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Chapter 807: Joke
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
“You owe me a favor,” Shangguan Ru said with a serious look while Red Bat nodded from beside her as a show of support.
“I owe you more than just one favor,” Gu Shenwei answered with just as seriously, and Han Fen nodded from beside him like a chicken pecking at rice.
Long Fanyun and Nie Zeng, who were standing guard at the door, looked a bit embarra.s.sed but they couldn’t leave until they were given the order to.
Shangguan Ru smiled. “I thought that your temperament would have changed after you played such a humiliating joke on Prince Duodun. It turns out that you still don’t understand.”
Gu Shenwei knew that she was making fun of him, but he had lost interest in cooperating years ago. “Anyway, it was your news that saved me from Duodun’s trap.”
“It’s nothing. Don’t mention it,” Shangguan Ru replied in a n.o.ble and chivalric tone. “Even without my warning, you wouldn’t have gone in, would you?”
“I would be hesitant to.” Of course Gu Shenwei would not enter the enemy’s tent casually, but Shangguan Ru’s warning had been concrete evidence not to.
“Hehe, I seem to have become a snitch.”
“You are the instructor of the Dragon Army, not an officer of the Norland. Thus, you are not a snitch.”
Shangguan Ru was perpetually worried about this man’s safety. Even if the same thing took place all over again, for a hundred times, she would still choose to become an ‘informant.’ But when she spoke face-to-face with the Dragon King, her mien was cool, calm, and collected. Now, she could even easily understand the hidden meanings behind his words, which was actually something she was once been very bad at. “You still have doubts?”
Gu Shenwei neither nodded nor shook his head. Long Fanyun, Nie Zeng, and Red Bat understood the Dragon King’s meaning and left the room.
Red Bat gave Long Fanyun a rueful glance as she pa.s.sed by him.
Han Fen puzzledly looked at the backs of the three people leaving and asked in a low voice, “Do you want all of us to leave?”
Gu Shenwei nodded.
Amazed, Han Fen then asked, “You didn’t say a word or give a signal. How did they know? That’s really amazing. Is there a trick?”
“Have Red Bat explain it to you.”
Han Fen turned and glared at Shangguan Ru. “Red Bat is with the little girl. I don’t want to hear her explanation.”
Ordinary people would feel uncomfortable with such a stare, but Shangguan Ru actually found it quite amusing. “Do you hate me?”
“I don’t hate you, but I’m on the Master Commander’s side, so I can’t like you.”
“Haha, that makes sense. But then why are you staying with the Dragon King? Do you want to kidnap him and bring him to your Master Commander?”
“I did have that idea before, but I’m a captive now. So, I can only be at his disposal.”
“You are a captive?” Shangguan Ru looked up and down at Han Fen and then remarked, “But you are not bound, and neither have your acupoints been struck.”
Han Fen finally revealed a bright smile. “See, the Dragon King is a good man, and I’d like to be his captive.”
Shangguan Ru also smiled back. This half-mad woman actually had the same viewpoint as her — that the Dragon King was a good man.
Gu Shenwei coughed and motioned for Han Fen to leave already. Han Fen glanced at him and continued talking to Shangguan Ru. She had already given the Master Commander’s enemy a fierce stare and felt that since she had finished her task, she could speak as she pleased. “You are also good, though not as good as Master Commander. In fact, I’ve been wondering. Why can’t the Dragon King marry both of you? That way, everyone will be happy, right?”
Gu Shenwei was forced to speak up now. “Han Fen.”
“Yes, Dragon King?”
“Are you telling me to go out?”
“All right. I’ll talk to you later.” Han Fen turned around, but when she reached the door, she turned around and again said, “Please consider my suggestion. Master Commander is very flexible…”
Gu Shenwei pushed her out and closed the door, nearly forgetting what he had wanted to ask in the first place.
“Han Fen is very lovely.” Shangguan Ru commented, smilingly. Although Han Fen was older than both of them, she had a puerile innocence and self-righteousness about her. “But she doesn’t know much about Lotus.”
“She doesn’t know much about anyone.” Gu Shenwei didn’t want to talk about Han Fen and Lotus. “How did you know that Duodun had set a trap in the camp?”
