Yun Qian Yu, Gong Sang Mo and Man Er ride back to Wolong County and return to the county's posthouse. The posthouse is surprisingly quiet. The supervisor of the posthouse is waiting for them by the entrance. When he sees them, he kneels on the ground.
Yun Qian Yu glances at him before walking in.
A person is kneeling inside the entertaining hall. He is the Magistrate of Wolong County, Guo Shu Huai. Even when kneeling, he keeps his back straight.
Yun Qian Yu slowly sits down on her designated seat while Gong Sang Mo sits next to her. "Why are you here, Magistrate Guo?"
"First of all, this official is here to thank Princess Hu Guo and Xian Wang on behalf of the common people of Wolong County. You have removed the threat that endangered our people's peace." After saying that, Guo Shu Huai kowtows heavily on the floor.
"Second of all, this official had committed a crime. Please punish me, Princess Hu Guo, Xian Wang!"
"What crime have you committed?"
"Jiu Xiao Kingdom's 7th wang has been deceived by this official into captivity. He is currently sleeping at the back courtyard, unharmed."
"Why did you do that?"
Honestly, Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo have long guessed that Bei Tang Ming is not in grave danger. They had known that this was a set up as well, by someone to get the court to get rid of the Wolong bandits. They also knew that it was Guo Shu Huai.
"5 years ago, this official headed for the capital for the imperial examination with this official's 3 best friends who were also this official's classmates. On our way there, we were ambushed by the Wolong bandits. They were merciless and cold-blooded. They wanted to kill us even though we had given them all of our valuables. In the midst of the chaos, I fell down the slope. They thought I was a weak scholar and that I would have died for sure, but I ended up surviving everything. My friends however, were not that fortunate. Since then, I promised myself to avenge my friends by getting rid of the bandits," Guo Shu Huai shares his story with a heart ache.
"I endured the pain and continued the journey to the capital. After the examination, I refused my teacher's offer and decided to assume the position of an official outside the capital. I became the Magistrate of Jing Zhou. 3 years ago, the position of Magistrate for Wolong County was left open because no one dared to assume the position. I took the post. I started making plans on eradicating the bandits the moment I got here, but I was too naïve. The leader of the bandits was too powerful, none of us here were his equal. I started sending memorials to the court, but I never got any reply. It was then that I understood that the bandit's leader had backing in court. But I was not going to give up. I wanted avenge my friends. I didn't want the people of the Wolong County to continue living in fear. And so, I started plotting. I knew that if I wanted to get the imperial court to send troops, I needed to give them a good enough reason to. And then, the retired emperor's birthday celebration came."
Guo Shu Huai stops right there. He knows that he need not say more for the princess and Xian Wang to put two and two together.
"Were you the one who blocked the bandit's letter and then sent it the moment we got there?"
Yun Qian Yu looked at the seemingly weak scholar that is Guo Shu Huai. His actions prove that he is someone with a good head, smart and neat.
"Why did you choose Hu Wei Camp?"
"The emperor has only regained control of Hu Wei Camp and has handed it over to Duke Rong's heir. I have seen the shizi before. Although he seems frivolous on the outside, he is chivalrous on the inside. When I found out that he has been given authority over Hu Wei Camp, I knew that my plan had hope."
"You are very smart!" Yun Qian Yu praises him without holding back. One must know that if the messenger went to the capital's posthouse instead of the camp, he would be dead long ago and no one would know that Bei Tang Ming has been kidnapped. Bei Tang Yun would be very pleased with the outcome.
"This minister is humbled," Guo Shu Huai lowers his head.
"Is your family here with you?"
"This official's parents are in our hometown. This official never marry, so this official has no family members here."
"How old are you?"
"Answering Your Highness, this official is 24 years old."
"Why didn't you marry?"
"This official swore not to marry until I avenge my friends."
"This official does not deserve that praise!"
Yun Qian Yu gets up before saying, "Bengong and Xian Wang are hungry. We haven't eaten lunch and dinner. Are you planning to starve us, Magistrate Guo?"
"This official was negligent. Dinner has been prepared. Bath water have been prepared as well. Your Highness and Xian Wang can eat the moment you two finish bathing."
"Alright." Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo follow him as he leads them to their respective rooms.
After Yun Qian Yu enters her room, she stops for a moment and turns to Guo Shu Huai, "The Wolong bandits have been eradicated. The 7th wang has been saved. He should regain his consciousness soon."
After saying that, she closes her bedroom door.
Guo Shu Huai stands frozen outside. Is Princess Hu Guo telling him that she will not pursue his crime? He walks back to the entertaining lounge in a daze. He instructs a couple of maids to serve Yun Qian Yu and a couple of pageboys for Gong Sang Mo.
After that, he rushes to the kitchen to order the chefs to serve everything.
Yun Qian Yu takes a bath leisurely before eating dinner with Gong Sang Mo.
