Ning Cheng was about to leave when Han Yunxi smiled at him and said, “Ning Cheng, my temper’s already gone, so why are you still angry?”
“Princess…” Ning Cheng began, but stopped.
Han Yunxi chuckled and added, “It’s not anything important, so let it pass. The East Qin crown prince is right, the main matters are more important.”
Long Feiye’s face darkened at her words. Hidden in his sleeves, his hands formed into fists as he almost blew his top. Ning Cheng only gave a start, but he quickly recovered. Her Royal Highness was putting up a strong front to preserve her dignity. If he couldn’t tell by now, he would have followed her so long in vain. The other party had placed a joke upon their heads. If they left just like that without doing anything, they’d become a laughingstock.
No matter what, they couldn’t allow East Qin to make them into a farce!
Ning Cheng immediately fell to one knee. “None of the princess’s matters or minor affairs. It was this subordinate who offended, so I will definitely give the princess and the West Qin imperial clan an explanation! Once the duty of reviving the country is complete. This subordinate will use my life to pay for my crimes!”
Han Yunxi didn’t want to bring this up again, but the sight of Long Feiye’s mocking lilt made her temper flare up. Teasingly, she asked, “Ning Cheng, are you saying you’d rather die than take responsibility for me?”
Ning Cheng’s head shot up in disbelief as he stared at the woman before him. Although he knew her words were only a fit of temper and not to be taken seriously, he was willing to lie to himself just this once.
“As long as Your Royal Highness is willing, Ning Cheng will definitely take responsibility to the end,” Ning cheng said word by word, his voice full of determination.
Han Yunxi pulled him upright. “Ning Cheng, you’re so good.”
After tearing her robes and looking at her birthmark, he was - on using his death to repay for his crimes, thus taking full responsibility. But what about Long Feiye? He’d wed her, yet bullied her countless times by almost eating her alive before stopping every time. How many times did he deserve to die? How many lives was he set on bullying her?
Long Feiye, what right do you have to mock and disdain Ning Cheng?
Long Feiye, don’t you know that my greatest humiliation is from you alone? The cinnabar gecko mark on my arm comes from you refusing to take responsibility! All the times you’ve bullied me were false, you were only toying around with me!
Long Feiye’s knuckles cracked from the force of his clenched fists. He said coldly, “Baili Yuanlong, speak with them! You’re granted full powers to take responsibility!”
If he didn’t leave now, he’d lose all self-control. Turning on his heel, he flew across the bridge without a single glance back. Han Yunxi’s gaze followed after him until he reached the opposite side and vanished into the darkness. Her heart had shattered into pieces.
Every other time, he’d always turn back after he left and ask her, “Han Yunxi, you’re still not leaving?”
But this time, he’d disappeared without a word. Still staring at the empty space on the opposite cliff, Han Yunxi said expressionlessly, “Ning Cheng, you discuss things with them. Assume full responsibility!”
Then she turned without a word. Naturally, she didn’t go far, but simply stopped at the foot of the mountain to wait for Ning Cheng, who didn’t show up until daybreak.
“Princess, it’s as you expected. They know about Jun Yixie’s 90,000 horses,” Ning Cheng paused, then added, “But this subordinate isn’t sure about one thing. How did they find out that the Wind Clan turned traitor?”
“Long Feiye wasn’t the one who assassinated Gu Beiyue and they knew there was someone impersonating him. Long Feiye’s been investigating the identities of the spies at Celestial Mountain and the south central regions, so it’s not strange for him to guess the Wind Clan,” Han Yunxi said rather tiredly.
“Princess, this subordinate and Baili Yuanlong have more or less agreed to cease aggressions. We’re only missing the little details,” Ning Cheng reported next.
It was already good enough that long term enemies like East and West Qin could agree to stop fighting each other, but it’d be impossible to expect them to cooperate. Thus, their final conclusion was to cease fire while dealing with the Wind Clan on their own. The crucial point was when to stop the battle and other related details. That needed more time to work out. Han Yunxi had guessed these results from the start, so she didn’t know why she was still waiting around.
“Let’s go back,” she intoned.
“Princess…” Ning Cheng hesitated for a long time before he finally opened his mouth. “Princess, once West Qin revives as a nation, this subordinate will definitely die to pay for my crime!”
Han Yunxi got onto the carriage without a word.
In truth, Long Feiye hadn’t left, either. He was at the base of the opposite mountain, his face dark and gloomy while his hands were stuck in fists. It was only after Baili Yuanlong finished reporting everything that he asked, “What are Han Yunxi’s views?”
“To reply Your Highness, the West Qin princess left early on and gave all responsibilities to Ning Cheng,” Baili Yuanlong replied.
Long Feiye fell silent again. Even as Baili Yuanlong repeatedly tried to get his attention, he didn’t reply. A long while passed before he turned to leave, his departing figure filled with silence. All the people he passed on his way to the military tent were struck by his reticence. Baili Yuanlong’s eyes flashed with worry. For a second, he thought he had seen the same crown prince from the past--the little boy in the wake of Consort Wan’s death.
But he didn’t understand. Just what was the matter with His Highness?
Today’s negotiations could be considered smooth. Moreover, His Highness had even managed to humiliate Han Yunxi and Ning Cheng.
“Master, master! A letter from Medical City!” Xu Donglin suddenly appeared out of thin air.
