Chapter 797: War plans, caught unawares

On their way here, Long Feiye had exchanged words with a shadow guard he sent off to Medical City. Back then, Baili Mingxiang had inadvertently overheard part of their conversation. There were three distinct phrases: 1) after the medical skills competition, 2) eliminate, and 3) Gu Beiyue.

Together, the phrases formed a frightening sentence: After the medical skills competition, eliminate Gu Beiyue.

Baili Mingxiang was a bright and quick girl, so she knew to keep terrible implications to herself. She knew full well that there were times when she shouldn’t speak and things she shouldn’t know. But this time involved Gu Beiyue, ah! She only knew His Highness Duke of Qin had private dealings with the man that the two kept secret from esteemed wangfei. But like the rest of his subordinates, she had no idea about the man’s actual origins. She was truly afraid that the agreement between the two men were only for mutual benefit. If that was the case, then His Highness Duke of Qin, with his usual cruel and ruthless personality, might simply get rid of Gu Beiyue once the man won over Medical City.

Old Wang from Medicine City and its Council of Elders had clearly showed their hands over the incident regarding the Poison Sect. In the end, it proved that it was safest to hold power in one’s own hands. Moreover, when the sword sect master had been teaching her martial arts, he had brought up Gu Beiyue’s injuries. According to the old man, Gu Beiyue’s constitution was one that fought to live in the face of death. Once he made a full recovery, he could be even stronger that His Highness Duke of Qin. Neither he nor the Duke of Qin were ordinary figures. Both were extremely complex, frightening men.

Baili Mingxiang was afraid that esteemed wangfei would be hurt. Esteemed wangfei and Gu Beiyue might not be as intimate as sweethearts, but they trusted each other more than good friends. If His Highness eliminated Gu Beiyue behind esteemed wangfei’s back, what would she ever think?

If the day comes when esteemed wangfei found out that Gu Beiyue lied to her too, how will she take it?

Baili Mingxiang was filled with misgivings and worries, but Long Feiye didn’t answer her question. It wasn’t clear whether he just didn’t hear or chose to ignore it completely. In any case, he had already gone off with Baili Yuanlong to talk as they made their way to the military tent. 

Baili Mingxiang was about to chase after then when the shadow guard A’Dong hastened to block her way. “Miss Mingxiang, His Highness doesn’t like subordinates who talk too much.”

Baili Mingxiang instantly came to her senses with a sigh. “Thank you, I understand.”

Baili Yuanlong had already summoned his military advisers and deputy general into the tent by the time Long Feiye entered. These important posts were all headed by members of the Mermaid Clan. Because His Highness Duke of Qin was visiting personally, everyone looked visibly excited. They were eager to show their loyalty, but hesitant to be too blunt. Dressed in black robes, Long Feiye went to sit on the wide tigerskin couch. Despite this, he radiated military might. Combined with his natural kingly air, he looked like a master no matter what he wore or where he sat. His eyes were cold enough to scorn the world!

Everyone was waiting anxiously for him to speak, but he didn’t say a thing. Only the corners of his lips curled up as he steeped some tea and poured out ten individual cups. Then he smiled and said, “Your lordship is offering tea in place of wine to everyone here. I hope nobody minds?”

It was an open secret that the Duke of Qin preferred tea over alcohol. But the assembled group was stunned. Some doubted their ears, while others felt terror-stricken. Still others were uneasy as they all looked towards Baili Yuanlong. His Highness Duke of Qin was personally serving them tea to drink and speaking so politely. What was going on? Was he dissatisfied with them, and thus making preparations to dismiss them all?

General Baili said that His Highness Duke of Qin was going to personally command the troops to fight their way to Northern Li this time! That’s why everyone had been too excited to sleep over the past few days. They were counting down the days that they could join the Duke of Qin in battle! And yet, his attitude today seemed to suggest that an accident had happen instead. 

But that didn’t seem right either. If something unexpected happen, His Highness Duke of Qin would never be so courteous. Many people mustered up courage to peer at him and only saw that he was in a good enough mood to smile. Faced with the questioning, pleading glances of his men, Baili Yuanlong couldn’t do anything except offer them teacups personally. Was he supposed to tell them that Gu Beiyue had gotten Medical City for them and Qin Wangfei was joining them soon, and that’s why His Highness Duke of Qin was in such a good mood? Even in private, Baili Yuanlong wouldn’t expose such things, much less here. This was too damaging to his master’s prestige and awe-inspiring dignity!

Baili Yuanlong gave a cup to tea to each of his commanders while offering them comforting looks. Like that, the crowd calmed down. After three rounds of drinks, Long Feiye finally relaxed his grin. He looked up with a cold, penetrating gaze that made everyone tense up and stand at attention again.

“Has everyone finished their preparations?” he asked icily.

“Everything is in order, the troops can set out at any time.” When Baili Yuanlong finished speaking, he began to outline in detail the situation of the various regiments. Long Feiye stroked the boccaro teapot as he listened, occasionally posing questions. The large military tent was extremely quiet, just like his cold and silent face. Tension grew in the air. 

“After the Poison Sect regained its innocence, Ning Cheng withdrew three parts of his troops, but not all of his soldiers. That fellow’s probably waiting for us to attack,” an adviser spoke up.

“Heheh, we won’t disappoint him this time! Even if he’s waiting for us to move first, then we’ll make sure to catch him unawares!”

Baili Yuanlong handed over a deployment map of the mermaid soldiers. That’s right! This time, Long Feiye was formally putting them into action!

“Your Highness, we can guarantee that all troops will cross the Sandy River smoothly within a day,” Baili Yuanlong vowed solemnly.

