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Seeing Ning Cheng’s icy face, Bai Yuqiao felt nothing but regret. If she wasn’t afraid of little Yu’er suffering torture again, she wouldn’t have been so impulsive. She knew without asking that Ning Cheng wouldn’t release such a useful courier like herself. Now she not only couldn’t save her sister quickly, but was at the mercy of another person.
“Ning Cheng, Su Xiaoyu is Han Yunxi’s favorite servant girl. If anything happens to her, you won’t be able to explain yourself to her!” Su Xiaoyu raged.
“She’s already on the verge of death,” Ning Cheng snorted.
“You!” Bai Yuqiao fumed as she narrowed her eyes. “Just what are you planning? What’s it going to take before you help me?”
Before, the situation had been critical and his status uncertain. But after receiving Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s reply, he was clear on what he had to do. However, there was no need to tell Bai Yuqiao about such things. The safest courier was one who was ignorant about everything.
Ning Cheng only told Bai Yuqiao, “You, I, and Su Xiaoyu are all on the same boat. As long as you help me with my matters, I promise Su Xiaoyu won’t die.”
“What can you use to promise me that?” Bai Yuqiao said, probing in the midst of her anger.
“You can choose not to believe me at all,” Ning Cheng shrugged carelessly.
Bai Yuqiao clenched her fists. She wished she could lash out, but that was impossible. Ning Cheng had thoroughly driven her to a dead end. Her only choices laid between cooperating with his plans or ensuring their mutual destruction. Taking a deep breath, she relaxed her fists.
“Alright,” she said, “Master Ning, feel free to tell me any requests you have!”
Ning Cheng wrote another letter and sealed it up the same as before. Once he was certain Long Feiye wouldn’t move against Myriad Merchant Hall, he didn’t have to guard against Bai Yuqiao as much. In fact, there was no need to run around in circles to deliver his messages either. “Deliver this to the head elder of Myriad Merchant Hall in the Three-Way Black Market.”
He had no idea where his silver drafts had circulated to, but since there was someone to deliver his letters now, it was better to pass on the message directly. Bai Yuqiao took the letter and left the tent. After some hesitation, she still declined to open it up and read it for herself. Couldn’t she figure out what Ning Cheng was planning anyways? In her eyes, Han Yunxi had already publicized her reunion with Long Feiye. Ning Cheng would absolutely refuse to alliance with that man but harbored disloyalty about his cooperation with senior brother now. How could he ensure he didn’t suffer losses between senior brother’s forces in the north and Long Feiye’s in the south?
After a long time of thinking, Bai Yuqiao still failed to guess any answers. Admittedly, she didn’t have a good opinion of Ning Cheng to begin with, but she trusted that the man had ways to buy her more time to save Su Xiaoyu. With her head bowed, she lost herself in thoughts while walking out of the army camp. Unfortunately, she happened to run into Jun Yixie coming the other way. Her heart gave a lurch as she wondered how she should play this off. She needed an important reason to leave the camp this late at night!
But Jun Yixie only glanced at her before passing right by. After that false alarm, her heart filled with self-mocking. She was feeling guilty because she feared being found out. Ever since she was young, senior brother had never cared about her–in fact, he was even too lazy to spare her a glance. The only times he acknowledged her was when he needed her help. Just then, she had no reason to dread him at all.
Bai Yuqiao even chased after him on purpose, adopting her usual clinging mannerisms. “Senior brother, have you heard the news about master?”
Her single sentence was enough to poke Jun Yixie’s sore spot. He ignored her all the more and walked very quickly to vanish from her sight. Ever since his youth, he had determined that Bai Yuqiao liked him and was certain she was the last person in the world to betray him. How could he imagine that Bai Yuqiao would end up allying with Ning Cheng in the end?
That very night, Bai Yuqiao delivered Ning Cheng’s letter by flying messenger hawk. However, Ning Cheng’s silver drafts ended up arriving at Myriad Merchant Hall first. It came from the public houses into the private banks, and finally after a few twists and turns to Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s own coffers. The employees recognize Ning Cheng’s personal code on the papers as soon as they received it and instantly handed it over to Ning Nuo, who was active in Northern Li.
Ning Nuo read the contents beneath candlelight and copied Ning Cheng’s code onto paper. Ning Cheng hadn’t written much, but he put all of the pertinent points into words. Ning Nuo quickly found a fast horse and galloped all the way to Three-Way Black Market. Currently, he was facing Myriad Merchant Hall’s Council of Elders, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s Council of Elders, and the Ning Clan troops’ three main deputy generals under Ning Cheng himself. Everyone was holding a discussion in the depths of the hall. Ning Nuo was usually careless and slovenly, but he showed no sign of that lackadaisical nature before these men.
After showing the secret message on the silver drafts to everyone present, he asked, “Shall we invite the princess to come back?”
Ning Cheng had released these silver drafts long ago, and they only detailed three things: 1) the truth about the enmity between East and West Qin, 2) Ning Cheng’s house arrest under Jun Yixie and their forced alliance, and 3) that the Di Clan were to listen to all of Han Yunxi’s orders.
The hearts of the consortium elders and deputy generals were filled with mixed emotions. Never did they think that the enmity between the two sides had been purposely instigated as one big misunderstanding! All of them had their heads bowed, their expressions complex. They had given Han Yunxi much cause for embarrassment at the Hundred Poisons Sect, but inviting her here now was akin to slapping their own faces.
Meanwhile, the elders of Myriad Merchant Hall were also left speechless. Only Fifth Elder, who had been released from confinement, was ecstatic. “I’ll go! None of you have the face to admit your wrongs, so I’ll do it for you. I can definitely invite the princess back! I told you, the princess definitely wouldn’t forget her origins just because of personal relationships! You all almost ruined the princess!”
It was unclear what everyone was thinking, but no one answered Fifth Elder. Ning Nuo only asked, “Where are you going to find her?”
That was a real pickle for Fifth Elder. Ever since the incident at Hundred Poisons Sect, all news regarding Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s whereabouts had dispersed into multiple rumors. It was impossible to know where they were. Fifth Elder resentfully rubbed his nose before he said, “How about sending someone to look for them in the East Qin army? They would definitely know the whereabouts of the princess and Long Feiye! Since Master Ning’s trapped in Jun Yixie’s clutches, we’ll need the Duke of Qin’s cooperation to rescue him.”
At this, the head elder of the trade consortium burst out, “What a joke! What does Long Feiye have to do with our Di Clan rescuing our master? Just find the princess and bring her back, we can discuss things with her!”
“Exactly! These are our Di Clan’s own matters. It has nothing to do with East Qin,” someone from the military side added.
“But the princess has long allied with Long Feiye,” Fifth Elder disputed. The couple’s actions at Hundred Poisons Sect had long shown the world that they were reunited.
Deputy General Xue grew impatient. “That’s the princess’s private affairs. Right now we’re discussing important matters of the Di Clan!”
Fifth Elder gave a start before he grew furious in turn. “We’re not discussing Di Clan matters, but major affairs of West Qin. Those are the princess’s affairs as well! If it’s only a personal matter of the Di Clan, why do you need to invite the princess back? And why would Master Ning ask you all to follow the princess’s arrangements?”
Caught up in the heat of the moment, Fifth Elder slammed the table and said, “As things stand now, Master Ning’s already given his orders. Are you all still planning to rebel? Your wings have all grown in Master Ning’s absence! This old man will tell you now, if you want to revolt, go ahead and be my guest. But don’t even think of getting any pay or provisions from Myriad Merchant Hall!”
Everyone fell silent at his words before turning towards Ning Nuo Myriad Merchant Hall’s head elder. When it came to military pay and provisions, those two were the real boss, not Fifth Elder.
Fifth Elder immediately walked to Head Elder’s side and muttered, “Don’t you forget, Kangan Private Bank only agreed to help us on the princess’s behalf. She only needs one word to smash the business at the auction halls. How long can our storehouse silver support the entire Di Clan? The only reason Jun Yixie can’t kill Master Ning is because of his money.”
Both Head Elder and Ning Nuo by his side heard those words. Although Fifth Elder was impetuous, his words weren’t wrong. The Di Clan could work independently, but for how long? Half a year? A year? Once they ran out of money, who would clean up the mess left behind? Even if they saved Master Ning with their own efforts, they wouldn’t be able to move a single inch without more money in the chaos of war!
Cloud Realm Trade Consortium and the Ning Clan troops had no idea of Myriad Merchant Hall’s precarious financial straits, which was why they still dared to act so arrogantly. Ning Nuo and the Head Elder were both conflicted in their hearts. They were very clear that under these circumstances, cooperating with East Qin by using the princess’s relationship with Long Feiye was the best choice. But they were worried that Long Feiye would pin them up thoroughly in turn.
What to do?
Their meeting lasted until noon the next day. Gradually, more people joined Fifth Elder’s side, but a few insisted on maintaining the Di Clan’s independence. Ning Cheng had only left a few lines on some silver drafts. Why didn’t he write a little more? Faced with this dilemma, Ning Nuo only knitted his brows. He suddenly realized that it wasn’t easy to head an entire sect. However, right before the meeting was adjourned, a pageboy rushed in to deliver a letter.
“My brother’s!” Ning Nuo cried.
The group of people half standing up all sat back in their seats.
“Hurry! See what it says.”
“Are there any new updates? Quickly take a look!”
Everyone was extremely anxious and couldn’t wait. To them, Ning Cheng’s letter was like a timely rain.
Ning Nuo’s heart was full of terrifying waves once he finished reading the letter. He had to take some time to calm himself down, because the contents had explained everything in clear detail.
“Young Master Nuo, what did Master Ning write?”
“Young Master Nuo, say something, won’t you?”
Everyone was urging him on. Head and Fifth Elder of Myriad Merchant Hall nearly wanted to snatch the letter for themselves.
When Ning Nuo finally recovered his senses, his taut expression relaxed slightly. He said, “Master Ning and Long Feiye have already agreed to terms. The princess is waiting at East Origin Hall for our arrival.”
Everyone had a fright. Meanwhile, Ning Nuo’s heart was still pounding! He really wanted to laugh, but found it impossible.
He said, “East Origin Hall is owned by East Qin.”
Silence greeted his words.
Ning Nuo then went on, “The Tang Clan…”
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