As they walked along the street, everyone was in an extremely bad mood. The day after tomorrow was New Year’s day, and the Longevity Fruit auction will be held at Ye Tan City as planned. Now that they were left with only a day or two, not to mention rushing there without stopping for food or rest, even if they were to send a messenger pigeon to Steward Zhao and the others, there wouldn’t be enough time to gather their forces to deal with it.
Leng Zui suddenly spoke up: “We’ve finally found clues about Mr Shi. This person had stolen the Longevity Fruit and put the blame on my father.”
Lei Lei mumbled: “No, he doesn’t actually have the Longevity Fruit and is only using it to trick everyone into going there, then he’ll incite them to kill each other.”
Because she had said this so confidently, everyone was quite dumbfounded.
Qin Liu Feng glanced at her: “It’s just a guess. If the Longevity Fruit is really in his hands, we’ll be able to track him down by following the clues and find out the truth about what had happened between Old Sir Bu and the former Leader Leng.”
It wasn’t a guess, all these must’ve been orchestrated by beauty gege. He didn’t have the Longevity Fruit at all, and someone else must’ve been the murderer that killed Old Sir Bu and stole the Longevity Fruit! Lei Lei really wanted to rebut him, but she didn’t dare to say that because she was the one who had revealed their plans to Shang Guan Qiu Yue. Having created this trouble, she could only remain silent in fear of being found out.
The gongzi said: “What’s most important right now is how things are at Ye Tan City.”
With this, everyone fell silent.
Wen Xiang who was leading the way suddenly halted her steps and turned around to look at He Tai Ping: “Why don’t Chief He send a messenger pigeon to Ye Tan City? Perhaps there’s still time.”
Everyone shook their heads.
But He Tai Ping’s eyes lit up and he motioned for her to continue.
Wen Xiang bit her lips: “My……father might have also gone there.”
Everyone realised what she was saying, and they felt happy but also concerned.
It was fortunate that after hearing news of the Longevity Fruit from his old friend, Wen Ting had held back the information and didn’t report it, showing that he had interest in the Longevity Fruit. Since he wasn’t at Bi Shui City now, he had most probably received the news midway and had rushed to Ye Tan City. As the leader of one of the three major factions, if he wanted to vie for the Longevity Fruit, he would’ve undoubtedly brought along Xi Sha faction’s top experts to assist him.
Unfortunately, since Wen Ting wanted the Longevity Fruit, would he follow orders?
Qin Liu Feng said: “With Xi Sha faction’s influence and Leader Wen’s power, they might be able to delay them for a few days. If Leader Wen is willing to help out, it’ll be a great merit.”
Leng Sheng Yin scoffed.
“There are still some principles that Leader Wen will understand,” his voice was as gentle as always, tinged with the dignity of a leader. He Tai Ping said resolutely, “We are pressed for time, I’ll go to the pigeon post with Brother Qin to write a letter. Brother Xiao and Leader Leng can follow Wen Guniang to find Swordsman Feng.” He looked at the gongzi as he emphasised: “Bring him to the inn and await my return before questioning him.”
The gongzi nodded: “Don’t worry.”
If they were to question him on the spot, it’ll be fine if Feng Qian Wei confessed, but if he didn’t, Leng Sheng Yin might end up doing something due to his eagerness to take revenge.
After briefing everyone, He Tai Ping left with Qin Liu Feng.
Bi Shui City’s southern region was a residential area so it wasn’t as noisy as other areas. It was getting later into the night so there were long shadows on the empty streets and their footsteps also seemed especially distinct. Wen Xiang led everyone to stop in front of a large door before she stepped up to knock on it.
Not a moment later, the door cracked open and a servant popped his head out to size everyone up with a suspicious look on his face: “You all……”
The gongzi said: “We are here to see Swordsman Feng regarding an urgent matter.”
After a moment’s hesitation, the servant replied: “Alright, please wait a moment……”
Before he could finish, a girl’s yelling came from inside: “What ‘alright’! They’re looking for my father to gamble again, tell them to get lost! Chase them away!” That voice was resounding, slightly shrill and spoke very quickly. It could be seen that this girl wasn’t just frank and outspoken, but she was also short-tempered.
