Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The atmosphere within the garden suddenly grew very intense.
A pleasant breeze had been blowing since the rain stopped, but now it became a freezing wind that sank through flesh and straight into bone.
The arrowheads glinted with cold moonlight, like poisonous serpents hiding in the dark and staring at their prey with soulless eyes.
Rushing water was the only sound that could still be heard in the shadowed garden.
It was so quiet.
One could have heard a pin drop.
"How dare you?!" Ning Zhao hissed, her face stony and her rosy lips pressed into a thin line. Her delicate hands still rested on the wheelchair's handles.
With the loud, crisp clicking sound, the Cicada Wing Sword hidden inside the handle popped out. Ning Zhao caught it instantly.
She took several light and easy steps to get in front of Lu Fan. Her long dress and dark hair danced with her movement.
Nie Changqing was still holding the butcher knife against the housekeeper's neck. His face was expressionless, but the slightly bulging blue veins on the back of his hand indicated that he was ready to slit the housekeeper's throat at any moment.
As for the housekeeper who just screamed like a pig being slaughtered, he didn't dare to make another sound. Now he was simply staring with eyes wide open. The tension in the air had gotten to him. He didn't even dare to gasp.
Even though he had a gushing wound on his thigh, he was too petrified to make any noise.
The moonlight sifted through the dark clouds, casting a speckling of light on Lu Fan, who was lounging in his wheelchair.
His red lips had pulled back in a grin, revealing his clean white teeth. His face was glowing through the veil of the moonlight.
"Are you going to force my father to send armies to take down the Chen family?" Lu Fan smiled as he lightly clapped his hands.
His words broke the intense and suffocating silence.
Lu Fan was actually very curious about something. Why hadn't his father simply given an order to take down the three aristocratic families, charged them with treason, locked them all up, and taken all their businesses by force? Although such a strategy would definitely have short-term consequences, in the long run, it would solve a lot of problems.
The archers parted to form a path, and several Confucianists wearing Confucianist gowns walked out.
The leading Confucianist was a young man wearing a green gown and a jade hairpin through the top knot on his head.
He had a nice beard, thick dashing eyebrows, and eyes as bright as the stars. On his back was a sword box made of the wood of a flowering pear tree.
"Oh boy, it's you, Young Master Lu! What a misunderstanding..."
"You've come to visit Chen Manor so late at night! You've stirred our household into quite a frenzy, Young Master."
"I'm afraid these servants didn't recognize you. They mistook you and your companions for some of those bandits who've been causing trouble in Beiluo City." The Confucianist gave a little laugh, stroking his beard.
He raised one hand and made a pressing gesture. The archers all lowered their bows.
"I'm Chen Beixun of the Chen family."
The Confucianist in the green gown cupped his hands to Lu Fan. His star-like eyes shone with intensity as they gazed at Lu Fan.
Still sitting casually in the wheelchair with one hand holding his chin, Lu Fan looked at Chen Beixun with an impassive face. A trace of curiosity flickered in his eyes.
The Chen family's head, Chen He, had been taken out. Lu Fan had thought that the Chen family would have devolved into chaos by this point.
Unexpectedly, the Chen family was being held tightly in check. Lu Fan couldn't even hear any female family members crying over their loss. Everything was in such perfect order that it was almost startling.
It seemed that Chen Beixun was very likely the reason behind the calmness. Lu Fan squinted his eyes.
"Chen Beixun… You are part of the Chen family?" Lu Fan asked, rubbing his long, thin fingers together.
Chen Beixun smiled and flicked his long sleeves as he started talking.
"When I was little, my father sent me to the Zhongnan Sky Mountain to learn techniques of the sword. I only returned yesterday. I wouldn't expect you to know me, Young Master Lu. I, on the other hand, have heard about your talent and knowledge. I have learned that, despite your disability, you are known for your incredible talent and intellectual achievements. Even the Imperial Advisor has spoken very highly about you. You are a real role model for all the scholars and students of our generation."
Chen Beixun's words rolled through the garden, loud and strong.
His *ss-kissing talent was seemed to come perfectly naturally to him.
Chen Beixun's face didn't change at all, as if he really had a great admiration of Lu Fan.
Lu Fan raised one corner of his mouth. Everyone said that swordsmen were very straightforward.
