What a familiar term of address. Once upon a time, the two elders from the Nether Clan had called him the same thing. Gu Beiyue was a man who treasured old friendships, but not former ties. He looked back to see Bai Yanqing standing in the doorway, dressed in a long, gray robe. It was simple and clean and paired with his amiable smiling face. Although his clothes didn’t give him any sense of high status, Gu Beiyue’s eyes were quite sharp. He knew Bai Yanqing was no ordinary man from the first night he set eyes on him.
Gu Beiyue returned the greeting with a small smile of his own and cupped his hands politely. “Uncle Bai.”
“Come, come, sit outside. Uncle Bai’s found you a few more medicines, take a look,” Bai Yanqing called for him warmly.
“I’ve troubled Uncle Bai,” Gu Beiyue’s clear voice was tinged with a hint of mockery that quickly faded without a trace. The day he’d fallen off the cliff, Bai Yanqing’s guards had immediately whisked him away in a rescue. Less than two hours later, he met Bai Yanqing in person. The man had proclaimed he was the leader of the Wind Clan and the Hundred Poisons Sect’s former leader. For many years, he had been searching for the heir to the Shadow Clan. If not for seeing him use the shadow arts by chance in the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds, then he might have never found him.
Bai Yanqing was certain that Gu Beiyue’s assassin was Long Feiye and even told him that the Wind Clan had long known of Long Feiye’s identity--as well as Han Yunxi’s status. He had kept it under wraps all this time to wait for the Wintercrow Clan’s 100,000 horses to be delivered to Northern Li. Then they could catch Long Feiye unawares in battle.
However, he never expected Long Feiye to publicize his own identity out of the blue. Thus, he and a few of the Wind Clan elders discussed things and agreed to publicize Han Yunxi’s status in turn, then ally with the Di Clan to deal with Long Feiye.
Was Gu Beiyue so easy to fool?
Even if he didn’t have secret dealings with Long Feiye, he wouldn’t believe Bai Yanqing’s words. Back then, the Nether Clan’s Chu Family had proclaimed they were reviving the West Qin as an attempt to rally their own source of strength, team up with the Di Clan to take Tianning, and deal with Long Feiye and Long Tianmo. All of Cloud Realm Continent knew this, so if the Wind Clan was really intent on reviving the West Qin Dynasty, why did they wait until now to make a move? Why not help the Nether Clan back then?
After all, besides him and Long Feiye’s group, few people knew the truth of the Nether Clan’s ambitions to rule a puppet regime with the monarch under their thrall. Leaving aside the Wind Clan, Gu Beiyue already had judgments in play for the Li and Black Clans, neither of which had yet to show their faces. Han Yunxi’s identity had long been exposed, so members of both clans should have found the Di Clan long ago to seek her out. Yet neither of them had made a move. Either they were standing aloof from it all, or waiting for an opportune moment to strike with bad intentions!
Gu Beiyue wasn’t an ignorant three-year-old or an impulsive thirteen-year-old. He was born in Medical City and grew up in the imperial palace, so he’d seen too many examples of sinister hearts and motives. There were plenty of people trying to cheat each other with schemes and intrigues. He seemed gentle and refined, a figure aloof from the world, but his clear, clean eyes had collected hundreds of the world’s attitudes and experiences. He was mature, sedate, calm, farsighted, and wise; despite being gentle in hundreds of ways, he could also be ruthless in thousands more!
Even Long Feiye wasn’t as calm and rational as he could be. While Long Feiye would lose all reason when it came to Han Yunxi, he would only grow more rational. It was impossible for Bai Yanqing to trick a person like him, much less control his actions.
Bai Yanqing had no idea that Gu Beiyue and Long Feiye had revealed their identities to each other long ago and were secretly allies. Since the man wanted to trick him, he didn’t mind replaying a plot with a plot. In any case, he couldn’t escape.
The two of them settled down at the tea table, where Bai Yanqing took out four different ingredients for Gu Beiyue to review. In a serious air, he said, “This is Sky Mulberry, Earthleaf, ginseng, and ghost branch. Boil them together and drink it three times a day. It’s good for recovering your internal energy.” Besides the ginseng, the other three ingredients were all extremely rare.
“This junior is favored with Uncle Bai’s care, yet I have nothing to repay you…” Gu Beiyue said sincerely as he prepared to bow again.
“Aye!” Bai Yanqing quickly stopped him. “Nephew Beiyue, if you keep being so formal, it won’t be interesting anymore! Your parents passed away while you were still young. If you don’t mind, you can take Uncle Bai as family as well.” As he spoke, he took Gu Beiyue’s hand and said seriously, “Nephew Beiyue, in the future the princess’s safety will all rely on you! Long Feiye’s sword skills are remarkable--you saw it yourself that night.”
Gu Beiyue nodded before silently withdrawing his hands. “Aye, I never expected Long Feiye to be the East Qin crown prince! Is the princess still at the West Qin barracks? Has she...been well recently?”
Gu Beiyue had no idea what was going on around Cloud Realm Continent right now, much less that East and West Qin had already stopped fighting, or that Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had teamed up. Bai Yanqing told him that the Wind and Di Clans had already united to loyally serve the West Qin princess against a common enemy. Now as long as Ning Cheng held back the advance of the East Qin army until Jun Yixie brought in his battle horses, they could use Northern Li’s calvary. Only three months were needed for Jun Yixie’s horses to all reach the south and join Ning Cheng’s forces. By then, they’d leave Long Feiye forces scattered like flowers in flowing water. Bai Yanqing had told him multiple times that he just needed to stay here and mend his injuries. Once he was recovered, he wouldn’t need to worry about the warfront anymore.
After eliminating Long Feiye, neither Western Zhou nor Tianan would last long. Within a year, West Qin would recover once more.
“Everything’s fine...it’s just…” Bai Yanqing started, then stopped.
“What is it?” Gu Beiyue asked hastily.
“Aye, the princess is a sentimental woman. She’s deeply attached to Long Feiye, but never thought he’d use her like this. From what I’ve heard from the servant girls, she has trouble sleeping at night. It seems she’s been emotionally hurt.” The way Bai Yanqing put it, it almost sounded real.
Gu Beiyue had no idea how much of his statements were truth, but this was what he worried about the most. So much had happened in such a short time. Han Yunxi would definitely misunderstand Long Feiye’s intentions. Add that to the Wind Clan’s interference, and that foolish girl would be saddened for sure. As an outsider, he might know even better than herself, just how much she liked Long Feiye. Thus, he took a risk and wrote a secret flying hawk message to Chu Tianyin so he could deliver the letters that Long Feiye had entrusted to him back to the man, and then onwards to Han Yunxi. He had once considered sending them to Han Yunxi directly, but was afraid that it would land in Bai Yanqing or Ning Cheng’s hands. That would not only ruin his goal, but expose his alliances as well. Thus, the safest choice was to have Chu Tianyin hand it over to Long Feiye himself.
Han Yunxi was in the West Qin barracks, but it was likely she was simply a puppet there without real power. In fact, people might be even keeping watch on her. Long Feiye was different--even if everyone in the East Qin barracks hated Han Yunxi, he could still control everyone and everything.
Half a month had passed since he sent out the letters, so Long Feiye must have received them by now. All of his hopes laid in the man. He only wished that Long Feiye could find a solution quickly to let Han Yunxi know the truth. After a period of silence, Gu Beiyue finally spoke.
“The princess is a sentimental person, but she’s the bravest woman in Cloud Realm. Uncle Bai doesn’t need to worry, the princess won’t be trapped by her own emotions to forget her status.”
“Naturally!” Bai Yanqing answered quickly. “Nephew Beiyue, when did you find out about the princess’s identity? Back then, you and Jun Yixie were at the Skypit…”
Gu Beiyue only exhaled softly. “I was only interested in the poison beast back then, but I didn’t know she was the princess. She did me a kindness in Tianning, so I naturally risked my life to save her when she was being bullied.”
Back then, he’d almost died at Jun Yixie’s hands to save Han Yunxi if it wasn’t for Lil Thing showing up. For this incident, Bai Yanqing had explained that Jun Yixie was his disciple, a man who controlled the Wind Clan’s soldiers while long showing signs of infidelity to the Wind Clan itself.
“Aye…” Bai Yanqing slammed a fist on the table. “Aye, this Jun Yixie! If he had said something to me back then, I would have found you long ago!”
“Uncle Bai, since Jun Yixie had disloyal thoughts, why didn’t you hurry and…”
“It’s not time yet,” Bai Yanqing interrupted seriously. “Right now, the Northern Li emperor is on his guard against Jun Yixie. It won’t be too late for this old man to make a move after the emperor’s made his.”
Although Bai Yanqing didn’t tell him everything, Gu Beiyue understood it well enough. He had long understood Northern Li’s political situation from Long Feiye himself. From what he knew, Jun Yixie had already used the trip to the Wintercrow Clan to kill the emperor’s two imperial princes. Now he was bringing so many battle horses back. The Northern Li emperor wasn’t fool enough to leave the matter at that.
No matter what the relationship between Bai Yanqing and Jun Yixie could be beyond master and disciple, no matter how much of Bai Yanqing’s words were truths or lies, it was clear the old man wanted Jun Yixie to be his scapegoat by taking the Northern Li emperor’s ire. This way, Bai Yanqing could take the military power for himself.
This might be the real reason that Bai Yanqing had yet to return to Northern Li after all this time. Although Gu Beiyue wasn’t clear on all the pieces now, he knew enough of the chessboard beforehand to be certain that Long Feiye was making his move in Northern Li too. But how would Long Feiye expect Bai Yanqing to cheat Jun Yixie as well? He was worried that by facing off against Jun Yixie, Long Feiye would be doing Bai Yanqing a favor instead!
“Uncle Bai is intelligent,” Gu Beiyue flattered.
“Then Nephew Beiyue, when did you discover the princess’s identity? And how did you do it?” Bai Yanqing asked again. It was clear that he was probing, but Gu Beiyue had been waiting for this question for a very long time.
“It was a coincidence, probably about half a year ago. I heard the princess’s servant girl Baili Mingxiang mention that she had a phoenix wing birthmark on her back,” Gu Beiyue lied, before adding, “I’m the last surviving member of the Shadow Clan, while the Nether Clan’s troops had been defeated. Long Feiye’s power is no small force, and he’s an ambitious man as well. If Long Feiye knew about the princess’s identity, the consequences….this junior couldn’t begin to imagine it. Thus, this junior had no choice but to hide the truth and protect her from the shadows…”
As he spoke, he brought into a bitter laugh. “This junior really had no idea that Long Feiye was the heir to East Qin. Otherwise, I would have taken the princess out of there even if it cost me my life!”
As for the phoenix birthmark, Gu Beiyue had long heard about it from the Nether Clan. He didn’t need to take such pains to lure Han Yunxi to the Poison Sect’s Skypit and test her identity when all he needed was a chance to see her bare back. But he knew that Han Yunxi didn’t use servant girls, while he himself would never be a peeping Tom. When Su Xiaoyu had scalded Han Yunxi with boiling water, he knew it had to be on Chu Tianyin’s orders. He was searching for the phoenix birthmark himself.
Bai Yanqing nodded thoughtfully. Gu Beiyue remained silent for a while longer before he put on an uncertain act. “Speaking of that servant girl Baili Mingxiang, this junior finds it a bit strange…”
“How so?” Bai Yanqing seemed very interested in his answer.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Man, Bai Yanqing's a jerk to his enemies and his own disciples! Don't work for him, guys.