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The Dragon

The Dragon By Nov 27, 2023 4 Comments
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Previous: Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Just as humans can easily distinguish a human among a group of spirit beasts using their eyes to sense the differences between their own kind and others, mythical beasts often identify each other primarily through scent. Even if they disguise themselves in human form, they can’t fool their own kind.

Gu Fuyou realized that she hadn’t identified the girl earlier because she herself wasn’t from the Azure Phoenix Clan, and therefore didn’t understand the strange feeling in her heart. It turned out to be because the girl was a mixed-blood of the Azure Phoenix Clan.

Suddenly, a thought struck her, sending a chill through her heart.

Zhong Michu had recognized the girl as a mixed-blood; didn’t that mean the girl might also see through Zhong Michu’s identity? It would be manageable if she only perceived Zhong Michu as a mixed-blood of an immortal beast and a human. However, if she saw through to her being a mixed-blood of the Dragon Clan, it would be very problematic.

Gu Fuyou looked at Zhong Michu. Their eyes met, and they both understood each other’s thoughts. The doors of the guest hall opened, and Zuo Yuanrong gestured for them to enter. Gu Fuyou said to Zhong Michu and Scholar Zhai, “You two wait outside.”

The two complied, “Yes,” and left with their spirit beast, Yuan Shan.

When Zhong Michu left, Twenty-Three hadn’t gone far. She was sitting in the shadow of a stone lion, looking back towards the guest hall. Seeing Zhong Michu and Scholar Zhai come out, she quickly stood up and half-knelt to greet them, “My Lord.”

Scholar Zhai, shielding her eyes from the sun with her fan, laughed, “Oh, don’t, don’t. Why would you bow to me? We are all slaves here, there are no lords.” She didn’t include Zhong Michu in her comment, being aware of her status as a Dragon King’s daughter.

Zhong Michu slowly approached the girl and asked, “Were you waiting for me?” Her tone was more of a statement than a question.

“No, not…” Twenty-Three looked up at her briefly before shyly lowering her gaze again, then corrected herself, “Yes.”

Her voice was faint, almost as if she was afraid to speak loudly. Zhong Michu noticed that it wasn’t just her submissive nature, but also that she had a stutter.

Zhong Michu took a handkerchief from her sleeve and handed it to Twenty-Three. The girl looked at the white handkerchief, her eyes blank. Scholar Zhai pointed to her nose, saying, “Go on, take it.”

Twenty-Three accepted it with both hands, saying, “Thank you, my lord.” She held the handkerchief but continued to wipe her face with her sleeve.

“Get up. Which branch of the Azure Phoenix are you from?”

Twenty-three stood up, her body rigid, her gaze still evasive: “Shao… Shaoqing…” After hesitating, she dared to ask, “And you?” She had heard that Dragon Clan mixed-bloods held high status and were never slaves.

She wondered if this person might be an Azure Phoenix mixed-blood, and the thought filled her with excitement.

Zhong Michu looked at her for a moment without speaking. Scholar Zhai answered for her, “Daqing, she’s from Daqing.” Scholar Zhai was relieved; it seemed the girl hadn’t directly identified Zhong Michu’s Dragon Clan identity. Thinking of Zhong Michu’s friendship with Jiu Yao, she assumed Zhong Michu would know a lot about the Daqing branch, making it easier to maintain the disguise.

Twenty-Three, not daring to look directly at people, had her gaze brighten at Scholar Zhai’s words.

“Is this what you waited to ask me?”

Holding the handkerchief, Twenty-Three’s eyes started to redden. After a while, she said softly, “I thought… I was the only one. The only mixed-blood of the Azure Phoenix Clan in this world.” Her voice choked up with emotion.

Scholar Zhai couldn’t fully understand the depth of these words but felt slightly guilty for deceiving the girl, seeing her strong reaction.

Zhong Michu, however, understood perfectly. Over the years, the Azure Phoenix Clan’s mixed-bloods had been extremely rare, only a few in number, incomparable to the Dragon Clan’s mixed-bloods. Perhaps, as Twenty-Three had mentioned, she was indeed the only Azure Phoenix mixed-blood in the world. She didn’t belong to the Azure Phoenix Clan or the human race; she was an outsider, a minority with no place in the vast world.

Years ago, Zhong Michu had felt the same way, believing she alone bore a unique kind of suffering, only to later understand that everyone has their own pain.

Zhong Michu softly asked, “Could you do me a favor?” Twenty-Three looked up at her.

“Don’t mention my identity to others. I… my master doesn’t like it.”

Twenty-Three wanted to agree but seemed troubled, fearing to upset Zhong Michu by refusing and also fearing she might not keep the promise and offend her.

In a world where everyone else could band together, she was alone. Now, having found someone of her kind, and an elder at that, her heart swelled with a sense of fulfillment, as if merely seeing this stranger brought comfort. She wanted to talk more but didn’t want to annoy her, thus she stood uneasily, her face reddening, unsure how to speak to Zhong Michu.

Zhong Michu added, “Please try not to mention it until your master uses the power of the contract.”

Twenty-Three quickly nodded, especially concerned about Zuo Yuanrong using contractual power against her, “My master doesn’t use the contract. I won’t speak…”

“Thank you.”

After a pause, Twenty-Three gathered courage and asked, “That person, is she good to you, does she…?” She struggled to find the right word and finally chose one, “hit you?”

“No,” Zhong Michu replied after a moment, “She’s very kind, doesn’t hit people, just sometimes has a bad temper.”

Twenty-Three looked hopeful. Zhong Michu noticed this and knew it was longing for the Azure Phoenix. The relationship between Azure Phoenix mixed-bloods and purebloods was akin to Zhong Michu’s with her mother: one side despised, the other feared yet yearned. Thinking of Yunran, Zhong Michu felt a persistent sense of what would always be missing.

Leaning against Yuan Shan as if he were a pillar, Scholar Zhai observed Twenty-Three thoughtfully. She understood that many slaves, who, like Twenty-three, arrived in Bailu City as children, were never taught to read or write. This explained the oddness Scholar Zhai had noticed in Twenty-three’s speech; her language skills were limited, at times insufficient to fully express her thoughts.

Scholar Zhai suspected this lack of education might also be linked to her stuttering, and she felt a pang of sympathy for the young girl’s delicate situation.

Scholar Zhai signaled Zhong Michu with a couple of hand gestures. Zhong Michu glanced sideways just as the guard who had helped Twenty-three earlier came over and called, “Twenty-three, the training officer wants you back at Dashe.”

Dashe was the dwelling place for slaves, where men and women were separated, and those with higher numbers often shared a room with a dozen others, while lower numbers got better conditions, sometimes one or two per room.

Twenty-Three was reluctant to leave so soon, afraid it might be her last chance to see Zhong Michu. Reading her thoughts, Zhong Michu said, “We’ll be staying here for a while. Our master needs people familiar with Bailu City for her service. Would you be willing to come? You can ask me about the Shaoqing or Daqing if you’re curious.”

This way, they could keep an eye on her and reduce the chances of her revealing Zhong Michu’s identity.

“Can I, really?” Twenty-three’s face brightened with excitement, a fleeting wave of happiness that quickly faded as she softly murmured, “She’s a pure Azure Phoenix, dislikes mixed-bloods, I… she might find me repulsive…”

Zhong Michu said, “She’s different from the other Azure Phoenix members.” Scholar Zhai nodded in agreement beside her; it was the truth.

Zhong Michu continued, “I’m also mixed-blood.” Scholar Zhai nodded again, affirming this fact.

Zhong Michu added, “She doesn’t despise us. As a guard or a guide, you don’t need to be afraid. I’ll ask her, and if you’re willing…”

Twenty-Three nodded, “Yes.” For them, it was never a question of willingness, only of the master’s commands. But this time, it felt different. She realized how satisfying it was to be asked for her opinion, even if it was something she was willing to do anyway.

Someone called out again, “Twenty-Three!”

Twenty-Three handed back the handkerchief to Zhong Michu and said her goodbyes to both of them. Taking a few quick steps, she looked back to see the two still watching her. She blushed and ran off quickly.

Scholar Zhai remarked, “Such a pity for such a graceful young girl.” Remembering how she almost ended up in a place like this herself, she shivered.

Zhong Michu didn’t respond, just turned to look back at the hall. Seeing this, Scholar Zhai chuckled, “Worried about the master? Don’t be, she can handle herself.”

