If I hadn’t come, all of these things wouldn’t have happened. It seems the sword sect master and Granny You’s words weren’t completely abominable. Their fears are well founded, Han Yunxi thought.
Long Feiye looked at Han Yunxi for a long time before he remarked, “Whether or not you want it, your birthright isn’t something you can throw away. You’d have to acknowledge it sooner or later.”
Han Yunxi knew as well. She couldn’t very well hide her Poison Sect connections for a lifetime, right? How spineless that would be! Now all their hopes laid in the upcoming ranking matches.
“Has there been any movements from Northern Li in the past month?” Long Feiye asked.
Xu Donglin hastened to report. “General Baili uncovered something, but we don’t have any details yet.”
“Speak,” Long Feiye intoned coldly.
“Jun Yixie, the crown prince, and second imperial prince went to the Wintercrow Country[1. Wintercrow Country (冬乌国) - in earlier chapters this was referred to as the “Wintercrow Clan,” but later chapters seem to indicate it’s more of an independent nation of its own. The clan may be the largest population within the country.] north of the snow mountains. General Baili suspects they’ve gone to buy horses,” Xu Donglin said in a low voice.
“It looks like the Northern Li emperor is getting impatient,” Han Yunxi remarked.
“He’s been restless this entire time,” Long Feiye mused. If Jun Yixie can buy horses from the Wintercrow Country, take them back, and train them with the cavalry forces, the quickest time he’d be able to use them would be just as winter sets in.
If he wanted to be more prudent, then Northern Li could be combat ready after winter sets in, seizing the advantage from the deadlock between three nations.
“Once Northern Li joins the fray…” Han Yunxi trailed off meaningfully. “Would they be able to tie down Ning Cheng?”
Western Zhou and Tianan had balanced out the might of Ning Cheng between them, leaving Long Feiye to watch and wait to reap in the gains. But once Ning Cheng gave up defending the north to threaten Tianan with red coat cannons and fight Western Zhou in earnest, his chances for victory had increased. In truth, the actual strength of the Mu Clan troops weren’t very strong. Although they were brave and battle-wise and led by truly talented leaders like Great General Mu and Mu Qingwu, their armor and grain supplies were limited. Long Tianmo could only give them so much support. Moreover, the internal strife within Tianning Country meant that the Mu Clan troops had to uphold Long Tianmo’s rule single handedly, wasting much of their resources. Even constant conscriptions weren’t enough for them to regain their former glory. No matter what, the Mu Clan troops were no match for Ning Cheng’s cannons.
Once the Mu Clan troops fell, Ning Cheng would definitely turn the red coat cannons towards the western front and its Chu Clan troops. With that, he’d conquer both sides. Knowing the man’s personality, he’d team up with the medical academy next to enforce sanctions against South Ning with military strength.
“Exactly!” Han Yunxi’s words agreed with Long Feiye’s thoughts. “As long as Northern Li can keep Ning Cheng in check, we can buy back at least two months of time to deal with Medical City’s sanctions!”
Since Medical City currently had no proof that Han Yunxi was related to the Poison Sect, they couldn’t punish South Ning’s commander-in-chief’s estate completely. Medicine City could hold out for a while, just as Gu Beiyue and Baili Yuanlong could stand firm themselves. Thus, Long Feiye had to quickly conclude business here on Celestial Mountain so he could rush back to South Ning and prepare to deal with Medical City. All the plans of men could not amount to Heaven’s will. As the saying went, one might lose in the east and gain in the west--make up on the roundabouts what one loses on the swings!
Long Feiye immediately wrote a letter for Xu Donglin to take via flying messenger hawk to Gu Beiyue. He should try to delay Medical City for as long as possible, at least until Northern Li released their own troops. Although they’d received nothing but bad news, at least none of it led to a dead end. Han Yunxi silently exhaled at the thought.
“That’s right, Your Highness, Su Xiaoyu vanished out of the blue. They still can’t find any sign of her whereabouts,” Xu Donglin said anxiously. Han Yunxi had long told Long Feiye the same thing.
“I know,” Long Feiye intoned. “Instruct Chu Xifeng to contact Chu Tianyin so they can both search.”
“They stole her away but didn’t come asking for ransom. What kind of secret’s hidden there?” Han Yunxi wondered.
“It might be a long standing grudge. Or maybe it’s not the right time to come knocking just yet.” Long Feiye didn’t seem overly concerned with the incident. “Just wait,” he murmured.
Once Xu Donglin left, the room fell silent. It was currently right after noon, the quietest time on Celestial Mountain. Han Yunxi leaned against the window to look down at the peaceful scene below, her heart filled with emotions. She knew that the serenity of Celestial Mountain had long been churned up into tempestuous waves. Cang Qiuzi had to be making his preparations now, while the Heretical Sword Sect were probably ready to make trouble too. The same went for the Sword and Scripture Depositories. Granny You would be an excellent ally, but her vitality had been greatly injured from healing Han Yunxi. It would take a year and a half before she recovered completely.
Meanwhile, the branch factions from the lower mountains were probably watching everything as well. They used to be strong supporters of Long Feiye, but how many of them still stood on his side now that Han Yunxi’s identity had been exposed? The sword sect master had only imprisoned Duanmu Yao, while Cang Qiuzi was still running amok. In the end, nothing had been resolved about her Poison Sect lineage. Although none of the Celestial Mountain disciples dared to bring it up, they were definitely waiting for the conclusion!
The sword sect master will probably make his final decision at tomorrow’s ranking matches, Han Yunxi thought to herself. There’s so much at stake.
