It wasn’t clear who was operating from the shadows, but within the span of one morning, Myriad Merchant Hall’s auction houses had been exposed for selling fakes. Meanwhile, its gambling houses were revealed to be housing cheaters. Both of these were the most profitable business in the market, so problems in both meant massive losses for them. Ning Nuo was off in the distant Northern Li, so before the princess came back to preside over the conclusion, the Council of Elders could only rely on Ning Jing. They couldn’t call the shots for something so huge.
Ning Jing hurried into the meeting room while asking in shock, “Isn’t Han Yunxi at the army camp? Why is she with Long Feiye? What does she mean by this? And why was my older brother covering up for her?”
The head elder wanted to know the answers too, but the guards didn’t know. The old man shook his head and said, “Miss Jing, how could the princess’s affairs fall to the likes of our Myriad Merchant Hall to question?”
“Where’s Uncle Cheng?” Ning Jing asked next.
The head elder next told her about the problems at the auction and gambling houses. “Uncle Cheng is currently dealing with an official at the gambling house, so he won’t be able to come for a bit.”
As an experienced businesswoman, Ning Jing understood without further explanation. Accusations of fake goods and swindlers would be a fatal blow to Myriad Merchant Hall unless they dealt with it properly. These two were not only the moneybags of their businesses, but also a symbol of their trustworthiness. All deals done in the black market placed emphasis on trust, far more than business done above ground. They also distrusted fake goods. Anyone with the power to enter the Three-Way Black Market didn’t lack for wealth or goods. Myriad Merchant Hall’s business was already in decline compared to past years. If they couldn’t resolve this danger, then their business would be stolen away by Golden Wing and East Origin Hall. Ning Jing was still agitated from Ning Cheng’s plight when this set of bad news added to her alarm. It was clear that someone had smashed their stage on purpose.
She had never felt so flustered in her life. She even had the sense that the Di Clan was about to collapse and disperse. Her steps were hurried as she walked with her head bowed. Although she looked calm, she was have trouble thinking straight.
Abruptly, the baby in her womb moved. Ning JIng halted her steps as if waking from a dream. Her hands crept subconsciously to her stomach, but stopped when she saw the head elder watching.
The baby was moving now, and she could feel it!
“Miss Jing, what’s wrong?” the head elder asked.
“Nothing.” Ning Jing glanced backwards before hurrying off again. Compared to her previous anxiety, she had all but calmed down. “Leave a security detail here and send the rest of the men and horses to Mt. Yue. Have them coperate with those archers, they have to bring my big brother back!”
“And also, immediately dispatch a letter to the army and tell Deputy General Xue to strengthen the defenses. If news spreads, have him make sure to calm the soldiers’ hearts.
“Send someone to tell Uncle Cheng to pay back as much as he needs. No matter what, make sure the customers are satisfied,” Ning Jing’s eyes flashed sinisterly before she lowered her voice, “And have him kill that official as a sacrifice for the greater good. He has to make sure his acting is on point.”
After issuing all those orders, Ning Jing hurried off to deal with the problems at the auction hall in person. At the entrance, she subconsciously stopped to wipe her eyes and realized they were filled with tears. But she simply brushed them aside. Worrying wouldn’t help matters now, so although she couldn’t begin to pay for her crimes, she could at least help Ning Cheng set Myriad Merchant Hall in order. As to why Han Yunxi was with Long Feiye and why Ning Cheng was concealing that fact, only Uncle Cheng could tell her in their spare time.
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were still searching all over the mountains for Ning Cheng. They wanted to save him more than anyone else, but it wasn’t to be. Two days later, neither them, the shadow guards, nor the Di Clan’s forces had gotten a single clue to his whereabouts. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye returned to the ruins of Blacktower.
Han Yunxi intoned, “Could Bai Yuqiao gone to join up with Bai Yanqing? Since he got here so soon, he must have a hiding place near the Three-Way Black Markets.”
Long Feiye nodded and instructed Xu Donglin to increase the search perimeters. “We’ll go look around the nearby gorges,” Han Yunxi was quick to suggest.
“Have the subordinates search them instead. We’ll go back first,” Long Feiye said. It was already extremely unusual for him to be personally searching for anyone at all.
Han Yunxi looked at him without a word.
Go back? Go back where? After something this big, I can’t keep concealing my identity and leave with Long Feiye for East Origin Hall.
But Long Feiye only said, “You should go back to Myriad Merchant Hall.”
Han Yunxi looked at him in disbelief, certain that she’d misheard him. When did he become so agreeable. “Where are your terms?” she asked.
Long Feiye couldn’t help laughing as he stroked her hair. “You didn’t turn stupid this time.”
Sometimes she wished she could once in a while! She looked at him helplessly and waited for him to speak. Long Feiye leaned close and proclaimed, “I want you to truly take control of West Qin’s power, without any limits put in place by the Ning Clan.”
The biggest reason for their previous troubles and failure to net Bai Yanqing was because Han Yunxi was only a princess in name. She didn’t control any of West Qin’s army or powers. If Ning Cheng’s whereabouts were unclear, then this was Han Yunxi’s chance to truly seize West Qin’s power for herself. As long as she was calling the shots, things would be much easier. Even if they had to be separated for now, they could still fight shoulder-to-shoulder!
Yet this was a challenge for Han Yunxi. How was she supposed to explain things between her and Long Feiye once she returned to Myriad Merchant Hall and the Di Clan? Without Ning Cheng’s support, how was she to convince the people in charge of the Di Clan to trust her policy decisions?
After all, she was still simple a woman in their eyes. She had never been to a battlefield and didn’t have the right to make decisions. They treated Han Yunxi as their spiritual leader while Ning Cheng was the one who truly led them against the enemy! Han Yunxi knew that returning to Myriad Merchant Hall wouldn’t be as simple as the guard who entreated her to preside over the conclusion. Ning Cheng might be stubborn and an extremist, but without him her every movement could grow difficult.
Before Han Yunix answered, Long Feiye added, “Otherwise, leave with me now. I have another way to lure Bai Yanqing out.”
Han Yunxi was surprised. But Long Feiye wasn’t planning on telling her the full story. He only said, “Either that, or go back to Myriad Merchant Hall. I’ll give you ten days’ time. If you can become their master by then, this crown prince is willing to work together with West Qin and kill Bai Yanqing together. If you can’t take control, then I’ll take you away in ten days and have the Di Clan take care of their own mess.”
This was Long Feiye’s final offer. Even if Han Yunxi couldn’t quell the Di Clan or Ning Cheng betrayed West Qin and allied with Bai Yanqing instead, Long Feiye wasn’t afraid of the extra trouble. He needed Han Yunxi to be with him when dealing with Bai Yanqing. He had to rescue Gu Beiyue quickly, and figure out whether the centuries old enmity between the two dynasties originated from a misunderstanding or pure hatred.
“Alright, it’s a ten days’ appointment. I agree!” Han Yunxi nodded promptly.
Although Long Feiye didn’t reveal everything, she knew that he had taught her a principle, cruel as it may be: only the capable could shoulder responsibility. Otherwise, she might as well accept what she got!
Uncle Gao brought over the carriage and the couple got on. Neither spoke much during the trip, but Han Yunxi did lean on Long Feiye’s shoulder while entwining their hands together. By the time their ride stopped at the doors of the black market, Han Yunxi reached her limits.
“Long Feiye, will you be at East Origin Hall for the next ten days?”
Long Feiye’s lips quirked up into a grin as he said, “It’s uncertain.”
“Then where will you go?” Han Yunxi panicked as she straightened up.
“To meet Chu Tianyin,” Long Feiye said. It was very close to Western Zhou from here.
“How long will you be gone?” Han Yunxi asked next.
“It’s uncertain,” Long Feiye replied.
“Oh,” Han Yunxi said and stopped questioning him. Long Feiye looked at her as his smile widened. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi didn’t notice. She remained silent for a while before adding, “Long Feiye, I’ll miss you.”
Long Feiye pressed her head against his chest, hiding his silent, broad smile from sight. “How will you miss me?” he asked in a stern tone, though it quickly dissolved into another grin.
Han Yunxi didn’t answer. She simply raised her head and caught him grinning. After giving a start, she wrapped her arms around his neck and dragged him down for a kiss!
Han Yunxi, ah, Han Yunxi. Can’t you try a different posture sometimes?
Although she’d pulled him down multiple times, Long Feiye was still happy to lower his proud head and cooperate. Unlike their other kisses, Long Feiye didn’t take the initiative outright this time, but remained unmoving as Han Yunxi kissed him. Although Han Yunxi had been eaten clean multiple times, she still had a rather awkward kissing technique. She seemed to be carefully feeling and trying him out. Long Feiye enjoyed her service immensely. Although he didn’t move his lips, he did lean down until he was unconsciously forcing her to lie across his legs. Han Yunxi’s kiss grew more fervent as she shed away her caution. She was wholly focused on the motion.
Gradually, her hands released his neck and went to hug him lightly. She began to stroke his back, although she had no idea what she was looking for. And yet, Long Feiye suddenly grabbed her lips, gave her a fierce kiss, and then pulled away. Han Yunxi rose startled from her daze and sat there recovering her wits, Meanwhile, Long Feiye just smirked and lowered his voice. “You can’t fool around in front of the black market gates.”
Huff! Han Yunxi’s face turned scarlet in a second. If she didn’t know what he meant by now, then all the bullying she’d received in the carriage ride from the barracks to the black markets would be wasted experience.
Long Feiye was the kind of man who played docile after seizing an advantage. His words painted Han Yunxi as the naughty one while he was completely innocent. Seeing his wicked grin, Han Yunxi silently bore a grudge.
Actually, Long Feiye wasn’t bullying her. If he hadn’t stopped her, he might have lost control too. No matter how much they got into their jokes, they had to separate eventually. Han Yunxi waited for Long Feiye to tell her how he’d miss her, but he didn’t say a word.
After getting off the carriage, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye packed their things at East Origin Hall. She also changed into female clothing. Long Feiye wanted to personally escort her to Myriad Merchant Hall, but Han Yunxi stopped him.
“Xu Donglin can take me over there.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter