Chapter 862: Empress, she has no right

Long Feiye soaked his hands in the water as he prepared to wash up. Everyone was looking his way. Unless he drank or ate first, none of them dared to follow suit or even smile. All of them had no choice but to sit quietly until he began the meal. Under the scrutiny of everyone present, Long Feiye simply acted as if no one was there at all. He patiently soaked his hands while Xu Donglin broke out into a cold sweat. He wasn’t as calm as His Highness. If the princess didn’t come here this instant, he wouldn’t be able to hold out!

But Han Yunxi really had no idea what Xu Donglin wanted! If Long Feiye wanted to wash his hands, that was his business. What did that have to do with her? Xu Donglin was a martial arts practitioner, so couldn’t he hold a basin of water just fine? Or was she supposed to get a hand towel and wipe Long Feiye’s hands dry?

As she prepared to move, Xu Donglin finally gave out and muttered, “Feiyun, what are you spacing out for? Hurry and serve him!”

Feiyun (飞云)[1] was the pseudonym that Long Feiye had thought up for Han Yunxi. He had taken the Fei (非) from his name and replaced it with the homonym Fei (飞), or “to fly,” and then the Yun (芸) from her name and replaced it with the homonym Yun (云), or “cloud.” Together, they made Feiyun.

“Yes”! 

Han Yunxi darted over and prepared to grab the washcloth on Xu Donglin’s shoulders when he muttered, “Wash the hands, wash the hands!”

It wasn’t just Han Yunxi, but Long Feiye who heard him clearly. He looked at his hands with hooded eyes, extremely quiet despite the grin curving up the corners of his lips. Han Yunxi finally understood what was going on. She silently cursed Long Feiye for enjoying himself too immensely. He even needed two people to wait on him when washing his hands! One held the basin while the other helped him scrub. This was no different from those masters in the palaces who lived in high status and comfort! 

Very soon, Han Yunxi realized she’d been mistaken. This man was originally a member of the imperial palace rather than a boorish warrior of the battlegrounds. It was all too normal for two people to wait on him when washing his hands. He never liked women waiting on him, so it was more customary for two “guards” like her and Xu Donglin to do the serving instead. 

Finally, she enlightened enough to wash his hands within the icy cold water. Carefully, she took one of them in front of the crowd of waiting eyes. Her heart gave a lurch as she touched him, filled with an indescribable feeling. Although they were on intimate terms, holding hands still made her heart beat fast. She unconsciously looked up and met his dark eyes. He was half smiling with an expression as soft as water. She grinned back before ducking her head, afraid to expose herself. She had to restrain herself in front of so many eyes! But who knew that his hands would grip hers as soon as she looked down! Alarmed, she tried stuggling free, but he refused to let go. Fortuantely, the basin was deep enough to hide the view from the rest of the soldiers. 

This fellow, that’s really enough from him!

Xu Donglin saw everything. He too, thought that His Highness was too good at fooling around. This was really enough! Everyone here was watching and waiting! If this went on, it’d be impossible not to reveal Han Yunxi! Baili Yuanlong and Baili Mingxiang long knew that Feiyun was Han Yunxi herself, so both father and daughter were keeping their eyes on the pair. Baili Yuanlong was feeling both discontent and resentful. His Highness is simply making trouble! I’m too lazy to stop from from doting on this woman when I can’t do a thing, but this doesn’t mean he can fool around in public!

But Baili Mingxiang only lowered her head in bitter pain. She knew that His Highness wasn’t someone who was going against the limits of propriety. Instead, this was a warning to her father to keep an eye on the lips of his soldiers. Their crowing and cheering for her and His Highness to be an item must have stirred his displeasure. The only reason they dared to voice such things was because her father tacitly permitted it. Otherwise, who would have the guts to say them in front of His Highness? His Highness was no fool though, and had seen through them at first sight. Ever since the princess’s identity was exposed and she’d been accompanying His Highness all this time, her father had began to harbor thoughts of letting her stay long term by His Highness’s side. 

