Chapter 682: He really put in a lot of thought

Han Yunxi discovered that her collarbone was graced with an obvious red mark! It was clearly left by Long Feiye as...a hickey! No wonder Tang Li had been acting so strange. No wonder Lady Tang wore such an ambiguous smile, and Tang Zijin immediately looked away!

Heavens, I could have walked into the banquet hall like this without a second thought! All of the Tang Clan members are there. If they saw this, where would I find a place to hide? 

She’d nearly stolen Tang Li and Ning Jing’s spotlight as the highlight of the wedding evening. The thought was too terrifying for words! Lady Tang hadn’t even warned her about it, but instead offered to send her straight into the fire! Abominable! Like mother, like son!

Han Yunxi didn’t get it. Long Feiye hadn’t kissed her that hard, so why did it leave a mark? Still, she managed to calm down quickly. Her fingers brushed against the mark before she suddenly burst into laughter. “Mine?”

Despite being exhausted, she would lose sleep tonight. It would take time to find an appropriate dress to match with a scarf that would hide her hickey. Otherwise, she’d be too embarrassed to meet anyone tomorrow. Still, why didn’t I realize that Long Feiye was such a hooligan earlier?

While Han Yunxi didn’t sleep, Long Feiye didn’t rest either. Despite staying at the Tang Clan, he was still keeping an eye on the situation between Tianning, Western Zhou, and Tianan. Less than a day had passed before news of the induced labor spread to . The head of the medical academy personally looked into the affair and issued orders to summon Head Elder Ling and Lady Lianxin back to the city. Although Academy Head Gu wanted to keep the ugly news under wraps and away from the public, Gu Qishao wouldn’t give him the chance. 

Somehow, he’d found enough social connections to spread the news everywhere. Barely half a day later, the news was the talk of the entire Cloud Realm Continent. Academy Head Gu thus punished both Head Elder Ling and Lady Lianxin. He was also required to give the public an explanation, lest the reputation of the medical academy fell into ruin. Gu Qishao had done the most work to make this happen. Thanks to the news, many of Emperor Tianhui’s former officials rose to arms. Some of them supported the third or fourth imperial son with their troops while secretly plotting to take advantage of the chaos to seize a piece of Tianning for themselves. However, the majority leaned towards Long Tianmo’s faction.

In the end, Ning Cheng was left dealing with the situations from the east and west while repelling separatist forces within the country. Although the rebels were few, it still diverted a portion of his military forces to deal with them. This completely wrecked his battle plans. 

As Long Feiye predicted, Western Zhou’s emperor accepted Chu Tianyin’s surrender and pushed the blame for Empress Xue’s death onto Ning Cheng and Chu Qingge’s shoulders. He dispatched his own troops to Chu Tianyin, since the general knew the terrain of the western regions best and had ample battle experience. That very night, he smashed through a legion of Ning Cheng’s crack troops.

On the eastern front, Long Tianmo lacked battle experience but had the Mu Clan generals, who were no easy foes. Their numbers were limited, but Great General Mu set out an excellent chessboard to deal with the fighting. Even now, Mu Qingwu was rushing to lead the frontlines. With him guiding the army and his father making the plans, Long Tianmo had a solid play that would suffer no losses.

“Your Highness, this really was a boon for Long Tianmo,” Chu Xifeng wasn’t happy with the results. “We shouldn’t have left him alive.”

If they had killed Long Tianmo in the past, then His Highness Duke of Qin would definitely be in charge of the territory at Tianan and reaping the benefits by now. After all, as His Highness Duke of Qin, a first rank qinwang (prince) of Tianning, he had justice on his side if he wanted to clean up Ning Cheng and Chu Qingge.

“Do you think the Mu Clan is an easy opponent?” Long Feiye asked coldly.

“We should have stopped Mu Liuyue from marrying,” Chu Xifeng whispered. “Moreover, Mu Qingwu sought refuge with the just so he could investigate the case of the pilfered grain from the disaster regions.”

“Mu Qingwu...he’s not the one who makes the decisions in the Mu Clan,” Long Feiye said.

Mu Qingwu had faked his alliance with the and its crown prince in a moment of impulsiveness to uncover proof of the imperial uncle’s embezzling ways. But for the sake of giving Mu Liuyue a home, Great General Mu had turned it into a true alliance with Long Tianmo. Neither Long Tianmo nor Mu Qingwu were considered threats in Long Feiye’s eyes; what he dreaded was Great General Mu. Despite all the chaos in the western regions, that old fox had waited this long to talk Long Tianmo into releasing his troops. That was no ordinary skill!

“But Your Highness, Mu…” Chu Xifeng didn’t understand, but Long Feiye cut him off.

“As long as Great General Mu is still alive, we shouldn’t even think of attacking Tianan.”

“Your Highness, it can’t be that we’re afraid of the Mu Clan?” Chu Xifeng couldn’t accept it. Aside from their other fighting forces, the Baili Clan was strong enough to deal with the Mu Clan.

As if Long Feiye truly feared him! He sprawled lazily on the couch with a carefree air. “Besides the and Mu Clan troops, what other force in this world understands Northern Li’s cavalrymen best?” Long before internal strife took over Tianning, Long Feiye had said he wanted to leave Tianning and Tianan intact as a buffer against Northern Li. The south central region was a plentiful land of fish and rice, filled with fertile farmland and a dense population. He would never allow war to reach its borders. He had accepted Chu Tianyin’s surrender to preserve the Chu Clan troops, but it wasn’t just so he could deal with Ning Jing. 

