“You…” Mu Linger backed away, sensing that things had grown serious. The men pressed closer with boorish smiles…
Mu Linge wasn’t afraid of them just yet because her grievances outshone her fear. Hateful Qi gege, he abandoned me! Again! The thoughts fueled her anger until she stopped retreating and stood in place.
Abruptly, she screamed.
“What are you guys trying to do?!”
The men paused, startled. They never expected such a short, slight girl to be a scary lioness. All they wanted to do was trap her here without any other designs in mind. Their crude appearance was only meant to scare her so she could turn more docile. See that Mu Linger showed no fear, they turned fierce.
“Mu Linger, you better stay put or else prepare to suffer!”
“Where’s my Qi gege?” she asked.
“Hehe, you should worry about yourself first.” a man laughed coldly.
News of Ning Cheng’s troubles had yet to reach the casino, so everyone in Myriad Merchant Hall assumed that he was succeeding in his plans. After all, he’d made so many preparations beforehand. They were currently awaiting good news from their master.
“What did you guys do to Qi gege? Where’s Ning Cheng? He’s the head of an entire clan, so why is he so untrustworthy? He can’t even compare to a mere girl like me!” Mu Linger fumed. “He secretly hid the West Qin princess’s letters and lied to me and Qi gege. That’s insubordination! So much for rattling off loyalty day after night. Does he have no shame?!”
All of the men grew incensed at her words. They would never allow anyone to insult Master Ning like that. One of the men immediately rushed forward. Mu Linger didn’t dodge as he gripped her by the collar with a warning. “Shut your mouth. If you say one more word against our master, I won’t forgive you!”
Mu Linger was all in a huff. She was never the type to consider her surroundings and simply gave a kick at the man’s more sensitive spot.
“Ah…!” the man released her and cradled his Number Two as he howled in pain. Once she was free, Mu Linger prepared to flee, but the other men encircled her on all sides, trapping her fast. Mu Linger raised her fists, but her trifling martial arts skills were nothing against even one man. Soon enough, a man had taken each of her hands and imprisoned her against the wall. Seeing her tender features, the leader of the pack had an evil thought run through his mind and signaled his subordinates to leave with a glance. Soon enough, the room was empty except for him and the girl.
Finally, Mu Linger realized the extent of her danger. She was so scared she began shrieking. “Ahhh! Ahhhhhh!”
But her screams only excited the man, whose jowls trembled as he grinned. As he was about to make his move, someone kicked open the door.
Standing outside was none other than Manager Jin. For a second, Mu Linger was under the mistaken impression that he was her Qi gege instead.
“What are you doing?!” Manager Jin demanded. Beneath the strands of his hair, killing intent emanated from his eyes. Mu Linger never expected such a calm and quiet man could look so frightening.
The man trapping Mu Linger immediately began to tremble. “N-nothing, I...I was only playing a joke on her! That’s right, it was all a joke!”
Manager Jin strode in step by step and suddenly kicked the man to the ground. Then he took out a dagger and hacked off the man’s hand. Mu Linger was stunned. She never expected such a thin man to be so strong. A single dagger was enough for him to slice through bone?
“I’m giving Ning Cheng face by not killing you. Get lost!” Manager Jin said coldly.
The man crawled to his feet and fled out the door, defeated. Mu Linger looked at Manager Jin in alarm as she asked, “You...just what’s your relationship with Ning Cheng?” If this man really was the manager of Thousand Gold Pavilion, how could he call Ning Cheng directly by name?
Manager Jin carefully wiped blood off his weapon as he spoke. “I’m the owner of the East Valley private bank for the Three-Way Black Markets. Ning Cheng is a friend who asked me to take care of Thousand Gold Pavilion.”
Mu Linger was even more terrified by those words. No wonder! That’s why he agreed to my unreasonable demands and gave Gu Qishao a limitless gold card. As it turned out, he was the tycoon of an illegal bank in the black market! Three-Way Black Market had plenty of those, but East Valley Private Bank was the most famous one of all. It didn’t have ties with any faction but remained independent of the three major powers here. The only business it did was usury loans for gambling houses!
Manager Jin allowed Mu Linger to continue staring, having long grown used to women’s gazes since he was a child. But she didn’t linger long on his face before she chuckled with a flattering look. “Big Boss Jin, can you...could you maybe...let me out?”
“No,” Manager Jin replied mercilessly.
Mu Linger immediately blanched. “You’re all jackals from the same lair. Scram!”
Manager Jin was a little astounded as he looked at Mu Linger’s huffy face. He wanted to laugh, but fortunately held it in. This was the first time any woman had told him to “scram.” He really did turn to leave, but walked so slowly that it looked like he was waiting for something. Unfortunately, Mu Linger didn’t throw him any pleas even when he reached the exit.
Strange. Don’t all women pester and harass others to get what they want? Isn’t she supposed to try multiple times? Is she only going to ask me once?
Manager Jin could only backtrack. For the sake of his freedom, he was going to give it his all. With Mt. Yue suffering explosions, it was clear that Ning Cheng had already succeeded. He had also managed to keep Gu Qishao back from the chaos. Now all he had to do was gain this girl and Ning Cheng would return his indenture certificate. He had been sold to the Three-Way Black Markets as a child and purchased by Myriad Merchant Hall. Over the past 20 years, he’d suffered his share of bitterness to monopolize the markets’ sales of usury loans and establish his own private bank. But even then, he was still considered a servant to Myriad Merchant Hall. He had once considered giving all of his bank’s wealth to Ning Cheng to buy back his freedom, but Ning Cheng had never lacked for money.
