“Yes! The Duke of Qin isn’t with the army,” Luo Zuishan was certain. He even shot Gu Qishao a few meaningful looks, but the man was too gloomy to reply.
Han Yunxi looked towards Chu Xifeng, who had been guarding the door with Xu Donglin the entire day. None of them had looked into any news, so they didn’t know all this.
“Esteemed wangfei, Medical City has eyes and ears in pharmacies all across the land. This came from the frontlines, so it can’t be wrong!” Luo Zuishan declared.
Everyone understood his meaning. Since the Duke of Qin wasn’t at the frontlines, then Chu Xifeng’s insistence that he wasn’t behind the events of that night had been overturned as inconclusive evidence. He only grabbed Luo Zuishan by the collar and cried, “So what if the Duke of Qin’s not with the army? Can you ascertain when he left them? Would His Highness abandon something as important as leading an army without a second thought? Do you think it’d only take one or two days to rush from Sandy River to Medical City?”
“Let go! Let go!” Luo Zuishan struggled in Chu Xifeng’s grasp. The brat was about to choke him to death. Finally, it was Gu Qishao who pressed him down.
“Qishao, it can’t be that you suspect His Highness Duke of Qin too?” How could Chu Xifeng not see through Luo Zuishan’s intentions? He was sowing discord on Gu Qishao’s behalf. The first time esteemed wangfei and His Highness Duke of Qin had an argument was because of Gu Qishao, too! Chu Xifeng scorned such petty methods that took advantage of others’ difficulties, much less swine who coveted their fellow brothers’ wives! He stared fixedly into Gu Qishao’s eyes, his pupils filled with contempt.
But Gu Qishao wasn’t someone Chu Xifeng could easily provoke. His gaze turned sinister before he pinched the acupoints on his wrist and then threw him to the ground.
“Gu Qishao!” Chu Xifeng roared. He was about to rush him when Gu Qishao raised a hand, playing with a thistle vine seed between his fingers.
“Are you seeking death?” he asked coldly.
“Gu Qishao, His Highness Duke of Qin has treated you--”
Before Chu Xifeng could expose the agreement between Gu Qishao and Long Feiye, the former soundly cut him off. “This young gentleman isn’t his running dog. If I don’t suspect him after all this, wouldn’t that make me an idiot?”
“You!” Chu Xifeng felt stifled.
However, Gu Qishao suddenly changed the subject and added, “Suspicions or not, Heaven knows if last night’s man was him! This young gentleman urges you to do some quick investigating. Just when did Long Feiye leave the army camp!”
“Little Qi, can you trust anything they look up?” Luo Zuishan poked in.
Gu Qishao slowly turned, his eyes cold enough to kill. Scared by the sight, Luo Zuishan shut his mouth resentfully. With that, silence fell upon the courtyard. It was an abnormal atmosphere that settled upon the crowd. Perhaps everyone had their own thoughts, but none of them except Luo Zuishan voiced them.
Gu Qishao pursed his lips and wanted to smile at Han Yunxi, but found it an impossible task. Instead, he asked, “Poison lass, do you still trust them?”
Despite his question, what he really meant to say was, Do you still trust Long Feiye?
If she trusted Long Feiye, then she’d trust the results that Chu Xifeng and Xu Donglin brought back; if not, then she’d admit that she was lied to this entire time and doubt Chu Xifeng as well. No matter how many similarities laid between last night’s dark-robed man and Long Feiye, as long as there was proof the Duke of Qin was with the military and not in Medical City, then the assassin wouldn’t be him. The sword sect master’s martial arts skills were wasted now, while there was no way the Honored Elders would leave the mountain to get involved in such secular affairs. Besides Long Feiye, there were no other experts equal to his skill.
Everyone looked at Han Yunxi to await her reply, but she only stared expressionlessly at Chu Xifeng. She was about to speak when he cried, “Esteemed wangfei, this subordinate will go investigate now!”
Then he took Xu Donglin and left before Han Yunxi could get in a word. Perhaps even Chu Xifeng was afraid to hear esteemed wangfei reject them before they got a chance to inquire into things. Just what was her stance?
Once they were gone, Han Yunxi simply smiled a light, helpless smile. It was impossible to read her thoughts.
“Old Fiend, hurry and go find Gu Beiyue, won’t you? Don’t waste time.” Besides her beseeching tone, Gu Qishao couldn’t tell what Han Yunxi was feeling at all. This was the first time he felt hard-pressed to get close to her. He was mad with the desire to know her thoughts, hoping to enter her heart during her weakest moment.
Even if he couldn’t love her, at least he could comfort her!
Unfortunately, he wasn’t even given this chance. He would never forget how Han Yunxi had believed without fail in Long Feiye during their faceoff at Pill Fiend Valley. She never suspected him for a minute. He would never forget how much he had hoped that the lies at Pill Fiend Valley could be exposed on day. Then he could point a finger at Long Feiye’s face and curse him out while Han Yunxi listened.
He could sacrifice everything and even expose his undying body, thus negating his prior agreement with Long Feiye. But he didn’t want to, nor could he bear to, hurt her this way.
She was already so sad!
Poison lass, Qi gege doesn’t know if you still trust Long Feiye. But Qi gege’s sure that you must be sad.