“Make preparations. Tomorrow, we set out for ,” Long Feiye said simply.

“Your Highness is leaving Yaoshui?” Chu Xifeng was astonished. Wasn’t it too early to leave just yet? After all, the fighting had just begun, and many variables were still uncertain. 

“So long as Northern Li doesn’t move, the three territories of the western regions won’t change much.”

Although Ning Cheng was hemmed in on both ends, he had enough troops to hold out, and a scary amount of financial resources backing him. A year and a half wouldn’t be enough for him to suffer any major losses. Long Feiye figured that the struggle in the western regions would continue for two or three more years before coming to a conclusion. He was still more concerned with Northern Li, so he had to hurry back to to understand the situation better with the Baili Clan. Moreover, Baili Yuanlong had written him a few letters mentioning movements of the old and prominent families of . It was about time to go back and put them in their place.

In the Cloud Realm Continent, the central regions were ruled by old, established families, the eastern regions by the merchants, and the western regions by the jianghu. The so-called established families were those of the rich nobles who had carried on their family line for generations and established big clans. There were many of them present in the south central regions. Because they lived remote distances from the royal capital, they had grown in power and influence until they created their own commander-in-chief post to rally under. Over a year had passed, but the commander-in-chief’s estate had yet to show them any favors. How could that be ignored? Though Western Zhou, Tianning, and Tianan had all been thrown into chaos, he would not allow any internal strife to wreck the balance in the south. Aside from those matters, Long Feiye needed to look into the progress of his major business accounts. Moreover, he wanted to ask about Gu Qishao’s progress with the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. 

In any case, he was an extremely busy man... But the foremost problem in his heart was still . Before he returned there, he had to resolve these problems first, in case of any accidents. After all, there was plenty of trouble waiting for him atop the peak. The less conflicts he left behind him, the better. Long Feiye had prepared so thoroughly that even Tang Li’s ascension to the seat of Tang Clan Head was within his plans. Even if Aunt Ru hadn’t colluded with Duanmu Yao, he had prepared a trap with which to snare her regardless. He had really put in a lot of thought to his plans, but how many people truly understood him? Even his closest subordinate Chu Xifeng was often at a loss.

Once Chu Xifeng left, Long Feiye went to his old haunt: Han Yunxi’s roof. As he sat there, he stared towards the lantern light coming from Tang Li’s courtyard in the distance. This was the first time he was anticipating something from his little brother. Hopefully, he could control the Tang Clan within the next year and control Ning Jing. 

Late at night, Han Yunxi was sewing her makeshift scarf while her husband moved to stare at the swing in her courtyard. Years ago, his imperial mother had taken her life right in front of that swing. 

Despite the hour, it was still bright within the Tang Clan grounds. Ning Jing finally woke up, but Tang Li had fallen asleep. There was no one else in the room. He leaned against the bed with his head bowed and arms crossed over his chest. Ning Jing really did have a sturdy body. She didn’t feel tired at all, and was actually quite energetic. Her eyes roved around the room before she prepared to sit up secretly. But Tang Li suddenly fell over, scaring her into shutting her eyes and feigning sleep again. 

Fortunately, Tang Li regained consciousness before he crashed into the floor. He stretched with a yawn. Hearing this, Ning Jing resolved to keep pretending to sleep. She didn’t know why her stomach hurt so much, but Tang Li must have been the one to save her. He was currently staring at her face before suddenly drawing close. Feeling the sudden breeze against her skin, Ning Jing’s heart skipped a beat. She could feel him breathing right above her and wondered what he was doing so close. Disturbed and tense, she suddenly heard Tang Li grit his teeth and curse: “Slut!”

That’s too much! But Ning Jing bore it. She knew that feigning unconsciousness was the best choice now. At least Tang Li would only move his lips, not his hands. But the man suddenly went and placed a head over her forehead.

Ning Jing grew incensed. Is he still a man? Trying to attack me while I’m unconscious, is he? She was about to push him aside when he stroked her forehead gently and muttered to himself, “It still doesn’t feel like she has a fever. That means she won’t get one at all, right?”

So he was watching me all night because he was worried I’d get feverish?

He quickly removed his hand and carried over a bowl of warm water, still muttering to himself. “I should wet her lips. It’ll be bad if she gets dehydrated.”

He dipped his finger into the bowl before gently smoothing it over her mouth. The liquid trickled in between her lips, but some dribbled down her neck. Seeing this, Tang Li hastily wiped it clean with a handkerchief. 

“Hey, I’m not bullying you, alright? I’m just helping you to wipe it clean,” he said. And it was true; he didn’t do anything suspicious, merely wiping her dry and tucking her in beneath the covers. 

“You haven’t eaten all day or night. Why haven’t you woken up from hunger yet?” he muttered. Ning Jing almost laughed out loud--luckily, she held back. This was the first time she’d heard this fellow ramble on for so long without being annoying. Soon enough, Tang Li reclaimed his seat and leaned against the bed to doze off again. 

Ning Jing waited long enough to make sure he’d fallen asleep before peeking her eyes open. She remained lying on the bed, looking between him and the flowers for a while until she inexplicably fell asleep again. By the time she woke up again the next morning, Tang Li was already gone. Because Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were leaving, he’d gone to see them off. Besides Han Yunxi, he was the only one who knew early on that Long Feiye was preparing to go to in the future. It was already the fourth lunar month, so he knew Long Feiye wouldn’t stay in for long…

Previous Chapter Next Chapter