Chapter 81: Covenantor (IV)
“Butler Fei, have someone to make a few new sets of clothes in Shang Ze’s size. I’m going back to the capital next month.” After a pause, Lu Xiufan added, “Prepare several sets for all four seasons.”
“Understood.” Fei Lin nodded his consent. The meaning behind Lu Xiufan’s words was obvious. He was planning to take Shang Ke with him back to the capital.
Lu Xiufan was the younger brother of the Prince (the husband of the Queen). As his subordinate, Shang Ze needed to pay attention to his appearance. What Fei Lin was the most worried about was the covenantors capacity and fluency in social interactions, as he knew Lu Xiufan would not be introducing his status as one to people. If he were to accidentally clash with a member of the aristocracy… Let it be said that a few nobles picking fights out of boredom would be like a puppy jumping on to a hornet’s nest–it won’t end well for the puppy and certainly not for them.
Lu Xiufan attracted hatred easily enough already. Butler Fei spent ages wracking his brain for ideas to manage his image into something more favorable.
That night, Fei Lin found Shang Ke and warned him to keep as much distance from unknown people when he headed to the capital next month. If he really couldn’t avoid them, then he should act politely and modestly. At the same time, Fei Lin also gave Shang Ke a set of etiquette specific manuals as well along with clothes that fit his station. He had him learn everything well to prevent him from becoming a laughing stock or offending someone by accident.
Shang Ke was no stranger to these etiquettes and social rules. Under the supervision of Fei Lin, Shang Ke read the manuals carefully over and over and sincerely received his guidance, before finally he passed his assessment with ease.
Except for Shang Ke’s lack of expression, his manner was almost impeccable, but Fei Lin always felt like something was off. After observing him closely and extensively, he finally came to a stunned conclusion. Shang Ke’s expression was too cold. No matter how humble he appeared, he gave the impression of being superior. Different from Lu Xiufan’s solemnly prestigious and cold arrogance, Shang Ke was supercilious, really and truly indifferent, and completely unmoved by external matters.
“Shang Ze, smile, like this.” Fei Lin displayed a modest smile for Shang Ke to see.
Shang Ke looked at his slightly wrinkled smiling face blankly as countless curses crossed his mind.
“Shang Ze, facial expression is one of the most important channels of communication between people. Even if you can’t smile, you can move the corner of your mouth as much as possible. Observe.” Fei Lin curved the corners of his mouth upwards. “Come, you can try.”
Shang Ke pursed his lips, expression warping into a smile-like grimace that looked even colder than when he was without expression, as well as seeming skillfully sarcastic.
Fei Lin continued to patiently guide him, “You can try to extend the process of pulling the corner of the mouth a little more. Try again.”
Shang Ke slowly curved his lips, like the sloth in Zootopia, and fixed the ridiculously mocking smile on his face in a strange and peculiar facsimile of an expression.
Fei Lin: “……” Even God can’t save this paralyzed face!
“Pft” A low and muffled laughter that couldn’t be contained suddenly came from outside.
“Master.” Fei Lin awkwardly saluted as he walked in. At the same time, he thought in shock: Master laughed, right? He laughed! It was definitely a laugh! I’m not just imagining things, am I?
“You don’t have to teach him any further, just let him be.” Lu Xiufan strode across the room, stepped in front of Shang Ke, and gently said, “You don’t have to force yourself. A smile is from the heart. I have to face fake smiles everyday, and there is no need to add one more.”
Shange Ke restored his usual cold and flat expression.
Fei Lin sighed and no longer insisted. For a covenantor who has no feelings, any facial expression is superfluous.
A month later, Lu Xiufan took Shang Ke and a group of guards and headed for the Capital; Soya.
To be honest, Shang Ke didn’t want to go to the capital, because the chances of a meeting with the Yue family there were very high. Although the main house of Yue was not in Soya, there were many children of the family learning the ropes of their trade in the capital. His main mission in this world was to become the successor of the Yue family again, but it was impossible for the Yue family to give the position of successor to a covenantor who’d die at 35 if there were other candidates.
Ergo, it was necessary for Shang Ke to rely on external forces to enter the family forcefully, and Lu Xiufan was his best backing. At the same time, he would have to find a way to break the balance of power in the Yue family so he could slip in amidst the chaos unnoticed.
Fortunately for him, the task only required him to become the heir to the Yue family, not that he had to go the full five miles and inherit it. It was entirely possible for him to choose another person as successor after he took the position first.
It would take some time to arrange this, there weren’t many opportunities for him to get in contact with the Yue Family so early. Of course, as long as Lu Xiufan was there, he was not afraid to deal with those people. His greatest source of danger should come from the enemies of Lu Xiufan.
Lu Xiufan had his own mansion in the capital. Compared to the mansion in the county of Fort Ya, his capital residence was noticeably more magnificent and rich. The servants alone numbered over a hundred, ignoring, for now, the scores of well-equipped guards.
Lu Xiufan stayed in the mansion for a very short time before he had Shange Ke drive him to the palace.
The car stopped outside the palace, as Shang Ke was not qualified to enter the palace with Lu Xiufan. Shang Ke could only take a break in the Memorandum Court outside the palace.
The Memorandum Court was a small palace room dedicated to the aristocracies’ attendants, drivers, foreign ministers, minor officials, and so on.
Shang Ke was young, handsome, and Lu Xiufan’s driver. It made him very popular among this group of people. However, due to the infamy of Lu Xiufan, no one dared come forward to talk to him.
He didn’t know how long much time had passed, but a commotion suddenly erupted from outside the small palace. Many of the people in the lounge went to the door to watch the excitement.
They saw a convoy marked with the Royal Flag coming from a distance that then neatly parked at the entrance of the palace.
“It’s Prince Yi Yun!!” One person whispered.
“Whew, as expected of the Royal Convoy. Their aura is entirely out of our league.”
“I haven’t seen Prince Yi Yun yet. Where is he, has he gotten off?”
“Oh, over there.”
From the second car of the convoy, a 13-year-old brown-haired boy emerged. Dozens of imperial guards respectfully separated to both sides to open a passage for the teenager.
The teenager walked a few steps forward, stopped, turned to look at the parking lot, then bypassed the guard and before walking to a luxurious, black hover car.
“This is the Black Wheel 3000 of Imperial Uncle Xiufan.” Surprise flashed in Yi Yun’s eyes and he immediately said to the guard, “Go and call the driver of Imperial Uncle over, I have something to ask.”
The guards took a bowed and heeded his command, turned and ran towards the Memorandum Court.
Not long after, Shang Ke was brought in front of His Royal Highness Yi Yun, much to the envy of everyone watching.
“You are Imperial Uncle Xiufan’s driver?” Yi Yun looked him up and down, and was a little surprised at his age and appearance.
“Yes, Your Royal Highness.” Shang Ke performed a perfect standard bow.
“What is your name?” Yi Yun asked again.
“Responding to Your Royal Highness, my name is Shange Ze.”
Yi Yun turned on his personal laptop, opened a video and played it to Shang Ze. He asked, “Are you the one driving the Black Wheel in this video?”
Shange Ke nodded: “Yes.”
“Very good.” Yi Yun closed the video screen, and said to Shang Ke, “Come with me, I need you to help me in a car race.”
“I will not leave my job without the permission of Sir.”
Yi Yun frowned, likely due to never having met someone who dared reject him so straightforwardly.
He didn’t bother arguing with him either. Instead, he selected Lu Xiufan’s number and sent the call. After dialing, he said immediately, “Imperial Uncle, I want to borrow your driver.”
“Shang Ze?” Lu Xiufan’s low voice came from the other end. “What are you up to?”
“Rest assured, I will not be making things hard for him. I just want him to help me with something.” Yi Yun’s tone softened, a faint plea hidden within. In front of his Iron Faced Imperial Uncle, even he was still a little scared of him.
Lu Xiufan was silent for a moment, and replied, “I know.” Then cut off communication.
Yi Yun was depressed, what did he mean by ‘I know’? Did he mean yes or no in the end?
While he was questioning that, Shang Ke’s communicator rang.
“Shang Ze, you may go and play with Yi Yun for a while. If you feel uncomfortable, come back. And call me if you are in trouble.” Lu Xiufan’s voice was neither high nor low, and the protectiveness in the words was clearly noted by Yi Yun, who wasn’t standing far from him.
Yi Yun once again observed Shang Ke, vaguely aware that his Imperial Uncle treated him somewhat differently from others.
When the call ended, Yi Yun finally spoke, “Since Imperial Uncle agreed, come with me.”
Shang Ke had no objections. Surrounded by guards at the front and rear, he got into a guard’s car that followed behind Yi Yun’s car and was driven to a race track about ten miles away from the palace.
“Drive my Purple Shadow out.” Prince Yi Yun ordered the race track owner.
“Alright, I will bring it over immediately.” The owner promptly had someone drive the Purple Shadow out of the garages.
Yi Yun walked quickly to sit in shotgun, and waved at Shang Ke, “Come over here, drive a few laps for me.”
“Your Royal Highness!” An imperial guard came forward to stop him.
Yi Yun glared at him, “Scram. Don’t meddle with my entertainment.”
The imperial guard could only retreat to one side then glare murderously at Shang Ke: Boy, you better drive well. If anything happens to the Prince, don’t think you can take the consequences.
Shang Ke didn’t care for the aggressive eyes of the guards, and sat in the driver’s seat with an indifferent look on his face.
“Your Royal Highness, please fasten your seat belt.” Shang Ke reminded Yi Yun while starting the car.
Yi Yun wore the safety belt, and glanced at Shang Ke from the corner of his eyes. He found that this man was a bit interesting. Regardless of whether his driving skills were as high as the netizens claimed, even his relaxed bearing gave the prince a whole new level of respect for him.
“Let’s go.” Yi Yun ordered.
Shang Ke did not hesitate. He placed the car into manual and the Purple Shadow shot forward like a bullet. He flew rapidly out of the Prince’s personal parking lot and headed for the racing track.
At the racetrack, the speedway was docked with 30 to 40 assembled luxury cars, with four or five cars already on the track in a race against each other.
“Head straight for the track.” Yi Yun looked at the electronic race-tracker sign, a couple cars had just finished their first lap.
This track was like a double snake, full of twists and turns, and driving it was very difficult. It was a feat in an of itself for the cars on the track to accelerate to the highest speed at all.
While a few of the cars busied themselves racing each other, a purple shadow quickly bypassed them, taking the lead bit by bit.
The spectators outside the track all cried out in surprise: “It is the Purple Shadow of His Royal Highness!”
The purple shadow had overtaken more than three or four cars in a row. Even around the corners, the speed of the car rose unabated, before then a beautiful drift had them overtaking the car in front, placing them first.
Yi Yun was excited and shouted, “That’s right, rush straight for the finish line like this!”
Shang Ke did not let him down, shooting through the tracks like a whirlwind and leaving behind a long purple afterimage that gave off a brief and dazzling arc of light. Everyone screeched loudly at the sight. Finally, with a ‘chi’, Shang Ke steadily stopped the car at the finish line. The entire event was natural and smooth, direct and efficient.
“That was great” A young blond man in a racing suit ran over, clapped his hands and praised, “Your Royal Highness, your driving skills have improved greatly.”
He had just finished speaking when he saw Yi Yun walk out from shotgun. Surprise overtook his face–so the one driving the car just now wasn’t the Prince?
Yi Yun raised his chin and said proudly: “I lost to you lot last time, so I found someone this time to compete with you guys again.”
“May I know which driver was invited by Your Highness this time?” the young man asked with a smile.
Not waiting for Yi Yun to speak, a slightly shy voice suddenly cut in. “Hello, Your Highness Yi Yun, I am Yue Xuan of the Yue Family from Luo Xu. It is my pleasure to meet you here.”
“The Yue family?” Yi Yun repeated in an acknowledging voice then turned back to the blond man, uncaring of his interruption. “Ya Li, are you going to compete with me or not?”
“Since Your Royal Highness wishes so, I will certainly accompany you to the end.” Yali laughed, “But just two people racing is boring. Let’s add Young Master Luo in it too.”
At this time, the Yue Xuan again interrupted: “Your Highness, may I ask if I can also send some people to participate in this race?”
Yi Yun and Ya Li frowned at the same time. The former did not speak, the latter glanced at him and smiled: “Anyone can participate, however, do note that the games will have stakes.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Yue Xuan promptly said, “I believe that with my family background, the stakes are still affordable.”
Ya Li fell silent. They were not betting money, but resources and all kinds of rare treasures they had on hand. Although the Yue Family was somewhat famous, in the eyes of these nobles in the capital, they were just a bunch of rich businessmen. A hundred years ago, some people might have thought of them as someone worth noting, but nowadays, the family had faded out of the aristocracy.
“If that is the case, then let’s participate together.” Yi Yun said noncommittally.
“Great! Thank you, Your Highness.” Yue Xuan wanted to say a few more words, but stopped when he saw a familiar figure step out from the driver’s seat of the Purple Shadow. He closed the door, then turned around to face Yue Xuan. Twho cold eyes bypassed the purple shadow and clashed with his.
Yue Xuan’s smile immediately stiffened.
Yue Ze? How could he be here? And as Prince Yi Yun’s Royal Racer!?