Chapter 471: What the white-robed gentleman detests Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The moon cast a dreamlike light upon the robes as white as snow. A serene, clear aura emanated from the figure of the white-robed man, fresh and refined, far removed from mortal cares. His eyes were calm and unruffled with that eternal gentle air. But a flash of pity flickered in those pupils as he stared in the direction of the Duke of Qin’s estate.
He stood on the roofs for a long while after the estate had resumed its usual quiet, unwilling to go. Perhaps he had simply lost himself in thought, perhaps he wanted to linger on; in any case, he forgot to leave. It wasn’t until he sensed movement from nearby—the Duke of Qin’s guards going on nightly patrol—that he sighed softly and flickered out of sight.
Since the Nether Clan’s already found their way to the Duke of Qin’s estate, it’s about time I pay a visit to that old friend I haven’t seen in years.
Night in the capital was absolutely silent. The white-robed man kept to the shadows in the streets, following along the same extra path that Su Xiaoyu had once tread on her feet. Hidden in a private residence in an alley was Chu Tianyin’s secret headquarters in Tianning’s capital city. Currently the man was still awake, fooling around with an exquisitely made crossbow in the courtyard.
“It’s so late, yet you’re still not resting. It looks like I didn’t end up disturbing you after all,” the white-robed man’s voice reached Chu Tianyin first.
Chu Tianyin became alarmed and nearly dropped the crossbow in his hands. He stood up and looked around, but didn’t see anyone. Still, he knew that the man from the Shadow Clan had come!
“Still not showing yourself? I’ve looked for you at least ten times! Why wouldn’t you meet with me?” Chu Tianyin asked, irritated.
Last time when he and Duanmu Baiye came to the empress dowager’s banquet, he’d searched around for this fellow, but the latter had constantly refused to meet. Neither did he respond to any of the secret missives Chu Tianyin sent him. In the past, the Shadow and Nether Clans had joined hands to protect Western Qin’s imperial heir. The Nether Clan concealed their identities beneath the name of the Chu Clan. Presently, they already controlled half of Western Zhou’s military strength and had established a foothold for themselves in the country. In contrast, the Shadow Clan had no one left but this solitary white-robed man. Moreover, he was a chronic invalid with poor health who depended on medicine to nurture his body.
The two of them hadn’t met often, but it was always Chu Tianyin who’d made the first move over the past few years. If there was one thing that annoyed Chu Tianyin the most, it was the fact that the white-robed man from the Shadow Clan didn’t seem half as anxious as the Chu Clan to find the heir to the West Qin imperial clan.
“That Su Xiaoyu from the Duke of Qin’s estate was one of your agents, wasn’t she?” The deep, magnetic voice hung in the night air, inexpressibly hypnotizing. Unfortunately, Chu Tianyin was no woman, so he wasn’t affected by such tones. He followed the sound of the voice to the roof and saw the white-robed man already sitting on its edge. Chu Tianyin used lightness techniques to fly to the roof himself, intending to take off the white-robed man’s face veil.
The white-robed man didn’t seem like he moved, but right as Chu Tianyin’s hands grabbed for the veil, he vanished to land in the middle of the courtyard. Chu Tianyin jumped back down with a cold snort. “We haven’t seen each other in years, yet you’re still hiding your face?”
He had seen the white-robed man’s true face before and greatly disliked it when the other visited him with his face concealed. They should be the most intimate of allies and friends, but the face veil only made him feel like they’d drifted apart.
The white-robed man sat down at the stone table and murmured, “You’re not stupid enough to provoke the Duke of Qin in his own territory, are you?”
Chu Tianyin had concealed himself in Tianning’s capital, first to investigate Han Yunxi, and as well as to be Chu Qingge’s support behind the scenes. He was to help his sister claim the spot as Tianning’s empress, then eventually to claim power over all of Tianning. In the scramble for power, the Duke of Qin would be his strongest adversary and his final foe. Chu Tianyin wouldn’t be stupid enough to touch the man now. He had sent Su Xiaoyu into the Duke of Qin’s estate purely to verify whether Han Yunxi had a winged phoenix birthmark.
“I mentioned this matter to you in one of my secret missives last year. You didn’t read it?” Chu Tianyin creased his brows. He had notified this man of his suspicions towards Han Yunxi before he ever came to the capital. In front of his subordinates, Chu Tianyin always looked methodical, calm, and unperturbed, but he couldn’t keep his cool in front of the white-robed man for some reason. He had always hoped that the other could help him more, but the man hadn’t replied to any of his letters.
“How could it be her?” the white-robed man wore a face full of astonishment. “Then, did Su Xiaoyu see that birthmark?”
Chu Tianyin’s expression turned even more dour. He didn’t answer, so the white-robed man said, “So, you found the wrong person?”
Chu Tianyin grew depressed. “I’ve not only lost my only clue, but Su Xiaoyu herself as well!”
Only then did the white-robed man silently exhale in relief. He didn’t know where Su Xiaoyu had erred, but this was the best result he could have hoped for.
“Now what?” Chu Tianyin asked him.
“Keep looking, I suppose. What else can we do?” the white-robed man replied.
Chu Tianyin grew irritated at the apparent lack of care in his response. “This is the so-called loyalty of your Shadow Clan? Your well-known protection? Your clan even lost track of the heir, and you still have this kind of attitude?”
“Then what kind of attitude should I have? Should I not search at all?” the white-robed man retorted.
Chu Tianyin’s breath hitched as his anger rose. “You!”
“The Chu Clan’s eyes and ears are everywhere compared to a single person like me, yet they still couldn’t find the target. Eldest Young Master Chu, I only came tonight to give you a friendly reminder. The rainbow signal flares have already fallen into the Duke of Qin’s hands, so you better watch out for yourself.”
The rainbow signal flares were the exclusive items of the Western Zhou royal family, but Chu Tianyin had gotten his from Duanmu Baiye’s side. With Long Feiye’s intelligence network, it was quite possible that he’d come to suspect the Chu Clan instead. Although Long Feiye wasn’t the master of the imperial harem, offending him would definitely make things difficult for Chu Qingge. Instead of helping his sister, he’d ended up harming her instead.
The white-robed man prepared to leave when Chu Tianyin suddenly blocked him, his voice very low. “Whether or not Emperor Tianhui dies or ails is all in your hands. If you were willing to support Qingge, what could the Duke of Qin do, no matter how powerful he is?”
The white-robed man’s usual gentle gaze immediately turned frigid at his words. “I’ve never been interested in palace politics.”
“This doesn’t just concern Tianning’s palace politics, but the triumphant revival of our West Qin Dynasty. And yet you say you’re not interested?” Chu Tianyin asked.
“The revival of the West Qin Dynasty should be left to the West Qin imperial clan, not your Chu family,” the white-robed man said mildly, but his eyes were filled with hate! The one thing he detested most of all were people recruiting followers and amassing power for themselves in the name of reviving the West Qin empire. He couldn’t be certain if Chu Tianyin was one of those types, but he was certain the head of the Chu Clan harbored those exact selfish intentions!
Chu Tianyin felt that it was impossible to reason with the white-robed man. He was about to retort when the figure simply flickered out of sight. It was true that the white-robed man could help with many, many things, but the duty of the Shadow Clan was simply to protect, nothing more. Actually, the very reason that the female orphan of West Qin had escaped the Nether Clan’s watch all those years ago was because of the Shadow Clan helping them in secret. The members of the clan had always known that the royal bloodline ended up in Medicine City’s Mu Clan, but lost their trail after Mu Xin’s relations with that Poison Sect member. The white-robed man hadn’t even been born then, so it was his father who had lost track of the trail.
It was only after Han Yunxi had unlocked the Xuan gold door in the Skypit with her blood that he’d been certain she was the daughter of Mu Xin and the Poison Sect’s young clan head. Only the blood from the daughters of the Poison Sect could open the Xuan gold door, and its scent was the only smell that could make the poison rats submit. If it wasn’t for Chu Tianyin’s letter and Han Yunxi’s mysterious poison skills, he wouldn’t have suspected her at all. He could guess that while he was a child, his grandfather would’ve never guessed that the Lady Tianxin he met once was simply Mu Xin after she changed her appearance.
He couldn’t verify something as intimate as the winged phoenix birthmark, but he at least settled the trial with the Xuan gold door. Director Xi Yubo, who oversaw the case with Long Tianmo’s chronic ailment flaring up, had come to Tianning precisely on his orders. Long Tianmo’s illness was also the impetus that lured Han Yunxi to Medical City in the first place. He had never mentioned any of this to the Nether Clan, nor would he ever. His only regret was failing to foresee all the people they bumped into at the Skypit that day. Nor did he expect for both Long Feiye and Jun Yixie to recognize his Shadow Clan’s shadow arts! He’d long assumed that anything information about his clan had been buried in the annals of history with the fall of the West Qin imperial clan.
He wasn’t sure how many people would actually buy the excuse that he was simply there for the poison beast. But after that incident in the Skypit, he began paying more attention to the movements of people like Jun Yixie as well as other descendants of the original Seven Nobles. For now, leaving Han Yunxi by Long Feiye’s side seemed like the best course of action, because anyone who tried to touch her would have to pass by the Duke of Qin first.
The Duke of Qin was a man who would certainly control the world one day by dominating all of Cloud Realm Continent. He himself, was simply a lone, sickly noble. No matter how fast he could move, he would probably never escape death’s grasp. As the wind picked up, the man strode slowly through the streets while his white robes fluttered about him. In the end, there was nothing left of him but a burst of heartrending coughs…
There were plenty of people still awake on this quiet evening.
In the palace, Chu Qingge had been losing sleep for successive nights. She had heard a certain piece of info from Eunuch Luo, simply that Emperor Tianhui had already asked Imperial Physician Gu how long he needed to wait before engaging in those kinds of activities again. She had been in the palace for about two months now, but Emperor Tianhui had yet to visit her chambers. She certainly didn’t lack his favor, but he had simply been ill until now. Multiple imperial physicians had advised him against the deed, or else…well, alright, she couldn’t imagine the consequences, nor did she want to. Although the physicians said that Emperor Tianhui was still under observation for now, thus sparing her temporarily, she still knew that her eventual fate was inescapable.
Sometimes, she had the urge to poison Emperor Tianhui to death. But without a son to her name, the emperor’s death would only benefit the crown prince instead. Mothers leaned on the power of their sons to survive. No matter how much Emperor Tianhui admired her, she wouldn’t achieve any foothold in the palace without bearing a male offspring! And if she wanted a chance at that, she needed Emperor Tianhui to favor her. Although she had vowed in front of her father to endure any humiliation until she captured the spot as empress, she still spent countless late nights in tears.
At times like these, only her hatred for Han Yunxi fueled her will to keep going. If it wasn’t for Han Yunxi, I never would have played the zither at the banquet and attracted Emperor Tianhui’s attention, much less enter the palace to investigate Noble Consort Yun’s poisoning case. She had already attempted to invite Han Yunxi into the palace with her status three times, but the woman hadn’t come even once.
Chu Qingge tossed and turned restlessly on her bed before finally summoning one of her personal mamas. The two of them had just started discussing ways to force Han Yunxi into the palace when a secret missive arrived from Chu Tianyin…