Chapter 132: The Night Before the Exchange
The corners of Long Heng’s mouth twitched. With just a simple wave of his hands, the old grannies dragged Lin Qianzi back into the room. They treated her like she was nothing more than a dead hound.
“How can you treat her like that? Isn’t she your betrothed!?” Luo Yunzheng was a man from the jianghu, and couldn’t stand being openly provoked like that. His previous composure vanished, and he nearly lunged forward to start a battle to the death with the prince.
“Hahaha! Now that’s the funniest joke this prince has heard in a long while. Luo Yunzheng, you better treat Bai Xiangxiu well. Or else… I’m sure you’ve heard of the extent of my temper. I’ll have you know why the word Li 1 was bestowed to me.” He flourished his sleeves coldly and went back inside. The servants closed the door behind him, cleanly separating the two men.
Inside, Long Heng could finally breath a sigh of relief when he was certain the other person could no longer see him. He slumped into his chair with a thud and clenched his fists so tightly that his nails drew blood, which soon trickled down his sleeves.
It’s such a relief that she’s not hurt. I was so… worried that something might have happened to her when we suddenly lost contact. He hadn’t even realized how panicked and worried he had become in the past two days that she had been missing. He had barely slept, and had only eaten a sliver of a meal. On the battlefield, he tried to catch a nap as often as he could. But now, he couldn’t even catch a wink of sleep no matter how hard he tried.
Kneading his forehead with his hands, he told himself that he absolutely had to make it through the next two days. Actually, he could have insisted on making the hostage swap tomorrow, but had been afraid that the other party might pick up on his desperation. If they’d caught wind of it and upped the ante with even more ludicrous demands, he would’ve been in a bad situation. In reality, if any outsiders found out that he was trading his betrothed for his concubine, they would decry it as overturning the natural order. He wouldn’t be afraid of that fallout, but he was sure that it would put Bai Xiangxiu in a difficult position.
Gazing at the dimly lit moon, Long Heng was caught up in his thoughts. Is she having a long and sleepless night as well? Or… is she being tortured? With how frail she is, I wonder how how much time she will need to recuperate after such an ordeal.
But how could he possibly guess that the girl he was worried sick over was heartlessly sleeping like a log? She’d frozen, starved , and gotten no sleep yesterday, and was now sleeping easily knowing that that man thought her too dirty and wouldn’t touch her. And so, after an entire night of rest, she was extremely energized and well rested when she woke up. Her mood became even better after a satisfying stretch, despite the throbbing wound on her face. The reason was simple. If she were to harass that man in her current form, he’d send her back sooner than later!
Bai Xiangxiu burst out laughing on the inside when her thoughts travelled here. She looked on calmly as breakfast was delivered, then walked out with her lips twitching. She only rinsed her mouth before sitting down at the table. She didn’t even bother to wash her face. She wasn’t too worried about being drugged by him. It’s not like Duan Yunying could eat her while she still looked like this anyways. Judging from her disfigurement and the foul smells emanating from her, Bai Xiangxiu was sure that he wouldn’t regain his appetite after just a single night of staying away.
Noticing that Duan Yunying still hadn’t come to pay her a visit after she was done with breakfast, she smiled. If the mountain doesn’t come to me despite my summons, then I will go to the mountain! And so, she strode over to Duan Yunying’s room and knocked on his door a few times, all the while smelling like sheep dung.
Because she was in a wonderful mood, her knocks were very loud and audible.
Duan Yunying’s heart sank immediately. He didn’t want to meet with this woman no matter what. Particularly at the beginning of the day, he still wanted to keep his breakfast inside. However, even if he hadn’t gone to her, it didn’t mean that she wouldn’t come to him. She had come, and even her knocking was loud and vigorous. How can a girl too weak to even truss up chickens possibly be so daring?
How can she be so audacious as to knock on a man’s door so early in the morning? He really didn’t want to regurgitate his breakfast. So, he used a handkerchief to cover his nose and mouth and opened the door while coughing at the same time. Despite all that, he couldn’t stop himself from dry heaving when he saw all the bloodstains on her face and her pathetic appearance. He immediately coughed a few times to cover up his apparent disgust.
“Madame Xiu. How may I help you?”