“This is absurd! Fine, so His Highness is causing trouble, but she doesn’t even know how to restrain herself! This is our East Qin military barracks!” Baili Yuanlong cursed in a low voice. 

“Father!” Baili Mingxiang grabbed his hand in alarm. Fortunately, their table was long enough that the rest of the people were sitting too far to hear them. 

Baili Yuanlong glared at her. “You better learn from her example!”

Baili Mingxiang didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Father must have been tormented to madness by His Highness. Otherwise, why would he curse the princess in one breath and tell her to learn from the example in another? What was she supposed to learn from the princess, anyways? She could dress like her and learn poison skills, but some things were impossible unless you were born with it!

Baili Mingxiang dropped her voice. “Father, His Highness will only choose the princess and no one else. The princess is this daughter’s lifesaver too, so this daughter…”

“So what? When both sides start fighting in the future, our East Qin must wipe out all factions of West Qin. Even if His Highness keeps her, she’ll be a noble consort at most. It’s impossible for her to be empress!”

There were precedents for enemy princesses becoming imperial concubines, but despite their titles, they were still prisoners of war at best, used to humiliate the enemy nation. Even if His Highness insisted on Han Yunxi without any intention to humiliate her, he could never make her his empress. That was the mother of the nation and the official wife. If she was to mother the nation, then she had to be stainless. In Baili Yuanlong’s eyes, love between a man and a woman didn’t last, nor was it sincere and mutually shared. They could only be equals in status, qualifications, and titles. His own daughter was a much worthier candidate than Han Yunxi. 

Without a means to refute her father, Baili Mingxiang dropped her head and fell silent. Meanwhile, Xu Donglin finally had enough and murmured, “Your Highness, the good wine you called for has arrived.”

Long Feiye immediately released his fingers, causing Han Yunxi to exhale in relief. She sneaked a glance at him as she placed the washcloth over his hands and quickly backed away. She wasn’t going to wipe his hands for him! Long Feiye stopped causing her trouble and wiped his hands a couple of times before tossing the washcloth into the basin and gesturing for Xu Donglin to withdraw.

“Go bring over the wine this crown prince had prepared. Today, this crown prince is going to reward the soldiers handsomely with food and drink! Everyone, let’s make a night of it until we’re drunk!”

Baili Yuanlong finally relaxed. He stood up with his wine and declared loudly, “Tonight, this general has already made arrangements for the guard work. Everyone, this is His Highness’s first time personally coming to the military barracks. All of you drink as much as you want. This general won’t forgives anyone who ruins His Highness’s mood!” 

As he finished, he drained his cup dry and threw it on the ground until it shattered. “Drink! Don’t go back until you’re drunk!”

With that, a succession of broken cups followed his words as everyone cheered. The fine wine was delivered to the scene and the scene soon devolved into a rowdy, boisterous party. Long Feiye was in a good mood despite being one who rarely drank. He soon had his fill of cups from the various deputy generals who came to toast him. A few cooks grilled delicious food by the bonfire before presenting them reverently to Long Feiye in turns. He waved graciously and had the food divided up with between his troops. There was fragrant, fat lamb, roasted pork that was crispy on the outside and tender within, as well as fresh venison. Everyone was delighted with the feast.

Long Feiye called over a cook and told him, “Split the lamb with the brothers on guard duty tonight. They’re working hard!”

Everyone praised him after that. Despite seeming high and lofty, His Highness was still very sensitive to the people’s needs! The cooks cut up the lamb before Deputy General Zhao picked out the best part of the leg and delivered it to Xu Donglin’s hands. “Grandfather Xu, the shadow guards have been hard at work these few days!”

Xu Donglin was currently His Highness’s favorite, so who wouldn’t curry favor with him? He naturally accepted the gift and gave the best portion to Han Yunxi with an air of righteousness. “Here, a reward from His Highness!”

