The courtyard was silent, the guards all on their knees. Xu Donglin was hidden within the crowd while Chu Xifeng knelt at the head of all the men. Long Feiye should have reached here tonight at the earliest, but he had forced himself to arrive an entire day ahead of schedule. Dust covered his body and his face was marked with exhaustion. There were even signs of stubble on his chin. Unfortunately, it did nothing to cover up his towering rage. He rarely showed his emotions, but this time his fury was written all over his face without restraint.
He stared fixedly at the door in silence. His heart was a mess and even carried a tiny smidgen of hope, wishing that the woman he was looking for was waiting for him right inside. After their parting at Celestial Mountain, he’d been hoping to see her day after day, night after night, just so he could hold her tight.
No one knew how much he’d grown used to having her by his side, or how unaccustomed he was to having her gone.
He was already afraid from having lost her once before!
Moreover, she was in serious danger this time. Now that her identity had been exposed, how many people in the East Qin camp would want her life? How many others in the West Qin camp would want to use her as their puppet? He didn’t even have the judgement now to determine which side had kidnapped her, East or West.
“Chu Xifeng, you better have found her already,” Long Feiye finally spoke, his voice as frosty as the water inside a frozen mountain lake. Its chill pierced to the bones.
Chu Xifeng was filled with resentment and indignation, but all of that changed to fear and awe in the face of his master. Even his heart began to quaver. “To...to reply Your Highness, this subordinate...this subordinate has yet to find esteemed wangfei.”
With the last of his hope extinguished, Long Feiye’s gaze was left with nothing but flames of rage. He walked step after step towards Chu Xifeng before stopping right in front of him. The tips of his boots were inches away from Chu Xifeng’s fingers. He subconsciously withdrew them, uncertain as to why he suddenly felt afraid.
“Were you the one who told her that your lordship long knew of her identity?” Long Feiye’s voice was exceptionally calm and devoid of emotions.
Chu Xifeng understood his master all too well. The calmer he seemed, the angrier he felt inside. He had read Xu Donglin’s message to His Highness Duke of Qin, which explained everything that had happened. He had said how Chu Xifeng had taken matters into his own hands and defied authority by placing esteemed wangfei under house arrest.
“Yes,” he admitted. He was about to look up when the Duke of Qin simply raised his foot and stepping on his chin, sending him tumbling backwards. With a whump, Chu Xifeng’s body crashed through the door and into the rooms. All of the shadow guards grew afraid and lowered their heads. Even Xu Donglin hid away the purple muslin robe, afraid to make a peep. This article of clothing was the only thing he hadn’t mentioned in his letter.
No one dared to look behind them, but all of them opened up a pathway for Long Feiye to step inside. Once again, he ended up in front of Chu Xifeng. The man was sprawled on the ground, blood trickling from his lips. He still crawled determinedly to his feet to kneel respectfully in front of Long Feiye. But he’d hardly gotten into position when Long Feiye kicked him on the chin again, sending him flying!
“Who told you that your lordship long knew of her identity?”
Chu Xifeng crashed into the tea table behind him, which broke into pieces. More blood poured from his mouth, flowing nonstop. Long Feiye’s icy tone was terrifying, but his silent mien was akin to the most heartless god in the world. He stared coldly at the severely injured Chu Xifeng biting his jaw and trying to crawl to his feet again. This time, Long Feiye didn’t even give him the chance. He simply grabbed him by the collar and hauled him up. With rage dancing in his eyes, he glared at Chu Xifeng, but the man actually averted his gaze in fear.
“Answer your lordship!” Long Feiye demanded.
Before he could tighten his grip, Xu Donglin rushed out of the shadow guards to beg for mercy. “Master, please be lenient! Please give Head Commander Chu a chance to work in service for his crimes!”
At his words, everyone kowtowed their heads against the ground. But Long Feiye turned a deaf ear to their pleas in his fury. He had gone to bitter ends to hide this truth, to the extent of lying to Han Yunxi herself. Thanks to a single assertion from Chu Xifeng, everything was ruined!
He couldn’t begin to imagine how Han Yunxi would only think he was using her after hearing Chu Xifeng’s claim right after Gu Beiyue’s murder! He could bear the loathing of an entire world, but not her hatred!
When Chu Xifeng was about to be choked to death, Xu Donglin finally had enough and ran out to clutch his master’s hands. “Your Highness, we’re all in the fault for losing esteemed wangfei! If you’re going to kill the head commander, then kill the rest of us too, alright?”
Long Feiye laughed out loud. “Are you threatening your lordship?”
“This subordinate doesn’t dare!” Xu Donglin was terrified.
“Alright, then wait for your lordship to kill him before I deal with the rest of you!” Long Feiye said coldly.
Hearing this, Chu Xifeng finally couldn’t take it anymore. He looked up to meet Long Feiye’s cold eyes just as the man violently tossed him aside. “What, do you know to admit your wrongs now?”
He had stuck around from so long and kicked Chu Xifeng so many times, but the man had yet to own up to his mistakes. He wasn’t even begging for mercy. That was simply adding oil to the fire and seeking death!
“Your Highness, you can kill or torture me all you like. This subordinate won’t fault or resent you! May Your Highness please not cause difficulties for the rest of the brothers, they’re innocent!” Chu Xifeng said obstinately.
“You won’t admit your wrongs even if you’re dead?” Long Feiye demanded
“This subordinate handled things unfavorably and didn’t keep a good eye on the West Qin dregs. This subordinate deserves to die ten thousand deaths!” Chu Xifeng admitted in a low tone.
Hearing this, Long Feiye was enraged enough to unsheathe his sword!