“Yes yes yes,” as if he was afraid of her, the servant put on a smile and nodded his head repeatedly, then he turned to everyone with a smile and said in a low voice, “Our young miss……can you come back tomorrow?”
The gongzi frowned: “We have a really important matter, can I trouble you……”
“Why are you being so long-winded with them, good-for-nothing!” A delicate and beautiful hand reached out to push the servant away. Then with a “swish”, the door was pushed wide open and there stood a girl of around seventeen or eighteen. Her clothes were simple and plain, but they couldn’t cover her natural beauty. She had an oval-shaped face with cherry lips, and her arched brows made her appear somewhat shrewish. With an angry look on her face, she pointed at everyone with a whip in her hand as she said in a stern voice, “Listen up! My father doesn’t gamble anymore, stop coming to look for him, beat it!”
Coming forth with a whip right in their faces, this young miss’ kung fu was pretty good.
The gongzi moved sideways to avoid it.
Wen Xiang quickly said: “Cai Cai, it’s me!”
It was obvious that the girl recognised her, her furious expression turning into one of joy: “Why are you here!” and also doubt: “They……”
“This is Swordsman Feng’s daughter, Feng Cai Cai,” Wen Xiang introduced her to everyone, then she grasped her hands with a smile, “There isn’t time to tell you all the details. This is Bai Sheng Manor’s Xiao Gongzi and that’s……Leader Leng. We’re here under Chief He’s orders to speak with Second Uncle Feng on an urgent matter.”
Hearing the name ‘Bai Sheng Manor’, Feng Cai Cai was dazed for a moment as she looked at the gongzi. Then, her face slowly turned red and she said softly: “Just now, I merely thought that……my father likes to gamble.”
The gongzi said apologetically: “Please excuse us for presumptuously coming to pay you a visit. Is Swordsman Feng……” he looked into the house.
Feng Cai Cai immediately moved to the side: “My father has already gone to sleep. I presume that you’re here for an important matter. Please take a seat in the hall while I call for him.”
The gongzi nodded: “Thank you.”
Feng Cai Cai’s face turned even redder, and she rebuked the servant: “Why aren’t you calling for them to come out and entertain our guests?” Her tone was already much softer.
The servant was also slightly dazed after seeing such an important person and when he heard this, he hastily responded before running off.
The hall’s decor was very extravagant. The chairs, cushions and backrest were all of the best quality. A picture of the Eight Immortals hung on the wall and the screens were decorated with paintings of the God of Longevity, children, peonies, et cetera. Although it looked splendid, wealthy and auspicious, it somewhat lacked elegance, making it clear that Swordsman Feng wasn’t someone who had taste.
Just as the steaming hot tea was served, Feng Cai Cai’s delicate voice suddenly came from outside the door as she reprimanded: “My father had definitely fallen asleep, why isn’t he in his bedroom! Did you let him out to gamble again!”
“We really didn’t see the Master leave.” The servant was distressed.
“How many times have I told him that he’s not allowed to gamble yet he dared to leave. Close the doors, don’t let him come back!”
Since the ancient times, only fathers managed their daughters, but it was clear that in the Feng family, the daughter was in charge and she managed her father instead. Everyone burst into laughter when they heard this, then they quickly got up and went over, only to see that Feng Cai Cai was losing her temper with the servants.
Wen Xiang tried to pacify her: “Don’t worry, which gambling house does Second Uncle Feng frequent? We’ll just go to look for him.”
Feng Cai Cai quickly kept away the angry look on her face as she said with a smile: “It’s fine, I……”
Before she could finish, a servant suddenly came over: “The light in Master’s study seems to be on, perhaps he has yet to sleep and is balancing the books in his study?”
The gongzi immediately inquired: “Where’s the study?”
Feng Cai Cai turned around: “I’ll bring you there.”
The small courtyard was silent and one of the room’s lights was indeed on and it shone brightly onto the window paper.
“Father! Father!” Feng Cai Cai first knocked on the door, before she changed to straight up banging on the door with both hands, “Father! We have distinguished guests, come on out!”
There was no reply from inside.
Everyone looked at each other in dismay.
Feng Cai Cai was also bewildered, then she proceeded to kick the door open: “Father!”
