Doesn’t sell on credit?
If he didn’t deal with this properly, he’d end up deformed. Although he should be panicking, Ning Cheng only smiled soundlessly as he nodded his head. “Alright, this subordinate will accept the punishment.”
Ning Cheng really started ignoring his burning foot as he sat on the ground. He had been excited for an entire night and was still lost in the throes of his joy. He said, “Your Royal Highness, this subordinate has been looking for you this entire time. During that year--”
“Don’t blame me for reminding you,” Han Yunxi interrupted. “But when the poison enters the bones, it won’t just cripple your foot, but your entire skeleton.”
Ning Cheng gave a start before he laughed out loud. “Since Your Royal Highness has the heart to remind me, then you must have the intention to spare this subordinate as well. This subordinate makes bold to ask, could Your Royal Highness spare this subordinate’s life?”
Han Yunxi knitted her brows and said coldly, “Ning Cheng, I’m not joking with you!”
“Princess, if this subordinate dies, then who will help you avenge the country and fight against the world?” Ning Cheng smiled, then grew serious. “Your Royal Highness, if you won’t sell on credit, how about punishing me in another way?”
The two servant girls on the side were floored. If they weren’t watching with their own eyes, they never would have thought that the Duke of Ning could smile so happily. After all, he never smiled in the past no matter what joyous tidings came his way. All of the Di Clan were thrilled to find the West Qin princess again, but had the Duke of Ning’s entire personality changed?
Just what was he so happy about?
“Release this wangfei! As long as you deliver this wangfei back to the medical academy, I’ll give you the antidote immediately,” Han Yunxi said seriously. “Otherwise, there’s nothing to discuss. You can just wait to die!”
Her words dumped a pail of ice water over Ning Cheng, extinguishing his enthusiasm. His smile stiffened as Han Yunxi’s reaction went beyond his expectations. This woman really wasn’t joking.
But what does she mean by this?
Shouldn’t she be proud to be West Qin’s only princess? Shouldn’t she hate Long Feiye’s guts? Shouldn’t she be feeling even more anxious than he was to avenge her country? And yet, she still wanted to go back to the medical academy?!
Could it be that she’s still entangled in her own love affair with West Qin’s enemy, Long Feiye?
After all, it was a great humiliation for their West Qin princess to be reduced to the East Qin crown prince’s consort!
“Ning Cheng, the poison in your foot won’t wait. You don’t have much time to consider the issue,” Han Yunxi said icily.
“Han Yunxi, do you know what your status entails? Do you know the weight of the burden on your shoulders?” Ning Cheng was getting angry.
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to! I only know you violated and kidnapped me!” Han Yunxi wouldn’t budge a step. Instead, she pressed forward. “Take me back or suffer the consequences!”
“Your Royal Highness, Long Feiye is the West Qin imperial clan’s greatest enemy. You should be humiliated to be his wangfei. Princess might not have known in the past, but please don’t refer to yourself as ‘wangfei’ in the future,” Ning Cheng said word by word, his mood furious. “As for how this subordinate violated you, I’ll settle accounts right now!”
As he spoke, he simply unsheathed his sword and raised it over his foot. Cutting it off would both serve as his punishment and save his life, since the poison couldn’t spread to his entire body then. Han Yunxi was surprised, but she didn’t stop him. She didn’t believe that Ning Cheng would really do it. But Ning Cheng was serious. Despite that, Han Yunxi still didn’t move. So what if he lost a foot? Last night, she’d even wanted to kill him.
And yet, right before the critical moment came, someone kicked open the door! Ning Jing, who’d been eavesdropping outside, rushed in and kicked Ning Cheng’s sword aside.
“Big brother, have you gone mad?!”
Han Yunxi was surprised to see Ning Jing show up here. Wasn’t Tang Li always by her side? Where was Tang Li now?
“This has nothing to do with you, get out!” Ning Cheng hissed.
Although Ning Jing was unhappy about many of Ning Cheng’s actions, in matters of principles she was always on his side. The sight of his wretched foot made her heart ache. This was her older brother, the proud and most respected leader of the Di Clan. How could a woman hurt and humiliate him to this extent? She avoided his hand and went to shove Han Yunxi back harshly. Not expecting this, she staggered back and almost fell down.
Han Yunxi lost her temper next. “Are you guys done playacting then? Controlling the ruler and commanding the nobles is something the Nether Clan’s already tried before. Aren’t you guys sick of trying the same thing? Revenge and avenging the country is my own affair. I don’t need your reminders, nor any of you to force me! Ning Cheng, you just want to use me as an excuse to recruit followers for your Di Clan to fight Long Feiye for territory. Don’t even think about it! You should have let this idea die long ago!”
Ning Cheng’s sword abruptly clattered from his hands to the ground. His brows were knitted so tight that he seemed on the breaking point.
Ning Jing was outraged. “Han Yunxi, do you know that my older brother took on the heavy duties of Di Clan head when he was only thirteen? Do you have any idea of what he suffered while leading Cloud Realm Trade Consortium and the Ning Clan troops? Do you know how many times the Northern Li calvary crushed him underfoot, or how many bones he broke just to establish his army and control Tianning’s northwestern military? Don’t you know my big sister Ning An gave up her childhood sweetheart and married into the palace when she was only 15 years old for that old Emperor Tianhui to ravage her? Over the past few years, don’t you know how many members of the Di Clan have been forced to take on and accept burdens they couldn’t shoulder, just for your sake?! For the sake of the West Qin imperial clan!”
