In the Northern plains…
Beneath the starry night sky sat a frail looking lady. Her delicate features were tinged with a sickly pale color. As the cold winds of the night blew, she would cough from time to time. Her frail appearance truly made one’s heart wrench.
“Has the Xia Emperor given the dispatch orders?” The lady asked in a soft voice.
The armored general standing next to the lady, replied. He looked at the lady with eyes full of admiration and respect. While they weren’t overbearingly so, they were still apparent for all to see.
The lady looked at the two red stars in the horizon and coughed. In a soft sigh, “It looks like someone interfered in the end. A pity. He was a chess piece I put in place since a long time ago.”
The young general stood by her side quietly guarding her. He knew, that as long as the strategist was here, the mongols would definitely be able to break through the defensive line and step onto the mainland.
“Mars staying at Antares, the unstable true dragon qi, Grand Xia is the most affected by all these changes. Since the Xia Emperor is aware of his natal horoscope, he will definitely be on the defensive. If he plans to dispatch troops, his only possible options are the Marquis of Qinghe in the northwest and the Marquis of Buyi in the northeast.”
“Send a message to the Life King tomorrow morning, tell him to dispatch troops to stop the reinforcements from the northwest.” The lady, Fan Lingyue, said so after a round of contemplation.
“Why isn’t it the northeast?” The general asked, puzzled.
“The Marquis of Buyi has been guarding the mountain gate for the past 16 years. Has he ever moved in those 16 years?” Fan Lingyue threw a question back at him.
“Not even once.”
“Then this time will be no exception.” Fan Lingyue said, not planning to elaborate further on this. As she stared into the distance, her eyes betrayed her weariness. Amidst the occasional coughing, that weariness grew ever deeper.
If it wasn’t for this simple conversation, who would’ve thought this frail to the bone lady was actually the renowned military strategist of the Mongol horde. The same one who seven years ago, singlehandedly manipulated the coup in the Mongol royal court, allowing the Mongol Horde to experience an unprecedented level of unity and might.
Unfortunately, the limited lands and resources of their region hindered the expansion of the Mongol Horde, causing their expansion to slow down considerably in the past two years.
“Strategist, the night is cold and the winds, piercing. You should get some rest.” After an indeterminate amount of time, the weather became colder and the young general could no longer bear to see the lady stay out.
“Mhm.” After another round of coughing, she expressed her agreement and walked off towards the court tent in the distance.
Du An Pharmacy, the inner courtyard…
As the sun rose, the early morning sunlight beamed through the windows and onto Ning Chen’s face. A short distance away, Qing Ning laid there unconscious as always. Sprawled by her side was a disheveled Zhang Sun dozing off from last night’s fatigue.
Ning Chen got up and walked around his bed. Outside of the pain enveloping his body, he was perfectly fine.
Zhang Sun was still sleeping at the moment. The tired look on her face made his heart ache. He carefully covered her with some clothes before pushing open the doors and leaving.
The manager had already been waiting outside the door for a long period of time. After seeing Ning Chen exit, his eyes lit up as he quickly approached him.
“Gong Gong” The manager greeted him, but just as he was about to continue, he saw the agitated look on Ning Chen.
“You’re a Gong Gong, your whole family is a Gong Gong!”
Ning Chen was like a cat who had its tail stepped on as he interrupted the manager.
*pei pei pei*
“Then how should I address Gong…err, no, address this esteemed one?” The manager tactfully asked after being frightened by Ning Chen’s agitated reaction.
“Oh, Then brother Ning Chen, did her Majesty pass down any instructions?”
“Her majesty is still asleep so I wouldn’t know.” He replied in a sully tone. He wanted to know if she did as well…
After giving him the cold shoulder, Ning Chen walked out to the courtyard and began practicing his Taiji Quan. The manager stood behind him as he watched.
“Brother Ning Chen is such an extraordinary person”
“I’m not that great.”
“Brother Ning Chen is too humble.”
“Ning Chen, come over.”
Just as he said this, he noticed that something was amiss. He turned around to see Zhang Sun staring at him. He broke into a cold sweat and immediately ran up to her without any greeting.
“Your Majesty, what are your instructions?”
“Come into the room, I have something to tell you in private.” Zhang Sun ignored his earlier impudence. She knew that if she paid attention to each and every impudent act by him, she would probably get angered to death.
Once they were alone in the room, Zhang Sun looked at Ning Chen, a unprecedented graveness in her eyes. “Ning Chen, I have a task for you.”
Seeing her expression, Ning Chen’s heart sank a little, he knew it was going to be a troublesome task.
“Find a way to enter the Zhang Sun estate. After meeting with the Marquis of Taiping, inform him of this queen’s situation. Remember, it must be the marquis himself and no one else.”
Due to the severity of the situation, Zhang Sun had no choice but to be extra careful. She had no guarantee that there were no spies in the Zhang Sun estate, so she had to take this extra precaution.
The marquis was her elder brother and was also the leader of the Zhang Sun family in the Imperial City. He should already be aware that she was in danger and should be out looking for her.
“Escape once the opportunity presents itself!” This was the reaction Ning Chen had after listening to her instructions. However, after looking at the unconscious Qing Ning near him and the trusting look in Zhang Sun’s eyes, he was suddenly felt embarrassed.
“I’ll do my best.” He responded in a vague manner amidst the conflicting emotions in his heart.
“Hmm?” Zhang Sun raised her eyebrows at his reply, the displeasure obvious in her eyes.
Ning Chen was slightly startled by this. Without any hint of indecisiveness, he raised his head and looked her in the eyes and said, “Your majesty need not worry, as long as I’m alive, this message will definitely be delivered.”
Hearing his resolute answer finally put her at ease. Her face softened as she took out a jade pendant in the shape of a crescent moon and handed it over to Ning Chen. “Take it. Once the Marquis of Taiping sees this, he will believe you.”
“Your Majesty, if I’m not back by sunset, please take Qing Ning with you and change locations.” Ning Chen suddenly interjected.
Zhang Sun paused upon hearing this, a look of confusion in her eyes.
Ning Chen flashed a wide smile as he said, “Just in case I get captured. I’m not sure if I can endure the interrogation then.”
“Ahh.” She suddenly smiled before saying, “It’s fine, this queen never expected you to be able to endure any interrogation. If it really gets to that stage, don’t think about anything else except for your own survival.”
Ning Chen bid his farewells before turning around to leave, leaving a confused Zhang Sun behind pondering the meaning of bye bye.
After a long while, Zhang Sun shook her head in helplessness and sighed, “This kid is just too mysterious.”
The Imperial City of Grand Xia was a sprawling and flourishing city. Calling it the best city under heaven would not be an exaggeration. Amidst this grandeur, Ning Chen wandered around, lost. He only knew the general direction to Zhang Sun estate, therefore he had to ask for directions as he walked. After circling around for half a day, it was almost noon.
Ning Chen suddenly had a terrifying realization—He’s broke! His only penny was confiscated by Zhang Sun so he was literally penniless at the moment.
“Excuse me sister, may know I the directions to Zhang Sun estate?”
After asking around for directions for so long, his throat was so inflamed, it might actually start spouting smoke. As he saw a lady pass by, he stopped her to ask for directions.
“He he, you’ve actually come to the brothel to ask for directions, young master is truly a refined gentleman.” Yue Hanyi glanced at the teenager before her and giggled.
“Young master seems to be thirsty, why don’t you enter for some tea.”
“This…doesn’t seem right.”
Ning Chen hesitated a while before following the lady wordlessly. So what if it’s a brothel. What’s wrong with a brothel. There’s nothing wrong with getting a drink.
“Young master, please help yourself.” Yue Hanyi smiled as she presented him with a cup of tea.
“Is this free?” Ning Chen noticed the luxurious setting around him and immediately checked.
“Young master must be joking, it’s just a cup of tea.” Yue Hanyi smiled as she said.
Ning Chen’s face broke into a smile as he heard this. He grabbed the cup and downed it in an instant. Ahhh…
“Care for another cup?” Yue Hanyi refilled the cup and presented it once more.
“Big sister is such a nice person.” His ingratiating side revealing itself as he took the cup.
“This cup isn’t free.”
He immediately spit out the tea he drank.
“Cough cough.” Ning Chen turned to the lady, his face bright red.
“He he, I was just joking, look at you, getting scared so easily.” Yue Hanyi doubled over with laughter.
“Ah?” Ning Chen awkwardly wiped his mouth, his eyes darting everywhere except for the spot where Yue Hanyi was.
“Huh, is there no one here?”
Ning Chen finally noticed that this luxurious building was empty except for the two of them. He turned to Yue Hanyi. Thin brows and a beautiful pair of eyes, creamy complexion and a face that invited disaster. No matter how you looked at her, she didn’t seem like someone no one would like.
“Don’t think of any nonsense.” After seeing the strange look in his face, she definitely understood what he was thinking and interrupted him. “I’m the owner of this building, Ling Yan Pavilion.”
Bad news. Ning Chen looked at the girl before him. The normally bashful smile was now gone and within his eyes a hint of disgust flashed through them. If one did not look carefully, it would’ve gone unnoticed.
“I’m sorry for imposing, I’ll pay for the tea another day.” He lightly lowered the cup and threw out this apology before turning around to leave.
“This young master has arrived, ladies why aren’t you here?”
At this moment, a young man swaggered in. Based on his extravagant silk robe and that arrogant and domineering look, he was definitely one of those good-for-nothing young masters you often hear about.
“Oh, it’s young master Zhang Sun, what wind has brought you here today?” A short moment later, numerous veiled ladies dressed in silk dresses descended from the second floor. Ah, those lovely bodies and enticing dresses! Truly a sight for sore eyes!
“Haha, these two days have been hell for our estate. I swear I’ll go mad if I don’t come out for a breather.” Zhang Sun Yunxuan laughed boisterously as he said so to no one in particular.
At the side, Ning Chen stopped walking and turned around to face the youth. A while later, he walked up to him.
“You’re a person of the Zhang Sun estate?”
“That’s right.” Zhang Sun Yunxuan replied, slightly surprised.
“The son of Marquis Taiping?”
“That’s right, what’s the matter?” He replied in a dissatisfied tone, the impatience clear for all to hear.
“Ah, such a coincidence.” Ning Chen coldly laughed before swiftly kicking him in the stomach.
The crowd watched in stunned silence as he crashed onto the table with a loud bang, the tea spilling all over as he did so.
Not only were the ladies stunned, even the nearby Yue Hanyi was too stunned to react.
“You…you’re asking for death. Do you know who this young master this? Do you know who is this young master’s father!?” The kick rendered his brains slightly addled. As he struggled to his feet, he bellowed at Ning Chen.
“I know who he is. Your father is Marquis Taiping. You just said so.” Ning Chen coldly replied. So bringing out your father’s name is in vogue already?
Zhang Sun was out suffering and had almost lost her life while this brat was here gallivanting. Such a despicable bastard.
He strode forward once more and kicked him, his fury clearly infused into it. Before he could even steady himself, Zhang Sun Yunxuan was sent flying once more and crashed into another table. The cups and plates shattered on the floor with a piercing bang.
“This kick, is punishment for being a heartless bastard.”
As he finished saying this, he stepped forward once more. Looking at the young master sprawled on the floor, he turned him face up and kicked him once more.
“This kick, is punishment for being a shameless bastard.”
The teapots sprayed the floor with tea as he crashed into table after table. Ning Chen’s face grew even colder as he picked up Zhang Sun Yunxuan once more and kicked.
“This kick, is punishment for soiling your family’s name.”
As he picked up the young master, he got cut by the shards of the broken cups. However, he didn’t seem to notice this as he continued his bone chilling rampage.
“This last kick, is to remind you. Never to sully the name of Zhang Sun.”
A loud kick followed by a loud slam. A shattered table laid on the floor, its wooden shards tinged with blood. The crowd stood stunned, unable to say a word.
The numerous people looked at Ning Chen with shock and fear in their eyes as they retreated a step.
“Big sister, may I borrow some ink and a brush?” Ning Chen walked up to one of the ladies and flashed her a brilliant smile.
The girl retreated in terror, her face paling instantly. She immediately nodded and ran up the stairs.
A short while later, the girl came down with a set of writing materials and handed them over to Ning Chen.
As he received the ink and brush, his smile became even more dazzling. If it wasn’t for that terrifying scene before, who would’ve thought this harmless teenager was such a devil…
Footnotes: Natal Horoscope: When one is born, the alignment of the stars paint a complete star chart unique to you. This is not only affected by the time but by your location. This was used in ancient times to predict a person’s fortune, personality and fate. It is based on astronomy, geography and the humanities.