“Your Highness, Ning Cheng’s army was equally matched to ours in strength, but they suffered great losses while battling the other two nations. Now we needn’t fear him even if he has red coat cannons!” a deputy general cried with feeling.

“What do you mean, ‘we needn’t fear him?’ We never feared him in the first place. It’s just that His Highness didn’t want to start using the mermaid soldiers so soon!” another adviser refuted. “Putting it that way is harmful for morale!”

“This soldier...this soldier…” the deputy general glanced at Long Feiye as his face turned red. He wanted to explain, but he didn’t know what to say. Seeing His Highness Duke of Qin remain expressionless, Baili Yuanlong quickly salvaged the situation by shifting the topic to Northern Li instead.

“Your Highness, Jun Yixie only reached the Wintercrow Clan yesterday. Even if he could get the horses instantly, he still won’t make it back in time! As long as we pin down Ning Cheng, our chances for victory will increase!” Baili Yuanlong said seriously.

Long Feiye was going to personally command the troops in the end, but he had scheduled that particular battle for a year later when Ning Cheng, Western Zhou, and Tianan had all suffered losses and Northern Li joined in the fight. Once he controlled Medicine City, the grainery in the south central regions, and the power of the jianghu, he could lead his troops all the way up to Northern Li. He had left Medical City for the very end, but never thought Han Yunxi’s Poison Sect status would be exposed on Celestial Mountain and bring about so much trouble. Of course, he didn’t expect Gu Beiyue to take Medical City so smoothly, either. But in the end, what surprised him the most was Gu Qishao.

If Gu Qishao hadn’t exposed Gu Yuntian’s crimes, then he and the Gu Clan would never have collapsed so quickly. Even if Gu Beiyue had won the position of medical academy head otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to re-organize the medical academy so soon and eliminate its internal conflicts. After all, the Gu Clan was the most powerful family in Medical City!

Gu Beiyue demonstrated extraordinary talents and skills to stabilize his position as the academy head, while Gu Qishao made the greatest sacrifices. Had Gu Qishao accidentally stumble into the undying Poison Gu human body thanks to all the medicine he tested in his youth?

Or perhaps, there were other reasons for his undying and unaging constitution? 

Long Feiye had instructed Chu Xifeng to keep an eye on the public opinion at Medical City. He was comforted by the fact that the medical skills competition had attracted everyone’s attention. Thus, no one had thought to look into Gu Qishao’s special constitution. Since Medical City was in their hands now and Ning Cheng had used his red coat cannons, Long Feiye was naturally going to put his all in the fight too. 

A good chance like this only came about after Han Yunxi was condemned by the public and Gu Qishao exposed his old scars. He wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by! Once the battle plans were settled, most of the officers withdrew, leaving Baili Yuanlong to remind him in a low voice, “Your Highness, we need to be cautious against that old fox.”

They still have very little information regarding the old fox in question. Otherwise, Long Feiye would never use Baili Mingxiang to lure the snake out of its hole. All they knew was that the fox had spies on Celestial Mountain and the Han Estate. Moreover, it was very possible they were involved with the City of Daughter’s old city lord and her kidnapping of Grand Concubine Yi. He or she had expert poison skills and knew Long Feiye’s true identity. But beyond that, they didn’t know about his or her origins, much less their motives.

Long Feiye looked at Baili Yuanlong for a long time before he said two words. “Wind Clan.”

“Wind Clan!” Baili Yuanlong exclaimed in alarm.

Of the Seven Noble Families, the Di, Nether, Shadow, and Wind Clans were loyal to West Qin, the Black and Bai (Mermaid) Clans were loyal to East Qin and the lone Li Clan remained eternally neutral while receiving officials’ salaries and soldiers’ pay from East Qin. Their loyalty only laid on the surface. The only clan truly loyal to the East Qin imperial family was the Mermaid Clan’s Bai family. When East and West Qin was caught in the chaos of war and West Qin was exterminated, the Black Clan publicly defected from East Qin and allied with the Wind Clan to destroy the last of East Qin’s troops loyal to the emperor. Long Feiye had once looked into the past and found that it was the Di Clan who started the final battle in alliance with the Black and Wind Clans.

In other words, the Di Clan had bribed the Black and Wind Clans to their side. Everyone said that the Di Clan was the first to fall of the Seven Noble Families, but in actuality, they had just retreated in order to advance. West Qin was the main culprit of the civil war between the two dynasties, while the Di Clan was the main executioner that destroyed East Qin. The Black and Wind Clan were accomplices to the deed! Meanwhile, the Li Clan that had received their pay and provisions from East Qin had withdrew their troops at the crucial moment and proclaimed neutrality. Their crimes were unforgivable!

Long Feiye wanted to create a new dynasty, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t take revenge for the past. Han Yunxi was only an exception to his plans.

“Wind Clan, well, well! Your Highness, let’s lure him out. Perhaps we’ll even follow the vine to the melon and find the Black Clan as well! The punishment for betrayal is death!” Baili Yuanlong was furious.

Compared to Baili Yuanlong’s agitation, Long Feiye was eternally calm. He said, “Last time, the person who saved Jun Yixie used skills very similar to the Wind Clan’s wind arts. This is only a conjecture for now. Tell Celestial Mountain that they can spread the news now. For now, prepare the troops and don’t worry about anything else.”

When he finished speaking, his eyes turned even colder. “Your lordship wants to dye my East Qin’s flags with the blood of the Di Clan.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Di Clan, Ning Cheng, had already decided to keep heading towards Medical City…

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Ruyi's Thoughts

If you need a little refresher course on who's who in the Seven Noble Families, check out my handy PGC Tables Chart on GoogleDocs!

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Eventually I'll find a way to link these things permanently, haha...

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