He wanted to leave this dark place and return to his homeland. All he knew was that he hailed from the Wintercrow Clan, but nothing else. Ning Cheng wanted him to deal with Mu Linger, mostly likely because he was interested in the girl’s Mu Clan. From what he understood, Medical City’s Mu Clan had fallen onto bad times, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi had since pressured its Council of Elders to relax many restrictions against them. Moreover, once Han Yunxi’s identity was revealed, the Mu Clan had been highlighted as a relative to the royal clan. Many factions in Medical City were already starting to accept them anew.
Manager Jin could guess that something must have happened between Ning Cheng and Han Yunxi for the man to move against Mu Linger. However, he was only responsible for tricking the girl into his hands and nothing more.
Mu Linger looked doubtful as Manager Jin returned. He began by saying, “Lass…”
Mu Linger was quick to interrupt. “Who allowed you to say whatever you want? You’re not the one who calls me ‘lass!’”
That was reserved for Qi gege!
Once again, Manager Jin looked at Mu Linger with increased respect. He rarely paid attention to females, much less call them such intimate names, but this was his first time getting rejected.
“Miss Linger, I have no ill intentions. I only want to tell you that I have no way to take you out of Three-Way Black Market. But I can take you to the East Valley Private Bank and temporarily assure your safety. Once Ning Cheng returns, I’ll have to give you up to him,” Manager Jin said seriously.
“You...where did you get such good intentions?” Mu Linger blurted out.
Manager Jin felt defeated. Just then, she had been pleading with him to let her go, but now she was demanding answers from him? And there were even thorns in her tone! Manager Jin had never suffered so much before a woman! But he endured despite his dissatisfaction and smiled faintly. “It’s not any good intentions. I just can’t bear to see Ning Cheng bullying girls.”
He lowered his voice and added, “Don’t blame me for reminding you, but those men outside are all waiting...to bully you more!”
Mu Linger was so scared that goosebumps rose on her flesh. “I never thought Ning Cheng was such a jerk! That’s disgusting! I have to tell my big sis!”
Manager Jin only laughed inwardly to himself. After years of being frenemies with Ning Cheng, he had finally gotten a blow against the other man. Although Mu Linger didn’t completely trust Manager Jin, she still left the gambling house with him. On the way, she asked him repeatedly about the status of Blacktower, but Manager Jin only said he wasn’t sure. She held no hopes that Qi gege would come back and save her, but she only hoped that he could get to Blacktower fast enough to salvage the situation.
Currently, Gu Qishao had just left Myriad Merchant Hall. He couldn’t find Bai Yuqiao or anyone who knew what was going on at Blacktower. All he could do was leave as fast as possible for the location himself. The people of Myriad Merchant Hall all feared his poisons too much to stop him. Meanwhile, he’d clear forgotten about Mu Linger. However, he’d hardly exited the Three-Way Black Markets when servants from the Golden Wing Hall came to find him with a letter.
“Master, urgent news from Pill Fiend Valley!”
What kind of emergency could Pill Fiend Valley be facing at a time like this? They’d even sent a secret missive to Golden Wing Hall. Gu Qishao opened the envelope doubtfully, only to realize it contained two letters within. Once was from the steward of Pill Fiend Valley, while the other came from Gu Beiyue!
Gu Qishao’s heart skipped a beat at the man’s familiar handwriting. As it turned out, Gu Beiyue had used a flock of flying hawks on the verge of shedding their beaks to deliver the message to Pill Fiend Valley and ask him for help. When hawks grew to a certain age, their beaks would get longer and longer until it reached their chests. If they didn’t grind or break them down, then it’d be harder and harder to survive. Thus, most hawks would find an overhanging cliff to snap their beaks and stay for awhile to recover until new growth replaced it. Some hawks gained new life from the change, while others ended up dying.
There was an overhanging cliff in Pill Fiend Valley that was full of medicinal grasses that could aid in the hawks’ recovery. Huge flocks of the birds would gather there every year. Pill Fiend Valley’s young apprentices would go up to collect the fallen beaks as medicinal ingredients for rare medicines.
Gu Beiyue was under house arrest, but had ran into an old hawk there and bet his odds on the bird. Fortunately, his gamble paid off! A young apprentice who had gone to collect bird beaks had saw a letter tied to one of the hawk’s legs. Gu Qishao broke into a foolish smile at the sight of Gu Beiyue’s letter. He threw his head back and laughed.
“This is earning everything without any effort!”
Gu Beiyue’s letter said…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
#5 of the 12 owed PGC chapters. Thank goodness we got some good news out of that mess! In the meantime, HAPPY CHAPTERVERSARY!
(For some reasons I can't get pictures to display in author's notes anymore so let's just imagine happy happy GIFs, haha.)
PGC has finally reached 900 chapters, or 66% of its novel progression (includes extras + epilogues). That also puts us closer to the 1000 chapter mark, which I think demands a little more celebration. What do you guys think? Shall we hold a contest? Have some raffles with prizes? Let me know in the comments below and I can start setting something up for 100 chapters later!