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Chapter 413: Have him bring it over

    Chapter 413: Have him bring it over

    That night at the imperial study, the Long Feiye who seemed to have stepped back for Han Yunxi's sake was actually tricking Emperor Tianhui again! Han Yunxi didn't mind Long Feiye using her for that; she was simply surprised by the extent of his black belly tendencies. She was happy too, that the issue of Fishery Island had been resolved once and for all, so that's why she looked so agitated.

    But his sigh completely astonished her. She unconsciously blurted, "Your Highness, what did...you say?" Of course she'd heard everything perfectly fine, but she still couldn't help asking.

    Long Feiye only realized after he spoke that he'd given voice to something he didn't mean to. He had no idea what had gotten into him just then. The two of them fixed stares on each other, Han Yunxi waiting as Long Feiye hesitated.

    "Your Highness?" Han Yunxi probed experimentally.

    Long Feiye immediately averted his gaze and starting clearing up the things on his desk.

    "Your Highness, just then, you said..." Han Yunxi trailed off, and began to circle around his table.

    Long Feiye finished cleaning up very quickly and prepared to slip away, but Han Yunxi immediately blocked his path. "Your Highness, what did you say just then?"

    "Nothing," Long Feiye replied coolly.

    "But you clearly said it," Han Yunxi raised her head to peer at him, her charming face filled with earnestness.

    Long Feiye gave her a cold look. "Your lordship has to go out for a bit." So speaking, he circled around her and prepared to leave.

    Han Yunxi stopped him again, this time by grabbing his hand. With a grin, she said, "Your Highness, just then you said you did everything for my sake!"

    A smile like that made it impossible for Long Feiye to leave even if he wanted to, much less remain cold. He could tell that she was very happy. Perhaps Han Yunxi hadn't realized it yet, but Long Feiye had markedly noticed how much this woman had changed in front of him. Her courage was growing by the day. Despite the fact that she still acted like a love-smitten fool most of the time, she wasn't as timid or self-abasing as before.

    In truth, Han Yunxi hadn't noticed anything different about herself at all. She only knew that her feelings used to be wishful thinking on her part until he reciprocated them. Liking someone is just that, what's there to hide?

    It was almost unimaginable to see the domineering Duke of Qin get interrogated one day. Just who was more timid between them when it came to love? Long Feiye's expression didn't change, but he took on a chiding tone. "Isn't it all for your sake? If you told your lordship about Jun Yixie earlier, would we be in this situation now?"

    Alright. Han Yunxi let him go and hung her head. "Chenqie knows her wrongs."

    Thoroughly satisfied, Long Feiye turned to leave at last, but his lips were already drawing up into a smile before he made it out the door. The fuss over General Baili surrounding Fishery Island died down just like that. Emperor Tianhui still kept a close eye on Northern Li's movements, for the country had started fortifying itself at the Three-Way Battlefield. This was the first time Emperor Tianhui had hoped so fervently for war. He was waiting for General Baili to fulfill his promise and go up north to cut off their forces from shore, thus causing losses for Long Feiye as a result. Although he knew it wouldn't injure either party much, it would still leave him as the party with the greatest gains. But despite his wishful thinking, a month passed with no new developments. Northern Li might have pressured them again and again, but it hadn't sent out any troops.

    "Your Majesty, this is too strange! With the Northern Li emperor's personality, he should've deployed troops half a month ago!"

    "Could it be that they don't dare in face of our impending marriage alliance with Western Zhou?"

    "Or are they dreading General Baili's navy? Two days ago, I heard news that reports of Northern Li's imperial ships were seen around Fishery Island."

    "How could they fear something they've never fought against yet? Wasn't there a secret report that said the Northern Li emperor regards the Baili Navy as beneath him?"

    Emperor Tianhui's illness had just started to recover, but the differing opinions of his ministers sent him into fits of headaches again. He slapped the table and roared, "General Mu, you speak!"

    "Your Majesty, as this general sees it, there's something odd about the entire situation. We should probably wait quietly for a few more days." Great General Mu was an old fox with plenty of military experience. He had the faint feeling that Northern Li must be dealing with domestic difficulties, but he wouldn't say that out loud here. As a general, he and his son were the same and loath to see battles happen. Emperor Tianhui had no choice but to wait with his words.

    "Your Majesty, the marriage alliance with the Western Zhou princess is due to be consummated before the end of the month. About the dowry from the princess..." the official from the Ministry of War trailed off.

    Everyone knew that Chu Qingge's dowry was a sizable pack of battle horses. Moreover, she herself had a personal battalion of archers. The Chu Clan wanted to present the horses and archers as a team of crack troops. Chu Qingge would be in charge of picking the general to lead them. However, it would be more appropriate now to leave the resources to their cavalry commander, Great General Ning.

    The official from the Ministry of War lowered his voice and added, "Your Majesty, the Chu Clan are a military family, after all."

    Under any other circumstances, it'd be inexcusable for the groom to handle the bride's dowry. But wasn't the situation at the Three-Way Battlefield a perfect excuse? Western Zhou wouldn't be able to refuse even if they wanted to. Emperor Tianhui knew what the Ministry of War was implying, but he hesitated. Seeing this, Long Tianmo wanted to persuade him further, but a single glance from General Mu stopped him.

    How could Emperor Tianhui forget that the Ministry of War was loyal to Long Tianmo? Under these circumstances, it was better for the crown prince to keep quiet. In the end, Emperor Tianhui consented to the suggestions after he finished thinking.