“Shouldn’t we depart immediately to see the prince?” Bai Xiangxiu asked in a matter-of-fact manner. She wanted to present herself as a particular variation of the white lotus flower to him. Beauty was the most important characteristic a person should have when trying to act like a white lotus flower. When the element of beauty was taken away, the white lotus flower act will turn on its head to become very unseemly. In fact, it would make the person quite scary and revolting. Even she found herself revolting in this form, let alone this male supporting character who would never approach a woman if she wasn’t pretty enough.
However, he wasn’t a weak person either. Although he was disgusted by her act, Duan Yunying still smiled at her elegantly.
“Don’t worry. I’ve already had someone contact the prince. There’s no need for you to be in a such a hurry.”
“Oh? But wouldn’t it be easier for us to go to him instead of sending another person to notify him? I don’t think we have to worry that anyone will recognize me in my current predicament.”
What she said was true. Duan Yunying wholeheartedly believed that even Long Heng likely wouldn’t recognize Bai Xiangxiu even if she was placed right in front of him at this moment. A thought suddenly came to his mind. Would Long Heng still be fond of her if he saw Bai Xiangxiu in her current state? If the prince was to lose interest in Bai Xiangxiu, then what was the point of sleeping with her?
Despite her initial joy, Bai Xiangxiu suddenly felt a chill run down her spine. Her heart trembled for a second as a bad feeling crept into her heart. It felt like things were about to take a turn for the worse. She gritted her teeth. It seems that it’s not so easy to deal with this man after all. She couldn’t predict what he was planning to do, which caused a cold wind to blow through her heart.
“Madame Xiu. You mustn’t act on your impulses. We have to plan before we act.” His little white rabbit image put up a valiant appearance again as he tried to calmly talk things over with her.
However, Bai Xiangxiu was sure that he was actually planning something on the inside. If that is the case, then what should my next step be? Should I try to escape again and find my own way back to the prince’s side? He’ll probably notice my actions this time though. Hmm… Maybe I should try being reckless? Since I can no longer care less about maintaining my image anymore, why should I continue to act like some innocent girl in front of him?
“No! I must see the prince! I want to see him! Now! If you don’t agree to it then I will find my way back to him myself!!” She was trotting out the act of crying and throwing tantrums now. If things don’t work out even with this, then she’d threaten to take her own life. It was a childish move she’d never once used in her life, and she wasn’t sure if it would actually work on him.
One had to understand that men hated her actions right now the most, particularly her shamelessly insistent attitude. This further deepened his disdain of the idea of using her for his plans. Based on how ugly her appearance was right now, Long Heng would probably want to toss her away too!
Since it has come to this, I might as well just swap her out for the other hostage. Then, Luo Yunzheng will owe me a favor. There will come a day where we can deal with Long Heng together because we both want something.
“Since Madame Xiu is so anxious to see the prince, then I guess we can begin our journey right now.”
“Really? You’re such a kind-hearted person!” The act proved effective after all! Bai Xiangxiu breathed a sigh of relief.
However, Duan Yunying was still worried that she’d try to escape again. Thus, he brought her with him even when he left to hire a horse carriage. He hired a very small horse carriage, and Bai Xiangxiu sat inside while Duan Yunying sat outside. He hadn’t planned on rushing his way to the Villa, he just couldn’t stand the smell that rolled off her in waves. Therefore, he decided to take his seat outside and take on the task of the coachman.
Drifting Leaves Tavern was only five miles or thereabouts away from Red Maple Mountain Villa, and was coincidentally on their way to the Villa. However, he still had to find a way to delay their journey by a day, because Luo Yunzheng had sent him a letter to notify him that the time of the exchange had only been brought up by a day, and told him to make his move on Bai Xiangxiu quickly.
Even the thought of putting his hands on her disgusted him to no end. So, he decided that it would be enough to just delay the journey by a day.
Duan Yunying had always been a calculating man. So, halfway through their journey, he started to cough violently. He actually coughed up quite a large amount of blood too!
The curious being that she was, Bai Xiangxiu naturally had to poke her head out to see what the ruckus was all about. When she saw the state Duan Yunying was in, she lost all colour from her face and exclaimed, “Are you feeling alright?” She was extremely curious as to how he managed to cough up so much blood.
- Meaning powerful, strong, and strict ↩