Long Feiye still didn’t react. Xu Donglin glanced back and saw that Baili Yuanlong hadn’t caught up yet, so he quickly pulled out the edge of a purple tassel from his sleeve to give His Highness a peek. As soon as he spotted it, Long Feiye’s eyes brightened. “Just where did--”
“Your Highness, shhh...Medical City sent a letter!” Xu Donglin murmured. While blocking Baili Yuanlong from sight, he handed both the purple tassel and Shen Jueming’s letter to Long Feiye.
“Send word that your lordship is feeling unwell. Nobody is to disturb me!” Long Feiye said loudly before entering his tent. By the time Baili Yuanlong caught up, he was already gone.
“Just then, what did you--” Baili Yuanlong didn’t get to finish before Xu Donglin interrupted.
“General Baili, what’s wrong...with His Highness? He looks to be in low spirits.”
“He’s troubled by military affairs. Guard him well, don’t let any subordinates disturb him,” Baili Yuanlong instructed.
“Yes!” Xu Donglin nodded respectfully. “General Baili, it looks like Miss Mingxiang is back. She’s in a rush to see you.”
Once the general left, Xu Donglin breathed a sigh of relief. Actually, he had no idea what Shen Jueming had written, but esteemed wangfei must have instructed the man to hand over that purple tassel to His Highness. Once upon a time, His Highness had sent a big box of ornaments to esteemed wangfei, and she’d picked this tassel from that very box to wear often. If Xu Donglin could recognize the item, so would Long Feiye at a glance.
Long Feiye all but tore open the envelope as soon as he entered the tent, but hesitated upon picking up the letter. He had always used the excuse that Han Yunxi wasn’t the West Qin princess to convince Shen Jueming to seal up Medical City. But now that she’d hung up her flags, what was Shen Jueming doing? He should be standing on the same side as Han Yunxi, so why was he writing to him? And why did he send him Han Yunxi’s tassel on her behalf?
Long Feiye tossed the letter aside and prepared to leave, but he’d hardly reached the door when he backtracked to open it up. Its contents suddenly gave fresh light to his dim eyes.
Inside, Shen Jueming detailed how Han Yunxi had used the purple tassel as an article of verification to entrust Long Zun into his care. When he saw the boy and his retinue, an eunuch in the party began to feel unbearably itchy on his back. He did an examination on site and discovered that the man’s back was covered in fine black lines. Upon closer inspection, he realized that they were rows of crookedly written characters.
The message read: Long Feiye, would you still like me if I wasn’t the West Qin princess?
Shen Jueming couldn’t figure out what Han Yunxi had done, but only suspected that she’d used poison. After he treated the man’s back with medicine, all of the words disappeared. He deliberated for a day before finally writing this letter. Long Feiye ended up reading it three times before his eyes rested on the pivotal sentence once again.
Long Feiye, would you still like me if I wasn’t the West Qin princess?
“Fool!” he smiled bitterly. It was the first time he’d ever shown a grin since Han Yunxi went missing. Now he was smiling so much that tears threatened to spill from his eyes. “Han Yunxi, you fool! Fool!”
Han Yunxi, if you want to know the answer, then come and ask me in person!
Although she’d met him today, she’d gone to these lengths just to have Shen Jueming send him a letter. It was likely she was forced to stay by Ning Cheng’s side. Thinking up to here, Long Feiye couldn’t help but recalled her red-rimmed eyes. A knife seemed to stab itself into his heart.
“Baili Yuanlong! Baili Yuanlong!” Long Feiye shouted. Baili Yuanlong had just met Baili Mingxiang, but they didn’t even have a chance to speak before he hastened back.
“Arrange a time to stop all the fighting. This crown prince wants to talk to Han Yunxi, the quicker the better!” Long Feiye said coldly.
“Your Highness, today we just…” Baili Yuanlong grew perplexed. “Your Highness, just what are your plans?”
They had just disgraced Han Yunxi today. If they wanted to meet again, it was better to wait a while.
“Nothing for now, but this is urgent in order to avoid any potential changes. Jun Yixie’s horses have almost arrived,” Long Feiye used an excuse.
Baili Yuanlong could only do as he was told.
Late at night, Han Yunxi had just finished a conference with Ning Cheng and his deputy general in the barracks. She brought the box back with her and placed it on the table. Aside from Ning Cheng, no one else knew what was inside or paid it any attention. As the last to leave, Ning Cheng cast it a glance and wanted to say something, but relented and left directly when he saw the princess in low spirits.
Once everyone was gone, Han Yunxi opened the box again. She gently stroked the torn clothes before thinking over all of the difficult, exhausting, unbearable, disturbing, and waiting she’d done over the past few days. None of that could compare to her present heartbreak.
Long Feiye, isn’t this your favorite shade of purple?
Han Yunxi shut her eyes and viciously shut the lid to the box, but suddenly discovered that there was something off about its interior. She quickly opened it up for a second inspection and discovered that it had two layers.
Nine envelopes rested at the bottom.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
4 more chapters 'til snu snu!
This chapter generously sponsored by:
- Tamara W.
- Joanne L.
- Stephanie C.
- Dalton S.
P.S. If you see a lot of missing "E" and "R"s in words, it's not you, it's my dying laptop keyboard. Those two keys aren't always registering when I type fast. Eventually I'll figure out a solution, but for now feel free to tell me about chapter typos in our volare Discord server (PGC channel)! Link to that is on the volare homepage.