The moon was bright and the stars were scarce.
It was already a quiet night, but the depths of the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds were silent to the point that nothing but the mountain breeze remained. Bai Yuqiao still couldn’t figure out why they were here even after they stopped by the edge of the Poison Sect’s Skypit. If they were tracing things back to the source, then the Hundred Poisons Sect could count as one of the Poison Sect’s branch factions. But in her memories, master had never mentioned this place, much less take her here.
Senior brother Jun Yixie had come before to seek out the poison beast, but left without results. She remembered that master had only smiled after hearing about the news without saying a word. In every case, members of the poison community all yearned for this spot because its mountains were filled with poisonous plants. Meanwhile, the Skypit at their feet once imprisoned the poison beast, making it especially alluring. There was a hypnotizing effect to the abyss of the Skypit that made Bai Yuqiao want to dive down and explore its depths. She waited excitedly for a long time, assuming that master would take her down, but he simply stood by the edge and stared at the darkness.
After a while, he turned and said, “Yu lass, let’s go back.”
“Master, we’re already here...we’re not going down to take a look?” Bai Yuqiao asked, confused.
“It’s already ruined down there, so there’s nothing worth seeing,” Bai Yanqing intoned.
“Then...then what did we come here for?” Bai Yuqiao was curious.
Bai Yanqing laughed. “Yu lass, don’t you think the wind has a certain flavor here?”
Bai Yuqiao lifted her head and sniffed at the breeze. “It smells like mud.”
“No, it’s the smell of poison! Even the air in this place has been touched by toxins,” Bai Yanqing sighed with feeling. “Smelling it once in a while can remind one of one’s origins.”
Bai Yuqiao was even more puzzled and tried to sound him out. “Master’s...been here before?”
She might have been raised by her master as a foster daughter, but most of her time was spent in the Hundred Poisons Sect. She didn’t follow him often and her childhood memories were full of master’s frequent travels elsewhere. Neither her nor her senior brother ever knew where he went. Only recently had she gotten the chance to stay by his side, serve him, and understand him better.
Bai Yanqing looked up at the moon and stroked his beard with a smile. “Of course. This is the origin of the poison world, and your master’s roots!”
Bai Yuqiao’s heart suddenly skipped a beat. “Master...Master is a descendant of the Poison Sect too?”
She regretted her words as soon as she said them, because her lightning quick mind was already analyzing the possibilities. If master is a descendant of the Poison Sect, then what’s his relationship with Han Yunxi? Why doesn’t he let senior brother bother Han Yunxi while secretly scheming against her himself? What does this contradiction mean?
And also, why does master hide so many things from senior brother?
Bai Yuqiao felt a keen sense of danger as she followed her train of thought. Anyone who knew too much would have a bad end. The hands hidden in her sleeves were clenched tightly and soaked with sweat. She didn’t dare to meet her master’s eyes, afraid that he’d realize she knew too much. But instead, all she heard was a laugh.
“Yu lass, aren’t you a descendant of the Poison Sect too? Anyone who learns the poison arts is a descendant of the Poison Sect! None of them should forget their origins!”
Bai Yuqiao abruptly looked up and only saw her master’s cheerful face. It was identical to her childhood memories, kindly and amiable.
So that’s what master meant!
She had no time to wonder if he meant it, but only hastened to cover up her tension by feigning happiness. “Master, Yu’er thought you’d be really mad, but now I finally know why you’re so happy.”
“Happy? Heheh, then why don’t you tell me the reason.” Bai Yanqing was indeed in good spirits.
“Because the Poison Sect’s regained its innocence. Our Hundred Poisons Sect won’t be a wicked, crooked sect anymore!” Bai Yuqiao said with a smile.
“Mm,” Bai Yanqing nodded perfunctorily. To him, both Jun Yixie and the Hundred Poisons Sect were simply tools in his hands. How could either of them compare to this stretch of land? He glanced back at the Skypit again as a trace of nostalgia rose in his eyes. He had lived here for years and stood outside of the Skypit multiple times. He had also looked up at that same moon many times without ever stepping inside its depths.
By the time Bai Yanqing and his disciple returned to their quarters, a message from Northern Li had already arrived. Originally, the Northern Li emperor had been venting his anger on Jun Yixie thanks to the crown prince’s death. He had stopped all duties in Jun Yixie’s hands and even put him under secret house arrest at the palace. But now the emperor had to use Jun Yixie again, because the second imperial prince had suddenly stopped all communications from the Wintercrow Clan. There were no other suitable candidates to serve as a diplomatic envoy, so the emperor could only place all his hopes on Jun Yixie instead.
Perhaps the Northern Li emperor had finally realized the severity of the situation, but Jun Yixie was the only man familiar with the Wintercrow Clan. Sending anyone else that might antagonize the people there could only jeopardize the second imperial prince’s life. The crown prince was already dead, but he’d taught Jun Yixie such a thorough lesson that the man should know to be more reserved when it came to the second imperial prince.
After reading the letter, Bai Yuqiao exhaled a long breath. “Master, senior brother can definitely reverse his bad luck!”
Bai Yanqing had full faith in Jun Yixie as he grinned. “He left yesterday, so he should be able to bring back the horses within another month. Any progress with Su Xiaoyu, Yu lass?”
“We’ve already sounded her out and confirmed that she knows nothing about the phoenix birthmark. As for the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion, we’re still looking into it,” Bai Yuqiao replied honestly. “But master, if that girl really doesn’t know a thing, then haven’t we wasted all our efforts?”
“She and Baili Mingxiang are both Han Yunxi’s servant girls. She should know everything Baili Mingxiang does,” Bai Yanqing guessed.
“But master...that girl is still Chu Tianyin’s scout in the end. Though they say she’s lost her memory, Han Yunxi wouldn’t trust her completely, right?” Bai Yuqiao asked seriously.
“Why would she keep someone she doesn’t trust by her side, much less teach her poison skills?” Bai Yanqing asked back.
Bai Yuqiao was rendered mute. Han Yunxi’s face suddenly flashed in Bai Yanqing’s mind, causing him to chuckle. “That lass much be very similar to this old man. She wouldn’t leave useless people by her side, so she must have her eye on Su Xiaoyu’s natural talents.”
“Leave a hand when you deal with her,” he instructed Bai Yuqiao, “Don’t torment her to death, it’ll be useful to keep the girl around. And also, send someone to keep an eye on Ning Cheng. Have them report back as soon as he makes an important move.”
“Yes, Yu’er understands,” Bai Yuqiao replied respectfully.
Bai Yanqing was keeping his eye on Ning Cheng while Long Feiye was making a beeline for the man’s army. He had long recovered his internal energy and secretly left Celestial Mountain with Baili Mingxiang in tow. Right now, he was going to meet up with Baili Yuanlong. In the wide and expansive carriage, his journey was smooth and without bumps despite the barren wastelands outside. Long Feiye was currently busying himself with looking over reports.
No matter where he was, all sorts of news could reach his hands. There were at least ten more missives sitting on one side, some from Medical City, others from Baili Yuanlong or the south central region’s commander-in-chief’s estate. Still others came from Pill Fiend Pharmacy, Northern Li, Celestial Mountain, Western Zhou, Tianan Country, etc. There were also news regarding the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion’s progress--although he’d handed the task to Gu Qishao, he had his own people doing investigations as well.
He was truly extremely busy with his eyes and ears spread all over Cloud Realm Continent. Whether or not the details in the messages were important, unimportant, expected or a surprise, his face maintained its eternally impassive expression and showed no trace of his feelings. His internal injuries exhibited no obvious signs either, but he had definitely gotten thinner over the past few days. The contours of his face were more pronounced as a result, making him seem three parts colder.
Aside from the wind, there was only the sound of hoofbeats accompanying their journey. Abruptly, he asked, “Is it Lingyun Pass ahead?”
Uncle Gao, the driver, hastily responded. “It’s one li ahead. Going east from there will take us to Medical City, while west will bring us to Sand River.”
When His Highness Duke of Qin failed to answer, Uncle Gao asked, “Your Highness, are we changing our route?”
His Highness had ordered him to go to Sand River after descending the mountain so he could meet with General Baili. However, messages from Medical City had reached them yesterday. He had no idea what might have happened there.
Long Feiye still didn’t reply, so he had no choice but to keep driving the carriage. Sitting by his side was Baili Mingxiang, who knew full well what had happened in Medical City. In fact, she was privy to all of His Highness Duke of Qin’s affairs after accepting her mission at Celestial Mountain. Of course, it wasn’t His Highness Duke of Qin that told her, but the shadow guard he’d assigned to her side, A’Dong. She knew that A’Dong would only reveal these things if he had instructions from His Highness Duke of Qin.
They were currently separated by a single curtain. She could touch her face to it if she turned her head, and dearly wished her eyes had the power to see through it to the man within. At this thought, she couldn’t help but mock herself. Even if I see him, so what? It’s still impossible for me to see though his heart.
I’ll never be able to!
But why had he asked that question just then? Was he hesitating? Did he want to change his mind and go to Medical City instead to see esteemed wangfei? Yet how could a man like him ever waver when it came to important matters? He had left Celestial Mountain secretly, but the spies at the peak would quickly discover him missing. He had to meet with her father before they found out. If there was a misstep here, all of his preparations beforehand would be wasted!
Baili Mingxiang turned back to look at the road. One li wasn’t very far, so Lingyun Pass was already on them. She couldn’t help but knit her brows, conflicted. Although she wished that the man she liked could always keep his indifferent cool and look towards the big picture, she also hoped that he could have the sparks of human sentiment as well. She yearned for him to change his mind and head for Medical City instead.
She knew that his hesitation meant that his heart was having second thoughts. How awful must it feel, to want something but not have it? His Highness Duke of Qin must be missing esteemed wangfei.
If he didn’t speak up now, they would go through Lingyun Pass. With his personality, he won’t double back after that, right?
At last, the pass drew near. Baili Mingxiang couldn’t help but remind him, “Your Highness, we’re at Lingyun Pass.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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