Was Long Feiye truly hungry, or just a glutton? Han Yunxi stared at him for a long time, unsure how to respond. Was she supposed to cook up some food or “service” him? In the end, she decided on the former. After all, going away to cook meant he wouldn’t be laughed at by him again.
With a small grin, Han Yunxi said respectfully, “It’s chenqie’s fault for making Your Highness hungry. May Your Highness pardon me and wait briefly while chenqie cooks up a bowl of noodles.”
She was about to get off the bed when Long Feiye suddenly turned to press her beneath his body, trapping her between his arms. Instead of ridiculing her, his motions suddenly grew gentle as water on a still night. Burying his head by her ear, his voice was both low and tender. “Han Yunxi, aren’t you going to ask me what I want to eat?”
At last, Han Yunxi had gotten her answer. What did he want to eat? He never liked eating at night, besides...herself. Moreover, he liked to eat multiple portions of her. Meanwhile, Long Feiye had already started undoing Han Yunxi’s waistband and stuck his hand inside, where it was steadily making its way up her body.
He smiled. “Han Yunxi, those noodles of yours honestly isn’t delicious. Until you cook something befitting this crown prince’s tastes, I’ll just have to eat you.” By now, his hand was already resting on her breasts.
Despite all their times in the past, Han Yunxi was unable to bear his tender caresses and soon gave voice to titillating moans between her teeth.
“Long Feiye, don’t...don’t, ah…”
She had no idea that Long Feiye loved it when she called his name like that. He rained kisses on her that started out light and soon grew demanding. They formed a trail from her perky bits to the more blush-worthy regions beneath.
Han Yunxi always through she’d get used to this man’s tender ways and aggressive dominance after all those sleepless nights, but she was mistaken every single time. She couldn’t recall how she survived that night beyond a memory of begging him for mercy by the end. After their near-death experience, they’d been busy mending their wounds. Before figuring out the Phoenix energy, Long Feiye refused to slacken his watch in case she was countered by its power against. They didn’t do anything except dual cultivation and tending to their injuries.
It was only after receiving the sword sect master’s letter today that they confirmed Phoenix energy would do her no harm. Now they had truly passed this trial and settled their hearts. They hadn’t even had a chance to hug properly or comfort each other yet. Perhaps conquering her completely was the greatest source of comfort to assuage the strongest moment of fear in Long Feiye’s life. By the end, even he was exhausted thoroughly. Still, he remained lying possessively on Han Yunxi’s body, refusing to let her thrash about…
Just like that, Han Yunxi’s group settled down to live at Medicine Requesting Cave. The trio focused on healing their injuries and Han Yunxi was soon completely well after a few days. She tested using the Phoenix energy and discovered she could access a portion of its powers. Thus, she used that to refine into fire and feed the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace. Pill Furnace Master was all too happy to see the furnace receive Phoenix energy. He vowed to Han Yunxi and the rest that as long as she gave the furnace Phoenix energy fire for at least 8 hours a day, the Returning Dragon Pill would be completely within five days!
Eight hours was tiring work. Both Long Feiye and Gu Qishao refused, but Han Yunxi convinced them both. They were pressed for time, after all. While she was doing her best to refine the pills, Long Feiye kept an eye on happenings around Cloud Realm. Gu Qishao split his time between studying the two ancient poison codexes he’d brought along and sending people to scope out news of the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace.
Currently, over half of Cloud Realm Continent was covered in snow. The entire Celestial Mountain range was dusted snow-white until it obscured some of the buildings on its sides. The same was true for the massive Heretical Sword Sect. Unlike Celestial Sword Sect, they had a single mountain path that allowed them access up and down the mountain no matter how hard the snows fell.
Bai Yanqing had just about recovered from his internal injuries. Presently, he was standing amongst the swirling snowflakes and observing the south. The woman in black robes carried over a hand warmer and simply gave it to him with none of the usual respect of Heretical Sword Sect disciples.
“Any news from Tianan and Western Zhou?” Bai Yanqing asked.
“Long Tianmo lost Mu Qingwu and has been ignoring Duanmu Jin for the past ten days. Great General Mu hasn’t gone to the training grounds during that time, either. Old Bai, your predictions were prophetic, this junior yields to you,” the woman smiled.
Bai Yanqing was indifferent to her flattery. He asked, “And what about Emperor Kangcheng?”
“Shouldn’t you be worrying about the Chu Clan troops? Without the Mu Clan troops, Long Tianmo is a good-for-nothing. Without the Chu Clan troops…” the woman paused, but still couldn’t bring herself to say ‘Emperor Kangcheng.’ She only added, “He too, will become worthless.”
“In other words, Long Tianmo hasn’t discovered the origins of Duanmu Jin’s poison yet?” Bai Yanqing replied.
Duanmu Jin’s poisoning wasn’t Mu Liuyue’s doing at all, but the efforts of a dowry court lady at her side. Her name was Huan’er (欢儿), and she was one of the black-robed woman’s underlings.
