The second day after Long Feiye received the secret message, Jun Yixie publicized news of his alliance with Ning Cheng and the allocation of 30,000 battle horses for his new ally. That was no small sum, so it would be impossible to hide their migration south. Since the news was bound to break sooner or later, Jun Yixie decided to announce it himself to prevent second guessing from the rest of the world. Moreover, in his view this was both a warning to Long Feiye and a way to frighten the Northern Li emperor. In short, Jun Yixie was telling his enemies south and north that he wasn’t someone to be taken lightly!
With the Di Clan providing soldiers’ pay and provisions, Jun Yixie really had nothing to fear from Long Feiye or the Northern Li emperor. Uncle Cheng was still observing the situation, but stopped hesitating once this news broke out. He immediately took Manager Jin and rushed with Mu Linger and Ning Jing to Jun Yixie’s camp while openly requesting a meeting with Ning Cheng.
Mu Linger and Ning Jing were left in the carriage outside the tent while Uncle Cheng and Manager Jin met with Jun Yixie and Ning Cheng inside. Although Uncle Cheng never mentioned he’d kidnapped the two women as collateral, Jun Yixie wasn’t deaf or blind! Gu Qishao and Tang Li’s proclamations had reached the world--one offering Pill Fiend Valley while the other had the Tnang Clan weapons. With such a fuss, everyone in Cloud Realm Continent had already heard about the news.
Jun Yixie knew what was going on as soon as he discovered the occupants of the carriage! Looking at Ning Cheng, he broke into laughter. By contrast, Ning Cheng was fuming internally, but he had to pretend he was calm. With a cold glance at Uncle Cheng, he said, “Heheh, old Cheng. I never expected you to bring me gifts. This master needs to reward you handsomely!”
“It is only this subordinate’s duty!” Uncle Cheng was very happy, so much that he never noticed Ning Cheng’s internal rage. Actually, he already had doubts about his master after he went missing, unsure if he’d been kidnapped or gone to Jun Yixie’s side to propose an alliance. He was originally planning to persuade Master Ning to turn his back on the West Qin Dynasty. That was why he’d dawdled so long outside Skyriver City, just to see how the situation stood.
Since Master Ning had already made his choice to ally with Jun Yixie and gotten 30,000 battle horses in exchange, Uncle Cheng was certain that he’d made the right choice! He had even brought a massive counter for his master’s side so that the two new allies would have a huge advantage! Perhaps these deeds would make up for the fact that he tried to pull Myriad Merchant Hall down and disrespected Ning Jing?
“Heheh, Uncle Cheng, this lord will reward you generously as well!” Jun Yixie grinned. Ever since teaming up with Ning Cheng, he had regained his confidence and started referring to himself like he used to as Northern Li’s Duke of Kang.
Uncle Cheng quickly cupped his hands in respect. “I don’t dare, I don’t dare.”
“Ning Cheng, Ning Jing’s your little sister, so this lord will leave you to deal with her. Mu Linger...heheh, how about giving her to this lord?”
When Ning Jing and Mu Linger heard these words from the carriage, they exploded.
“What right does he have? Who does he think I am?!”
“So shameless! When we get back, I’ll have big sis and brother-in-law teach him a good lesson!”
The two foolish girls had only realized the older kidnapper was Uncle Cheng after getting this far, and that his goal had been to find Ning Cheng, who had betrayed the West Qin Dynasty. Mu Linger was cursing nonstop, but Ning Jing hadn’t said a word. Even after hearing Ning Cheng’s voice, she couldn’t believe that he would betray West Qin.
Ning Cheng was infuriated by Jun Yixie’s demands as well. Although he was under the other man’s thrall and never lost his own temper, he still planned to refuse him. However, it was then that Manager Jin sitting on one side spoke up. “Duke of Kang,” he said, “I’m very sorry, but Mu Linger is mine. Master Ning had no right to yield her to you.”
Everyone grew silent at his words. Outside, Mu Linger stopped cursing as well and waited anxiously, afraid to miss a sentence. Jun Yixie arched an indolent brow before finally deigning to look at Manager Jin. Uncle Cheng lowered his head while rubbing his nose, a cold smirk on his lips. He wasn’t planning to help Jin Zi at all. It’s not like what he says will go here. Jing Zi’s nothing more than a slave!
Ning Cheng feigned ignorance as he asked Uncle Cheng, “What’s going on? Weren’t you the one who brought them here?”
Before Uncle Cheng could reply, Manager Jin beat him to it. “Uncle Cheng brought out Ning Jing, but I was the one who kidnapped Mu Linger! She owes me 280,000,000 taels and an indenture agreement. Anyone who can give me those things can have her; otherwise, there’s nothing to discuss!”
As it turned out, Manager Jin’s terms were Jun Yixie’s weak spot. He could only get 500 million from Ning Cheng after giving up 30,000 battle horses. But even if he was rich, he wasn’t generous enough to fork over 280 million just for Mu Linger! Of course, Jun Yixie could help Manager Jin pay back his debt using the soldiers’ pay and provisions, then exchange Mu Linger for Pill Fiend Valley to gain a hefty profit. But that was risky because Gu Qishao was no easy foe, so Jun Yixie wouldn’t be stupid enough to try. He wanted Mu Linger, but didn’t necessarily covet Pill Fiend Valley. He simply needed the girl now to tie up Han Yunxi in the future.
After hearing Manager Jin’s terms, Jun Yixie fell silent for a bit before asking Ning Cheng, “Ning Cheng, he’s your slave?”