"Straightforward indeed. Look at this guy, Chen Beixun. Such an honest dude," Lu Fan thought.
"The Zhongnan Sky Mountain… The Sword Sect?!" Nie Changqing's attention had snapped to the young man in front of them.
He was referring to the Sword Sect of the Hundred Schools of Philosophy!
As the former Daoist No. 10, Nie Changqing was very familiar with the Sword Sect.
The Sword Sect was no ordinary school. It was among the Hundred Schools of Philosophy, which proved that it was powerful and secretive.
"I like honest guys like you." Lu Fan laughed, rubbing his fingers together.
It was no ordinary laugh.
The Sword Sect?
If the Sword Sect was behind the three major aristocratic families, that might have been why his father hesitated to punish them.
A moment later, his gaze traveled up to Chen Beixun. This guy had come directly from the Sword Sect. Lu Fan hadn't seen that coming.
This was starting to look like a plan that the Sword Sect had been developing for a long time.
As one of the six cities guarding the capital city, Beiluo City had a significant strategic position.
If the Sword Sect really had control over the three major aristocratic families, their purpose would be pretty obvious.
Lu Fan just wasn't sure if his father already knew about this. Lu Changkong might have already planned for this eventuality.
"You flatter me, Young Master Lu," Chen Beixun said. He remained calm.
"Nie, let the housekeeper go. We're here to collect the rent. We should reason with the Chen family instead of using force," Lu Fan said, tipping his head toward Nie Changqing.
Nie Changqing silently lowered the butcher knife.
The housekeeper, legs shaking, pressed on hand to the bleeding wound on his neck as he crawled toward Chen Beixun.
"I thank you very much, Young Master Lu. Please come in and have a drink. It's dark and cold. How about I send someone to heat up some plum wine to warm you up?"
Chen Beixun noticed Nie Changqing. The butcher was covered with wounds, but his face was still and untroubled. Chen Beixun's eyes narrowed slightly.
"This guy is still alive?" he thought incredulously. "Does that mean that Daoist No. 9, Han Lianxiao, failed?"
"Was he stopped by Lu Fan?"
Chen Beixun was startled at the thought. The placid smile on his face never wavered, though.
Lu Fan waved his hand.
"I'll have to pass on the drink. My father sent me here to collect the rent, so let's get down to business," Lu Fan said.
"If it's the City Master's order, the Chen family will certainly obey. When I came back home and found out that my father had been working with the traitors, I was devastated. Luckily, thanks to City Master Lu's wise leadership, the source of the evil was destroyed, and Beiluo City was saved. I, Chen Beixun, couldn't be more grateful and appreciative. Next, as the representative of the Chen family, I promise that we will take serious actions to reorganize and reform."
Chen Beixun stroked his long beard for a second, then he turned around and gave an order to a guard behind him. "Bring out the 1000 liang of silver."
A moment later, two housekeepers carrying two chests of silver walked out from somewhere deep within Chen Manor. They set the crates down in the garden.
The wind was blowing in the cold moonlight.
The silver in the two opened chests glowed blindingly under the moon.
Sitting in his wheelchair with one hand holding his chin, Lu Fan yawned.
Glancing at the two chests filled with silver, 1000 liang altogether, Lu Fan didn't feel a thing in his heart.
"Young Master Lu, is this enough?"
Chen Beixun's face bloomed into a smile.
The Chen family Confucianists around them, on the other hand, were still watching Lu Fan and Ning Zhao in awe.
Several days ago, on top of the city wall, Ning Zhao had slaughtered a bunch of people. The memory was still fresh in their minds.
"The Chen family is an aristocratic family indeed."
Lu Fan gave a half-smile as his hand lightly stroked the thin woolen blanket over his legs.
The smile on his face soon faded away.
"That day on the city wall, scholars from the three major aristocratic families made fun of my paralyzed legs, which was a huge emotional blow to me," Lu Fan said. "Even now, thinking about it, I still feel deeply depressed. So, 1000 liang silver is hardly enough to soothe my traumatized heart."
Chen Beixun's face went a little stiff. So… It wasn't enough?
Chen Beixun regained his calm and ran his hand through his beard.
"Someone, please bring another 1000 liang of silver!" he said with a smile.
"Wait," Lu Fan cut him off. "Chen, I'm afraid that money isn't the point."
In the moonlight, his smile appeared quite sincere.
"I have been paralyzed since I was born. I can't move around or take care of myself easily. So, my dream ever since I was little was to have a place to spend the rest of my life..."
"Today, our conversation has proven that you and I really click. I like you. How about..."
Chen Beixun's expression went a little stiff.
As he gazed at Lu Fan, he found that Lu Fan's eyes were glowing with pure sincerity.
Chen Beixun burst out laughing.
"Easy. A place to spend your time? The Chen family has no shortage of properties. If it will make you happy, Young Master Lu, I'll give up any property no matter how much I like it," he said generously. Then he waved his hand.
"Go ahead and bring out the second 1000 liang of silver!" Chen Beixun shouted. "On top of that, bring the title deeds."
Whatever Lu Fan asked for, he would grant.
As soon as Chen Beixun gave the order, the group of Confucianists stirred.
However, at this point, Chen Beixun held the reins of the Chen family. He was the one who spoke for them. After all, Chen Beixun had the Sword Sect behind him. That was the only reason that the Chen family still existed in Beiluo City.
Soon, another two chests of silver were brought out.
A maid also brought a pile of title deeds.
Seeing the thick stack of title deeds in Chen Beixun's hand, Lu Fan felt the corner of his lips twitch. D*mn aristocratic family!
Chen Beixun quickly looked through the title deeds.
He then strode up to Lu Fan in a confident manner.
Ning Zhao took two graceful steps forward. Spirit Qi rushed through her Qi Core, and the Internal Blasting Resonances of her Qi and blood pounded within her.
"Stop." Ning Zhao pointed the Cicada Wing Sword at the ground in front of Chen Beixun and stopped him. Her face was ice cold.
"Ni, go get the title deeds." Lu Fan patted Ni Yu's head, who was hiding timidly next to him.
Ni Yu took the order and trotted over.
She took the title deeds from the hand of Chen Beixun, who had stopped in front of Ning Zhao.
Ni Yu ran back and handed the title deeds to Lu Fan.
Lu Fan took a deep breath as he saw the stack of title deeds.
They included both residential and business properties. All kinds of business fields with various sources of financial backing were represented.
Chen Beixun's had handed over these specific title deeds intentionally.
He was reminding Lu Fan that the Chen family better stay safe. Otherwise, they might take the lives of people in Beiluo City down with them.
In fact, this was what made Lu Changkong hesitate. The businesses of the three major aristocratic families were plentiful and diverse. Their roots were too deep.
The garden was tranquil, and the pond in the middle was like a mirror. In the breezy wind, the water glistened.
Sitting in his wheelchair, Lu Fan quietly flipped through the title deeds.
Nobody dared to even breathe loudly.
A radiant smile was still plastered across Chen Beixun's face. "Take your time, Young Master Lu. It's the Chen family's honor to make you happy."
Suddenly, Lu Fan's eyes lit up. He took a deed from the pile and laid the others down on his lap.
Holding the deed in his hand, Lu Fan flipped through it a couple of times. He took a closer look as the corners of his lips rose.
"Okay. I've made my decision. This is it."
"Young Master Lu, you've made up your mind already?" Chen Beixun cupped his hands and smiled. "We have more than 1000 merchant properties and 100 residential ones. Are you sure you don't want to take a look at more? I'm curious, which property is the lucky one that Young Master Lu has laid his eyes on?"
Lu Fan handed the title deed to Ni Yu, then sank back against the wheelchair and closed his eyes.
Ni Yu took the deed and began reading, squinting her eyes to see in the faint moonlight.
"The place Young Master selected is… Drunk Dust Court on Beiluo Lake Island."
Ni Yu's voice was crisp and clear, like different sizes of beads hitting a jade plate. After she read it out loud, however, her chubby face instantly flushed red.
The smile on Chen Beixun's face froze.
Nie Changqing was shocked too.
Even Ning Zhao's sword-holding hand trembled for a second.
The Confucianists of the Chen family all looked strangely shaken.
Was this guy serious?!
They had never imagined that Lu Fan would pick such a place.
Drunk Dust Court, though it had a beautiful name that sounded poetic and idyllic, was actually...
A place that men went to spend pleasurable nights!
The place that Lu Fan claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life was... a brothel?!
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