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The Dragon

The Dragon By Nov 22, 2023 4 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 71

Chapter 72

Zhong Michu wore her mask, her hand only feigning a cover in front of her. Gu Fuyou thought since her return from the underworld, she had nothing left to lose – no attachments, no regard for her own life or reputation, nothing to fear. People were often hindered by their pursuit of fame, profit, or love, but they were no match for her.

But then, there was still Zhong Michu.

Gu Fuyou let out a bitter smile, knowing she shouldn’t tease Zhong Michu but couldn’t help herself, only for Zhong Michu to casually respond as she did.

Gu Fuyou said, “You are, after all, a Dragon King.”

“How can you be so casual about this?” Back when Gu Fuyou had made a pact with Zhong Michu, calling her “Nanzhu Jun,” Zhong Michu was angry, feeling restricted.

Now, this “Master” title was also a kind of restriction, lowering her status, yet she spoke it so easily.

Zhong Michu took Gu Fuyou’s hand down from her face, saying, “If you want me to call you that, I will.”

“Do you realize…”

“That only slaves speak like that?” They had fallen far behind Zuo Shaode, landing on Scholar Zhai’s turtle shell. The atmosphere was strange, Scholar Zhai, with her sharp senses, and the ape-like spirit beast shrank into a corner of the shell, leaving space for the two.

Zhong Michu said “When you made that pact with me, I was displeased by being restricted and becoming someone else’s subordinate, but I never hated you for it.”

Gu Fuyou chuckled, “That’s because you’re good-natured.”

“It’s not that, Ah Man. It’s because the happiness that pact brought me far outweighed any displeasure.”

Zhong Michu’s fingers were cold on Gu Fuyou’s palm, but Gu Fuyou felt a burning sensation.

“Ah Man, I didn’t hate you a hundred years ago, and I certainly don’t hate you now.”

Gu Fuyou pulled her hand back, turning away, her breathing unsteady.

Zhong Michu’s voice was low, almost like a sigh, “Ah Man, no matter how many times I say it, you won’t believe me.”

“I do believe you. I really do…”

The group returned to Wantong City and arrived at the city lord’s mansion. The mansion was lavishly luxurious, comparable to Lihen Tian. Scholar Zhai, following behind, exclaimed, “True to its reputation as the affluent Wantong City, so opulent it’s almost dripping with wealth.”

Zuo Shaode led Gu Fuyou into the grand guest hall, while Zhong Michu and Scholar Zhai, due to their “slave” status, had to wait outside.

In the center of the hall hung a painting. Gu Fuyou looked at it longer than usual. Most would hang paintings of landscapes or heroic scenes, but Zuo Shaode had a map of the world.

Noticing her interest, Zuo Shaode chuckled and asked, “Does the elder also like this painting?”

Gu Fuyou smiled charmingly, “Who wouldn’t love this painting?”

“This is my amateur work, drawn to relieve boredom. My son had it framed and hung here to please me. I’m flattered that the elder finds it amusing. If you like it, I’d be happy to gift it to you.”

Gu Fuyou smiled but didn’t answer. She was uncertain of Zuo Shaode’s intentions. Was he being cautious, not wanting to openly reveal his ambitious intentions by changing the subject, or was he playing a game, waiting for her to make the first move?

Zuo Shaode said, “Consider it a small token of gratitude for helping Wantong City deal with that harmful beast.”

Gu Fuyou said, “Speaking of that spirit beast, I find it quite to my liking and have thought about making it my mount. I’ve already tamed it, so if Lord Zuo wishes to express his gratitude, perhaps he could consider releasing the beast to me.”

The two stood talking. Zuo Shaode’s hand slowly rested on the armrest, his slight smile making it hard to read his thoughts. However, Gu Fuyou had a feeling that Zuo Shaode was sizing her up, trying to figure out her true intentions for coming to Wantong City – whether it was just as she said, a casual visit, or if she had other motives.

Gu Fuyou wasn’t bothered by his scrutiny and quietly waited for his response. After a while, Zuo Shaode apologized, “I cannot give an immediate answer. The creature has harmed too many people, and I need to explain the situation to my subordinates. Please, give me some time.”

“No problem.”

“You are welcome to stay in the mansion for the time being. If you need anything, feel free to ask.”

Zuo Shaode’s attitude towards her was neither warm nor cold, seemingly just a formality due to her esteemed status. After a brief conversation, he excused himself, citing urgent matters.