Even he was angry that Long Feiye didn’t have enough bonds of brotherhood to tell everyone his plans ahead of time before publicizing such shocking news. What could Qin Wangfei be feeling in comparison?
Gu Qishao firmly nodded his head. “Alright! I definitely won’t waste time! You take care!” He was about to leave when Han Yunxi spoke up again.
“Old Fiend, your body’s okay, right?”
Although she and Gu Beiyue had resolved the danger from the Northern Li imperial physician, they were quite clear that Gu Qishao had an unusual constitution. Last night, she was planning to ask Gu Beiyue for more details but never got the chance.
Gu Qishao was floored. He really wanted to open up Han Yunxi’s head and see what she put inside! How could she be calm enough to remember to worry about his body?
He smiled. “It’s no big deal. I can’t die!”
He quickly left after that. Besides Mu Linger, no one else noticed the pain behind his grin. She chased after him and opened her arms to block his way, her face earnest. “Qi gege, no matter what happens, Linger will always believe you. I’ll never suspect you!”
Gu Qishao didn’t want to reply and circled around her to leave, but paused to turn back. “Lass, will you trust me even if I lie to you?”
Mu Linger nodded without a doubt. “I will. Even if you sold me off, I’ll still believe you. I’m all too happy to!”
Sometimes, “trust” wasn’t a matter of judgment, but a choice. Gu Qishao knitted his brows as he walked over and knocked her gently upside the head. “She and you are different.”
“Qi gege, you know what kind of woman Han Yunxi is?” Mu Linger asked earnestly. Gu Qishao had no words to reply, so Mu Linger muttered to herself, “Actually, we’re the same.”
It wasn’t clear whether Gu Qishao heard, but he grabbed Mu Linger by the shoulders and said, “What’s with all this nonsense, isn’t it annoying? Go search! Even if I have to move mountains or shift rivers, this young gentleman will find Gu Beiyue!”
Couples in love would always hold hands, while brothers and sisters would always wrap arms around each others’ shoulders. Mu Linger understood this logic, but she still enjoyed the bitterness as if it was malt sugar.
Once Gu Qishao left, Han Yunxi made an even colder choice. She wrote a letter to the City of Daughters and transferred the shadow guards she’d hand-selected to be poison guards to her side as protection. At the same time, she summoned a few powerful female mercenaries from the city. Afterwards, she ordered people to move over all of the poison manuals of the Poison Sect before shutting herself up in her rooms to study them.
She didn’t cry or fret, much less express her anger. Her unusual calm and silence kept everyone’s hearts suspended in mid-air.
Han Yunxi, just what happened to you?
Chu Xifeng personally sent a flying hawk message to Baili Yuanlong before returning to his guard post in front of Han Yunxi’s door. As night fell, the lights remained lit inside the chambers. He didn’t feel a speck of sleepiness as he stood with his eyes wide, his complexion green. By the time daybreak arrived, his face had already turned gray like ashes.
He had sent multiple emergency missives to His Highness Duke of Qin last night. If the man was around Sandy River, he must have seen them long ago and replied. But there were still no replies now, which means that the letters sent to the army must have been redirected elsewhere. Chu Xifeng’s heart hung in his throat as he continued to wait.
But even when night fell again, no reply letter arrived! Now he was truly afraid…
Just where was His Highness Duke of Qin? How far away must he be from Sandy River to still not reply his letters? Finally, as evening grew into late night, two secret messages arrived at the same time. One came from His Highness Duke of Qin in a light purple envelope, the other came from Baili Yuanlong in black. The first was for esteemed wangfei, the second for Chu Xifeng.
Chu Xifeng hesitated as he looked at the two messages. Xu Donglin took Baili Yuanlong’s letter and glanced inside at the contents. Both men grew speechless at the sight. At the same time, Han Yunxi suddenly came out and saw the two letters. She gave a start at the sight of the pale purple envelope, but her expression quickly recovered its iciness. Without a word, she reached out a hand. Chu Xifeng and Xu Donglin obediently gave up both envelopes. Her eyebrows knitted at the one in black.
“Esteemed wangfei, His Highness...he…” Xu Donglin had no words to explain anymore. Baili Yuanlong’s letter had said that His Highness Duke of Qin didn’t personally lead the troops, but had left the army in secret many days prior.
Han Yunxi tossed the black envelope back to Chu Xifeng before turning to enter her rooms. After shutting the door, she realized that she was still holding the pale purple envelope in her hands and had nearly crinkled it to bits. With a sniff, she placed it on the desk before smoothing out the creases. Even if it was another empty letter, she still couldn’t help the anticipation of opening it once again. But...but why was it so difficult to open it up this time?
It was an envelope long familiar to her eyes, but why did it feel so foreign now? Long Feiye, how much have I truly understood about you since our marriage?
If he wanted to explain, didn’t this letter come a little too late?
Taking a deep breath, Han Yunxi opened the envelope. There wasn’t a long list of explanations nor a blank sheet, but simply one sentence written inside…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Back from the conference! Will be a busy week before my vacation, so I'll do my best to be consistent, haha. Anything I can't finish I'll continue from after break! <3