Wearing the thick scarf, Chu Qiao was as good as blind. She complained, "What are you doing? This is a scarf worn in desert storms to protect your face. If I wear this I will not be able to see the way."
Zhuge Yue ignored her complaints, and insisted, "If you cannot see, just follow me. I will show you the way."
Chu Qiao did not buy his nonsense, as she thought to herself if she had to wear such thick scarf, why did she need to wear makeup?
Carefully walking a few steps, she nearly hit the table.
"So stupid!" Zhuge Yue stepped up and pulled on her hand. Angrily, he chided, "Follow me!"
Chu Qiao suddenly started struggling. "Let me go!"
Zhuge Yue turned around, swiftly grabbing her by her chin. Startled, Chu Qiao thought he was going to attack her. In the blink of an eye, the dagger she hid in her sleeves was already pressed against his neck. Zhuge Yue completely ignored the blade, as he stared coldly into her eyes, and grimly warned, "If you continue to whine, I really do not mind a mutual death." With that said, he turned to the door and started walking while pulling on her.
"Watch the door! No one shall enter!"
"Let's go! What are you thinking about?" Impatiently, Zhuge Yue snapped, as he pulled Chu Qiao out of the door.
With Yue Qi taking the lead, the team of bodyguards tailed behind them, only leaving a few soldiers to guard the door. Watching the group leave, one of the soldiers left on guard duty uttered, "Seems like master really like this woman. He is bringing her along wherever he is going."
"It would be highly possible that once we return from the Tang Empire, we witness a marriage. Even if she does not become his wife, it would be highly possible to become a concubine. Master has long been of age to marry."
The night wind was cooling and comfortable, and except the occasional rustling of leaves, the surroundings were peacefully silent. Within the city, crowds bustled on the wide streets, moving from shop to shop. Such scene was evidently the best indication of the prosperity of the Tang Empire.
Xian Yang City. Again.
After many days of continuous traveling, a certain group of people finally entered the grandiose gates of Xian Yang City. While a few of their guards submitted the entrance fees for entering the city, over twenty cavalrymen escorted a cyan colored horse carriages into the streets of Xian Yang slowly.
As much as Xian Yang City was a city in the outskirts far from the capital, the city still boasted a prosperous economy. As such, with a quick glance, one would be impressed by the splendid buildings in this city.
Within the city, it was further split into the inner city and outer city. The inner city was mainly formed by Meng Ren Palace and Luo Li palace which were South and East of the Chi Shui River. The two palaces sprawled across the tributaries of Chi Shui river and were connected by a stone bridge more than 400 meters in length. Thick and wide, the bridge could accommodate over twenty carriages traveling in parallel. Although the Meng Ren Palace and the Luo Li Palace were nominally called palaces, they were in fact formed by rows and rows of mansions.
It was common knowledge that the prosperity of Xian Yang City was comparable to even the major port cities of the Song Empire. This city, which was barely a fifth of Zhen Huang City, benefited from the geographical advantages after free trade was declared between the Xia, Tang, and Song Empire. In merely three decades, it was ranked among the most prosperous cities within the West Meng Continent. The yearly taxes that Xian Yang contribute to the empire was enough to pay for the upkeep of one-third of the entire imperial army for that year. It was rumored that this small city had gathered all the richest people within the entire West Meng Continent. Many affluent people would buy land and build grand mansions within the city. As a result, glancing across the entire city, the grand city exuded an aura of opulence.
The outer city was extremely large and was over ten time the size of the inner city. This was the location where the common folks would carry out their daily activities. With well-developed shops and industries, and well-constructed infrastructure, one could find anything one would want to go to: bars, money lenders, pawn shops, horse keepers, inns, taverns, etc. Beside the Chi Shui river, a building painted bright pink and jade green could be seen from afar. Even in the day, one could catch an occasional echo of ladies' laughter from within. As the entourage entered deep into the Xian Yang City, it gradually shed its inconspicuous act. After all, this place was a place where all the richest and most powerful congregated, so even have 20 guards would not be considered conspicuous.
This group of people was people from Yan Bei. The man in the carriage would obviously be the man brought Yan Bei to independence, Yan Xun. Looking pale, his eyes still gleamed with a certain sharpness. His eyebrows locked in a frown, he looked as though he was considering something of great importance.
"Master, we have arrived."
Yan Xun wore a simple green blouse. Loosening his frown, he calmly alighted and walked toward a majestic mansion.
This mansion sat within Luo Li Palace and consisted of 18 separate houses. Although this area could not match some of the grand mansions within Zhen Huang City, considering the sky-high prices of the land in Xian Yang City due to the scarcity, it was obvious that the owner of this mansion was of extremely high standing within Xian Yang City.
Along the way, Yan Xun saw not even a shadow. AhJing and other guards spread out and positioned themselves around the entire mansion. After a few moments, Yan Xun, escorted by over a dozen guards, entered the main courtyard, only to see a man dressed in a jade colored robe kneeling along with hundreds of people behind him. Without lifting his head, the man called out, "This servant welcome the prince. Long live the prince!"
Yan Xun let out a rare laugh, as he walked forward, putting his hand on the man's shoulder, he teased, "B*stard, just get up!"
That man was merely in his early twenties and had well-defined features with snow white skin. His thin eyebrows even looked a tad feminine, and his darting eyes revealed his calculative personality.
"Haha." The youth laughed. "Prince, you must be tired by the journey here. I have prepared good food and wine. Please take a moment to rest."
Nodding, Yan Xun walked over. While walking, he tugged at the other man's clothes, before joking, "Zhijin silk? You brat, seems like you had been living a good life!"
