Origin of Dragon-Bird Alliance
“I believe our forces in the open will double once we enter Nanjiang, and our chain of commands will be more detailed. After all, we will have money to hire guards once we finish the trade. In turn, our cover will be more convincing.”
The wager made with Sima Huai was cemented the night before, but they decided to meet up around noon to discuss the details since the escort headed out prior to setting anything in stone. Catching up to them wasn’t going to challenge Sima Huai’s hare feet, so it was no big deal.
Holding Ming Feizhen’s handbook for Emperor Yuansheng in her left hand, Shen Yiren ran her right index finger along a map. Dugu and A-Lan, liaising with Shen Yiren in the carriage, engaged in a strategy meeting for before and after entering Nanjiang. Dugu was called on for his experience as the head of the intelligence division and in light of him holding the highest rank. A-Lan’s familiarity with Nanjiang meant she was someone they should consult.
Grumpy Emperor Yuansheng had a sulk after Shen Yiren took Ming Feizhen’s guide and then played checkers with Lai Jingzhen to kill time. Since Lai Jingzhen was easy mode, Abels was summoned in to admire Emperor Yuansheng’s profound checkers prowess.
Long Zaitian, having recovered, took over as Emperor Yuansheng’s coach and, once again, shouted, “Miss Shen, I have called you multiple times.”
Shen Yiren gestured for those in the carriage to hit pause on their meeting and ground her teeth: “That’s Ma’am Ming to you.”
“Yes, Ma’am Ming.” Long Zaitian could swear he felt a cold draft down his neck.
“What is the point of profiling us if you are not going to adhere to them? Hero Li is respecting the profiles, yet you think you’re special?”
“In my humble opinion, it would be wise to think of a way to win the wager. You have not mentioned it since it was decided. What if we lose?”
“It’s just a wage, for crying out loud. So what if we win or lose? Seeing as you have so much free time, how about using your heads?” Shen Yiren shook her head, then resumed her strategy meeting.
Long Zaitian returned to his riding duty and didn’t pester them again.
Long Zaitian: Why does she not seem to care? Sima Huai is faster than Abels… Wait a second. They’re Ming Feizhen’s juniors! Even if Sima Huai does win, it’s no different to her winning! She’s blinded by personal feelings! It’s all because of Ming Plague!
“Yiren is blinded by personal feelings. It’s all because of Ming Plague!”
Hearing someone verbalise what he was thinking, Long Zaitian turned over to Song Ou, who also turned over, and launched a kick at the latter. “Why the hell did you turn over this way when I didn’t say squat?! You almost planted a kiss on me, you freak!”
Song Ou dodged Long Zaitian’s kick, then locked eyes with the latter again. “So you know what I’m thinking.”
Long Zaitian unleashed another kick: “Why are you so damn gay?!”
“What bullcrap is this now?! I’m talking about Ming Feizhen and his juniors!”
For the first time in his life, Long Zaitian didn’t see Song Ou as a bug – though Song Ou didn’t reciprocate the sentiment. They say the enemy of my enemy is my ally. The two of them had been at each other’s necks for years over one woman, yet some plague showed up out of the blue and won her over.
Dragon-Bird Alliance established 4th March, Yuansheng’s 31st Year.
“Ma’am Ming told us to take matters into our hands, which proves that she doesn’t care for it. We can’t let some outsider boss us around. This dragon’s brothers are not someone else’s errand boys. Hero Li and Ma’am Ming can tell us what to do, but no snotty-nosed brat is going to tell this dragon what to do. We must win this wager.” Long Zaitian dropped his head and leaned toward Song Ou. “What do you think, Brother Dalang.”
Song Ou pinched his chin. “In my opinion, wait, why am I Dalang?! Why am I the cuck?!”
“Ma’am Ming just stressed the importance of staying in character. Do you object? Hero Li expects this much. I can’t give you special treatment.”
“… Fine! I’ll bear with it… In any event, Yir-”
“Come on. Respect the rules. Yi what? Ma’am Ming. Else, you can call her Sister-in-law.”
“I just won’t refer to her, all right?! I was trying to say that we have to win this wager. We need to fool Sima Huai to win.”
“I agree. Catch fish once they’re in the net. Scatter rice to lure chickens in and smash them.”
“What are you? An idiom dictionary? How about saying something pertinent?”
The corners Long Zaitian’s lips curved upwards after their discussion: “… Let’s do that. I refuse to believe he has wings.”
“I look forward to seeing his reaction.”
The dragon and bird: “Hahaha.”
“Can you two shut up?!” Emperor Yuansheng thundered. “You two can toil for the next three months without a salary…”
Sima Huai and Tianfeng Xuanyuan showed up punctually. While Sima Huai was his usual blithe self, Tianfeng Xuanyuan looked as pale as a man who had gone days without food.
Sima Huai requested, “We have arrived as promise. Miss Shen, please tell us how you would like to compete.”
Long Zaitian suddenly cut in line: “Miss Sh-, Ma’am Ming will not need to deign herself. You don’t need a broadsword to butcher a chicken.”
“Yeah, Sister-in-law doesn’t need to bother with you,” Song Ou added.
“Ma’am Ming? Sister-in-law?” Sima Huai repeated in confusion. “And who might you two be?”
“We are the ones responsible for determining the nature of the wager and its rules. Ma’am Ming has personally given her approval.”
Shen Yiren nodded: “I did say they could take care of it.”
Despite finding out Shen Yiren was Ma’am Ming, Sima Huai didn’t care to ask when she was married. “In that case, may I ask for your names?”
“The surname is Long. His surname is Niao. Our team is called…”
Only the breeze reacted. Emperor Yuansheng scribbled onto a sheet of paper and passed it to the duo. It read, “If you don’t disband, I’ll have your heads and shoulders disband.”
Dragon-Bird Alliance disbanded at noon, 4th March, Yuansheng’s 31st Year.
Dragon-Bird Alliance – “Dragon” comes from “Long” in Long Zaitian. “Bird” comes from “Niao” in “Song Niao”, also known as “Brother B******”. Song Ou is his real name in case we’re creating any confusion here.
Brother Dalang – Reference to Wu Dalang, the elder brother of Wu Song, who Pan Jinlian put a green hat on if you have forgotten from the previous volume.