“The perfume that Huan’er used is still with the poison doctors. You don’t need to worry about that!” the black-robed woman had obscured her features with dark gauze and looked both unremarkable and reserved. However, her eyes were filled with venomous ruthlessness. She added, “I know Mu Liuyue’s fatal weakness!”
“Excellent. The Mu Clan...heheh, I’ll leave you to.” Bai Yanqing rose to his feet and gave a final set of instructions. “Lass, your victory or failure in this life will depend on this move. You must keep calm…” So speaking, he patted her shoulders and walked away.
“Old Bai, are you going to Northern Li?” the woman chased after him.
Bai Yanqing was indeed planning to head north. There were plenty of good shows to see with the internal unrest there. But instead of replying, he simply waved a hand to tell her not to send him off.
The black-robed woman hastily added, “Old Bai, when are you coming back? Celestial Mountain peak--” Before she could finish, Bai Yanqing’s figure vanished into the blizzard. As the snow fell thicker, the black-robed woman was forced to return to her rooms. She looked out the window at the distant peak of Celestial Mountain, muttering to herself.
“I’ll definitely make you all regret it!”
Would Bai Yanqing head for Northern Li after leaving Heretical Sword Sect?
On this day, Jun Yixie’s personal military faction had been stopped up in a village by a massive snowstorm. Without exception, any place his soldiers went was plundered and robbed, with all resistance snuffed out mercilessly. Ning Cheng looked silently at the abandoned village, whose inhabitants had long fled for their lives. Killing intent darkened in his gaze. Meanwhile, Jun Yixie had already taken over one of the more spacious courtyards for himself and ordered his troops to clean it up and light the stove before moving in with Ning Cheng.
“Looks like this snow won’t stop for a few more days. Clan Head Ning, please condescend to stay here for awhile,” Jun Yixie said politely.
Ning Cheng had been reticent the entire trip. Unless it was absolutely necessary, he never spoke. Jun Yixie had gotten used to his moods by now. Very soon, he personally warmed a tankard of wine and poured a cup for Ning Cheng before they began discussing the impasse between the Ning Clan troops and the East Qin army.
“Heheh, once your 30,000 battle horses arrive, divide up your troops into three teams and launch a surprise attack. I promise you’ll send them all scattering!” Jun Yixie was in a good mood after winning a few recent battles.
“After a month, it’ll be time to take those 30,000 battle horses for a ride!” Ning Cheng intoned.
“Ning Cheng, how about this? Lend your lordship some of those red coat cannons to play around with. When summer comes, your lordship will fight my way south by your side,” Jun Yixie had long set his sights on the cannons. The only reason he brought it up now was because he had realized his men and troops weren’t enough to defeat the Northern Li emperor within a short amount of time. If this kept on for another three to five months, both sides would settle into a stalemate. That would rob him of his initiative and heighten the risks.
In the end, Jun Yixie had simply been too self-confident. If he had realized how impossible it was for his forces to swallow up all of Northern Li much earlier, then he might not have begun an internal campaign so easily.
Ning Cheng gave his a scornful look and said, “Don’t even think about it! What am I supposed to fight Long Feiye with without the red coat cannons? Jun Yixie, we had a deal: I help you up north while you help me down south! If you’re going back on your words, I’ll take back all of the pay and provisions. You won’t get a speck of silver from any of the banks!”
Ning Cheng’s quick rejection actually soothed some of Jun Yixie’s private fears. At the very least, he knew the Ning Clan troops wouldn’t backstab him during a future stalemate with the Northern Li emperor. As things stood now, they were riding a tiger while finding it difficult to dismount. He could only give it his all and gamble a bit. If things were still no good, he still had hostages like Ning Jing and Mu Linger in his hands. One could threaten the Tang Clan while the other put Han Yunxi in check. Thus, his escape route was solid.
While Ning Cheng was dealing with Jun Yixie, Bai Yuqiao, Ning Jing, and Mu Linger were dealing with the guards of Tiger’s Prison. Recently, Jun Yixie had been keeping a tight watch on the premises and required patrols to make inspection tours almost daily. Fortunately, Bai Yuqiao was around, or it’d be impossible to hide Ning Jing’s pregnancy.
Today, one of the guards had just finished checking the main courtyard while Ning Jing hadn’t dared to leave her rooms. Once he left, both Mu Linger and Bai Yuqiao exhaled in relief from the entrance.
“Mu Linger, they’re headed for Su Xiaoyu’s place next. I have to hurry after them, but things should be fine here. Take good care of Ning Jing,” Bai Yuqiao murmured.
Mu Linger nodded. “Don’t worry.”
Yet Bai Yuqiao had hardly gone when Manager Jin appeared out of thin air. Mu Linger was so scared she almost screamed out loud. Luckily, Manager Jin muffled her mouth first. Unhappily he asked, “Mu Linger, can you not be so reckless every single time?”
Mu Linger moved his hand aside and took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. Guardedly, she asked, “What are you doing here?”
1. 欢儿 - more of a nickname than a real name (as typical of servants), this one means “Joy.”