“Heard you are leaving Tianyu…” Long Kui said softly.
Zhuo Fan smiled, “Word sure travels fast. Why, have you come to see me off?”
“Of sorts. What matters is the promise from ten years ago.” Long Kui smiled.
Zhuo Fan was stumped. That was supposed to be his line, to mock the lass and put her down.
[Why is she the one bringing it up?]
It was the same as getting paid rent without asking for it. It made no sense.
Long Kui saw past his ‘angelic’ face and smiled, “Ten years ago I was young and rash, looking down on you in my ignorance and speaking out of place. I offer you my deepest and sincerest apology.”
Long Kui made a deep bow.
Zhuo Fan was speechless. [All the work I put into showing off just got washed away.] With the other person apologetic, he had nothing to build his act on.
He could only shirk it off, “It’s fine, I already forgot such trifles, ha-ha-ha…”
Long Kui straightened up and her eyes took a crafty glint, “You’ve surpassed everything that stood in your way these years, turning a nameless clan into a monster. A commendable act no ordinary person could ever achieve. I have seen your trail one step at a time and you have left me stunned every single time. I now understand why you mustn’t look down on youth.”
“Ha-ha-ha, you’re too kind, please.” Zhuo Fan chuckled, beaming with the pride of his achievements. [The lass sure holds me in high regard.]
His pride was short lived though as Long Kui drove her attack fully in, catching Zhuo Fan on the wrong foot, [Crud, she got me!]
“Though you can’t look down on youth, is it fine to pick on defenseless girls?” Long Kui’s tone had some bite.
Zhuo Fan was lost for words.
Long Kui’s apology was fake in order to condemn him. It was all smoke and mirrors to lift him high only to slam him down to earth with a well placed blow to the hypothetical gut.
[She fed my ego to strike back!] The day finally came for even the grand Zhuo Fan to grow so complacent to fall for such a basic trick.
Zhuo Fan worked his brain matter for some excuse, only to come empty, not getting why Long Kui got so aggressive. He put on an awkward smile, “Miss Long Kui, why, may I ask, are you so angry?”
“Why? You should ask yourself, humph!” Long Kui glared, “Did you not go to Pavilion Lord with a proposal, to marry me off to that accursed tub of lard?”
[Oh~, so that’s how it is.]
Zhuo Fan cooled on the spot, having grasped the reason, “I was just the messenger. I didn’t force anyone. The decision was up to Pavilion Lord Long. Though…”
“What?” Long Kui frowned.
Zhuo Fan snickered, “Though he’s the only tub of lard offering such a grand betrothal gift. Pavilion Lord Long couldn’t refuse even if he wanted to. In fact, I don’t think anyone could. That’s a thousand mile stretch of fertile land! For fatty to offer so much only goes to show his love for you. You will have happiness!”
“Humph, my happiness is my business. A busybody like you has no right to interfere!” Long Kui’s anger burned even hotter.
Zhuo Fan slumped his shoulders and shook his head, “All I did was to pass along a brother’s words. You can be against it all you want, but take it out on Pavilion Lord Long and fatty, not me. I’m leaving Tianyu and don’t need any more annoyances.”
Zhuo Fan playing the victim only incensed her into shouting, “Some brother you are! Would you have done the same if fatty wanted Ning’er?”
“Uh…” Zhuo Fan frowned, his heart a mess.
His eyes darkened and his heart grew icy, but that didn’t stop Long Kui’s berating, “What if he went for Chu Qingcheng, would you play the messenger then as well?”
“Uhm…” Zhuo Fan’s heart sank, finding it impossible to make a coherent sentence, just standing there with a hardened gaze.
The answer to that was clear; a resounding no.
Long Kui struck a frail figure as she nodded, “I see. Next month I will marry His Majesty. A shame the best steward in Tianyu, the great Steward Zhuo, won’t be there to see it… “
Long Kui sighed, rambling on before walking away in silence.
Zhuo Fan noticed as she turned, two trails falling down her cheeks…
Zhuo Fan had a puzzled gaze as he saw Long Kui empty inside and rambling on. [Wasn’t she blaming me just now? How is it that she’s the one to leave defeated?]