    When Long Feiye got the news, he told Han Yunxi, "Chu Qingge hasn't even birthed a child yet, but the struggle for the first wife's position has already begun."

    Han Yunxi shook her head. "That's not struggling for the position of wife, but the throne itself!" In the shadows, a resentful Long Tianmo had already started his own plans to usurp the throne.

    Naturally, Han Yunxi had no interest in such matters. She was more concerned with the fact that Emperor Tianhui's illness was getting better. This meant that Gu Beiyue could finally leave the emperor's residences at the palace. As soon as Gu Beiyue had returned from his sick leave, Emperor Tianhui had summoned him to court to stay by his side. He hadn't left the palace even once since then.

    Yesterday was the first time he'd gotten a chance to depart for a few days' rest. Han Yunxi missed her Lil Thing! Because many people were interested in the emperor's wellbeing, Gu Beiyue cut off connections with the outside world after entering the palace to save himself some hassle. Only visitors allowed entrance to the emperor's quarters could ask him about His Majesty. There was no way for Han Yunxi to get in contact with him, so she had no idea how Lil Thing was doing.

    "Your Highness, chenqie is planning to go to the Gu Estate in the afternoon to bring back Lil Thing," Han Yunxi revealed her plans honestly.

    "You can just have Chu Xifeng do it," Long Feiye said without looking at her.

    "He's been raising Lil Thing for so long that chenqie wants to ask him about the particulars in person," Han Yunxi said.

    "It definitely hasn't woken up yet, or else it would have found its way home long ago," Long Feiye remarked.

    "There's no harm in asking about its status," Han Yunxi could relent if this man disliked Lil Thing, but why did he want to avoid the animal so much?"

    "There's no way for the poison beast to die, so don't worry," Long Feiye said coldly.

    "He still needs to explain the situation to me, and how much its internal toxins and blood have recovered," Han Yunxi grew serious. If not for the fact that Lil Thing's blood had yet to recover, she wouldn't be spending everyday working hard to conceive an antidote for Baili Mingxiang's poison.

    "It's impossible for it to recover in the span of a few months." Though Long Feiye had never brought it up, he was rather knowledgeable about the poison beast too. In any case, he simply refused to let Han Yunxi go on her visit.

    Han Yunxi regretted telling him her plans! He'd never required it from her either, in the past. In the end, she said, "It's still good to ask some questions. After all, it was Gu Beiyue who took care of it."

    Actually, she'd long noticed that Long Feiye held a prejudice against Gu Beiyue! No, it was more accurate to say that he had ideas about the friendship between her and Gu Beiyue! Last time, she'd used Gu Beiyue as an excuse to prod Long Feiye into action, an incident that still left her with a guilty conscience. How could she dare to bring that up now?

    When she saw that Long Feiye didn't respond, she said, "Your Highness, it's better for you to have Imperial Physician Gu re-examine your injury as well. How about you come along with chenqie?"

    But Long Feiye simply said, "Chu Xifeng, make a trip to the Gu Estate and have Gu Beiyue deliver Lil Thing here."

    Han Yunxi drooped as she looked at Long Feiye reading his book, before muttering to herself, "You win!"

    Soon enough, Chu Xifeng arrived with Gu Beiyue. After a long time apart, Gu Beiyue didn't look for better or worse. He was still dressed in snow-white robes and carried an air of warm serenity. Anyone who saw him would feel like the entire world had turned more beautiful.

    "This official greets Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei," he said with a bow, neither haughty nor humble.

    "Rise," Long Feiye was sitting in a high seat, his aura imposing.

    "Imperial Physician Gu, has your body recovered?" Han Yunxi asked with concern.

    "Thanks to esteemed wangfei for your consideration. This official has already recovered." No matter whether Long Feiye was present, Gu Beiyue was always mindful of his manners. As he spoke, he picked up a bamboo cage by his side and handed it over. "Esteemed wangfei, Lil Thing has recovered quite well. It has bursts of consciousness between days of sleep, and remains alert for longer periods of time than before. However, it's still asleep right now and will remain unconscious until a couple of days later."

    Han Yunxi eagerly opened up the cage and lifted the red cloth covering the opening, before spotting Lil Thing curled up into a furball at the bottom of the container. She was both thrilled and distressed by the sight, and lightly stroked its fur a few times before picking it up in her hands for closer scrutiny. As it turned out, this little fellow had been fattened up considerably by Gu Beiyue, leaving a hefty weight in her hands.

    "It's gotten heavier, you really know how to raise it," Han Yunxi smiled.

    "It's all because I fed it the poisons that esteemed wangfei left me," Gu Beiyue said, smiling softly.

    "Has it ever looked for me when it was awake?" Han Yunxi asked curiously.

    Gu Beiyue thought back. "The first time it woke up, it ran back to the Duke of Qin's estate. This official wanted to hunt it down, but it returned to me soon enough, perhaps because it couldn't find you."

    "It's very smart. I wasn't there, so it knew to stay with you," Han Yunxi said in delight.

    Gu Beiyue hastily nodded. "Esteemed wangfei understands it best. After the first time, it never ran away again. It would follow this official wherever I went instead!"

    When Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue started talking about Lil Thing, it seemed like they'd never stop. Their conversation was nonstop and both of them were very happy. Though it wasn't clear whether Gu Beiyue had noticed Long Feiye's existence, Han Yunxi had completely forgotten about him. Long Feiye sat on the side, his icy face now covered in a new layer of frost. Finally, when Han Yunxi burst out into laughter, he opened his mouth...
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