Han Yunxi woke lazily and wrapped herself up in her robes. She was about to get up when she started to her senses and took a careful sniff. Immediately, she recognized the scent as aged chicken soup. The fright made her break out into a cold sweat!
“Zhao mama!” she blurted out.
At the sound, Zhao mama herself lifted the curtains. She seemed to have dressed up for the occasion because her hair was neat and tidy and covered in hairpins. Her face too, was glowing with health and full of energy. One hand held up the curtain while the other rested politely over her stomach. Her lean form stood very straight, just like the old court ladies of the imperial palaces. But her face was smiling as gently as a Buddha’s, her eyes curved into crescents.
“Mistress, this old servant is here!”
Right after that, she threw all propriety aside and covered her hands with her mouth to chuckle. After getting His Highness’s summons the day before yesterday, she and a shadow guard had rushed here overnight. If she hadn’t delayed a few times to bring over ten old hens as well, she would have arrived last night instead of this morning.
Han Yunxi’s mouth twitched multiple times before she managed to speak. “Zhao mama, long time no see, ah…”
Zhao mama glanced outside before hurrying in to murmur by Han Yunxi’s ear. “Mistress, His Highness’s shadow guards has told this old servant everything. Don’t worry, this old servant will call you princess both inside and out from now on. I’m not someone from East or West Qin, but simply one of your and His Highness’s people…” She couldn’t help but chuckle a few more times as she spoke, but forced herself to stop. “In the future, I’ll be the one of the little master’s people, too.”
“Little master?” Han Yunxi didn’t react in time.
Zhao mama laughed again, a sound filled with pure joy. “Heheh, princess, His Highness told this old servant all the details before summoning me here.”
“What details did he tell you?” Han Yunxi suddenly grew afraid.
“His Highness told this old servant to nourish your body well in the coming days and the future. We can let the princess have a single moment of illness!” Zhao mama said honestly.
Han Yunxi almost wanted to slam her head against the wall when she heard “the coming days and the future.” What did Long Feiye mean?
Zhao mama was a shrewd old woman who’d come straight from the inner palace. Long Feiye’s implicit hints were all too obvious for her ears. She even understood the things he didn’t say. Now she sat on the edge of the tatami mat and began to speak in earnest.
“Mistress, His Highness must have exhausted you in the past few days if he was in such a rush to call me. Look at you, your complexion’s all ashen. This old servant’s long told you that His Highness is still young and virile, so his vitality is vigorous. Men his age have long had three wives and four concubines by now, but he only has you. Who else is he supposed to toss about, if not you? See now, haven’t you suffered by not listening to this old servant’s words? If I haven’t guessed wrong, His Highness must have been doing you every night these few days, yes?”
As Zhao mama finished, she laughed secretly up her sleeve while examining Han Yunxi from head to toe. “Princess, this old servant will remind you again, His Highness at this age is akin to a wolf or tiger, you need to understand how--”
“Stop!” Han Yunxi shouted out desperately, her face truly pale now. Zhao mama was no unmarried woman like Baili Mingxiang, but a sharp old court lady. She was the kind who taught much of the embarrassing things that took place in ladie’s chambers. She would even understand things that Long Feiye didn’t! Had he really called her here to make chicken soup for her body? If she believed that, she’d stop calling herself surnamed Han!
“Princess, this old servant hasn’t finished yet. I mean to say that--”
“I know what you mean, no need for details. Just bring over your soup, I’ll drink it all up.”
“Princess, drinking it all is only natural! But this is different from before. This old servant has a few things that I must explain to the princess,” Zhao mama grew serious, even a bit stern.
“What’s different from before? Can’t I just drink it and--” Han Yunxi regretted it before she finished. As soon as she stopped, Zhao mama picked up the slack.
“Of course it’s different now! Because princess was muddle-headed before, His Highness instructed me to nourish your body. But now, princess is--”
“Where’s the soup? I’m hungry, hurry and bring it over here,” Han Yunxi tried to interrupt.
Zhao mama quickly carried over the aged hen soup. “Princess, I only arrived when it was getting light out, so I had to rush for time. This is just a simple aged hen soup. This old servant bought plenty of medicinal ingredients with me and ten live hens. Starting tomorrow--”
“Aren’t you afraid of Baili Yuanlong and the rest finding out?” Han Yunxi’s face was now completely white.
Zhao mama smiled mysteriously. “Princess, this old servant’s lived in the palace for so many years, but I’ve never made a mistake there, much less here in the military. Don’t worry, this old servant has my methods.”
“What kind of methods?” Han Yunxi grew restless.
“This old servant is here to wait on Miss Mingxiang, ah? Doesn’t she help His Highness greatly by being by his side? This old servant thus came to wait on her. Naturally, General Baili will be too happy to worry about anything else!” Zhao mama chuckled. Han Yunxi then understood.
“Is it fine if I just finish all the soup?”
“Fine, fine. This old servant won’t disturb the princess anymore. Take your time and drink.” Although Zhao mama said as much, she wasn’t planning to leave. She knelt in a corner and watched over Han Yunxi, who drank extremely slowly but eventually finished off the soup. As soon as she set down the bowl, Zhao mama took out two books. Their covers were completely black, but she grinned as she handed them over.
“What?” Han Yunxi didn’t understand, but when she casually opened it to a page, her rational mind was completely destroyed. These books were none other than the rudimentary knowledge books imparted to imperial princes of the palace, and were similar to poronography.
Seeing Han Yunxi’s face turn red, Zhao mama murmured, “Princess, although His Highness dotes on you, you need to learn how to make him happy too, understand! In the future, His Highness will be the sovereign of an entire nation with an imperial harem to create descendants for the royal line. If you don’t learn a little something, it’ll be impossible to guard against the younger and prettier ones in the future. Pardon this old woman for saying something disagreeable, but men are just greedy by nature.”
