Martial King’s Retired Life – Vol. 13 Ch. 92

Late Night Conversation

Neither owner of the stretched shadows said a word, but neither seem bothered. Jin Zhaoying took her time pouring tea to ensure every movement exuded grace. Song Chi just watched on as a customer admiring her grace.

Even by the strictest standards, Jin Zhaoying was a beautiful maiden. Having said that, she was at a level where she could mesmerise her beholder at first sight. In fact, she was best known for her competence, not her beauty. What kept Song Chi’s attention wasn’t her beauty; it was the slight upward curve at the corner of her lips, her immaculate fingers and gaze on the tea. It’d be annoying to watch someone taking their time to complete a task when there was no need to, but watching her in slow motion was the equivalent of watching a spectacle, one that men would never complain about it being too long. If eloquence had a human form, it would called Jin Zhaoying. Song Chi, however, was not in the mood.

“Do you think silence is acceptable justification?”

Song Chi didn’t want to be first to speak. Alas, he forfeited the first contest. He quitted because he knew Jin Zhaoying was more than happy to keep silent all night. If anything, continuing to compete in the war of attrition would’ve likely resulted in him falling for some trap. Since he had gone on the offence, he decided it was best to keep going until he won.

“I wasn’t sure what your plan or stance was before today, but I now understand you have drawn a line between us. Considering our long friendship, it breaks my heart to know that we cannot continue working together.”

Jin Zhaoying smirked whilst shaking her head as if she was a clueless child. “I don’t understand what you mean by drawing a line. Brother Song, enlighten me, pretty please?”

Song Chi frowned. “Among the Seven White Champion Princes who entered the capital this time, three of our families have sent descendants. You are the only one among our families who stays in the capital, biding her time to strike at the right moment. I didn’t suspect anything at the start, but my suspicions continued to pile up. Following Jin Wangsun’s actions, Gold and Silver Sect has undergone a big internal transformation. Even without the internal restructuring, Gold and Silver Sect would not have the courage to work with us after Jin Wangsun’s crimes.

“Among us seven, my clan and Jin Clan’s foundations are the feeblest. On the surface, we appear to be glowing, but we’re extremely prone to collapsing. Putting Song Clan in your shoes, if we had a Jin Wangsun, I would never dare to even think of opposing the imperial court for as long as I have a brain. Patriarch Jin is far wiser than I am. There is no way someone as clever as you would not be able to read the board.”

Jin Zhaoying casually had a nip of tea.

“As such, I assumed that was the reason behind your ambiguous stance. Still, concerned and determined to find out the truth, I tasked a messenger with personally delivering a letter to Patriarch Jin in Zhenjiang. The letter was the allied plan for our four clans. The reply I received stated that your clan was too busy sorting out its successor to worry about external issues. Suffice to say, it explicated your clan has no intentions of joining hands with us. You are not in the capital for your clan. From the beginning, you were here for something else.”

Jin Zhaoying gently set down her teacup and sarcastically pulled her brows together.

“Where is Xiang Baxian? Can you tell me now, Sister Jin? I have looked into the Qilin Guards’ raid on Liu Shan Men already. You are sheltering Su Xiao, so he may not yet be aware of your plans. Had he not taken instructions from you, though, he unlikely would have thought of going to the Ministry of Justice’s prison. As for the reason nobody can find Xiang Baxian after he returned to the academy, I believe you are the reason.”

“Mm.” Jin Zhaoying finally honoured Song Chi with a gaze. “I’ve also thought the eldest Patriarch Song’s three sons to be the most capable, while his third son was second best. Pffthaha, I can now say I’m a great judge of character.”

“You have yet to answer my quest-”

“You never wrote or sent any letter,” Jin Zhaoying interrupted in a breathy voice. “You don’t know anything, either. You’re testing me. How underhanded.”

Song Chi blushed as he retreated several steps in the face of Jin Zhaoying’s simper. As a man on a mission to grow his clan, he was usually indifferent to women, but Jin Zhaoying had a way of breaking him down. Nonetheless, he promptly calmed himself and, after thinking of a counter, laughed before saying, “It is said that you know everything happening in the world without having to step outside. I have always been curious how that is possible.”

“Do you feel I am not capable enough to know that much?”

“Not at all. It is entirely possible for one to be up to date on the world’s happenings without leaving their home. His Majesty knows about events across the land without needing to leave the palace.”

“Are you comparing His Majesty to yourself?”

Song Chi flinched after realising his accidental mistake. “That was a thoughtless remark. His Majesty is unmatched throughout history as a ruler. I would never dare to compare His Majesty to someone as insignificant as myself.”

“That goes without saying.” Without waiting for Song Chi to meet her gaze, Jin Zhaoying added, “You think you’re worthy?”

There was no anger to speak of, just unspeakable fear and regret – the regret of approaching Jin Zhaoying on his own accord. Despite knowing she was physically weak, Song Chi’s fear continued to spread as if it was venom spreading throughout his body.

“That was a mistake on my part. There truly are plenty of ways of knowing what is happening without leaving one’s home. Sect patriarchs and family patriarchs are always keeping a pulse on the world’s movement, and they can learn receive lots of intelligence reports.”

“You’re getting further and further away. What clan am I the matriarch of? What intelligence reports did you see me receive?”

Song Chi cupped his fist in salute and smile. “You are not a matriarch, and you do not need to be. You do not need to receive intelligence reports on matters widely discussed.”

“Though you say that, it seems you’ve been investigating and been unsuccessful in the endeavour. Being cautious so that you never make any errors, it must be tough trying to grow your clan with your personality.”

Indeed, Song Chi had been monitoring Jin Zhaoying for a length of time and never once caught her receiving any information pertaining to the pugilistic world. Given his pedigree and skill set, he should’ve been a confident individual, but he was always walking as if he was treading on a tightrope. His father also said that he would struggle to achieve anything big with that personality despite his talents.

Jin Zhaoying was the type to be able to deduce a plethora of things based on someone’s single sentence, so trying to debate against her was just asking to have your ego smashed.

Song Chi smiled. “Please forgive me. I have a tendency to let my mind wander. They may be useless thoughts, but I cannot stop myself. There is a cause and effect for everything in the world. Since you are not receiving reports, I am very curious how you know so much.”

Jin Zhaoying gestured for Song Chi to continue with a smirk.

“I have finally worked out how you know so much. You like to compete against other scholars with your brush. I am curious if all that is in those letters you exchange with each other is literature. I followed this thread to learn that you send a letter to a specific place at a fixed interval.”

Jin Zhaoying’s lack of a reaction almost had Song Chi second guessing himself.

“… Hangzhou.”

Jin Zhaoying’s elegant smile didn’t leave, but that only spurred Song Chi’s hear to beat faster.

“I have always wondered who you are taking orders from. It was not until Xiang Baxian was rescued that I could confidently assert you are opposing us.” Song Chi paused for a deep breath. “So it is true… your relationship… is deep?”

“Hehehe, what do you think?”

The only thing Song Chi got out of Jin Zhaoying’s laugh and response was that she could resemble a kind neighbourhood elder sister when she answered.

 

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