Hugging each other?
Han Yunxi was momentarily distracted by the claim. She suddenly wanted to know how Long Feiye would react if he heard Ning Jing’s words.
“My legs are injured, making it impossible for me to walk. Long Feiye has to carry me around, or else he’ll be defenseless against Bai Yanqing’s poisons!” Han Yunxi explained, then added on purpose, “May I ask if this explanation is satisfactory for Miss Jing?”
The elders exchanged glances as Ning Jing continued to ask, “If that’s the case, then why was my big brother acting on his own?”
This was the crux of the matter, but Han Yunxi intelligently replied, “You’re asking why? It’s not something I know, in any case! I teamed up with Long Feiye to deal with Bai Yanqing, not just to help out East Qin. After capturing him, my West Qin would naturally get a share!”
Her words weren’t completely lies, because she’d long told Long Feiye that she wouldn’t pick sides in the competition between him and Ning Cheng. Their own alliance wasn’t limited to just Bai Yanqing, but Jun Yixie’s battle horses as well. Their goal in luring the old man out was not just to save Gu Beiyue, but all figure out the truth behind the Great Qin Empire’s civil war in the past. Gu Beiyue was part of the West Qin camp. In one sense, capturing Bai Yanqing was more akin to Long Feiye assisting her instead. Seeing the crowd fall silent, Han Yunxi looked towards Fifth Elder.
“Fifth Elder, share your thoughts. Why did Ning Cheng choose to move on his own?”
Fifth Elder was quite honest. “As this subordinate sees it, if Master Ning could deal with Bai Yanqing, then he could pressure Jun Yixie. Master Ning made comprehensive plans, but never expected the Pear Blossom Rain Needles to be a sham!”
Han Yunxi immediately looked towards Ning Jing, whose eyes flew back at her. Without a doubt, both of them had a tacit understanding when it came to the Pear Blossom Rain Needles. Han Yunxi had long known about the truth of the Tang Clan, but never told Ning Cheng; Ning Jing knew the truth as well, but kept it secret, too. Because of this, Ning Jing was convinced that Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were secretly colluding with each other. The two women stared at each other silently.
After a long time had passed, it was the head elder who spoke up. “If Tang Li refuses to cooperate with us, then he can forget about going back!”
The amusement in Han Yunxi’s eyes grew at this remark. Now she was certain of her own guesses. Ning Jing might have put Tang Li under house arrest, but she’d yet to spill the beans of his relationship with Long Feiye! Her gaze grew crafty as she stated, “Actually, with regards to the Pear Blossom Pear Needles--”
“What about my big brother’s poison?!” Ning Jing suddenly changed the topic.
It was then that Han Yunxi knew that Ning Jing had lost…
She didn’t pursue the matter, but followed off on her tangent. “Don’t worry. Bai Yuqiao is Bai Yanqing’s disciple. If she couldn’t deal with a poison like that, she might as well give up on poisons altogether!”
“Then what about my big brother’s eye?” Ning Jing asked next.
Han Yunxi’s bright eyes dimmed. She wasn’t sure where the needle had pierced Ning Cheng’s eye, but after all that blood, she didn’t hold out much hope. After a pause, she intoned, “It was my fault.”
Fifth Elder said earnestly, “Princess, there’s no need to blame yourself. Master Ning won’t fault the princess.”
When she recalled Ning Cheng’s parting question and his stubborn insistence on waiting for her to come back, Han Yunxi had no faith in Fifth Elder’s words. It would be stranger if Ning Cheng didn’t blame her. She sighed softly and didn’t explain much. In a self-deprecating, half-joking tone, she said, “Everyone, does this princess’s explanations satisfy you all? Do you believe me?”
Silence greeted her words. Fifth Elder had no words to rebut, while Ning Jing found herself unable to voice her own. Meanwhile, Uncle Cheng stood on one side. Although he knew Han Yunxi was lying and still harbored mutual feelings with Long Feiye, he didn’t expose her fibs. Arguing for such things was pointless now. With her status, anyone who persisted against her would find it useless. Since she was back, he might as well hand over the mess here into her hands! Even the head elder hadn’t been able to take care of it, so he’d rather see what Han Yunxi would do in his place!
If Han Yunxi lost the Di Clan’s moneybags, she’d lose all prestige amongst the West Qin camp. When he exposed her affair with Long Feiye then, Uncle Cheng was convinced that no one in the clan would ever swear loyalty to their princess again. They’d want to rebel instead! By then, even the stubborn Ning Cheng would fail to persuade his clansmen.
A cold smile rose to Uncle Cheng’s lips at the thought before he silently left the room. At the door, he silently instructed, “Send a few men to smash the gambling houses. Remember, don’t let anyone discover your identities.”
“Yes!” the young pageboy asserted before respecting withdrawing.
After a long period of silence in the hall, the head elder glanced at Ning Jing and saw that she was still mute. He prepared to speak when Fifth Elder beat him to it. “This subordinate trusts the princess. To work in the service of the princess, this subordinate is willing to bend one’s back to the task until one’s dying day!”
Now that he’d expressed his views, the head elder had to speak up too before Han Yunxi disbanded his council altogether!
“This subordinate believes in the princess. I am willing to see West Qin revive its former glory and bend one’s back to the task until one’s dying day!” the head elder proclaimed loudly. The rest of the elders were quick to follow suit.
