Book 14 Chapter 5 – A Heartless Man Indeed
A drop of Xiao Pan’s blood trickled out of the special needle and dripped into the bowl of special chemical.
Xu Xian retrieved another special needle filled with Lu Buwei’s blood and brought it to the edge of the bowl but did not release the blood immediately.
Everyone was staring at Xiao Pan’s drop of blood with excitement.
Inside Lu Gong’s tent, there are ten over military leaders which are all important position holders. Except for Lu Gong and Xu Xian, there is w.a.n.g He, Jia Gongcheng, Lord Yunyang Ying Ao and Lord Yiqu Ying Lou. It appears that Xiao Pan’s relationship with Lu Buwei is of utmost importance to them.
Xiang Shaolong was squeezed in the middle of all these generals and he inquired: “How did you manage to get Lu Buwei’s blood?”
Lord Yunyang Ying Ao replied: “I dragged him out for archery while Lu Gong and w.a.n.g He were jostling with him. Thus, we took his blood without his knowledge.”
Lu Gong is not interested in their casual talk and called: “Xu Xian!” Xu Xian hardened his resolve and poured the second drop of blood into the bowl of chemical.
The crowd became as silent as a dormouse and everyone has a choked feeling. For an instant, everyone held their breaths.
The drop of blood entered the chemical and swirled to for a while before it came into contact with Xiao Pan’s drop of blood.
Amazingly, the two drops of blood separated immediately like the two different magnet poles repelling each other.
The tent was filled with mad cheering.
Xiang Shaolong sighed with relief.
Knowing the future can be a burden. Even though he is certain that Xiao Pan will pa.s.s the blood test, he cannot helped but be worried like everyone else.
Back in his own tent, Ji Yanran and the other girls are carefully cleaning Xiang Shaolong’s wound and applying fresh medicine. Teng Yi came back from his duties and sat down, reporting: “We have located Lord Gaoling’s men!”
Xiang Shaolong was overjoyed: “Where are they?”
Teng Yi is in a great mood and retrieved a map from his bosom, smiling: “The Qin hunting fair is child’s play in front a seasoned hunter like me. If I hunt personally, all the tigers and wolves would be frightened off.”
Xiang Shaolong a.s.sisted him in spreading the map and laughed: “Second Brother should have told me earlier. Then, I would prepare a large quant.i.ty of tiger ears for sale at ten times the original price. I guarantee that the amateur hunters will not go back empty handed and I can even make a ton of money.”
Ji Yanran and the girls instantly broke out in laughter and giggles.
Teng Yi laughed: “Amateur hunters! That is a unique description.”
Xiang Shaolong enquired: “Where is the cave that Lord Gaoling’s men are hiding in?”
Teng Yi was stunned: “How did you know that?” Pointing to a group of mountains fifty miles from the campsite, he detailed: “This area has dense forests and is located at the upstream of River Jing. There are seven caves situated there which the locals have named the ‘Seven Connected Caves’. Lord Gaoling has planned their hiding spot well. Although we know that they are hiding there, it is impossible to locate their exact location. There is no way we can determine the size of their forces.”
Wu Tingfang innocently suggested: “Second Brother is exaggerating. Why don’t you surround the forest and set it on fire? I am sure they will be forced out by the burning.”
Xiang Shaolong loved her innocent and silly demeanour and smiled: “The forest is wet with the Spring dew. It is impossible to burn a forest. Ao!”
He caught hold of Wu Tingfang’s incoming fist but did not relent: “Unless we use the super fire that comes from the mouth of Wu’s First Mistress.”
Ji Yanran mocked: “Since our hubby came back from the jaws of death, he has become cheekier.”
Zhao Zhi clamoured over to help Wu Tingfang withdraw her fist from Xiang Shaolong’s grasp.
As Teng Yi took a closer look at Xiang Shaolong’s injury, he added: “But the moment they left the seven caves, they will not escape the detection of our Jing Village hunters. Hei! I think we should use our own men and allow them to gain more battle experience.”
Xiang Shaolong clapped Teng Yi’s shoulder and agreed: “We shall do as Second Brother advised. Fortunately, Du Bi is not in Xianyang City or things could be more complicated. Hee! In Lu Buwei’s eyes, I am someone due to die in two days. No matter what I do in these two days, he will just bear with me and even pretend to support me so as to allay the suspicions of others. Most crucially, he must put on a fine act in front of Zhu Ji. Thus, I must find some things to do so as to give justice to Mo Ao’s brilliant scheming.”
Zhao Zhi is bandaging his wound with Ji Yanran. When she heard this, she whined: “Before your leg has recovered, we will not allow you to partic.i.p.ate in any fighting.”
Xiang Shaolong feigned surprise: “Who said that I am going to fight with someone?”
