Husband and Wife to Battle – A Prince Appears
Smiling, Lu Shangfei said, "I have not resided here since I purchased the place; I have always treated it as somewhere to spend when I need a short break. As you are aware, the residential buildings behind this place are Feiyun Hall's business signs. Therefore, we must work in the shadows. If we need a shelter in emergencies, this is the place. Please do not worry. I have ordered people to go elsewhere. Have a short respite here. I will prepare a feast for you."
The group then entered the house. The manor wasn't large; however, nobody would find you if you hid in the backyard.
I poked a hole in the window and swept my gaze over everyone in the room. One individual roughly thirty years old wore a robe in Long Zaitian's beloved pink, albeit more feminine in style. He walked with his hands in a sluttier pose than the pose where you brought your thumb, index and ring finger together whilst holding up your index and pinkie finger, and wrist flexed down. He sat down in the centre, acting as casual as possible. A lower-ranking man roughly forty years old sat with an upright posture. He had the gaze of a businessman. Judging from their appearances and behaviour, they had to be Yang Lianhua and Lu Shangfei, respectively.
Lu Shangfei laughed: "Sir Yang, since you did not visit Feiyun Hall in so long, I thought you forgot about me. May I ask why you suddenly asked me to join you? I have a business to run at the capital; this is not the best time."
The slut shook his head, flicking his hair embellished with perfume; the smell was ridiculously prominent to the point it could be classified as nasal pollution. He answered, "It's your side's fault. He asked me to act before schedule. He asked me to select adepts with him and insisted they had to be adepts. Tch, throwing his weight around as if he runs my life."
The identity of this "he" was unspecified, but I surmised it was the elder Lord Zi told me about.
The slut continued, "You have a share in Feiyun Hall, so I had to call for you. It's your leader who wants to hire men. Go with Rabbit Fiend to the Heaven Sector later to select the three best adepts for him, but tell him I personally selected the adepts."
Lu Shangfei nodded obediently. The slut added, "By the way, where are the things from the imperial palace?"
Based on the slut's question, I wondered if he was referring to the stolen goods from the imperial palace.
"The same place as always," answered Lu Shangfei. He glanced over to the slut's subordinate. Receiving the signal indicating it was all right to speak from Yang Lianhua, he carried on: "However, they are from the imperial palace at the end of the day. Wuhua County and Jinling are too close, thereby increasing the risks of being exposed. Countless wealthy individuals visit Feiyun Hall. Still, it is hard to find someone who could afford so many in one transaction. My point is that it is somewhat difficult to find a buyer. I will diligently search for someone to sell them promptly."
Lu Shangfei verified my speculation for me. I found them without any effort, as well. The question was, where was "the same place as always?"
"Heh, I don't even get a penny. How am I supposed to be impressed with such poor sales skills?" the slut scoffed, smiling with a hostile undertone. Ashamed, Lu Shangfei lowered his head, only for Yang Lianhua to demand, "Since they're still around, let me inspect them."
The slut didn't let any opportunity slip him. He insisted on taking a few items, since he couldn't get a share of the money. He operated the same way mountain bandits did.
Too scared to disobey, Lu Shangfei replied, "The stuff is in Feiyun Hall's underground secret room. We need to wait for today's contest to end before we can bring them out. I shall take you there tonight."
You bet I loved what I heard. My plan was simple: take the stuff, and transport it back to the capital!
Once he received a satisfactory answer, Yang Lianhua began asking about Feiyun Hall's operations. Apparently, Rabbit Fiend worked for him; that would explain how he was informed of Feiyun Hall's operations. Lu Shangfei was only responsible for the import and export of money. For that reason, Yang Lianhua focused on money questions. Once Yang Lianhua was content, Lu Shangfei suddenly asked, "Sir Yang, may I ask where my brother is? I heard you two sheltered him after the imperial court stripped him of his post. Is he doing well?"
Looking in control as if he practiced beforehand, Yang Lianhua calmly responded, "Your question isn't applicable to those on the run. If you want to see him, then do so. That said, let me remind you that he is a wanted criminal, so it won't be easy."
"Sir Yang, my brother is not dead, is he?!" boldly asked Lu Shangfei, since Yang Lianhua's tone aroused suspicion. The slut's facial expression change didn't go unnoticed. Lu Shangfei followed up: "I wish to see my brother. You two have continued citing a variety of reasons to talk me out of meeting him. Has he really…"
With a subtly wrathful undertone, Yang Lianhua argued, "Absolute hogwash. Who told you that?"
I figuratively shook my head, thinking, "Now why in the world would you say that to his face? Now you've gone and triggered the freak's villainous character. I doubt you have much longer to live."
The two continued to argue over Lu Xiazou's whereabouts. I, therefore, lost interest in them, especially since I already knew the stolen goods' whereabouts. Hence, I turned to leave, but Lord Zi blocked my way. He couldn't hear them, and he wasn't tall enough to peer inside. As such, he resorted to clinging to me and asking me to share with him what happened.
I told Lord Zi, "To sum up, it's exclusively adult business. Don't make a scene."
"Why? Are you going to take me as your disciple or not, then?!"
I ignored Lord Zi and checked out the backyard. Feiyun Hall's crew I knocked out were still on the ground with Hu Wangxing and his wife, so it wasn't exactly good news for me. Even if I could escape with Lord Zi, suspicion would arise once they saw them. It would be a problem for General Manager Bai, who was still underground. Consequently, I stealthily moved them into the storehouse before bringing Lord Zi in with me.
Continuing with the disciple topic, Lord Zi kept asking, "Please? Pretty please?!"
"Of course not," I replied.
"Why?!" exclaimed Lord Zi.
I focused on controlling five strands of celestial spider silk underneath my sleeves. I wrapped them around the damaged brick on the ground to easily pull it up with a gentle tug. Then, I answered Lord Zi: "Because I'm weak…"
I then resumed the rinse and repeat process. I went quicker and quicker with each successive attempt until I could hook and pull a brick right away. In no time, I repaired the wall to about seventy percent of its original shape. At the end of the day, though, I wasn't a professional nor did I have the materials. And so, I couldn't do anything about the cracks. Once I was done fixing the wall, I continued, "I'm weak, so… I can't help you."
Lord Zi fumed, "I just watched you mend the wall!! Don't lie to me! Why won't you help me? Aren't you from Liu Shan Men?"
Having accomplished my mission, I wore on my mask and led Lord Zi down to find General Manager Bai.
"You know, I'm curious why you're so afraid. You said you met to elder outside of the palace, so why are you scared he'd kill you in the palace?"
"Because I saw him again in the palace," replied Lord Zi, eyebrows together as though he was still scared to think back on it. "We made eye contact that night, but the light in the room was too dark to see clearly. I still remember his eyes, though; they were the eyes of someone sly and sinister… I sensed the gaze again during the conference in the palace yesterday."
When we went down to the contest area yesterday, we exited at Earth Sector's ring. General Manager Bai was at Heaven Sector, which was on the other side.
"You sensed it?" I asked with my head titled. "Are you saying you know how he is?"
"Of course. I don't remember his appearance, but I could sense his gaze. When I looked in the direction the gaze came from, he was gone… I'm sure he's hiding among the imperial court's high-ranking ministers, though. Shifu, think about: given Sir Lu worked for him, he can't be another face in the crowd. I'm sure he has identified me."
"Don't call me shifu," I said, surveying the surroundings. "Call me 'Dad' while we're here."
"Ah…" responded Lord Zi. Tone somewhat unwilling, he remarked, "My dad is much more handsome than you are…"
'Oi! Is that how you ask someone to be your shifu?! Also, that's an unfair comparison! The reason he's handsome is because his mother was pretty! Look at the standard of all your old man's wives. It's all thanks to your parents!!'
"Shif-, Dad, help me. If I continue staying in the palace, the old man will kill me for sure. He looks at me as though I'm his prey. He'll go 'twang'. The arrow will go 'stab'. And my blood will go 'psst'. Then, I'll go 'thud'. And then I'll be 'sob, sob' and die!"
"Motherf-, that's brutal! Why would someone shoot an arrow at you in the palace?! Don't they use poison in the palace?! By the way, your onomatopoeia game is strong, but why the hell did you cry when you were dying?!"
"Because dying is tragic! A dead man would cry, right?!" explained Lord Zi, sounding serious. "Please take me as your disciple and teach me martial arts. Once you teach me, I can defeat the villain."
"Defeat him…?" I asked. "You… not scared?"
"I am, but… I'm a Prince," answered Lord Zi, looking pitiful as if to suggest I didn't understand his sentiments as a Prince. "I will also be crowned as a ruler of an area. If I cower from those villains, the people wouldn't have faith in me. Plus, wouldn't I be an embarrassment?"
I thought, "You're quite the nice and courageous Prince, huh?"
The imperial family's education system befuddled me. The Emperor kept Jingan and the Orange Prince by his side to raise them, yet they both… Hongzhuang and Lord Zi were sent off and ended up being honest, pure and upright. It really makes one wonder if destiny chose the Emperor to legitimise the phrase "incompetent father". I thought, "Maybe I should ask Grandmaster to do a divination for him."
"I can't say you're wrong, but why don't you tell His Majesty? It'd be much better if he intervened."
"It's pointless," said Lord Zi, lowering his head. "Father doesn't like me…"
"His Majesty doesn't like you?"
It didn't make sense. Based on what I knew about His Majesty's silly-father character, he still cared about his children in spite of the "Six Dragons Shall Seal the Nation" prophecy. He wouldn't have spared the Orange Prince for treason, otherwise. It would be out of character for him to give Lord Zi the cold shoulder. Moreover, Lord Zi was the honest and adorable kid. He never put on airs, was brave and level-headed for someone of his age. I couldn't find any reason for His Majesty to not like Lord Zi.
In a disappointed voice, Lord Zi elaborated, "Because before I was born, I think… my mother, sh-"
"Okay, stop. Don't tell me if you don't want to."
My intuition told me prying any further would reveal one of the imperial palace's big secrets that would only bring me grief, which was why I cut Lord Zi off. I had my hands full already. I didn't get to eat braised pork shoulders once despite visiting Dongpo Restaurant twice in a single month. Poor me, man.
Lord Zi ignored me, mistaking my reaction as me saying he didn't express enough sincerity. Hence, he steeled his resolve and demanded, "I'll tell you, but you must accept me as your disciple."
Without waiting for me, Lord Zi gritted his teeth: "Only the old eunuchs in the imperial palace know about this. I only heard about it… The alleged reason my father doesn't like me is because my mother was abducted before she married my father. She was pregnant not long after she was sent back, and so… they claim I might not be my father's son."
"That happened?" I asked. I stifled my voice: "If His Majesty's wife was abducted, the world would be in uproar. I don't remember anything of the sort."
"That was fourteen years ago at Yanjing… I'm not too sure about the details, either, since I wasn't born yet at the time."
"Hmm, fourteen years ago at Yanjing, huh? Wait. Somehow, I think I know about this. All the coincidences align…" I thought. I asked, "… Is your mother… the eldest daughter of Feng Clan in Luoyang, Feng Huang?"
*Slutty hand pose – http://www.cryn.net.cn/uploads/allimg/190503/15305I317-1.jpg
**Feng Huang - Pronounced "fur-ng hoo-ang"