In the end, Han Yunxi returned in the horse carriage. At this moment, she realized she was neither strong nor resolute. Back in her familiar seat and leaning on Long Feiye’s shoulder, she suddenly wanted to turn willful and go back with him.
So what if there was East Qin, West Qin, national enmity, family hatred, or responsibilities and conscience? All of that could scram from her sight.
Soon enough, the carriage reached the north. Long Feiye remained sitting without saying a word. Han Yunxi wished he could speak and stole a peek at his face, only to see that it was expressionless. She gritted her teeth but ended up swallowing her own words. Instead, she leaned against his shoulder and grasped his hand until their fingers were intertwined. After sitting a while in silence, Han Yunxi couldn’t bear it anymore. She gripped him very, very tightly, hoping to make him talk, but he didn’t seem to feel the pain and wouldn’t budge. Although she knew she couldn’t linger, she still wanted uncontrollably to stay. Although she knew saying more would be futile, she still desperately wanted him to say something. Even if it was just to coax her, it’d be fine!
She had never relied on him so much, or felt so reluctant to leave him behind.
It felt terrible!
Long Feiye, are you an idiot or just pretending, ah!
It only took a little while to travel from their hill to the border between their two armies. Long Feiye, are you going to stay silent until we separate?
Although she wouldn’t tell Ning Cheng that they’d finished all negotiations so they’d have more chances to meet, it’d be much harder to dismiss everyone around them from now on. Han Yunxi grew gloomy at the thought. She raised her head to look at Long Feiye, who was still staring ahead with a blank face. Her fingers forcefully squeezed his until she felt them ache, but Long Feiye didn’t react. Han Yunxi was on the point of tears. Aye, he’s definitely more ruthless than me. If she couldn’t do it, she shouldn’t have even tried. When her willfulness didn’t work, she shouldn’t have indulged her own emotions.
How could everything go as she wanted in her life? Han Yunxi comforted herself with that thought before slowly releasing Long Feiye. He didn’t pull her back or look at her.
Soon enough, the carriage came to a stop. Before they even descended, they could hear Ning Cheng’s voice from outside.
“Long Feiye, is my West Qin princess in your hands?”
“Long Feiye, hand over the person, or else I won’t be polite!”
By the sound of his voice, Ning Cheng seemed half insane. Han Yunxi only felt helpless as she prepared to get off the carriage, but Long Feiye suddenly held her back.
“If you don’t want to leave, then wait obediently.”
Han Yunxi looked at him in astonishment. Long Feiye didn’t explain a thing, but powerfully pressed her back down into the seat and got off the carriage himself. She was left inside with a racing heart.
What does he mean by this?
As soon as Long Feiye emerged, Ning Cheng grew even more agitated. “Long Feiye, you descended the abyss faster than I did when the princess fell. She has to be in your hands. Hurry up and hand her over, or else--”
“Or else what?” Long Feiye interrupted coldly. “You think your Ning Clan troops are strong enough to contend with your lordship right now? Don’t blame your lordship for the reminder, but there are ten major factions in Tianning who can be very displeased with the Ning Clan and Cloud Realm Trade Consortium right now.”
Ning Cheng narrowed his eyes. “As expected, you do have the princess! What do you want?”
Naturally, Ning Cheng had been on guard against Long Feiye’s reminder. Although Long Feiye was the first to propose a ceasefire, Ning Cheng was still at a disadvantage in terms of overall strength. Without the red coat cannons on their side, Long Feiye could have battled his way to the capital by now. Despite this, Long Feiye still had allies of the jianghu at his disposal. Ning Cheng had suffered from such forces in the past. They wouldn’t directly get involved in the fighting, but would bring him all sorts of disadvantages, obstacles, and blockades. Since Long Feiye had Celestial Mountain under his control, it meant the rest of the jianghu bowed to him too. Once he used that power, it’d be more serious than when Duanmu Yao held sway. In other words, Ning Cheng wanted more than Long Feiye to stop the fighting.
“This crown prince can agree to a cease fire and deal with the Wind Clan with you, but Han Yunxi must remain in my barracks as a hostage!”
Han Yunxi’s heart lurched at the words. She finally realized why Long Feiye had remained unmoving for so long: he was quietly scheming up this idea.
Hostage? Full credits went to him for thinking it up, then proposing it as a solution. It was he who asked for negotiations to stop the fighting in the first place, alright?!
“Impossible!” Ning Cheng’s voice was utterly cold. “Long Feiye, hand over the princess this instant, or meet me on the battlefield!”
“Someone come, tell Baili Yuanlong to prepare for war!” Long Feiye said befor getting on the cariage. “Uncle Gao, go back.”
Although Long Feiye was already sitting next to her, Han Yunxi was still stunned. If everything last night felt like a magnificent dream, then this moment was even more unbelievable and dreamlike. She looked at Long Feiye’s aggressive posture and cold profile, touched beyond words by his indifferent gaze. Women were fools at times. They didn’t care whether something was possible or realistic, just that their man expressed themselves and took a stance. Thus, females would judge a man by the side he stood on rather than his actual strength or actions. Even the cool and calm Han Yunxi was like this.
How could they really start fighting now? That would waste all of their previous efforts. It was enough that Long Feiye was willing to say that much. But Long Feiye wasn’t a man who went though the motions. Most of the time, he did what he said. Currently, he was moving into action. As Uncle Gao prepared to leave, Han Yunxi grew alarmed.