Han Yunxi was His Highness’s only woman! How could Xu Donglin have the guts to avoid winning her favor? And thus, Han Yunxi received Long Feiye’s reward after it passed through multiple hands. It was tender, delicate, and delicious. Long Feiye turned to look at her with a grin, very satisfied! 

Once everyone had eaten their fill and drank multiple rounds, someone suggested a swordsmanship display. Without dancers to liven things up, Baili Yuanlong took the lead and unsheathed his blade first to dance via swordplay. A few soldiers ordered bells and drums brought to the scene and began to beat out a rhythm for Baili Yuanlong to follow. Soon enough, the deputy generals joined in the performance. Their dance moves were filled with strength and beauty! 

Caught up in the moment, Long Feiye himself rose with sword in hand! Han Yunxi watched and grew excited at the sight. A line of poetry popped into her head: 

Drunk, I brighten up the flame on the lamp  To examine a fine sword with my name;  In m'dream, from garrison to garrison,  The horns a-blowing in unison.  The troopers wolf down their barbequed beef bless'd  With sounds of string music in the wilderness. [2]

The bustling scene at the main barracks affected the surrounding camp. The entire military base was illuminated as bright as day, uncommonly lively…

It wasn’t until late night that the bonfire banquet finished. Everyone was drunk, especially Baili Yuanlong. It was a rare chance for someone as old as him to let loose after all these years. Baili Mingxiang supported her father back, but couldn’t help glancing behind her. She saw that His Highness didn’t look a bit drunk despite drinking all those jugs of wine. He was heading for his own quarters with Xu Donglin and “Feiyun” behind him. Baili Mingxiang should have left by now, but she couldn’t help but pause her steps. She watched as His Highness reached the main building and went in with “Feiyun” following, while Xu Donglin stopped to keep watch by the door.

Only then did Baili Mingxiang turn around and quietly led her father away. In the darkness, a single miserable tear streamed down her face, unseen by anyone else. 

Your Highness, Mingxiang really, truly likes you. But that’s impossible, prohibited, unthinkable for Mingxiang…

--

Han Yunxi followed Long Feiye into his main quarters before being overwhelmed by the splendor and domineering air of the interior. Just the sight of the complete tigerskin gracing his chair was already a priceless sight. Like her own tent, this one was divided into a inner and outer partition by a single curtain. Long Feiye’s bedroom laid within, while he dealt with business matters in the outer half. The only difference was that his public half of the tent was big enough to fill her entire quarters.

Long Feiye sprawled on a short couch on one side before arching his eyebrow at Han Yunxi dressed in men’s clothes. He hadn’t had a good chance to look at her yet until now. Han Yunxi ignored him. Tonight, she’d been so free that she even had time to count how many drinks he had. There was a total of eight large jugs, but drinking so much wasn’t good for his health. The best way to help him now was to give him some warm water. Enough of that should help him expel the alcohol from his body. Han Yunxi quickly went to pour Long Feiye some water, only to find that he was following her to the washbasin. Soon enough, he was hugging her from behind. She’d hardly touched the water when his hands closed over hers and pressed them against the basin’s edge.

“Don’t fuss. I’ll pour some water for you to drink. You drank too much wine tonight,” Han Yunxi was serious.

Long Feiye didn’t answer, but pulled her hand over and began to meticulously wash her fingers one by one.

He murmured in a low voice, “Do you think I’m drunk?”


1. Feiyun (飞云) - Together it means “flying cloud.”

2. 醉里挑灯看剑,梦回吹角莲营。八百里分麾下炙,五十弦翻塞外声。沙场秋点兵 - Translation credit here. This is a line from a poem by the famous Song Dynasty poet & military leader Xin Qiji (辛弃疾). I quite like his compositions!

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Now taking bets! Do you think Long Feiye's drunk? Lol!