“Ning Jing, my big sis was afraid it’d affect the baby too. Moreover, Tang Li wanted to tell you in person, so...don’t blame my big sis! She didn’t know we’d be kidnapped, either!” Mu Linger was a good little sister. Even now, she was trying to defend Han Yunxi.
Ning Jing gripped Mu Linger’s hand tightly while muffling her mouth at the same time. After a while, she managed to choke out between sobs, “Linger, do you know? I….I miss him so much.”
Mu Linger was a crybaby to begin with, so hearing Ning Jing’s sobs only made her teary too. “I miss Qi gege too, sobsob…”
Startled awake, Uncle Cheng was about to stomp over when Manager Jin stopped him.
“What happens if they attract someone with their crying?” Uncle Cheng demanded.
“This is already Jun Yixie’s turf. What else are you afraid of?” Manager Jin challenged back.
Uncle Cheng had no retort, so he huffily retreated. Manager Jin returned to his seat with his hands crossed over his chest. He sat straight against a wall and closed his eyes for a doze. Just then, he’d heard Mu Linger call out “Qi gege.” That girl cries like that just because she misses him?
He lowered his head until his hair hid his eyes. But his lips were pursed, and his mood was foul.
Ning Jing missed Tang Li while Mu Linger missed Qi gege. Both men had split up to search for them, but neither had picked up any clues. Tang Li had added up all the paths that led from Three-Way Black Market to Skyriver City and found there were 15 separate trails. He sent men to search one after the other while hunting himself for nights without rest for any sign of secret markers left behind. But it was hard to determine such things. He saw plenty of markers on multiple trees and corners of walls and sent them all to Gu Qishao. There were at least ten different types, but Gu Qishao had negated them all. According to Gu Qishao, he’d truly forgotten what Mu Linger’s were supposed to look like.
If Tang Li knew which marker to look for, his target would be better defined. Unfortunately, he was clueless. Finally, Tang Li realized that it wasn’t reasonable to rely solely on Gu Qishao. He began to study the tracks on the road while using the Tang Clan’s name to announce that anyone who returned Ning Jing to him would gain 30 top-secret weapons blueprints from the Tang Clan archives.
The world went wild at the news! Of course, it was the Tang Clan that lost it first, but as their true master was Long Feiye and their clan head Tang Li, Tang Zijin and the rest couldn’t find either of the men. They wouldn’t go so far as to claim Tang Li’s orders were ineffectual, so all they could do was wait and watch. Manager Jin and Uncle Cheng were both surprised by the news. If not for the fact that he wanted his indenture agreement back, Manager Jin might had even been moved to accept the deal. After all, everyone had tried to get the Tang Clan on their side over the years. 30 top secret blueprints were priceless artifacts! Actually, Uncle Cheng was moved as well. He decided to wait until they met Ning Cheng and Jun Yixie, as Ning Jing would be a huge chip in their favor then.
Gu Qishao had already searched through all of the forests on the northeast side and entered Northern Li territory. His first reaction upon receiving the news was that Tang Li was unreliable as well. He had only asked for Ning Jing, not Mu Linger! Thus, Gu Qishao immediately used the identity of Pill Fiend to announce to the world that anyone who returned Mu Linger to him would get Pill Fiend Valley on a silver platter.
Days later, the news spread all across Cloud Realm Continent. Ning Jing and Mu Linger became the most wanted targets of every person in the world. Everyone talked about them even as all the females envied their status. Unfortunately, the two women in question were completely ignorant to the entire thing.
On this day, Gu Qishao was ready to leave Northern Li for Three-Way Black Market again when he suddenly received a black envelope. Inside was a letter written in red. Cinnabar ink meant bad news…
As soon as Gu Qishao read its contents, his face turned black. Cinnabar ink letters had multiple meanings: some were orders from a sovereign, and this was one such order from Long Feiye, who had told him to meet at Poison Sect immediately or shoulder the consequences. Gu Qishao arched his brow scornfully at the letter with disdain.
“You think this old man will go just because you called? Hmph! If I was, I’d eat this letter first!” So speaking, he tossed the letter into a nearby gully and languidly walked off. But a few steps later, he stopped as his playful expression turned stern. The letter hadn’t mentioned anything else, only for him to come immediately, but Gu Qishao knew what Long Feiye wanted.
He definitely wanted an undying freak like him to deal with the likes of Bai Yanqing. Moreover, he’d probably ask him details about his immortal status. Long Feiye had never exposed his secret, but would that last when he went back? Actually, he had no idea how he became a Poison Gu-like human. He was made into a monster, one that couldn’t die from any illness or injury. Furthermore, he discovered that his body was permanently stuck in at the appearance of a 20-year old without a single change.
