“Master, this is true beyond a doubt. Your disciple wouldn’t dare to trick you! If you don’t believe me, you can look into it yourself, the East Qin military banners are even flying now!” Bai Yuqiao was surprised as well, but her master’s reaction frightened her. When had he even been so agitated?
Bai Yanqing released Bai Yuqiao’s collar and narrowed his eyes. “What a Long Feiye. He dared to trick this old man!” Everything he’d plotted out was to publicize Long Feiye’s identity today! He had long figured that out!
Bai Yuqiao was lost. She had no idea what her master was saying and wanted to ask questions, but Bai Yanqing said urgently, “Hurry and tell the news to your senior brother. Tell him to bring the battle horses back as quickly as possible, using whatever means necessary. Otherwise, Northern Li will be in danger!”
“Master, Ning Cheng still has the red coat cannons on hand. The Duke of Qin shouldn’t be able to overcome the Ning Clan troops before a year and a half,” Bai Yuqiao reasoned.
“What do you know? Get going already!” Bai Yanqing raged. He’d lost control over his emotions, scaring Bai Yuqiao so much that she speedily withdrew. As he paced back and forth in the room, he finally calmed down.
He had known that Long Feiye was the crown prince of East Qin ever since Jun Yixie brought back a sample of blood from Fishery Island. Once he confirmed that the Mermaid Clan still existed, he began to suspect the Baili Navy as a whole. Long ago, the Bai Clan consisted of merpeople. Baili Mingxiang’s drop of blood led him to suspect Long Feiye’s origins, while Han Yunxi’s cinnabar gecko mark that she revealed on the island made him suspect the man’s use of the Lustbite Seal.
Long Tianmo’s paternal grandmother, Tianan Country’s empress dowager, also suspected that Long Feiye wasn’t of Tianning royal blood. She spent a huge amount of silver to bribe the City of Daughters into kidnapping Grand Concubine Yi. Its city lord, Lady Lengyue, told him the news, which confirmed his suspicions of Long Feiye. Before Chu Xifeng went to check on Murong Wanru, he had already used the girl’s life to threaten Grand Concubine Yi into telling the truth. She admitted to switching her baby for Long Feiye, thus verifying the man as East Qin’s heir. He used acupuncture skills to send Grand Concubine Yi into a coma and had Lady Lengyue cooperate with Duanmu Yao to act out a play to misdirect Long Feiye’s own suspicions.
At Celestial Mountain, he had He Yilian delay Long Feiye in battle to worsen his wounds so he could trap the man up in the mountains. Like this, Jun Yixie would have enough time to bring back his battle horses. His original plan was to watch Ning Cheng open war on the south central regions. Under pressure from Medical City, the south central regions would have fallen to Ning Cheng while injuring him heavily at the same time. Ning Cheng would have moved all his red coat cannons south for the war, thus leaving Tianning’s northern border undefended. Jun Yixie and his battle horses could then fight their way down to Tianning unimpeded. After that, conquering Western Zhou, Tianan, and the south central regions would be easy.
He never expected Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue to come to Medical City and relieve the pressure against the south central regions, then take control of the city themselves. Even then, he still had his counter against Long Feiye in place to preserve his gameboard! His perfect plan would use Long Feiye’s status as the East Qin crown prince against him. In fact, it was already in the works. He was supposed to expose Long Feiye today, but the man had discovered the spies at Nine Xuan Hall and beat him to the punch. Not only did he leave Celestial Mountain in secret, he even used the mermaid soldiers to forge Sandy River and suddenly attack the Ning Clan troops. Not only that, they fought beneath East Qin’s war banners, thus announcing his identity to the world.
Long Feiye’s move had thoroughly thrashed his forces and caught him unawares. Jun Yixie had no more time! Northern Li was out of time, too!
Bai Yanqing paced back and forth, walking faster and faster as he thought. Should he show his final trump card at a time like this? He deliberated for so long that his Nine Xuan Hall spy came back to report. By then he’d calmed down enough to ask, “Did Baili Mingxiang accompany Long Feiye down the mountain?”
“They left the mountain together!” the spy replied.
“Since Long Feiye wasn’t wounded, what was Baili Mingxiang doing up there?” Bai Yanqing asked next.
“Lord Master, she entered Long Feiye’s room everyday, but none of our people could figure out what she was doing in there,” the spy replied.
“This girl used to be Han Yunxi’s servant, right?” Bai Yanqing was quite interested in Baili Mingxiang.
“Although she was, her loyalty lies with Long Feiye. Don’t forget, Lord Master, she’s a member of the Bai Clan. We’ve looked into her before and found out she knows martial arts. But she’s never shown those skills, perhaps to keep it secret on purpose,” the spy reminded.
“Why?” Bai Yanqing stroked his beard.
“This subordinate was puzzled too. Long Feiye has never had any servant girls by his side. Now that his internal injuries have recovered, there’s no reason to keep her by his side,” the spy said earnestly.
“If Long Feiye’s recovered, then it’s likely he’s cultivated to the second level of the Lustbite energy, which means he can use it as he pleases,” Bai Yanqing thought for a long time before muttering to himself, “But the third level of the Lustbite energy requires dual cultivation…”
“Lord Master means to say that this Baili Mingxiang…” the spy grew alarmed.
Abruptly, Bai Yanqing laughed out loud. “Excellent! Excellent! Long Feiye, this old man didn’t guess wrong! In the end, you’ll still fall by a woman’s hands!”
Bai Yanqing steeled his heart and prepared to show his final ace.
“Prepare the carriage. This old man wants to meet the Di Clan head, Ning Cheng, in person!”
