Even ordinary citizens were interested in the Hundred Poisons Sect faceoff now, much less Jun Yixie and Ning Cheng. At present, the former had yet to give the latter an answer regarding his request for 30,000 battle horses, while Ning Cheng had taken the high ground and stopped urging him or bringing it up. It had to be said that his attitude more or less swayed Jun Yixie’s decision, but he kept his feelings to himself and didn’t reveal anything.
These few days, he and Ning Cheng were both keeping an eye on happenings at Hundred Poisons Sect. Ning Cheng guessed that Jun Yixie would make his decision based on the outcomes there. Although he didn’t want to admit it, he had to acknowledge that Bai Yanqing would never escape from the combined powers of Long Feiye and Han Yunxi. But so what? Even if they caught him, the man didn’t want the world. All he did, he did to sow discord between East and West Qin. Would a man like that ever tell the truth?
Western Zhou’s Emperor Kangcheng had already invited various factions to come participate. By making such a big deal, how many more people were rushing their way to Hundred Poisons Sect this instant? How many witnesses would end up seeing the exchange? Bai Yanqing would be even less inclined to speak out here. In fact, he could use the stage to worsen relations between East and West Qin to the point of no return!
At this thought, Ning Cheng slammed a fist against the wall. He had wracked his brains in the past few days, but there was no chance to send out any intel while he was still on Jun Yixie’s turf. How could he ever predict that he’d been worrying over how to dissolve tensions between East and West Qin one day?
Meanwhile, Bai Yuqiao arrived. Every time she came, it was to bring up the old scores between Jun Yixie and Bai Yanqing. She didn’t dare to ask Jun Yixie directly, so she always asked Ning Cheng for updates.
“My senior brother’s really not planning to go to Hundred Poisons Sect?” Bai Yuqiao asked as soon as she stepped through the door. She never beat around the bush. Although there was no possible way to make the faceoff now if someone set out, she still worried about him.
“He’s not,” Ning Cheng said coldly. “Little girl, you underestimate your senior brother too much. Even if Bai Yanqing was his own father, he wouldn’t show up.”
“Is that what he told you?” Bai Yuqiao asked urgently.
“What now, you like your senior brother that much?” Ning Cheng mocked.
“What nonsense are you spewing?” Bai Yuqiao huffed, but her face was already red.
Ning Cheng just shrugged and stopped talking. He pointed at the door, indicating that she should leave.
“Just what did my senior brother say to you?” Bai Yuqiao asked quickly. She was concerned that Jun Yixie might sent reinforcements to support the sect even if he didn’t go himself. After all, Han Yunxi had long exposed him as the leader of the Hundred Poisons Sect. Now everyone was interested in the Wind Clan, so few people would bring him up, but that didn’t mean they’d forgotten about him. Meanwhile, he had to stay away and possibly even cut ties with the Hundred Poison Sect to avoid being a target of public censure.
Seeing that Bai Yuqiao was staying put, Ning Cheng rose to leave instead. But she quickly dashed in front of him and blocked his way. “What will it take for you to tell me? Ning Cheng, don’t forget that Han Yunxi was the one who poisoned you. I saved you!”
“So what?” Ning Cheng arched a brow.
“Do you believe it when I say I can get my senior brother to kill you at any time?!” Bai Yuqiao threatened.
She was simply fooling herself. Ning Cheng suppressed his impatience and said, word for word, “Your senior brother’s never placed you in his eyes, much less his heart. Your words can’t even hold weight against a battalion commander soldier in my army. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.”
Bai Yuqiao was stunned. Of course she had enough self-awareness to recognize her worth in her senior brother’s eyes. She hadn’t even mentioned anything about her scarred face, but her senior brother never asked her about it either! After all, her looks had been completely ruined by poison now! She looked hideous!
But there was a difference between knowing something yourself and hearing someone else point it out. It was like the difference between carefully peeling away at a crusted scab versus having someone ripping it off. The second option hurt like hell!
Ning Cheng circled around her to head for the exit, but Bai Yuqiao chased after him and grabbed him by the arm. At the same time, Ning Cheng ruthlessly shook her off. He hated being touched like this. Bai Yuqiao narrowly went tumbling out the door!
As Ning Cheng glared at her, she shouted back, “Yes, I do like my senior brother! What of it?”
“Why should I care?” Ning Cheng snorted.
“I’ll beg you, alright?” Bai Yuqiao was on the verge of tears.
She was a venomous, obstinate girl whose face had been destroyed by Gu Qishao, but she’d never cried until Ning Cheng’s barbs today. Unfortunately, Ning Cheng had no shred of compassion for her state. At Myriad Merchant Hall, there were plenty of women who put on airs in front of him or acted pitiful, each and every one prettier and high-ranked than Bai Yuqiao. He hadn’t softened towards any of them, much less her.
Ning Cheng wasn’t a man who showed tenderness to a woman.
If this was any other day, he would be stalking off by now, but he had the patience to hang back and reply, “Why should I help you?”
Bai Yuqiao saw a spark of hope as she asked, “What will it take for you to help?”
“What can you do?” Ning Cheng scoffed.
Bai Yuqiao was frightened by Ning Cheng’s chilly attitude. Suppose he grew unhappy and gave her no more chances? How could she know that he was already targetting her?
