With Gu Qishao’s personality, Tang Li was certain he’d refuse Gu Beiyue’s suggestion. Meanwhile, Gu Beiyue himself had prepared to coax the man further. If Gu Qishao was the maser of Golden Wing Hall, then he could help Tang Li here in Three-Way Black Market. At least they’d find some clues of Manager Jin’s whereabouts. The man’s Eastern Valley Private Bank not only did business at Myriad Merchant Hall’s gambling houses, but Golden Wing and East Origin Hall as well. If Golden Wing Hall offered their aid, then Gu Beiyue refused to believe all three powers could fail at ferreting him out.
Gu Qishao hesitated briefly but didn’t decline the suggestion. He told Gu Beiyue, “If there’s any ingredients you need, just contact Pill Fiend Valley directly. And also, I’ll get someone to find the the Returning Dragon Pill you want.”
Ever since Gu Beiyue’s serious injuries by the Chu Clan’s hands, his dantian had been ruin and his internal energy apt to disperse. No matter how he cultivated, he couldn’t retain any qi. The sword sect master had told Long Feiye that there was a “Returning Dragon Pill” that could treat Gu Beiyue’s wounds, but Long Feiye had yet to find it. A few months ago, he had mailed Gu Beiyue a Phoenix Breath pill so he could recover 20 to 30% of his martial arts.
Returning Dragon Pill was the stuff of legends. Long Feiye had used all his resources to track it down, but in vain. Searching for medicine was Gu Qishao’s speciality, but how was he supposed to find something that didn’t exist in this world? Gu Beiyue didn’t hold out much hope, but he still cupped his hands to thank the man.
Gu Qishao only gave him an unhappy look. “What’s with all the formalities?”
Just like that, Tang Li wrote a letter to Long Feiye about Gu Beiyue’s rescue while sending a few high-level experts to send Gu Beiyue to Hundred Poisons Sect in secret. Meanwhile, Gu Qishao stayed behind and went alone to Willowflower Alley after sending Gu Beiyue off.
He’d played around here a lot more than Tang Li!
If Mu Linger knew her Qi gege had stayed to look for her instead of running off to find medicine for Han Yunxi, she would definitely to moved to tears. But right now, she was working hard in her own ways. Their carriage had stopped at the base of the mountain. Both women were trapped inside with their legs bound while their kidnappers were taking a break beneath a nearby tree. The older man leaned against a branch with his arms crossed and eyes narrowed. The younger one was sprawled languidly across another tree limb, his arms pillowing his head as he stared with wide eyes. The moonlight trickled through the branches to illuminate his irises and the years of loneliness and drifting life hidden within. A person without a home always held a sliver of moonlight in their hearts--the same one that shone upon their hometown.
“Old Cheng, shouldn’t we be asking Myriad Merchant Hall for money by now?” he asked.
That’s right, this young man was Manager Jin. He’d been tricked out of everything by Han Yunxi, then forced into debt by Mu Linger. He’d ran into Uncle Cheng that night at Willowflower Alley and wanted to kill the man who couldn’t produce any money. Truthfully, Uncle Cheng had underestimated him. Manager Jin easily killed off the guards by his side and captured his prey. He was planning to take Uncle Cheng straight to Han Yunxi to talk terms, but Uncle Cheng coaxed him out of it. Han Yunxi wasn’t a woman who suffered losses. If she knew they had dealings together, she wouldn’t give them any advantages. He’d not only keep his debt, but could even be sold off. Uncle Cheng came up with the idea of kidnapping Mu Linger.
Manager Jin had long wanted to get back at the girl, but the security at Myriad Merchant Hall was too tight. He couldn’t get in, so Uncle Cheng helped them slip past the men and easily grab their targets. Although Manager Jin’s goal was Mu Linger, he never expected Uncle Cheng to kidnap Ning Jing as well. The man had later explained the move was meant to mislead and confuse the public.
By now, they had left Three-Way Black Market far behind them. Soon enough, they would reach the borders of Northern Li, so it was about time to send out their demands. Uncle Cheng smiled coldly. “Jin Zi, you don’t understand Han Yunxi at all, do you?”
“What do you mean by that?” Manager Jin asked as he quickly sat up.
“As far as I know, Bai Yanqing’s threatened her once by using Gu Beiyue’s life as collateral,” Uncle Cheng intoned.
“What does that have to do with me? Tell her that if she wants to see Mu Linger again, she better pay back my debt to Kangan Private Bank immediately, then exchange her with my indenture agreement!” Manager Jin said icily.
“Jin Zi, you still don’t know the relationship between Han Yunxi and the manager of Kangan Private Bank, do you? They’ve long started working with Myriad Merchant Hall’s auction hall. It’ll be easy enough for Han Yunxi to fake repaying your debt! Besides, aren’t you worried for her poison skills if she brings the indenture agreement to you for the hostage exchange?” Uncle Cheng analyzed reasonably.
“I have ways to extricate myself with Mu Linger in my hands!” Manager Jin declared unhappily.
Uncle Cheng walked over and lowered his voice. “Manager Jin, don’t forget. It’s not Han Yunxi who has say in the Di Clan, but its true master, Ning Cheng!”
Manager Jin grew incensed. “You think I don’t know that Ning Cheng’s currently missing?” If Ning Cheng was here, he would have ended up in Han Yunxi’s hands in the first place! Ning Cheng was the one who told him to put Mu Linger under house arrest.
Carefully, Uncle Cheng withdrew a letter from his sleeve. When Manager Jin saw the words on the envelope, he was momentarily shocked. If this wasn’t Ning Cheng’s handwriting, then who else could it be?
