Although Tang Li didn’t use torture, his current actions were even more...frightening!
At least in Ning Jing’s eyes, it was downright horrific. Tang Li was tickling her. After being her husband for so long, Tang Li had eaten her whole countless times. He understood her weaknesses all too well. Ning Jing was deathly ticklish and feared it extremely. Here now--Tang Li hadn’t even made a move yet beyond raising his hands in warning and her face was already the shade of dirt as she backed away. An iron chain was tied around her waist with the other end attached to the ceiling rafters. Both of her hands were secured behind her back, leaving only her feet free. But her range of limit was still very limited.
As she retreated step by step in an effort to hide, the chain prevented her from going any further. Seeing this, Tang Li chuckled and said, “Jing Jing, have you thought it over already? Are you spilling or not?”
Ning Jing naturally knew where Ning Cheng had made his escape. She even knew the path he was taking to the capital, but she had already steeled her heart to not betray her brother after choosing to mislead Tang Li into the Apricot Woods. Even though she had once wished to live for herself, she knew there was no way she could sell out Ning Cheng. Once she did, then she would have disappointed the countless Di Clan members who had sacrificed themselves in the past for West Qin’s sake. At this point, it didn’t even matter where her heart’s loyalty with West Qin lay. She only knew she couldn’t backstab her own clansmen!
Ning Jing looked coldly at Tang Li. Like every time they fought, he was wearing a cheeky grin while she glared at him. Whenever he joked, she’d pour cold water on his words. When it came to the subject of tickling, she was always absolutely serious. At most, Tang Li would tickle her a few times before relenting, though it wasn’t clear whether that was because she was too stern or he simply spared her.
In the quiet room, he grinned at her wooden face. For an instant, it was almost as if the two of them were back in their little courtyard full of daisies and nothing in Medical City had ever happened at all. Perhaps they both thought of this at the same time, because Tang Li didn’t move while Ning Jing didn’t speak. Still, all of that loveliness was nothing but a sham. He acted while she feigned while both were fully aware of what the other was up to.
If nothing had happened in Medical City, would one of them have won the battle? Would one side treat their feelings as genuine and give up their true heart first?
It was a pity that they wouldn’t get another chance. Although the one year deadline had yet to come, their playacting would stop today. Finally, it was Ning Jing who spoke up first. Her face was expressionless as she said coldly, “It’s no use even if you kill me. I don’t know anything.”
Tang Li’s smile stiffened as he slowly withdrew his grin. He grew exceptionally quiet as he approached Ning Jing. She stared at him fixedly. At this moment, Tang Li mesmerized her with his ethereal white robes and refined air. He was quiet and pure, like a indifferent immortal. She couldn’t help but recall the scene of him begging her to marry him at Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. His gentle figure had seemed fixed like that of a ink water painting of a distant mountain scene, forever etched in her heart.
Finally, Tang Li reached out his hand, interrupting Ning Jing’s daydream. She allowed him to scratch at her waist a few times while enduring it all indifferently. But Tang Li knew her too well. Very soon, his hands went work their way towards her armpits bit by bit. Ning Jing tried her best to fight off the ticklishness, but couldn’t help but shudder when he finally tickled her armpits.
“Are you begging for mercy?” Tang Li asked coldly.
“Since when have I ever begged you for mercy?” Ning Jing retorted.
That’s true. In the past they’d make a fuss, but it was always Tang Li who pleaded for mercy first. Even if it was Ning Jing’s fault, Tang Li would always cave in and ask for forgiveness like a submissive grandson.
An expressionless Tang Li proclaimed, “From this day on, I won’t let you off even if you do beg for mercy. Tell me where Ning Cheng is and I’ll spare you; otherwise, don’t regret it!”
Ning Jing smiled. “Tang Li, when have I ever regretted it when it came to you?”
Tang Li’s heart suddenly clenched with an unspeakable pain. But he quickly ignored it and went to attack Ning Jing’s armpits. Ning Jing didn’t dodge but began to laugh out loud, the sound growing louder and louder until her eyes grew damp. Still, Tang Li remained cold-faced.
The two of the stayed out of character like so, him being serious while she laughed. In the past, it was harder than plucking the stars or scooping the moon for him to make her smile. Outside, the guards could hear what was going on but were left confused. Just what was the Tang Clan head doing? He couldn’t be trying to make Ning Jing laugh at a time like this, right?
That’s right. Ning Jing sounded extremely happy. She had never laughed so loud since marrying into the Tang Clan. When Xu Donglin arrived, he heard the same laughter and immediately went to report to His Highness Duke of Qin in a huff. But His Highness Duke of Qin only said the same thing as before.
“She’s his wife by marriage and law. He decides what to do.”
Xu Donglin abruptly understood. If it was esteemed wangfei tonight, then His Highness might not torture her either, right?
Women are so scary!
Meanwhile, Ning Jing had finally had enough. She didn’t compromise or plea for mercy, but was stuck laughing until she was nearly out of breath. “A’Li...A’Li, I’m pregnant!”
She didn’t even notice that she’d slipped into calling him “A’Li,” nor did she hear what she’d just said. After calling him by a nickname for so long, it was impossible not to get used to it. But the second part of her sentence made Tang Li stop. She had said she was pregnant.