Anyone with a spark of intelligence could figure out his aim. Slaves had to obey their masters because they belonged to them. They didn’t have the right to haggle with their owners.
Ning Cheng smiled at Manager Jin. “Heheh, Jin Zi. If Jun Yixie hadn’t reminded me, I would have forgotten. You’re my slave, so what terms can you demand from me? This master will tell you now, Mu Linger’s mine from this moment on. Not even a thousand gold pieces will trade her back! As for your debt, I’ll consider repaying it after I see your behavior!”
Manager Jin’s gaze grew complicated beneath his bangs. He didn’t speak, but he did feel something amiss about Ning Cheng. Meanwhile, Jun Yixie rubbed his chin as he debated whether to speak, but ended up saying nothing at all. Ning Cheng’s words not only warned Manager Jin to stay back, but also told him that Ning Cheng wasn’t handing over Mu Linger. Although he had already handed over the 30,000 battle horses, their relationship was still strained. Jun Yixie kept Ning Cheng in check just as Ning Cheng pinned down his movements. Moreover, Jun Yixie had yet to receive his payment despite sending the 30,000 horses ahead of him, so he was still the passive party.
Since Ning Cheng had rejected his request in such a mild and roundabout way, Jun Yixie wasn’t in any mood to make more demands. With him here, he wouldn’t let Mu Linger loose a step, so it could still count as her falling into his hands. Thus, Jun Yixie next set his sights on Ning Jing. With a playful smile, he said, “Uncle Cheng, this wife of the Tang Clan isn’t yours either, is she?”
Uncle Cheng quickly replied, “I wouldn’t dare, I wouldn’t dare! Duke of Kang must be jesting.”
Jun Yixie wasn’t very clear on the relationship between Ning Jing and the Tang Clan vs. Ning Jing and the Ning Clan. Of course, nobody present knew the relationship between the Tang Clan and Long Feiye, either.
“Heheh, this lord was just saying. How could a servant like you dare to kidnap your own master?” Jun Yixie smiled coldly. Here lay his doubts.
Uncle Cheng glanced at Ning Cheng, but he remained silent. Thus, the man quickly explained, “Duke of Kang, you may not know, but Miss Jing took advantage of Manager Jin kidnapping Mu Linger to put on a play herself. And now you see? The Tang Clan took it as the truth and got anxious. As long as we hold our ground, Tang Li will definitely offer even more generous terms. It’ll be easy enough to find a middleman to deliver a letter then and reap the profits!”
Uncle Cheng was a crafty, cunning man. As long as he didn’t reveal Ning Jing’s whereabouts at Skyriver City and kept whetting Tang Li’s appetite until he turned crazy with worry, it would be easy to find someone unrelated to Jun Yixie to deal with him. Tang Li would agree to any terms placed by the middleman then.
Outside, Mu Linger couldn’t help her rage. “This old thing deserves to die!”
Ning Jing’s voice was cold as well. “He deserves more than just death!”
Uncle Cheng’s plot was ingenious, but he had no idea that Han Yunxi had long exposed his betrayal on the first day he and Manager Jin kidnapped the duo. Once news broke that Ning Cheng had allied with Jun Yixie, she was sure that Mu Linger and Ning Jing had ended up there. Currently, Han Yunxi’s group was on their way to Three-Way Black Market again after passing on the news to Tang Li. He too, was rushing back to meet with them.
Back in Skyriver City, Ning Cheng only glanced at Uncle Cheng without a word. Jun Yixie only assumed that Uncle Cheng’s words reflected Ning Cheng’s own intentions.
“Fine, then we’ll sit and wait!” Jun Yixie was exhilarated. Teaming up with Ning Cheng was already good news, but now they even have two important hostages. His heart swelled with the promises of victory. Now as long as the 30,000 horses made it to the Ning Clan troops, he could receive his money and begin to move!
“Someone come, clear out two tents and treat our honored guests well!” Jun Yixie ordered loudly.
Uncle Cheng and Manager Jin were shown out the door while Mu Linger and Ning Jing were taken off the carriage and into a tent. Now only Jun Yixie and Ning Cheng remained inside.
“Ning Cheng, how long will it take the Ning Clan troops to accustom themselves to the 30,000 battle horses?” Jun Yixie asked.
Ning Cheng had always commanded the armies in north Tianning and had plenty of cavalrymen in his troops. The only thing he lacked was battle horses, so 30,000 stallions was like adding wings to a tiger, redoubling their strength. It shouldn’t take long for the army to accustomize themselves to these animals. What Jun Yixie wanted was a specific timeline.
“I reckon three months!” Ning Cheng say, dragging out the time on purpose. Actually, only one month was needed, but the delay meant that war wouldn’t start until the horses and men were good and ready. If he could extend the deadline, then he’d cause less trouble for Han Yunxi.
And if he could trick even more out of Jun Yixie in the meantime, he’d do his best to get that too.
At the same time, he made preparations for a worse-case scenario. No matter when his silver drafts reached Myriad Merchant Hall, he was waiting for the 30,000 battle horses to reach the Ning Clan troops first before dying together with Jun Yixie. He would never pay up!
Not even a single copper coin!
Rather than remain tormented by Jun Yixie or treated as his hostage to threaten the Di, he’d rather die and be done with it all! In some ways, he and Su Xiaoyu were quite similar, so he couldn’t help but ache for the child when they met the other day. He understood her stubbornness and resolution.
Ning Cheng had put all his affairs in order, but never expected Uncle Cheng to arrive with Ning Jing and Mu Linger in tow. If he and Jun Yixie really had a falling out, what would become of the two women?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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