Long Feiye and Han Yunxi received many medicines from both Medical and Medicine City on their way north. After the Medicine Hut’s Pill King got Long Feiye’s letter, he gave them the best ointment from his place as well. Gu Beiyue had already used up the most effective ointment in the world, so their medicines couldn’t help Han Yunxi mend within a few days. At most, they’d shorten her recovery period. If Han Yunxi took their medicines on time everyday and didn’t get injured again, she’d be well in about a month.
Although they had important tasks, Long Feiye placed Han Yunxi’s treatment first and foremost. He didn’t skip any of the three daily meals and refused to travel double time, but had them stay at an inn each night. Tonight, they reached the town very late. Long Feiye carried Han Yunxi off the carriage himself while Xu Donglin pushed over the wheelchair--only to see that she was already asleep.
“No need,” Long Feiye said.
Xu Donglin quickly went to lead the way instead. Baili Mingxiang looked at their backs for a long time before following after them. His Highness and the princess had no servant girls and only a single Xu Donglin accompanying them on their journey. But he was a man, which made things inconvenient. The princess’s two legs weren’t working either, so His Highness had to personally attend to certain details.
Many times during the trip, she’d wanted to help out impulsively, but was afraid to make a sound. By the time Baili Mingxiang went upstairs, Xu Donglin was passing her with a basin of water in tow. She hesitated once more before asking, “Guard Xu, maybe I should do that.”
“His Highness says there’s no need for servants. I’ll just carry in the water and it’ll be fine. Miss Mingxiang should rest early,” Xu Donglin said before he walked off.
Baili Mingxiang gritted her teeth before leaving in silence. How was she supposed to rest? She hadn’t had a proper night’s sleep since they started this journey. After tossing and turning until the middle of the night, she finally rose and went to stand by the railings outside the front door. Here, she stared up at the starry skies in a trance. After a while, she turned to look at a certain closed off room.
His Highness must be sleeping with the princess, right?
Just like that, Baili Mingxiang ended up standing outside the door for an entire night. It was unclear what she was thinking.
Actually, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi hadn’t slept. Over the past few days, Long Feiye would channel internal energy to Han Yunxi at intervals. As her internal energy strengthened, Han Yunxi began to learn how to circulate it. Meanwhile, Long Feiye needed time to recover after each channeling session. Like this, the publicly known martial arts waste, Han Yunxi, began her slow ascent into martial arts expert.
They were about to leave the inn next morning when a shadow guard delivered Gu Qishao’s reply. Under Long Feiye’s eyes, Han Yunxi opened the envelope and saw a single message from him:
No matter what, I’ll complete the mission. Bai Yuqiao has yet to confess, I’ll contact you again if there’s progress.
Han Yunxi expected something like this, so she didn’t overthink it. Long Feiye simply glanced at the contents expressionlessly without comment.
“Don’t worry. Although he won’t help you, he won’t ruin things for you, either,” Han Yunxi smiled.
Long Feiye only snorted and remained mute.
Han Yunxi had first asked Gu Qishao to interrogate Bai Yuqiao for the sake of tracking down Gu Beiyue, not for the fight between East and West Qin versus Bai Yanqing. She only hoped that Bai Yuqiao would confess quickly and admit to Gu Beiyue’s whereabouts. Then Gu Qishao could save him while she and Long Feiye lured Bai Yanqing to Blacktower. She was about to reply him when Long Feiye stopped her.
“Don’t expose our whereabouts. He’s with Ning Cheng, after all.”
Han Yunxi thought it over and decided that made sense. The less they wrote to each other, the better. Letters by messenger hawk weren’t guaranteed to be safe.
After leaving the inn, they continued north. Han Yunxi’s group had only traveled a dozen or more days, but Ning Cheng and Gu Qishao’s group were already at the Three-Way Black Market. Currently, they had stopped before its gates. Ning Cheng was about to continue when Gu Qishao stopped him.
“Bai Yuqiao, it’ll take half a day to reach Blacktower from here, right?”
“Yes. If we go faster, we can get there even sooner,” Bai Yuqiao said with a complicated look in her eyes. The Three-Way Black Market was not only close to Blacktower, but the Three-Way Battlefield as well! Beyond that laid Northern Li territory. She had steeled her heart to betray her master, but that didn’t mean she was Ning Cheng’s ally. From time to time, she worried about her senior brother Jun Yixie. The worry only intensified when they reached the black markets, making her want to run away. As long as I can make it to Northern Li, it’ll be easy to contact senior brother. The southern regions in Northern Li were basically all under her senior brother’s control.
“Bai Yuqiao, is your master at Blacktower right now?” Gu Qishao asked next.
“I can’t be certain. But I guarantee that even if he’s not, I can lure him there!” Bai Yuqiao vowed.
“Then we’ll make inquiries around Blacktower and find out about the current situation. This matter needs more time and thought,” Gu Qishao shrugged his shoulders at Ning Cheng with a grin. “Since we’re at the gates, Ning Clan Head, you should be performing the duties of the host, right?”
The Three-Way Black Market had a long history and an intricate network of powers. The waters here were far deeper than that of Tianning’s black markets. Cloud Realm Trade Consortium didn’t have much say in Tianning’s black markets, but they counted as at least half of its owners here. That was because behind them laid the longstanding history of the merchant family, the Di Clan.
Expressionless, Ning Cheng invited them in. “Be my guest.”
Not just anyone could enter the black markets, especially the Three-Way Black Markets. One needed status and qualifications as well as a thorough inspection. But with Ning Cheng leading the way, Gu Qishao’s group passed smoothly through a secret passage. Mu Linger and Bai Yuqiao both knew of the market’s existence. The former was uninterested, but the latter sighed with surprise at every detail. She didn’t know much about the Di Clan, so she never expected them to have such ample stores of wealth and power amongst the people. She couldn’t help but look up at Ning Cheng, feeling like this man was as proud as a mountain, noble and cold. Despite his youth, he held massive power in his hands. She had to compare him against her senior brother.
If senior brother hadn’t been tricked by master, then his skills are enough to earn him power to stand alone just like Ning Cheng and Long Feiye.
Although the Three-Way Black Market was Cloud Realm Continent’s largest, that didn’t refer to size. The so called “large” came from the size of the business dealings there. The prices of the goods exchanged within a day was equal to ten days’ worth of revenue in an entire prefecture. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that they possessed wealth equal to entire nations. Ning Cheng arranged for Gu Qishao’s group to stay at Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s headquarters there: the most luxurious palace of the black markets.
Bai Yuqiao was quickly locked up by the guards while Gu Qishao and Mu Linger lived on either side of her. Once Ning Cheng left, Mu Linger went to find Gu Qishao right away.
“Qi gege, why are you coming to a place like this? This is Ning Cheng’s turf!” she muttered.
Gu Qishao reclined comfortably on his lounge chaise as he shut his eyes to rest. Rushing about the entire trip had tired him out.
“Qi gege…” Mu Linger tugged at his sleeve, so Gu Qishao elegantly raised his hand towards her.
“Help Qi gege massage this.”
Mu Linger didn’t refuse him at all, but happily took his hand and began to massage it gently. Still, she didn’t forget to remind him, “Qi gege, this is Ning Cheng’s turf.”
“So what if it is?” Gu Qishao asked lazily.
Mu Linger didn’t know how to answer. After some thought, she jumped straight to the point. “Qi gege, do you suspect Ning Cheng of something?”
Gu Qishao’s eyelids fluttered open. “Even you can tell?”
He had long started suspecting Ning Cheng. If a stupid lass like Mu Linger even noticed, then wouldn’t Ning Cheng have realized long ago?
Mu Linger grew very serious. “Qi gege, I’ve long noticed, but Ning Cheng hasn’t, because he doesn’t understand you like I do.”
Gu Qishao arched his brow at Mu Linger, uncertain whether to laugh or cry. “What do you understand about me?”
It was hard for Mu Linger to list specifics when put on the spot. “In any case, I just do. I bet you have to be suspecting Ning Cheng of something, right?”
Gu Qishao hooked a finger to gesture her to come closer. She scooted over without a word, then backed off slightly to give them some space.
In a low voice, Gu Qishao murmured, “Lass, since you can tell, then keep up the act. If you expose us and ruin Qi gege’s affairs...hehe.” He laughed drily a few times, before warning her, “Qi gege won’t have the end of it with you!”
But Mu Linger only giggled. “Linger doesn’t want an end of it with Qi gege either. Not for the rest of my life.”
Gu Qishao gave a start, which made Mu Linger’s smile stiffen on her face. She realized she’d been too happy and blurted out her inner feelings. But very soon, Gu Qishao recovered and chuckled. “Not bad, you’ve learned to flirt. Hehe, looks like your big sister doesn’t need to worry about not marrying you off.”
Seeing Qi gege’s bewitching smile and bright eyes, Mu Linger narrowly avoided blurting out her feelings again. Linger won’t marry anyone except Qi gege. But in the end, she didn’t say a word. Not because she didn’t dare, but because she was afraid...afraid that she’d give him an excuse to refuse her clearly if she did. There was plenty of love in the world that feared being exposed--not from lack of courage, but from fear of losing all chances in the future.
Qi gege, Linger will wait until you’re older, until you can’t run away, until nobody else wants you anymore, until you die! Linger has to live well, has to live a second longer than you. If we can’t share the same quilt while we’re alive, then let’s share the same coffin after we die!
Qi gege, Linger doesn’t even know how much I love you.
Her pain and joy mixed in her heart as Mu Linger smiled. She had already learned to smile just like Gu Qishao, carefree and brilliant whenever she wanted.
“Qi gege, just what do you suspect about Ning Cheng? Has he bullied my big sister?” Mu Linger asked.
“That letter’s been tampered with,” Gu Qishao murmured back.
“How could that be?” Mu Linger was startled.
“Poison lass told us to interrogate Bai Yuqiao and find a way to rescue Gu Beiyue. She didn’t say anything about helping Ning Cheng deal with Bai Yanqing,” Gu Qishao said. Despite spending his days chuckling and acting out, his heart was shrewd. Even the tiniest clues wouldn’t escape his eyes. If Han Yunxi hadn’t left private instructions for him and Mu Linger before she left, then the faked letter would have really tricked him. But Han Yunxi had already left them her words, so how could Ning Cheng ever hope to cheat them?
What Han Yunxi worried about the most was Gu Beiyue, but the letter she’d “sent” them talked about three completely separated things. It also stressed that they were to help Ning Cheng deal with Bai Yanqing.
It couldn’t be anything but a fake.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Makeup chapter for yesterday's missed release. uwu