Chapter 536: Willing to pledge loyalty for generations
While Long Feiye was punishing Han Yunxi, Gu Qishao was squatting in Mu Linger's cell, completely oblivious to the fact that an enormous upheaval had ripped through Medicine City. At his side, Mu Linger had completely forgotten about keeping track of the days. She was even quite content to sit in this prison for the rest of her days.
Gu Qishao usually loved to run his mouth with Han Yunxi and argue for the sake of arguing, but in truth he wasn't someone who liked to talk. While staying with Mu Linger in the cell for the past few days, he didn't even speak unless spoken to first. He divided his time between sleeping and staring at the skies. Once, Mu Linger kept quiet for an entire day and witnessed him staring at the sky for the whole day. She couldn't believe it. For once, the Qi gege that she thought she knew all these years had turned into someone she didn't understand at all. As it turned out, someone so good at kicking up a row was perfectly capable of spacing out all day.
After that day, Mu Linger stopped being quiet, because a Qi gege who never spoke was like a stranger to her, enough to make her feel afraid. Currently, there was a commotion outside the cell that Gu Qishao was paying close attention to.
"Your Excellency Pill Fiend, can I ask you a question?" Mu Linger ventured timidly.
Gu Qishao ignored her, so Mu Linger hesitated before trying again, "Your Excellency Pill Fiend, back then…why were you expelled from Medical City?"
Gu Qishao immediately turned back at those words, pure hate shining in his eyes. "Why are you asking so many questions?"
Perhaps it was the fact that he was Qi gege, but she wasn't put off by such a venomous glare. Instead she continued, "I heard you were very young when Medical City banished you, right?"
Ever since Han Yunxi had told her Qi gege's secret identity, she had tried all sorts of ways to uncover Pill Fiend's past. But there was nothing in the medical community beyond rumors, so she had no idea why he was expelled from Medical City.
Gu Qishao suddenly drew closer and said roughly, "Little girl, remember this…"
He waited for ages without speaking until Mu Linger finally asked, "Remember what?"
But Gu Qishao only lowered his voice and growled, "This old man's affairs have nothing to do with you! If you join Pill Fiend Pharmacy, you better make sure not to bother me all the time!"
Mu Linger felt like he'd taken a sharp bite out of her heart. She felt extremely hurt! She might be pretending not to know him, but he knew full well who she was! He should know that she liked Qi gege! But he'd rejected her absolutely!
Seeing Mu Linger not replying, he added brusquely, "Got it?"
Mu Linger clearly felt like crying, but only shot him a disdainful look and snorted. "Hmph, who do you think you are? This girl wouldn't bother you at all! Just wait until I reach your age, I'll definitely have better skills than you! Let's just…wait and see!" So speaking, she lifted her chin up high and turned to face a wall, the very picture of the formerly proud and haughty Mu Clan's ninth young Miss.
Gu Qishao stared at her awhile before replying with a single syllable… "Hmph!"
Thus, the two of them fell into silence once again. Mu Linger's heart ached as she silently praised herself for putting on a convincing act. Qi gege would never suspect her now. After a while, she stole a glance at him while thinking inwardly, Hmph, Qi gege, you're a big meanie! I curse you to never get out of this cell!
But as soon as the thought flashed through her mind, the door to the prison suddenly creaked open…
Mu Linger was completely flabbergasted. She instinctively wanted to rush to Gu Qishao's side, but it was already too late. The man had long vanished from sight. She hastily looked out the cell door and only saw a prison guard coming to deliver fresh cotton-padded quilts and hot food. What was going on? They'd been doing nothing but maltreating her before, handing her nothing but thatch and cold food for the chilly nights. Why were they giving her everything now?
Mu Linger couldn't bother to consider so many details. She searched for Qi gege all over her cell before suddenly looking up at the ceiling. She only saw a flicker of black before it disappeared out the door.
You villain, you asked me whether I was escaping when you first showed up, but now you're fleeing yourself without a second word. The Grand Medicine Testing Convention's long over by now, do you think you'll die if you stay around a little longer?
Her grievances mixed with disappointment and discomfort in her heart until Mu Linger burst into sobs, scaring the poor prison guard. He was one of Wang Gong's men. After the fall of the Xie and Mu Clans, the first thing the Wang Clan Head had done was to change all the guards in the Medicine Forest's prisons and add guards to watch over Mu Yingdong and Xie Deyi. As a kind and tenderhearted man, Wang Gong knew that Qin Wangfei looked favorably upon Mu Linger, so he'd told the prison guards to take good care of the girl without slighting her. Without a clue as to what had happened, the prison guard was only here on Wang Gong's orders to deliver the goods. Now he stopped to urged, "Ninth Young Miss Mu, don't be sad. The Xie Clan has fallen and Head Elder Xie's locked up here as well. The Wang Clan Head recognizes your worth, so as long as you're obedient, the Wang Clan won't mistreat you."
Mu Linger's sobs suddenly stilled. "What did you say? The Xie Clan's fallen?"
Did Han Yunxi and Long Feiye show up and get a handle on the Xie Clan? If the Xie Clan's fallen, does that mean I'll be able to leave very soon?
"Who won? Just what happened?" she asked urgently.
The prison guard explained everything before adding, "Ninth Young Miss Mu, the Council of Elders will hold a joint hearing regarding the Poison Sect, so you can just push all the blame onto your father. With the Wang Clan's current influence in the council, it's easy enough to save you."
Mu Linger fell back onto the ground before she broke into cold laughter. "It…serves all of them right!"
Father and Xie Deyi actually plotted to marry me off to Northern Li in exchange for their snow mountains? Who do they take me as? An item to be traded off?
Her icy laugh echoed off the quiet cell walls, making the room seem colder than before. Thank goodness Han Yunxi was there. Otherwise, my life would be ruined.
The prison guard only felt that Mu Linger was acting highly unnatural, so he simply left the items and locked the door in a hurry before departing. Without Gu Qishao, the prison cell become an absolutely silent world. Mu Linger sat on the floor as the skylight illuminated her form. Her head was bowed, her thin frame looking especially lonely and desolate.
Once Gu Qishao left the Medicine Forest, he headed directly towards the inn that Han Yunxi had reserved ahead of time, only to find no one there. Currently, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had just arrived at the Wang Estate through a secret passage. Long Feiye had taken off his voluminous black robes to reveal his usual dignified, inviolate air. As for Han Yunxi, she was as beautiful and elegant as ever with her extraordinary presence, but lacking her usual natural ease. That was because she was standing with her head bowed, the posture making her seem solemn or even a little awkward.
Wang Gong only felt the sight of such a Qin Wangfei strange. He recalled the memory of the women when the Duke of Qin first brought him to the Wang Estate, if only because she was the first female to be by his side. Although esteemed wangfei had shown an extremely deferential manner to the Duke of Qin back then, she still hadn't kept her head bowed the entire time.
After some hesitation, Wang Gong tried, "Esteemed wangfei, are you…alright?"
"Fine," Han Yunxi replied faintly, but didn't look up.
Wang Gong only shot Long Feiye a doubtful look, but he simply asked expressionlessly, "Has everything been arranged?"
Judging from the Duke of Qin's attitude, nothing major should have happened to esteemed wangfei, so Wang Gong stopped probing. "It's all been taken care of. We've gotten control over the prisons and I've told them how to deal with Mu Linger. They won't slight her," Wang Gong said earnestly. "Your Highness needn't worry, this time this old man won't give the Xie or Mu Clans a chance to revive themselves again."
The very fact that Xie Deyi had tried to help the Xie Clan in the competition meant that the clan would push all the blame onto him and Xie Peng to protect the rest of their family. Whatever the case, the fact that it already happened once had set a precedent for the Xie Clan in all future competitions. They would never have the right to compete again. The Xie Clan's power and influence was ordinary to begin with, but now that Xie Deyi, a head elder at that, had ended up in prison, their clan would never rise again.
As for the Mu Clan, the fact that they'd colluded with the Hundred Poisons Sect was enough to earn them the death penalty. No member of the Mu Clan would be permitted to join the Council of Elders again, either. Long Feiye wasn't concerned with either of these things. The Wang Clan had been vying with the Xie and Mu Clans for years. Now that they'd gotten a chance to rise, Wang Gong had seized upon it beautifully. He was more interested in a separate matter. "Has Xie Deyi confessed to his crimes?"
Although Long Feiye didn't give explicit instructions, his glance at Wang Gong before sent a clear message. His Highness Duke of Qin wanted to know who had given Xie Deyi the Poison Roundworm and Sixty Rooms prescription. It would be easy enough to force the truth out of Xie Deyi now that he was locked up.
Wang Gong lowered his voice and said a single name. "Ouyang Ningnuo."
"So it really was him!" Long Feiye had always known that Ouyang Ningnuo wasn't an easy opponent, but never expected the man's reach to be so long. He could even get his hands on Poison Roundworm and Sixty Rooms. Neither of them were easy to find. Leaving aside Sixty Rooms, the fact that he could get Jun Yixie's Poison Roundworm to use against Jun Yixie himself meant that Ouyang Ningnuo must have agents with connections in Hundred Poisons Sect.
Long Feiye drank his tea in silence before he spoke again. "Break off all relations and business collaborations between Medicine City and the Cloud Realm Trade Consortium within one year. Are you…willing?"
After all, Medicine City would lose a large swath of profits as soon as it stopped working with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. Moreover, His Highness Duke of Qin's words indicated that he wanted Pill Fiend Pharmacy to take the Consortium's place in controlling Cloud Realm Continent's drug trade. Thanks to the fixed prices arranged between Pill Fiend Pharmacy and the various clans, Medicine City wouldn't get to profit at all!
With the Xie and Mu Clans finished, the Wang Clan would inevitably control much of Medicine City within the year and become its head. If the Wang Clan dared to go against the Council of Elders and all the clans in Medicine City within that year to break off their relations with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium, thus robbing everyone of their profits, they'd lose tons of goodwill and find it hard to maintain their leadership role.
When Long Feiye asked if Wang Gong was 'willing,' his words carried heavy weight. But Wang Gong simply stood up without hesitation and cradled a cup of tea in his hands to profess his loyalty. "Your Highness Duke of Qin is being too polite! The Wang Clan will certainly do our best to accomplish it!"
Long Feiye nodded before accepting the offered teacup. Wang Gong fell on one knee as soon as his hands were empty and declared respectfully, "Your Highness Duke of Qin, from this day on, Medicine City's Wang Clan hopes to serve you loyally for generations to come. May our sincere hearts never waver in thanking Your Highness for his grace in supporting us."
Wang Gong and His Highness Duke of Qin might have been inter-generation friends, but Wang Gong was quite clear on the Duke of Qin's ambitions. Rather than treating him as a friend, it was better to treat him as a lord; after all, Han Yunxi was already the Pill King's disciple, so Medicine City could easily fall into that couple's hands if they wished it.
Long Feiye was very satisfied and handed his teacup to Han Yunxi. "This tea should be given to wangfei to drink." His original plans involved taking over Medicine City within the span of a year and a half, but Han Yunxi had saved him a whole lot of time. In the end, Han Yunxi had contributed the most to his goals!
Han Yunxi subconsciously lifted her head just as Wang Gong looked over and saw….