They start discussing about the report that Guo Shu Huai has given them. They must say, he is a righteous scholar with a brilliant mind. The common people like him too. He was very popular in his previous post in Jing Zhou and is also very well-liked here. All the informations that he obtained were given by the common people who trusted him.
Yun Qian Yu made a decision in her heart.
"Have you finished reading?" Gong Sang Mo asks.
"En. Give him a chance first, then we will see."
After reading Guo Shu Huai's report, they return to their respective rooms.
The next day, the entire Wolong County is in an uproar.
Everyone is talking about how Princess Hu Guo, Xian Wang and Duke Rong's heir have eradicated the Wolong bandits. It is said that Princess Hu Guo and Xian Wang had descended from the sky like a pair of celestials before killing the bandits with a wave of their hands. They have killed the leader and have managed to retrieve some gold and treasures.
The street in front of the county's government office is packed with people. They want to see how Princess Hu Guo and Xian Wang look like. They also want to see the bandits that they hated so much.
They are all talking about how good their Magistrate is. He really cares about the people. Princess Hu Guo and Xian Wang involvement this time, ought to be because of their Magistrate. Where else can they find such a good official?
At this moment, Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo are sitting at the back courtyard, drinking tea with Bei Tang Ming.
Bei Tang Ming is in a really bad mood, he won't say a thing. He wouldn't tell them if he simply lost his way or if he purposely went to Wolong Ridge. He wouldn't say a thing about the letter that he supposedly got, as well. She asked Guo Shu Huai, but he told her to ask Bei Tang Ming himself. Yun Qian Yu is very curious as to what it is that Guo Shu Huai cannot bring himself to say.
"The news of your safety has been sent to the capital. Would you like to return to the capital first, or would you like to return with bengong and Xian Wang?"
Yun Qian Yu does not know what else to say. This Bei Tang Ming is pretty unlucky. He got kidnapped twice, and both times as a pawn for someone to get to someone else.
She can see that he has something troubling him at the moment.
"You are so embarrassing. A simple letter is enough to deceive you!" A handsome young man in blue is perched on the wall of the courtyard.
Hearing that voice, Bei Tang Ming perks up. He looks at the source of that voice and runs to the man the moment he sees him.
"Yun Zhou, you are here! You are really here?" There is an unconcealed joy in his voice.
The corner of Ji Yun Zhou's lips twitches, "So embarrassing. You got kidnapped twice in just one trip. If I were you, I would have committed suicide by smashing my head to the wall."
"I cannot bear to die. I wouldn't be able to meet you if I die," Bei Tang Ming laughs in delight.
Yun Qian Yu looks at Gong Sang Mo and finds that his expression is completely normal. Are they having a passion of broken sleeves? She softly whispers to him, "You knew?"
(TN: The passion of cut sleeves refers to homosexuality.)
"En." Gong Sang Mo pats Yun Qian Yu's head playfully.
Yun Qian Yu finally knows why Guo Shu Huai wouldn't speak.
She looks at the two men curiously. They are clearly handsome young men, and yet they like people of the same gender. A lot of maidens' hearts will be broken.
"Why are you looking at us like that?" Ji Yun Zhou defensively snaps. He jumps down from the wall and walks towards her.
"Uh?" Yun Qian Yu is speechless. How else should she look at them? Should she be looking at them with starry eyes like they are her ancestors?
Bei Tang Ming anxiously runs after him and quickly says, "Yun Zhou, Princess Hu Guo already has a betrothed one!"
"What does that has anything to do with me? It's not like I want to marry her!" Ji Yun Zhou sits in front of Yun Qian Yu.
"Hey, so you are the owner of Yun Valley?"
"Yes." Yun Qian Yu feels like this Ji Yun Zhou's temper is very unstable.
"I heard that if you are around, even a dead person will come back to life."
"People exaggerated." The corner of her lips twitches, she is not the king of hell, how can she revive the dead?
"I just knew that was impossible! How can there be such a powerful medicinal art out there!" Ji Yun Zhou says with a knowing look.
Bei Tang Ming anxiously paces around when Ji Yun Zhou ignores him.
Yun Qian Yu secretly gives him an eyeroll. She wonder if she and Gong Sang Mo should excuse themselves.
Ji Yun Zhou's eyes fall on Gong Sang Mo.
"I heard, Xian Wang likes Princess Hu Guo?"
Gong Sang Mo smiles warmly, "Yes, that is correct."
"How much do you like her?"
Gong Sang Mo ponders seriously, "I like her more than I like myself."
"Then, it is true love," Ji Yun Zhou suddenly says.
Gong Sang Mo asks him, "You know what true love is, Marquis Ji?"
Ji Yun Zhou suddenly stops speaking.
Bei Tang Ming glances at Gong Sang Mo fiercely.
Gong Sang Mo speechlessly rubs his own nose, did he say anything wrong? He only wanted to help, after seeing how desperate Bei Tang Ming is. Ungrateful person!