While she was drawing a blank, Long Feiye had long approached from behind to wrap his arms around her. He rested his chin on her shoulder and asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“I’m thinking…” Han Yunxi’s words stopped as Long Feiye covered her mouth.
“Don’t think about anything. It’s rare to have an afternoon free, come accompany your lordship.”
Han Yunxi smiled. “I’ve been accompanying you the entire time.”
“Don’t think or talk about anything. Just stay by my side, won’t you?” Long Feiye’s soft tones showed a rare trace of fatigue. Of course Han Yunxi knew he was tired. She too, was very, very exhausted. His words made her even more weary. It had been too long since she’d relaxed her mind and all its worries for a good rest.
“Alright.” But before she could turn around, Long Feiye had picked her up bridal style to stride towards the bed. Han Yunxi ended up lying on her back with Long Feiye next to her--on his stomach to avoid his back wounds. The two of them held hands and shut their eyes. Spending time with each other didn’t need to come from desire or lust, embracing or chatting. Sometimes just quietly being by each other’s side was enough to deepen one’s feelings. For the entire afternoon, the two of them lay side by side. It wasn’t clear who fell asleep first, Long Feiye or Han Yunxi.
Long Feiye had never relaxed an inch since discovering his true identity. He had never slept so peacefully before. For this afternoon, he forgot all about his pains and injuries, his arduous childhood sufferings, the East Qin, his imperial parents, Tang Zijin and Aunt Ru, as well as the Seven Noble Families, the West Qin imperial clan, the Poison Sect, and the medical academy…
This was also Han Yunxi’s first time being so relaxed since transmigrating into this period. Although the afternoon didn’t last long, she felt as if she’d slept for a century. She had a very, very long dream where the modern day intersected with Cloud Realm Continent, mixing up all the people and places she knew. Gradually, she grew into a trance and felt two different forces pulling at her. She looked to the right and clearly saw Long Feiye, then looked to the left and saw a blurry face. Who could that be?
“Who are you…?” she murmured in her sleep. That person didn’t reply beyond giving her a rough jerk to pull her towards them.
“Long Feiye!” she turned back to look at Long Feiye, who was staring at her expressionlessly. He didn’t chase after her, but kept backing away into a darkness that threatened to swallow him.
“Long Feiye!” Han Yunxi woke up with a start, covered in cold sweat. Long Feiye was sitting right next to her side and holding her hand.
“Did you have a nightmare?”
Han Yunxi glanced at their hands and released a breath of relief. “So it was you.”
“What happened?” Long Feiye asked.
“Someone tried to tug me away in my dream, but I couldn’t see their face. So it was you!” Han Yunxi smiled. She figured she must have been exhausted and relaxed to the point where she started dreaming.
“Who else but your lordship would have the courage to pull you away?” Long Feiye smiled.
“Have you slept enough?” Han Yunxi asked.
“Mm,” Long Feiye indeed had his fill of rest. He had never slept so comfortably in his life, so his energy was completely recovered.
“That’s good then, come here.” the sword sect master’s voice suddenly spoke up, making Han Yunxi realize that the man was already sitting at the tea table on one side. There were no traces of madness on him anymore and his hair was neatly tied up in its usual impressive, respectable state.
“How is the situation with Long Feiye’s injuries?” she asked.
“He left closed door cultivation ahead of schedule and forcefully suppressed his internal injuries. It’s already fortunate that he’s managed to hold out for so long. His chances for victory aren’t high tomorrow. Even if he does win, it might lead to serious wounds that could lead him to insanity. In the worse case scenario, his blood and qi will flow backwards and lead to death,” the sword sect master said coldly.
Han Yunxi was greatly alarmed. She glared at Long Feiye, who didn’t deny the diagnosis.
“Then what can we do?” Han Yunxi immediately rushed to the sword sect master’s side, her resentment against him long lost to the distant clouds.
The sword sect master couldn’t help but chuckle. “Lass, can you still trust this old man?”
“Do I have any other choice besides trusting you? Right now we’re all in the same boat. Cang Qiuzi and Duanmu Yao did that kind of deal while you were Celestial Mountain’s leader and her master. You have the greatest responsibility! And also, Long Feiye’s your disciple too. The fact that he’s colluded with the likes of a Poison Sect descendant like me is also because you didn’t raise him strictly enough. Now the world’s people aren’t just cursing Cang Qiuzi, Duanmu Yao, and me, but you as well--the figurehead of Celestial Mountain who sits as the leader of the martial arts world!” Han Yunxi was quite agitated as she spoke, so she had to stop for a sip of tea before continuing.
“You don’t have to consider Long Feiye’s interests, you could even go kill Cang Qiuzi right now. But so what? Is there anyone in the world who will continue to accept you as the sect leader? The most respected and revered position of Celestial Mountain within the martial arts circles will be forfeit in less than three years!”
Han Yunxi had given voice to the unspoken factor in both Li Jianxin and Long Feiye’s hearts. Neither of them was helping the other for purely altruistic motives, nor had one forgiven the other. They were simply stuck in the same plight as mutual tools. Long Feiye’s lips quirked up in a silent grin. The sword sect master laughed out loud.
“Lass, it’s a good thing that you’re female. Feiye has one less opponent then.”
Han Yunxi was in no mood to debate with the sword sect master on the equality of men and women. She urgently asked, “How are you going to help Long Feiye?”
The sword sect master only looked at Long Feiye before he asked, “If I shut myself in with him for one night, will you still trust this old man?”
But Han Yunxi only replied…Previous Chapter Next Chapter