Yu Jian's ascension day and Murong Cang's birthday banquet end with the news of Bei Tang Ming being kidnapped.
Yun Qian Yu leads 200 city guards while Hua Man Xi leads 100 troops from Hu Wei Camp to Wolong Ridge. No matter what, the prince of another kingdom getting kidnapped in Nan Lou Kingdom is not a good thing.
The kingdoms are at peace in the surface and it is important for Yu Jian to keep it that way. After all, with Rui Qinwang still eyeing the throne, he will not be able to handle attacks from both within and outside.
The thick-skinned Gong Sang Mo follows Yun Qian Yu and Hua Man Xi.
"Everyone now knows about our engagement, I naturally have to protect my fiancée!" Gong Sang Mo sounds so righteous, as though they really have an engagement.
Hua Man Xi is utterly speechless as he stares at Gong Sang Mo who has changed so much from chasing after his future wife. Deep inside, he also feels jealous. If they were to trade spots, he would probably be just as enthusiastic.
Feng Ran originally wanted to follow them, but Yun Qian Yu is worried about Yu Jian, so she asked him to stay in the capital. She brings Man Er instead.
Before leaving, she explained everything she knows to Jiu Xiao Kingdom's 3rd prince and the rest of the officials. On the day they arrived at Tian En Temple, Bei Tang Ming had received a letter and had left in a huff. They lost contact with him until his people begged for help in Hu Wei Camp.
Yun Qian Yu also noticed that there were supposed to be a Marquis of Ji amongst the envoys from Jiu Xiao Kingdom, why weren't he in the banquet?
In the end, nobody knew about the whereabout of that Marquis. They said that it was the Marquis' habit to roam around and disappearing for a good while.
That Marquis sure was arrogant; he dared to disregard their emperor's decree?
On the way there, Yun Qian Yu continues pondering over everything. Does Bei Tang Ming's incident has anything to do with Ji Yun Zhou? That Marquis is surnamed Ji, Yun Qian Yu is unwittingly reminded of Ji Shu Liu. But then, they come from different kingdoms, so what are the possibilities?
Wolong Ridge is 300 li away from the capital. It took Bei Tang Ming's helper 2 days of non-stop journey to get to the capital, so it would take them around the same time.
Has anything happened these past four days?
It is going to be winter soon, so the nights are exceptionally cold. It is even colder for them since they are riding horses. Wolong Ridge is located in the North, so it only gets chillier for them.
Yun Qian Yu clutches her cloak tight and covers her face with a veil to make herself warmer.
Gong Sang Mo is right next to her throughout the journey.
As they ride on, Gong Sang Mo can see an abandoned temple not far away, "There is only an hour before the sun rise. Let's rest first and continue our journey after the sun rise."
Hua Man Xi agrees. They are all tired and faint, if they don't rest, they will have no energy to fight.
The guards and troops are ordered to rest.
Yun Qian Yu walks into the temple.
Man Er and Hua Man Xi, on the other hand, gather hays and place it on the floor of the temple. Yun Qian Yu and Man Er are huddled on one side while Hua Man Xi and Gong Sang Mo keep guard on the entrance.
Yun Qian Yu is indeed very tired. She falls asleep the moment she lies down.
Gong Sang Mo stares at her. He takes off his cloak and wraps it around her to keep her warm. Because Yun Qian Yu knows that Gong Sang Mo is here, she is able to sleep peacefully.
He and Hua Man Xi does not dare to sleep, they stay up, merely resting their eyes.
Since Gong Sang Mo has been in the army, he has been through worse. This is nothing to him. They even have a temple to seek shelter under, this is a lot better than in the battlefield.
The night wind blows by. The guards outside are taking shifts to rest, trying to recuperate as best as they can.
Just as the sun is about to rise, Gong Sang Mo suddenly opens his eyes. There are traces of iciness in them.
At the same time, Hua Man Xi also opens his eyes. He looks at Gong Sang Mo.
Gong Sang Mo signals him to take care of Yun Qian Yu while he goes out.
Hua Man Xi nods. He does not go to sleep and instead stares at the entrance with heated eyes.
Gong Sang Mo looks at Yun Qian Yu before quietly leaving the temple.
He stops the people outside from greeting him. His pale blue figure is very eye-catching under the moonlight; his movements seem leisurely as well, but in the blink of an eye, he is no longer there.
Not far away from where they camp out, a couple of sneaky shadows approach their camp.
Gong Sang Mo is standing on a tree branch, his body moving the same way the branch did. There is that bloodthirsty light on his eyes at the moment.
The sneaky people can sense a dangerous aura, they look around cautiously.
A pale blue silhouette suddenly lands in front of them.
"Senior Uncle?" A black-dressed Long Xiang Luo says in alarm.
"You must be tired of living!" Gong Sang Mo's entire body is shrouded in a murderous aura. The feeling that they get from him is the kind that they will get in a battlefield.
"I will leave, Senior Uncle!" Long Xiang Luo is scared, she has never seen this part of Gong Sang Mo. She knows that he is dangerous on the battlefield, but he usually looks so amiable, so she never thought that she would get to see this side of him. She can tell that Gong Sang Mo really wants her life this time.
"Too late!" Gong Sang Mo's voice has never been so malevolent.
"Senior Uncle, disciples of the same sect must not commit fratricide!" Long Xiang Luo immediately reminds him of Mount San Xian's rule.
"I will admit fault in front of shifu after killing you," as he says that, a sword appears on his hand.
"No!" Long Xiang Luo retreats backwards in fear. "I will leave now! I will return to Mo Dai Kingdom. I will no longer harm Yun Qian Yu, I swear."
Gong Sang Mo sneers.
"When you poisoned Yu Er with Xiao Yan Poison, I already wanted to kill you, but Yu Er told me that killing you is a waste of time and energy. Then, you kidnapped the prince. I wanted Yu Er to take this chance to gain experience, so I did not care much about you. Then, you tried to give Yu Er the 'love worm'. I really wanted to kill you then, but Yu Er wanted you to have a taste of your own medicine. I agreed to appease Yu Er and even fanned the fire from the background. After that, you used Yu Er's affection for Yu Jian and wanted her to die without a burial place. Lucky you ended up helping us instead. I wanted to kill you the moment we got out, but Yu Er said that nothing must happen to you while you are in Nan Lou Kingdom, so I decided to give you a couple more days to live. Have you enjoyed your last days?"
Long Xiang Luo collapses; he was the one behind what happened between her and Ying Zi!
She originally thought that Gong Sang Mo hadn't done anything to her because they came from the same sect. Turns out, he only tolerated her because of Yun Qian Yu, because he didn't want to make her unhappy.
"I bet you have no idea that everything you have done was secretly schemed by your own imperial brother, Long Jin. His target was me and you happily became his sword. I have never seen someone so stupid," Gong Sang Mo says in disdain.
Her imperial brother? Her imperial brother used her? Her heart sinks. Her respected and revered imperial brother used her as a pawn.
"Do you know why I dislike you?"
She looks at Gong Sang Mo; she really wants to know why he hates her so much.
"My mother died because of Xiao Yan Poison. Do you understand?"
His mother died because of Xiao Yan? No wonder he refused to budge even after she chased him for 8 years. They were pre-destined to be enemies. Long Xiang Luo feels like she going to crumble.
Gong Sang Mo continues to speak, "Do you know that I killed everyone whom had conspired against my parents but allows the one who poisoned my mother to live? It is because death is too easy for that person and I want her to live a life worse than death."
Long Xiang Luo is shocked.
"Do you know who that person is? That person is your mother. She offered your father her counsel and her poisons in order to get his heart."
"What? Are you the one who caused my mother to lose favour and to be deposed to the cold palace?"
Her mother has suffered so much and she went around chasing after the cause of her suffering! Long Xiang Luo retreats backwards in fear and shock, "You are a demon! A demon!"
Demon? Good. There is always that one person who does not want to live.
Gong Sang Mo disappears and the people around Long Xiang Luo fall without even making a sound. Long Xiang Luo is still alive. She stares at Ying Zi who is standing in front of her, stunned. She is an idiot. The person who loves her the most has always been by her side, but she did not cherish him and instead chased after an impossible love.
"Your Highness, Ying Zi cannot keep you company anymore," Ying Zi uses his last bit of energy to say that.
"Ying Zi, this time, I will be the one to accompany you!" She caresses Ying Zi's face as the light in his eyes turns dull.
After she says that, Gong Sang Mo slashes her in the throat.
Long Xiang Luo smiles as she stares at Ying Zi, slowly collapsing on top of him. This time, she will be the one to accompany him.
Gong Sang Mo retrieves his sword as he icily glances at the corpses on the ground.
San Qiu, Yi Ri, Chang Qing and Chang Si appear in front of him.
"Take care of the corpse. Let someone impersonate Long Xiang Luo until the envoy leave Nan Lou Kingdom," Gong Sang Mo's voice is indifferent.
The four people immediately goes into action. San Qiu and Yi Ri check Long Xiang Luo's body and take a jade bottle away from her. They wipe it with a handkerchief and hand it over to Gong Sang Mo. Then, they take care of the corpses while the other two goes to do what Gong Sang Mo told them to.
Gong Sang Mo takes the bottle and returns to camp. The moment he enters the temple, Hua Man Xi stares at him. He can tell that something has happened. He frowns. Gong Sang Mo nods at him, confirming his suspicion and telling him that everything has been settled. Hua Man Xi glances at Yun Qian Yu before closing his eyes again.
Gong Sang Mo looks at Yun Qian Yu who is in deep sleep, the murderous air surrounding him immediately disappears. His phoenix eyes turn gentle. He approaches her. When he sees Man Er who is sleeping next to her, he stops. He continues staring at her for a while before turning around and sitting down on the haystacks, trying to rest his eyes.
The sky is bright and Yun Qian Yu wakes up. She looks at Man Er who is in deep sleep and wakes her up. Man Er suddenly stands up, looking around muddle-headedly. Hua Man Xi and Gong Sang Mo raise their brows at her. She laughs apologetically, "I thought there was a sneak attack!"
Gong Sang Mo and Hua Man Xi expressionlessly look away.
Yun Qian Yu sighs, Man Er ah… Man Er reminds her of Wen Ling Shan. She originally promised to play with her in Tian En Temple, but Cang Bao Pavilion happened and she didn't get the chance to. She didn't even get the chance to properly speak with her during the banquet, will Wen Ling Shan be upset at her?
After they return to the capital, she must find some time to visit her. She will bring Man Er with her; those two will definitely click.
Yun Qian Yu smiles at that thought.
"Mistress, why are you wearing two cloaks?" Man Er notices that Yun Qian Yu is wearing an extra cloak.
Yun Qian Yu looks at the two cloaks that are wrapping her body, one of it is Gong Sang Mo's. Gong Sang Mo makes his way to her while carrying a water bottle and some dry food. He sits next to her, "Eat some dry food. We will resume our journey afterwards."
Gong Sang Mo hands her the food before placing the mouth of the water bottle on her lips, "Drink some water first, so that you can swallow easier. The dry rations are hard to chew."
She drinks two gulps of water and then starts eating the dry food. Her heart feels warm. No wonder she didn't feel cold while sleeping, Gong Sang Mo gave her his cloak. The feeling of being doted upon is really good.
After eating, they resume the journey. Other than stopping at a village for warm lunch, they travelled non-stop.
Gong Sang Mo calculates that if they rest for the night, they will reach Wolong Ridge by noon tomorrow, so they decide to rest for the night. They must not over-exert themselves. They rest outside a relay station.
After taking a quick bath, Yun Qian Yu, Gong Sang Mo and Hua Man Xi eat together before going to rest.
They only had an hour break last night, so this night is a well-needed rest.
Tonight is clearly more comfortable than last night, so why can't Yun Qian Yu put her heart to rest? Maybe it is because tonight, there is no Gong Sang Mo to make her feel safe.
In the middle of the night, her eyes flutter open. There is another person inside her room.
She grasps her ice silk tight as she stares at that person.
"You are awake?"
"Long Jin?" she sits up.
Long Jin is standing three steps away from her bed, looking at her with complex eyes.
"Xiang Luo has gone missing. Have you seen her, princess?"
He follows Xiang Luo here to be sure if Gong Sang Mo and Yun Qian Yu have indeed entered Cang Bao Pavilion. If they did, then it means that they have mastered the divine art. His goal to unite the kingdoms will be even further from his grasp.
Yun Qian Yu freezes; Long Xiang Luo is at it again. That insufferable girl. If she dares to do anything again, she will no longer wait for her to leave Nan Luo Kingdom to retaliate.
"Your Highness has seek the wrong person. I am currently in a blind pursuit, I do not care about her whereabout."
Long Jin stares at her; judging from her reaction, Long Xiang Luo's disappearance really has nothing to do with her. Did he guessed wrong?
She gets up and lights up a candle.
She glances at Long Jin icily.
She naturally understands that the Cang Bao Pavilion incident was Long Jin and Long Xiang Luo's machination. What kind of a person is Long Jin; every move of Long Xiang Luo is within his grasp.
She is not his target, his target is Gong Sang Mo who always tags along with her. They all know about the Gong men's obsession when it comes to love. Everything adds up.
He wanted to use Gong Sang Mo's love for her to push him to death. He almost got what he wanted. Had she not jumped after Gong Sang Mo, he would have died since he had less than one layer of inner power left.
Gong Sang Mo once told her that his mother was poisoned using Xiao Yan; those people probably used the same tactic back then. They wanted to target the late Xian Wang using his love for his wife.
Her heart is suddenly assaulted with myriads of emotions. What did Gong Sang Mo feel back then, at Cang Bao Pavilion? He clearly knew everything was a trap, but he went along anyway. What did he feel as he fell into the dark abyss?
Yun Qian Yu does not have the guts to think anymore. The more she thinks about it, the more her heart hurts.
"Crown Prince Jin, let's go straight to the point. We both know what you did. I cannot do anything to you for the sake of peace between the kingdoms, but let me tell you this, I am not a weak little miss who cannot do anything. I do not lose to any men when it comes to brain and strength, in fact, I am even better. I am not afraid of any fight. Wars between the kingdoms are inevitable anyway. I wish I will get to see your full ability out in the open in the battlefield. The kind of methods you are using right now only suits those old madams in the back courtyard. Stop using such underhanded methods and start fighting righteously."
Long Jin's eyes shrink, his face darkening. Such a sharp-tongued woman! He does not even know how to retort back.
"If you insist on fighting like the concubines at the back courtyard, I will play along. After all, I am a woman, I will not lose to you."
Long Jin silently stares at her; this is her real face. The gentle and calm look is just a façade.
"Princess Hu Guo is indeed admirable!"
At this point, Yun Qian Yu has made it clear that he does not need to hide anything anymore. Otherwise, he is even worse than a petty wife.
"It is an honor," Yun Qian Yu expressionlessly says.
"Would you consider coming to Mo Dai Kingdom as this prince's Crown Princess? Once this prince ascends the throne, you will be the empress. That is something that Xian Wang cannot give you," Long Jin says thoughtfully.
"First of all, there is a possibility that you may not ascend the throne. Second of all, I am not interested in another woman's man," Yun Qian Yu replies without hesitating.
Long Jin freezes before his face darkens.
"Is Xian Wang clean?"
"Old habits die hard, it is pointless talking to you," Yun Qian Yu looks at him in disdain. He actually dares to challenge her relationship with Sang Mo.
"Seems like Princess Hu Guo's heart is set on Xian Wang." Long Jin is not angry. Instead, he laughs.
Yun Qian Yu naturally understands Long Jin's thoughts. Her eyes are bright and fiery as her lips curl up, "Do not bother threatening me, Your Highness. I can openly tell you this: I am not Gong Sang Mo's weakness. He is not mine, either. We are each other's equal, like a pair of hunting eagles soaring in the sky."
Yun Qian Yu's bold words shock him.
Women have always been mere objects to him, he has never considered the possibility of a woman standing side by side with him. How fortunate would he be….
At this moment, he suddenly envies Gong Sang Mo. How did he obtain this curious woman's heart?
"Bengong is the type that will openly admit to doing something. Bengong has not seen Long Xiang Luo, please leave." Yun Qian Yu says, giving the guest the hint to leave, though this so-called guest is uninvited and has come in the middle of the night.
Long Jin gives her a deep, probing look, no longer saying anything. Whether or not Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo have mastered the art is no longer important, what is important is the war between them has started.
After Long Jin left, Yun Qian Yu sits on the long couch amidst the flickering light.
As for Long Jin, the moment he leaves the room, he sees Gong Sang Mo standing at the corner of the courtyard.