Instead of explaining the reasons behind the falsified Pear Blossom Rain Needles, Tang Li was clearly confessing his feelings. Unfortunately, Ning Jing wasn’t here to hear his words.
Tang Li asked Second Elder, “Old man, do you know how to torment a woman?”
Second Elder clenched his fists and was about to curse Tang Li for his bullying ways and un-husband-like conduct when Tang Li exclaimed, “Make her love you and unable to leave you, then tell her to scram!”
Silence greeted his words once again. Everyone stared at him in disbelief. Tang Li next looked at Third Elder. “Old man, has a woman ever fallen in love with you before? Why did she love you?”
While Third Elder found himself in an awkward spot and avoided Tang LI’s eyes, Tang Li asked next, “Do you know your wife’s favorite flowers? The kind of cloth she likes for her clothes? Her preferences for her three meals? Her favorite snacks? Or which store’s jewelry and rouge she likes best? The size of her shoes? Her preferred fragrance for baths? How late she lazes about in bed? How long her tempers last for?” Tang Li paused to chuckle, then added, “Or which days of the month are her worst moods?”
Not a bird disturbed the stillness of the chamber as the elders lowered their heads. It wasn’t clear whether they were embarrassed or just ashamed. Han Yunxi couldn’t help but think of Long Feiye and how much she suddenly missed him. Without a doubt, he knew all the details about herself. None of the servant girls were laughing either, but they were all peering at Tang Li with adoring eyes. How could they have expected the upright and proper Tang Clan Head to care about such trifling details?
How much must a man love a woman to spend his time finding out such things?
Actually, love wasn’t some high and lofty ideal above the mundane world, but an accumulation of the little things from daily life. The smaller the details, the more beautiful the love.
“I know them all!” Over the past year, Tang Li’s forbearance, compromises, doting, and shielding were already beyond mentioning, just like Ning Jing’s obstinancy, cunning, sarcasm, and viciousness. His single statement clearly showed how much he’d sacrifice, cared, and understood in the past year. As everyone stared at him and waited for him to continue, he simply chose to conclude his confession.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t torment Ning Jing at all. She hasn’t fallen in love with me yet, while I find it impossible to leave her now.”
Such a simple confession was both sincere and as beautiful as a dream, so why...so why couldn’t Ning Jing hear it herself?
Tang Li looked at Han Yunxi with an earnest gaze. “Han Yunxi, long before I met Ning Jing, the Pear Blossom Rain Needles had been all used up. I emptied it out while escaping my first wedding, or else I would be married to someone else by now. I was afraid that I couldn’t wed Ning Jing, so I lied. There’s nothing for me to explain! If Ning Jing refuses to go home with me without this betrothal gift, then there’s no need for you to release me. Just lock me up again and I’ll eat and live here. I won’t go back.”
The head elder looked towards Han Yunxi at the same time she looked back. Thanks to the disturbance at the gambling house and auction halls, Tang Li’s matters had been delayed indefinitely. It was originally Ning Cheng who suggested to the head elder to keep the couple here. His plan was to kidnap Tang Li to threaten the Tang Clan to cooperate with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium by trading in their weapons, rather than have Ning Jing waste her time running circles around the man. But now the situation had changed. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were going to form an alliance, so East and West Qin wouldn’t go to war so quickly yet. Moreover, Ning Cheng was missing and Ning Jing’s whereabouts unknown. The head elder had no way to make the final call.
The head elder thought, Since Tang Li truly likes Ning Jing, then Miss Jing’s task is all but half done. It shouldn’t be hard to wrest out an agreement eventually. Right now, the Di Clan’s unfavorable plight made it inadvisable to clash with Tang Li. It was better to let him go and tell him everything about Ning Jing instead. On the one hand, they could get the Tang Clan to help with the search efforts; on the other, they could maintain relations with the Tang Clan for any future discussions. The head elder approached Han Yunxi and voiced his thoughts into her ear. Although Han Yunxi hadn’t expected Tang Li to be so clear with his intentions, she did guess the head elder’s considerations ahead of time. She shot Tang Li a secret look, hoping it’d prepare him for the bombshell ahead and keep him calm. Tang Li noticed the look, but it wasn’t clear whether he understood her meaning.
Han Yunxi intoned, “Someone come and undo the Tang Clan Head’s bonds.”
By now, Tang Li had reached his limits. He anxiously asked, “Where’s Ning Jing? Where’s my wife?”
It was impossible for him to hide his love after such a clever confession, nor was there any need to make a show. He could now publicly declare his love for Ning Jing to anyone who listened. In fact, he’d even planned out how to threaten the Tang Clan elders with Ning Jing’s baby once he took her home. As the ninth generation heir to the Tang Clan, he’d make any of those elders regret--especially his father--if they dared to touch a hair on Ning Jing’s head!
“Hurry and tell Ning Jing to come out. If she wants a betrothal gift, I’ll make it up to her! When we go back to the Tang Clan, she can pick any assassination weapon she likes!”
Although Ning Jing picking a weapon and the Tang Clan cooperating them in a weapons trade were two completely different things, all of the elders’ eyes lit up at Tang Li’s words. They couldn’t help but feel vexed at forgetting about the Tang Clan in the past few days. If they had interrogated the man earlier, perhaps he would have already taken Ning Jing back to the Tang Clan and finish the deal. Now Ning Jing was missing, so how were they supposed to explain things to Tang Li?
