Chapter 61: The Strongest Country
Compared to before, he had matured a lot. Lan Wei’s young and tender face appeared as if it has undergone great changes because of his darker complexion.
The arrogant and haughty atmosphere, which originally surrounded him, turned steady and reserved.
When Ling Xiao saw this kind of Lan Wei, he did not know what he should say.
Facing Ling Xiao’s sight, Lan Wei felt complicated and lowered his head. The man was as handsome as before, his slender beauty hidden under the white brocaded clothes. If he compare him to the one who only wore eunuch uniform before, Ling Xiao changed beyond recognition, becoming more noble and graceful.
This made Lan Wei realize that Ling Xiao was different now. Not only is his current identity, but perhaps even his way of thinking is now different. Because of his new identity, he could no longer be as casual as he was before with him. Lan Wei felt at loss at the thought and closed his eyes, losing the desire to speak for a moment.
So the two just looked at each other in dismay, remaining silent. The atmosphere turned extremely awkward in an instant.
In the end, the one that broke the silence was the maid. “General Lan Wei, the Master has ordered this subordinate to lead Young Master to visit Shao Country’s Second Prince, would you escort him?”
Lan Wei was very surprised. Wanting to make sure he had heard right, he turned to face the maid, “The Emperor wants Ling Xiao… no, the King Consort to visit the Second Prince?”
The maid nodded, replying, “Yes, and so, we would like to ask the General to escort the Young Master.”
Lan Wei pursed his lips and contemplated for a while, then he lightly shook his head and smiled at the maid, “May I speak to the King Consort for a moment?”
Hearing Lan Wei’s request, the maid glanced at Ling Xiao, then bowed her head and retreated a few steps, saluting, “As you wish.”
After saying so, the maid turned and walked to a farther place, leaving Lan Wei and Ling Xiao along where they stood.
Once Lan Wei saw the maid had gone far enough, he immediately advanced forward and pulled Ling Xiao’s hand, seriously saying, “Take the maid who brought you here and immediately go back.”
Ling Xiao frowned and tired to retrieve his arm, but was unable to fling off Lan Wei’s restriction. He unhappily stared at Lan Wei, “What is the meaning of this?”
“Go back.” Lan Wei appeared both very serious and very dedicated.
There was fire in Lan Wei’s eyes, which combined with his solemn and respectful appearance, gave him a very earnest and unrefusable expression.
Ling Xiao still struggled, yet seeing that expression, he silently calmed down. Still confused, he asked, “Lan Wei, just what is the meaning of all this?”
“That should be my line.” Lan Wei pursed his lips, “Ling Xiao, just what are you trying to do?”
“…Me?” Ling Xiao sneered, “Didn’t you hear? The Emperor sent me here, so I came to see Fu…”
Ling Xiao had not even finished speaking when Lan Wei interrupted him, annoyed, “Can’t you even tell that the Emperor is just testing you with this?”
Ling Xiao stared blankly. His face froze and then moved to a serious one.
The Emperor was testing him?
That serious expression assured Lan Wei of the importance that Ling Xiao assigns to the matter as well as the latter’s determination. Calming his impatient and moved heart, he released Ling Xiao and said, “News of Fu Yujun wanting to take you as his wife spread all over Shao Country and was constantly talked about. The Emperor was in Shao Country as well when it happened. Did you think he would not mind it? You are the Emperor’s King Consort.”
“…” While staying at Fu Yujun’s palace, Ling Xiao had been in a house arrest and therefore was unaware of the situation outside. So he neglected that bit.
Watching as Ling Xiao was deep in thoughts, Lan Wei reminded him, “Just what was the Emperor thinking, sending someone to personally escort you to see Fu Yujun? Use your intelligent mind and what you know about the Emperor to think it over well.”
After he finished speaking, he turned his back to Ling Xiao, appearing annoyed at his reckless decision.
Ling Xiao kept himself calm, but he was raging in his heart.
The Emperor was testing him. To see if he was really going to meet Fu Yujun. To see if he was really concerned about Fu Yujun…
Ling Xiao trembled from a chill, he did not dare to imagine it. If he really went to see Fu Yujun, just what would the Emperor do? What would he think of him? How much trust would he lose in him?
Ling Xiao suddenly realized what is going on and the color of his face faded away, turning extremely pale. His slender body was on the verge of collapse in the dusk, appearing very frail.
Lan Wei’s heart pained at the sight, feeling tenderness for the man before him…
Realizing his own feelings, Lan Wei’s face turned strange, a complicated look appeared on it. Back then, Ling Xiao and him would argue like they were hated enemies. He had never expected he would have such an expression and feel such a distress for him now.
Feeling somewhat shamed, Lan Wei tighten his fists and did not dare to look at Ling Xiao. He coldly said, “Go back. There is still time if you go back now.”
Ling Xiao knew that what Lan Wei said was reasonable and therefore he had no choice, but to climb back onto the carriage, return to the Emperor as soon as possible and prove his loyalty.
Even if he were to return now and even if the Emperor would let Fu Yujun off, would Fu Yujun allow Shao Country to surrender so easily?
Ling Xiao lightly sighed, pacify his mood then called back the maid.
Believing that Ling Xiao would go back now, Lan Wei let his guard down. Yet, he saw Ling Xiao’s gaze on him, his eyes determined, “Please lead the way General Lan.”
Lan Wei trembled as he glared angrily at Ling Xiao. He grabbed and pulled him aside, gnashing his teeth in anger, “What is wrong with you? Ling Xiao, did you not understand what I just said?”
”If you go now, the Emperor will lose all trust he had in you!” Lan Wei pressed him.
“I know.” Ling Xiao was sad, “The Emperor’s trust is admittedly important, but, you cannot ask me to sit aside and just watch as Fu Yujun die. Besides, Young Master Lan Wei, is what I want to do any concern of yours?”
Hearing that, Lan Wei sneered once. He was trying to help Ling Xiao! Yet Ling Xiao used this kind of tone with him! Lan Wei was angered to the point he started to laugh.
The laughter sounded gloomy and strange, causing Ling Xiao to coldly tremble from it. He retorted, “Would you stop laughing like some mental case?“
He had just finished saying that when he saw Lan Wei’s face turning black, anger clear in his eyes.
The expressions on Lan Wei’s face were plentiful, different from his steady look he showed before by far. The current one looked as if that young and immature Lan Wei had returned again.
In front of Ling Xiao, he appeared like a lion that lost his sharp claws. He could only lead Ling Xiao with his glare, his claws completely powerless.
Ling Xiao lightly shook his head. Knowing that Lan Wei is unable to do anything to him, he planned to leave.
Lan Wei reached out to stop him.
Ling Xiao frowned, his face impatient as he looked at Lan Wei.
Lan Wei faced Ling Xiao and coldly smiled while clenching his fist. This man obviously cared about the Emperor’s trust in him and was also fearful of the Emperor’s dragon authority. And yet, he just has to go and challenge that dragon authority.
Lan Wei tightly wrinkled his brows. He was starting to lose patience, and was about to raise his hand and use brute force to prevent Ling Xiao from leaving. Until his eyes met Ling Xiao’s eyes.
That pair of penetrating eyes were like a clear spring flowing into his chest, calming Lan Wei and producing eagerness and irascible feelings. