Chapter 23: Thanks for Your Service
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“Eh?” Zhan Beiye let out, finally turning around to acknowledge Meng Fuyao, albeit mindlessly.
“He’s bluffing?” Ya Lanzhu questioned while fixing her bright eyes on Meng Fuyao.
Meng Fuyao snapped her fingers before returning her vicious glare. “No.”
Her reply made Zhan Beiye look at her with full attention.
“Ah?” Ya Lanzhu opened her mouth wide.
“It seems that he’s classified me as his number 1.” Meng Fuyao sighed. “But it’s only his wishful thinking. I already have someone in mind so why would I go for this rough man over here?”
Zhan Beiye’s face was as black as a charred pot, but in contrast, Ya Lanzhu appeared beyond pleased.
“Some things just can’t be forced.” Meng Fuyao clapped. “Although you look passable, Sir, your temper is not to my liking. Girls should be treasured and respected. How am I to find a husband, now that you’ve so blatantly professed your love for me?”
Instead of directing her gaze at Zhan Beiye, whose head seemed to be smoking, she looked at Ya Lanzu with all the sincerity she could gather within her. “There’s a saying in my village, Zhuzhu, that wild men are afraid of passionate women. Ignore his words, and do what you do. Go, the revolution is not yet a success and more striving needs to be done.”
Upon hearing her advice, Ya Lanzhu very obediently and enthusiastically threw herself onto Zhan Beiye.
‘Shiiing–’ Zhan Beiye had pulled out his sword at this point.
Fully engrossed, the spectators ran to the nearest tables to take shelter.
Meng Fuyao cleverly took the chance to slip upstairs.
“Go, pack up and be on your way,” Meng Fuyao ordered Yao Xun immediately upon entering her room. “Quick.”
“Haven’t you solved the issue?” he asked, bewildered.
“Who knows what’s going to happen next. We’d better go while that girl is still clinging onto him,” she answered sharply while organizing her belongings.
Yao Xun shook his head and warned, “The person you’ve offended is Zhan Beiye, for goodness sake. What were you thinking?”
Meng Fuyao paused what she was doing and glanced at him strangely. “Don’t you know that women are more clingy than men? Men are more tolerant, after all, so I’d rather she pester him than harass me, or there won’t be any peaceful day to come.”
In a few swift motions, she had lugged her bundle over her shoulder, pushed open the window and jumped out.
Yet, she found herself landing into a solid embrace.
“Oof,” Meng Fuyao let out while touching her head. “Whose muscles are these? As hard as steel…” she commented subconsciously, which brought out a smile on the person’s face. “Make way, please.”
Above her was a man with fluttering black hair. He stared down at her with eyes even darker than his hair and with lips pursed so tightly that they formed a thin line.
Meng Fuyao shuddered, resigning to the fact there that existed a kind of people who would always rush to be the first and wondering if they would do the same when greeting death.
Zhan Beiye continued staring at her, suddenly retrieving an exquisite water bladder from his waist belt and generously pouring it over her face.
“Wha.. what are you doing? Hu…” Caught off guard, a startled Meng Fuyao cried out. Flying into a rage, she reached her hand out to slap Zhan Beiye’s away, only for it to be clasped firmly between his fingers. His metal plier-like fingers pressed against the pulse within her wrist, and he extended his palm toward her face, gently wiping it.
In between, an infuriated Meng Fuyao shrieked, “Is your hand clean? Don’t touch my mouth. Hey!”
Zhan Beiye stopped abruptly.
The young lady before his eyes was about 16, 17 years old. No longer coated with ginger juice, her face gradually resumed its original fairness, within which a warm pink glow emerged like clouds. In contrast, her eyes emitted a coldness that matched her masculine yet gracefully upturned brows, which resembled the silk ribbons fairies in the nine heavens danced with.
In the brief moment that their eyes met, resentment was evident in her bright red face. Her eyes became increasingly bright, so much that even Zhan Beiye was taken aback. As if subconsciously intimidated, he let go of his hand.
Feeling odd immediately after, he extended his hand once more, this time landing on her waist. He could feel the strength within the softness of her body, common in girls who practiced martial arts. Also, her waist was surprisingly slim, which made his heart to thump slightly faster.
That split second of distraction caused his hand to slip. He felt something shiver and coil upward.
As an experienced fighter, Zhan Beiye instinctively reached his palm out to chop it.
His chop landed on something soft, and a long black shadow shook in midair as a fine whip flew out from her waist area and toward the eave of a roof in another corner, finally coiling around it.
She smiled brightly at him before breaking free from his embrace and casually waving. “Thanks, Sir, for washing my face. Please collect your money from the man behind.”
Surprised by her words, Zhan Beiye turned behind and saw the back of Yao Xun, who was escaping from another window.
‘Is this a plot?’
Not getting tricked, he turned back to Meng Fuyao, only to see that she was already a distance away, quickly disappearing into the background with a small bundle on her back like a meteorite.
The wind was quiet, and the man in black robe remained still for quite some time. There was no moon hanging in the sky that night, so that cold existence of his wasn’t immediately apparent. He gradually blended in with the darkness and emerged again under the first rays of the morning.
