Chapter 407: Bloodstain, accidental discovery Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Jun Yixie couldn’t escape Fishery Island on his own, so all his hopes laid with the imperial clan of Northern Li. After all, he had used one of their ships to sail out this time after getting permission from the emperor. If he didn’t return and Long Feiye brought back his giant haul of fish, the Northern Li emperor would naturally guess what had happened. He sat by the Illusory Sea Lake and settled in to wait. Fortunately, they’d captured enough fish back then to keep him fed for a while.
Despite everything, he now shared the same fate as the Tianning disaster victims, which was to eat fish for every meal. After sitting around for awhile, he grew bored and began walking towards Long Feiye’s group’s man-made hole in the ice. Fishery Island had its share of regulations, so none of the fishermen or workers shied away from his approach to the area. Jun Yixie cupped some ice water with his bare hands and sniffed it a few times, before tasting it with his tongue. He was trying to figure out what Han Yunxi had dumped into the lake from that bottle to break the legend of the big fisheye and attract all the fish. But he still couldn’t solve the mystery even after drinking a large mouthful of lake water.
He had to admit that her poison skills were far superior to his own. Jun Yixie stared at his reflection in the water and gave a start. He couldn’t help but recall the scene of Han Yunxi raising her arm high in the air again, standing all alone atop the frozen lake. He felt like he could see the gecko cinnabar mark right there before his eyes.
Even now, he had trouble believing that she was still a virgin. To put it another way, Long Feiye hadn’t claimed every single part of her yet. Thinking up to here, Jun Yixie rejoiced slightly in his mind.
Dammnit. He should thoroughly despise the woman who landed him in such dire straits, but there was still a sliver of hope nestled in his heart. Jun Yixie shook his head and told himself to be more reasonable. He was about to leave the hole when he caught a whiff of poison in the air as he turned around.
Immediately, he grew guarded! Poison!
Was I too careless? Did Han Yunxi really use poison? Jun Yixie crouched down to carefully examine the surface of the ice. Even if hope was faint, he wouldn’t give up! If he could prove that Han Yunxi had poisoned the fish, then history would change. He would be able to make a comeback instantly! Unfortunately, careful examination still revealed no traces of toxins in the water. In the end, he had to give up again.
In the middle of standing up, he accidentally caught sight of the frozen traces of blood on the ice. Feeling somewhat doubtful, Jun Yixie walked over and suddenly realized that they were the source of the poison he’d sniffed! The fresh blood came from none other than General Baili and Baili Mingxiang when they’d grabbed Long Feiye’s sword with their bare hands. The metal had sliced through their flesh and stained the ice below. Jun Yixie waited until the people around him weren’t paying attention, then crouched down to get a sample of the frozen blood with his dagger. He held the fragment in his palm and used the heat of his hand to warm it up before slipping it into a porcelain bottle.
The entire process was silent and soundless, so nobody present had noticed what he’d done. Although the blood here was a mixture of General Baili and Baili Mingxiang’s, he was certain this sample belonged to the latter. His eye had been on the sickly beauty from the start, because he had suspected she was poisoned, but he couldn’t figure out why Han Yunxi hadn’t cured her yet. Judging from this blood, his speculations had been right. This woman was actually deeply poisoned. But he’d been too preoccupied with goading Long Feiye to notice the fact when she bled.
Now that he had a sample, there was plenty of time to study the blood later. Baili Mingxiang was an important figure. The fact that she’d remained poisoned, and the fact that Han Yunxi hadn’t helped her, both caused him to burn with curiosity!
By now, Baili Mingxiang was far away from Fishery Island. She sat in the ship’s hold as she stared at her injured hand blankly. There was no telling when she’d see His Highness Duke of Qin again after today. In the end, she hadn’t been able to help him much at all. She knew that it was useless to think too much, but she still couldn’t win against her heart. A part of her grew curious as to what His Highness and esteemed wangfei were doing at that very moment. His Highness was in such a bad temper. Will he do anything against esteemed wangfei?
But the thought only made her laugh. Both her and her father had ending up bleeding without His Highness even sparing them a glance. All he did was tell them to scram. But as soon as esteemed wangfei moved towards his sword, His Highness withdrew the weapon immediately. No matter how angry he is, he wouldn’t do much against esteemed wangfei. She was already injured herself, so why should she bother worrying about others?
At this moment, Ouyang Ningruo entered her room with a smile. “Miss Baili, how is your hand doing?”
“It’s nothing to worry about. Many thanks to Sir Ouyang for your consideration,” Baili Mingxiang said politely.
“Miss Baili’s health doesn’t seem all that well? Are you ill?” Ouyang Ningruo was a shrewd man, so he could tell Baili Mingxiang was unwell with but a glance. He had heard of this woman before, but his only impression was that she’d been perfectly fine a few months ago at the empress dowager’s birthday banquet.
“I’ve only caught a chill, it’s nothing serious,” Baili Mingxiang replied mildly.
“The winds are fierce on the seas, so Miss Baili will have to make sure and wear extra layers,” Ouyang Ningruo remarked, before changing the subject. “That esteemed wangfei of yours is certainly interesting.”
Baili Mingxiang only answered him with a smile with no intentions of replying. A merchant without scruples like Ouyang Ningruo wasn’t worth her time.
“Miss Baili, I heard that Qin Wangfei is Lady Tianxin’s daughter?” Ouyang Ningruo asked next.
“Mingxiang isn’t very clear on the matter. I’m not one to make assumptions about esteemed wangfei’s affairs. Mingxiang is weary now, so please excuse me.” Naturally, Baili Mingxiang was on her guard, and left of her own accord. Ouyang Ningruo didn’t linger around, but walked above decks to observe Fishery Island in the distance.
