Chapter 971: Exploitation
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Luo Ningcha was still waiting for her “reward,” and feeling very displeased that the Dragon King’s had left midway through the meeting. Alone in the guest room, she lost her temper and broke everything that she could in the room. Admittedly, it wasn’t much as the Department of Guards was a poor institution.
The handmaid Little Xin (This Chinese name means carefulness), as her name suggested, was standing carefully at the doorway. She tried her best to contract her body and minimize it, praying that the mistress wouldn’t notice her. From time to time, though, she had to kneel down and sweep the shattered pieces aside lest the mistress step on them and hurt herself.
“Don’t underestimate me,” Luo Ningcha mumbled as she paced up and down. She didn’t notice the handmaid who was busy cleaning the floor beneath her feet. “Don’t underestimate me,” she repeated. And with that, the Dragon King came inside again.
“I know what you and Prince Xiao did better than anyone. If this goes public, then everybody will suffer,” Luo Ningcha yelled upon seeing him, the anger continuing to well up inside her.
“What Prince Xiao and I did?” Inevitably, there was a trace of sarcasm in Gu Shenwei’s tone.
Luo Ningcha’s face flushed red, which was a rare scene, but it soon returned to normal. “We all resorted to unscrupulous tactics. If either of us laugh at the other, then it would be like the pot calling the kettle black. Didn’t you ransack your brains trying to think of ways to fawn on the Tenth Young Master? If she had said ‘Servant Huan, fuck me,’ then would you have refused? That’s your foe’s daughter! No. You did sleep with someone — not with her but with… Get out.”
She had said the last two words to the handmaid. Little Xin, who had been waiting for this order this entire time, turned around and slipped through the narrow gap between the door and the doorframe as agilely as a rat being chased by a cat.
The Dragon King had no attendants with him this time, so Luo Ningcha’s anger slightly subsided. Her exhaustion setting in, she sat down into a chair and said in the sincerest tone she could put on, “Everything I did, I did it for… us and Cheng’er. Why are you jealous? You have your tactics and I have mine. Only by cooperating can we be invincible. Aren’t you the very reason why I ended up like this? If I gained Prince Xiao’s favor, then it would only do you good. It won’t do you any harm. Don’t you think so? So you should thank me. This petty position of Lord of Jade City is nothing to you. Why not give it to Cheng’er?”
“Don’t you want him to inherit the title from the Unique King?” Gu Shenwei knew this woman well, so he didn’t want to argue with her. It was impossible for her to understand the fact that there were still some sane men who didn’t like her in this world, much less the fact that she was not the only one who cared about their personal interests.
“They’re not contradictory desires. I’ve done some thinking. In fact, ‘the Unique King’ is just a fancy title, the territory attached to which is merely Golden Roc Castle. ‘The Lord of Jade City’ sounds inferior, but the one who bears this title will own the entirety of Jade City. I want them both… both to be given to Cheng’er. He needs both a noble title and a vast territory.”
The way the Dragon King was looking at her was a little strange. ‘He hasn’t given me this kind of gaze for a long time.’ Luo Ningcha was both a little nervous and a little delighted, but she affected an air of annoyance out of force of habit. “What kind of dirty thoughts are you having right now? Can men think of anything decent?”
Gu Shenwei’s thoughts bore no resemblance to what Luo Ningcha believed he was thinking about. “My real name is Gu Shenwei. Haven’t you ever been surprised by this?”
Luo Ningcha was stunned. “Why should I? Maybe you’ll find yourself a new name in a day or two. No matter what, in my eyes, you’ll always be the Dragon King, the one who used to be called Servant Huan, the one who is my son’s father.”
Following his own train of thought, Gu Shenwei continued to speak. “My father’s name was Gu Lun. He used to be a general in the Central Plains. After he retired, he took all of my family members to the Western Regions, but killers of Golden Roc Castle massacred them all. I alone survived through sheer luck. Then the Big Head God bought me, which was why I entered Golden Roc Castle with you.”
Actually, these facts could have been deduced long ago, but Luo Ningcha had never bothered to think about it. After hearing his words, she seemed to have suddenly understood. “Oh! It was Shangguan Nu who killed all your family members, right? And he lost a palm for that. So it turns out that you were the reason why I was married to a disabled man.” Anger surged through her as she recalled the past. She tried very hard and finally managed to subdue it. “By the way, where’s Shangguan Nu? I saw him once in the Norland. And after that, he never showed up again. You didn’t let him get away, right?”
Shangguan Nu had died in the disturbance that had shaken the Royal Court that night. It was not a secret, but Luo Ningcha had never made any inquiries about it. She nodded and said, “Good. This world doesn’t need a good-for-nothing like him. Humph, he once tried to beat me. What an arrogant guy.”
Gu Shenwei continued to monologue on his past. “Golden Roc Castle only provides killing services. Somebody hired them. I’ve been investigating it for a long time and I’ve finally confirmed that the culprit is from the Central Plains.”
“Your investigation was totally unnecessary. Isn’t this obvious? Your father offended somebody in the Central Plains, so that person killed his family. Why don’t I tell Prince Xiao this and have him help you get your revenge? It’s such a simple thing.”
“Not if you don’t know who that person is.”
“Who is it?” Luo Ningcha was becoming faintly impatient. She had no interest in the Dragon King’s parentage, especially when this matter didn’t concern her.
“I don’t know it for sure yet, but I found a name – Guansheng.”
“Guansheng? What a weird name. Was he born in a tube? Or is he responsible for taking care of livestock?”
“Sheng means sound. This is his middle name. He has a last name and a first name as wekk.”
“Humph, Central Plains people are so troublesome. So what’s his last name and first name? Prince Xiao will surely find out who he is after a short investigation.”
“I don’t know. This person is not a high-ranking official of the Central Plains, so Prince Xiao probably doesn’t know him either. I only know that he’s hiding in the Four Noble Truths Temple.” Gu Shenwei kept the name “Li Xiaozhu” back from her.
“The Four Noble Truths Temple.” Luo Ningcha thought for a while, her mind blank. “Alas. Just be honest with me – why are you telling me this story? You can’t trick me into forgetting about the important issue that is Cheng’er.”
“Help me find out who this Guansheng is.”
“Even you yourself can’t find out. How am I supposed to do it?”
“You can divulge this message.”
Feeling that she had understood something, Luo Ningcha pondered over several possibilities, but couldn’t narrow them down no matter how hard she tried. “Can you please not break off in the middle of your remark?”
“Pang Jing wants to bribe you, so just sell some information to him.”
Luo Ningcha thought for another while. “So it is him that you’re suspecting. Um. Let me think… Let me think… ” She glared at him and said angrily. “You’re such a jerk. You’ve tricked me again. Why are we talking about your business? What about Cheng’er? Do you not care about him at all?”
“Don’t worry. The registration of candidacy for the post of the Lord of Jade City is over, and nobody can change the list. But that Central Plains guy still has the power to decide whether the Unique King’s title is an officially-acknowledged king’s title.”
“I know this. Prince Xiao promised me that… Are you saying that we should also have Pang Jing make a promise? Um. This does sound unnecessary. The situation in the Central Plains is too complicated. We can never have too many allies. But isn’t Pang Jing your foe?”
“That’s just my speculation. Besides, I can still take advantage of him even if he’s indeed my foe.”
A delighted smile appeared on Luo Ningcha’s face. “Dragon King, this is exactly what I like about you – no matter what, you always take advantage of your enemies before you kill them. Um. I have a lot to learn from you. If you have some other tactics, you have to teach them to me.”
It was very easy to take advantage of Luo Ningcha, but it was also very risky. Nobody could impose any restraints on her, since even if she accepted them, she might not be able to abide by them.
“You can’t keep anything back from him if you want him to trust you, so tell Pang Jing whatever he wants to know. Just regard this name, ‘Guansheng,’ as one of the messages you’ll tell him.”
“Tell him everything? You know, I know a lot of secrets,” Luo Ningcha said smugly.
