Chapter 52: In Name
Zhu Chenhuan eventually gave up on playing chess against Su Chen.
Actually, the primary reason he had even suggested playing chess was to further evaluate Su Chen’s character. After all, the way a person played chess spoke volumes about their personality. If this Su Chen tried to cheat in just a chess game, that meant that there was an issue with his sincerity.
Unexpectedly, Su Chen had stomped him straightforwardly. He didn’t cheat at all, though the old Ancestor had a number of times.
Thankfully, Su Chen didn’t believe that a person’s way of playing chess spoke volumes about their character. In any case, he had taken control of the momentum in his dealings with the Zhu Clan, so he wasn’t worried that they might try to pull something over him.
Zhu Chenhuan gave up on playing chess when he realized that he couldn’t beat Su Chen, and they resumed discussing their plan.
Since their cooperation was now set in stone, all that remained was to settle on a concrete plan.
This plan was not like when Su Chen took a risk and entered Ravager territory alone. Now that a clan that had invested an ocean of resources into this venture was involved, they would be much less tolerant of such risky behavior. Zhu Chenhuan wouldn’t accept Su Chen’s gambling tendencies. A practical, reliable plan was the only way to go.
As such, the old man immediately shot down Su Chen’s plan of disguising himself as Flowing Flame Oriole.
“It’s too risky, and you’d be turning yourself into a Harpy female. There is too big of a difference between a man and a woman, and Flowing Flame Oriole is also the Gentle Voice Nest’s Sanskrit Chanter. Who knows what other screening processes are at their disposal for the Sanskrit Chanters? If they ask you to use the Soul Stamp technique again, what will you do?”
It had to be said that the old man’s analysis was extremely logical.
Su Chen was too radically different from Flowing Flame Oriole in terms of actions, habits, and abilities. Assuming her identity would bring no shortage of trouble.
“Let’s forget about trying to trick those Arcana Masters for now. After all, even the Harpies can’t produce Arcana Masters like cabbages. And even if you do successfully trick them, you would still need to be wary of sabotaging yourself somewhere down the line. So for safety’s sake, you would need to disguise yourself as a Harpy that the Gentle Voice Nest doesn’t recognize — that is, if you did decide to disguise yourself. Only in this manner would they not be able to detect any problems with your actions or speaking mannerisms.”
“You say that, but then how would we get around the issue of a random Harpy returning the broodmother?”
“Could you return the broodmother even if you assumed Flowing Flame Oriole’s identity? News of her being captured has already spread.” Zhu Chenhuan wouldn’t stop talking once he started.
“That’s exactly what’s giving me a headache.”
“You have a headache because you’re only considering your own feelings on the matter. Have you ever considered what the Harpies are feeling right now?”
“How the Harpies feel?” Su Chen was taken aback by this train of thought.
“That’s right! You don’t really think that the Harpies would just give up on the broodmother like that after spending so much time and effort devising a plan and raising it, right?”
Su Chen fell into deep thought when he heard Zhu Chenhuan’s words.
He realized that he had made a big mistake in his view of the situation.
While he had been fretting over a way to return the broodmother, he hadn’t realized that the Harpies were almost certainly thinking of a way to recover the broodmother as well.
When he realized this, Su Chen’s eyes lit up. “Have the Harpies made any strange movements recently?
Zhu Chenhuan chuckled. “We heard a few days ago that the Harpies sent a diplomatic party over to discuss a truce. I was wondering why those arrogant pricks would suddenly want to talk to us, but now I understand.”
Su Chen chuckled. “I’d imagine they’ll make a trip to Flat Sky City as well.”
“So you can see that this matter is actually very simple. An opportunity might present itself without us even needing to do anything. On the other hand, if we did try something, we would inadvertently be alerting them.”
“You’re absolutely right!” Su Chen sighed with sincere admiration.
Old people really were quite shrewd. With but a few sentences, he had managed to explain the heart of the matter.
With regards to the problem of returning the broodmother, it was better to be still than to be in motion. All they needed to do was wait for the right opportunity to present itself.
Of course, there were still many other problems that needed to be addressed.
A big plan slowly began to come together piece by piece.
Purple Forest Stream was in a terrible mood.
The Harpies didn’t actually have much of an enmity with humans. Most of their conflicts stemmed from geopolitical disputes and disagreements over the division of natural resources. These were quite common occurrences for two neighboring countries. If there wasn’t some friction from time to time, then it was quite clear that one country was neglecting their national interest. On the other hand, the close proximity of the two countries made it so that if one party was involved in a conflict, the other would typically be dragged in as well.
For this reason, the Harpies and Liaoye Country would sometimes cooperate, such as when they needed to deal with the Beasts.
When to fight and when to hold back depended on each country’s situation, and Purple Forest Stream was the person primarily responsible for making this decision.
Of course, the situation he was facing now was slightly more complicated.
Even though he was the leader of this diplomatic envoy in name, he was not actually the one making the decisions.
That was not uncommon either. Those responsible for foreign affairs almost always took the blame. The higher-ups came up with the ideas and decided which relationships to make, while the onus fell onto the person actually carrying these orders out to fruition.
The chief ambassador’s job was probably half business, and half being chewed out.
But the main issue was that he didn’t even know what his real mission was this time. He had no idea why he was being forced to carry this black pot for someone else[1. burden].
Yes, he didn’t know!
The individual tagging along in this diplomatic group was extremely secretive about the actual goal of this mission and had only told him to quietly follow instructions.
But look at the mission you gave me!
“You must secure the diplomatic envoy freedom to do as they please in Flat Sky City. The best would be for you to somehow seize some authority within Flat Sky City!”