Gu Fuyou and Zuo Yuanrong entered the hall. Gu Fuyou instructed Zuo Shaode’s cultivators, “Stand guard outside the door.”

The four cultivators were taken aback. They had been instructed by Zuo Shaode to stay close to the Qingluan, especially during her conversation with Zuo Yuanrong. This Qingluan was not cooperating right from the start.

Zuo Yuanrong was inwardly pleased; he preferred fewer people around. He promptly instructed Zuo Yi and the others, “You stay outside too.” As his trusted people, they understood his intention. Without waiting for the cultivators to react, as soon as Zuo Yuanrong and Gu Fuyou entered, they closed the door behind them.

The hall was spacious, constructed like a grand temple with thirty-six pillars and only a central throne for the city lord, surprisingly without any chairs for guests.

Gu Fuyou joked, “Without a single chair, it seems I’ll have to stand to speak with the City Lord.”

Zuo Yuanrong disagreed with a sound of disapproval, leading Gu Fuyou to the front of the throne. He went behind the throne, resting his hands on the chair’s back, “There’s no reason to make an elder stand and talk.”

Gu Fuyou smiled, “This is the City Lord’s throne, after all. It wouldn’t be proper for me to sit there.”

With a rosy cheek, Zuo Yuanrong said suggestively, “As long as the elder is willing, in my Bailu City, you can sit anywhere.”

Gu Fuyou pretended not to understand, smiling ambiguously, stepped up to the throne, turned, and sat down, “I don’t care much for formalities. Since the City Lord has offered, I will sit. But it seems the City Lord will have to stand to talk to me now.”

It seemed Zuo Shaode had overestimated his brother, who hadn’t lasted three days and had resorted to such blatant flirtation on the very first day. Truly showing his true colors.

Zuo Yuanrong responded, “It’s no trouble at all.” His chubby hands slid down the back of the chair towards the armrests as he smiled. “I should have invited the elder to the guest room to rest first and arranged a welcoming dinner for the evening. But considering you came to select slaves, I wasn’t sure about your preferences, so I wanted to ask in advance to make the arrangements…”

Zuo Yuanrong walked to the side and saw Gu Fuyou’s bare feet peeking out, with their white skin, delicate toes, and a pair of silver chains around her ankles. His gaze lingered on them, as if drawn by a magnet, unable to look away.

He stared at her feet, seemingly captivated.

Gu Fuyou said, “Good, I also have something to discuss with the City Lord.”

Zuo Yuanrong, as if lost in a daze, could only respond with a distracted, “Hmm?”

Gu Fuyou smiled, “Your grandnephew has been confined in Wantong City and sought my help.”

Zuo Yuanrong looked perplexed and asked, “Who?”

Gu Fuyou replied, “Zuo Yuezhi’s own son, Zuo Tianlang.”

“Who confined him?”

“In Wantong City, who else has the power to confine him?”

Zuo Yuanrong chuckled, “The elder must be joking. Why would my brother suddenly confine Tianlang?”

“Yes, why indeed would he confine him for no reason?”

The smile on Zuo Yuanrong’s face faded slightly. Gu Fuyou continued, “On this trip, the City Lord of Wantong City assigned me a task, asking me to persuade the City Lord of Bailu to join him in a righteous cause for a great achievement. If I didn’t agree, I couldn’t leave Wantong City. Look, the person he sent to watch over me is standing outside.”

Zuo Yuanrong glanced towards the door, puzzled, “Is the elder here on behalf of Tianlang to seek help, or are you representing my brother as a mediator?”

Gu Fuyou smiled charmingly, “I belong to no one. I’m just here to collect the slave that Zuo Yuezhi promised me.”

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Previous: Chapter 81

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Shakthivel
Shakthivel
7 months ago

Thanks for the chapter..

Nabong_uwu
7 months ago

Giiiiiirl, she’s so damn intelligent, lime she bends the story to her liking to fit her narrative, she literally just manipulates some tiny details and all goes into place, for her benefit, and even makes extra advantage of it, I’m loving how she outsmarts everyone so much

Khriss
Khriss
6 months ago

Well here’s a bet for which 2 slaves she’s gonna pick… (7 and 23)

Hatimo
Hatimo
19 days ago

Fuyou being weak and can only rely on her brain in her previous life finally paying off, now she has both power and brain, no one can stand on her way.