After this shout, she froze. The chair in front of the long and narrow desk was empty and there wasn’t anyone in the room. She had created a gust of wind as she stepped through the door and the lamp that was on one end of the desk flickered as the flame leaped.
Feng Cai Cai reproached the servant: “He isn’t here, who lit the lamp!”
“How would I know?” The servant complained as he walked over to put out the flame. He had only taken a few steps when he became motionless, as if he had taken root to the ground. His gaze was fixed in a certain direction.
Feng Cai Cai became impatient: “Stop dawdling!”
The servant pointed to the corner as he stuttered: “M-Master!”
Realising that something was amiss, everyone crowded into the room.
There was a person in the corner.
The only difference was that this person was upside down and his feet had been nailed to the wall by a giant pair of iron nails. He looked to be forty plus years of age and his eyes were wide open, with more whites than black. He had an odd expression on his face, and in addition to the strange position he was in, he appeared to be pulling a face.
Feng Cai Cai recovered from the shock and screamed as she rushed towards him: “Father!”
Feng Qian Wei’s body was brought down. The servants had all been given a huge scare so it was fortunate that Wen Xiang was there to help with handling matters such as directing them to purchase a coffin. Leng Zui was silently sitting at the side while Feng Cai Cai alone was bent over her father’s body as she cried incessantly.
“He was silenced,” the gongzi examined the body before standing up, “The Longevity Fruit auction will be held the day after tomorrow so Mr Shi should have already arrived at Ye Tan City. It’s evident that he has people helping him.”
Such a creative method, this had probably been done by Qian Yue Cave! Lei Lei was shocked and fearful, beauty gege was cruel and ruthless and he killed people like they were just flies. If her identity was revealed in the future, “Xiao Bai” would take her for a little devil and kill her.
Seeing Feng Cai Cai looking so pitiful, she felt very guilty and walked over to comfort her.
Unexpectedly, Feng Cai Cai suddenly grabbed the gongzi as she fell to her knees: “Bai Sheng Manor has always upheld justice, I beg Xiao Gongzi to avenge my father!”
Accustomed to Lei Lei’s actions that were even more fearless than this, the gongzi didn’t feel that it was improper. He helped her up: “Feng Guniang, don’t worry. Chief He will definitely investigate this matter in detail and give you justice.”
Feng Cai Cai could no longer bear it and she threw herself into his arms as she cried bitterly.
The gongzi felt a little helpless: “Feng Guniang……”
At the side, Lei Lei saw that something was amiss so she immediately went over to comfort her as she put in great effort to pull Feng Cai Cai into her arms. It’s indeed beauty gege that wronged you, but if you’re seeking a warm embrace, laoniang can also give it to you!
Sensing her dissatisfaction, the gongzi backed away wordlessly.
It was at this moment that the sound of hurried footsteps sounded outside the door. Then, Leng Sheng Yin walked in with He Tai Ping and Qin Liu Feng.
After consoling Feng Cai Cai, He Tai Ping said: “Who does your father usually have the closest contact with?”
Feng Cai Cai had already stopped crying, and she thought about it carefully: “My father likes to gamble and he had met all his friends at the gambling house. I’m not too sure about these things because I had driven away all those that came looking for him.”
He Tai Ping said: “Your father likes to gamble?”
Feng Cai Cai nodded, looking slightly ashamed.
A loyal old servant beside her helped to explain: “Our Master likes to gamble but he always loses. Last year, we almost had to move out some things to pawn, but fortunately, young miss called the shots and stopped him otherwise this family would have……” he shook his head.
He Tai Ping’s gaze swept across his surroundings.
The old servant understood what he meant: “These are all newly purchased. Our Master later partnered with others to do business and made a lot of money.”
Feng Cai Cai suddenly said: “They ordered a shroud from Tailor Wang just now, can you go and keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t slack off and that they’re doing a good job even though it’s rushed.”
The old servant obeyed and left.
