The needles ripped away the veil, revealing the young woman to be none other than Duanmu Yao. In actual fact, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had long guessed her identity. Long Feiye had suspected it as early as receiving the ransom note, while Han Yunxi realized it after Duanmu Yao questioned him about the Profound Frost Sword. Both of them had assumed it was Tianan Country’s empress dowager who masterminded the kidnapping, but here was the real culprit.
Duanmu Yao certainly had enough status to request Lady Leng Yue for help. Did this mean they could breathe a sigh of relief? Duanmu Yao had no idea about Long Feiye’s birth origins. But did she really kidnap Grand Concubine Yi just for the sake of obtaining the Profound Frost Sword? Wasn’t that too suspicious?
“Where is she?” Long Feiye asked coldly.
“Your lordship has no such junior sister like you!” Long Feiye cut her off coldly.
Duanmu Yao’s reddened eyes glimmered with tears. “Master’s still waiting for us to return to the mountain together!”
“Where is she? Don’t make me ask again!” Long Feiye’s patience was limited. Even without guessing Duanmu Yao’s true motives, he knew that killing Han Yunxi had to top her list. In the past, he’d let her go multiple times for his master’s sake, but he had given up on the idea before coming this time. Even if his master came to investigate, he’d admit to his crimes. Women like her were seriously too annoying!
“Agree to my terms and I’ll send Grand Concubine Yi back to the Duke of Qin’s estate personally. Otherwise...I’ll just die here today!” Duanmu Yao resolved.
“The Profound Frost Sword?” Long Feiye laughed coldly. “Does Cang Qiuzi want it?”
“You don’t have to hand it over, as long as you...as long as you help me treat my wounds,” Duanmu Yao said as she looked pitiably every inch the wronged and innocent party. Actually, this was nothing more than a deal between her and Lady Leng Yue.
Lady Leng Yue was to hand over Grand Concubine Yi to her so she could personally negotiate with Long Feiye and get his Profound Frost Sword. She agreed without a second thought, stating that her only condition was for her to be able to seize the chance and kill Han Yunxi. Although her ransom letter had told Long Feiye to come alone, she knew Han Yunxi would definitely tag along. Now that Lady Leng Yue had fled, she didn’t want the Profound Frost Sword anymore. She only wanted her senior brother to treat her injuries.
It didn’t seem like an outlandish request in her eyes.
Before Long Feiye could reply, Han Yunxi interjected instead, “This wangfei refuses!”
“Han Yunxi, what right do you have to decide on matters between us martial siblings? Who do you think you are?” Duanmu Yao fumed. She still insisted on treating Long Feiye as her martial brother.
“Not treating one’s junior sister is a case of injustice, but not saving one’s imperial mother is a case of unfilial piety! Han Yunxi, do you want to smear my senior brother as an unfilial hypocrite?” Duanmu Yao challenged.
Han Yunxi was about to die from disgust at the woman’s words. If Long Feiye didn’t kill her today, she didn’t mind doing the deed herself! Her eyes flashed coldly before she said haughtily, “Long Feiye is my man. His everything belongs to me. That’s my prerogative!”
“Han Yunxi, you’re shameless!” Duanmu Yao spat out as she raised a hand to slap her. Long Feiye moved to stop the motion, but Han Yunxi beat him to it. She grabbed Duanmu Yao by the wrist and kept her trapped. Before Duanmu Yao could raise her other hand, Han Yunxi soundly slapped her across the cheek!
Duanmu Yao was floored! Nobody had ever slapped her in her life!
“Han Yunxi, I’ll destroy you!” She raised her hand, but Han Yunxi caught that one too.
How could this be? She was a practitioner of martial arts. Why would her hands, so used to wielding a sword, be inferior to Han Yunxi, who only worked with needles? Long Feiye had long guessed the reason but kept his face impassive as he stood behind Han Yunxi as support.
“What’s wrong? Out of strength?” Han Yunxi smiled coldly.
“You poisoned me!” Duanmu Yao was incredulous. She hadn’t felt any poison needles at all! The ones that flew past her only brushed against her face enough to undo her veil.
“Duanmu Yao, are you blind or just stupid? Didn’t you see that all the people on the ground are poisoned?” Han Yunxi snorted contemptuously. “Do you think you’d be the lone exception? You really see yourself as one of a kind! But you’re nothing more than a lucky bastard who used her natural talents and likeness to the sword sect master’s lover to gain his favoritism. Do you really think you’re so special that nobody can compare to you? That everyone should worship you?”
Han Yunxi released Duanmu Yao and pushed her onto the ground before staring at her from above. “Duanmu Yao, let me tell you this. You’ll never be anyone special in front of my husband. Just let those feelings die!”
The poison within Duanmu Yao’s body had already started to react. She sat on the ground while clutching her swollen cheeks, eyes flaming with rage. She had no strength to stand, but Grand Concubine Yi was still in her hands! This was her biggest and final chip! She looked towards the cold-faced Long Feiye and suddenly laughed out loud. “Long Feiye, don’t you want to see your imperial mother again?”