For a long time, Han Yunxi didn’t speak. The various elders exchanged glances, while Tang Li finally noticed something amiss in the middle of his joy. He grew uneasy. Had something happened to Ning Jing? Or his child? Before he could ask, Han Yunxi stopped him with a stern look. Although the Council of Elders trusted Tang Li, mightn’t they think deeper into the issue after news of Ning Jing’s pregnancy broke out? She married into the Tang Clan with a mission, so she would have only kept the pregnancy if she wanted it! The fact that Ning Jing had entered Three-Way Black Market in disguise had already raised Ning Cheng’s suspicions. If he was here today, Tang Li wouldn’t be having such an easy time of things. At a moment like this, it was better to have less troubles.
Tang Li understood Han Yunxi’s considerations and calmed down, giving her a reassuring glance. He knew that if he couldn’t control himself, Han Yunxi wouldn’t tell him anything.
“Tang Clan Head, Ning Jing...Ning Jing went missing last night…” Before Han Yunxi could finish, Tang Li was already rushing over.
“What did you say?”
A few guards went to stop him, but Tang Li insisted on tugging at Han Yunxi’s collar. In the shadows, Xu Donglin broke out into a cold sweat. Han Yunxi creased her brows and stared into Tang Li’s eyes, sending him silent reminders. She quickly said, “For the past few days, Ning Jing’s been feeling unwell. The doctors wanted her to recuperate in peace and quiet, so Mu Linger’s been taking care of her. Last night, a kidnapper murdered the servant girl in her room and abducted her and Mu Linger. The Council of Elders is currently conducting a search, so I ask that you calm down and help them pursue this matter.”
She emphasized the last sentence on purpose, before asking, “Tang Clan Head, anyone who can perform a kidnapping at Myriad Merchant Hall must be extraordinary. Have you or Ning Jing ever offended anyone?”
If Tang Li didn’t get her hints by now, Han Yunxi was out of luck. Fortunately, he was still rational enough to pick up on the clues. Knitting his brows, he spent a long time soothing his nerves before he spoke. “My Tang Clan rarely involves itself in worldly matters, so who could we have offended? But I wouldn’t know if Ning Jing offended anyone personally.”
“Before, Miss Jing--”
Tang Li angrily cut off the head elder’s words. “Didn’t something that big disturb the guards last night? Who’s in charge of security at Myriad Merchant Hall?”
He was only voicing his normal suspicions and had no idea regarding Uncle Cheng’s affairs. Unfortunately, Uncle Cheng was the very man in charge of the Di Clan’s security detail, including guards at Myriad Merchant Hall. The elders exchanged looks. Although they didn’t voice it, they had started harboring guesses inside their hearts. The head elder’s eyes grew complicated as he said, “This was indeed dereliction of duty on the guards’ part. May Tang Clan Head take heart, I’ll definitely investigate this thoroughly and grasp any hint of evidence.”
“May the Tang Clan Head keep calm. Since it was a kidnapping, they’ll definitely have demands. Why not wait a few days until we get some news?” Han Yunxi coaxed.
They should be rejoicing that the culprit only killed the servant girls and kidnapped the other occupants of the rooms. Otherwise, it’d be pointless to discuss anything today with Mu Linger or Ning Jing dead. Thinking up to here, Han Yunxi felt a thread of fear in hindsight. However, her words only ended up provoking Tang Li.
He raged, “Han Yunxi, are Myriad Merchant Hall’s guards nothing but rice buckets?!”
Tang Li had no ulterior motives, but Han Yunxi had plenty. She seized the chance to question the head elder. “Hurry and find Uncle Cheng. He has to take responsibility for this!”
The head elder repeatedly nodded. “We’ve already sent someone to search for him. Tang Clan Head, I ask that you rest in the guest room. As soon as we get any updates, I’ll send someone to tell you the news.”
“I’ll just go to Ning Jing’s quarters,” Tang Li said icily.
The head elder would rather finish this meeting as soon as possible so Tang Li could cool his head. He immediately sent a servant girl to escort Tang Li away. Once he was gone, Han Yunxi felt relieved as well. Originally, she was ready to set off, but now something like this had happened. How was she supposed to go now? Whatever the case, Ning Jing and Mu Linger had gone missing under her hands. Everyone was worried for the former while completely forgetting the latter, but she fretted after both girls. They had been living in separate rooms when they were kidnapped, so why? Had Mu Linger discovered Ning Jing in danger and went to help, only to get caught up in the mess? Or was the kidnapper aiming for both of them all along?
Although Mu Linger was crude and impulsive, she wouldn’t act like an idiot if it didn’t involved Qi gege. Nor would she be obstinate enough to keep fighting against a stronger foe, but run off to look for guards instead. Thus, Han Yunxi was willing to believe that both women were targets of the kidnapper! Perhaps there were even two kidnappers!
At this, Han Yunxi suddenly recalled another man. “Head Elder,” she asked urgently, “Has there been any news of Manager Jin in the past two days?”
The head elder hadn’t looked after this matter, but one of the servants quickly chimed in. “Kangan Private Bank has been chasing Manager Jin for his debt. The day before yesterday, he hid himself in Willowflower Alley. Apparently, the bank people are still looking for him.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter