Han Yunxi knew that Willowflower Alley was the most chaotic area of the Three-Way Black Market, a jumble of good and bad beyond the jurisdiction of any major powers. Manager Jin had actually hidden himself in there? How badly was Kangan Private Bank pressuring him? Long Feiye didn’t need the money he owed that much. After some thought, Han Yunxi figured that Long Feiye must be aiming for Manager Jin’s birth origins as well. But there was no time to bother with that now, she had people to rescue.
“Send someone to search over there. Spread word that if he’s willing to return, Myriad Merchant Hall will help him pay off the debt!” Han Yunxi said seriously.
“This…” the head elder hesitated. The Council of Elders were stingy to begin with, to say nothing of the Di Clan’s currently limited funds.
“If the kidnapper was just aiming for Ning Jing, then they could have just killed Mu Linger. Why take her too?” Han Yunxi reasoned.
Only then did the head elder realize the implications. “You mean to say, Manager Jin came to find Mu Linger for revenge?”
“But he has no grudge with Miss Jing!” Fifth Elder cried out. “Why take her as well?”
“There might be more than one kidnapper. This is only a guess, but let’s spread the word for now and see if Manager Jin comes!” Han Yunxi declared.
Without a single clue to aid them, they could only wait for the kidnapper to come knocking on their door while finding ways to investigate potential suspects. In the middle of their talks, the auction hall sent someone to deliver another news of success. It could be counted as a single spot of solace in the middle of all the bad news. The various elders were gratified as their faith and hopes for Han Yunxi increased.
“We can’t delay things with the auction halls and gambling houses, especially with the casino re-opening coming up. Third and Fourth Elder should work together to open them for business as soon as possible! Everything’s going smoothly with the auction halls, so have Second Elder take over that. Fifth Elder, you’ll take charge of Ning Jing’s case. Make sure to keep the Tang Clan Head calm. Head Elder, there’s still been no news from Ning Cheng, so don’t let up on that.” Once Han Yunxi finished delegating tasks, she had much less to worry about. If Fifth Elder was in charge of Ning Jing’s case, his personality would lead him to suspecting Uncle Cheng soon enough.
Everyone went to busy themselves while Han Yunxi immediately sought out Tang Li. At this moment, Tang Li was sitting on Ning Jing’s bed and stroking her pillow, the silken sheets, and breathing in the scent she’d left behind. When Han Yunxi entered, she saw him clutching the blankets beneath his nose. Ever since the big reveal at Medical City, he hadn’t hugged Ning Jing once. He didn’t notice Han Yunxi’s entrance, still lost in his own thoughts and self-reproach.
He’d yielded so far, so why couldn’t he go farther? A few more steps and he would have told her he liked her. Then they wouldn’t have ended up like this.
Han Yunxi approached the bed and saw Tang Li’s pained expression. She remained silent, knowing that words of comfort now would be useless. After a long while, Tang Li finally murmured, “Sister-in-law, how much do I have to yield before I can be together with Ning Jing?” He was willing to do it both for her sake and the Di Clan.
Han Yunxi broke into a bitter smile. She and Long Feiye had been doing their best to walk ahead in their 100 steps. But Tang Li and Ning Jing were stuck yielding to each other instead. Tang Li reletend, while Ning Jing got pregnant. Ning Jing had betrayed Ning Cheng and wanted to escape the Di Clan. Didn’t that count as relenting on her part as well?
“Don’t overthink it. Ning Jing’s very smart. As long as the kidnapper has demands, she’ll change the situation in her favor,” Han Yunxi wasn’t consoling him, but speaking the truth. After that, she told Tang Li about her suspicions of Uncle Cheng and Manager Jin and finished, “I’ve arranged for Fifth Elder to head this matter. You have to keep your cool and cooperate with him.”
Tang Li looked up. “Sister-in-law, I’m afraid...afraid that the baby…”
“Enough!” Han Yunxi cut him off. “Don’t cower here being afraid! At this point, you should find the person first! What’s the use of scaring yourself? If you’re so frightened, why make Ning Jing pregnant in the first place?”
Pregnancy was impossible unless both parties were willing! Would Ning Jing have gotten her baby if Tang LI didn’t bully her first? Her words were ugly and grating on the ears, but only that could wake Tang Li from his stupor. He jabbed himself in the face and rose to his feet. “I’ll go to Willowflower Alley right now! I’m familiar with the roads there!”
Tang Li had gone to Willowflower Alley way back when Long Feiye assumed control of East Origin Hall. He’d have a higher success rate hunting people down than anyone Myriad Merchant Hall sent. Han Yunxi silently exhaled. She could only hope that Manager Jin really did kidnap someone, because all he wanted was money. That was an easy fix. She called back Tang Li as he was on the verge of running out the door.
“Your big brother is at East Origin Hall. If you need help, seek him out. Help me pass on a message as well. Just say...just say that the plan’s changed, and for him to wait a few more days.”
Tang Li doubled back as soon as he heard her words. “Sister-in-law, you guys can do as planned when it comes to the Hundred Poisons Sect. You don’t need to worry about us here.”
Han Yunxi was too lazy to waste words with him beyond gesturing for him to leave. But Tang Li grew obstinate. “Sister-in-law, these are my own matters. I don’t need you and big bro to worry! I won’t drag you guys down!”
Han Yunxi rolled her eyes at him. “You’re overthinking it. Since you’re out, Ning Jing’s matters will be up to you. I want to save that darned girl Mu Linger.”
Tang Li naturally knew she was speaking in a fit of temper, so he grew ruthless as well. “Sister-in-law, you want to delay my big brother because of Mu Linger? And make him wait again? Don’t you know that one more day East and West Qin stands at odds is one less night of sleep for him?! Can’t you consider my brother’s sake once in a while?”
Tang Li only wanted to prod Han Yunxi into action. How could he know of any unhappy details between the couple? Now Han Yunxi recalled Long Feiye’s lonely eyes and simply asked, “Do you think so too?”
Tang Li had never seen Han Yunxi look so pathetic. He wondered if anyone else had cursed at her the same way? But since he’d already goaded her this far, he decided to play the villain until the end. “Don’t you?” he retorted. “Sister-in-law, my big bro never waits for anyone. After he met you, he’s delayed countless things for your sake, you know? My big bro might dote on you, but you should cherish him a bit, too.”
Tang Li had only been putting up a front in the beginning, but he couldn’t help but remember the past as he continued. Muttering to himself, he said, “Sister-in-law, my big brother’s never been spoiled by anyone, even when he was a child. I thought...I thought he wouldn’t even know how to dote on someone in this lifetime, but he can spoil you so thoroughly.”
Han Yunxi could guess that Long Feiye had a harsh childhood. She’d tried to ask him about it, but Long Feiye didn’t want to share.
“Tang Li, how did Long Feiye’s imperial father and mother pass away?” Han Yunxi asked in a low voice.
“It was because of the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion,” Tang Li didn’t think it was taboo to tell Han Yunxi this much. There were some things she was better off knowing. In fact, he had a selfish motive at heart: he much preferred to side with his big brother and East Qin. If Han Yunxi and Long Feiye went along with their plans, caught Bai Yanqing, and confronted the grudges of the past, then they might have to meet on the battlefield one day. When that happened, Tang Li hoped she could show a bit of mercy and yield to them.
“Perplexing Butterfly Illusion? How did Consort Wan get her hands on it?” Han Yunxi grew tense. The Perplexing Butterfly Illusion was the long lost treasure of the Poison Sect. Many vied for it, even Bai Yanqing, so how did Long Feiye’s mother find the poison?
“There was a rumor back then that the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion had reappeared at the Poison Sect. Plenty of people in the poison world fought for a chance to find it, while remnants of the Poison Sect poured into its grounds. Medical City tried its best to suppress the news, but it was impossible,” Tang Li intoned.
“So then, they went to look for the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion too?” Han Yunxi asked.
Tang Li helplessly shook his head. “Aunt and uncle had been searching for the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion for ages. Back then, Imperial Aunt Wan controlled the poison faction of the Tang Clan and thoroughly researched the history of its origins. One of the books had records on the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion. She and uncle found a few poison masters and headed for the Poison Sect. It took them three years to track down the poison. But one of the poison masters betrayed Imperial Aunt Wan and leaked the information about Perplexing Butterfly Illusion to cause waves in the poison world.”
Han Yunxi couldn’t believe it. This was the first time she’d ever heard anything about Long Feiye’s mother. “So the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion was already in Consort Wan’s hands by the time the poison world’s members rushed into the Poison Sect?”
Tang Li nodded. “The Tang Clan and Baili Army all assumed that imperial uncle died from his wounds. Some say he fell ill, but no one knows the truth.”
“Do you?” Han Yunxi asked anxiously.
“Back then, he’d found the Perplexing Butterfly Illusion in a cave. Imperial uncle was injured by the poison gas that spouted from the opening…” Tang Li took a deep breath, then continued, “And died without even his skeleton intact. His tomb on Reclining Dragon Peak is nothing but a cenotaph.”
Han Yunxi felt her heart seize up. “Then, Consort Wan…”
“Imperial aunt was right next to imperial uncle at the time, and saw him...just disappear,” Tang Li’s voice grew haorse. He remembered how his mother had been crying when she told him the news. “When she returned, her personality underwent a drastic change. She placed all her hopes for reviving the country on my big brother. For the next few years, she trained my brother like a suicide soldier, until….until she killed herself,” Tang Li intoned.
Han Yunxi recalled the scars she’d seen on Long Feiye’s body as her heart clenched. If Tang Li never told her, how would she know what kind of torture Long Feiye had undergone? For a while, she’d been pitying Consort Wan, but now she hated her to the core. What was suicide soldier training? To train someone in preparation of death without care for anything else. It was both highly difficult and demanding training! There was no difference between that and forcing someone towards death.
How old was Long Feiye back then?
But Tang Li’s next words sent Han Yunxi to the edge.
“Imperial Aunt Wan committed suicide in front of my big brother,” Tang Li said. “I was there too. She told my big brother two things.”
“Did she go insane?!” Han Yunxi raged.
“Perhaps,” Tang Li intoned.
Han Yunxi didn’t want to hear anymore, but she had to. She needed to understand what happened in the past, because it was part of Long Feiye’s history!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Hey guys, the deadline for the PGC Moon Festival Bonus Chapters quiz is tonight at 23:59EST, so make sure to get your answers in before then! After that I'll have another special post sharing everyone's answers and comments, as well as how many chapters you earned! <3 In other words...
HAPPY MID-AUTUMN MOON FESTIVAL!
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