“Could they be going to seek refuge with Jun Yixie?” Tang Li cried in alarm.
Gu Qishao rolled his eyes at him. “Jun Yixie can’t afford to pay them!” It was impossible for Jun Yixie to pay off Manager Jin’s debts because Kangan Private Bank would get to the bottom of any payment. Its power was so formidable in the business world that everyone dreaded its might.
Gu Qishao couldn’t began to imagine how many more people would be throbbing in pain if the connection between the bank and Long Feiye came to light someday. For now, it seemed like Long Feiye didn’t need Kangan Private Bank to get involved in the various conflicts. After all, the world of business and war shouldn’t get tangled up too closely. This could count as him leaving a back door for himself, too.
After a moment, Tang Li suddenly grabbed Gu Qishao’s hand and exclaimed, “Then are they selling them off as slaves to Wintercrow Country?!”
Gu Qishao didn’t even want to roll his eyes this time. Instead, he shot back, “How much are they worth as slaves to Wintercrow Country? They might as well sell to your Tang Clan instead.”
Gu Qishao had only found out about the relationship between Tang Li and Long Feiye recently, but the longer he stayed with the man, the more he marvelled at how Long Feiye could have such an imbecile for a “little brother.”
“Then where are we supposed to find them?” Tang Li wasn’t stupid, but simply too much of a mental wreck to think straight.
Gu Qishao was getting irritated as well. The north was so vast, so where were they supposed to start looking? It had always been Mu Linger chasing after her, but he never thought their roles would be reversed one day. This was only his first time chasing her, but he’d already lost the trail. As it turned out, trying to play catch up...didn’t feel so good after all.
“Come on, we’ll head north too!” Gu Qishao decided.
Rather than waste time here, they might as well chase after the clues. Maybe they’d find something along the way. Mu Linger and Ning Jing weren’t idiots, so they’d try to find ways to leave markers behind. If he remembered correctly, Mu Linger had told him a few years ago that she used to leave marks in places she traveled before when searching for him all over the place. Gu Qishao told Tang Li this, who rejoiced and asked, “What kind of markers?”
But Gu Qishao ended up thinking a long time before he admitted, “I forgot.”
Tang Li was so angry that he almost called Gu Qishao a swine. “Let’s go look around first! We’ll split up.”
There were many roads that led north out of Three-Way Black Market, but only two were main thoroughfares. One of them headed northwest, towards the Three-Way Battlefields, while the other headed northeast. Northwest laid the borders between Western Zhou and Northern Li, a place of conflict. After going through the pass, there were even more roads to pick from. One of them headed further northwest until it reached Skyriver City, where Ning Cheng kept his troops. Northeast headed for the borders with Tianan and Northern Li and was a pure mountain path filled with lofty ridges. The roads were wild and desolate, but beyond the range laid Northern Li’s loveliest eastern meadows, filled with water and grass.
“Fine,” Gu Qishao agreed. “I’ll go east.”
“Then I’ll go northwest. If anything happens, keep in touch,” Tang Li said seriously. Both of them took along some subordinates and left Three-Way Black Market overnight.
Before parting ways, Gu Qishao asked his subordinate, “Has the latest legion of Poison corpses all arrived?” The last time he’d saved Poison lass from the clutches of the Carefree City mercenaries, it was with a large legion of Poison corpses. He had even asked Qi Zonglin which was stronger, his Poison corpses or Long Feiye’s shadow guards. This time, he could finally let Long Feiye see just who had the mightier forces!
A smug smile rose to Gu Qishao’s lips at the thought.
That’s right, he had no idea his Poison lass was unconscious at this moment, or that the outcome of events at Hundred Poisons Sect still hung suspended in the air!
Naturally, Uncle Cheng and Manager Jin were interested in the Hundred Poisons Sect affair as well, but they didn’t reveal a slip to Ning Jing or Mu Linger.
“Stop the carriage!” Mu Linger’s cries broke through the night air. Veins popped out from Uncle Cheng’s forehead. Using her pregnancy as an excuse, Mu Linger had been making demands left and right the entire trip. It wasn’t a big deal if she asked for things, but she also disliked plenty of things and asked for a yard after getting an inch. Uncle Cheng had a bad impression of her to begin with. Add that to the fact that she’d tried to leave behind a secret message last time and he hated her to the core. If not for Manager Jin stopping him, he’d be causing her all sorts of difficulties instead. Last time, Manager Jin had warned him that Mu Linger and her child were his hostages, so if he suffered any losses, he’d cut ties with Uncle Cheng! The man had no choice but to follow along.
Mu Linger felt that the carriage was too hard, so she wanted a comfortable cushion. When they reached a town three days later, Manager Jin had actually found one for her. Then Mu Linger had wanted a single hot soup a day, so Manager Jin would leave alone at dusk to find some from a nearby village. When he couldn’t find any, he’d end up hunting wild game to cook it himself. Mu Linger had written a prescription to soothe the baby that included 20 separate ingredients, including some rare and valuable ones, but Manager Jin immediately asked Uncle Cheng for the silver to purchase them for her. Then he’d even stopped the carriage to make them all in a decoction before delivering it to the carriage occupants. An ordinary passerby might think that Manager Jin was the expectant father-to-be instead!
“Stop the carriage,” Manager Jin murmured.
Uncle Cheng, who was driving the carriage, immediately lost his temper. “It’s the middle of the night, so what does she want? Jin Zi, you couldn’t be the real father of the baby instead, right?”
