Chapter 71: Provocation
“Swallow River City,” Zhou Qingkuang muttered to himself as he gazed at the three characters hanging atop the main gate.
He had finally arrived.
From the moment he had decided to go to Swallow River City until now, it had taken him nearly half a year. Countless complications had come up one after another to the point that even Zhou Qingkuang felt mentally and physically exhausted. He couldn't help but wonder if he and Gu Qingluo were simply fated to be apart.
Thankfully, he had finally arrived.
But since he was here, that thought disappeared as quickly as it came.
After half an hour, Zhou Qingkuang found himself sitting in the Gu Clan's guest hall. Above him was the Gu Clan's Patriarch, Gu Xuanmian.
Gu Xuanmian held a teacup in his hand as he said, “This trip must have been quite difficult for you. Was your journey here peaceful?”
“Yes, Uncle. Everything went well. I also brought a present from my father as a show of respect.”
As he spoke, he pulled out the gift that his subordinates had prepared.
The Zhou Clan had carefully picked out a present. Of course, it was quite valuable. Under normal circumstances, Gu Xuanmian at the very least should have expressed appreciation for it.
However, Gu Xuanmian only glanced it over briefly before stowing it away. The gift that Zhou Qingkuang had sunk so much effort into preparing did not achieve the desired effect, causing his mood to sour slightly.
The two of them chatted for a bit longer before someone came and notified them that the guest room had been cleaned and that Zhou Qingkuang could settle himself in now.
Gu Xuanmian then suggested that Zhou Qingkuang go and make himself at home.
After unpacking his luggage, Zhou Qingkuang sat inside and remained quiet for a long time, deep in thought.
After some time, he said, “Changqing, did you feeling that Gu Xuanmian’s attitude was a bit strange today?”
“Young Master means?”
“I feel like he isn’t nearly as warm and welcoming as he was in the past, and his responses also seemed a bit curt today. Do you...... think that he’s considering breaking the engagement off?”
Miao Changqing hesitated for a moment before replying, “The Gu Clan’s Patriarch still probably views you favorably. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have decided to bethroth his daughter to you the last time you met. In addition, the Gu Clan’s Patriarch has an exceptionally good reputation. He probably wouldn’t do something like annulling the engagement randomly.”
“The problem is that we haven’t officially entered into an agreement yet. Regretting his decision is still something he can afford to do right now.”
“However, it still stands that it’s a matter that both of you have agreed on, and he also accepted your gift. That all points in your favor. Perhaps the Gu Clan Patriarch simply has something weighing on him right now.”
“Let’s hope that that’s the case.”
As they were speaking, a servant reported, “Prince Gu Jintang requests your presence.”
“He’s here. Tell him he may come in.”
Gu Jintang and Zhou Qingkuang had met before. When Gu Jintang entered, he clasped his hands and said, “Brother Zhou, thank goodness you’re back.”
“Oh?” Zhou Qingkuang frowned when he heard this. “It sounds like Brother Gu is hinting at something.”
“Sigh, I’m not trying to hide anything from you, so I’ll just tell you straight up. If you had come just a bit later, this fiancée of yours would have been snatched away by someone else,” Gu Jintang said as he tapped the fan in his hand.
Zhou Qingkuang and Miao Changqing glanced at each other. “Brother Gu, please have a seat. What exactly is going on?”
“Nothing, really. It’s just that a group of people with some influence arrived in Swallow River City awhile back. The prince of that clan took a fancy to Gu Qingluo and found a few people of our clan to support him in asking my Uncle for her hand.”
Zhou Qingkuang said, “Did Uncle not say that Qingluo had already been betrothed to someone?”
“He did,” Gu Jintang replied. “But that prince had an incredible amount of money! He pulled out three million Origin Stones without even batting an eye and claimed that, as long as Qingluo was instead betrothed to him, he could hand over another three million.”
Zhou Qingkuang sucked in a breath of cold air.
That was six million Origin Stones all at once!
What kind of person could act so extravagantly?
“So Uncle, he......”
Gu Jintang fanned himself. “Uncle didn’t agree immediately, but it would probably be impossible for him to not suddenly start thinking about some things more seriously.”
“No wonder......” Zhou Qingkuang said in a low voice.
Now he finally understood why Gu Xuanmian had acted so lukewarmly towards him. He had been enticed by a vast sum of six million Origin Stones!
“Brother Zhou, I heard that you arrived today so I specifically came to tell you this. Even though that guy was turned down twice, it seems like he hasn’t given up yet and is still concocting other ploys. In any case, you had better be careful.”
