In the morning, a ray of sunshine entered the small courtyard’s kitchen.
Luo Yunchang’s eyelids trembled as she opened her drowsy eyes. She looked around the kitchen and smiled dejectedly.
Last night, she was so tired after cooking that she fell asleep in the kitchen itself.
Even if anyone caught wind of this, no one would believe it. A Qi Condensation cultivator tiring herself out from cooking? But the truth was she was too fatigued that she would rather pick cultivation instead of cooking.
Just as she was getting up, she froze. Someone had put a plain cover on her and her back wasn’t leaning on the hard stove but on something soft instead.
Pursing her lips, she turned her head only to see a sleeping Zhuo Fan leaning on her. And what kept her back soft was his arm.
Luo Yunchang was about to yelp but she covered her mouth. It never crossed her mind that Zhuo Fan would spend the night with her here.
Blushing, Luo Yunchang observed his face and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Young miss’ red lips were inching ever closer to his face.
“Steward Zhuo, Young miss…”
A sudden rough shout came from Captain Pang. Zhuo Fan’s eyelids trembled and were about to open.
Luo Yunchang immediately laid her head back on his shoulder and faked sleeping without budging. Just that her red face betrayed her as if she’d done something she shouldn’t.
Zhuo Fan opened his eyes, took a deep breath, and frowned when he saw Captain Pang coming in, “Old Pang, what’s the rush?”
“Uh, Brother Zhuo, Young miss…” Captain Pang pointed at Luo Yunchang with shock.
Zhuo Fan turned to see Luo Yunchang’s red and shivering face. He touched her forehead, “It’s burning up. Did she catch a cold?”
Shaking his head, Zhuo Fan blamed himself.
Last night, he wanted to take Luo Yunchang back to her room, but afraid of waking her up, he chose to watch over her in the kitchen. He didn’t think sleep would cast its spell on him too.
“Old Pang, say what you came to say. Meanwhile, I’ll take this missy back to her room.”
Zhuo Fan carried Luo Yunchang, but Old Pang was panicking, “You can’t, brother Zhuo. Someone wants to invite Young miss for a chat. Someone we can’t offend.”
“What can’t offend? She won’t be going even if the Veiled Dragon Pavilion asked.” Zhuo Fan snapped, “Can’t you see she has lost consciousness? She must be sick. Wait for a bit and I’ll go see the guest.”
“Sigh, brother Zhuo, Steward Zhuo, Young miss must go meet him in person. He bears the Imperial Golden Seal.” Captain Pang shouted.
Zhuo Fan stopped.
Only the Imperial family’s guards had this seal. Even the seven houses’ leaders would have to respond at once or they’d have committed a grave crime. The lightest punishment was death, while the harshest was dragging one’s whole clan with him.
Of course, with the Seven Noble Houses’ power, the Imperial family would refrain from resorting to such methods. But that didn’t apply to a fallen clan like them.
Zhuo Fan squinted and thought it through, “Old Pang, tell him Young miss is unwell and that he should come back tomorrow.”
Captain Pang’s heart jumped in fright.
[That person carries the Emperor’s edict. If you do this, it is the same as saying you don’t want to talk to him.]
But Zhuo Fan had it thought out. Thinking back to last night, he guessed the one calling him over was that fatty’s guard.
The fatty was a good man and wouldn’t let emotions cloud his judgment, slaughtering innocents left and right.
“Do what I said, now!” Zhuo Fan raised his voice.
Luo Yunchang yelled, struggling out of Zhuo Fan’s embrace and spoke with a stern face, “Captain Pang, tell him to wait a moment to make myself presentable.”
Captain Pang bowed and secretly rejoiced. [Thank god, Young miss woke up or who knew how much trouble brother Zhuo’s arrangement would’ve stirred up.]
[But this Steward Zhuo sure is dauntless. If I were to follow his words, I’ll die of fright.]
Captain Pang shook his head and left.
Zhuo Fan watched Luo Yunchang skeptically. [How did she regain consciousness all of a sudden?]
Luo Yunchang rolled her eyes, “Why are you so reckless? Is the Imperial family someone you can offend?”
To avoid him noticing anything, Luo Yunchang rushed away. Zhuo Fan was left to walk alone to the living room, with doubt in his heart.
He met with the man carrying the seal, a peak Qi Condensation cultivator. He was one of the porters to fatty’s palanquin.