A servant led Gu Fuyou and the others to the guest garden for accommodation. Along the way, Scholar Zhai whispered, “Why did you come out so soon?”

Gu Fuyou replied, “He wasn’t very warm towards me, and he left in a hurry, probably to deal with the matter of his spirit beast being killed.”

Remembering how Zhong Michu had secretly killed his spirit beast, she felt a sense of satisfaction yet also that it wasn’t enough. Zuo Shaode’s Zhuli bow had once left a wound on Zhong Michu that could never fully heal. What should have been her strongest part had become her vulnerability.

“Maybe it’s a strategic retreat,” Scholar Zhai suggested with a smile. “A distinguished member of the Azure Phoenix Clan to regain status but lacking allies; a mysterious, highly skilled Azure Phoenix traveling in Nanzhou. If he really has ulterior motives, he knows how to make mutual use of each other.”

Scholar Zhai tapped her folding fan against her palm, asking, “How did your probing go?”

Gu Fuyou smiled, “It’s unclear.”

Regarding Zuo Shaode’s casual address to Zuo Yuezhi and the ‘Map of the Five Continents and Four Seas’ hanging in the hall, it could be that Zuo Shaode, unwilling to be subordinate to Zuo Yuezhi, aspired for the clan leader’s position, even the whole world. Or, it might be that he always addressed his nephew that way, showing close family ties, and the map was simply a gift from his children and grandchildren to please him, hung in the hall as a gesture of appreciation.

Whether Zuo Shaode truly harbored ambitions for the clan leader position of the Xu Ling Sect remained uncertain.

“What did he say about handling the spirit beast?” Scholar Zhai inquired.

“He said he’d give me an answer in a few days. His words were vague, and he’s quite guarded around me,” Gu Fuyou replied.

Scholar Zhai laughed, “It’s normal for a cautious person to be guarded. No need to rush; let’s see how he responds later.”

As they approached the guest garden, they passed a place resembling the Temple of Heaven, where sounds of shouting could be heard. Despite the protective formations, flashes of spiritual light were visible. Gu Fuyou stopped and looked up the stone steps, asking the servant, “What’s happening up there?”

The servant respectfully replied, “My lord, it’s the martial arts field, where the mansion’s cultivators practice and compete. Would you like to take a look?”

Knowing your enemy and yourself ensures victory in every battle. She was curious to gauge the extent of Zuo Shaode’s power, but considering her identity as an Azure Phoenix, she thought it beneath her to join the crowd to watch human cultivators fight, so she remained silent.

A woman in a light-yellow dress descended the steps, her brows lightly furrowed in concern. She gave a distant glance and a brief courtesy before quickly leaving.

Gu Fuyou found it strange, reflecting for a moment on the servant’s subtle attitude towards the woman. The woman, judging by her attire, seemed to be of some status, yet the servant showed no respect.

“Who is that person?” Gu Fuyou asked.

The servant replied, “That is Miss Xiao, a concubine of the mansion’s second young master.”

Xiao? In Nanzhou, there weren’t many families with the surname Xiao. Gu Fuyou looked again at the woman walking away, feeling a sense of familiarity. The servant escorted them to the guest garden, and after making arrangements, was dismissed by Gu Fuyou.

Leaning by the door, Gu Fuyou pondered, unable to recall something. Zhong Michu asked, “What’s the matter?”

Gu Fuyou commented, “That woman looks familiar, like I’ve seen her somewhere before.”

Zhong Michu responded, “You probably haven’t met her, but you’ve seen her father and aunt.”

“Hmm?” Gu Fuyou gathered from Zhong Michu’s words that they both knew the girl and her relatives. Since Zhong Michu said they had both seen them, it must be someone they knew collectively.

So, this person must have been someone they met seven hundred years ago. Zhong Michu’s clear memory suggested that there had been interactions over the past seven hundred years. Gu Fuyou couldn’t help but be curious about who this person was.

Zhong Michu didn’t keep her in suspense, saying directly, “The siblings from the Xiao family, Xiao Zhongting and Xiao Yuan.”

Gu Fuyou thought about these names; they were familiar, but she couldn’t match the faces with the names, as it had been too long. Zhong Michu reminded her, “They’re the siblings who were bullied by Zuo Tianlang outside Xian Luo back then.”

With this reminder, Gu Fuyou’s memory cleared, as if a veil had been lifted, “Oh, it’s them.”

