Although Long Feiye’s appearance was sudden, Gu Beiyue didn’t startle. He stood up to pay obeisance, his tone gentle and modest. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, you must have business to visit so late at night.”
“You believe in Buddha? What are you praying for?” Long Feiye asked again.
“I’m praying…” Gu Beiyue paused, before he said teasingly, “For my reincarnation into the next lifetime.”
“You haven’t finished this life yet, so why wish to rush for the next?” Long Feiye asked.
Gu Beiyue just smiled. “The Buddha says, suffering in this lifetime will be relieved by the next. That’s why we must endure past our pains.”
Long Feiye laughed coldly. “You believe in such ignorant truths?”
“This one believes not in Buddha, but in fate.” Gu Beiyue was ever smiling even at the most caustic remarks. If there was another life, he hoped that the Gu Clan would have nothing to do with the Shadow Clan ever again. Let him be himself.
“Your Highness, do you trust in fate?” he asked lightly.
“Fate?” Long Feiye just scoffed at the word. “My life is up to me, not the Heavens. Your lordship doesn’t believe in anything but myself!”
If he trusted himself to fate and followed its whims, then what of Han Yunxi? East Qin was not his life, but Han Yunxi was!
“Your lordship will leave South Ning tomorrow,” he announced.
“If there’s anything this one can do, may Your Highness instruct me,” Gu Beiyue said seriously. Han Yunxi had left him with many tasks, so he knew that Long Feiye would do the same.
However, Long Feiye didn’t give him any instructions beyond one thing, “If your lordship hasn’t descended the mountain by mid-autumn, protect Han Yunxi in my place.”
Gu Beiyue’s peaceful heart gave a harsh, painful jolt at the words. He didn’t want to believe in fate, but everything revolved around it! No matter how much his heart ached, he remained coolly calm. No matter how much he lived in pain, he kept his slight smile on his face.
“Your Highness Duke of Qin, what do you mean by ‘protect?’ I am more of a cripple now than anything and need Guard Chu’s protection. I’m afraid I cannot shoulder Your Highness’s instruction,” he replied.
“You can shoulder it as long as she trusts you,” Long Feiye declared with certainty. “All you have to do is protect her. Don’t let her leave South Ning, but wait for your lordship’s return.”
Gu Beiyue understood. During the mid-autumn season, the three nations at war would be hungering for grain. The commander-in-chief’s estate in South Ning would definitely make a big move. If Long Feiye couldn’t get back in time, Han Yunxi would try to take on the responsibilities all by herself. She might not even balk at charging into enemy lines. It sounded simple to keep Han Yunxi in South Ning, but it would take constant coaxing to make her stay, and to assist her in controlling the Cloud Realm Continent chessboard.
South Ning’s commander-in-chief’s estate suffered no lack of wealth and military strength. They only needed Long Feiye to accept and join them, and to pick an advisor to lead them. Without a doubt, both he and Han Yunxi had chosen Gu Beiyue.
Gu Beiyue didn’t hesitate. “This one--this one won’t shrink from his duty! But I hope that things go smoothly for Your Highness.”
Gu Beiyue had a good idea of the Celestial Mountain chessboard as well. He knew many things, but he kept them all to himself without revealing the details. Long Feiye simply nodded at his words and turned to leave. This was simply a precaution. Once the struggle at Celestial Mountain started, he had to find a way to finish it and leave before mid-autumn.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi had just left Pill Fiend Pharmacy.
“Master, just take me with you. I promise I’ll be good and listen to your words,” Su Xiaoyu had been begging her from the building to the exit. Baili Mingxiang had only told Han Yunxi to ‘take care’ without adding anything else. Han Yunxi was too lazy to acknowledge Su Xiaoyu now and simply cut her off with a wave.
“Master, Little Yu’er is begging you. Master…”
“What’s with this racket? The newly arrived ingredients are all the best of the best. Hurry up and store them,” Mu Linger snapped as she snagged Su Xiaoyu by her collar and dragged her aside.
Poor Su Xiaoyu only gave Han Yunxi a pleading glance, but the woman replied, “Doctor Gu doesn’t have any free time right now, so you and Baili Mingxiang should stay behind to help out at Pill Fiend Pharmacy.”
“Yes,” Baili Mingxiang respectfully bowed her head. With no other choice, Su Xiaoyu simply muttered a helpless ‘oh.’
After Han Yunxi left, Mu Linger personally dragged Su Xiaoyu into the building. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the girl secretly slipped away while the other was distracted and went to chase after Han Yunxi’s carriage. But as the carriage went faster and faster, it was impossible for her to keep up. She didn’t dare chase it all the way to the Duke of Qin’s estate since she feared that man the most. If His Highness Duke of Qin knew she was pestering esteemed wangfei, the consequences would be unthinkable.
Completely dejected, Su Xiaoyu hung her head and began to retrace her steps, only to catch sight of a familiar figure nearby.
“Lady Helian?” she muttered doubtfully. When she looked closer, the figure suddenly vanished into an alleyway.
“Where’s she going this late at night?” Su Xiaoyu immediately gave chase, but she didn’t see any sign of the woman even at the end of the lane.
“Where did she go?” She raised her head to look at the surrounding roofs before finally leaning against her shoulder to rest. “Did she fly up onto the rooftops? Can she fly?”
Wondering thus, Su Xiaoyu flew up to check. Unfortunately, there was no sign of anyone around. She sat there for a while in bewilderment. “Was I mistaken?”
But she quickly dismissed her doubts. “It was definitely her!”
And yet further thinking left her puzzled again. “Wasn’t it?”