Ji Yanran smiled: “Sister Zhi, he is teasing you! Attack him now and see if he will retaliate or not.”
In the midst of their fun, the tent attendant reported: “Grand Tutor Qin is here!”
As the image of Qin Qing surfaced in his memory, he came to realise that everyone is so happy today because they have finally succeeded in countering Mo Ao. The presence of this man is a threat to their well-being.
Ever since he delivered the poison pill back to his throat, they have become more relaxed and even the usually serious Teng Yi is more jovial now.
But they must still keep their guard up. As long as Mo Ao is still alive, they must be careful and not allow the enemy to see through them.
The Tian sisters have just finished tidying up Xiang Shaolong’s clothes when Qin Qing entered the tent with a heavy expression on her face.
After all his encounters with her, this is the first time she came to Xiang Shaolong’s ‘territory’. He had a strange feeling inside him. But eyeing her serious expression, he felt that something is amiss.
Wu Tingfang welcomed: “Sister Qin should have come earlier. We were having a big showdown!”
Ji Yanran noticed her expression too and frowned: “What is bothering Sister Qin?” Teng Yi greeted Qin Qing and took the chance to take his leave.
Qin Qing sat down opposite Ji Yanran and gently replied: “I need to speak to your husband privately.”
The girls were slightly startled but Yanran firmly stood up and state: “We have to cross the river soon. We will be waiting for both of you outside.”
Xiang Shaolong glanced at Qin Qing with astonishment and asked: “Why is Grand Tutor Qin so upset?”
Qin Qing stared at him coldly and retorted: “I dare not be upset but have to congratulate Official Xiang instead for being able to marry the beautiful daughter of Lu Buwei!”
Xiang Shaolong finally understood her concern and smiled: “Grand Tutor Qin is mistaken. This is a complicated affair. In reality, Lu Buwei does not want to marry her daughter to me and neither do I want to marry her.”
Qin Qing was shocked: “Then why did Empress tell me that Lu Buwei has asked her to arrange the marriage and that you have agreed to the wedding?”
Xiang Shaolong smiled at her and softly pleaded: “Will Grand Tutor Qin please trust me this once? After the hunting fair, you can find out the truth from sister Yanran.”
Qin Qing’s face tightened and she shot with displeasure: “Why is Official Xiang always so secretive and says things halfway? Are you treating me like an outsider?”
Xiang Shaolong did not mean to hide things from her but looking at her enthusiasm, he was tempted and asked: “Do you think I treat you like an outsider?”
Both Qin Qing’s cheeks turned red and she wailed: “Official Xiang is going to be rude to me again?”
Xiang Shaolong remembered that day when he hugged her slender waist. He coughed: “I dare not.”
Qin Qing noticed his eyes focusing on her own waist and was infuriated. Lowering her head, she bit her lips and demanded: “Are you saying or not?”
Xiang Shaolong saw her pouting like his lover and was aroused. Leaning forward towards her body, he moved his lips to her jade ears and enjoyed her nice fragrance. He whispered: “This is a big secret which cannot be known to a third person. Please forgive me for speaking to you in this manner.”
Qin Qing trembled slightly and her ears were red already. Feeling itchy at the ears, she wailed: “Does Official Xiang know what he is doing?”
Since Qin Qing did not shy away, Xiang Shaolong is even more excited at approaching this untouchable woman. He teased: “Shall I go ahead and tell you the secret then?” Qin Qing dared not look at him and nodded slightly.
Xiang Shaolong held back the urge to kiss her earlobe but cannot resist staring at her fast heaving chest. He gently divulged: “Lu Buwei has sent someone to poison me and estimate that I will not survive these two days. Therefore, he decided to marry his daughter to me and even proclaim it to the whole world so that when I am killed, no one will suspect him and he can even deceive Empress.”
Qin Qing shook strongly and her face became as white as a sheet. She turned to face him and their lips nearly met.
Xiang Shaolong was stunned and retreated half a feet. Feeling regretful, he apologised: “I am sorry for alarming Grand Tutor Qin. Luckily, I have the poison removed from my body and Lu Buwei still has no idea. He will try his best to annul the marriage later and the Empress will know that he is trying to deceive her. That is the reason why I accept the marriage proposal.”
Qin Qing sighed with relief and put her hands on her heart, scolding: “You gave me such a fright.” Her face began to regain some colour and it was a captivating sight.
Xiang Shaolong was appreciative: “Thanks for Grand Tutor Qin’s concern.”
Her face may still be slightly red but she has recomposed herself. Smiling lightly, she gently state: “I have mistaken you! And I forgive you for being rude to me but you must not do it again in the future. Oh! My ear is so itchy.”
Xiang Shaolong is fully intoxicated and nodded with a smile: “Let me consider about whether I will be rude to you in the future and tell you my decision later. This is a big secret which you must keep it to yourself.”
Qin Qing giggled and shot him a lovely look. She gingerly stood up and sighed: “You! You are incorrigible.”
Xiang Shaolong stood up with her and shrugged his shoulders: “I will be thanking the heavens as long as Grand Tutor Qin is not always angry at me.”
Qin Qing slowly sighed: “You are the reason for my anger! You are always so secretive and I always have to force you to tell me the truth. Right! When you shot the five flying needles earlier, it has caused such a commotion that now the whole camp knows about it. When I came out of the Empress’s tent, I saw Guan Zhongxie and Ying Ying a.n.a.lyzing the needles on the target board.”
She lowered her head and softly pleaded: “Can Official Xiang give me one of your flying needles as a gift?”
Without hesitation, Xiang Shaolong drew out a flying needle from his waist belt and smoothly grabbed her hand and pressed the needle in the centre of her palm. He coaxed: “Please forgive me for being rude to you again.” In normal circ.u.mstances, no man is allowed to touch her hand.
Qin Qing was taken by surprise at his molest and quickly withdrew her hand, wailing: “You…”
Xiang Shaolong put a finger to his lips and signalled her to keep quiet. He pointed outside the tent to indicate that he is afraid that others will hear her wailing. He then smiled: “This is the price to pay for being my confidante. In the future, I will look for you and will be polite and rude as I please.”
Qin Qing’s expression became annoyed and walked towards the tent exit. At the exit, she stopped and coldly state: “You have arms and legs and you can visit me if you like and not visit me if you don’t like. Who cares!” She left in a huff.
Xiang Shaolong shook his head with a bitter smile. He and Qin Qing are losing more and more of their self-control. One fine day, they will land up in bed and the consequences will be disastrous.
But if he can conduct an illicit affair with her, it will be tremendously thrilling!
The hunting parties crossed the river in different batches.
Under Xu Xian’s instructions, another two more bridges were built so there is now a total of four bridges.
The plains were filled with sounds of hunting dogs barking. Those with hunting eagles sent the eagles up in the air to showcase their grandeur and might.
Xiang Shaolong thought about Zhou Liang’s Warrior Eagles and was very interested in them. In the future, he will have his own eagles to help his fight and they will be remarkable toys too.
Ji Yanran, Qin Qing and the girls joined Empress Ji’s hunting party while he himself left to join Xiao Pan’s party.
It is better for him to avoid Zhu Ji so as to prevent any awkwardness and it will also prevent Lao Ai from being jealous of him.
When he came to the river bank, Xiao Pan has begun crossing the River Jing under the protection of the palace guards. Xiang Shaolong and the Eighteen Guardians rushed to the back of the queue and ran into Guan Zhongxie.
Xiang Shaolong laughed: “I thought Official Guan has joined the Female Warriors!”
Guan Zhongxie knew that he is teasing him for spending all his time with Ying Ying and Lu Dan’er. He plainly state: “Work is more important. If I do not chase them off, Official Xiang will blame me for neglecting my work.”
Xiang Shaolong was. .h.i.t by realization. Since they are killing Lu Gong, Lu Dan’er will no longer be of any use to them. That is why Guan Zhongxie is disregarding Lu Dan’er now.
Ying Ying is Guan Zhongxie’s way to spy on the Lord Changping brothers. But since Xiang Shaolong, Lu Gong, etc will be killed during Lord Gaoling’s ambush, the Changping brothers will be blamed for their incompetence and Lu Buwei will force Empress Zhu Ji to execute them. Lu Buwei will then be able to fill up the posts of the leader of the palace guards with his own subordinates.
After all, the Imperial Infantry army is behind protecting Xianyang City and will not be involved with Lord Gaoling’s ambush. Thus, Guan Zhongxie will be not implicated.
As a result, this heartless man Guan Zhongxie cannot be bothered with Ying Ying anymore.
Mo Ao’s devious scheme is truly formidable. Originally, Xiang Shaolong and the rest would have suffered a huge defeat. It is due to pure luck that they now have the upper hand!
Guan Zhongxie saw that Xiang Shaolong is silent and thought that he is angry. He frantically flattered: “Official Xiang’s wondrous flying needles skill is unparalleled. I submit to your superior talents.”
Xiang Shaolong dished: “It is nothing great!”
As both men rode across the wooden bridge, heavy sounds of hoof beats can be heard as the horses are now stepping on wood.
A strong wind blew towards them and Xiang Shaolong is in a great mood. The sun is slowly setting in the west horizon and its last rays shone across the flatlands like a sheet of gold.
Guan Zhongxie reminded: “I nearly forgot. Premier Lu is looking for Official Xiang.”
Xiang Shaolong grunted a reply and rode back to sh.o.r.e towards the main tents.