“Stop the carriage,” Manager Jin emphasized. Beneath his bangs, his dark eyes shone with an icy warning. Uncle Cheng was puzzled. Ever since the last incident with the cloth strips, Mu Linger had said something to Manager Jin to leave him in a bad mood. Not that he was very cheery to begin with.
It can’t be that he’s taken a fancy to her?
But Uncle Cheng quickly rejected the notion. Leaving aside the fact that Mu Linger had driven Manager Jin to ruin, there was also the state of her womb...how could Manager Jin ever like that girl? Perhaps he was simply aiming to treat her and the baby well so it’d be easier to talk terms with Gu Qishao later.
As soon as Uncle Cheng stopped the carriage, Ning Jing felt much more comfortable. She had to stay in bed, so she didn’t leave the carriage much. As a result, she frequently felt nauseous and needed breaks to rest. These stops were getting more frequent as of late. Every time she reached her limits, Mu Linger would find all sorts of excuses to stop the ride so she could have time to recover.
“I want to throw up…” as soon as Mu Linger finished, she began to vomit out of the window. Meanwhile, Ning Jing grinned from her corner in the carriage. She hadn’t even realized it, but she’d been laughing and joking with Mu Linger for a while now during their trip. She wasn’t even this close with her own sister Ning An, whom she had known since childhood.
Uncle Cheng remained sitting, while Manager Jin didn’t bat an eyelid. Mu Linger gagged for a while before she collapsed, exhausted, by the window frame. When the silence stretched on, Uncle Cheng prepared to move on when Mu Linger stopped him.
“Let’s rest here for the night, I really can’t take it anymore!”
Uncle Cheng didn’t even get to respond before Manager Jin urged, “Keep moving!”
They were escaping and hurrying elsewhere, not touring the scenery. Mu Linger quickly prepared to take more medicine. Amongst the ingredients she’d requested, there were a few that would induce light poisoning, which would lead to vomiting. Otherwise, how was she supposed to trick their kidnappers?
“Don’t eat any more! I’m really alright,” Ning Jing stopped her.
“I’m fine too, but your complexion doesn’t look so well today. Don’t force it,” Mu Linger said.
“I’m really alright,” Ning Jing was stern. “I wouldn’t risk my baby’s life just to argue with you.”
Finally, Mu Linger compromised. After making a few more sounds of protest, she soundly banged the window shut.
“Linger, Manager Jin’s treating you...rather oddly,” Ning Jing had been observing the situation for a while. Although Manager Jin had denied his identity, she was absolutely certain of it. She just couldn’t guess who the older man might be!
“How so?” Mu Linger asked.
“He’s...giving you everything you want, and treating you very well,” Ning Jing lowered her voice. “Could he have taken a fancy to you?”
Mu Linger almost burst into laughter. She muffled her mouth and chuckled. “Ning Jing, Tang Li’s the one who treats you well! Manager Jin’s just worried that something will happen to my womb, because then he’ll lose out on his money! If he really liked me, he would have stopped the carriage just then.”
So speaking, Mu Linger sighed. “Anyone who loves you with limits has another motive in mind; they aren’t being sincere!”
Despite being buffeted back by Mu Linger’s words, Ning Jing found herself convinced. She lightly stroked her belly and thought of Tang Li and his good points. Did he have limits with his care too?
She suddenly missed him so much…
Their carriage rattled on in the quiet forests, heading ever steadily north. Dawn rose gray from the east as day fell upon them.
How many people in Great Central County and Hundred Poisons Sect was waiting for this day? Once again, Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue had spent an entire night watching over Han Yunxi. There was only half a day left until the appointed face-off, so...what to do?
Time seemed frozen in the still room until a series of frantic knocking sounded against the door.
“Your Highness! Your Highness, bad news!”
“It’s a disaster! Your Highness, hurry up and open the door!”
“Your Highness, Bai Yanqing’s appeared!”
Xu Donglin would never disturb his master unless it was an emergency, but neither Long Feiye nor Gu Beiyue budged. One looked tenderly after Han Yunxi as always, while the other sat in the outer room, deathly still. It wasn’t until Xu Donglin got to the point that both men startled to their senses.
“Bai Yanqing’s accepted the challenge,” Xu Donglin continued, “And he’s even holding a banquet at the foot of Hundred Poisons Sect! He’s inviting guests to join in and stand as witnesses to today’s battle!”
“Your Highness, all of those people from Grand Central County Seat are coming to Hundred Poisons Sect!”
It wasn’t until Gu Beiyue walked out of the rooms that Xu Donglin breathed in relief. If the two of them weren’t going to show themselves any sooner, he might have thought they’d lost consciousness just like the princess.
“What are Bai Yanqing’s motives?” Gu Beiyue asked simply.
The man clearly knew that he was no match for Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s combined powers, or else he wouldn’t have ran away last time. Without a hostage to his name, it was uncertain if he’d ever show up. Who knew he not only came, but summoned all the onlookers in a grand show?
What did he want to do?
“Could it be that his poison storage space is stronger than the princess’s now?” Xu Donglin asked with worry.
Gu Beiyue was wondering the same thing. He only knew the poison storage space had three distinct levels, but nothing beyond that. If Bai Yanqing really did reach level three, how much stronger would he be compared to the princess? He glanced back and saw that Long Feiye still hadn’t emerged. With a sigh, he fell silent again. Unless the princess woke, nothing in the world was capable of stirring Long Feiye.
Xu Donglin fell silent as well. He joined Gu Beiyue by the door and watched as time trickled by. As noon approached, things had already grown bustling by the Hundred Poisons Sect’s gates…Previous Chapter Next Chapter