When the first dewdrop fell onto the tip of his brow, he collected it gently with his hand, analyzing it as it rolled about in his palm. It was as clear as the eyes of the lady he had seen the night before.
As the sun rose through the clouds, filling the sky with multicolored splendor, the man raised his head and smiled.
More than a kilometer away, Meng Fuyao and Yao Xun reunited in an old temple in the southern corner of the city. She asked about Ya Lanzhu’s background, and he responded with a bitter smile, “You know, it is not an emperor but 3 major clans that occupy Fufeng. The Fa Qing clan has the greatest power and is stationed in Dafeng City, located in the center of the nation. Ya Lanzhu is the daughter of the clan master, and her status is equivalent to that of a Taiyuan princess.”
“It’s no wonder you’re so afraid of her,” Meng Fuyao commented while crossing one leg in front of the other and chewing on a blade of grass. She mocked, “For a leader, you’re really timid. How can you be afraid of a doll?”
“I’m not afraid of her,” Yao Xun claimed, red-faced, before continuing angrily, “I don’t want to be controlled by her sorcery. Out of the 3 big clans, Fa Qiang is the best at witchcraft. It’s been said that if even a strand of your hair falls into their hands, they’ll be able to manipulate you. The witch within the clan has a higher rank than the clan master himself. She could kill anyone with a blink of her eye. Death isn’t the scariest, in fact, and it was said that she could employ even more bizarre methods to deal with enemies. Tell me, now, why should we offend someone like her?”
“Oh,” Meng Fuyao smiled and rolled her eyes at the same time, eliciting a frown from Yao Xun. “Don’t tell me you’re still going to do something funny. Haven’t I made it clear?”
Meng Fuyao chewed on her grass without answering. Instead, she asked, “Why would Ya Lanzhu cling onto Zhan Beiye? They have no use for each other.”
“How would I know?” Yao Xun scratched his head. “But what I’ve heard was that Ya Lanzhu is betrothed to the 6th prince of Tiansha, Zhan Beiheng. Why is she getting herself involved with Zhan Beiye, whom his grandmother and uncle dislike? How strange…”
“His grandmother and uncle dislike him?” Meng Fuyao repeated with a crooked head.
“Not just dislike,” Yao Xun started, “He’s inferior to even an ordinary prince. The 6th and 7th princes have already been bestowed the title of king, but not him. It was his grandfather, Advisor Zhou of the previous dynasty, who had pled with tears in front of the throne in order to secure him a prince title. Even the land that Zhan Beiye was enfeoffed with was Tiansha’s Geya Desert, which shared a border with the Mo Lo clan. The whole plot of land was under 200 square kilometers and was subject to inhospitable natural environment and neighbors. Of course, Zhan Beiye did well by building Rong City at the edge of the border within 3 years. He also set up a Black Wind military troop in the desert to control traffic, and then expanded his borders by another 750 square kilometers, successfully preventing Mo Lo’s military force from invading and harassing Zhou City. He then restored land and had the people till it, effectively making millet and wheat much more affordable, whereby 10 over meters of fabric can be traded for hundreds of liters of grains. Also, the amount of army provisions his people had accumulated under his guidance can now last them for a few decades. He’s created a self-sufficient city, a feat that worried his brother. As a result, he’s been transferred over to Wang City and kept under his brother’s watch. He’s clearly a prince, but merely a secretary in charge of controlling incoming and outgoing travelers. All he does every day is to issue medals, tsk, tsk…”
“I asked you one question, and you just went on and on,” Meng Fuyao knitted her brow, commenting. “Is he your uncle or something? So generous with your saliva.”
“I’m just feeling bad for a heroic figure like him. No one in Tiansha understands Zhan Beiye’s talents and that he’s much more formidable than his brother, who’s only into politics. A pity his mother’s identity is unusual, landing her accusations of assassinating the old emperor of Tiansha even after the fall of the previous dynasty. By association, Zhan Beiye, too, is bound to live a hard life. Sigh… matters of the royal family are too complicated…”
Meng Fuyao sat, hugging her knees with her arms. “The palace is the vilest place on earth. To survive in there is to be vile, and the only way to cleanse that filth is with a blood-purge. There’s no other way.”
Meng Fuyao heedlessly expressed her thoughts, failing to notice a figure shifting behind a tree outside the temple.
“Great words. Got me to think of another saying,” Yao Xun replied, full of zest. Eyes lit, he continued, “The dragon won’t be trapped forever; it’ll rise when a chance presents itself…”
Before he could finish his chant, Meng Fuyao had already fallen asleep.
Angered, Yao Xun slammed the table hard. “Hey, wake up. Isn’t this saying inspiring? Doesn’t it get your blood racing? Don’t you wanna go out there and unleash your passion? These are the words of Wuji’s crown prince…”
“Noisy…” Meng Fuyao waved dismissively. “What has Wuji’s crown prince got to do with me? Can I eat him? Or use him? Can he keep me warm like a blanket does?”
“What an unromantic woman.” Yao Xun looked at her disdainfully. “The oldest grandson of Wuji is known by all under the sky. If you’re a normal girl, you should be swooning all over him and not falling asleep!”