Finally, Chu Xifeng looked up with a serious air. “That woman is the enemy of our East Qin. She’s not our master, but she’s your wangfei even less!”
His Highness wanted him to admit that he was wrong for asserting his own authority over his and putting the wangfei under house arrest. But he would never acknowledge that even if he died!
“Very good! Very good! Chu Xifeng, who told you that Han Yunxi had to be the West Qin imperial heir? You didn’t even figure out where the news came from, so what made you believe it?” Long Feiye questioned.
Chu Xifeng was left speechless. Hatred had overtaken his mind and made him hazy; moreover, Gu Beiyue’s incident that clouded his judgement. Why didn’t he go to check if the rumors were true or false?
“When did you get the right to choose for your lordship? Or discord your lordship’s wangfei? And when did you figure out your lordship ‘long knew’ about Han Yunxi’s identity? What gave you the gall to take things into your own hands?” Long Feiye’s anger was unceasing. “Chu Xifeng, how about you be the Duke of Qin in my stead?”
Chu Xifeng was left in a trance as he realized his mistakes! No matter what happened, he had no right to call the shots. This was the greatest crime of a subordinate! The greatest crime of the shadow guards! All of the shadow guards had clear regulations to be killed without mercy when they defied orders and took matters into their own hands!
“This subordinate...this subordinate…” Chu Xifeng’s attitude finally crumpled.
Unfortunately, Long Feiye’s eyes grew colder. He raised his sword and dealt a sudden blow to Chu Xifeng’s dantian, his speed swift and fierce. The man never got a chance to beg for mercy. With this, Chu Xifeng lost all his decades’ worth of martial arts. He spat up a fresh mouthful of blood and stared blankly at the master he’d protected since his youth.
In this moment, he could tell whether the man had ruined his dantian to preserve his life, or to give him a fate worse than death.
Without martial arts, he would never be able to enter the ranks of the shadow guards in his lifetime again!
Chu Xifeng dearly wanted to see through the man and ask him these questions, but very soon, his vision turned blurry. In the end, he succumbed to his injuries and blacked out. Long Feiye didn’t spare him another glance. In a cold voice, he said, “Someone come, take him back to Celestial Mountain. Issue orders that anyone who tries to act on their own accord and feign compliance will be killed without mercy, no matter if they’re from the shadow guards, the military, or the Tang Clan!”
Everyone’s nerves were stretched taut, but Xu Donglin was inwardly rejoicing. According to shadow guard rules, Chu Xifeng should have been dead by now, but His Highness had only destroyed his martial arts. At least...at least he hadn’t killed the man and even sent him back to the place where he’d learned his skills.
“From this day on, Xu Donglin will assume the post of head commander of the shadow guards,” Long Feiye said icily.
Xu Donglin froze in shock. When he saw his master’s questioning look, he quickly stepped forward to give thanks.
“Xu Donglin, your lordship will give you three days’ time to find the kidnapper. Otherwise, shoulder the consequences. Moreover, issue orders to the Tang Clan to find out who spread these rumors to slander the wangfei!” Long Feiye decreed.
Would this count as his final act of rationality? He had forced it, of course. When he found out that Han Yunxi was missing, he’d nearly gone insane. After rushing here in a frenzy, he was forced to calm down. Otherwise, Han Yunxi would be in more danger. His situation was no more favorable! Chu Xifeng’s grudge had been so deep, to say nothing of the Baili military or the Tang Clan! Of course he understood Chu Xifeng’s hatred for West Qin. It was the same loathing shared by his countless subordinates, which made it impossible for them and the West Qin to exist under the same sky. He had not only hid the truth from Han Yunxi, but all of his own people--including Tang Li!
If they could never be reconciled or forgive each other, then it was better that they remained ignorant forever. He had long deployed tactics to take care of everything, but never thought another person existed that also knew of Han Yunxi’s origins. Furthermore, they knew her so thoroughly that they even understood the implications of the phoenix birthmark, which had remained a mystery to him. Then they’d spread these secrets to the public!
Just who was this person?
And who was the dark-robed assassin that attacked Gu Beiyue?
In truth, he did harbor thoughts of using Gu Beiyue. Thus, he had hidden his identity as East Qin heir. But he could never assassinate Gu Beiyue because the two of them had long come to a common understanding regarding Han Yunxi’s identity. When he was using the Lustbite energy atop Celestial Mountain, he discovered that Gu Beiyue had eyes and ears on Celestial Mountain, too. Additionally, Gu Beiyue knew that he Lustbite Seal was one of East Qin Dynasty’s ultimate treasures.
Gu Beiyue had threatened him then. If he didn’t let Han Yunxi go, then he’d used Medical City to destroy the south central region’s commander-in-chief’s estate. At that moment, he realized that Gu Beiyue knew who Han Yunxi was. He could confess that he knew long ago too and even asked Gu Beiyue if he did while concealing his own intentions. Instead of answering his question, Gu Beiyue had angrily demanded if he was simply using Han Yunxi’s feelings for his own benefit and acting as a man without character.
He explained everything then, only to discover that Gu Beiyue was just like him. Both of them wished that Han Yunxi would never discover the heavy responsibilities and hatred resting on her shoulders and simply be herself.
How was it possible for the East Qin crown prince to believe a descendant of the Shadow Clan? How was it that easy for a Shadow Clan heir to cooperate with the East Qin crown prince? But being both men who doted on Han Yunxi, they understood each other’s difficulties.
Because they understood, they were able to trust each other!
“Why aren’t you going to search yet?” Long Feiye asked coldly.
Xu Donglin didn’t dare to leave. He took a few deep breaths before revealing the purple muslin robe he’d been hiding behind his back. “Your Highness…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Here we see Long Feiye's perspective at least...ah...