Duanmu Yao had long called Long Feiye by his full name in front of strangers, but this was her first time addressing the man in person as such. Did this count as love turning into hate?
No, this was simply shame turned into loathing! Duanmu Yao had never understood the concept of love. She only knew of possession and vain, conceited glory. Even though she wanted to talk terms with Long Feiye, Han Yunxi refused to give her any chances. Before he could reply, she was already speaking up.
“Duanmu Yao, aside from your lack of energy, don’t you feel your face itching right now?”
Duanmu Yao subconsciously scratched her face at those words. Her cheeks did seem to sting, like dry skin irritated from lack of moisture. It would have been better if she never scratched because now she realized her skin was dry enough to peel off. Sensing the seriousness of the situation, she cried, “Han Yunxi, what did you poison me with?”
“One Night Like One Year,” Han Yunxi replied.
Feeling uneasy, Duanmu Yao asked, “What’s that?”
“In the course of one night--or rather, 12 hours--your face will gradually grow older until it turns aged,” Han Yunxi explained patiently. “Your skin is already starting to dry up and dull. After that, you’ll grow age spots and wrinkles until you turn into an old woman. By then you’ll regain your strength again.”
“No...I don’t want that!” Duanmu Yao grew frantic at those words. Besides Long Feiye, the only thing she cared for in this world was her face! Her features were flawless and filled with ethereal beauty. She had been born with her looks and was known as Cloud Realm Continent’s most celestial woman! How could she bear the reality of age spots, wrinkles, or growing old overnight?
“I don’t want it! Han Yunxi, where’s the antidote? This princess orders you to hand it over immediately! Right now!”
“Han Yunxi, hand over the antidote, hurry up!”
Robbed of all logic, Duanmu Yao howled like a beast, but time didn’t stop with her protests, nor did her poison disappear. Thanks to her exertions, it reacted even quicker on her face. Soon enough, she felt the presence of wrinkles appearing around the corners of her eyes and on her forehead.
She couldn’t take this!
“Han Yunxi, do you hear me? Give me the antidote!”
“Han Yunxi, give it to me! I’ll do anything you want! Hurry!”
Han Yunxi only stood her ground and asked, “Where’s Grand Concubine Yi?”
“Give me the antidote. As long as my face recovers, I promise I’ll take you to Grand Concubine Yi right away,” Duanmu Yao said desperately.
“This wangfei can take her time negotiating whether the antidote or hostage comes first. But I’d like to remind you of one thing. ‘One Night Like One Year’ is an irreversible poison.”
“What does that mean?” Duanmu Yao felt a sense of dread.
“Irreversible means that the antidote will only keep you from aging further, not recover your original looks.” Han Yunxi smiled guilelessly as Duanmu Yao’s nerves snapped.
“Han Yunxi, you slut! I’m going to kill you!” She tried to reach for her sword, but couldn’t even unsheath it from its scabbard.
Han Yunxi backed away and crossed her arms over her chest to loom over the other woman. “Fine then. I’ll wait until you recover your strength before we fight a round.”
Duanmu Yao nearly spat out blood in fury. She felt as if she could already smell the stench of blood in her nostrils.
Wait? To her, that was no different than ‘aging!’ Did she have any other choice? No! Instead she cried out, “Someone, come!”
Soon enough, two servant girls emerged from the woods, carrying an unconscious Grand Concubine Yi between them. Long Feiye inspected the woman to make sure she was simply unconscious and not injured.
“Han Yunxi, the antidote!” Duanmu Yao was burning with impatience.
“Antidote?” Han Yunxi knitted her brows as she fell into thought. “Ah, that...oh my! Did I bring it with me?”
Duanmu Yao was about to cry as she fumed. “Han Yunxi, you can’t act like this!”
“Then what do you say I should be?” Han Yunxi asked studiously.
“Are you going to go back on your word? Give me the antidote right now!” Duanmu Yao was about to go insane.
Han Yunxi knelt on the ground and admired Duanmu Yao’s wrinkled forehead with amusement, as well as the age spots dotting her cheeks like stars. “Duanmu Yao, calm down a little. We can chat calmly if there’s anything to say. The more excited you get, the faster the poison will act. If you keep going like this, you might turn old before the night even comes.”
Duanmu Yao touched her face and really started to cry. “Han Yunxi, I’m begging you! Just treat it as me begging you! Han Yunxi, you’re not someone who goes back on her words, are you?!”
“Should this wangfei keep her word to the likes of you?” Han Yunxi retorted icily.
Duanmu Yao was struck speechless. At this point, she had no choice but to beg. But before she could start, Han Yunxi had already tossed her the bottle of antidote.
“Duanmu Yao, for someone like you, this wangfei will still keep her word. That’s because we’re completely different kinds of people.”
Duanmu Yao couldn’t be bothered with anything else besides gulping down the contents of the bottle.
With Grand Concubine Yi in their hands and Duanmu Yao suffering a major blow, Han Yunxi was ready to leave. Still, Long Feiye moved to pick up the sword on the ground and point it at Duanmu Yao...Previous Chapter Next Chapter