When Han Yunxi opened the door, she saw none other than Xu Donglin standing guard outside. He and the rest of the shadow guards had long understood the full story after following them back.
“Mistress…” Xu Donglin murmured. Hearing that made Han Yunxi gratified.
“Where’s His Highness?” she asked.
“His Highness is in the main barracks and currently discussing the ceasefire with General Baili,” Xu Donglin reported truthfully. Afraid that his mistress wouldn’t know where the main barracks were, he purposely pointed towards the east. “Mistress, it’s right over there. Do you see that flag? It’s that one.”
Han Yunxi looked over and saw that the main barracks were gigantic but at least one li (~500 meters) away, further than she thought.
“How long have I been asleep?” she asked.
“You arrived the night before yesterday,” Xu Donglin had no idea what happened on the carriage. Uncle Gao had only told him that His Highness had ordered them to stop and rest. He continued seriously, “Mistress, you must have been exhausted. Now that you’ve returned to His Highness’s side, you can sleep easy. No matter what happens, he’ll block it!”
Han Yunxi’s ears began to grow a little red. She really had been exhausted, but hoped that the coming days wouldn’t be so tiring. In a low voice, she asked, “What’s...General Baili’s stance?”
Xu Donglin lowered his voice as well. “Mistress, General Baili was thrilled when His Highness brought you back as a hostage. Last night he followed His Highness’s intentions to write a letter to stop the fighting and got an envoy to deliver it to Ning Cheng. He received it this morning without any objections, so East and West Qin will stop all offensives tomorrow. There’ll still be minor skirmishes so the Northern Li and Wind Clan don’t suspect.”
Han Yunxi nodded. She and Long Feiye had discussed the particulars of the ceasefire, so she knew everything. They would stop all major battles but keep the minor ones without publicizing their reasons. This way, it’d keep people guessing. The Northern Li imperial court and the Wind Clan would have plenty of conjectures, but the more they guessed, the less they’d dare to move. In fact, they might misunderstand the whole ploy as Long Feiye’s forces being too limited to overwhelm Ning Cheng’s.
“Mistress, Ning Cheng pleaded to keep it secret that His Highness has taken you as a hostage. Thus, only General Baili and a few deputy generals know of the fact in the army. You’ll have to suffer some grievances during this time,” Xu Donglin said, before dropping his voice to add, “Mistress, His Highness instructed me to remind you as soon as you woke to not trust anyone easily besides this subordinate and a few reliable agents.”
Han Yunxi nodded. Of course she understood. This was an army barracks and the Bai Clan’s territory. If she exposed herself, Long Feiye would have no end of trouble. She trusted that Long Feiye had the ability to subdue Baili Yuanlong, but the hearts of the soldiers were paramount at a time like this. If her affair with him was exposed, then both the East Qin faction and certain outsiders would love to seize the chance to cause trouble. Long Feiye had to preserve his full strength to deal with the Wind Clan, so he couldn’t waste any energy on internal conflicts. Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi couldn’t help but feel grateful towards Ning Cheng.
No matter his motives, the man had saved her and Long Feiye plenty of trouble this way. In this case, Ning Cheng had been exceptionally gentlemanly.
“Any news of Gu Beiyue?” Han Yunxi asked.
“This subordinate isn’t clear about that. We’ll have to ask His Highness,” Xu Donglin admitted.
Han Yunxi nodded. If Long Feiye was allied with Gu Beiyue, then it’d be a cinch to deal with the Wind Clan. But did Gu Beiyue know of Ning Cheng’s stance? Or the fact that he wanted to destroy the Wind Clan too? If he did, what would he choose? Both Gu Beiyue and Long Feiye had hidden her identity, which united them under a common cause. But now that her status had been publicized, would Gu Beiyue continue to stand on East Qin’s side when the loyal Ning Cheng was right before him?
And what about Gu Qishao? He must be interrogating Bai Yuqiao with Mu Linger right now. If he knew she was in Long Feiye’s hands, what would be his reaction? On the other hand what plans did Ning Cheng hold for Bai Yuqiao? Han Yunxi could stop herself from interfering, but Gu Beiyue and Gu Qishao deserved to know the truth after getting tangled up in this mess.
“Xu Donglin, take a message to His Highness. Just say I still have to finish discussing some things with him and have him find a way to meet with me alone,” Han Yunxi murmured.
She had plenty of things to ask Long Feiye, such as whether Gu Beiyue knew the whereabouts of Lil Thing, or just who could dual cultivate with Long Feiye after he had Baili Mingxiang sent up Celestial Mountain to trick Bai Yanqing. What was dual cultivation, anyways? If it was anything like how he cultivated his inner energy before, would he have to be shut up for a long time again? And it felt like she still had things to say regarding her real identity. In any case, there was a big pile of things.
“Yes, this subordinate will report it as soon as I change shifts,” Xu Donglin was very respectful.
“Change shifts?” Han Yunxi didn’t understand.
“Mistress, General Baili sent mermaid soldiers to stand on guard too. They trade shifts with the shadow guards,” Xu Donglin secretly pointed at a few nearby soldiers and dropped his voice. “Mistress, those three circles of people are all for guarding you. Before, General Baili even suggested to His Highness to take you to the south central region’s prison cells, but His Highness rejected the idea.”
Han Yunxi smiled bitterly. “Xu Donglin, Chu Xifeng hated me so much. Don’t you and Uncle Gao...hate me as well?”