Ning Jing only snorted and didn’t say a word.
“It’s already getting late,” Han Yunxi intoned next. “As things still haven’t settled down at the auction and gambling houses, the elders should hurry up and busy yourselves. Ning Jing, take me to see Tang Li first. We can discuss details together again tomorrow, alright?”
Han Yunxi asked them so politely that none of the elders dared to say no. Once they were gone, Ning Jing finally let her temper loose.
“Han Yunxi, you lied! You’re clearly involved with Long Feiye! Otherwise, why would you help him hide the truth about the Tang Clan? Why didn’t you tell my big brother!”
“And what about you?” Han Yunxi arched her brow. “Ning Jing, you say I was colluding with Long Feiye? Could it be that you and Tang Li are deeply in love as well? That’s why you’ve hidden the truth about the Tang Clan and Long Feiye too?”
“I did not!” Ning Jing denied.
“Then why did you betray your big brother and the Di Clan?” Han Yunxi laughed coldly. “Ning Jing, why don’t you think about your own actions while you’re finding fault with mine?”
“I, I…” Ning Jing had never felt so irritated in her life. “Han Yunxi, I’m different from you! We’re not the same!”
Han Yunxi only had a so what expression on her face. “We’re both traitors, so what’s the difference?”
Ning Jing suddenly grew alarmed. “Han Yunxi, why did you come back? You want to help Long Feiye against us?”
“I said it already, you don’t have the right to question or criticize me,” Han Yunxi said icily.
Ning Jing rushed in front of her and almost raised her hand. “Han Yunxi, I’m telling you now, I’m not the same as you! I’ve only betrayed my brother once! Just once! But you, as the West Qin princess, has been betraying your clansmen and loyal subjects the entire time! You did it more than once!”
“Is there a difference between once and multiple times?” Han Yunxi laughed. “Ning Jing, it only takes one betrayal to make things irreversible.”
Ning Jing’s heart gave a lurch. Han Yunxi’s words were like a knife that stabbed into the weakest part of her heart. But she still insisted on fighting back. “Han Yunxi, at least I’ve stopped betraying them now! But what about you?”
Han Yunxi stared at the woman before her. She was once the sharp and capable president of Cloud Realm Trade Consortium, but when had she turned so unreasonable?
“Ning Jing, when did you ever stop your betrayal?” Han Yunxi only shook her head. “You still haven’t admitted your guilt to the Di Clan, so how can you make such claims? You’ve been betraying them all this time!”
Ning Jing was struck speechless. She backed away step by step and began to shake her head. It wasn’t clear whether she was denying Han Yunxi’s words or herself. She had once comforted herself with the fact that she’d only betrayed Ning Cheng once--just once. It’d taken her massive effort to convince herself to choose to run away, because that meant she could stop her betrayal. But Han Yunxi’s words today shattered her own self-delusions!
That’s right, a betrayal is a betrayal! What’s a whore doing painting herself with a chaste heart?
But she never wanted to pretend in the first place! If she didn’t hide the truth of Long Feiye’s relationship with the Tang Clan, then both her and Tang Li would be in danger! If the Di Clan knew the truth, they wouldn’t trust any of Tang Li’s excuses or let him leave. She would have to face the elders’ questions and face disaster. If they locked her up for a month or more, her growing stomach would be obvious! She wouldn’t be able to shoulder the consequences then!
The Di Clan would never let her give birth to a scion of the East Qin camp. They’d never accept it!
Ning Jing gradually began backing away until she ran into the wall. She suddenly wanted to cry. She had no idea what to do now. Before Han Yunxi showed up, she was still rational enough to think of ways to deal with Myriad Merchant Hall’s troubles until Ning Nuo arrived. Then she’d just leave. But how was she supposed to escape now if Han Yunxi knew her secrets?
Was she supposed to beg her? Was she supposed to betray the clan with her? She couldn’t do either of those things! How could she do that now in this state?
After a few moments, Ning Jing finally met Han Yunxi’s questioning gaze. She coldly retorted, “Yes, I did betray the Ning Clan. What do you want to do now?”
But Han Yunxi abruptly asked, “Ning Jing, you’ve taken a fancy to Tang Li?”
Ning Jing gave a start before she viciously denied the claims. “What a joke! Han Yunxi, respect that mouth of yours!”
Such a violent reaction only made Han Yunxi’s eyes dance with amusement. She didn’t argue with Ning Jing, but only gave her a meaningful look. Ning Jing’s conscience twinged as she avoided her gaze. Finally, Han Yunxi had figured out Ning Jing’s “selfish motive.” It wasn’t a personal desire at all, but a compromise, a sense of helplessness, remorse, reluctance, contradiction, grievance, and silent, burdened loneliness!
Both of them were solitary wanderers in this wide, wide world. Han Yunxi understood Ning Jing’s inner conflicts all too well. Thus, she was now certain that Ning Jing had hid the truth about the Tang Clan and Long Feiye because of Tang Li!
Her voice suddenly softened as she said, “Ning Jing, I love Long Feiye. Even though I’m prepared to fight against him in the battlefield, I still love him. What about you? Do you love Tang Li?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
This is the chapter I owe you guys from uh....two days ago!
And with this, we've cleared the last frustration hurdle with Ning Jing's conflicted emotions! Will squeeze out one more chapter tonight, so just sit back and relax for now, folks! <3