Han Yunxi stared at Zhao mama and suddenly realized that she really was an old hand from the palace who had experienced countless storms to see through everything. Her words were right: men were greedy, and as the sole heir to the imperial line, Long Feiye had the responsibility of begetting heirs. Even the more favored woman would need to submit themselves to oppression. But rules like that were useless to her! She’d like to see just what Long Feiye would do in the future!
“Princess, you should understand,” Zhao mama said as she pointed at the books.
“I know, I know. Many thanks to mama,” Han Yunxi went though the motions as she hid the books beneath her pillow. “Zhao mama, how are things at Pill Fiend Pharmacy? And Little Yi’er and Seventh Madame, are they well?” Han Yunxi asked.
“Everything’s doing fine at Pill Fiend Pharmacy. But this old woman hasn’t seen those from the Han Estate lately. Without princess at home, Seventh Madame rarely drops by,” Zhao mama replied.
Han Yunxi nodded. “Mama, you should go out first. I’ll change my clothes and walk around a bit with Xu Donglin.”
Since she had freedom to move about, she’d rather get out and breathe some fresh air. Of course, this was a chance to avoid Zhao mama too. Heaven knows whether she’d ask her about the details of her nights with Long Feiye.
Just the thought of it made her afraid!
Han Yunxi and Xu Donglin strolled slowly around the military barracks. Only now did she discover that the camps here were divided into three sections. They were in the very center with the main barracks and grainery, while one side stationed the troops and the other their training grounds. A little further on were the battlefields. As soon as she and Xu Donglin drew close to Long Feiye’s main barracks, a few mermaid soldiers stopped them from advancing. She didn’t force it, but turned to walk away.
Premonition told her that Long Feiye wouldn’t be back so soon. As it turned out, she was right. That very night, Long Feiye sent someone to report that he’d need three more days before he could return. They had discovered a few Northern Li spies with high martial arts skills at the nearby town. It wasn’t clear whether they were sent by the Northern Li imperial court or the Wind Clan. Han Yunxi could only stop fretting and focus on cultivating her poison storage space. But that was easier said than done. She ended up having two successive sleepless nights.
Long Feiye was not only dealing with the spies, but keeping an eye on Northern Li and the Wind Clan. In a secret residence within the town, he had just finished interrogating two spies and ordered their deaths when a shadow guard arrived.
“Your Highness, Lady Helian and her son have already been left to Noble Consort Xiao’s people. They’re estimate to reach the Northern Li capital in ten days at the fastest,” the shadow guard said.
Noble Consort Xiao was one of Long Feiye’s biggest hidden pieces concealed by the Northern Li emperor’s side. She was a secret agent who knew all of Northern Li’s important secrets as well as someone who advised her husband via pillow talk. She could affect the very policies and decisions of the emperor.
“Where is Jun Yixie now?” Long Feiye asked.
“He’s been confined to Northern Li’s Sky River City, while his 30,000 horses are all in its western suburbs. The public explanation is that a veternarian needs to quarantine them for potential diseases first,” the shadow guard reported.
Long Feiye’s lips drew into a cold smile. The Northern Li emperor’s movements were going faster than he’d planned. Most likely, Ning Cheng had provoked him into action. But he himself was in no rush. As long as Noble Consort Xiao could get things started, the Northern Lin emperor would never spare Jun Yixie. By then, the man would only have that old fox to rely on, thus forcing him to appear. Of course, it was very possible that the old fox would show himself ahead of time, because there were spies who had long locked their targets on Baili Mingxiang.
A few of the agents hidden in this town were precisely aiming for the woman. Still, Long Feiye refused to believe that the old fox wouldn’t come out of his haunts while he was moving on both sides of the chessboard.
“What’s the situation with Ning Cheng?” Long Feiye asked next.
“We couldn’t get any news. But the princess sent a letter to Gu Qishao,” the shadow guard replied.
Han Yunxi had already told him that Gu Qishao and Mu Linger were interrogating Bai Yuqiao at the Tianning capital city. Long Feiye had always considered Gu Qishao a walking disaster, so he was too lazy to bother with the man. But if they could get some intel out of Bai Yuqiao’s mouth, then their side wouldn’t have to wait as long to find results. After some thought, Long Feiye said, “Bring me brush and ink.”
He personally penned a letter to Gu Beiyue and sent to to Chu Tianyin, who was to pass it on to the man. Gu Beiyue had the right to know the truth. As to what he’d choose afterwards, Long Feiye couldn’t force him. After all, Gu Beiyue had chosen to work with him in order to hide Han Yunxi’s identity. Now, everything had changed.
After sending off the letter, Long Feiye asked offhandedly, “Where’s Baili Yuanlong?”
“The general is still personally assigning armor for the troops over at the west end. He has invited Your Highness over for a personal inspection,” the guard answered.
Stopping the fighting now was so they could prepare for a bigger fight later. The Tang Clan had secretly delivered a set of new armors into the city, where Baili Yuanlong had personally arranged and passed out for his sake. After Long Feiye looked over the assignments, they would be secretly delivered to various factions of the army. Once that was done, they could return. At their soonest, they’d reach the barracks by nightfall; at the latest, by the middle of the night.
“Tell him this crown prince will head over a little later,” Long Feiye said before putting on his face mask and heading out the door. The shadow guard was confused. When he glanced out, he discovered that His Highness was headed for the main streets. Is His Highness going shopping?
But when has His Highness ever shopped for something himself?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Ta-da! Here's the chapter I owe you guys from yesterdaaay~