Was the Harpy who had given him the order crazy?
Flat Sky City was at the center of Liaoye Country, and not near the border. When had it ever been possible to take over a city that belonged to another country through purely political means?
If it didn’t have any geopolitical merit, then on what basis were they trying to insert themselves into the situation?
The political tactics of this era were quite simple. There was no such thing as human rights, secession, or any kind of historical framework, so there was no point in bringing any of these things up.
The higher-ups had said that they were willing to make many compromises with Liaoye Country as long as this condition of theirs was met, even going so far as to be willing to push the Origin Light Castle back a few hundred kilometers.
This was indeed quite a great concession. The Origin Light Castle guarded a very important source of natural resources, and moving it back was equivalent to handing it all over. But wasn’t this kind of a concession basically telling the other party that there was a hugely valuable secret hidden in Flat Sky City? Wasn’t it basically saying that Flat Sky City has something even more valuable than that mountain of natural resources?
That’s not how negotiations are supposed to be made!
Yet the higher-ups refused to tell him what kind of secret was hidden in Flat Sky City. Purple Forest Stream had a hard time even imagining what the actual scope could be.
This frustrated him immensely.
“If there’s no other way to go about it, why not at least try to have the diplomatic party go and visit Flat Sky City?” Scattered Moon Mist said amiably upon realizing that she was most likely responsible for the headache this head ambassador was feeling. The next best thing would be to pay Flat Sky City a visit.
“Miss Scattered Moon Mist, even though you cannot tell me what we are looking for, everyone knows about the Rong Clan’s recent betrayal. They will definitely smell something fishy if we go to Flat Sky City right now,” Purple Forest Stream pushed out through gritted teeth.
“We can’t help it even if they know. No matter what, our investment there must be recovered.”
“What kind of investment is it exactly!?” Purple Forest Stream stared intently at Scattered Moon Mist as he burst out in frustration.
“I cannot tell you,” insisted Scattered Moon Mist.
Purple Forest Stream helplessly said, “Then can you at least tell me whether or not it is related to the Rong Clan’s betrayal?”
Scattered Moon Mist murmured to herself, deep in thought, before nodding.
When he saw her confirm his speculation, Purple Forest Stream felt like he now had a better handle on the situation.
He paced back and forth a few times before saying, “Since that’s the case, then I can only think of one way forward.”
“My informant told me that the Zhu Clan bought a large group of Harpy prisoners of war some time ago.”
“Why would they want prisoners of war?”
“Apparently, Su Chen, the one who ruined all our plans, asked for them…… He wanted to perform experiments on us and turn us into experimental subjects.”
“What?” Scattered Moon Mist yelled indignantly. “That bastard!”
“He is indeed a bastard, but he’s also a very scary one,” Purple Forest Stream sighed.
As the head ambassador, he constantly kept close tabs on the situation in the human kingdoms. Su Chen’s name only became more popular as time passed, so if he didn’t know of Su Chen’s reputation, that would have been a blemish on his track record.
Su Chen’s exploits in Ravager territory alone were enough to cause him to tremble in fear.
Who could have imagined that a single person was not only able to save the Heavenly Might Battalion but also flip the Ravagers’ situation upside down?
He was also the one who had disrupted the situation in Flat Sky City, leading to the current state of affairs.
He could only pray now that this Su Chen wouldn’t make any more trouble for him.
Purple Forest Stream then said, “Even though he is a bastard, he has given us an opportunity this time. We need to give the capital a reason for going to Flat Sky City. This reason will definitely not be real, so we can only use the captives as a screen.
Scattered Moon Mist understood what he meant. “You want them to think that our negotiations this time around are for the sake of someone amongst those captives?”
Purple Forest Stream nodded. “Yes. For instance, Flowing Flame Oriole is a good choice. She is a Sanskrit Chanter, so in terms of status this would not be an unreasonable request, and she is also still in Flat Sky City. Going to Flat Sky City for the sake of buying back Flowing Flame Oriole is completely logical, and we probably won’t need to pay nearly as high of a price.”
Diplomacy was just an artful form of lying. Telling a good lie and deceiving the opponent required flexibility and lots of preparation.
Purple Forest Stream’s abilities in this regard were quite decent.
Unexpectedly, Scattered Moon Mist sighed as she replied, “That is a good proposal, but unfortunately it’s impossible.”
“Why?” Purple Forest Stream was stunned.
“Yesterday, Flowing Flame Oriole’s divine seal disappeared. She has returned to the Mother Goddess.”
“She died?” Purple Forest Stream was taken aback by this turn of events.
Neither Su Chen nor Zhu Chenhuan were aware that Flowing Flame Oriole had a linked lantern in the Harpies’ religious hall. The Harpies had known of her demise as soon as she had died.
Thankfully, Su Chen had given up on turning into Flowing Flame Oriole. Otherwise, he would have been seen through immediately.
Flowing Flame Oriole’s death left Purple Forest Stream in an awkward predicament yet again.
Purple Forest Stream paced back and forth a few more times as he thought aloud. “If we can’t use Flowing Flame Oriole as an excuse, then we need to find a new one. I just don’t know if there are any more important survivors there……”
At that moment, a Harpy reported in from outside. “Head Ambassador?”
“What is it?”
“More news has come from Flat Sky City.”
“They want to buy more Harpy captives to experiment upon. Should we stop them from doing so?”
“No!” both Purple Forest Stream and Scattered Moon Mist yelled simultaneously.
In the face of a political necessity, all commoners became expendable fodder!