Gu Beiyue had disappeared!
Bai Yanqing’s eyes turned icy before he rushed back out and started to search for the man like mad. Gu Beiyue was the biggest ace in his sleeve, the only thing capable of dealing with the double danger of Long Feiye and Han Yunxi. If he couldn’t sow discord between them, then his only method was to use Gu Beiyue as a backup plan!
But Gu Beiyue was gone! Where was he?!
The Prancing Dragon Gorge was a deeply concealed location that was completely cut off from the outside world. How could Gu Beiyue have escaped? Leaving aside his serious injuries, he was also poisoned. How could he break free of the various poison guards lying in ambush and run away? Moreover, why would he want to run away? Had he discovered something?
“Someone come! Someone!” Bai Yanqing shouted as he stood in the courtyard. Unfortunately, no one answered him. He couldn’t believe his ears and went searching around the property. Soon enough, he found a pile of corpses in the bamboo forest behind the house. All of them were his poison guards, each of whom had perished by a single stab.
Bai Yanqing was stunned. Gu Beiyue had no skills to assassinate so many guards, so someone must have slipped in and whisked him away. Who could it be? Someone capable of avoiding the guards’ poison and able to find his way here? As his rage simmered within his chest, Bai Yanqing unsheathed his sword and slashed wildly at the surrounding bamboo. First he was schemed against in Blacktower and forced to flee in a wretched state, then he discovered that Han Yunxi and Long Feiye didn’t hate each other. Both of these were enough to incite his ire, but now he’d lost Gu Beiyue too.
He’d planned and plotted for so many years, endured and waited for so very long, so where did he go wrong? Why did things turn out like this? East and West Qin should’ve been fighting up a storm by now! He should be sitting on the sidelines and watching the show! Why was he in such a sorry state?
After lashing out for awhile, Bai Yanqing finally regained his composure. He stabbed his sword into the dirt and lifted his head with eyes shut, his old brow wrinkled with pain. In the end, his loss could be summed up by the combination of Han Yunxi and Long Feiye.
Why? Why can they join hands and work together? It’s not just a simple alliance, either. Anyone can tell how intimate they are! Their old feelings never died!
How can they endure those years of hatred to stay together? On what grounds? How can they do it despite their national enmity?!
Why...why couldn’t the woman I love do the same? I told her the truth--I said everything between East and West Qin was just a misunderstanding to sow discord. But she still wouldn’t believe me!
How could that woman’s daughter carry the status of West Qin princess and still entangle herself with the East Qin crown prince? Why couldn’t she accept him, a descendant of the Wind Clan?
When he thought of the past, Bai Yanqing broke into a frenzy of madness once again. He grabbed his sword and slashed at the skies while howling a single name.
“Mu Xin, you let me down! You were the one who disappointed me!”
“Mu Xin, I’ll never forgive you, even if you’re dead! Never!”
“Mu Xin, open your eyes and look! Just look at your daughter!”
“Mu Xin, tell me why? Why?!”
“Mu Xin, I actually lost to your daughter…”
After the bamboo forest was chopped into pieces, Bai Yanqing tossed aside his sword and keeled over on the ground. Although his eyes were open, his gaze was unfocused and empty. While he’d hidden himself in Prancing Dragon Gorge, the ignorant Jun Yixie was still searching everywhere for signs of his master. By now, Bai Yuqiao and the poison guard from Blacktower had already delivered Ning Cheng and Su Xiaoyu to Skyriver City in Northern Li. Bai Yuqiao had Brother Qi bring along Su Xiaoyu to find her senior brother in the barracks while she stayed behind to talk to Ning Cheng.
Currently, Ning Cheng was wearing a reticulated face mask that covered the right side of his face, thus hiding his blinded eye. The mask was made of silver and exquisitely wrought into the shape of a half-furled phoenix wing. Bai Yuqiao didn’t limit any of Ning Cheng’s freedoms during their trip, but it was impossible for the man to escape. After treating his eye, Bai Yuqiao had given him another strange poison. If he didn’t take an antidote daily, he’d figuratively burn to death from the inside out. Of course, that was the real reason Ning Cheng stayed put. His other purpose was to see Jun Yixie. Bai Yuqiao had said that Jun Yixie was completely ignorant of everything their master had done over the years. She was afraid that he wouldn’t believe her, so she wanted Ning Cheng to stand as witness. She promised that she’d give Ning Cheng the final antidote as soon as he gave testimony.
Currently, the two of them were in a private room at a teahouse in Skyriver City whose seats bordered a railing. Ning Cheng loved wine and wasn’t used to tea, so he hadn’t touched anything on the table. Meanwhile, Bai Yuqiao carefully tasted her tea with pleasure. When she noticed Ning Cheng staring out the window, she secretly studied his phoenix face mask. He had designed it personally before telling her to have it made.
“Hey, is the phoenix wing birthmark on Han Yunxi’s back shaped like that? Have you seen it before?” Bai Yuqiao had been curious for awhile now.
Ning Cheng didn’t turn back, but his eye grew gloomy. “When are you planning to let me see Jun Yixie?”
The relationship between Bai Yanqing and Jun Yixie had exceeded his expectations. If there was really a gap between master and disciple, this was a big chance for the Di Clan!
“Ning Cheng, you really like Han Yunxi, huh! She blinded you, what’s there to like?” Bai Yuqiao asked.
Ning Cheng’s hand on the table gradually formed into a fist. In the past, Bai Yuqiao used to fear him, but not anymore. After all, Ning Cheng was limited by her poison and she was certain he wouldn’t go beg Han Yunxi to save him now. Nor did he have enough time. Moreover, she could guess that Ning Cheng was interested in working with her senior brother! She darted a glance at his clenched fist and continued to grin.
