With the advice of Yan Fu and Yan Bugui, Lu Chengfeng began to pay visits to all the important people in Ji City. From the Clan Leaders of Great Yan Dynasty's Imperial Family, the current Clan Leaders of a few influential clans, to the Three Prime Counselors  of the dynasty, along with the Nine Ministers , several other senior ministers, ordinary counselors, and ministers.
The time of two weeks was barely enough for Lu Chengfeng to basically straighten out the relationship and have these top men of Ji City know of his existence. If he wanted to enter the core of Great Yan Dynasty's nobility and truly possess the relationship, connection, and power of a Duke, holding the true authority of Great Yan Dynasty's West Supervisor, it would take Lu Chengfeng a long time to manage.
Fortunately, all the influential noblemen of the Ninth Clan of Great Yan Dynasty, where Lu Chengfeng was their Clan Leader, had come forth and pledged their loyalty to him. Under the lead of Yan Jiuhui, there were high-ranking military officers, ministers of the Imperial Court, and some important officials in Scouting Office among these members of the Ninth Clan. Bounded by their bloodline, these couple dozens of influential people took their initiative and gathered around Lu Chengfeng and finally brought him a group of men who could be of use to him.
During this two weeks, Wu Qi was also very busy and barely had his feet touching the ground. He brought a group of capable men supplied by Yan Jiuhui and others, and plunged themselves into the accounts and coffers of Duke Yan Le. He gave them a thorough check, and finally was able to sort out all the details of the clan affairs for the Ninth Clan.
Through the thorough checking and assessment, Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng learned that the two provinces of fief under the name of Duke Yan Le were not merely the hereditary property of Lu Chengfeng, but were also the common asset for many branches of the Ninth Clan. Every year, sixty percent of the yield that came from the fief would be distributed to all the influential members of the Ninth Clan, including those clan members who didn't have any posts in the Imperial Court, as they lived their life solely on this income.
Meanwhile, the remaining forty percent of the income was not enjoyed by Lu Chengfeng alone. If some troubles happened to the Ninth clan’s members, or when someone was sick and required a huge sum of money but was unable to come out with it, Lu Chengfeng would have to draw the money from his own pocket and provide aid to his own clan members as the new Clan Leader.
The Great Yan Dynasty had been established for more than two thousand years. Yet, for the Ninth Clan, Lu Chengfeng was the last direct descendant of the bloodline. However, the clan members of concubine clans under him had reached to the number of over eight thousand, while the personal guards, servants, and serving ladies that took care of these people had reached to the number of over four hundred thousand. Among these eight thousand clan members, elite members like Yan Jiuhui and Yan Bugui were less than a few hundred, and most of them were mediocre and unambitious people, fellows who only knew how to waste money.
After spending two whole weeks in sorting out all the muddled affairs and relationships, Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng couldn't help but exchange glances at each other. In the end, both of them breathed out a long sigh into the sky. Originally, they thought they had found themselves a lucrative legacy. But now, they finally knew that they had actually found a huge problem for themselves.
Holding a cup of fresh tea, Lu Chengfeng sat cross-legged on the stairs in the main hall of the mansion. While sipping the tea, he sighed and said, "I thought after inheriting this position, I could enjoy the rest of my life in a luxurious and leisurely manner. Sigh, why are there so many troubles?"
Wu Qi was sitting right beside him, cross-legged as well, as he sighed and said, "That's right. The prince hostage of the Xian Kingdom, the son of a Monarch was killed by us. Prince Ci, Yan Heluo, bled all over his body because of us. The Chief Supervisor of Central Wind Guards, Qin Qingshui, seems to have a great hostility towards us. More than eight thousand people of the Ninth Clan, countless major and minor affairs of the clan, their livelihood has to be taken care by us. Sigh, why are we bringing these problems to us?"
Lu Chengfeng shook his head, then said with a deep voice, "Well, we'll have to take things as they come. We have to send some capable men to manage Little Meng City. That place will provide us a great yield annually. My mother had sent me a letter that the Three Mountains Province, where Little Meng City is located at, will be my private territory in the future."
Wu Qi's brows frowned as he lightly said, "We've to put it aside for now. For the time being, nothing bad will happen in Little Meng City. Once young master has more people you can use, only then we will send a few loyal men over there. The priority now is to bring the soldiers from Little Meng City, or else, with the number of guarding soldiers young master owns right now, it is insufficient to protect our safety. Young master's father was assassinated, and we still don't know what the reason behind the assassination was. Thus, we cannot neglect young master's safety."
Both men continued their discussion. They gradually gathered up the threads from those incidents that happened recently, and came out with a rough plan for their future development. At present, everything looked smooth, and so long as those good friends of Lu Chengfeng who came from the influential clans of Lu Kingdom arrived at Ji City, he would have a group of capable men who he could use. They would then be able to solve some of the problems they were facing right now.
Before they arrived, Lu Chengfeng barely had any man that could aid him. For example, when Lu Chengfeng was paying a visit to those influential noblemen of Imperial Court, he even had to write the visiting card himself. This was not making any sense.
While their discussion became heated, Yan Fu was seen bowing his head and rushing over to them. A visible mark of a palm was visible on his face. He bowed and greeted respectfully at Lu Chengfeng, then said with a bitter voice, "Master, there is a visitor at the outside of the mansion. But they come menacingly, and don't seem to be easy to deal with. Please be careful, master."
Lu Chengfeng threw the tea cup over to Lao Hei, who was standing by his side. He rose to his feet and shouted furiously, "Who is this rude visitor? If they were here to pay me a visit, why were they slapping you in the face?"
Yan Fu came from a family who served in Duke Yan Le's Mansion for generations, and had been the chief steward for nearly one hundred years. He was an old man who attended his task earnestly, and his loyalty was beyond any doubts. When Lu Chengfeng just arrived at Ji City, he still had some worries about these old stewards, including Yan Fu. But after some time of observation, especially after Yan Jiuhui used the power of Scouting Office to screen through all the backgrounds of these people, only then he discovered that the loyalty of these old stewards was flawless.
Since then, Lu Chengfeng had relied heavily on these loyal old men of the mansion. But now, Yan Fu was slapped in his face by someone. That was not only a slap on Yan Fu, but also a slap on Lu Chengfeng's face.
Yan Fu let out a wry smile, lowered his voice and said, "Master, you really have to be careful. The visitor came with an aggressive air. It is as if they are here for trouble. In addition to that, she is followed by the people from Palace Guard of Scouting Office."
Besides from North, South, East, West, and Central Wind Guards, Scouting Office also had an independent division- the Palace Guards. The members of Palace Guards were all elite, one in ten thousand. Their task was to provide protection to those important members of the Imperial Clan. Normally, these Palace Guards would only appear around the members of the Lineal Clan of Great Yan Dynasty.
The so-called Lineal Clan of Great Yan Dynasty referred to the clan members directly under the eldest son of Emperor Yan, who was the Crown Prince of Great Yan Dynasty. The specific task of Palace Guards was to provide protection to the Crown Prince, the son of the Crown Prince, who was also the Imperial Grandson, and the eldest son of the Imperial Grandson. According to the Imperial Law, the throne of the emperor could only be inherited by the eldest son of the emperor. Thus, the Palace Guards were a team of people who only served the clan of the future Crown Prince.
When Lu Chengfeng heard that the person who gave Yan Fu a slap was followed by men from Palace Guards, his face immediately turned unsightly.
Wu Qi was laughing coldly beside him while saying, "Someone from the Lineal Clan? So what? Yan Fu, did the visitor tell you her name and where she came from?"
Yan Fu bowed his head and said carefully, "Mister Wu Qi, the visitor is a fierce one. Upon their arrival, she had given me and a few juniors a slap on our face, demanding master to welcome her personally. She didn't tell me her status and where she came from. But, no one dares to disguise as Palace Guards."
Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng exchanged a glance. Lu Chengfeng snorted coldly and ordered Xiao Hei to assemble a team of guards. Then, together with Yan Bugui who came rushing back after hearing the news, the group hastened out towards the entrance of the Duke Mansion.
They passed a few towers and pavilions and came to the large courtyard one would see after coming into the mansion. When the group arrived at the screen wall behind the main door, they heard a delicate voice of lady came from the outside, "Your Duke Yan Le is really an arrogant man, I've waited for so long, yet he still hasn't come here and welcomed his guest. Is he looking down on me?"
A crystal clear slapping sound followed right after the voice. It seemed like someone was being slapped. Lu Chengfeng's expression changed again, as he hastened his pace and strode out from the main door.
Outside the Duke Yan Le's Mansion, there was a team of nearly one hundred Palace Guards, clad in dark green body armor and looking extremely doughty, standing around a magnificent coach. Twelve men who served as the doorkeeper of the Duke Yan Le's Mansion were kneeling in a row at the last step of the stairs, and were being slapped by two teenage girls who were dressed like serving ladies. A dozen Duke Mansion's guards were trying to stop them, but were obstructed by those Palace Guards. The atmosphere was intense, and a fierce fight could break out at any time.
"Stand down!" cried Lu Chengfeng. The guards of Duke Mansion hastily stepped back. The Palace Guards saw the opportunity and smilingly drew themselves nearer to the entrance, chasing behind the guards of Duke Mansion and stepping their feet onto the stairs leading to the entrance.
Wu Qi snorted coldly and forcefully stomped his feet.
Standing behind Lu Chengfeng, Meng Xiaobai immediately shouted out loudly. Together with a few guards who also came from Meng Village, they wielded their iron spears and sprung forward. The bowl-sized spear swung and produced whistling noise in the air, forcing tens of Palace Guards off the stairs. Two serving ladies were laughing and slapping the doorkeepers, but the spears frightened them and made them scurry back to the side of the coach, staring back at the entrance and murmuring between themselves.
"Eh? Why does it seem so tough to pay a visit to Duke Yan Le?" The delicate voice of lady came out from the coach. Wu Qi's brows frowned into a tight knot, as the voice sounded familiar to him. It was exactly the same voice he heard the night two weeks ago when Lu Chengfeng was ambushed. It was the voice of the lady who released a demon ghost and exchanged a palm strike with Wu Qi.
Lu Chengfeng snorted and strode down the stair. He lifted those doorkeepers who had their face badly bruised from the slap with his hand, and shouted coldly, "Yan Fu, give each of them ten stacks of silver coins, and let them rest for one month."
Yan Fu answered. He gave the coach a fierce gaze, then quickly brought all the doorkeepers back into the mansion. The doorkeepers of Duke Yan Le's Mansion were also born in the mansion, and had served their master for generations. Yan Fu had treated these men as his own children, and for no apparent reasons, they were slapped by these unruly visitors. He felt his heart ache and filled with anger.
"Ten stacks of silver coins? Duke Yan Le is really a wealthy man!"
The lady in the coach let out a cold laugh, then she continued, "If that is the case, I'll not be kind to you then. Many of my personal guards were killed by your hanger-on, and my demon ghost personal guard had also been badly injured by him. Since Duke Yan Le can reward a few filthy doorkeepers with ten stacks of silver coins, then I want a compensation of five million gold coins."
Five million gold coins?
Lu Chengfeng and Wu Qi were taken aback instantly. Ji City had a couple hundred thousand of soldiers. Including all the military equipment, armors, and strategic materials, their annual expenses were less than one million gold coins. Yet, this lady was asking five million gold coins as compensation? This was a daylight robbery!
Wu Qi laughed, coldly. "May I know who your highness is? Please come out and speak!"
The lady sneered, "Well? Do you really think I'll be afraid of you? Come out and speak? So be it! I'm here to denounce your crime. If you don't give me a reasonable explanation today, I'll make sure none of you can get around in Ji City!"
The side door of the coach suddenly opened up, revealing a gentle and graceful lady as she slowly stepped out from the coach.
 Three Counselors - (Chinese: 三公; pinyin: Sāngōng), also translated as the Three Ducal Ministers, the Three Dukes, Three Excellencies, or the Three Lords, was the collective name for the three highest officials in ancient China. I used Prime Counselor to better reflect their function and to avoid confusion with other Dukes in the story. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ducal_Ministers)
 Nine Ministers - (Chinese: 九卿) was the collective name for nine high officials in the imperial government of the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), who each headed a specialized ministry and were subordinates to the Three Counselors of State. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Ministers)