“It’s okay. But don’t tell him voluntarily. Wait for him to ask you.”
“I understand this much. If I offer up the information voluntarily, then it will be worthless. Um… ” Upon realizing that there were a lot of other interests that she could trade the information for, Luo Ningcha became somewhat excited. Now even if the Dragon King changed his mind, she wouldn’t give up doing this task.
“But Cheng’er will surely inherit the king’s title, right? Don’t trick me into doing all this for nothing.”
“He will. As long as you behave yourself.”
“I’ll behave myself.” Luo Ningcha put on a timid expression. She had learned this from Xu Yanwei and had been practicing it very often. But this time, the tactic didn’t work as well as she had expected it to.
Gu Shenwei said blandly, “From now on, don’t try to contact me again. I’ll have someone keep in contact with you. You can talk to him if you need anything.”
Surprisingly, Luo Ningcha didn’t raise any objections. In a mysterious tone, she said, “I know why you’re trusting me with this.”
Gu Shenwei was faintly surprised. “Oh?”
“Because Pang Jing doesn’t count as a man, and so you have nothing to worry about.”
After staring at her for a while, Gu Shenwei turned around and left. Luo Ningcha believed that her guess was right.
‘Li Xiaozhu.’ Gu Shenwei was still thinking about this name. This person had hid himself very well, so he had to find a way to force this person to show himself.
A commotion came from the front yard. Gu Shenwei walked there and saw that three guards were fighting a man.
That man was tall and strong. Though he was pinned to the ground by three swordsmen of the Big Snow Mountain, he was still struggling, and there were even several occasions where he nearly managed to free himself. Angry, a guard gave him two severe blows to the back of his head and finally quieted him down.
Lying prostrate on the ground, Gao Yang struggled to raised his head and yelled upon seeing the Dragon King, “Dragon King, fight a duel with me! There’s no honor in winning by sheer weight of numbers!”
Gu Shenwei signaled those guards to let go of him. Like a beast that had just been let loose, Gao Yang abruptly jumped to his feet and glared at the Dragon King, growing ferocity gleaming in his eyes.
A guard said, “Dragon King, we caught him.”
Unconvinced, Gao Yang yelled, “I walked in here on my own account!”
“For what did you walk in here on your own account?”
“I… I came here to look for someone. Where’s Little Baldy? You kidnapped him and brought him here. Hand him over. Now.”
“Who is him to you?”
“He’s my brother. We… We’re sworn brothers. Anyways, hand him over to me first. If you don’t, then I’ll come here again tomorrow.” Gao Yang was not stupid. He uttered some bluster and then turned to leave.
A dozen guards blocked his path at the gateway, their hands on the hilts of their swords.
Gao Yang stretched out a little and loudly said, “Let’s do this by the rules. Take your turns. One at a time. Where’s my saber? Give it back to me.”
Gu Shenwei’s eyes swept across those people beside him, and then he said, “Tie Linglong, go and fight him. Don’t use your saber.”
Tie Linglong dutifully answered, “Yes,” unfastened her narrow saber and handed it to a guard, deliberately ignoring Chu Nanping who was beside her. Then she walked up to Gao Yang and said, “I’ll be the first one to fight with you.”
Looking at the green-eyed little girl, Gao Yang laughed. “I’m just going to stand here and let you punch me three times. If I let out a single pained groan, then I’m the loser… Ouch!”
The moment he finished the last word, Gao Yang let out a cry. It turned out that this seemingly petite little girl was fast and ruthless. She landed a punch on his lower abdomen and nearly broke his intestines.
“Two left,” said Tie Linglong.
Holding his belly, Gao Yang hurriedly stretched out a hand and stopped her. “Wait. Let me mobilize my Qi first. Ehh, for the Dragon King’s sake, you win. Dragon King, you were the one who summoned me here. If you want to talk with me, let’s just talk. There’s no need to resort to violence.”
Tie Linglong snorted contemptuously and returned to her original position.
Gu Shenwei said, “I’d like to invite you to join the Dragon Army.”
Gao Yang broadened his mouth, at a loss how to answer.