Chapter 1346: [10Year] Going away
There were six months left before the 10-Year Agreement between Han Chen and Han Yunxi was up. At the base of Clearbreeze Peak, they had agreed that she would return to the Poison Sect’s forbidden grounds ten years later to acknowledge her master to return to the sect. At the same time, she would face off with Han Xiang. The one who won could choose to stay or leave. Technically speaking, if Han Yunxi lost, she would be stuck in the boundary realm for life and learn how to guard the tomb and its boundary. If Han Xiang lost, she would end up as the tomb guardian instead.
Although Han Cheng didn’t confirm he’d give up the sect leader position, it was obvious that the loser would stay in the boundary forever and have no future major ties with the Wolf Sect. Even if they were a sect leader in name, they would have no power. For the sake of this duel, Han Yunxi began to practice martial arts in earnest after birthing Princess Yan. It would be impossible to say that Han Chen wasn’t biased. She was his daughter by blood in the end; plus, he had an excellent impression of Long Feiye as a son-in-law. Over the past few years, he never taught Han Yunxi anything directly, but pointed out many things in casual chats during his annual trips to the teahouse in spring.
Han Yunxi’s latent phoenix energy was fully stimulated before she began to systemically cultivate her true qi according to Mysterious Continent’s martial arts cultivation techniques. “Energy” and qi were mutually reinforcing and cultivated simultaneously in Mysterious Continent. Energy could reach up to nine ranks, just like qi. Each rank was further divided into lower, middle, and upper tiers. Only by cultivating energy and qi to the same level could one be considered at that ranking. Han Yunxi had already cultivated phoenix energy to the seventh rank, which was rather high. She would be considered a top-tier expert in Mysterious Continent. However, her true qi languished at the lower 5th rank. Thus, she could only count as a lower 5th rank expert. Although that was identical to Han Xiang, in a true fight Han Yunxi would have the advantage in “energy” while Han Xiang’s energy was only at sixth rank.
A single rank difference between 6th and 7th had an unimaginable gap between them. Many people could spend an entire lifetime without ever passing through one full rank. As for Long Feiye, he was already 9th rank after truly mastering Lustbite Energy. These years he’d been busy with politics and training with Han Yunxi. Thus, his true qi was now at upper 5th rank. This was enough to easily suppress all of the high-level rising newcomers on the newcomers’ list. A few years later, he’d be able to win the ranking matches if he participated in them.
With half a year left, Han Yunxi had already entered the state of closed door cultivation. Long Feiye guarded the imperial capital with no signs of leaving. At the beginning of summer, it was Rui’er’s turn to go to the Poison Sect forbidden grounds again and learn martial arts in seclusion. He began training here when he was three and was already on his seventh year. At first Long Feiye and Han Yunxi would personally deliver him to Han Chen, but after two years, Long Feiye stopped. He didn’t even let Han Yunxi go along and only had Xu Donglin accompany him. Starting from last year, Rui’er refused to let Xu Donglin go either and went alone from the capital city to the Poison Sect forbidden grounds without a single servant. All he brought was some silver and his trip was very smooth.
This year Rui’er was 10 and even less likely to have someone send him off. He already assumed the posture of a young man, with dynamic style and noble bearing. Standing in a crowd, he instantly outshone everyone else. Of course, his heroic brows and deep gaze was more and more like his father. Despite his tender years, he didn’t reveal his joys or furies, making it hard for others to read him, tease him or deceive him. He stood in the imperial study and bowed respectfully. “Erchen is departing, may imperial father not worry.”
Long Feiye was halfway through his report when he arched a brow at his son and remarked, “Mm.”
Rui’er straightened up and stole a peek at his father, feeling a bit disappointed. But in the end, he turned and left. After packing up his things, he headed towards the western end of the palace. But as soon as he reached the palace gates, he spotted a tall, very familiar figure waiting for him.
In the end, he was still a ten-year old child. He immediately flew over and exclaimed, “Imperial father!”
Long Feiye turned around. Before he could open his mouth, Rui’er had pounced on him with a hug. Long Feiye grinned helplessly. He wasn’t planning to send him off, but for some reason, showed up anyways. Fortunately Han Yunxi was still in closed door cultivation, or else she’d laugh at him for being softhearted again.
Both father and son were people of few words. After a long hug, Rui’er released him and said goodbye as if they were a regular father and son instead of his respectful bow in the study. “Father, I’m leaving. I’ll miss you and imperial mother, and Yan’er.”
Long Feiye rubbed his head dotingly while Rui’er’s mature, calm expression all but melted in a smile that made his eye curve into crescents. He said, “Father, I know you’ll miss me too.”
Long Feiye smiled wordlessly and took his son’s hand to walk out of the palace. Rui’er didn’t say much, but followed along in silence. The tall and short figures moved away under the towering palace gates as if walking a path with no end. Seeing his father walk very slowly, Rui’er slowed down as well. Ever since his parents had stopped personally sending him to the Poison Sect, they would hold him and take him all the way to the palace entrance instead, then to the city gates. No conversation was part of the walk, but their large hands tightly gripped his own.
