Not having eating anything for the past day, Chu Qiao was starving. After cleaning up the table, she laid out all the dishes. Tian Rucheng had indeed tried his best to prepare these dishes. The food tray was split into three layers. The first was a layer of hot charcoal, followed by a layer of warm water, and lastly, the delicacies placed on the uppermost layer. As a result, even though the food had been left out for a long time, it was still hot. Heaving a sigh of relief, Chu Qiao sat down and started stuffing herself with food.
Upon walking out of the shower room, Zhuge Yue was enraged to see how Chu Qiao was so casually eating away. With a scowl, he snorted. "Really? You are in such a good mood?"
Turning around, she smiled sweetly. "I am not sure about that. But I am pretty sure I am in a better mood than you."
Zhuge Yue stared at her from the corner of his eyes. "Death is the corner, yet you are still so haughty."
Not changing her smile, Chu Qiao replied, "Don't you know? Even before a prisoner is executed, he is allowed to casually feast."
Zhuge Yue leaned forward, staring at her with a suspicious gaze. He continued, word by word, "Are you that sure I will not do anything to you?"
"I'm not sure," Chu Qiao smiled, "but since you are going to feign innocence, why should I worry?"
Zhuge Yue rested on his seat and coldly smiled. "Seems like you had learned a lot from Yan Xun all these years."
"It was all thanks to you. Right now, I really have nothing except patience."
In the flickering light that chased away the darkness of the night, the duo sat facing each other, coldly observing while not showing a single sign of weakness.
The smile on Chu Qiao's face eventually vanished, and her casual look faded away. Coldly glaring at this man's charming face, she slowly said, "Zhuge Yue, what exactly do you want? Out with it!"
This fourth master of the Zhuge Family lightly smiled and blinked his eyes wickedly. "What do you think?"
"Zhuge Yue, let me go, or else," Chu Qiao squinted her eyes and continued, "kill me."
Zhuge Yue raised the corner of his lips slowly and whispered, "Xing'er, not everything in this world is black or white; somethings are gray. Likewise, choices are not limited to just two."
"Between you and me there are only two possible outcomes." Chu Qiao stared into his eyes, and forlornly said, "I really am thankful for the countless times you assisted me and spared of my life, but that does not mean that we can peacefully coexist. Zhuge Yue, you are the master of a great noble family and have great influence over the empire. How can you be so naive, so easily trusting others? Are you not scared that I will stab you in the back?"
Zhuge Yue laughed out in response, before replying, "Xing'er, do you really think that I am so compassionate, and could not bear to kill?" His face suddenly turned ruthless and cruel. Devoid of emotions, his eyes were fixed on her. He casually said, "I merely understood your true colors. Yan Xun helped you very slightly, yet you were willing to stay with him in that situation for 8 years. What about now? How can you bear to kill someone whom you are so indebted to? Xing'er, I am not naive, I merely know you very well."
The gloomy atmosphere was aggravated, as their clashing gazes seemed to almost create sparks.
"Are you not afraid that you are wrong?"
"I trust you, and even more, I trust myself."
Chu Qiao licked her dry lips before slowly replying, "So what do you want now?"
Zhuge Yue replied as if a matter of fact, "Catch you and bring you away."
"You can't control me."
"I like challenges." Zhuge Yue smiled and continued, "If I cannot control you, I can manipulate you. If I cannot manipulate you, I can imprison you. And if I really could not even imprison you, I still have one last option. And right now, it is not time yet for that last option."
Chu Qiao raised her head and stared into his eyes. Grimly, she said, "Zhuge Yue, do you still not understand the mistakes you made?"
Upon hearing that, Zhuge Yue raised an eyebrow and snorted. "Mistakes? It was just a few slaves. So what if I killed them? What mistakes were there?"
"I'm not talking about that." Chu Qiao frowned and finally heaved a long sigh. "Fine, I'll admit it, I do not want to kill you, nor do I want to become your enemy. There was indeed hatred between us, but I was also indebted to you. When the Grand Old Master of Zhuge Family died and there was a city-wide search for me, you did not tell on me despite knowing where I was. From this point alone, I already owe you a huge favor. But you must be very clear, right now you are a very important person within the Zhuge Family in the Xia Empire, while I am a leader for the Yan Bei rebels. The war between Yan Bei and the Xia empire is bound to happen. Given our positions, we are bound to face each other on the battlefield one day. As such, we should not interact too much. Since I've fallen into your hands now, whatever you do I can only accept it. But you must also understand, as long as we are together, I have a chance to kill you, ensuring mutual defeat. I prefer to make everything clear and not remain ambiguous. The war between Yan Bei and the Xia Empire will not benefit the Zhuge Family at all. You should make a choice after weighing the benefits for your family. If you want to kill or to release me, make up your mind now."
Upon hearing that, Zhuge Yue smirked. Softly, he responded, "Xing'er, you are really making me more and more interested in you."
Chu Qiao's face turned even colder, as she warned him, "Zhuge Yue, I have not killed you yet, but that does not mean that when I am forced to fight, I will be so kind to let you live! Previously, you did not threaten my life, but if you forcefully intervene in my life, I do not mind killing just another person!"
Zhuge Yue casually brushed the threat off. "Go ahead, try it."
With a loud simultaneous clang, the duo stood up, their eyes locked onto each other. The negotiation had already shattered. Both had a mutual understanding that there would only be one ending to this conversation at this point in time!
It was then, footsteps resounded from beyond the room. Startled, Chu Qiao entered an offensive posture, ready to fight to the end.
"Master!" Yue Qi's voice could be heard. "Mister Tian invited you to meet him at the Fang room."
Zhuge Yue questioned, "Now?"
"Do not go!" Chu Qiao's dagger pressed onto Zhuge Yue's neck as she warned. As long as Zhuge Yue remained within these four walls, she would at least still have some room for negotiation. The moment he headed out, she would sink into an encirclement. How could she let that happen?
"If I do not go they will suspect something is amiss. Tian Rucheng will come down to inspect."
Chu Qiao insisted, "Find an excuse!"
Zhuge Yue sneered and pointed at the wardrobe before saying, "You used the excuse of me messing around with women to delay this for one whole day. What other excuse do you want me to give?"
"I don't care!" Chu Qiao unreasonably stated. "If you refuse to go, I do not know if someone will come to check on us. But I am sure that as long as you leave this room, I will be completely disadvantaged! Zhuge Yue, I am not stupid!"
Zhuge Yue impatiently twitched his eyebrows. He suggested, "Why not come with me!"
Chu Qiao was taken aback. During her pause, Zhuge Yue continued, "You are roughly the same height as that woman. Also, women of the Tang Empire always wear veils when outside, so no one could see your face. And…" Zhuge Yue's gaze swept around Chu Qiao's nearly non-existent bosom. He continued, "The woman's clothing here is too loose, so no one could see a difference in your figure either."
Chu Qiao's face instantly brimmed with rage.
Zhuge Yue ignored her furious expression and yawned. Casually, he instructed, "Considering your abilities, what is there to be scared about as long as you travel beside me? Quickly, go and do your makeup and change your clothes."
This was the first time Chu Qiao had tried to properly apply makeup in many years.
This had nothing to do with herself being a tomboy. She really could not understand what these ancient tools were for. After combing her hair for what seemed to be an eternity, her hair was still like a birds nest.
Zhuge Yue was sitting on the side, sipping his tea while waiting. Turning his head around, he noticed her sorry appearance and laughed. He walked over, and took the comb from her hand while muttering, "Are you still a woman?"
To be fair, no matter how intelligent a woman is, she would not completely ignore her own looks. This is the same logic as to how no matter how pretty a woman is, she could not completely ignore the size of her chest.
Chu Qiao raise her head and bellowed, "Shut up!"
Zhuge Yue snorted unhappily as he forcibly yanked the comb down.
With a pained yelp, Chu Qiao grabbed her hair, and shouted, "Be gentle!"
"So noisy. Keep it up and I will pull out all of your hair!"
"You'd dare to do that?"
"Ahh! You b*stard, be gentler!"
A few minutes later, streams of jet black hair smoothly passed through his fingertips. After grabbing them by the bundle, and curling it up, he firmly tied it up using silk bands. Picking out an orchid from the accessory box, he pushed the flower into her bundled hair and held it in place only revealing the beautiful flower. With a lock of smoothly flowing side hair on each side, and neatly shaped bangs in the front, her hair was complete. Then, pushing up her bangs, he dotted a crimson point on her forehead before giving her eyebrows a thin layer of liner. Powdering her cheeks slightly, he added a touch of blush. With that, a simple yet appropriate makeup look was completed. Despite that, her entire aura changed, and even Chu Qiao herself could hardly recognize the beauty in the mirror.
Zhuge Yue opened the wardrobe, and lazily mumbled, "Pick one."
Chu Qiao did not even hesitate, and randomly took a set of white clothes out. Zhuge Yue snatched it away, and chided, "White again? You only wore white and black before. Are you going for some kind of funeral?" Brushing his finger along the clothes in the wardrobe, he picked out a jade green dress with layers and layers of embroideries that centered around a mandarin duck. Loose and fluffy, the dress looked like floating clouds. With the belt around her waist, her slender figure was heavily accentuated. Wearing an overcoat, her slender figure suddenly became vague and ambiguous, which added a seductive touch.
Looking at herself in the mirror, Chu Qiao herself was lost for words. The girl in the mirror was beautiful and elegant, with crystal clear eyes that had a touch of determination.
For a moment, Zhuge Yue was also taken aback, but he steadied himself quickly. Pouting, he murmured, "After dressing properly, you really do look like a woman."
Chu Qiao sarcastically commented, "You are really skilled at this."
Zhuge Yue snorted in response and did not return the favor. He then threw aside the silk veil that he had originally prepared. After another round of selection, he decided on a scarf that seemed thick enough to be a pair of socks, and hung it on Chu Qiao's head, covering her entire face.