Chapter 67: Reciprocal Gestures: Bai Songling’s Gift
“Jiuge, don’t worry too much about it. This is just a back-up plan. You might not even have to resort to it.” Bai Songling looked at Ye Jiuge in a composed manner.
“Then I would like to express my gratitude to you now, Brother Bai.” Ye Jiuge put away the slip of paper with a faint smile.
Bai Songling’s willingness to help her had demonstrated his absolute sincerity. She was not a deity, so there was no reason to make others selflessly confer benefits on her. Giving and taking on both sides was the proper way to maintain their alliance.
“You are welcome. In the future, feel free to come to me if you face any trouble.” Bai Songling genuinely held Ye Jiuge in high regard. A woman with such fortitude, capability, and charisma was hard to come by in the Lei Kingdom.
“Alright, it’s getting late now. I shall take my leave,” Ye Jiuge said as she stood up.
“Let me see you out.” Bai Songling moved to follow her.
“There is no need. My carriage is just outside. I can head out on my own,” Ye Jiuge declined Bai Songling’s offer and left the residence unescorted.
Shortly after Ye Jiuge went on her way, someone emerged from behind a screen in the main parlor. It was Wan Ziyang, who was supposed to be handling the cases in Heyang County. He appeared weary after a long journey. There were dark circles under his eyes, and the fatigue on his face was unconcealable. Evidently, he’d rushed back overnight.
“When did you arrive home?” Bai Songling asked in surprise.
“When you were telling Ye Jiuge to be wary of the Empress.” Wan Ziyang showed his displeasure. Besides exhaustion, there was a hint of stiffness noticeable about him.
“Are you holding me accountable for dragging her into the mire?” Bai Songling and Wan Ziyang had known each other for such a long time; naturally, Bai Songling could read his friend’s mind by merely glimpsing his expression.
“This is a feud between us, the Su Clan, and the Dongfang Clan. Do not simply drag an outsider into this.” Wan Ziyang was angry that Bai Songling had acted without consulting him.
“Even if I had not entangled her in all this, she was already enmeshed. Do you think that the Crown Prince and the Empress will spare her? Or that Ye Yuxuan can protect her?” Bai Songling raised his eyebrow. He had not made an ally of Ye Jiuge because he wanted to take advantage of her, but to keep her safe.
Wan Ziyang was at a loss for words. He also knew that Bai Songling was right. However, the political situation in the Lei Kingdom right now was extremely complicated. The Su Clan and the imperial family, the Dongfang Clan, were the only political influences visible to the public. It was the unknown entities in power that were genuinely troubling. Although he’d only just touched the tip of the iceberg, Wan Ziyang already understood that he might die a gruesome death. He did not want Ye Jiuge mixed up in such a dirty affair. Such a bold and unaffected young girl should not be subjected to suffering.
“Well, I simply warned her to be careful of the Empress. I did not ask her to do anything dangerous. You don’t need to be so agitated,” Bai Songling said. Then, to break the ice, he reached for Ye Jiuge’s tokens of appreciation and unwrapped them. He offered them to Wan Ziyang with a smile: “Have a look at the fine goods Jiuge brought us.”
A box of Four Happiness Pastries, a pot of peach blossom wine, and a jar of Yuqian Longjing Tea. Why do all these gifts cater to women’s tastes? Huh, what kind of medicinal pill is this?
Bai Songling removed two small jade bottles from their gift packaging. Four words were written on them: “Second-grade Spiritual Revitalization Pills.” Ye Jiuge’s handwriting was magnificent, with firm, yet delicate strokes.
“There are only three pills in one bottle. This young lady is too stingy.” Bai Songling opened the jade bottle and glanced inside. He deliberately used a disdainful tone when he spoke.
“Give it to me.” Wan Ziyang had rushed back overnight, so he had expended a great deal of spiritual energy. This was the perfect opportunity to assess the Spiritual Revitalization Pills’ effectiveness.
“There.” Bai Songling generously passed the two bottles of medicinal pills to Wan Ziyang.
To the best of his knowledge, Ye Jiuge was only an Alchemist of the second rank. The medicinal pills she produced could not be that beneficial. Unexpectedly, after Wan Ziyang ate a pill, his expression changed slightly. Then, he hid the two jade bottles away without another word.
“How is it? Does it taste like candy?” Bai Songling asked with a grin.
Medicinal pills explicitly used to reinvigorate spiritual energy were difficult to produce. Even if an Alchemist of the third rank was capable of producing ten bottles of these pills, three bottles of superior quality were considered satisfactory. Average pills could only help a person recover a decent amount of spiritual energy, while inferior pills helped an even scanter amount. Spiritual practitioners liked to joke that they were eating candy.
Wan Ziyang did not reply to Bai Songling. He claimed that he was tired and hurried back to his room to cultivate. How could he inform this idiot, Bai Songling, that not only did Ye Jiuge’s bottles of Spiritual Revitalization Pills immediately restore his depleted spiritual energy, but they provided him with more than he needed? If he did not meditate right now to absorb the spiritual energy, it would go to waste. He had never seen such a potent Spiritual Revitalization Pill. It would not lose a contest with a third-grade medicinal pill. Consuming one of these pills during a fight would be equivalent to having an extra life. If he used it to recover his spiritual energy now, it would be a pity.
Bai Songling watched Wan Ziyang dash out of the parlor with a baffled expression. Although he was bewildered, it never occurred to him to associate his friend’s odd behavior with Ye Jiuge’s medicinal pills. He thought that it was due to an unrelated matter.
Ye Jiuge did not know that the pills she had produced had left such an impression on Wan Ziyang and Bai Songling. After she returned to the Zilin Residence, she placed the slip of paper that Bai Songling had given her on the table.
When Qing Mama first entered the room, she wanted to ask Ye Jiuge about her visit to Lord Wan and Lord Bai’s residence. However, when she read that slip of paper, she was surprised and asked, “Eldest Miss, could it be that this Hongxiu is the Lady Hongxiu from the palace?”
“Qing Mama, do you know Lady Hongxiu?” Ye Jiuge never realized that Qing Mama’s social network was so extensive as to include palace acquaintances.
“I don’t consider us close. We just bumped into each other a few times at the Kunyuan Palace.”
Qing Mama could not help but reminisce about the past. Long ago, when Old Master Yun Tianwei was still in the capital, Ye Jiuge’s mother (who was already married to Ye Yuxuan) was the most popular person in the city. Not only did aristocratic ladies want to be on friendly terms with her, but also the women from the imperial harem. In those days, the Imperial Noble Consort often invited Ye Jiuge’s mother to the palace to spend time with her. On many occasions, Qing Mama had accompanied her, and her memory of the Imperial Noble Consort’s lady-in-waiting, Hongxiu, was exceptionally clear. At a young age, Hongxiu was already a spiritual practitioner. She’d inspired a deep respect in Qing Mama, who, at that time, was still at the stage of cultivating her body. This was why she remembered her.
“Speaking of which, the Imperial Noble Consort wished for your mother’s help to arrange a marriage for her child and you. It was unfortunate that she did not get pregnant, so the Empress overtook her position at court.”
Qing Mama wrung her hands as she spoke. Her thoughts were evident from her expression: if, long ago, a marriage had been arranged between Ye Jiuge’s mother and the Imperial Noble Consort, then the Crown Prince would not have abandoned the Eldest Miss.
“A disabled man sounds like the perfect match for a disfigured woman.”
Ye Jiuge chuckled, yet she could not care less. An incompetent, hideous girl like her couldn’t catch the eye of a member of the imperial family, like Dongfang Que. It was likely that, after he fell out of love with her, he would not act much better than the Crown Prince had.
“Eldest Miss, how can you be so self-deprecating?”
Qing Mama disliked it when Eldest Miss behaved like a defeatist. In her heart, Eldest Miss would forever be perfect. No man in the world would be suitable for her. Even if that man were a prince.
Ye Jiuge refused to comment on Qing Mama’s blind adoration and confidence in her. She considered whether she should meet Lady Hongxiu after entering the palace. Right now, besides Ye Yuxuan, the Su and Dongfang Clans were Ye Jiuge’s nemeses. Somehow, these people were related to her grandfather’s disappearance. With her power alone, overthrowing them would be quite a challenge. She needed allies. As it turned out, Dongfang Que was an excellent candidate.