Book 12: Chapter 65
Hong Jiu got the money he "negotiated" for.
Miss Yan wanted to check on her brother, but her legs were too weak to support her after Hong Jiu’s astonishing display. Accordingly, Hong Jiu touched the maiden’s supple cheeks and smiled. "What’s the matter? Don’t want to leave me?"
Miss Yan reactively pushed Hong Jiu back and sped downstairs.
"Hahaha!" Hong Jiu took the stash of notes and placed them on the reception desk, then returned to the corner he ate in to resume eating.
Everyone – though there weren’t many people left – had riveted in place.
"The temperature of the wine is just right. If this one could have the honour, would he be able to offer you two a drink?" Master Qi’s voice snapped the white-robed and timid young men back into reality. While the scuffle and Hong Jiu’s blackmail took place, she had the owner reheat a pot of wine and fix up her table’s arrangement. Once she filled up two cups, she dimpled. "You two helped me out back there. Please accept my drinks as a token of appreciation."
The two young men looked at each other for an opinion before awkwardly bowing as thanks. They knocked back the drinks prior to sitting down.
The restaurant provided them with a multicourse meal to thank Hong Jiu for covering their renovation expenses in addition to saving them from more damage.
With a drumstick in a hand and grease around his lips, the timid youth said, "Truthfully, I only made the situation worse, yet you are treating me to a meal. It really… really… smells so good." From his tone and mannerisms, he must’ve suffered quite a bit in the past and rarely had anyone treat him to a meal.
The white-robed man sighed and smiled. "Had this one known he was so inept, this one would not have added to the trouble. Ah, this one has forgotten to introduce himself: his last name is Guan, first name is Ning, courtesy name Yi Ning."
The timid youth: "Eh? You are Guan Ning, closed disciple of Bai Clan’s third elder nicknamed Calligraphy and Painting Prodigy, the one who, unfortunately, doesn’t take the imperial exams?"
Guan Ning was surprised a second time today by the timid youth. "You have my admiration, buddy. You also pointed out the flaws in Zhao Da’s discipline accurately. What was your name again?"
"My name is Fang Xiaoyu. My shifu says I can’t thoughtlessly mention his name."
Guan Ning wrinkled his nose, bewildered.
Master Qi dimpled. "I don’t know Brother Xiaoyu’s story, but I can guarantee he isn’t a bad fellow."
"What makes you say so?"
Master Qi cast her gaze onto Fang Xiaoyu’s eyes. "I have proof."
Fang Xiaoyu blushed. "You already knew?"
Though it didn’t dawn on Guan Ning right away, putting together Fang Xiaoyu’s initiative in helping both Master Qi and himself did enlighten him. "This one was thinking too narrow. May this one ask for your names?"
Master Qi replied, "My surname is Wen. As for him…" Master Qi glanced in Hong Jiu’s direction. "His name can be whatever he wants it to be. It’s none of my business."
It was perfectly normal for women to share only their surname.
Neither Guan Ning nor Fang Xiaoyu could identify Hong Jiu, but they knew that the mystery man was nobody to be trifled with. While they wanted to ask him who he was, they didn’t dare to impose on him as he appeared to be deep in thought.
"It is not every day that we enjoy such meaningful encounters. Let us have a toast to celebrate the occasion."
Fang Xiaoyu and Guan Ning heartily accepted Master Qi’s drinks because they liked how friendly she was.
"Miss Wen, you two are both very capable individuals. What brings you to this town?" Notwithstanding having not seen Master Qi in action, her composure during the scuffle and her friendship spoke volumes to her level.
Master Qi stopped to think first. "You two saved me and have not withheld despite our short friendship, so I shall not lie. The two of us are on the run from our enemies."
"N-not even he can defeat them?"
Master Qi: Of course he can. He’s just refusing to!
"One on one, he probably could. Unfortunately, they outnumber us. Though we can run, they can catch up. The enemy is ruthless enough to disregard the safety of bystanders in order to kill us. That’s why we don’t intend to stay here for too long."
"Ganging up and endangering innocent bystanders? Do they have no respect for the law?!" fumed Fang Xiaoyu.
Master Qi asserted, "Brother Fang, the law is powerless before them. If you try to stop them, they won’t hesitate to bury ten Fang Xiaoyus."
"I-I don’t know how to fight, but I know how to watch. Bring me along, Miss. I will identify their flaws so that you can take them out."
"You’re such a child. How could you…"Master Qi cut herself off since she recalled how knowledgeable Fang Xiaoyu was, then shook her head. "It’s too dangerous. I can’t let you risk your lives for me."
"How about this one protects our little friend, then?" Guan Ning offered.
"Hehe, this one is wayfaring under his mentor’s instructions to train and gain experience. It is shameful to admit, but this one is lazy by nature. It has only been a month since he left his school, yet he has spent all his funds already. Had he not gotten involved in the fight, this one would have had to wash dishes in exchange for a meal." Guan Ning tapped his broadsword. "You treated this one to a meal; he shall repay you with labour. Besides, if your friend cannot defeat someone, this one would be helpless."
Master Qi was still hesitant.
Hong Jiu suddenly jumped up. "All right, let’s do that, hahaha! I’ve been racking my brains for a strategy, but nothing came to mind. Now I have an idea. There’s no better strategy than taking the initiative to strike them first. We can run all we want, but they’ll eventually catch us. Why not get rid of them instead? Plus, I’ll be able to return to the capital sooner."
Hong Jiu’s heartiness rubbed off on Guan Ning, who responded, "This one shall support you as best as he can."
Fang Xiaoyu enthused, "I’m going, too!"
Master Qi smiled. "You spent an entire day thinking, and violence is your conclusion? Geez."
Hong Jiu sat down and shared a drink. "Uh, and you two are?"