As soon as Long Feiye reached the barracks, it was to receive news of Han Yunxi personally leading an expedition. Covered in dust, his steps came to a stop right outside the army camp as his face chilled. Although he knew Ning Cheng had kidnapped Han Yunxi back to the Tianning capital and that she’d raise her flags for sure, it was still unbelievable to hear the news in person.
By raising the flags, it meant that all his years of hard work had been wasted. No matter how he called her status into question, neither the Tang Clan nor the Baili army would believe him.
West Qin princess, you must detest your lordship utterly.
Long Feiye took out the two letters he’d kept concealed on his person. One was from Gu Beiyue before his accident, the other a purple letter he’d sent to Han Yunxi after his status as East Qin imperial prince had been revealed. He had written to ask, Han Yunxi, do you still trust me?
She had replied with a blank sheet of paper.
He had rushed to Medical City, but didn’t manage to meet her. There was only that purple envelope on the table. But now that she’d hung up her flags, wasn’t that as good as giving him an answer?
Was it possible that Ning Cheng had forced her to do the deed instead? Thinking up to here, Long Feiye’s lips curved into a mocking smile.
Why would I think that?
Han Yunxi was the West Qin princess and knew he’d lied to her for ages. Why wouldn’t she hate him? She must detest his identity and his lies. Long Feiye suddenly regretted everything. Perhaps he never should have hid the truth from her.
At least then, she’d hate him a little less.
“Your Highness! Your Highness, you’ve finally returned!” Baili Yuanlong’s cries of pleasant surprise reached his ears. Long Feiye quietly hid away his letters in response.
“Your Highness, Han Yunxi’s already hung up her flags at Tianning and led her troops on an expedition. She’s heading south with her army under Ning Cheng’s protection! She’s the West Qin princess without a doubt! Now that things have come to this, I ask Your Highness to make your stance known quickly so as to raise the soldiers’ morale!” Baili Yuanlong said anxiously.
As soon as he finished, two familiar faces appeared in front of Long Feiye: Tang Zijin and Tang Yiru, or Aunt Ru.
“Feiye, this is no small matter. As I see it--”
“Since when has the rules of the Tang Clan changed?” Long Feiye cut her off as he looked coldly at Tang Zijin. “Where’s Tang Li? Call him out to meet me immediately!”
“Feiye, the rules of the Tang Clan can be abolished in the face of war! Han Yunxi--” Aunt Ru wanted to explain, but Long Feiye never gave her a chance. He was already in a terrible mood, so seeing her charge in now was simply asking for trouble.
“As a traitor to the Tang Clan, what right do you have to tell your lordship about ‘in the face of war?’” Long Feiye interrupted sternly. “Tang Zijin, take her back to where you got her. Otherwise, don’t blame your lordship for being blunt! You should know that the Tang Clan and the shadow guards follow the same regulations. All violators and traitors are to be killed without mercy!”
At his words, everyone recalled Chu Xifeng, who’d been recently stripped of all his martial arts and cast away to Celestial Mountain. Tang Yiru shut up of her own accord.
The Tang Clan wasn’t one of the Seven Noble Families, but East Qin’s secret bodyguards. All of its pay and expenses came from the imperial court. Every year, the Tang Clan used to send a batch of guards to the royal court to protect its members with their hidden weapons. Because they were so well concealed, they escaped the destruction of both dynasties unscathed. Long Feiye’s paternal grandfather survived under their protection, while his father fell in love with Tang Yiwan.
Tang Clan women didn’t marry outside the clan, but such rules were ineffective against the royal house. Moreover, the Tang Clan wasn’t even one of the Seven Noble Families, so Tang Yiwan couldn’t even be made empress after marriage. The most she’d ever be was a noble consort. Thus, despite being East Qin’s last crown prince, Long Feiye still called his birth mother by mufei (mother concubine) instead of muhou (queen mother). In other words, if not for the fact that Tang Yiwan was Long Feiye’s mother, any member of the Tang Clan would be on the same standing as Chu Xifeng and the shadow guards. They should have no right to even speak up in front of him, much less disagree with his actions.
Seeing Long Feiye’s cold and icy face, even Baili Yuanlong felt a trace of fear, much less Tang Zijin and Tang Yiru.
“Someone come, escort Tang Yiru back!” Tang Zijin spoke up first. He knew that further arguing would put himself in grave danger.
“Did Tang Li let you release her?” Long Feiye asked coldly.
“It has nothing to do with Tang Li. But this subordinate felt that with the severity of the situation, Tang Yiru could have strategies and countermeasures, thus--”
“Without the clan head’s approval, you took a criminal out of the Tang Clan without authorization.” How angry must Long Feiye be, to give the siblings no chance to speak? “Your crime is equal to that of a traitor! Someone come, take both of them back to the Tang Clan for the clan head to deal with!”
Tang Yiru was so angry she wanted to rebel, but Tang Zijin held her back. He regretted not listening to his wife and acting so impulsively. Now he’d left his son in a clutch. Thank goodness the two of them had already talked with General Baili for a day before Long Feiye arrived. He trusted that the general wouldn’t disappoint them.
After Tang Zijin and his sister left, Baili Yuanlong gave voice to the words they never got to finish. “Your Highness, Han Yunxi was once Qin Wangfei and in charge of the south central region’s commander-in-chief’s estate. She’s popular amongst the troops, but her current status is a heavy blow to our soldiers’ morale. There’s been rumors spreading among the ranks that you…”
Baili Yuanlong paused before he continued. “That you were used by that woman. As this soldier sees it, Your Highness should step out personally to clear out the rumors. How could a woman ever use someone of Your Highness’s wisdom and intellect? It should be Your Highness using Han Yunxi instead!”