“Long Feiye, you dare!” Ning Cheng couldn’t believe it. He was about to chase after the carriage when the shadow guards blocked his way. Soon enough, a slaughter broke out between them. Ning Cheng took out the Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain, which made Xu Donglin’s gaze turned complicated at the sight. His group backed away as Ning Cheng ran in front of the carriage and aimed the weapon at its door.
“Long Feiye, hand over the princess!” Ning Cheng roared.
Long Feiye didn’t even get off the carriage, but remained sitting icily inside. “Two months. Two months is all this crown prince needs to step on Tianning and destroy your Ning Clan troops…”
“And what will be awaiting you is Jun Yixie’s 100,000 cavalrymen!” Ning Cheng shot back.
If Long Feiye truly destroyed the Ning Clan army, Northern Li’s emperor would grow guarded against him. Two months was plenty of time for Jun Yixie to amass his forces.
Long Feiye laughed coldly. “Ning Cheng, you’re an intelligent man as well. Do you think the Northern Li emperor will choose to trust Jun Yixie’s sincerity, or your lordship’s agreement to ceasefire?”
Ning Cheng seemed to have been struck by a heavy blow at those words.
Long Feiye still had a choice. He could move his troops northward while subjugating Tianning and discussing an armistice with the Northern Li emperor at the same time. This way, the Northern Li emperor wouldn’t have any lingering fears as he moved to crush Jun Yixie. In other words, Long Feiye could stop fighting now and ally with the Ning Clan troops to deal with Jun Yixie, or cooperate with Northern Li directly while fighting against the Ning Clan and Jun Yixie. But his Ning Clan troops were the completely passive party in this situation. Long Feiye had tied them down utterly!
“Long Feiye, don’t forget. If you can cooperate with Northern Li, then so can we West Qin!” Ning Cheng retorted.
Long Feiye laughed again. “Ning Cheng, there’s no harm in making a bet on that.”
Ning Cheng had the guts to gamble, but he knew this was a losing bet. Han Yunxi had long told him about Long Feiye’s multiple spies in Northern Li. The horse plague from a few years ago was his doing as well. In contrast, he had no superior edge in Northern Li. Long Feiye had plenty of choices at his disposal, but he had nothing else besides a desperate gamble to join hands with the Wind Clan. All other options had him submitting to Long Feiye.
Ning Cheng finally hesitated. “Long Feiye, I can’t decide such things. I want to see the princess.”
Here was the true discussion point. When it came to official affairs, Long Feiye really should let the West Qin princess, Han Yunxi, show her face. But when it came to private matters, he’d rather kill Ning Cheng than let Han Yunxi step in the limelight again. But it wasn’t as if he’d never avenged personal wrongs in the face of public interest, either.
“This is the decision of your Di Clan, not Han Yunxi’s!” Long Feiye said frostily. “Ning Cheng, you can renounce the West Qin princess and rely on the Wind Clan, or give a show of good faith by cooperating with this crown prince.”
Ning Cheng was a smart man. No matter how Long Feiye explained, he understood his underlying reasons. He still had the option of allying with the Wind Clan, but that would mean betraying West Qin just like them. In that case, it wouldn’t matter where the princess ended up. But if he chose to cooperate with Long Feiye and agreed to let the princess be a hostage, that would be the “good faith”--or rather restriction--that Long Feiye asked of him.
Ning Cheng would never choose the first option, but he liked the second one even less. He glared at the carriage as his right hand gripped the Pear Blossom Teardrop Rain needles. If possible, he’d kill Long Feiye right this instant, but he didn’t have the guts to use the weapon when he knew Han Yunxi was in the carriage, too.
In the end, Ning Cheng fell on one knee and shouted, “Princess, you’ve already made a choice. Please tell this subordinate what to do?”
Han Yunxi didn’t have time to feel Long Feiye’s joy as her heart grew stifled. Although he tried to stop her, she still got off the carriage. Ning Cheng had no idea what had happened between her and Long Feiye, but since he’d said such words, she couldn’t keep silent anymore. She needed to give him an explanation at least, a reason to make him stop worrying.
Long Feiye quickly followed her off the cariage. Ning Cheng’s dull eyes instantly brightened at the sight of he as he examined her from head to toe. “Is Your Royal Highness well?”
“I’m fine. Long Feiye saved me and I talked over things with him. I’ll be a hostage while East and West Qin unite to deal with the Wind Clan and Northern Li!” Han Yunxi said seriously.
“Princess, can you trust Long Feiye’s words?” Ning Cheng said as his other knee bent towards the ground. He bowed down the head that had looked up high for twenty proud years and declared, “Your Royal Highness, please think thrice!”
Seeing Ning Cheng like this, Han Yunxi couldn’t avoid her feelings of remorse, unease, and guilt. Leaving aside right or wrong, yes or no, or even the future, at this moment her actions were simply crushing Ning Cheng’s loyalty underfoot. Once again, Ning Jing’s words resounded in her ears.
Han Yunxi, even you have no right to trample on the Di Clan’s loyalty and honor.
For a long time, Han Yunxi didn’t speak. Long Feiye looked at her before tossing something towards Ning Cheng.
“Take this, this crown prince’s token of sincerity!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter