mother so she can rest in peace.”
She wasn’t just calling Duanmu Yao inhuman out of spite! Such dirty words weren’t meant to be used casually. Empress Xue had been kidnapped as a hostage and then died in the Chu Clan’s military barracks. Because Duanmu Yao refused to believe that she’d been assassinated, she’d called on Celestial Mountain’s forces to exert pressure on the Chu Clan and Ning Cheng. Insisting on an investigation, she’d let Empress Xue’s corpse lay in the barracks without a proper resting spot.
Long Feiye had been the culprit who ordered the assassination, which was nothing from his standpoint. Every successful power struggle under Heaven was paved with the corpses of tens of thousands of victims. There were no tactics or political machinations without its share of sacrifices and spilled blood.
But Duanmu Yao was Empress Xue’s biological daughter. From her position, the death of her mother should be a tragic event. She should be more anxious than anyone else to uncover the truth about the woman’s death so she could let her rest in peace sooner. Instead, she was idle enough to get involved in the disputes between Cang Qiuzi and the Tang Clan, then delay Long Feiye’s carriage just because she was a jealous rival in love! Han Yunxi’s curses weren’t unwarranted at all.
She hit Duanmu Yao’s sore spot, and the girl only felt that a heavy foot had kicked her painfully in the chest. She’d lost her powerful position as princess, then the mother who doted on her best. Was she going to lose her senior brother next as well? She was no idiot and knew very clear that senior brother had lofty ambitions. One day, Celestial Mountain would fall into his hands. Master was already getting old so he’d retire sooner or later. If she lost senior brother now, she’d end up with nothing.
“I don’t need you to get involved with my Western Zhou’s private affairs! Han Yunxi, who do you think you are? So what if I’ve lost my status as princess? I’m still better than you, who’s only the eldest daughter of some old family’s first wife! What right do you have to reproach me and my background?” Duanmu Yao raged.
What would she think if Han Yunxi’s true origins ever came to light one day?
In any case, Han Yunxi was too lazy to talk titles with Duanmu Yao. She laughed coldly and said, “Duanmu Yao, this wangfei isn’t the slightest bit interested in your affairs. This wangfei only wants to say...a good dog wouldn’t block the way! Get lost!”
Every time she speaks, it’s to curse me again!
“Han Yunxi, you’re the one who’s a dog!” Duanmu Yao cried.
“Are you moving or not?” Han Yunxi lost her patience.
“Senior brother, are you sure you don’t want this letter? Senior brother, I’ve been injured. Master told you to treat my wounds.” Duanmu Yao simply revealed the contents of the letter verbally. She was waiting for Han Yunxi to speak up in his place so she could slip away with that collateral against her. She could then write a letter claiming that Han Yunxi was the one holding senior brother back to let her die instead!
But Han Yunxi wouldn’t fall for such a simple trap. She jumped off the carriage axles and headed straight for Duanmu Yao. “Of course he wants this! Give me!”
“Master said I have to hand it over to senior brother himself. Han Yunxi, you have no right to touch my master’s letter!” Duanmu Yao said coldly.
“I’m Long Feiye’s official consort. If I don’t have the right, do you? Are you handing it over or not?” Han Yunxi’s voice was icy, but this was her final attempt to be diplomatic.
“I won’t!” Duanmu Yao blurted out.
Han Yunxi’s gaze turnd shrewd before she immediately gave orders. “Duanmu Yao is stealing the sword sect master’s letter for herself. Someone come, snatch it over for this wangfei!”
Duanmu Yao gave a start. She was supposed to trick Han Yunxi, but why was she the one being accused of such a heinous crime now? Before she could react, Chu Xifeng and a team of men rushed over to surrounded her. As an experienced guard, he wasted no words and got straight to attacking! Of course, he himself was no match for Duanmu Yao, but he’d brought along ten of His Highness’s secret bodyguards. Even if they couldn’t best the girl, it’d be simple enough to snatch the letter from her hands!
The eleven men all moved at once, forcing Duanmu Yao to dodge even if she didn’t want to fight! Very soon, she was lost in the chaos that followed. Han Yunxi went back to sit on the edge of the carriage and wait. Although she could toy with Duanmu Yao using her needles, she wouldn’t this time. She couldn’t let the girl run off to tattle to the sword sect master, after all.
Though she wasn’t planning to flatter the man, she couldn’t offend him either, much less have Duanmu Yao gain an advantage over the old man. He was Long Feiye’s master, after all, and she disliked causing him more trouble. As she watched the group fight, her eyes narrowed in thought. At this moment, a hand reached out from inside the carriage to offer her a cup of tea.
The man inside didn’t speak, so Han Yunxi remained silent and accepted the tea with a quiet smile as she enjoyed its contents. Tea personally brewed by His Highness Duke of Qin was always delicious.
Duanmu Yao finally bought herself a second of time to glance at the carriage, only to spot this very scene. She momentarily forgot to block her assailants and stilled her sword, stunned. Seeing this, Chu Xifeng moved into snatch the letter, but Duanmu Yao withdrew in alarm and stuffed it down her chest. She was going to risk everything now! With a glare at Han Yunxi, she cried, “I’m not giving it up! Han Yunxi, if you have the skills, come steal it!”
Chu Xifeng was floored by the sight! How was he supposed to...steal it from a place like that?!
Once Duanmu Yao was sure that he and the other men wouldn’t touch her, she focused on sights on the only person who could: Han Yunxi. She hadn’t cultivated a decade’s worth of sword skills for naught. Even if she had to fight off eleven attackers at once, Han Yunxi still wouldn’t be able to touch her! Chu Xifeng shot Han Yunxi a troubled look, not knowing what to do.
Han Yunxi slowly finished her cup of tea before she chuckled. “Linger, you go!”
Her laughter was filled with hidden meaning, but as to whether or not Mu Linger understood what she meant…