Supposedly, the fabled Poison Gu human didn’t die, decay, or age, so he assumed that he was it. After the competition at Medical City, he expressedly paid a trip to Gu Yuntian to ask about this matter. Judging from the man’s reaction, he had no idea that Gu Qishao was effectively immortal. With this, Gu Qishao was more or less certain that Gu Yuntian had created him by chance. He had researched multiple methods to break through the curse of his condition, but couldn’t find a clue. Once, he even joked to Poison lass that a poison woman could save him, but it was just in jest. He had gone searching for the Poison Sect’s poison women, but that was only so he could use the Poison Sect’s might to overthrow and destroy Medical City.
Gu Qishao sighed softly before whistling for his horse. Then he galloped for Medical City. A few days later, Han Yunxi’s group had already arrived in secret. Long Feiye was truly an old fox and issued orders for the groups impersonating them to keep rushing on the road to fake the impression that they were still traveling. Thus, rumors about them run flagrant everywhere. For the sake of hiding their itinerary, Gu Beiyue only met with a few elders and department heads from Medical City to understand recent developments there. He left them with some instructions while they continued to announce that Gu Beiyue had secluded himself.
After rushing about on the road, Han Yunxi’s group settled down in Medical City that very same night. They decided to enter the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds early next morning. After eating a meal, Gu Beiyue excused himself by saying he forgot to tell Shen Jueming something else and left first. Only Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were left sitting alone in the courtyard. Han Yunxi was resting her chin in her hands and staring at Long Feiye, who glanced back before pushing a cup of tea in front of her.
Han Yunxi didn’t stir, but smiled.
“The newest Winterflakes, try some,” Long Feiye said.
Winterflakes were a speciality of winter teas. Spring teas were as expensive as oil, especially, green tea picked before the Festival of Pure Brightness (around April 5th), but winter teas weren’t inexpensive, either. Half of them consisted of autumn buds harvested in winter, but the best winter teas sprouted and were harvested in winter. Han Yunxi still didn’t budge, but distracted Long Feiye by asking, “Do Winterflakes taste better than spring tea?”
Han Yunxi liked drinking tea, but she didn’t know much about the art. Ever since getting together with Long Feiye, she always accompanied him in tea drinking and eventually acquired more knowledge.
“It’s rainy in spring, which makes the tea leaves plumper. Because the tea is more fragrant, the flavors are mellower and the scent lasts longer,” Long Feiye said as he tasted his tea. “As for Winterflakes, tea leaves grow slower during the winter but end up thick and hardy. That lessens the astringency and brings about a pleasing lightness to the flavor. It’s especially apparent in high-altitude teas.”
If nobody knew his status and only saw his lazy, sprawling form, they might mistake him for a hermit in seclusion who saw through worldly affairs and human hearts while living apart from them. Yet those who did know understood that he not only saw through human affairs and hearts, but controlled all of it firmly within his grasp. No matter what they felt, Han Yunxi loved him like this the best. She couldn’t help but yearn to play a tune on the zither to amuse him so they could forget about the Poison Gu conundrum.
“Long Feiye, where’s your Monarch’s Word?” Han Yunxi asked. That year at the empress dowager’s birthday banquet, Chu Qingge had tried to provoke her into a zither playing contest, but she’d refused. Back at the Duke of Qin’s estate, she’d played “Butterfly Lovers” for Long Feiye on his Monarch’s Word zither.
Monarch’s Word, words of the sovereign. Time passed in stillness akin to a zither.
“It’s in the Plum Blossom Sea in Jiangnan. Do you want to play?” Long Feiye asked.
“No, I was just asking,” Han Yunxi sighed. “When will we be able to go back to Plum Blossom Sea? In two more months, the plum blossoms should be blooming, right?”
“Two more months…” Long Feiye silently calculated the time. Most likely, they wouldn’t make it back by then. He had plenty of other residences, but she wasn’t interested in any of them. Only Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea held her interested. Of course, he was the same.
“Better try next year. When winter comes again, we’ll spend it there every year,” Long Feiye promised.
Han Yunxi nodded seriously. In one year, Cloud Realm Continent should have stabilized. “One year…” She too, was calculating the time. As for what, it was something only she knew.
Their tea cooled in the middle of their conversation. Hot tea had more flavor, especially during wintertime. Long Feiye gave Han Yunxi a fresh cup as she quickly moved onto another topic. “Long Feiye, if Bai Yanqing can’t die or decay, how lonely and boring must it be?”
“Would it?” Long Feiye asked lightly.
“At least he’d suffer. If there was anyone he liked, such as family or friends, he would definitely suffer,” Han Yunxi said. Watchiing your loved ones pass away while remaining helplessly stuck in place, sending them off one by one--how much pain must one bear? Those who didn’t die or decay would end up left behind by the ened.
But Han Yunxi quickly rejected the idea. “Bai Yanqing isn’t that kind of person.”
He had cast everyone out long ago, leaving no room for anyone except himself in his heart. Long Feiye fell silent for a long time.
After a while, he finally remarked, “If it was anyone else...perhaps they’d feel that way.”
His attractive, slender fingers tapped lightly against the table. Gu Qishao, that guy, he must be hurrying here already.Previous Chapter Next Chapter