"You have not answer my question, 7th wangye," Yun Qian Yu wants to leave this place as soon as possible.
Bei Tang Ming looks at her before turning to Ji Yun Zhou, "Would you like to play in Nan Lou Kingdom's capital for a couple of days, Yun Zhou?"
"What fun places are there in the capital?"
"There is a place called Ya Xuan, only a true talented person can enter it. Would you like to give that place a go, Yun Zhou?"
Yun Qian Yu looks at her own hands, ignoring the two people.
"How interesting. Alright."
After Ji Yun Zhou says that, Bei Tang Ming turns to Yun Qian Yu, "I will return to the capital before you."
"Alright. I will arrange some guards to escort you. You can make your preparations, 7th wang. The escorts will depart as soon as you are ready."
"Alright. This king does not need to prepare anything. We can immediately depart!" Bei Tang Ming is finally happy.
After coming to that decision, Yun Qian Yu leaves the courtyard and arranges some guards to escort Bei Tang Ming back to the capital. The bandits of the Wolong Ridge have been killed anyway, it is pointless to have so many guards here. All of them are sent to escort Bei Tang Ming back to the capital.
Ji Yun Zhou and Bei Tang Ming leaves in a grand manner.
The next day, Yun Qian Yu works with Guo Shu Huai to close the bandit's case.
If anyone recognized the dead, the dead will be sent to his family home to be buried. If not, they will be buried in unmarked graves. As for the injured ones, some are locked up and some are beheaded.
By the time they are done, the sky is already dark.
Just as they are about to eat dinner, Hua Man Xi returns.
He returns the sword and the token to Yun Qian Yu before shamelessly sitting down, staring at the dishes on the table. He picks up his own bowl and starts eating.
"I am hungry to death," he says while eating.
"You skipped meals?" Yun Qian Yu cannot bring herself to say anything about his pitiful appearance.
"I didn't eat breakfast."
Yun Qian Yu finally understands why he appears so ravenous. He has been hungry the entire day, he could probably eat an entire cow!
She and Gong Sang Mo slowly eats.
Once Hua Man Xi is full, he puts down his chopsticks and leans back on the chair.
"Little girl, we dig it up all the way to the Prefectural Magistrate of Jing Zhou," he is very frustrated. There is clearly a bigger fish behind everything. The feeling of coming so close towards something only for it to slip away is very infuriating.
"It is as expected," Yun Qian Yu is not disappointed, she knows that it will not be easy to root out the real mastermind.
"The Shang Fang Sword was really useful! You have no idea how arrogant the Magistrate was. I already took out your token and he still wouldn't give face. He kept saying that he never received any memorial from Wolong County. He said he was a righteous officer, he wouldn't purposely harm the common populace. He even threatened to go to the capital to beg for the emperor's audience so that he could maintain his honor or something!" Hua Man Xi is still angry when he thinks about it.
"The staffs in the government office were completely attuned with him. I was completely helpless. I took out the sword and ordered the Hu Wei soldiers to surround the government office. We arrested some people and interrogated them and searched the office and the Magistrate's manor a couple of times before we finally managed to gather enough proofs. That guy then changed his tune and said that Guo Shu Huai was disrespectful towards him and that he had purposely did all that he did to make things hard for Guo Shu Huai. He handed over the memorials and took all the blame."
"I detained him there. He is being watched by the soldiers from Hu Wei Camp. He will be sent to the capital once we return to the capital."
"I'm afraid he will not enter the capital alive," Gong Sang Mo and Yun Qian Yu speaks at the same time.
"You two are so attuned to each other," Hua Man Xi says in awe. "But what do you mean by that?"
"One of the soldiers from Hu Wei Camp tried to help the bandit's leader escape," Yun Qian Yu leisurely says.
Hua Man Xi slams his fist on the table in anger, "There was a spy!"
"This is fine too. The Prefectural Magistrate will be killed either way. Might as well take this chance to root out the spies in your Hu Wei Camp."
Hua Man Xi takes a deep breath before calling one of his people over. He instructs him to go to Jing Zhou's government office.
"Who is the bandit's leader, little girl?" Hua Man Xi asks afterwards, his burning eyes revealing his anxiety.
"Murong Chen," Yun Qian Yu does not hide anything from him.
"As expected," Hua Man Xi says. "Did you dig out a lot of money?"
Yun Qian Yu looks at Gong Sang Mo, "A lot. But I only announced 5. The rest will be handed over to Yu Jian."
"You really trust me. Aren't you afraid I will kidnap you along the way? Just see how good it is to be a bandit, you get so rich by kidnapping people!" Hua Man Xi cracks a joke.
Yun Qian Yu rolls her eyes at him.
"Haha, in order to be worthy of little girl's trust, let me show you something." Hua Man Xi hands over a report.
She opens it and reads it, before looking back at Hua Man Xi. He nods at her. Yun Qian Yu hands the report over to Gong Sang Mo.
Serene: Okay, so did anybody saw that coming?