Seeing that everyone was looking at her, Feng Cai Cai was silent for a moment before she said softly: “Actually……I haven’t dared to tell anyone about this, but my father is addicted to gambling and the family was going through a difficult time half a year ago. However, one night, he suddenly handed me a box of silver notes totalling 250,000 taels, saying that he had formed a partnership to do business with an old friend. I had my suspicions at that time, but he refused to reveal anything. Because the money had come from an unknown source, I was afraid that something was wrong so after I purchased a few things according to his instructions, I haven’t touched the balance ever since.
She immediately led everyone to a room and retrieved a box of silver notes, the kind that was used in business. At this point, everyone understood what had happened. These silver notes must’ve been given by Mr Shi. Feng Qian Wei sought wealth and had done things for him but had now been silenced.
He Tai Ping said: “Ye Tan City’s matter is of great urgency. Early tomorrow morning, Brother Xiao, Brother Qin and a few experts from Nan Hai faction will rush over while Leader Leng will stay behind with the young ladies to help with handling Swordsman Feng’s matter, and……”
Leng Sheng Yin said: “I’ll go to Ye Tan City.”
“Brother Leng, we have to consider the bigger picture,” Knowing that he was eager for revenge, He Tai Ping shook his head, “We can’t be certain if this is Mr Shi’s plan. If all of us were to leave, who would protect these young ladies……”
Leng Sheng Yin didn’t reply.
He Tai Ping patted his shoulder with a smile: “After you’re done dealing with this matter, come and join us as soon as possible.”
Because Wen Xiang was good friends with Feng Cai Cai and could help with handling the matters, everyone stayed the night instead of returning to the inn.
“Xiao Bai” would be heading for Ye Tan City tomorrow and Lei Lei couldn’t fall asleep. If Shang Guan Qiu Yue really was the mastermind, he should also be there, and since he intends to stir up trouble in Jianghu, a fight will be inevitable. Although “Xiao Bai” was good at martial arts, he wasn’t his match when it came to scheming, plus he knows the secret of “Xiao Bai’s” Xuan Bing Stone……
After tossing and turning for a long time, she finally dressed herself and got out of bed.
A familiar figure was outside her door, standing as tall and straight as ever. Because it was the back view, it seemed a little lonely. Hearing the door open, he immediately turned around to look, appearing slightly embarrassed.
Overjoyed, Lei Lei immediately threw herself into his arms and hugged him: “Xiao Bai Xiao Bai!”
The enthusiastic hug made the gongzi a little embarrassed. He looked around and whispered, “Let go.”
Unfortunately, Lei Lei had already heard these words too many times and had become immune to it. Besides, with her temperament, she wouldn’t easily let go of something that had already reached her mouth. She immediately snuggled against him: “I’ve realised something.”
The gongzi looked at her.
“Why aren’t you blushing anymore?” Lei Lei fearlessly stretched out her hands, wanting to challenge the new standard of difficulty and further infringe upon that handsome face.
“……” This time around, the gongzi unceremoniously pulled her off him and hit her acupoint.
Lei Lei was angry: “You……”
Old-fashioned! Block of wood! Why isn’t he eating the tofu that had been sent to his doorstep! Stupid! Idiot! So unromantic! She swallowed all these words when the gongzi suddenly revealed a smirk.
He gave her a sidelong glance: “Tomorrow, I’ll be heading for Ye Tan City with Brother He and the rest.”
Lei Lei anxiously replied: “I was looking for you.”
The gongzi was dumbfounded: “Looking for me?”
Lei Lei gave it some thought: “This might very well be the evil faction’s scheme.”
“If you run into Shang Guan Qiu Yue, don’t step up alone, you must……prioritise the bigger picture.” It’s best if the both of them could be safe.
“Where there is life, there is hope. If there’s too many of them and you can’t defeat them, you must run away first. You must know that you have a heavy responsibility.” With “Xiao Bai’s” temperament, it’s likely that he’ll try to be a hero.
“Don’t let others get close to you, just like how I’d hugged you.
Lei Lei’s original intention was to remind him to look out for his Xuan Bing Stone so that he wouldn’t be tricked by others. For once, her thoughts were pure, but the gongzi’s face started to turn red again.
After telling him all these, Lei Lei remembered something: “You’re here to see me?”
The gongzi fell silent for a moment, then he unblocked her acupoint: “I’ve made a lot of enemies, it’s best that you follow Leader Leng closely. If you accidentally fall into their hands, don’t oppose them and just tell them that……you’re my relative. They shouldn’t make things too difficult for you.”
Saying that would undoubtedly increase her value, and she’d likely be used as a handle against him to make him take the bait. Although she knew that beauty gege wouldn’t make a move against her, Lei Lei still felt moved. Forgetting what she had just taught him, she hugged him: “Xiao Bai, you’re so great!”
The corner of the gongzi’s mouth twitched as his face suddenly became even redder. He then pulled her off him and left.
His back figure disappeared, and Lei Lei was still feeling regretful when she heard someone say: “Xiao Bai’s great, it’s a pity that he ran away.”
She didn’t know since when, but Qin Liu Feng was already standing behind her. He had an elegant and unrestrained posture, but also an infuriating expression on his face: “Only caring about Xiao Bai, isn’t Lei Lei Guniang being too biased.”
Lei Lei glared at him, then she turned around and went back into her room, shutting the door with a “bang”.
Laughter sounded from outside her door.
New Year’s Eve had just passed. The weather had suddenly turned cold and it was the season where the fragrance of plum blossoms was in the air. It had snowed again, and snowflakes were flying all over the city before melting on the ground or covering the branches with a thin layer, adding cheer and charm to the new year.
However, it was at this time that an extremely shocking news blew up in Jianghu. Someone had secretly auctioned the Longevity Fruit in Ye Tan City and hundreds of people had died fighting over it. The Longevity Fruit was now missing. Fortunately, Xi Sha faction’s Leader Wen had managed to stop it in time, preventing an even bigger incident. With this, the matter of the Longevity Fruit was brought into the light and many who weren’t aware of it before now knew about it.
The sky was dark and three girls were walking on the street.
Ever since the gongzi and the others had left, Lei Lei had remained at the Feng family house together with Wen Xiang to help arrange Feng Qian Wei’s funeral while Leng Sheng Yin had sent his men to send Leng Zui back. When they heard about the incident at Ye Tan City, Leng Sheng Yin couldn’t wait any longer, and because Feng Qian Wei didn’t have many friends, he was quickly buried after only a few days. Feng Cai Cai wanted to avenge her father and was eager to learn the whereabouts of “Mr Shi” so she entrusted all her household affairs to a few loyal and reliable old servants before preparing to rush over with everyone.
They’d be setting out tomorrow, so the three girls were going out to buy a few things. Because they were afraid that Leng Sheng Yin would be uncomfortable with following them, plus both Feng Cai Cai and Wen Xiang had been practicing martial arts since their childhood, and there were many people on the streets, they had him wait for them on the left side of the street’s entrance.
“Flowers for sale, red and white plum blossoms——”
A crisp voice sounded in their ears. There was a group of fourteen or fifteen year old girls selling plum blossoms at the entrance of the alley. Their rosy faces made them appear very cute and full of life, and in addition to their sweet-talking, their business was better than others that were also selling flowers.
Seeing that the little girls were waving their hands nonstop, Lei Lei wanted to cheer Feng Cai Cai up so she pulled her: “They’re selling white plum blossoms, I haven’t seen them before, shall we go and take a look?”
Wen Xiang smiled: “The two of you can go and play, I’ll go and buy some actual things.”
Lei Lei pulled Feng Cai Cai over. As soon as they arrived at the entrance of the alley, a group of little girls moved towards them. Very soon, the two were surrounded by dozens of plum blossoms. The reds and whites looked very nice and the fragrance assailed their nostrils and refreshed their minds.
Just as she was about to ask for the price, someone inside the alley called out: “Theirs aren’t as good as mine!”
The two looked in the direction of the voice, only to see that all the plum blossoms in her basket were very beautiful and had been carefully selected. Women naturally loved beautiful things, and even Feng Cai Cai couldn’t help but to follow her into the alley to take a look.
The girl handed each of them a stalk: “It’s very fragrant. You can take a whiff if you don’t believe me.”
Probably due to all the flowers around her, the fragrance made Lei Lei feel a little dizzy. She was just about to speak when Feng Cai Cai’s expression changed and she swiftly threw aside the flower: “You guys……”
Their minds became increasingly foggier, then the two collapsed.