"Prince," The young man bitterly smiled, as he pouted innocently and declared, "this is already the most normal set. It was precisely because I was worried that you would say I was too luxurious that I dug this out. Even now I feel itchy wearing this."
"Haha!" Yan Xun laughed out loud, before turning to face AhJing, "You see this? People like him would ridicule you the moment you give them a chance!"
Heartily smiling in response, AhJing teasingly punched the young man, and said, "Still so arrogant. Watch out, master can take over your whole house!"
The crowd joked around while entering the room. Within the main hall, a sumptuous meal had been prepared. Nothing discussing anything important, the crowd started eating while talking about the interesting things they had seen along the way. Yan Xun seemed to be in a great mood today, as he had not been annoyed even though AhJing made a joke out of how Yan Xun saved the lady of Helian family.
After the meal, AhJing quietly stepped aside, as Yan Xun and the youth entered the study room. Closing the door, the duo finally showed no signs of casualness as their faces were dead serious. Brushing his clothes aside, the youth kneeled onto the ground, and with an expression of excitation, he forlornly said, "Prince, you have finally come."
Squatting down, Yan Xun helped him up. Right now Yan Xun's face wore a rare expression of gentleness, as he calmly proclaimed, "Feng Mian, how long have we not met?"
As expected, this youth was the page boy that had served as the messenger between Yan Xun and Chu Qiao. On that day, most of Yan Xun's servants had been killed out of Zhen Huang City. Feng Mian was able to escape despite his severe wounds. Following that incident, all of Yan Bei family was uprooted. With Yan Xun's loss of influence, Feng Mian went through two horrible years. Only in the third year, after Yan Xun bribed the prison guards, Feng Mian was able to escape from the endless darkness in the prison.
Being unable to stay in the royal capital, he headed south by himself. After coming to the Xian Yang City, and with the assistance of Da Tong Guild and some Yan Bei powers, he had become one of the greatest mafia bosses within Xian Yang in just six years. His influence spread far and wide, and he owned over 80 shops of various types. He also controlled over twenty ship construction yards, and created the notorious Cao Gang that ruled the waters in the region. Now, within the entire South-eastern region, the name Feng Mian, or more respectably known as Lord Feng, was a household name that even three-year-olds would know of.
"Prince, it has been already six years. This servant has finally met you again." With reddened eyes, one could see a drop of tears in Feng Mian's eyes as he deeply proclaimed while holding onto Yan Xun's hand.
"Indeed, with just a blink of our eyes, you have already grown so much." Yan Xun responded cheerily, "As the famous Feng Lord, would it not be inappropriate for you to refer to yourself as a servant? I heard even that elderly Master Jing and the Ling King frequented your business. Last year when the song of Ling King, Zhao Zhongyen, owed you money, you dared to even openly burn down his fleet. In that fire, Ling King lost several thousand rolls of silk, and he almost had to borrow huge loans to cover his losses."
Feng Mian shyly smiled, not having a tinge of the aura that a mafia boss would normally have. In fact, right now he behaved more like a shy little girl. Embarrassed, he replied, "What lord? Others just decided arbitrarily to address me as Lord Feng. Zhao Zhongyen used the fact that he was a descendant of the Zhao Family to bully me, so naturally, I cannot let him off easily. Additionally, back in the royal capital, we had often been sabotaged by Ling King, this servant had long been annoyed by their attitude. Plus..." As he spoke, Feng Mian's eyes were tinged with fervor, as he continued, "In front of the prince, Feng Mian would always be a servant. Without the prince, there would be no way I could succeed. Even my life belongs to the prince. If I try to put on airs in front of the prince, can I still be called a human?"
"Alright, enough, enough." Yan Xun laughed, as he continued, "I was merely teasing you, why take it so seriously?" With that said, he pulled Feng Mian, who was still kneeling, up. The duo sat on opposite sides of a table as Feng Mian nimbly started prepared tea. Before long, the refreshing scent of tea diffused throughout the room.
"Prince," With sparkling eyes, Feng Mian smiled and asked, "Where is the lady? Is she not with you? I heard about the slaughter in Zhen Huang, along with the tales of how the Lady brought the troops wrecking havoc even after the rebellion night. This servant was so excited I almost mustered my men to return to Yan Bei. This time while you head to the Tang Empire, is the lady not going to follow you?"
Calmly Yan Xun replied, "I separated from her. Did you not know that Zhao Che ordered a nationwide search?"
"What?" Feng Mian was stunned. "But didn't Yan Bei claim that she had already returned?"
"That was false information sent out by me to cloud their judgment, hopefully reducing the number of pursuers behind AhChu when they think that she had already returned to safety." Drinking a sip of tea, he continued, "Although I had warned all the lords and nobles not to give chase, I had to still play mind games with them to ensure the best outcome."
Feng Mian nodded, as he frowned. "That means the lady is still out there trying to escape. Prince, worry not, this servant will send people out to search for her. As long as she is still within the Xia Empire, regardless if she is on land or in water, this servant has ways to find her."
Yan Xun slowly shook his head. "My guess is that she has already entered the Tang Empire."
"The Tang Empire?"
"Indeed. If my guess is correct, she wants to enter the Tang Empire, and head toward the southern borders, before heading back to Yan Bei."
"Is that why you are here in the Tang Empire?"
Nodding, Yan Xun replied, "Yes, that is one of the reasons."
"Alright, this servant will order the Cao Gang to look for her within the Tang Empire. As long as she is going by water, I will definitely receive news of her."