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    Chapter 100: Being Unreasonably Vexatious

    His voice was unusually hoarse and dry, like a saw scraping against a withered log, causing Chang Nian to frown repeatedly.

    "Um," she wanted to pull down the curtain but held back. She said coldly, "It's time for Duke Guo to return home."

    Ye Jiangbai seemed to come to his senses as he looked around, nodded slightly, then leaned on the cushion to stand up. He swayed as he tried to exit the carriage. However, he was still ill, and his steps were unsteady. As he reached the carriage door, he stumbled and fell straight towards the ground.

    "Duke Guo!" Chang Nian was greatly startled. With the height of the carriage, if his head hit the ground, he might not even survive.

    Almost instinctively, she reached out to catch him, straining to grasp his body and hold him close.

    Ye Jiangbai's lips curled into a fleeting smile before he groaned softly and released her. His eyes unfocused, he said, "Thank you, Your Highness."

    With just that brief touch, she could feel the heat radiating from his body. Chang Nian knitted her brows and turned to Liang Ce, asking, "The Duke is so ill, why don't you have him see the imperial physicians in the palace?"

    Liang Ce let out a long sigh and said with a hint of grievance, "Your Highness, it's not that we servants aren't doing our best. It's just that our master doesn't wish to, and there's nothing anyone can do about it."

    Recalling his fear of doctors, Chang Nian shook her head. "It's not good to let him keep delaying treatment like this, is it?"

    Liang Ce shrugged helplessly, conveying his inability to do anything about the situation.

    Chang Nian, you see, was one who yielded to gentleness but not coercion. Considering he was someone who had once captured her heart, and given his dire state of illness, she couldn't bring herself to abandon him altogether. After some thought, unwilling to send him back to the Duke's residence, she decided to stow him back in the carriage, instructing Liang Ce, "To the Prince's Manor."

    "Your Highness..." Hong Ti watched from the side, her face filled with concern.

    Understanding her concerns, Chang Nian shook his head. He could do as he pleased in the Duke's residence, but did he think he could upheave her household? If push came to shove, she could simply ask him to leave. Surely, he didn't possess supernatural powers to make her life difficult.

    Liang Ce climbed aboard the carriage and took hold of the reins, commenting as he urged the horse forward, "Duke has been in poor health lately, prone to illnesses. And when he does fall ill, he refuses to see a physician or take his medicine. Ah…"

    In the carriage, the seemingly "frail and ailing" Ye Jiangbai obediently closed his eyes and groaned softly.

    Chang Nian tried to maintain a stern expression, striving to appear imposing as she said in a cold voice, "If you don't cherish your own health, no one else's worry will make a difference. Seeing that Duke Guo is now delirious with fever, we'll take him to my residence to see a doctor. Once he's recovered, you can take him back."

    Liang Ce chuckled dryly, thinking to himself that with her words, their master's illness must be quite severe.

    Ye Jiangbai was not someone who showed vulnerability. He was capable of manipulating politics and launching surprise attacks on Beitang Miao. In terms of wealth, he was among the richest, and in terms of power, he surpassed thousands. Such a person would only believe himself to be supreme, never willingly lowering his head to anyone.

    However, in this situation, Ye Jiangbai suddenly found that showing weakness could be quite effective, more so than his usual stiff attitude. Lying half-alive on her lap, he knew she wouldn't push him away due to her soft heart. Instead, her small hands instinctively wrapped around his shoulders, fearing he might fall.

    "Suffering..." He murmured, his handsome brows knitted tightly.

    Chang Nian lowered her head, looking at him with a complicated expression. She had never seen Ye Jiangbai like this before; she guessed that his illness had driven him to such a state of vulnerability.

    Only at this moment did she perceive him as mortal.

    Reaching out to brush the stray hairs from his temples, Chang Nian sighed softly and felt his forehead. It was scorching hot, so she hastily called out to Liang Ce who was outside, "Hurry up."

    There was a hint of anxiety in her tone.

    Even with just those few words, Ye Jiangbai found immense comfort. It was as if his heart, which had been hanging in the cold wind for days, had been gently cradled and soaked in warm water, numbing even the pain of his wounds, leaving behind only a sweet sensation.

    Struggling to suppress the upward curve of her lips, he coughed softly, muttering with a pained expression.

    Chang Nian couldn't make out what he was saying, so she leaned closer, her ear almost touching his lips. However, she was unexpectedly met with the warmth of his breath, causing her to lift her head and stare at him in surprise. After a moment, she realized that he still seemed unconscious, and she chided herself for overthinking. In his current state, how could he have the energy to tease her?

    When they arrived at the prince's residence, Chang Nian called for Liang Ce to come and assist. Liang Ce lifted the carriage curtain and hesitantly said, "My subordinates have never been skilled in their actions; last time, I even caused His Highness to fall. I dare not offend again... Could Your Highness possibly lend a hand?"

    Chang Nian narrowed her eyes. "My residence is full of people. If you don't come, they can do the job."

    As soon as she finished speaking, five or six servants rushed out from the entrance, bowing in unison. "Your Highness."

    "Carry him inside for me."

    "Yes."

    Ye Jiangbai gritted his teeth secretly and, with an appearance of nonchalance, encircled her waist and held her tightly.

    Chang Nian froze, reaching out to try and pry his grip loose, but failed.

    "I'm the Duke," she said irritably. "If you're awake, get down and walk in by yourself. Why are you being so stubborn?"

    Ye Jiangbai didn't respond. His handsome face was deathly pale, his eyes shut tight, and his eyelashes quivering.

    Chang Nian was furious and exerted more force to break free. Liang Ce watched this and whispered, "I beg Your Highness to understand. Our master is cautious and doesn't easily allow outsiders near."

    Aside from her, everyone else here was an outsider.

    Chang Nian sensed something amiss. Lowering her gaze between Ye Jiangbai and Liang Ce, she inquired, "Are the two of you conspiring to play tricks on me?"

    "Noble servant dares not!" Liang Ce waved his hands innocently. "How could I, a mere servant, dare to speculate on my master's intentions? I was merely mentioning common habits. If Your Highness truly disapproves... then... then this servant has no choice."

    Of course, she wasn't willing. But Ye Jiangbai's hand seemed glued to her body; it wouldn't budge no matter how hard she tried.

    "Never mind," she said irritably. "Get out of the way, I'll help him down."

    Liang Ce leaped away, leaving Chang Nian to struggle with Ye Jiangbai's arm. She slid down the carriage's pole, pulling him along with her until they both tumbled out.

    Miraculously, the hand that had been immovable just moments ago now draped naturally over her shoulder. He regained his footing with a grunt, his full weight leaning towards her.

    Chang Nian gritted her teeth. "Ye, Jia—"

    "Ah," he answered in a raspy voice, whispering into her ear, "Hold onto me."

    It was an order, yet also a plea. As soon as he spoke, he relaxed his grip, as if hanging onto her entirely.

    Chang Nian struggled to prop him up, feeling exasperated yet amused. "You're a distinguished duke, is this really appropriate?"

    He didn't respond, his entire being exuding a calm aura as if he had fallen into a deep sleep.

    There was no other choice. Chang Nian, bearing the humiliation, helped him to a guest room. After Hong Ti had prepared the bedding, she roughly threw him onto the bed and turned to leave.

    However, just as she turned around, her hand was seized.

    Without turning back, Chang Nian coldly said, "That's enough from you."

    Noticing the anger in her tone, Ye Jiangbai hesitated for a moment before reluctantly letting go of her hand.

    The person then left decisively, their figure resolute.

    "Sigh." Ye Jiangbai propped his head up with his hand and opened his eyes, letting out a soft sigh.

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