Back in the day, the Xiao siblings were training in Xian Luo and unfortunately crossed paths with Zuo Tianlang. During a critical moment, Zuo Tianlang used Xiao Yuan as a shield, leading to the shattering of her Golden Core. Xiao Zhongting tried to seek justice for his sister but ended up brutally beaten by Zuo Tianlang’s subordinates.

Later, while escaping from Xuan Miao Sect, Zhong Michu was injured, and they needed a specific herb found in Xiao City. Thanks to Xiao Zhongting’s intervention, they managed to evade the Zuo family’s cultivators.

The girl in the light-yellow dress resembled her aunt.

“You mean that girl is Xiao Zhongting’s daughter?” Gu Fuyou frowned, “I remember him as a man of steel and courage, bold enough to confront the Zuo family. How come he has now ended up sending his daughter into this den of wolves?”

“If it was a marriage of love, that would be one thing, but she’s just a concubine. In today’s cultivation world, partners are mostly monogamous, but the powerful, especially the Zuo family, often have multiple wives and concubines. At best, she’s a concubine; at worst, a plaything or a tool for childbearing.”

Zhong Michu sighed, “It was beyond their control . Back then, when the whole Nanzhou fell into the hands of the Zuo family, they were at their most powerful. They wanted to make an example out of a few restless and ambitious families. Due to Xiao Zhongting’s confrontation and insults towards the Zuo family outside Xian Luo, Xiao City couldn’t escape trouble.”

“Xiao City couldn’t fight the Zuo family. They had to either be exterminated or seek a humiliating compromise.”

Gu Fuyou could almost imagine, with the fall of Xiaoyao City and Xuan Miao Sect, how insignificant Xiao City was to the Zuo family, like an ant, its fate hanging by a thread, “So, the Xiao family chose to compromise?”

Zhong Michu confirmed, “The Xiao family agreed to all of the Zuo family’s demands.”

Gu Fuyou felt a pang of empathy and asked, “What were the conditions?”

Zhong Michu looked at her and slowly said, “Xiao Zhongting was humiliated by Zuo Tianlang. Xiao Yuan became a concubine in the Zuo family.”

Gu Fuyou, gripping the door frame, clenched so hard that the wood began to crack. Zhong Michu added, “Ah Man…”

“Go on, why did Xiao Zhongting’s daughter also end up as a concubine in the Zuo family?”

“Xiao Zhongting would rather face humiliation himself than send Xiao Yuan to the Zuo family. Xiao Yuan was ready to sacrifice herself for her family, but Xiao Zhongting wouldn’t allow it, even if it meant fighting to the death against the Zuo family.”

“Using women as a bargaining chip for peace is only acceptable when all the men in the Xiao family are dead!” These were Xiao Zhongting’s exact words. He refused to live a life of cowardice, trampling on the dignity of his own sister.

“In the end, Xiao Yuan took her own life.”

Gu Fuyou was startled, suddenly thinking of Gu Shuangqing and Gu Huaiyou, her eyes reddening and her face turning cold. She laughed and said, “If I were a brother and could ensure my family’s safety by sending my sister away, I would do it. Anyone who doesn’t is a fool.”

“Ah Man, they’re not fools. If it were you, you wouldn’t do it either.”

Gu Fuyou didn’t respond to her statement, but after a long silence, she softly asked, “And what happened next?”

“The Zuo family wouldn’t let go and demanded Xiao Zhongting’s daughter as compensation. Fearing her father would still refuse, she went to the Zuo family on her own while he was unaware.”

Gu Fuyou was slightly astonished and thought to herself, “Such a resilient girl.” She then asked Zhong Michu, “How do you know all this?”

Zhong Michu softly replied, “I know many things, do you want to hear them?”

Zhong Michu still wore a mask, revealing only her eyes, which appeared dim yet deep. Gu Fuyou said, “Maybe another time…”

Then she called out, “Scholar Zhai, Scholar Zhai!”

She couldn’t be alone with Zhong Michu, it was too dangerous.

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Previous: Chapter 71

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brovioli
brovioli
8 months ago

Zhong Michu needs to put a leash on her wife since she keeps running away from her.

Shakthivel
Shakthivel
8 months ago

Thanks for the chapter..

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Michu should take some time to “educate” her wife 😜

Hatimo
Hatimo
27 days ago

Fuyou why u hot and cold 😭, gosh listening to the despicable zuo tianlang, I hope he got the slow painful death