Finally, she grew annoyed and decided to visit the Han Estate sometime. If she asked Lady Helian in person, she’d find out whether she was mistaken--or whether the woman was hiding something. In fact, she already decided on which method she’d use for interrogation.
Late at night, the streets were silent as if the entire world had fallen into a dream. As the lamps of the Leisurely Cloud Pavilion lit up, Han Yunxi was framed in the windowsill. She’d almost forgotten how long it had been since she stood here last to stare at Long Feiye’s quarters in the distance. As before, his lamps were lit. Addicted to the spot, she poured herself a cup of tea and simply leaned against the window frame to stare. The skies were filled with stars and the breath of summer.
Long Feiye hadn’t gone to bed but was still in his study. The Annals of the Seven Noble Families was resting on his desk, open to the page on the Wind Clan. A single ebony wood bookmark marked his place. He sat in his chair while leaning back, his long legs resting on the windowsill as his hands pillowed his head. From this angle, he could just see Han Yunxi’s figure in her window. This was a secret that even she didn’t know. Of course, she knew even less about the countless nights that Long Feiye had sat staring at her in the dark with his lights off while pondering her origins.
Only Chu Xifeng knew that His Highness Duke of Qin, despite rarely frequenting the estate, had come back daily these nights.
Han Yunxi, how long did it take you to like Long Feiye? He spent countless sleepless nights before he liked you…
Eventually, Han Yunxi hit the bed and went immediately to sleep. In her dreams, she could faintly feel someone touching her face. Her eyes opened groggily and saw Long Feiye standing by her bed, gently stroking her cheek.
“What did you do last night? Still not getting up?” He observed her from above. Actually, he hadn’t gone to sleep until he saw her close her window, so he knew exactly when she had slept.
With a start, Han Yunxi looked out the window and discovered that it was barely daylight. However, because they were leaving in secret, they had to get up early. She was about to rise when she suddenly clutched her sheet to her chest. Without a word, Long Feiye understood and turned to descend the stairs.
“I’ll wait for you downstairs for breakfast.”
Han Yunxi assumed he’d climbed up to see her and privately cursed Zhao mama for not waking her up. However, Long Feiye gave the old woman a fright when he came down. Did His Highness Duke of Qin climb in through the window last night again?
Her two masters were very strange. They had such huge sleeping quarters with a nice circular bed, but insisted on sleeping together in the tiny twin bed upstairs. What kind of hobby was this?
When Han Yunxi finished washing up and went downstairs, she was greeted by Zhao mama’s ambiguous gaze. She stared back in confusion.
“Is there anything wrong?” Han Yunxi asked.
“N-nothing,” Zhao mama stuttered as she smiled and shook her head.
“Then what are you staring for?” Han Yunxi asked again.
“Esteemed wangfei’s complexion looks quite well. Still, some more nutrition is required,” Zhao mama chuckled.
“If my complexion is well, what’s the need for additional nourishment?” Han Yunxi’s appetite disappeared as soon as she thought of aged chicken soup.
“Your body, ah. His Highness is full of vitality and vigor,” Zhao mama murmured in a soft voice.
“What does that have to do with more nour--” Abruptly, Han Yunxi understood and narrowed her eyes. She was about to scold Zhao mama when Long Feiye’s appearance made the urge shrivel up and die. She pretended that nothing had happened at all.
“Your Highness, the carriage is already waiting out back. This old servant has handed responsibilities for board and lodging to Xu Donglin and Uncle Gao. Now that East Jing’s river waters are rising, you should take a ferryboat. Setting out today will take you to the City of Daughters within a week,” Zhao mama said simply before she withdrew, afraid to disturb them further.
“What were you two talking about just then?” Long Feiye asked.
“Nothing,” Han Yunxi definitely wouldn’t reveal it. She silently ate her breakfast while peeking at Long Feiye’s face as Zhao mama’s words swirled in her head.
Full of vitality and vigor…
Does this guy...have that?
Long Feiye was focused on eating, but still managed to ask, “What are you staring at?”
“Noth...I didn’t sleep well last night,” Han Yunxi still didn’t dare to voice her thoughts out loud. Actually, there was no need for questions. Eventually, she’d experience that vigor for herself.
After breakfast, they went to the back gates and saw Gu Beiyue waiting by the exit in his wheelchair. He was dressed all in white, looking like a beautiful immortal sparkling in the sunlight.
“Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, may you have smooth journeys!” he said sincerely. Then he took out Lil Thing from his sleeve. “Esteemed wangfei, don’t leave Lil Thing behind. He can be a valiant general as well.”
Lil Thing didn’t know Mama Yunxi and Papa Long were going to Celestial Mountain. As it woke up sleepily, its gaze trailed from Mama Yunxi to the gentleman before finally resting on Papa Long. Though the sight didn’t make its fur stand on end as before, it was still dejected by the vision. It was about to burrow into Mama Yunxi’s sleeve when it saw the horse carriage and realized they were going out. Although it didn’t want to leave the gentleman, it was about time to return to Mama Yunxi’s side. Its main mission was to protect Mama Yunxi!
Lil Thing waved a paw at Gu Beiyue until he smiled and waved back. The sight made Lil Thing wish it could wave at Gu Beiyue until the end of the world. Still, it was afraid of Papa Long and didn’t waste too much time. Soon enough, it went to hide inside Han Yunxi’s medical pouch.
Before leaving, Han Yunxi made sure to instruct, “Gu Beiyue, when we come back, how about meeting us at this same gate? But next time, on your feet!”
“No,” Gu Beiyue replied seriously. “This one will stand by the gates of the city. May you two return peacefully!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter