“I followed Young Master Xie back.” Nineteen didn’t wait for Wei Lan to ask before explaining himself. “He was the one who had me come here. This should be the Second Highness’s personal residence. A Northern Yan person lives here.”
“A Northern Yan person?” Wei Lan added another layer of bewilderment to his impression of Long Xuan.
“Young Master Xie already knows about this,” Nineteen continued. “Now maybe they’re talking about that right now with the young master. How did you come here?”
Wei Lan replied, “I followed the Second Highness.”
“It’s fine if I’m here, hurry and go back,” Nineteen said with concern. “Why is your complexion so poor? Too tired from taking care of the young master?”
“No.” Wei Lan still peered back at that residence. “How did Young Master Xie know about this place?”
“We encountered Young Master Xie halfway on the road,” Nineteen replied. “I also don’t know how he knows.”
“Then I’ll go back first.” Wei Lan also did not have time to discuss with Nineteen. He was in a hurry to go back and see Luo Wei. There would soon be a battle with Northern Yan, yet His Second Highness hid a Northern Yan person here. Wei Lan’s heart felt even more ill at ease.
In the courtyard, Long Xuan and a young man sat opposite each other in a wooden pavilion at the center of a garden. An imperial bodyguard hurried over to whisper a few words in Long Xuan’s ear. He then retreated.
Long Xuan said to the young man with a smile, “Lord Luo, there are some of your Qi Lin Mountain Villa’s Shadow Guards outside. It seems to me you will live at this place of mine for a few more days.”
“Qi Lin Shadow Guards?” The man referred to by Long Xuan as Lord Luo suddenly became anxious. He looked around everywhere for a while, for fear of seeing the figure of a Qi Lin Shadow Guard there. If he did, then he would really die without a corpse to bury.
If Wei Lan and Nineteen entered, they would definitely recognize the person sitting with Long Xuan. He was the eldest son of Luo Ting Chao, Qi Lin Mountain Villa’s Eldest Young Master Luo Hai Sheng.
“As long as you are at my place, I can protect you.” Long Xuan saw Luo Hai Sheng losing his head out of fear, and he was even more sure that this was a piece of mud that could not support any wall. He secretly looked down on this person, but his face showed affection.
Luo Hai Sheng wanted to cry but had no tears. He was truly scared right now. Even though he was the Eldest Young Master of the Qi Lin Mountain Villa, his birth mother was only a lowly concubine of Luo Ting Chao’s, ensuring that he could not achieve his father’s position. Eldest Young Master Luo was a man without great ambition, but he adored money and loved gambling the most. Luo Ting Chao seldom showed an interest in his children. When Eldest Young Master Luo had money he would gamble, and when he gambled away all his money, he’d borrow more to gamble again. He lived his life free and unfettered, never expecting that one day his hobby would harm him. But now, Eldest Young Master Luo looked at the man opposite him. He originally thought that loan sharks were only another route for him to borrow money, and they coughed up cash without fuss. No matter how he puzzled over it, he could not understand how he ended up owing half a million taels of silver to the person sitting across from him. But the IOUs each lay there, intolerant of his intent to renege. If he were just dealing with an insignificant character from the Jianghu, he could pressure him with Qi Lin Mountain Villa’s reputation. However, this man was this dynasty’s second prince, and Eldest Young Master Luo had no way out.
“You scared?” Long Xuan still asked.
“No.” Luo Hai Sheng’s smile was uglier than crying. He had already snuck out the prescription for the medicine used to train the Shadow Guards. Just because of that, he already hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for half a month. If Luo Ting Chao knew he owed someone five hundred thousand taels of silver, he would definitely kill him. If he knew that he had stolen the prescription, he would also kill him. Now it seemed that if his dad dealt with him, death was the only option. “Your Highness,” Luo Hai Sheng trembled with fear as he asked, “what else do you want this humble one to do?”
“First live here,” Long Xuan instructed. Ning Shu Ying taking control of Eldest Young Master Luo was, in Long Xuan’s opinion, the best accomplishment this outstanding talent of the Jianghu’s righteous path had. Since the Qi Lin Mountain Villa was determined to follow Senior Official Luo’s household, then he should either find a way to destroy it or change its master. Destroying the Qi Lin Mountain Villa would pit them against the Luo family, so changing the Villa master seemed to be the path of least resistance. This Luo Hai Sheng was useless trash, but he surpassed others in obedience. Long Xuan placed a few banknotes before the Eldest Young Master Luo. “Keep these for use.”
Luo Hai Sheng already owed Long Xuan a debt he could not repay in one lifetime. How could he dare to take Long Xuan’s money? He quickly replied, “This humble one does not need to worry about food and drink here, and doesn’t need money.”
Long Xuan threw the banknotes on the table. “You haven’t tried the capital’s casinos before right? Wait a few days and I’ll order someone to take you around.”
Once Luo Hai Sheng heard the word “casino,” his two eyes lit up.
A dog that can’t stop eating sh*t, Long Xuan cursed in his heart. But what came out of his mouth was, “I’m giving you this money to have fun. You don’t need to return it.”
Luo Hai Sheng immediately beamed with happiness, thanking Long Xuan profusely. He hadn’t gambled for two months, and his hands itched terribly. Once Long Xuan opened his mouth, Luo Hai Sheng flung previous fright to the back of his mind.
Long Xuan observed Luo Hai Sheng and knew that he had stabilized this chess piece that would be of use to him in the future. Thinking of Ning Shu Ying’s sons, and then looking at Luo Ting Chao’s progeny, it seemed that the Qi Lin Mountain Villa’s young masters were all not very useful. An onlooker could merely look at these offspring and somewhat understand why Ming Jian had always suppressed Qi Lin.
Luo Hai Sheng gripped the newly obtained banknotes in hand, happily returning to his room.
Afterwards, Long Xuan’s personal servant brought over a robust man dressed in merchant’s garb.
“Sit.” Long Xuan did not let this person pay respects and directly spoke.
The man sat on the stone stool that had just been occupied by Luo Hai Sheng.
“Bad news,” Long Xuan told the man. “Sima Qingsha has approached the Luo family. My Emperor Father already decided to send troops to help Crown Prince Qingsha.”
“Is Your Highness serious?” The man immediately stood up again.
“If there are no accidents, tomorrow my imperial court will decide to send troops,” Long Xuan confirmed. “If Brother Zhuxie still has no way to strike Hefang City, I think he should withdraw his troops as soon as possible and plan for the coming year.”
“How will your army go to help Sima Qingsha?”
“Of course we have no way to conquer Black Frost City. We will borrow Eastern Shang to enter Northern Yan from Chun Du Pass.” Long Xuan handed a letter to the sturdy man, “General, you should return to Yan as soon as possible. Chun Du Pass is not near Black Frost City, and there is no Black Frost Cavalry or heavenly moat there. Brother Zhuxie’s situation looks worrying.”
“Ser-seriously? Eastern Shang will also send troops?”
“You’ll hear news on the road,” Long Xuan replied. “Leave as soon as possible.”
“Your Highness.” The brawny man originally was about to leave, but then stood still to ask Long Xuan, “You don’t want to seize Black Frost City back?”
“If Crown Prince Qingsha becomes emperor,” Long Xuan’s expression appeared quite calm, “then the Luo family’s position in my imperial court will be even more unshakeable. At that time, won’t my situation be more difficult? I have always lived for myself, and I think your household’s master is the same.”
“This humble one understands and will prepare to leave,” the man said.
“Leave tomorrow morning.” Long Xuan clapped his hands, and four people who looked like his personal guards appeared before the brawny man like demons.
The brawny man was taken aback. He hadn’t detected these four people’s existences at all until now. “Your Highness, these are your?”
“They are my imperial bodyguards. I’m not at ease with you going back to Yan alone. They will protect you on your way back to Brother Zhuxie’s army.”
The brawny man hastily declined, saying there was no need.
Long Xuan instead said, “You carry a letter I personally wrote. This relates to my own life as well, so it’s better to be more careful. Don’t underestimate the Luo family’s tactics. General must bring along these four people.”
The man replied, “This Luo family, is Your Highness speaking of the third young master Luo Wei, Luo Yun Qi?”
“Yes.” Long Xuan sinisterly continued, “This person harmed your master’s eyes, and drove him to his current circumstances. For him, you are even less of a well-matched adversary.”