These weren’t Baili Yuanlong’s “humble opinions” at all, but Tang Yiru’s own thoughts. As long as Long Feiye publicly announced that he was just using Han Yunxi, the two of them would be divided forever.
Long Feiye stared coldly at Baili Yuanlong. For a long time, he didn’t speak. But unlike Tang Zijin and Aunt Ru, Baili Yuanlong had an ace in his sleeve against Long Feiye, so he faced it without fear.
“Your Highness, no matter if Han Yunxi used you or not, you need to make a stand for the sake of the troops!” he declared.
“What are Gu Beiyue’s whereabouts?” Long Feiye changed the subject.
Baili Yuanlong immediately dropped to his knees. “This soldier represents all of the nameless sacrifices of the Bai Clan to ask Your Highness to please think thrice!”
Long Feiye’s eyes grew dark and cold--so fathomless, that it was impossible to see through his gaze. He knelt down and said, word by word, “General Baili, this crown prince represents the successive generations of the East Qin Dynasty to tell you: my East Qin imperial clan isn’t incompetent and shameless enough to use a woman just to fulfill our revenge, recapture our territory, or conquer this land! This crown prince believes that the Baili army wouldn’t blindly approve of such conduct from its ranks! With the troops unsteady, this crown prince will be cursed by all in the land! Can you afford to shoulder the consequences if the West Qin princess wins the hearts of the people first?”
Baili Yuanlong was so shaken that he lost his balance and fell to sit on the ground. Long Feiye headed for the barracks as soon as he was finished, tossing back a final word. “Report any news about Gu Beiyue speedily. You better not lie to your lordship!”
Baili Yuanlong only just realized that the current circumstances were hurtful for the East Qin crown prince’s reputation, which could lead to dissatisfaction amongst the populace. After all, once East Qin formally went to war, it would need ample grounds--such as the hatred from the past. Both East and West Qin stuck to their own argument about things, so whoever the people believed more would vastly affect the overall situation. He silently rejoiced over the fact that His Highness was sagacious. Otherwise, Tang Zijin and his sister would have ruined things.
As Han Yunxi and Ning Cheng approached with their troops, the two sides were evenly matched. Under these circumstances, both the hearts of the soldiers and that of the people were paramount. Naturally, soldiers’ hearts were people’s hearts, and what the public thought would affect the troops. Baili Yuanlong hastily chased after his master with a bit of news. “Your Highness, Chu Tianyin sent a letter.”
“Chu Tianyin!” Long Feiye was greatly alarmed. Even now, the man had no idea that Gu Beiyue was in trouble. He had written multiple letters to Medical City to ask about the identities of Gu Beiyue and Han Yunxi. Tang Li had torn them all open and reported the contents to him instead. It looked like days had passed since news from the man. What did Chu Tianyin mean by sending his letter to the Baili army? What was his stance on his and Han Yunxi’s identities?
Long Feiye tore open the envelope as he asked coldly, “What does this have to do with Gu Beiyue?”
“Your Highness, the messenger also delivered this item, saying that it belonged to Gu Beiyue,” Baili Yuanlong took out a huge envelope. This was none other than the package he entrusted Gu Beiyue to give to Han Yunxi! According to Long Feiye’s original plan, Gu Beiyue was supposed to deliver the large envelope to Han Yunxi the night before he announced his status as East Qin’s crown prince and send her off to met him. When he was worrying about Gu Beiyue’s status, he was fretting over the nine letters contained in this envelope as well! Han Yunxi had written to him nine times saying she’d missed him, but he only replied her with nine empty envelopes. His true responses were in here.
Long Feiye opened up the large envelope and saw his nine letters sealed up, untouched, inside. He gripped the package tightly and felt as if something had stopped up his heart. Ties of friendship filled him, yet he was unable to express it at all. Only he knew that the envelope contained all of Gu Beiyue’s understanding, trust, and comradeship towards his status as East Qin’s crown prince! In his most hopeless moment, Gu Beiyue had used this method to let him see hope.
Perhaps the happiest moment in Long Feiye’s life came when he found out Gu Beiyue’s identity and didn’t kill him. The faithful and affectionate must live on!
Baili Yuanlong only sensed something off about His Highness Duke of Qin, but he couldn’t place his finger on it. He had long known that Gu Beiyue was from the Shadow Clan. Like Chu Xifeng, he assumed that His Highness Duke of Qin had never revealed his identity to Gu Beiyue, but was using him for his own means. Thus, he was filled with nothing but puzzlement and curiosity towards the giant envelope delivered by Chu Tianyin. Despite this, he didn’t dare to unseal its contents.
Since this had been delivered to him, Long Feiye could ascertain two things: 1) Gu Beiyue was still alive, and 2) he had made contact with Chu Tianyin. He opened up the letter from the man and skimmed its contents before his eyes narrowed into slits.
“Wind Clan. As expected, it’s them!” The envelope was sent in Chu Tianyin’s name, but actually contained two separated letters. One was written by Gu Beiyue to Long Feiye, while the other was penned by Chu Tianyin himself.
Gu Beiyue’s letter told him everything about Bai Yanqing’s plot!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Does anything else get a weird Is-GBY-the-female-lead-here vibe from this chapter? Look at how LFY thinks of him, tsk tsk~
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Note to Readers: Tomorrow's chapter release will be delayed as I'm heading into the city for a mini volare meetup with some staff and server members! Cheers~ <3