[Doesn’t that happen after a big fuss or fight or something?]
“Peculiar.” Zhuo Fan shook his head and sighed, putting this affair behind him as he went on his way. Oddly enough, no one noticed fatty and Fang Qiubai close by.
Fatty sighed, “Brother Zhuo, I can never take you on, but I can play little tricks.”
“Your Majesty, this should make her give up.” Fang Qiubai turned to Long Kui.
Fatty nodded with a wise gaze, “The proposal would’ve worked with that stretch of land alone. But to have little Kui look forward to the wedding, is impossible, not while she loved someone else. “
“Zhuo Fan!” Fang Qiubai spoke firmly.
Fatty smiled, “Correct. Ever since Luo clan’s ceremony, outside the Imperial Palace, I saw something growing in little Kui for the brat. I was hesitating whether to fight such a man over a woman, only to find it wasn’t necessary. Little Kui’s one-sided love was something he had no clue of, nor did he much care for her.
“This was little Kui’s path she had to take herself. So I had Zhuo Fan be the messenger, making it look like Zhuo Fan threw little Kui into my lap. In pain, little Kui had to come to Zhuo Fan to confirm it. Now she knows there’s no place for her in his heart and should give up. A woman with a dead heart will be sure to accept her fate next to me, as empress.”
“What if Zhuo Fan finds out? With his mean streak…” Fang Qiubai frowned.
Fatty waved it off with a smile, “No worries. Do you know why despite his sharp mind did I still get to use him? He never gave a damn about little Kui, so he just overlooked everything. I borrowed his luck with women, but he didn’t lose either. In fact, by having Veiled Dragon Pavilion enter the Luo clan, even if he did find out, it won’t matter.
“I have finally grasped Zhuo Fan’s character. He is selfish and won’t act unless someone encroaches on his people. Ha-ha-ha…” Fatty’s eyes shone with wisdom.
He turned and said, “Sir Fang, any news of the second brother?”
“No, he has disappeared.” Fang Qiubai shook his head.
Fatty shouted, “Keep searching. Don’t stop until I see him or his corpse…”
In the meantime, Zhuo Fan went to the meeting place with the Demon Scheming Sect. Then, cackles announced the arrival of four black smokes.
They took the form of the Four Scheming Demons.
“You’re the one receiving me? Ha-ha-ha, that’s great.” Zhuo Fan laughed.
The four pygmies were ordered to return to the sect before the war with Quanrong, by the Impermanence Five.
They had spent too long outside after busting out of prison and had to get back to the sect.
Helpless, the four pygmies, returned to get their punishment.
Zhuo Fan figured he’d never see them again, either put in a corner or thrown in jail again. Yet here they were, as Xie Wuyue’s men acting as his guide to the sect.
He was pleasantly surprised. With the sect in a remote and hidden area, the secular world having no clue of its location, only its disciples could guide him there.
And since they all knew each other, it’d make the trip easier.
But the Four Scheming Demons on seeing that it was Zhuo Fan, puffed out in cockiness, with Violent Demon presenting a jade slip with all the arrogance he had, “Are you ready to enter our sect, new disciple? We are the demonic cultivator hero quartet, the greatest and handsomest in the Demon Scheming Sect, Four Scheming Demons, coming to receive you. State your name, age, birthplace, date of birth, cultivation… ”
“Do you shits have such short memories? Allow me the honor of refreshing it, of those thrilling moments long past.” Zhuo Fan made a sign.
The four screamed in pain, now rolling on the floor from the Bloodworms acting up.
“Steward Zhuo, we’d never. It was all a joke, see. Let us go!”
“Steward Zhuo, we’re just doing our job. You’ll soon be a disciple while we have a higher status. You can’t always treat us like this.”
“Steward Zhuo, it hurts. I can’t take it. Make it stop…”
The four demons flounced around in pain and pleaded. Zhuo Fan only smiled, his eyes icy, “No matter how high you climb, get this straight. No matter where I go, I will never be beneath anyone!”