Tang Li was stunned as he stared, but Ning Jing was still laughing, though less severely than before. She broke into a slightly smile, beautiful and happy to behold. “Tang Li, you’re going to be a father.”
She said, “Tang Li, try tickling me again. If you cause any complications, I won’t be able to keep the child.”
It was clearly a threat!
But was it true or false?
Tang Li immediately backed away to increase the distance between them so he could calm down. He avoided Ning Jing’s provoking gaze.
“Someone come, find a doctor!” he shouted.
Ning Jing suddenly laughed out loud. “Tang Li, so it turns out you object to this!”
She was mocking him for being too soft-hearted, and for losing to her. At this, Tang Li immediately calmed down. Coldly he said, “You’re over thinking things. I’m only finding a doctor to abort it, that’s all. You don’t have the right to have my Tang Clan’s child.”
“Fortunately, I’ve never gotten pregnant,” Ning Jing said coldly without a care in the world.
The doctor was knocking right by the door. But before he could speak up, Ning Jing said, “Forget it, I was only tricking you.”
Tang Li’s gaze grew sluggish until he heard the doctor. Then he shouted, “Scram!”
Ning Jing silently exhaled, but Tang Li missed it completely. He coldly tossed her a sentence. “I’ll give you one last night to think things over. If you still won’t talk by tomorrow, prepare to die over the city gates!”
As he finished, he stalked out. Ning Jing lowered her eyes and grew very, very quiet. She was like a flower that had withered up, its head drooping without the hope of ever blossoming again.
Meanwhile, Tang Li went to Long Feiye’s side and sat down without a word. Long Feiye only glanced at him without asking any questions.
“If we still can’t find anyone tomorrow, help me stand guard here. I’ll go to the Tianning imperial capital. You’ll have full authority to decide what happens here. Don’t forget Gu Beiyue…” After a long pause, Long Feiye finally continued. “Even if he’s dead, I want to see a body.”
Tang Li didn’t reply for a while. It seemed as if he’d lost his very souls. Long Feiye had to repeat himself before he nodded. “Understood, don’t worry.”
A whole night of searching yielded no results, so Long Feiye firmly set out for Tianning. Meanwhile, Baili Mingxiang’s group arrived just in time to miss him.
“Uncle Gao, I think we should go back first. His Highness will return to the army eventually,” Baili Mingxiang said.
“Miss Mingxiang, why don’t you find another carriage and follow behind this old man? Rushing about all this way is too hard for a lady like you,” Uncle Gao only felt pained for Baili Mingxiang over their past few days of travel.
Whether or not His Highness Duke of Qin was present, Baili Mingxiang only sat outside the carriage. His Highness had strong mysophobia, so the inside of the carriage was only reserved for himself or esteemed wangfei. Uncle Gao didn’t dare to tell Baili Mingixang to go inside, nor did she herself ever dared to break the rules.
“No need, I’m used to it,” Baili Mingxiang lowered her voice before she teased, “Ever since I started practicing martial arts, this body hasn’t been as delicate or fragile as before.”
“Alright already, Uncle Gao. Let’s hurry back,” Baili Mingxiang knew her father’s temper all too well. She didn’t know if she could help, but she had to rush back as fast as she could.
The two bid their farewells to Tang Li and went to retrace their steps. By the time they reached a desolate area, Uncle Gao avoided the shadow guards to ask her in a low voice, “Miss Mingxiang, you’ve waited on esteemed wangfei. Tell the truth, does she have a phoenix birthmark on her back?”
“None!” Baili Mingxiang didn’t hesitate as she all but blurted it out. “Uncle Gao, His Highness is already investigating the rumormongers. How could you still be suspicious? Moreover, who can prove that a phoenix birthmark means someone’s the descendant of the West Qin imperial clan?”
Uncle Gao nodded in understanding. Afraid that he wasn’t convinced, Baili Mingxiang added, “The rumormonger must be trying to sow discord. Uncle Gao, you’re more familiar with the Tang Clan. They dislike esteemed wangfei most of all. This time you should be on esteemed wangfei’s side instead!”
Uncle Gao nodded his head. “That’s only natural!”
Baili Mingxiang finally exhaled. She had seen the phoenix birthmark before, so she knew the truth very well. His Highness was trying to protect esteemed wangfei! As a descendant of the Mermaid Clan, she naturally harbored hatred for West Qin and its factions. But Han Yunxi wasn’t just the West Qin heir, but her savior. Hatred could be left to those who wanted to win the world. She only knew that she could live this long because that woman had protected, accompanied, and encouraged her countless times. She would never forget the time she said that she’d be by her side for every day she nurtured Beauty’s Blood.
Perhaps some might say that Han Yunxi wouldn’t have saved her if she knew her own identity. But Baili Mingxiang disliked second-guessing what people might have done differently in the past. After all, Han Yunxi had no obligation to save her in the first place even if she wasn’t the West Qin princess.
Good deeds yielded good results. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi had no idea what Baili Mingxiang was thinking over in distant Tianning. Currently, she was staring at Chu Qingge…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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