“Many thanks for Brother Gu’s reminder!”
“All I get is a sentence of thanks?” Gu Jintang leaned back with a bit of dissatisfaction.
Zhou Qingkuang understood. He shot a glance at Miao Changqing, who pulled out a pouch. A few hundred Origin Stones were stuffed inside.
Gu Jintang chuckled. “You’re just trying to chase me away, aren’t you? Whatever, it’s better than nothing.”
He stowed it away.
Upon hearing this, Zhou Qingkuang felt anger rise in his heart, but he couldn’t openly express it. All he could do was have Miao Changqing give him a few more Origin Stones so that the overall number hit a thousand.
Gu Jintang put the Origin Stones away and headed for Gu Xuanmian.
Gu Jintang greeted Gu Xuanmin. “Eldest Uncle.”
“Mm. What made you decide to come and visit me today?” Gu Xuanmin asked as he pored over a business ledger.
“Oh, I heard that Brother Zhou was here and came to visit him, and then since you were along the way, I also decided to drop by here.”
“Mm. Qingkuang is a guest. You should take good care of him.”
“Yes, Nephew has already talked with Brother Zhou. However, he seems unhappy about something.”
“Oh?” Gu Xuanmian opened his eyes. “What is he unhappy about?
“Wasn’t there someone who came to ask for Gu Qingluo’s hand in marriage a few days ago? Qingkuang somehow found out about that and he seems a bit unhappy.”
Gu Xuanmian harrumphed, “So what? Whose daughter doesn’t have a few suitors chasing after her? Gu Qingluo has an excellent temperament, a strong cultivation base, and a fairy-like appearance. Isn’t it normal for people to ask for her hand? Didn’t I turn that suitor down? What is there for him to be unhappy about?”
“But you didn’t tell him about it?”
“What good would it do to tell him about it? Do I need to report everything to him?
“But he feels uncomfortable about it. In addition, the person who proposed marriage even offered six million as a dowry. He felt that that event might have been why you seemed as if you didn’t think he brought enough gifts, which would also explain why you didn’t give him the warmest welcome,” Gu Jintang said with a sly tone.
“That’s a load of crap!” Gu Xuanmin slammed the table as he stood up. “So what if he promised six million? Is there a shortage of rich people in this world? I’m not trying to sell my daughter off. Zhou Qingkuang is thinking too much. Also, I’m his senior and he’s my junior. How affectionate does he want me to be with him? There’ve been a lot of things happening lately; just yesterday I signed a business agreement with Su Chen on behalf of the Gu Clan and invested five million Origin Stones into that Flight Network of his. The entire clan is currently working hard to bring this massive business endeavor to fruition. Me taking the time to come and visit him personally is already me regarding him highly. What else could he want from me?”
“This......” Gu Jintang laughed. “It’s no use telling me all this. You’re the one who picked this fiancé for your daughter.”
Gu Xuanmian harrumphed and clasped his hands. “I heard that the Zhou Clan has had a number of incidents occur recently, and Zhou Qingkuang’s multiple attempts at coming here were continuously stopped. Perhaps he’s just impatient after having to wait for so long. Youths are always so impulsive and emotional. Oh, forget about it. When Qingluo comes back, perhaps I’ll send Qingluo over to spend some time with him.”
“Eldest Uncle, it’s not like you don’t know that Seventh Junior Sister doesn’t like Zhou Qingkuang.”
“What I do with my children is none of her business.”
Gu Jintang smiled slightly. “That may be so. Everything is up to Eldest Uncle in the end. But is Eldest Uncle not planning on asking his own daughter what her thoughts are?”
“Oh?” Gu Xuanmian said slowly as he stared at Gu Jintang.
Gu Jintang shrugged. “Pretend I didn’t say anything.”
As he spoke, he left.
After leaving the study, Gu Jintang directly left the Gu Residence.
He took a few random turns before slipping through a small door.
Within the courtyard, Su Chen and Gu Qingluo were enjoying tea and refreshments together. There was even a young man standing to the side with his hands clasped.
“Aiya, I’m out there running errands for you guys left and right while you sit here and enjoy tea and desserts,” Gu Jintang sighed and shook his head.
“How’d it go?” Su Chen asked, not acknowledging his comment.
“Would I dare not take care of anything you tell me to do?” Gu Jintang said as he reached his hand out.
Su Chen tossed a bag full of Origin Stones over to him. Gu Jintang opened it up, then put it away with a big smile.
Driving a wedge between two parties was a tactic that had stood the test of time and wasn’t rare at all, but it was extremely simple and easy to use.