Surreptitiously Sharing Secret Schemes
Today, the sunshine was in the bones. The cicadas’ voices sounded as though they were trapped in a heated cauldron and pleading for help with their last breaths. While a frog would occasionally make a ripple in the clear water that destroyed the annoying fiery orb reflected in there, the moment of relief was but fleeting.
“White hair isn’t bad at all,” a young scholar in black remarked. Sitting atop a rock, he didn’t seem bothered that his fishing rod beside him hadn’t been touched in a long while. “Shitou, don’t go too far.”
The man crouching by the lake flinched when he heard the man’s voice. Until then, he had been staring at the lake as though he was eager to jump in or he was angry with the frogs. He scurried back several steps similar to a child realising he had done something wrong, spun around, crouched back down and then resumed blankly staring at the lake.
Satisfied with the obedience demonstrated, the scholar returned to reading the book in his hand.
Neither of them seemed bothered sitting in the heat despite the water offering no cooling benefits.
A long while later, the scholar closed his book and muttered, “It’s going to bite any moment now.”
The fishing rod didn’t budge. Instead, an individual in black attire disrupted the peace to speedily arrive. The masked man stopped before the scholar and respectfully bowed. “Mr. Jiang Chen.”
The fishing rod suddenly jumped. Jiang Chen picked it up and pulled out an arm-sized fish that easily weighed over a kilogram. He stood up, dropped the fish into his bamboo basket and made a small smile. “It is an honour to have a visitor on such a steamy day. Allow this one to fulfil his duty as a host and offer a cup of tea.”
“I shall graciously impose then.”
There was a hay cottage set up beside the lake, but, despite it being an impromptu setup, it had an aura of elegance to it, and the surrounding bamboo perceptively reduced the heat.
The masked man was courteous in accepting the offer, but he started to feel frustrated when he watched Jiang Chen take his time brewing the tea because he had urgent business. As soon as tea was served, he finished it in one go. “You are truly enjoying the best serenity the world has to offer her, Sir.”
Jiang Chen enjoyed a small nip. “It must be tough to leave the capital at the moment.”
The man stopped to think and then dropped his tone. “You are indeed correct.”
“The capital is in a tense state. Unorthodox faction members have all be driven out. Yi Ya is acting as the second Jinyong City. Everybody and everything leaving or entering the capital has to undergo strict inspections.”
“Mm, fortifying defences and leaving nothing for the enemy. Wang Muren has an excellent successor.” Jiang Chen stopped to check on Shitou. “Who is Wang Muren? A very capable man who is tough to deal with. It’s best if we can avoid him, or our plans will go awry.”
Shitou lowered his head. “Mm.”
The masked man didn’t understand how Jiang Chen and Shitou communicated when Shitou never opened his mouth. Nevertheless, since Jiang Chen didn’t seem to bat an eye to his information, he continued, “Wang Muren certainly is capable. Likewise, Yi Ya is tough competition.”
“Indeed.” Jiang Chen smiled. “He follows Wang Muren’s style, though he is more democratic compared to his leader. Nonetheless, he, too, is an able leader.”
The masked man grinned. “I know you must have planted a large number of spies and men in the capital, but how many do you have left with Yi Ya running around?”
Jiang Chen touched his chin. “To tell the truth, only two or three left.”
“We are quickly losing manpower, as well. As long as Yi Ya is around, it will be difficult for us to achieve anything. I am here to propose we target him and…” The masked man performed a throat-slitting gesture with his hand.
“Hahaha, to be honest with you, Yi Ya is a superb fighter. I may very well not be his match.”
The confused man lost his spirit. “Does that not mean the plan is ruined? This pertains to both of our groups’ ambitions. Please do not joke about it.”
“I would never.” Jiang Chen jovially elaborated, “I’ve already implemented solutions. There is no need to target Yi Ya or the Qilin Guards. I respect them for their diligence in guarding the borders. I have never had any intention of harming them.”
Like many others, the masked man didn’t have the faintest idea what Jiang Chen was up to, so he tried provocation. “Can I understand that you intend to invade the imperial city and carry out your plan by yourself?”
“I have my ways.”
Because of how confident Jiang Chen sounded, the masked man stopped to think before saying, “I know you are capable in your own right. That is why I have chosen to work with you. I hope you succeed.” Since Jiang Chen didn’t respond, he added, “Should you truly succeed, I promise Fiends’ Genesis will never have any material deficits henceforward, and neither you nor your comrades will be wanted criminals any longer.”
Jiang Chen shook his head.
“What is it?”
“Who cares about Fiends’ Genesis?”
It was a sweltering-hot day, yet the masked man felt his hairs rising up. Fiends’ Genesis’ safety was the condition for their alliance, so what was the purpose of the alliance if Fiends’ Genesis was not worth caring about?
“Who cares about material wealth?”
The masked man felt awfully stressed. He had a feeling that his hidden trump cards had been exposed; he didn’t feel he could hide anything from the man before him.
With a smile, Jiang Chen voiced, “Don’t insult my intelligence. I was forced to take orders for two decades. I am still alive. What has he achieved? Every generation of Li Clan has been a generation of traitors who’ve wanted my head. Have any succeeded?”
It dawned on the masked man that the difference between them was time – a lot of time. The experience of a much longer life was not something he could hope to match.
“I suggest you stop pursuing your agendas. I will fulfil my agreement with you. Likewise, you must complete your end of the deal. Else, I guarantee you will die a painful death.”
Jinyong City – Emperor Wen of Wei, Cao Pi, had a hundred-foot building constructed in the northwest corner of the ancient city of Luoyang during the Han and Wei Dynasties. Cao Rui then expanded it into a military fortress. When Jin Dynasty was established, Emperors and Empresses of Wei were exiled to the city. Although it was a small city, it was a solid defence chokepoint. So, Yi Ya is being described as a tough defender of the capital.