“My friend told me.”
“A drinking friend.”
The more serious the Dragon King looked, the stronger Shangguan Ru’s urge to laugh was, even to the point of losing control. She suppressed her impulse and continued explaining. “He’s also a friend of Liman’s. You are right. Although Duodun is good at wooing people, his conception of loyalty is too simple; he thinks that everyone is a thread with one end connecting with him and the other end pointing at his enemy. When in reality, it’s a net with thousands of strands connecting thousands of people. Liman is definitely loyal to Duodun. His friend is also loyal to Duodun. But when Duodun wants to kill Liman, their loyalty in that case may not be that strong.”
Gu Shenwei was very surprised that Shangguan Ru would sigh with such complex emotions. But what surprised him even more was that Shangguan Ru had deftly evaded the main question and had not revealed the informant’s name.
“You’re a thread as well. Who’s on the other end?”
“Haha, are you sure that one of the ends are connected to you?”
Gu Shenwei was sure. Shangguan Ru’s face turned slightly gloomy because she had seen through to the Dragon King’s real meaning once again. “My father came again. He was very angry, but he didn’t kill me.”
The Unique King had come to a.s.sa.s.sinate the Dragon King, but had been tricked by his daughter. Instead of punishing her, he had said, “Golden Roc Castle never forgives anyone. You are an exception, but exceptions never last long.”
This was the Unique King. Since he had once wanted to kill his own daughter, he would never apologize for it, and would always maintain an att.i.tude of ‘you owe me a big favor, but I don’t owe you anything.’
Shangguan Ru had cried after the Unique King left. This was the kind of fatherly love she was familiar with. Her father had always been like this, indulging his daughter but rarely ever showing his care. She couldn’t remember how many times she had enjoyed these ‘exceptions’ since she was a child.
Shangguan Ru would not tell the Dragon King this, let alone someone else. What she said instead was on another subject. “Golden Roc Castle is sn.o.bbish. Now that you have the Dragon Army in the south, at Xiaoyao Lake, and also the hors.e.m.e.n of the Norland in the north, they are very afraid of you.”
Gu Shenwei shook his head and noticed the conciliatory tone in Shangguan Ru’s voice. “The Unique King is planning a counterattack. My life and death is not important to him. What he yearns for is land and the t.i.tle of ‘king.’”
“Maybe.” Shangguan Ru sighed as she continued, “Zhang Ji went to Prince Luoluo’s place while Third Brother is clinging to you. And the castle has reduced the number of killers as if they are up to something.”
Shangguan Ru wasn’t stupid, but sometimes, she just didn’t want to open her eyes and see the obvious facts.
“I’m leaving now.” Gu Shenwei strived to not be blindfolded by anyone or anything. “To inspect Shulitu’s army with Duodun.”
“Do you really think that that kid and the Court Attendants Army can resist Duodun’s wooing?”
“The result will reveal itself soon.”
Shangguan Ru couldn’t understand these things and also didn’t want to look into it. “Well, do not forget to explain to Duodun why the Dragon Army started purchasing provisions and supplies again. I promised him, on your behalf, that purchases would stop.”
“I have a feeling that Duodun won’t ask about it.”
Shangguan Ru smiled as she walked towards the Dragon King, pa.s.sed by him, and opened the door. “Any news about Shaomin?”
“Soon. Someone’s working on it.” What Gu Shenwei meant was that Han Wuxian, who was tracking the disciples of the Waning Moon Hall like a hound, was working on it as Shangguan Shaomin was also one of her targets.
“Take the Flame Foal with you. It must miss the gra.s.sland very much.”
“That’s your horse.”
“That’s wishful thinking if you think I’m giving it to you. I’m just lending it.”
Gu Shenwei felt as if there was a gaping hole in his chest and that he desperately needed something to fill it. When he walked out of the yard and mounted the Flame Foal, the feeling had disappeared.
Han Fen came over and winked at the Dragon King. Gu Shenwei pretended to not have seen it and rode out.
Long Fanyun, who was already on a horse, silently exchanged a glance with Red Bat. The two of them had been standing guard at the door the whole time, and had barely spoken any words from beginning to end.