The two of them took an entire hour to reach the inner gates of the city. Many nobles spotted this and moved out of the way. They didn’t know where the crown prince was going and assumed he was out to gain experience. At the main city gates, Long Feiye still let him go promptly.
“Be careful on the road,” he instructed.
“Mm,” Rui’er nodded.
He was about to leave when his imperial father added, “Take care of your little sister.”
Rui’er’s heart gave a jolt in fright. Yan’er and little Shadow had been harassing him for a while to take them out of the palace and look around Medical City. Of course he refused, but he knew the pair had steeled their hearts to follow him in secret. He thought Shadow had better brains than little Yan’er to leave with him on the same day, but the guy made him worry instead.
They could choose to leave tomorrow, ah. Or even start ahead last night! Stagger the time with me so imperial father won’t blame me when he finds out.
Rui’er never dared to lie in front of his father and said, “Imperial father, little sister said she and Shadow were nearly stifled to death after imperial mother entered closed door cultivation. If they’re not let out of the palace, she’ll get sick.”
Long Feiye’s lips curved slightly but still said in a stern tone, “You’re in charge of looking after her on this trip. If anything happens, I’ll only ask you! No need to worry after you reach Medical City.”
Rui’er’s entire world turned black.
He quickly scooted over and tugged his father down to murmur, “Imperial father, why don’t you let Shadow take Yan’er down south? Jiangnan has lots of fun places to play!”
Imperial father knew Yan’er was going with him, so who knows how many guards he’d sent out in secret to follow? Or how many more were waiting in Medical City to guard? Not just guards, but probably court ladies, eunuchs, and old mamas too. It’d be strange if he wasn’t annoyed to death the entire way! Moreover, it’d be impossible to do anything in secret.
Hearing Rui’er’s suggestion, Long Feiye was amused. “Why don’t you tell her yourself?” If he could convince his own daughter, he’d long tell her not to leave the palace by now to keep him company. His daughter had grown up and was no longer the two to three year-old doll, but almost seven.
Moreover, if he couldn’t persuade his daughter at three, how could he coax her now?
Long Feiye never had the heart for abandoning court affairs and walk around the world, but every time his daughter wanted to leave the palace, he wished he could toss aside all his work and take her and Han Yunxi to explore everywhere. He could teach many things to his daughter along the way so she wasn’t tricked by others after growing up. Even a high-ranking sovereign like himself had that kind of parental herat.
Rui’er was extremely helpless as well when it came to persuading his little sister. He felt a sense of empathy with his father. “Forget it,” he said, “I’ll look after her.”
Only then did Long Feiye feel at ease. No matter how many guards he sent out, none of them dared to really do anything against Yan’er. Only Rui’er, the elder brother, could scare her after losing his temper. As for Gu Beiyue’s child, he held out even less hope. The boy was like Gu Beiyue himself, with no temper whatsoever in front of his own people.
After sending off Rui’er, Long Feiye turned back towards the palace. He kept thinking about Gu Beiyue the entire time as the man had left for two and a half years now. He might have concealed himself from Han Yunxi, but not him. Gu Beiyue didn’t personally visit all of Great Qin’s pharmacies in these two years, but had gone missing. The regular letters to the Department of Medicine didn’t come from him, but came under his name from trusted agents scattered in the different medical centers in the various cities and locations.
If this was anyone else, this would be a case of deceiving the monarch! But since it was Gu Beiyue, Long Feiye was only worried. He knew the man too well. He had to have a reason for his actions. Great Qin belonged to him, but he couldn’t find a trace of him on his own turf.
Yan’er and little Shadow appeared as soon as Rui’er left the city gates. Rui’er was dressed as a person of the martial arts community, seven-year-old Yan’er was disguised as a boy, looking as tender and delicate as a rich little master, and the almost 11-year old Shadow was dressed simply like a follower. Shadow was holding the reins to a carriage as he caught up with Rui’er with a slow smile.
“Your Highness Crown Prince, please get on the carriage.”
Rui’er glanced back and saw the carriage stacked high with luggage behind and hanging on both sides. He asked coldly, “Xuanyuan Yan, are you moving house?”
Yan’er immediately lifted the curtain with a chuckle. “Big bro, get on! Let’s discuss something!”
Rui’er grew guarded. “Not interested. You take your time and play, I’ll leave first.”
Nothing she wanted to discuss could be good. Rui’er whipped his horse to speed up his escape. But soon enough Shdaow caught up with Yan’er. He didn’t race in front of the horse, but simply place Yan’er on the steed instead.
Yan’er hugged her brother and said cheerily, “Big bro, don’t go practice martial arts. Come with us to find Shadow’s father!”
Rui’er was alarmed. “The Grand Tutor?”
1. 儿臣 – essentially “royal son”