“You know Ning Cheng’s whereabouts? What’s going on?” Manager JIn asked urgently.
Although he and Ning Cheng were both friend and foe, his concern for the man outweighed his antagonism. He believed that Ning Cheng wouldn’t have left him to his current plight if he was still around.
“Just come with me. I promise you’ll definitely be able to see Master Ning. As for whether he’ll help you, then that’ll depend on your friendship,” Uncle Cheng grinned.
Only then did Manager Jin realize that he’d been played. Uncle Cheng hadn’t told him to kidnap Mu Linger and Ning Jing to threaten Han Yunxi, but for a different plan altogether. Just what was the relationship between Han Yunxi, the West Qin princess, and the Di Clan? Why would a loyal subject like Ning Cheng treat Han Yunxi’s younger sister (cousin) Mu Linger like this? He was neither knowledgeable nor interested in West Qin’s private affairs. All he wanted to do was repay his debt and gain his freedom.
“Fine, I’ll come along!” Manager Jin agreed easily.
Uncle Cheng silently exhaled in relief. When he came up with the kidnapping idea, it was because he had no other choice. Originally, he wanted to cause difficulties for Han Yunxi, but who knew he’d only dig himself a deeper hole until he became a “traitor?” If Han Yunxi had gotten a handle on what he had done with Manager Jin, his end would be unthinkable. While he was still puzzling out his next step, one of his trusted subordinates had delivered Ning Cheng’s secret message to him outside the Three-Way Black Market. This was his only path to salvation!
Although Ning Cheng’s eye had been injured by Han Yunxi, he wrote that he was doing well in Northern Li. Uncle Cheng couldn’t help but suspect that the man had allied with Jun Yixie. No matter what, going to Northern Li this time would give him a good chance to coax his master. He’d long told Ning Cheng that Han Yunxi wasn’t worthy of the West Qin princess title, much less the Di Clan’s loyalty. With Ning Cheng’s skills and army, he’d be more than enough to crush Long Feiye after allying with Jun Yixie. At least he could claim half of the continent for himself. Why stay loyal to West Qin and have Han Yunxi hurt him all over?
Thinking up to here, Uncle Cheng silently exhaled. Thank goodness he knew Ning Cheng’s whereabouts now. Otherwise, he would become the only traitor in Di Clan history! As they continued to talk, Mu Linger suddenly cried out from the carriage.
“Someone come! Someone come, ah!”
Manager Jin’s head whipped over, but Uncle Cheng ignored her.
“What’s wrong with her now?” Manager Jin asked impatiently.
“Don’t bother, she’ll stop yelling when she gets tired,” Uncle Cheng dismissed.
But Manager Jin simply rose to check out the situation until Uncle Cheng pulled him back. “I’ll go! See how I deal with her!”
“She’s still a woman, and pregnant at that. You control yourself,” Manager Jin intoned.
“Heheh, Jin Zi, when did you grow softhearted? It’s that damned girl’s fault that you’re like this now!” Uncle Cheng jeered.
“That ‘damned girl’ is worth more than Ning Jing. I’m only giving her face because of the money,” Manager Jin turned away.
Uncle Cheng shrugged and strode towards the carriage. Unexpectedly, Mu Linger began calling for the restroom as soon as he showed up.
“Take care of it yourself on the carriage. Don’t play tricks on me!” Uncle Cheng said icily.
“I’m not going number one, but...aiya, hurry and take me down, I can’t hold it in anymore! You’re a man, so can’t you look after a single female?” Mu Linger said, before changing her tone. “No wait, you can’t look! Aiya, I’m begging you, I’ll just deal with it in a patch of grass! Even if I escape, you can still chase me, can’t you?” As she clutched her stomach, she scrunched up her face in anxiety.
“Fine, fine!” Uncle Cheng finally untied Mu Linger’s legs and let her off the carriage. Mu Linger seemed almost desperate as she rushed into the grass. He called after her, “Don’t run off too far!”
Very soon, Mu Linger was crouching in the grass with only her head showing. Uncle Cheng glanced at her while waiting by the carriage. Inside, Ning Jing was feeling upset. She only hoped that Mu Linger’s plan would go smoothly. Together, the two of them had stripped their handkerchiefs and dress hems to thin strips before biting their thumbs to write out a message for help in blood.
Just then, Mu Linger had noticed that there was plenty of medicinal plants lining both sides of the path, much of it travelworn. As long as they could hide the message on its edges, someone who came harvesting the grass would notice. Although Mu Linger looked like she was going to the restroom, she’d actually picked out the patch with the most medicinal grass.
After waiting for a while, Uncle Cheng urged, “Are you done yet?!”
Not daring to delay, Mu Linger quickly finished tying the message strip at the base of a grassy stalk before rushing back.
“Many thanks,” she said politely. Faced with Uncle Cheng’s scrutiny, she didn’t show a hint of nervousness.
He didn’t notice anything off either and only said coldly, “Get on the carriage.”
Mu Linger quietly exhaled. But as she climbed onto the carriage, Uncle Cheng’s sharp eyes picked out the ragged hem of her dress.
“Hold on!” he snarled.
Mu Linger’s heart sped up, but she forced herself to calm down and get back off. “Is there anything wrong?”
Uncle Cheng suddenly grabbed her and strode with large steps into the grass. Mu Linger’s heartrate quickened as she followed with downcast eyes. Very soon, the man had found the strip of cloth she’d tied to the grass. He undid it and read its contents before flying into a rage.
“Great job, you damned girl! Aren’t you the smart one?!” Uncle Cheng tossed the strip of cloth aside and grabbed a fistful of Mu Linger’s hair….Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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