“This is the front yard. The small flower garden over there leads to the backyard. The book room is over this way. The bedrooms are that way…”
Although nobody informed Emperor Yuansheng what the various rooms were, he could rely on his own judgement to give the maiden a tour of the manor in convincing fashion.
“Your manor is a work of art. I have travelled to many places in Jiangnan. This is one of the largest manors I have visited,” the maiden shared, yet not reflecting her surprise on her face and from her mannerisms. “I am curious why you set up camp outside of your manor, though.”
“Well… it eventually gets boring if you stay in the same place for too long. I like to incorporate novelty into life.”
The maiden pursed her lips and lifted the corners: “Either way, I am grateful you are willing to provide me with shelter for the night. I would have had to spend the night in the wild, otherwise. I am pedantic about staying clean, so I would rather travel through the night than stay in the wild.”
“You are very welcome. I constructed this manor for the purpose of providing tired travellers with someone to sojourn. It would be nice to travel tonight because the scenery in the sky is pleasant to behold. That said, I would be worried if you travelled alone at night. I will not take up your rest time. I have ordered my people to tidy up a room and fetch hot water. Please make yourself at home after dinner.”
Lyu Yaoqin wasn’t a fan of the maiden. First of all, the maiden was ready for marriage at her age, yet was running around. Next, there was only one reason she’d behave so entrancingly.
I could overlook you seducing other men, but Mr. Fangzhang? Don’t you know he has a wife, mistress, seven sons and three daughters?!
Emperor Yuansheng had no clue Lyu Yaoqin was shooting him a disdainful glare. Instead, he continued with his conversation: “Haha, you can worry about your journey tomorrow. If you need anything, just say the word. My name is Fangzhang and surname is Li.”
“Fangzhang? Do you believe in Buddhism? That is quite the interesting name.”
“Haha, not really. I just chose it for laughs?”
“Ahem, I meant to say my parents gave me the name for fun when I was young. Over time, we just got used to it. May I ask what your name is?”
Lyu Yaoqin folded her arms, thinking, “We’re both guests, yet he never explained the origins of his name to me!”
“Ah, I apologise. My surname is E, pronounced ‘uh’ as in Epang Palace. As for my name, I shall not embarrass myself.”
“I apologise for being inconsiderate,” Emperor Yuansheng responded with a polite smile. “Miss E, that is a very ancient surname. Would your ancestors happen to be an influential clan from the South?”
“I am impressed with your knowledge,” Miss E cheerfully remarked. “It is flattering to hear our clan is considered influential. We, indeed, are from the south. We are country dwellers, so I have been worried about my manners.”
“Not at all. You are a well-mannered and graceful young lady. Had you not told me, I would have assumed you were from Jiangan.”
Miss E’s giggle had Lyu Yaoqin thinking, “Yep, she’s no good. Even her laugh is painfully annoying.”
Emperor Yuansheng had someone escort Miss E to her bedroom. He turned around to see Lyu Yaoqin pouting most adorably, prompting him to touch his head and quey, “What is the matter, Miss Lu? Did someone offend you?”
“No.” Miss Lu pivoted and walked off: “You can entertain whoever you please. I am not interested, hmph.”
Emperor Yuansheng was the patriarch of a harem, yes. Those relationships were the product of packaged marriages, though. For the most part, he got to know them after the adventure under the sheets. Hence, he lacked the experience and knowledge the read between Lyu Yaoqin’s lines.
“Oh, not interested. That’s fine. That’s fine,” responded Emperor Yuansheng.
The plan was to have the hunting team prepare the catch and serve it up once they were back. The camp was treated as a rest station for those on patrol. Emperor Yuansheng assembled his subordinates in the main hall to await the hunting team’s return.
As soon as Miss E ambled into her room, her expression flipped from warm to frosty and rambled, “What a bunch of morons… I thought a monster caught Mountain Monster, but they’re just retards.”
Miss E, born gifted with a graceful visage no matter if she was angry or happy, wasn’t well known in the Central Plain. Howbeit, in Beijiang, her alias was River Monster. River Monster learnt about Mountain Monster’s capture from her subordinates. Though the two weren’t usually on the same length, she couldn’t turn a blind eye owing to Abels. She monitored the escort on their way to the manor. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find an opportunity to strike. Once she saw them enter the manor they once used, she daringly decided to infiltrate the enemy camp.
River Monster never failed to seduce a man, and she interpreted Emperor Yuansheng’s tour to be her indication of success. The purpose behind letting him give her the tour was to try and locate Mountain Monster’s whereabouts. His passionate welcome and Miss Lu’s jealousy gave away Mountain Monster’s whereabouts. She imagined arrogant, crazy Mountain Monster pleading her for help and relished it.
River Monster stole a gander outside to see Emperor Yuansheng gather his people in the main hall. She mumbled, “Night Fortress’ master troubles Master, yet Night Fortress’ master’s people are jokes. I wasted my time being cautious and saving my backup outside.”
The door to the room Mountain Monster was held captive was locked using three large iron locks. A condescending smile surfaced on River Monster’s mug as she took out a metal tool from her shirt and unlocked the three locks silently.
River Monster could sense someone inside the chest placed within an iron cage, which was the type they used to incarcerate wild beasts in Beijiang, and assumed it was Mountain Monster. The cage wasn’t locked. Instead, someone violently jammed the door. No level of lock picking would be able to open it. River Monster concluded they had to have an artisan with them to pull it off. Strangely, however, she didn’t see traces of a furnace. How did they start a fire, then?
Quietly, River Monster called, “Crazy Wench. Crazy Wench, wake up. It’s me.”
River Monster assumed the silence was due to Mountain Monster being unconscious. She quietly complained, “Useless nut case, well-deserved for always yapping too much.”
River Monster lacked the internal strength required to break iron. Nonetheless, she had her means of working the cage. Demonstrating astounding mobility and body manipulation she utilised to trick Hong Jiu during their encounter, she gradually squeezed her way through the bars. She shortened herself, shrunk her bosom and used her internal strength to force her head through.
River Monster opened the chest: “Crazy Wench, get up. I’m here to pick y-”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” River Monster cursed as she reactively evaded an incoming blade.
River Monster thought Mountain Monster’s bloodlust addiction was screwing with her mind, thus the attack on a comrade. To her surprise, a youth in red brandishing a small knife hopped out from the chest. Further analysing the attack, River Monster realised it wasn’t Mountain Monster’s style.
“Exactly,” Emperor Yuansheng responded as they stormed in. “It was necessary to capture Evil Spirit’s other leader, hahahaha!”