“Are you Steward Zhuo? My master is inviting you and Young miss Luo for a talk.”
The envoy cupped his hands, but the prideful attitude never left him. And either on purpose or otherwise, the Imperial Golden Seal flashed on his waist. Perhaps he was afraid they’d mistake him for someone other than the Imperial family’s guard.
Zhuo Fan snorted, [You’re still soft thinking you can fake your arrogance around me. When I was faking it, you were still but an egg in your mother’s belly.]
Zhuo Fan didn’t even look at him as he slumped in a chair, one leg over the other.
The envoy’s eyes swelled with rage.
“Is the fatty’s injury healed?” Zhuo Fan asked in passing.
[Fatty?] The man was stunned.
Then it hit him that Zhuo Fan was calling his master fatty. But the number of people in this world who dared to call him that was less than ten.
[Then he and master are…]
His heart started beating a mile a minute and the arrogance was gone from his eyes, “My master did not mention any injury when he returned last night.”
“Is that so?”
Zhuo Fan raised an eyebrow, then laughed, “He must be thinking of his image. I punched him thirty-odd times yesterday and kicked him a dozen times more. There’s no way he’s fine.”
“Don’t you think so too? That fatty must be faking it so you guys won’t laugh at him, ha-ha-ha…” Zhuo Fan quirked his eyebrows at the man.
The envoy’s lips twitched, unable to respond. But he was embarrassed nonetheless.
“Right, was that old goat Fang Qiubai still angry after he arrived?” Zhuo Fan looked at him carefully this time.
But the envoy just shook his head.
Fang Qiubai returned with his master yesterday and only then did they find out about Fang Qiubai’s arrival. Since Zhuo Fan knew this before them, it spoke how close he was with his master.
At this point, the envoy stashed the seal in his pants. It worked well in scaring some, but it was best to not make a fool of himself in front of such a Young master like Zhuo Fan.
Seeing the envoy shaking his head, Zhuo Fan rejoiced, “Perhaps you don’t know but that old goat wanted to take me as a disciple. If not for my staunch heart and me choosing death over kneeling, the old goat would’ve taken me away by now. I still thought he was angry and was going to come nag me again. Now that I know he isn’t, I can rest easy. That old goat understands my predicament.”
“What, Fang Qiubai wanted to take you as a disciple?”
The man shouted as his legs went soft and collapsed.
[Heavens! Who the hell is this Young master? He is a friend that beat up master and also someone wanted as a disciple by Jade Flute Divine Sword Fang Qiubai, who the Emperor shows respect to?]
Zhuo Fan secretly sneered, “What’s wrong? Why fall over?”
“Let me help you!” Zhuo Fan said so but showed no intention of moving.
The envoy was sharp enough to get back on his feet while waving his hand, “No need, Steward Zhuo, I don’t dare ask you of such a favor. I am not worthy.”
“Humph, a servant’s instinct!” Zhuo Fan disdained, “You call helping you get up, a favor?”
“Might you be the Emperor’s envoy?”
Luo Yunchang, dressed to impress, walked before him and bowed. The envoy rushed to kowtow, “You are making it hard on me. Please don’t be so courteous. If master heard I was disrespectful to his friends, he will punish me.”
Luo Yunchang was at a loss and turned to Zhuo Fan, who just shrugged.
But Captain Pang, who was behind her, was stunned silly at the sight of the envoy’s courteous attitude.
[Where’s your previous haughty attitude? Spouting something like if Young miss didn’t come to see you in fifteen minutes, you’d be executing all of us. Why the sudden change of tones?]
But even this change was too outrageous and polite.
Captain Pang eyed Zhuo Fan who only sported a puzzling smile.
Old Pang figured Steward Zhuo had something to do with it and gave him a thumbs up.
[Only Steward Zhuo can make an Imperial family’s guard kowtow to our Young miss.]
Zhuo Fan dismissed the envoy’s courtesy, “Why is that fatty calling me?”
“I-I do not know. I was only ordered to invite Windgaze City’s Cai clan, Lei clan and Luo clan.” The envoy spoke with extreme politeness.
Zhuo Fan squinted.
[It seems that the Hell Valley targeting the three clans must have something to do with the Imperial family…]
Gills: Yo!!! Thanks p4553r for taking up the editing/proofreading.