Chapter 39: Poisoned
The peaceful days passed one by one. Reports of victory were also sent to Ye Yin as the days passed, but Ye Yin never smiled. Rouge still had not come out of her room.
In order to avoid attention, Ye Yin currently lived in a secluded location. Their courtyard was not big, only composed of an eastern and western courtyard. Its architecture and size was similar to Ren Fengyao’s Lifeng courtyard in the suburbs of Minjing. It was a pity its design and quality were far from Ren Fengyao’s, but it was still comfortable, so Ye Yin still liked it.
After being brought here, Rouge had stayed in the eastern courtyard without going outside even once, not willing to speak nor meet anyone. Ye Yin knew the only way she could leave would be if the shadow in her heart was erased.
Everyday, Ye Yin would bring food to Rouge’s door, and everyday he would come to take away the plates, but would find that more than half the food would be untouched and smile bitterly. He knew it wasn’t that the food did not taste good, but that her appetite was not good. In hopes that Rouge would eat more, he would spend much time styling and preparing the food, but Rouge never ate much. He felt powerless. Some things he could never make up for.
Sitting under the osmanthus tree in the courtyard, Ye Yin watched the eastern courtyard door with grief. It had almost been two months, the weather had already changed from summer to early autumn, but Rouge seemed still distant. He distinctly remembered the day he saw her on the sixth day of the sixth month. She lied on the carriage like a broken doll, her clothes already in tatters. Her skin had been manhandled roughly, riddled with purple bruises. The vivid, red blood between her legs had been burned into Ye Yin’s memory. He remembered how when he hugged her, her gaze was completely unfocused, eerily empty. Her tears had already dried, drying in her despair.
Ye Yin brought her here personally, but she still never spoke a word. Ye Yin knew that he would forever be guilty towards Rouge. He could only watch as Rouge grew thinner day by day, letting his guilty conscious engulf his heart.
Smelling the osmanthus flowers with a deep intake of breath, Ye Yin’s gaze started to go distant. Every day, he would ask himself, if he did it over again, would he save her? Would he prevent Qi Chengfeng from assaulting her? Perhaps… He shook his head gently. There was no way to know the answer now.
The moon started to ascend from the west. Ye Yin sighed. It was almost the fifteenth hour. He did not know if Du Luo would be able to return today, but if he did and Ye Yin had a drink with him, his heart would not suffer as much! To drink alone is to drown in sorrows, to drink with another is not lonely.
Ye Yin was immediately vigilant from the sudden, foreign sound that had come from the eastern courtyard. He immediately pushed open the doors of the courtyard and asked loudly, “Rouge, what’s wrong?”
The room that Rouge was in was unlit and he could not hear anything either. After some time, he finally heard Rouge say, “It’s nothing, I accidentally knocked over a stool!”
Ye Yin’s eyes narrowed. He said loudly, “Is that so. You should rest early today!”
Ye Yin’s expression was calm. The moment he spoke, he walked loudly back out the entrance, closing the doors behind him, but then immediately and soundlessly leapt onto the rooftop.
Under normal circumstances, Rouge would not speak, so someone was definitely in the room with Rouge. She also feared whoever it was. Ye Yin had been able to hear the faint tremor in Rouge’s voice.
Ye Yin silently removed a tile over Rouge’s room, then peeked inside. Because it was dark with no lamps, he could not see things clearly, but from the moonlight, Ye Yin could see that there was indeed another person. Who could it be?
Perhap thinking that Ye Yin wouldn’t return, the lamp was then lit. When Ye Yin saw who it was, he was shocked. Even though he now had a long, sinister scar on his face, Ye Yin was certain it was Qi Chengfeng!
Qi Chengfeng should have been dead! How was he here? He had reportedly been slashed beyond recognition and then lain with all the other dead bodies.
Slashed beyond recognition? Ye Yin suddenly understood! He must have left a body double wearing the same clothes and slipped away. But why did he come back to Yue city and find this courtyard? Was he here for Rouge?
Ye Yin’s palms were already filled with cold sweat. He was not particularly skilled in martial arts, only specializing in the art of grace*. How could he save Rouge?
*aka lightness, the opposite of heavy. Basically, she can move very quickly and also jump very high. Think of it as agile footwork
Inside the room, Rouge sat on the bed in an unlined garment, watching Qi Chengfeng with a terrified gaze. The large shadow in her heart was evident. However, it was also because of Qi Chengfeng that she was not expressionless anymore, not empty.
Seeing Rouge’s terrified gaze, Qi Chengfeng laughed, then whispered, “Rouge, are you afraid of me?”
Rouge did not reply. Qi Chengfeng then whispered, “Don’t worry, just obediently listen to me. I won’t do anything to you. My feelings for you are genuine, after all.”
“What… are you going to do?”
“What am I going to do?” Qi Chengfeng’s eyes filled with malice. He said hatefully, “What do you think I’m going to do? I’m going to kill him and slice his body into a million pieces! Ye Yin, he destroyed my everything! If I don’t kill him, I won’t die in peace!”
“What is the point in killing him? All your power is already gone. If you kill him, you won’t get what you lost, and how are going to kill him?”
“You don’t need to think about it, I naturally have an idea.” Qi Chengfeng suddenly smiled strangely at Rouge. “It looks like that brat treats you quite well, Rouge. If he treats you this well, then he definitely won’t be on guard against you, so you all you need to do is just get close to him and convince him to drink this.”
“You want me to poison him? Why would I listen to you?”
“Rouge, think about it, you are already my woman. That brat will never want you. He might even become the future emperor of West Zhi and won’t be lacking in women. How will you, a ruined flower, compete? So Rouge, kill him and I’ll bring you far away. Don’t worry, I will treat you well.”
Rouge burst into laughter. “Qi Chengfeng,” she said coldly, “You’re so naive. Why would I help you, my enemy?”
“Enemy? Rouge, what are you talking about?” Qi Chengfeng paused slightly.
“Do you remember the doctor that you flogged to death?”
“Him?” Qi Chengfeng did not understand. “Who is he to you?”
“He was my grandfather, my only relative left. Just because he could not figure out why your war horse lost its appetite, you ordered for him to be flogged to death. He was a doctor, not a veterinarian!” Rouge laughed coldly. “You think you lost everything because of Ye Yin? Let me tell you, I was responsible as well. I was the bait for you and Chu Feiye to kill each other! Your fall was caused by both me and Ye Yin!”
The moment Ye Yin heard Rouge’s laugh, he knew that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. Ye Yin was glad that Rouge had no intention of poisoning him, but Ye Yin would definitely not permit Rouge to purposefully goad Qi Chengfeng and ruin herself. Using a high level art of grace, Ye Yin leapt off the roof and agiley hid outside the window, preparing to make his move.
When Rouge revealed the truth, Qi Chengfeng’s expression changed. His scarred face became even more frightening. He unsheathed his sword, advancing towards Rouge step by step. Rouge’s expression was now not fearful, but rather ominously peaceful.
Just when Qi Chengfeng raised his sword, the window flung open. A gust of wind extinguished the lamp. There was just the slight noise of struggle for a mere second before everything was calm.
Moonlight spilled forth from the window. Amidst the darkness, Rouge could see a youth in white guarding her protectively, whereas Qi Chengfeng had already fallen on the ground, leaning against the table as he gasped for breath. A dagger was in his chest.
“Haha, I knew you would come.” Qi Chengfeng laughed hoarsely. It was a creepy laugh. Ye Yin did not say a word, only watching Qi Chengfeng calmly. He too had a sword in his chest. Although it had missed his vitals, the wound was deep.
“You are very smart, so there is no way you wouldn’t be skeptical. I was waiting for you to come. I wanted to see if you would save Rouge.”
“Why? Why did you find Rouge? Isn’t the one you hate me?”
“You destroyed my everything. Logically, I should hate you, and I do, but what is the point of killing you? I cannot regain anything I’ve lost. However, I could not help but worry about Rouge. In truth, whether or not Rouge intentionally tried to ruin me, as long as I was certain you were here, I was going to attack Rouge. If you were to risk your life to save Rouge, that would mean Rouge will live happily and you truly cared for her. If you were not willing to save her, then she might as well accompany me to my death!”
Qi Chengfeng eyed Ye Yin and continued, “No matter what, you will not let me go after my appearance today, so I have already made my preparations. Rouge, him blocking that slash means he truly loves you, so I do not need to worry any more!”
Rouge’s face whitened. She hurriedly stepped forward and found that a sword was stabbed in his chest. His pure white clothes had been soaked red. Rouge started to panic. “A-are you okay?”
Ye Yin consoled her with a smile. “It’s no big deal, you don’t need to worry!”
Suddenly, Qi Chengfeng started to laugh strangely. “You two look very fitting, but you won’t be together for long!”
Rouge was startled. His strange smile gave her an ominous feeling. Could it be…
Ye Yin’s consciousness started to slip, making him vigilant. His vitals had not been touched, and although he had some blood loss, it wasn’t enough for him to start losing consciousness, unless…
“Your sword was laced with poison?” Ye Yin’s voice was calm, but his heart was uneasy. Qi Chengfeng’s poison was definitely no ordinary poison. It seems he had been too careless, but what would happen to Rouge if he fell unconscious?
“Haha, you saw through me? Ye Yin, you think I would let you go so easily?” Qi Chengfeng broke into wild laughter. “I am a calculative, vengeful person. Do you think I’m a fool? But you are indeed difficult to deal with. The moment you used your body to block my sword, you also gave me a fatal strike. It’s only a pity that you did not anticipate I would lace my sword with poison.”
“I used my body to block in order to take away your weapon. My martial arts skills are not particularly high, so I don’t have the skills to beat you. I could only risk myself and use my body to take the blow and use the close range to successfully strike you. Did you foresee I would be able to protect my vitals the moment you struck?”
“Humph! You sure know how to scheme. Unfortunately, you still have fallen by my hand!”
“My dagger was also laced with poison because I was afraid my attack alone wouldn’t be enough to kill you. I’ve struck your chest, so the poison should reach your heart soon!” Ye Yin painstakingly maintained his consciousness.
“Good, good! I can’t hold on much longer, and you don’t have much longer to live either.” As he spoke, black blood started to trickle from the corner of Qi Chengfeng’s mouth. His head started to droop.
Seeing Qi Chengfeng already dead and not a threat to Rouge any more, Ye Yin allowed his consciousness to slacken. As Rouge’s face slowly start to become hazy, Ye Yin muttered, “Rouge, I’m sorry!”