“If our Di Clan had selfish motives at heart, why would we have waited until now? With my big brother’s prowess, our Ning Clan troops, and the wealth of Cloud Realm Trade Consortium, we could have swallowed up Tianning years ago and dominated the country! Why would we have waited until Tianning’s civil unrest tore itself apart? Why would we still bother entangling ourselves with the Chu Clan, if not to find clues of your whereabouts?”
“Han Yunxi, how could you...how could you compare us to the Chu Clan? How could you slander us like this?!”
It was rare for Ning Jing to cry, but her face was now covered in tears. “Han Yunxi, protection and loyalty are the most sacred mission and glory of our Di Clan. Even if you’re the West Qin princess, you have no right to trample on our beliefs! You can’t!”
Han Yunxi was left speechless. It felt like something had struck her in the heart unawares.
“And also, Han Yunxi! Do you know what happened to the Shadow Clan? The battle between East and West Qin lasted five years. Of the Seven Noble Families, the Nether, Di, Black, Bai, Wind, and Li Clans still have descendants left, but only one member of the Shadow Clan survived! Do you know why?”
The Shadow Clan…
Gu Beiyue’s quiet, gentle face once again appeared in Han Yunxi’s thoughts. “Why?” she murmured.
“Because the Shadow Clan used their lives to protect your West Qin imperial clan. The first to fall in the war back then weren’t the Di, but the Shadow Clan! After the East Qin military infiltrated the West Qin palace, they slaughtered the residents for three days and three nights. The Shadow Clan could have retreated in one piece, but none of them left. Every time East Qin killed a member of the West Qin imperial clan, it was through killing the Shadow Clan guard that defended them first! Back then, only one member of the clan survived--the one who carried your ancestor away from the palace. Han Yunxi, since you’re the heir to the West Qin imperial clan, then you have to shoulder your own responsibilities. Even if you disappoint everyone else, you can’t let down the Shadow Clan!” Ning Jing’s face was still filled with resentment as she finished.
Ning Cheng was planning to take Han Yunxi away first, then slowly explain to her their history. He never thought Han Yunxi would be so indifferent. Now he didn’t chase Ning Jing away, but simply looked at Han Yunxi with renewed ice in his gaze. In the silent room, the Ning siblings stared at the woman who looked expressionless despite her restless heart.
She wasn’t the real “Han Yunxi,” so she didn’t harbor any feelings for West Qin. She could understand the imperial clan’s hatred and their vendetta against East Qin, but she couldn’t feel any of it. Hearing Ning Jing’s words made her heart seize.
She saw not only the enmity between two countries, but all of the hopes and sacrifices paid by its people on both sides! They weren’t just avenging themselves against the East Qin imperial clan, but the countless records of hatred that had wrecked nations, clans, and families. For example--Chu Xifeng had hated her and all forces loyal to West Qin. They wanted to revive their country, not just because of the East Qin imperial clan, but because of their own faith, convictions, and hope.
This wasn’t simply a grudge between two imperial clans anymore.
Ning Jing was right. She, Han Yunxi, had no right to trample on the Di Clan’s loyalty or glory. No one had any right to scorn another person’s beliefs, and the Di Clan had placed their faith in the West Qin imperial clan.
She wasn’t the real princess, but she had this one and only identity that meant she had to assume its roles and duties. She didn’t have the selfish right to disappoint and refuse all the people who had been bitterly searching, sacrificing themselves, and trying to protect the remnants of her lineage.
But she was herself as well as the West Qin princess!
Once, she had hopes to join hands with Long Feiye and take over Cloud Realm Continent to create their own nation together. They could destroy all manners of injustice and truly bring happiness to the innocent people of the land. But telling her to sacrifice herself to revive a country she had no feelings or understanding for was impossible. She could admit she wasn’t that magnanimous.
Moreover, she wasn’t planning to break off relations with Long Feiye completely!
He still owed her an explanation and she still had questions to ask. She didn’t want their next meeting to be on the battlefield after their parting at Celestial Mountain. Even if Long Feiye had only been using her or saw her as his enemy, she still wanted answers to her questions!
As silence fell, Han Yunxi sat back down and found herself stuck between two difficult positions. For some reason, Gu Beiyue’s peaceful, gentle face rose in her thoughts again. The warmth that came with an April spring breeze finally calmed her agitated, uneasy thoughts.
Gu Beiyue, just how much did you know? Did you...have dreams of avenging the country, too?
Ning Jing grew anxious when Han Yunxi didn’t express her views. She angrily cried, “Han Yunxi, are you still concerned about Long Feiye even now? I might as well tell you, the Wind Clan’s already shown themselves and its leader is rushing to the battlefield right now. They’re experts at the Qimen Dunjia and tactical deployment of troops. With their help, Long Feiye won’t be able to conquer inner Tianning for at least half a year.”
She smiled coldly and added, “And also, the Northern Li calvary is under the control of the Wind Clan. Within these six months, they’ll recover their forces and head south. By then, Long Feiye will lose for certain!”
“The Wind Clan…” Han Yunxi grew alarmed. After all, the person she suspected of assassinating Gu Beiyue was none other than a member of the Wind Clan!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Lots of sponsored chapters this week! But this one in particular was made possible by the contributions of:
- Mai H.
- Aishath S.
- David E.
Stay tuned for more to come before my vacation, ah~!