He wanted to thank Long Feiye for stabbing at Ning Cheng’s bottom line. Otherwise, his beautiful plan would lack a partner to play along! Back then, it was the Di Clan who provided funds in the background to bribe the Wind and Black Clans into destroying the last imperial guards of the East Qin Dynasty. He believed that the three of them could form a happy alliance once again this time.
Bai Yanqing quickly headed towards Tianning, not knowing that Ning Cheng himself was at Medical City secretly meeting with Ning Jing. She too, had just gotten word of the war and was stunned ashen by the news. She always knew that Long Feiye was Tianning’s strongest opponent, but never knew he was the Di Clan’s enemy.
“Brother, why don’t you hurry back? Long Feiye’s mermaid soldiers crossed the river, but South Xiao Prefecture still has two other river systems. We can’t guard against them all!” Ning Jing urged.
“Tianning’s southern regions will all be captured within half a month. It’s useless even if your lordship returns,” Ning Cheng was cool and calm.
Long Feiye’s move was too ingenious, using the sake of revenge as an extra to move his troops. He even exposed the Ning Clan’s secret to the masses. How much support would he win by that? The Great Qin Empire had spearheaded Cloud Realm Continent’s only flourishing age. The East and West Qin imperial clans were still deeply venerated as holy bloodlines by the people today. When Western Zhou’s Chu Clan had first exposed their identity as the Nether Clan, they had use the mantra of recovering their lost glory to escape from Western Zhou’s clutches. However, they didn’t earn the support of the world’s people and were reviled and vilified instead. People accused them of using West Qin Dynasty’s namesake for their own selfish ends. However, Long Feiye was different. As the orthodox heir of an imperial clan, he had full rights to seek revenge and revive East Qin. More importantly, he was already powerful in his own right!
Ning Cheng could even predict how various forces in Western Zhou, Tianning, or Tianan would be willing to seek refuge under Long Feiye’s banner after he took over Tianning’s southern region, willingly pledging their lives to East Qin. Rewards or honors could be dispensed to the followers according to their merits, which was better than being defeated in battle and being reduced to prisoners.
“Big bro, are you just going to watch as…” Ning Jing understood business, but not political tactics and trickery. Before she could finish, Ning Cheng sighed and spoke up.
“If we could find the West Qin imperial heir, then it’d bring about a radical change of events. Otherwise, even Northern Li will be in danger! Heheh, Long Feiye...it’s no wonder he’s the descendant of East Qin!”
“Big bro, are you giving up?” Ning Jing shook her head.
“No,” Ning Cheng’s lips curved into a cold, proud smile. “Someone can make sure Long Feiye’s troops...don’t take another step forward!”
“Han Yunxi!” Ning Jing was smart enough to get it immediately.
“Hurry and get those Tang Clan assassination weapons under your control. You don’t need to worry about anything else,” Ning Cheng said coldly.
“Understood,” Ning Jing nodded.
Ning Cheng was about to leave when he turned back to ask, “Where’s Tang Li?”
“He…” Ning Jing’s heat chilled before she hastened to speak, “I ordered him to buy me something to eat. I’m not used to this inn food.”
“You don’t have much time left,” Ning Cheng reminded before he left.
Ning Jing quickly shut the door before she exhaled. Actually, Tang Li had vanished first thing that morning. She didn’t know why she lied to Ning Cheng about his whereabouts. Western Zhou’s Emperor Kangcheng, Tianan Country’s Long Tianmo, the Northern Li emperor, and even Carefree City’s city lord, Medicine City’s Old Wang, and the Celestial Mountain disciples were all stunned by Long Feiye’s true identity. Chu Tianyin, who was still at Western Zhou’s eastern front, was the most stunned of all. He never would have thought that he was working with the Di Clan and West Qin Dynasty’s sworn enemy, the East Qin imperial clan!
He firmly believed that Gu Beiyue must not have known, or else the man would never cooperate with Long Feiye! He only felt that the doctor had been used by Long Feiye. He tried to send Gu Beiyue multiple letters, but had no idea that there was nobody to receive them anymore.
When night fell, Gu Qishao and Mu Linger returned from the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds and heard about Long Feiye’s true identity. Gu Qishao immediately headed for Han Yunxi’s room and pounded on her door. But as soon as she opened it, his words caught in his throat, leaving him unable to say any more.
Should he tell Han Yunxi about Mute Granny?
But how? Long Feiye might have been the first to hide the facts, but he’d tricked his Poison lass as well! Was Long Feiye really so petty and despicable to hide his status so he could use Gu Beiyue for his own means? Gu Qishao was a man who took clear cut views between love and hate. He knew when to show gratitude or resentment, but for the first time ever, he was uncertain.
“Did you find Gu Beiyue?” Han Yunxi asked offhandedly. She knew that Gu Qishao would have shouted the news the whole way if that was really the case.
Gu Qishao fell silent for a long time before he said softly, “No, I….I came to see you.”
“You’re tired too, go back and rest.”
Han Yunxi was rather listless as she spoke, but before she could shut the door, Luo Zuishan came rushing over to block it. “Esteemed wangfei, this old man has already gotten the news. The Duke of Qin isn’t with his soldiers! It’s General Baili leading the army. Last night, he declared that the Duke of Qin was personally commanding the troops, but no one saw him after daybreak! The Ning Clan troops has already started suspecting the Duke of Qin’s identity, but General Baili hasn’t responded to their claims!”
Han Yunxi gave a start before she exclaimed, “You mean to say, Long Feiye isn’t with the army?”
1. Note that the Baili Clan used to be known as the Bai Clan during their time saone of the Seven Noble Families. For more information, check out the “7 Noble Families” tab on the PGC Tables GoogleDocs.
Uh-oh, things aren't looking so good in the domestic front for Team Feiye.
Late release today and likely no release tomorrow because I'll be at a conference all day. Thanks guys! <3