Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Once they reached Ningping Town, Zhou Donghuang ordered the middle-aged guard, who was driving the carriage, to head straight for Qingyun Guild.
The guild master of Qingyun Guild was also a woman, a member of a side branch of the Li family of the prefecture capital named Li Yun, and a good friend of Lin Lan’s for many years.
“Aunty Yun, the goods and accounts are settled, I should be going,” Zhou Donghuang told Li Yun in the receiving chamber of Qingyun Guild as he put the money away.
He had a very good impression of Li Yun because he remembered that Li Yun had visited the Magnolia Guild several times, bringing him a gift each time.
“Donghuang, you don’t visit often, stay a night with Aunty Yun before you leave,” Li Yun said with a slight smile.
She and Lin Lan were close friends of many years, and they got along fabulously, each treating the other as a sister and loving everything that was dear to the other. She had never treated Lin Lan’s adopted son as an outsider.
“Aunty Yun, I don’t want to trouble you, I’m in a rush to get back.”
Zhou Donghuang shook his head, for he had never intended to stay the night in Ningping town.
Right now, Granny Lian was the lone level-one adept of Qi-gathering at Yunxuan Restaurant. His mother Lin Lan had already expended all her qi to start practicing the Technique of Everlasting Youth from scratch and did not have the abilities she used to.
He would not feel at peace if he were to delay his return.
“Then let’s have lunch this afternoon… it’s almost noon now. Donghuang, surely you won’t refuse to even have a meal with Aunty Yun?”
Li Yun tried again, “Or is it… now that you are the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, you look down on Aunty Yun?”
“Aunty Yun, you know about that too?”
This was unexpected for Zhou Donghuang; he did not think Li Yun knew about him becoming the new owner of Yunxuan Restaurant.
“How could I not? The day before yesterday, I heard people who had arrived from Qingshan Town say that the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, Zhao San, had given Yunxuan Restaurant away to you, Donghuang.”
Li Yun said with a sigh, “Yesterday, I also heard someone who had arrived from Qingshan Town say… you killed the second elder of the Wang family of the lesser families of Qingshan Town, a level-one adept of Qi-gathering, then killed with the grand patriarch of the Wang family, the one called the bloody-handed butcher, Wang Yukun!
“At first, I couldn’t believe it. But today, you Donghuang have safely delivered ten bracelets of pure gold all by yourself, so I cannot disbelieve it even if I wanted to.”
At this, a knowing look flashed across Li Yun’s eyes.
Encountering bandits was common on the road from Qingshan Town to Ningping Town, and if an ordinary person was not carrying anything of great value, he would be allowed to continue on his way after being searched for valuables and paying a toll to the bandits.
If the victims cooperated and did not resist, the bandits would usually not kill them. The bandits were worried that if they killed too many people, no one would even dare to leave the small towns.
Killing the goose that laid the golden egg was not a long-term strategy.
The fact that Zhou Donghuang was able to deliver ten gold bracelets without a hitch to Ningping town spoke volumes about his capability.
“Since Aunty Yun extends her warm hospitality, I won’t reject it.”
Seeing Li Yun look expectantly at him, and thinking that just having a meal would not take up too much time, Zhou Donghuang agreed.
“Excellent! Donghuang, wait here for a while, Aunty Yun will get someone to make arrangements.”
Seeing Zhou Donghuang agree, Li Yun broke into a radiant smile. She left the receiving chamber to make arrangements after exchanging greetings with Zhou Donghuang.
After about 15 minutes, Li Yun returned to the receiving chamber. With her was a girl who looked about the same age as Zhou Donghuang.
The girl wore clothes of light blue and had a beautiful face, and her forehead bore a slight resemblance to Li Yun’s. She stood there looking slim and graceful, but the slight frown on her face implied that she was not too happy to be there.
Zhou Donghuang recognized the girl as Li Yun’s daughter, Li Rui, who was a year younger than him. They had played together when they were young, but they had not seen each other for the past few years and had naturally drifted apart.
“Li Rui, this is your Big Brother Donghuang, why haven’t you greeted him?” Li Yun frowned at Li Rui.
“Mother, he’s only a year older than me… can’t I just call him by his name?” Li Rui said with some displeasure.
Just as Li Yun’s expression began to change and she was about to get angry, Zhou Donghuang smiled nonchalantly and said, “Aunty Yun, it’s just a title, I don’t mind anyway, so you don’t have to bother either.”
Then, looking at Li Rui, Zhou Donghuang smiled and greeted, “Xiao Rui, it’s been a long time.”
“What right do you have to call me Xiao Rui? Call me Li Rui!” Li Rui said with a cold snort of displeasure and a look of dissatisfaction.
She naturally remembered that Zhou Donghuang was the son of her mother’s good friend Lin Lan and was also a martial invalid who could not manifest his qi.
Although her mother said the Zhou Donghuang of the present could not be compared to the Zhou Donghuang of the past, she did not believe it at all, and neither did she believe the recent news concerning Zhou Donghuang.
How could a martial invalid become the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, the most profitable business in Qingshan Town?
How could a martial invalid kill the grand patriarch of the Wang family of Qingshan Town, Wang Yukun?
Moreover, in her view, even if he was not a martial invalid, sixteen-year-old Zhou Donghuang could not possibly have the ability to kill Wang Yukun.
Wang Yukun was, after all, a level-two adept of Qi-gathering.
Within the country of Yunyang, sixteen-year-olds with the ability to kill him were as rare as phoenix feathers and unicorn horns, and such a person could not possibly be found in a small town.
“Umm, Li Rui.”
Although Zhou Donghuang did not mind being calculative with a little girl, the smile had vanished from his face at Li Rui’s rudeness, and his voice had gained a measure of indifference.
Seeing this, Li Yun sighed.
She had originally planned for her daughter and her good friend Lin Lan’s adopted son to socialize and see if there was any potential for their relationship to develop further. But now, it was evidently impossible.
“Donghuang, Rui’er, let’s go over.”
Li Yun had sent someone to a restaurant in Ningping Town to reserve a booth, and as she led Zhou Donghuang and Li Rui out of the door, she noticed the carriage parked at the main entrance of Qingyun Guild.
An ordinary carriage would not have caught Li Yun’s attention. However, the horse harnessed to this carriage was a ferghana horse!
A carriage drawn by a ferghana horse.
Even in the prefecture capital, few were this extravagant.
A ferghana horse?
Seeing the carriage drawn by the ferghana horse, Li Rui was shocked and could not help asking Li Yun, “Mother, whose carriage is this?”
Just as Li Yun was about to shake her head and reply “I don’t know,” the middle-aged driver of the carriage jumped off the carriage and bowed respectfully to Zhou Donghuang, greeting, “Young Master.”
Zhou Donghuang nodded and acknowledged the greeting and turned to Li Yun.
“Aunty Yun, let’s take my carriage there… after eating, I’ll send you both back before I leave for Qingshan Town.”
Only then did Li Yun realize that this was actually Zhou Donghuang’s carriage.
As the carriage got on its way, Li Rui, who was sitting beside Li Yun in the cabin, frowned at Zhou Donghuang and said, “Zhou Donghuang, what a reckless waste of resources to use a ferghana horse to draw a carriage!”
“A reckless waste of resources?”
Zhou Donghuang gave a blank stare, followed by a slight smile.
A ferghana horse was a treasure in the eyes of most people, but in Zhou Donghuang’s eyes, it was no different from a fine stallion of an ordinary breed.
Moreover, it was the accumulated good fortune of several lifetimes for this ferghana horse to be able to draw the carriage of Zhou Donghuang.
Seeing that Zhou Donghuang did not seem willing to entertain her, Li Rui’s frustration turned to anger, “I will be going to the Li family in the prefecture capital in a few days to practice, but I have never let my mother buy me a ferghana horse… that’s because I know she puts in great effort to make money and I can’t bear to spend too much of her money.
“But you, a martial invalid, not only allow your mother to use her hard-earned money to buy you a ferghana horse, but you even use the ferghana horse to draw your carriage… how can you face your mother? Seems that there is still a difference between a biological child and an adopted child,” Li Rui said, sweeping a hateful glance over Zhou Donghuang.
Li Yun’s expression changed, and she slapped Li Rui with a loud smack right in front of Zhou Donghuang. “Apologize to Donghuang immediately!”
“Mother, you… you hit me? Did I say anything wrong?”
Li Rui covered the side of her face, which had begun to swell, and she looked wide-eyed at Li Yun with a look of disbelief. This was the first time her mother had ever hit her since she was young.
What she did not know was that Li Yun had hit her not to stand up for Zhou Donghuang, but to protect her.
The Zhou Donghuang of the present was not someone to be trifled with.
“Hmm, you’re very mature,” Zhou Donghuang glanced at Li Rui nodding with all seriousness, “However, I hope that you will be clear on one point, that I didn’t ask my mother to buy me this ferghana horse, and neither did my mother buy me this ferghana horse.”
“If your mother did not buy it, where did you get so much money to buy a ferghana horse?” Li Rui asked disdainfully, her attention caught by Zhou Donghuang’s reply.
“This ferghana horse is a trophy from yesterday, when I killed the second-in-command, Qian Tongtian of Black Tiger Bastion on the way here,” Zhou Donghuang replied nonchalantly.
Li Yun blinked hard at Zhou Donghuang’s words.
She naturally knew that the Black Tiger Bastion was a powerful nest of bandits that made its lair somewhere between Qingshan Town and Ningping Town.
The commander of Black Tiger Bastion was a level-two adept of Qi-gathering, and the second-in-command of the Black Tiger Bastion, Qian Tongtian, had attained a level of practice close to a level-two adept of Qi-gathering.
“Qian Tongtian has been killed by you, Donghuang?” Li Yun asked, her heart trembling.
“Boasting does not make something real!” Li Rui laughed in derision. “The second-in-command of Black Tiger Bastion, Qian Tongtian, is said to be on the verge of breaking through to level-two of Qi-gathering for the past few years… the number of people in the whole of Qingshan Town who can kill him can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so how could you, a martial invalid, kill such a person?”
“Young Lady, the young master of my family killed the second-in-command of Black Tiger Bastion, Qian Tongtian, and this is something I have witnessed with my own eyes. And this ferghana horse really did belong to Qian Tongtian at first, but it was tamed by the young master of my family and was used to draw his carriage.”
The middle-aged guard driving the carriage could stand it no longer and spoke up in defense of Zhou Donghuang.
“He’s the young master of your family, so even if he exaggerated to high heavens, you would still back up his lie,” Li Rui said scornfully. “From what you say… this mature ferghana horse was tamed just yesterday by the young master of your family? Who doesn’t know that a mature ferghana horse has an extremely strong-willed temperament, and would rather kill itself than allow someone to tame it against its will!”