“Take care,” Red Bat blurted out, not even knowing why she said it.
Long Fanyun solemnly nodded and chased the Dragon King together with the other guards, repeatedly reminding himself in his mind that his wife was still waiting for him back on Big Snow Mountain.
Because of the last a.s.sa.s.sination attempt, Gu Shenwei refused to meet Duodun in the city. Instead, he led those 20,000 soldiers through the city and entered the territory of the Xiaowan Kingdom.
Duodun agreed to the request. For him, it was simply a concession before the duel.
After setting camp on the border, Gu Shenwei summoned Shangguan Yun. “You can go back to the Xiaowan Kingdom now.”
“The Dragon King believes me now?” Shangguan Yun smilingly said. Although he was more than ten years older than his half-sister, the two’s smiles were strikingly similar.
“Not really. You are going back to the Xiaowan Kingdom to appease the people and reinforce the walls. As for the garrison, I’ll leave it to someone else.”
“That’s very reasonable. As long as the capital city of my humble country can be kept safe, the Dragon King will be my benefactor.”
“It was Zhang Ji’s idea, wasn’t it?” Gu Shenwei suddenly asked.
Shangguan Yun merely remained smiling. The Dragon King’s surprise move had had no effect on him. “Mr. Zhang? Hehe, he’s currently a.s.sisting a smelly prince at the moment. I don’t even know whether he’s dead or alive. What idea does the Dragon King think Zhang Ji gave me?”
“It depends on whether you want to tell the truth or not.”
Shangguan Yun thought for a while before saying, “Why wouldn’t I tell the truth? When the Dragon King was back in Xiaoyao Lake, the Golden Roc Army seemed to hold an overwhelming advantage. Everyone wanted to kill the Dragon King for a reward, and of course I could not fall behind. But now, the Dragon King has a powerful army and has also borrowed a large number of troops from the Norland. Meanwhile, Golden Roc Castle is in a weak position. Everyone sails with the wind; I was just a step ahead of the rest.”
Shangguan Yun made himself out to be a base person. Seeing that the Dragon King remained unconvinced, he went on to say, “The Dragon King has probably forgotten that I have no special feelings for Golden Roc Castle and I don’t care about the life or death of the Unique King.”
Shangguan Yun had indeed been like this in the past, but now, he felt a bit mysterious and unpredictable. “What’s your ultimate goal?” asked Gu Shenwei.
“The Xiaowan Kingdom, which was born to be a va.s.sal. A carefree life.” Shangguan Yun opened his arms and continued to say, “If the Dragon King wins, this will be the life I expect.”
“And if I lose?”
“If the Dragon King is defeated, it means Luoluo will have won. Zhang Ji will be promoted to a high position and will naturally find a way to send me back to Golden Roc Castle. I’m telling the truth. I hope the Dragon King doesn’t mind.”
Gu Shenwei did not care at all. In a sense, Shangguan Yun and Zhang Ji had begun to value the Dragon King because they had identified Luoluo as his primary enemy instead of Duodun.
Next, Gu Shenwei met with the General of the Right, Shang Liao, and ordered him to lead the army to guard the Xiaowan Kingdom’s capital city.
Shang Liao had already learned about the downfall of the prince of Shule so he respectfully accepted the order. “How many men is the Dragon King planning to leave behind?”
“The Xiaowan Kingdom has 10,000 Norland cavalry.”
“If the attackers are from the Norland, they won’t be trustworthy.”
“Hmm, they will be guarding from outside the city. You can take all 20,000 soldiers of the Dragon Army with you to defend inside the city.”
Shang Liao did not expect to receive such an answer. He had only planned to receive 10,000 soldiers. After the betrayal of the prince of the Shule Kingdom, the Dragon King’s trust in him felt a bit poorly timed. “Doesn’t the Dragon King need any soldiers?”
“I’ll take away some guards, no more than 500 people.”
“Yes, yes. But… That’s too dangerous, Dragon King.”
“Danger has nothing to do with the number of soldiers.”
The will of the Norland people was the real battlefield between the Dragon King and Duodun, and the winner would take it all. The backdoor Gu Shenwei had arranged for himself was the Xiaowan Kingdom, which would be defended by two suspicious people.