“Mistress, the duty of a shadow guard is to be utterly obedient. His Highness’s heart has you, so our responsibility is naturally to protect you.” After a long moment of silence, Xu Donglin added, “Mistress, I really hope the hatred between East and West Qin was only a misunderstanding. Then you and His Highness wouldn’t be so tired and we subordinates can relax, too.” He and the rest had heard their two masters argue with Ning Cheng and remembered it in their hearts.
Han Yunxi patted his shoulder without a word, but she was inwardly praying. After asking after a few more military affairs, she returned to her tent. There was nothing there to help her pass the time while her questions still lacked answers, so she could only cross her legs and sit on the tatami to cultivate the third level of the poison storage space. Before this, she couldn’t calm down no matter what. But now she stilled quickly despite the pile of things still being delayed.
Who else but him could calm her chaotic heart?
However, her peace didn’t last long. Soon enough, Xu Donglin’s voice sounded from outside. “West Qin princess, His Highness has come to visit.”
West Qin princess?
The name puzzled Han Yunxi, but she’d hardly left the inner chambers when Long Feiye entered. He was dressed in purple robes with a regal air, noble and domineering as his cold face resembled a denizen from the skies. Han Yunxi liked his violet robe, but she didn’t have time to enjoy it before Baili Yuanlong quickly followed inside. Behind him were Deputy General Xie, Wang, and Zhao, his main trio of command. Long Feiye behaved as usual, his face frosty. The other four men were both cold and hostile. Han Yunxi finally understood why Xu Donglin had called her “West Qin princess.”
Naturally, Long Feiye hadn’t bought Baili Yuanlong and his men with him, so the quartet must have wanted to see her themselves after she woke up. She collected her feelings and put on the air of a royal princess as she went to sit on one side, her face icy. Since Long Feiye hadn’t spoken, she could keep her cool, too.
Baili Yuanlong brought over his three deputy generals, so he must have a motive in mind. In truth, the man was filled with complex feelings towards Han Yunxi. He had been thoroughly convinced by her abilities multiple times and even rejoiced that His Highness had such a good wife before her identity was exposed. But now, everything had changed. Although His Highness hadn’t answered his questions, he still suspected that Han Yunxi had long been aware of he identity and His Highness’s, and was simply lying low by his master’s side.
Aside from these doubts, there was only hate! The Bai Clan had sacrificed so many mermaid soldiers to save the people from disaster, yet the West Qin imperial clan, who had power on their side, not only ignored the damage, but seized the chance to declare war on them. That was absolutely unforgiveable!
The enmity of clan, country, and people made Baili Yuanlong unable to stop loathing Han Yunxi despite his admiration of the woman. She was the sole survivor of the West Qin Dynasty, which meant she needed to bear the full weight of the punishment they deserved!
Baili Yuanlong walked to the tea table and pulled aside a chair. “Your Highness, please.”
After Long Feiye sat down, Baili Yuanlong spoke first. “West Qin princess, please understand one thing. My East Qin will never cooperate in any way with your West Qin. The ceasefire this time came from mutual consent. But once the Wind Clan’s destroyed, this old man won’t show you any courtesy!”
Han Yunxi looked at Long Feiye, who was simply expressionless. She then asked coldly, “So then, General Baili believes that it’s already very courteous to keep this princess imprisoned here?”
“My army has its share of jail cells. If the West Qin princess is interested, this old man can bring you over there right now,” Baili Yuanlong said icily.
Han Yunxi simply stood up. “Fine, let’s go!”
At her words, Long Feiye narrowed his eyes at her. It happened so quickly that no one else but Han Yunxi saw it clearly. Seeing him unhappy, she almost wanted to gloat over his misfortune. She simply pretended not to notice.
“Your Highness, you saw it with your own eyes. She brought it on herself! A hostage should be like a hostage!” Baili Yuanlong immediately issued orders. “Someone come, take Han Yunxi to the prison cells, immediately!”
The soldiers had already rushed in, which made it impossible for Long Feiye to sit still. He was about to speak when Han Yunxi beat him to it. Of course she wouldn’t cause him trouble in front of Baili Yuanlong. “Long Feiye,” she said icily, “Since when has this princess turned into a prisoner? East Qin stopped the fighting to deal with the Wind Clan. This princess is here as an expression of good faith, not to be captive. Please make things clear!”
“Women are indeed naive!” Baili Yuanlong laughed loudly.
Han Yunxi hated chauvinistic males who mocked women the most. She said disdainfully, “General Baili, why are women naive? Don’t forget how much trouble this princess saved you at the south central region’s commander-in-chief’s estate. Your daughter was saved by this princess too!”
“So what?” Baili Yuanlong was both angry and embarrassed. “Han Yunxi, stop wasting words. This old man will ask you a few questions, so you better tell the truth. Otherwise, don’t blame me for being merciless!”
As expected, he had motives. Han Yunxi laughed coldly. “If General Baili wants to get intelligence from this princess’s lips, then please go back. I won’t send you off!”
“Han Yunxi, don’t refuse a toast only to drink a forfeit! Take a close look, these are the East Qin barracks!” Baili Yuanlong snapped.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sorry for the delay, lots of work commitments this week! I'm keeping track of stuff I owe though, so you'll all get your chapters worth when I have time to play catch up! ^-^