“As long as it doesn’t betray my senior brother, I can do anything,” Bai Yuqiao exposed her baseline. At this, Ning Cheng knew he was halfway to success. Whenever Bai Yuqiao came to ask about Jun Yixie, she’d always dismissed his watchers outside the tent. Thus, he could only hide things from Jun Yixie by using Bai Yuqiao.
Ning Cheng finally turned and retraced his steps. “There is something you could help me with.”
“Speak!” Bai Yuqiao was ecstatic.
“Heheh, help me buy a few tankards of wine without letting your senior brother know,” Ning Cheng said carelessly.
Bai Yuqiao was instantly on guard. “Why not let my senior brother know? He hasn’t restricted your drinking.”
Ning Cheng smiled coldly. “I can’t swallow the wine in his army, nor is it enough for this clan head! Heheh, I’d rather not cause trouble just because I think your senior brother’s poor.”
Bai Yuqiao knew how much her senior brother lacked money, yet prided himself on appearances. If Ning Cheng looked down on Jun Yixie for something so trivial, he’d definitely be humiliated and furious. Originally, she was expecting some big favor from Ning Cheng, but buying wine was a simple affair. This made her lower her guard.
“What kind of wine do you want do drink? I’ll treat you to it!” Although she didn’t have much money either, she could still afford to support him for awhile. But the words out of his mouth scared her senseless.
“Ten tankards of Ice Wine is fine,” Ning Cheng replied.
Bai Yuqiao’s mouth twitched! Ice Wine was a Northern Li specialty, but ranked the highest amongst its alcohols. It was also reserved exclusively for the imperial family. They would only award it to various nobles or officials when they were in a good mood, so it rarely left the palace. Some people who preferred wealth over wine would secretly hand the wine over to large shops to sell. Eventually, the imperial family found out, so now every single tankard of Ice Wine sent as tribute to the palace was smuggled out by the poorer princes to sell off at high prices. This was an open secret in Northern Li’s royalty circles, and the price of Ice Wine had only grow throughout the years. A single jar was only enough for four to five cups, but cost at least 5,000 taels of silver. Still, there were customers that could afford the price. They didn’t buy the wine to drink it, but to establish relations with the sellers and get closer to those princes.
In short, it was disguised bribery!
If Ning Cheng wanted ten tankards of the stuff, wouldn’t it cost her 50,000 taels? She didn’t even have 5,000! She’d long handed over his gold cards to her senior brother to pay for the soldiers’ salaries and provisions. But even if she still had them, she could never spend so much money just to buy Ning Cheng some wine!
Ning Cheng might be a big moneybags, but she was poor!
Bai Yuqiao looked at Ning Cheng and finally understood the true reason why he didn’t bring up his request with senior brother. This was simply humiliating Jun Yixie for being a pauper!
“That’s a rare wine. I can’t afford it,” Bai Yuqiao got straight to the point.
Ning Cheng handed over a few silver drafts worth tens of thousands of taels without any hesitation. “This clan head won’t drink wine bought by a woman’s money. Here’s 10,000 taels, buy as much as you can. The rest can be your commission fee.”
Although the prices of Ice Wine were rarely set and varied between locations, it wouldn’t stray much from 5,000 taels! The commission fee moved Bai Yuqiao’s heart, and she instantly agreed. An extra thousand taels or so could be saved for emergencies.
Accepting the silver drafts, she said, “I agree. Can you tell me why my senior brother’s not going to Hundred Poisons Sect now?”
“He’s waiting until your master has no choice but to find him!” Ning Cheng replied.
Bai Yuqiao might be smart, but how could she possibly match wits with him?
“You mean to say my master won’t show up at Hundred Poisons Sect,” Bai Yuqiao said carefully. That was what she guessed as well, but she had been thinking in the wrong direction entirely. She assumed that senior brother would stand up for Hundred Poisons Sect if master didn’t go, but neglect to consider that he might be waiting for master to show up instead!
“Did senior brother tell you that?” Bai Yuqiao wanted confirmation.
Ning Cheng shrugged and said nothing, but Bai Yuqiao only took it as an implicit affirmation.
“Ning Cheng, I can keep buying you wine or even do other things. Promise me that if my master comes, you have to coax senior brother not to fall into his snares again!” Bai Yuqiao declared.
“Bring those ten tankards of Ice Wine first. Otherwise, there’s nothing to discuss!” Ning Cheng said before swishing his sleeves and walking away.
Bai Yuqiao didn’t hesitate. She left the army that very night to find someone to buy the wine. Jun Yixie wouldn’t have seen anything suspicious about this if he was in her shoes, but he might have refused Ning Cheng’s request in the first place, or denied accepting his money. Now Bai Yuqiao was different. She would definitely spend Ning Cheng’s silver drafts, which was exactly what he wanted.
As for whether Bai Yanqing would show up at Hundred Poisons Sect or find Jun Yixie instead, Ning Cheng couldn’t guess. He thought the former was more likely. The day of the face off was drawing ever closer. There was still no news of Bai Yanqing, but what would be his ultimate choice?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Don't forget to vote on our special Christmas poll!
I know it's not even Halloween yet, but you gotta prepare these things early, you know! ^-^