Chapter 868: Sinister motives, we'll wait for him

 Gu Qishao pulled Mu Linger straight out of the palace until he was sure no one was tailing them, then stopped. She quickly produced the secret missive. “Qi gege, here. It just arrived this morning.” Mu Linger was curious about the contents too.

Gu Qishao opened it up and saw the strong yet graceful words of Han Yunxi’s hand. Inside, the letter described three things.

  1. Regarding the ceasefire between East and West Qin, Han Yunxi said that Ning Cheng and Long Feiye had reached an agreement to stop. Both would deal with the Wind Clan on their own and resume fighting after defeating the Wind Clan;
  2. He was to wholeheartedly assist Ning Cheng and use Bai Yuqiao to seek out Bai Yanqing. It would be best to turn Bai Yuqiao into a witness to expose Jun Yixie and gain the Northern Li emperor’s trust, then do their utmost to ally with Northern Li;
  3. She wished both him and Mu Linger well, and that everything was proceeding smoothly in the barracks, so there was no need to miss her.

Mu Linger finished reading everything quickly before she declared in a moment of passion, “Qi gege, we have to help my big sis defeat the Wind Clan before Long Feiye!”

Actually, Gu Qishao felt even more excited than Mu Linger over these things. But instead of getting worked up, he narrowed his eyes and studied the letter word by word. Very soon, Mu Linger sensed something amiss.

“Qi gege, what’s wrong?”

Gu Qishao didn’t reply, but kept staring at the letter. After a while, he inspected each and every section of it, then compared it to the calligraphy written on the outside of the envelope. 

“Qi gege, you...you think this letter’s a fake?” Mu Linger grew alarmed.

“Is this the same handwriting?” Gu Qishao finally replied.

Mu Linger carefully compared the letter with the envelope and nodded, absolutely certain. “It’s exactly the same. This is my big sis’s handwriting, all right. I’ve seen her write so many prescriptions. I even have some with me!” She hastily took out a prescription formula and began to compare the words with Gu Qishao.

“It’s identical!” Mu Linger was even more convinced. 

Gu Qishao only muttered to himself, “It really is exactly the same.”

“Then it can’t be wrong! Qi gege, let’s wait for Ning Cheng and leave together. We can interrogate Bai Yuqiao some more, maybe we’ll even find other details!” Mu Linger said seriously.

Gu Qishao only gave her a disdainful look. “If we interrogate her further, we’ll have to keep torturing her. Can a little white rabbit like you take that much?”

A few days ago, she had even urged her to stop the torture, but now she wanted them to continue again. Stinkin’ lass, just how does her brain think?!

Mu Linger was conflicted for awhile before she declared, “I can take it! I’ll interrogate her with you!”

It wasn’t clear whether a kindhearted Mu Linger harbored a demon in her heart, or a devilish Mu Linger harbored a little white rabbit there instead. Gu Qishao was too busy deciphering the letter to pay attention to Mu Linger, but he couldn’t help but ask, “Lass, didn’t you say that Poison lass couldn’t let go of Long Feiye? How come she’s so excited to fight him sooner now?”

Mu Linger chuckled. “Qi gege, my big sis isn’t just any woman! I can guarantee that my big sis is being used right now. She definitely still loves Long Feiye a lot, but she’ll shoulder the burden of reviving West Qin! She won’t be together with Long Feiye! Thus, we have to hurry up and help her defeat the Wind Clan! Now that both sides have stopped fighting, she and Long Feiye are facing off. The longer this takes, the more she’ll suffer! A prolonged pain is worse than a brief one!”

Gu Qishao rapped his knuckles upon her forehead. “The hell you know!”

Mu Linger glared at him, too lazy to explain. Although she felt a little reluctant to hurt Bai Yuqiao, when she imagined teaming up to fight with Qi gege and help Han Yunxi and Ning Cheng defeat the world so her big sister could be free earlier, she was very excited. It was as if she’d been given an infusion of chicken blood. She couldn’t help but imagine how impressive and domineering Han Yunxi would be after she became empress of Cloud Realm Continent and wore a crown on her head.

“Poison lass wants us to work with Ning Cheng?” Gu Qishao muttered to himself.

Mu Linger was still lost in her thoughts, so she didn’t notice Gu Qishao’s doubts. She simply asked, “Qi gege, should we reply now?”

Gu Qishao placed the letter away and put on a brilliant, seductive smile. A sinister light flickered past his pretty eyes. “No need. We’ll just wait for Ning Cheng to arrive!”

Once they went back, Gu Qishao was too lazy to meet with Ning An again. But Mu Linger cheerfully ran towards her and cried, “Ning An, Qi gege say he’ll wait until Ning Cheng arrives. You should urge him to hurry up. If we wait too long, we’ll leave first!”

“You little lass, you’re showing no respect towards your elders,” Ning An smiled. “Who told you to directly call us siblings by name? In the future, you should call us Big Sister An and Big Brother Ning Cheng, understood?”

Although her tone was rebuking her, it was also very intimate. Those who didn’t know any better might even think she and Mu Linger were extremely close. Mu Linger raised her chin up high, her face proud. “I only have one big sister--your master, the West Qin princess! Ning An, don’t fuss about hierarchy with me. When push comes to shove, I’m a level above you both!”

If Han Yunxi knew that this proud little girl was flaunting her title in secret, she would be laughing in stitches. 

But how could Ning An be so easily humiliated by a single blow? Her temper flared, yet she had no retorts. If Ning Cheng hadn’t specifically instructed her to keep this damned girl by their side, she wouldn’t be so polite. She only pretended not to hear her and changed the subject. “Miss Linger, you’re not getting any younger. Later on, we should have the princess find you a husband. The princess’s eyes are wise, she won’t make you an unfair match.”

“You don’t need to worry about my marriage affaiars,” Mu Linger was very direct. 

“Aren’t I worrying for your sake because I see Gu Qishao bullying you?” Ning An looked at her again, before adding, “If Ning Cheng hadn’t let me spare you that night, Gu Qishao wouldn’t have let him go either, even if it meant watching you die, right?”

A trace of pain flickered past Mu Linger’s eyes. She didn’t want to continue the conversation and turned to leave, but Ning An quickly caught her. “Lass, I’m only reminding you because you’re the princess’s sister. If it was anyone else, I wouldn’t even bother! The more you stick to a man like Gu Qishao, the less he’ll care for you! If you keep your distance from him, then he’ll learn to treasure you! Men all behave badly!”

Mu Linger finally looked at Ning An seriosuly. Ning An had her own act in place and was about to continue coaxing when Mu Linger suddenly drew closer. Word by word, she proclaimed, “Ning An, you’re wrong! Women are worse than men! The more he dislikes me, the more I’ll stick to him! Even if he never likes me for the rest of his life, I’m happy with anything as long as I’m by his side! You’ve never experienced true love before, so you wouldn’t understand!”

As she finished, she easily turned away and stalked off without a glance back. Ning An was left stunned in place as she wondered whether she’d be able to keep Mu Linger at all. Would she have to resort to extreme measures? 

“Go tell the clan head that Gu Qishao’s already taken the bait. Have him hurry here,” Ning An told the mama by her side in a low voice.

“Yes!” the old mama murmured back. “Mistress An, the item you sent to Young Miss Jing has already been delivered.”

“Did she say anything?” Ning An asked.

“Nothing at all. The Tang Clan head entertained a few elders of the trade consortium and said that he’d consider our proposal, but Young Miss Jing didn’t say a word from beginning to end. The elders were very displeased,” the old mama said honestly.

“What were they displeased about?! Everything depends on Jing’er if we want to facilitate the alliance between the Tang Clan and the trade consortium. What can those old men help with after meeting for a single talk?” Ning An said with disatisfaction. In the end, she still doted on her little sister.

--

Currently, Ning Jing was holding the item that Ning An had sent her while spacing out. It was none other than an infertility pill. Once she took it, she would never be able to bear children for the rest of her life. Moreover, the child she was pregnant with now would be miscarriaged. Before she and Tang Li married, it was Ning Nuo who personally went to negotiate at the Tang Clan. He required Tang Li to marry into and live with the bride’s family, but failed. The results of the talk said that her first son with Tang Li would stay with the Tang Clan and live to inherit from both clans, while the second son would be given to Cloud Realm Trade Consortium and take up her duties there.

Although everything had been written clearly on paper, Ning Cheng had privately given her a one-year deadline. She was supposed to get the armament trade finalized between the Tang Clan and Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. What did the one year deadline mean? If she failed, then Ning Cheng would make a final move and have her collaborate to hollow out the Tang Clan from the inside out! Under these circumstances, she couldn’t have any children. Otherwise, it’d only hurt the baby. Even more than that, Ning An didn’t want her to be pregnant with the child of a man she didn’t even love.

Staring at the medicine in her hands, Ning Jing’s icy heart finally warmed a few degrees. No matter what, the Ning Clan still had someone who cared about her. But the warmer she felt, the more she wanted to reproach herself. The Tang Clan was Long Feiye’s strength, and they’d been lying to the Di Clan the entire time. She knew this, but didn’t tell Ning Cheng despite having multiple chances. Not only that, she reminded Tang Li about it instead. 

The Cloud Realm Trade Consortium elders had just left after discussing alliance proposals. Right now, Tang Li was currently in a secret meeting with the Tang Clan elders about how to help Long Feiye deal with the Di Clan instead! She didn’t have to think twice to know that Tang Li would pretend to ally with the trade consortium in order to take all of their weapons!

She was guilty of a crime! 

She had not only let down the Di Clan, but West Qin and her own siblings’ years of sacrifices. Her hand couldn’t help but rest upon her stomach. How she wished someone could come tell her what to do! Time was running out. No matter what she choose, she had to pick fast. She couldn’t act like the past and play pretend with Tang Li anymore, living each day one by one. 

At this moment, Tang Li suddenly pushed open the door and strode inside. Ning Jing hastily stuffed the pill bottle into her sleeve and wiped her face of any helpless or conflicted feelings. Even though she’d been reduced to being Tang Li’s prisoner, she still acted like a proud and arrogant queen as she ordered him about. “I’m hungry! Tell the kitchens to make me some food, I want red bean soup!”

Tang Li looked at her coldly and ignored her before going to sit on the bed. Ning Jing was about to speak when the servant girls carried in various plates of food that included her red bean soup. After living together for a year, he knew everything that she liked to eat. And yet, the servant had hardly set down the plates when she viciously overturned the plates. “I’m not eating, get lost!”

Frightened, the servant girl quickly rushed away. Tang Li darted a glance at her but didn’t say a word. He leaned against a high pillow and shut his eyes as if exhausted. Ning Jing walked in front of him and said loudly, “I want to eat red bean soup, did you hear me?!”

Tang Li ignored her, but she refused to stop and yelled a few more times. Finally, he cracked open his eyes and said coldly, “Isn’t there still some on the ground?”

The floor was covered in a mess of shattered porcelain and red bean soup.

“I want you to make it!” Ning Jing was acting like a spoiled rotten princess, kicking up an unreasonable row.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Annnnnd here's #2 of the 7 PGC chapters I owe you guys from last week! 

Looks like it's Tang Li and Ning Jing's turn for a chance in the spotlight....of angst. :3