A smile rose to his lips. “Han Yunxi…hehe, interesting!”
One of his subordinates came over at that same moment. “Master, we’ve suffered severe losses this time!” He’d spoken correctly, because Ouyang Ningruo had spent both time and resources, only to end up offending both Long Feiye and Jun Yixie. Not only did he lose his chance to seal the horse deal with Northern Li, he also had to give up a large sum of grain and silver instead to Long Feiye. This was probably Ouyang Ningruo’s worst business deal in the history of his career.
“Don’t worry, we won’t lose that much in the end,” Ouyang Ningruo didn’t seem to mind at all…
Spring was on the horizon as the ships sailed on the sea. The winds were fair and the waters were clear. Long Feiye’s ship was the first to reach the harbor. At the beginning of the new year, a crowd of officials had been kneeling in front of the provincial official’s estate to beg for an audience with Long Feiye. They were impatient to get more grain and relieve the people in the disaster areas. However, Long Feiye had left them with the message that he wouldn’t be coming back until the 15th.
They happened to return to the estate in South Ning Prefecture exactly on the 15th. Naturally, the officials hadn’t been kneeling the entire time, but were now back to block the front doors. North Ning County’s local magistrate was the first to step forward when Long Feiye and Han Yunxi dismounted their carriage.
“Your Highness Duke of Qin, esteemed wangfei, you’ve finally returned. North Ning County’s grain stores are almost empty. All of the disaster victims are yearning for Your Highness and esteemed wangfei’s return. Today, you’ve finally come as hoped!” He was obviously playing to the feelings of the people, but like the rest of the officials, he’d gotten smart enough to win their hearts instead of their wrath.
Just think, if all of the peasants had placed their hopes in the Duke of Qin and he failed them, wouldn’t he be the one losing their trust and faith?
“Tianhui’s improved his methods,” Long Feiye muttered under his breath. Han Yunxi nearly burst into laughter. If Emperor Tianhui heard those words, he’d probably be angry enough to stomp his feet.
“Have them set their worries at rest. In five days, your lordship will let you all eat meat!” Long Feiye said coldly.
Eat meat? The crowd of officials were startled by Long Feiye’s declaration. The Duke of Qin, is he joking? The famine had lasted for so long that there wasn’t even grain to eat, much less any domesticated animals. Where was one supposed to get meat dishes?
When Emperor Tianhui got wind of the remark when in his study, he actually laughed out loud. “Eat meat? Heheh, Zhen would like to see how my good little brother manages that!”
Five days later, Ouyang Ningruo fulfilled his promise and managed to deliver 600,000 dan of grain as well as its discounted price in silver. At the same time, three shipments of fish arrived on the shore. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi didn’t personally appear, but instead they delegated the job of handing out the fish to a few capable government officials. The husband and wife pair went off to vacation in Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea instead.
The fact that anyone could get their hands on grain at a time like this was shocking enough, much less His Highness Duke of Qin’s massive haul of fish! The disaster victims really were going to have their meat! In fact, there was so much fish that the disaster victims couldn’t finish it all of it off. Even the regions bordering the famine areas got a few shares of the huge fish catch. Tianning did have a thriving fishing industry, but there were limits to how many fish they could catch. Ordinary families rarely had the chance to eat such a fresh catch from the sea.
The plowing season hadn’t arrived yet, but the task of keeping the disaster regions fed was already complete. Because relief had come in time, few people died from sickness, nor were there large outbreaks of plague. Tianning Country’s most serious famine in history had thus passed smoothly without incident. Long Feiye had listened to Han Yunxi’s advice and used the silver from the Cloud Realm Trade Consortium to buy large quantities of seeds, which he then donated to the disaster victims. He had not only won the people’s hearts, but as well as earned a sizeable passage in the official historians’ records, his honor and rank far exceeding that of Emperor Tianhui.
Emperor Tianhui was so furious from the incident that the psychological strain made him ill; he ended up taking multiple days off from court. Meanwhile, the weather gradually grew warmer as the ice and snow began to melt. Jiangnan’s Plum Blossom Sea gradually scattered in showers of flying petals, becoming an ocean of flowers just like its namesake. The sight was so beautiful that Han Yunxi wished she could stay there forever. Long Feiye spent many days at her side. He never brought up the other issue again, nor did she mention it herself. She wasn’t sure whether she was imagining things, but she felt like Long Feiye was spending more time with her on purpose these days, as if to make up for lost time.
In the past, no matter where they had went, he’d always be going out and staying away overnight. Oftentimes he was gone for two to three days in a row. This time, he hadn’t left her side ever since they settled down in the south. It really felt like they were on vacation together. Most of the time, he stayed in the study reading over old books and the occasional urgent missive. On the other hand, she spent plenty of time sunbathing and mentally traversing through her detox system to research a method to save Baili Mingxiang. When night fell, she sometimes accompanied him as he read his books. On the occasions when she fell asleep in the study, she’d wake up to find herself in her room, sleeping in his arms.
Sometimes, she’d wake up in the middle of the night and run into him soaking in the hot springs. When that happened, she’d pretend she saw nothing and hurry right on past. Unknown to her, he knew when she slipped away, every single time.
Sometimes, she’d scoot over when she saw him drinking tea by himself and lean against his shoulder for a chat. He still wasn’t much of a talker, but he’d always answer back now.
It was the first time that Han Yunxi had ever felt so close to this man. Although their days were simple and boring, they were very comfortable. But days like these couldn’t last forever. Before the plowing season had arrived, Emperor Tianhui sent someone to summon Long Feiye back to the capital city…