“You couldn’t be concerned about the position of son-in-law for the West Qin imperial clan, right? Heheh, if Han Yunxi ever ascends the throne as a female emperor someday, you’d be a rather fitting match as the Di Clan Head and Great General Ning. Ning Cheng--”
Before she could finish, Ning Cheng suddenly grabbed her by the collar and sent her sprawling across the table, knocking down all the tea things.
“I’ll warn you one last time. Don’t ever bring up ‘Han Yunxi’ in front of me again. Otherwise, I’ll let you know what it means to be truly blind!” Ning Cheng vowed.
“Ning Cheng, if you don’t release me right now, I won’t give you any antidote tonight!” Bai Yuqiao snapped.
Ning Cheng gave a cold snort. “Heheh, this clan head believes that Jun Yixie will be glad enough to treat my poison!” So speaking, he flung her aside and rose to leave. Bai Yuqiao quickly stopped him.
“Ning Cheng, you don’t understand the feelings between my senior brother and master!”
“And you do?” Ning Cheng retorted.
“Of course! If you’re willing to trust me, I can tell you everything!” Bai Yuqiao said quickly.
Ning Cheng laughed out loud. “Why should I believe you?”
“Honor your previous promise and I’ll definitely tell you the truth,” Bai Yuqiao grinned. She still remembered Ning Cheng’s cash! There was still payment pending on her account, but once she got it, senior brother would definitely be delighted.
Ning Cheng laughed coldly. “Idiotic ravings!”
Bai Yuqiao grew incensed. “Ning Cheng, I’m not even nitpicking the fact that you tricked me. Are you going to go back on your word?”
“Bai Yanqing was lured there by Han Yunxi, not you! You should thank the stars that this clan head isn’t demanding reparations!” Ning Cheng really didn’t want to waste any more words with this girl. Now that they were in Skyriver City, it would be better to find Jun Yixie than chatter with her.
Without a doubt, Bai Yuqiao stopped him again. “Fine. Then I’ll give up on the money. You should hear about my senior brother and master first, it won’t be too late to leave afterwards.”
“Why are you telling me so much?” Ning Cheng was curious.
“Because I want my senior brother to break free from master. I don’t want him to be tricked again! I don’t want him to be some fool that my master runs circles around while he respects him like a father!” Bai Yuqiao said sincerely. “Ning Cheng, as long as you can convince my senior brother to cooperate with you, the two of you have a chance at victory, whether it’s challenging the Northern Li imperial clan or fighting Long Feiye. Just give up on Han Yunxi!”
She lowered her voice and added, “Rather than try so hard to show your loyalty, you might as well stake out your own kingdom and make her submit as a subject! A woman like Han Yunxi will only be interested in a man like Long Feiye. How could she ever show interest in a subordinate like you?”
Ning Cheng gradually distanced himself from Bai Yuqiao and gave her a searching look filled with meaning.
“I don’t mind telling you now, but the only reason my senior brother’s submitted himself to the Northern Li emperor instead of rebelling was because he was waiting for my master all along.”
Bai Yuqiao had remained hidden throughout their entire trip until they entered Northern Li borders. Here, she started making inquiries into the nation and Jun Yixie’s status until she understood its current climate perfectly. She could guess that Long Feiye and Ning Cheng both harbored ideas for sowing discord here, too. With a cold laugh, she added, “Heheh, Long Feiye will definitely underestimate my senior brother while he’s yet to assume command over the troops.”
Hearing this, Ning Cheng’s eyes lit up. Bai Yuqiao’s analysis was accurate: Long Feiye would never expect Jun Yixie and Bai Yanqing to have such a subtle relationship. It was possible that Jun Yixie really hadn’t assumed control over the troops yet, rather than fall prey to the Northern Li emperor’s machinations.
Despite going blind in one eye, Ning Cheng’s remaining eye seemed even more opaque and hard to read than before. He was the only one who knew his views on the current situation and his feelings towards Bai Yuqiao’s coaxing. Bai Yuqiao had to admit that the man was brilliant, noble, and cold as ever despite missing one eye, a handsome figure without compare.
“Master Ning, think it over carefully,” Bai Yuqiao had plenty of patience--as well as faith.
Ning Cheng said down and declared, “Go on, this clan head will listen with respectful attention!”
So Bai Yuqiao began from her childhood. When she was old enough to remember things, senior brother had already settled at Hundred Poisons Sect. He treated their master like a father and always respected and submitted to his words. The more he heard, the darker Ning Cheng’s gaze grew, as if calculating something. By the time Bai Yuqiao finished her story, it was already dark. Ning Cheng’s expression had began to turn ghastly as the poison started to flare.
Bai Yuqiao happily gave him the antidote, which Ning Cheng took. He looked slightly better afterwards.
“Let’s go! I’ll take you to meet my senior brother right away,” Bai Yuqiao’s excitement was obvious in her words. She hadn’t see Jun Yixie for so long that she’d nearly gone mad from missing him.
But Ning Cheng held out a hand. “Return Han Yunxi’s needle to me and I’ll come with you.”
The needle he mentioned was none other than the one that had stabbed his eye. Han Yunxi’s needles were quite unique, so Bai Yuqiao had naturally hidden it away for herself. Now she looked at him doubtfully. Abruptly, Ning Cheng declared, “This clan head has to keep it on hand at all times to remember the grudge of the needle!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I forgot to mention this but we're now moving on to a brand new story arc! By that I mean we're taking a break to check out how things are progressing with our other characters beyond Three-Way Black Market...and boy, are plots afoot~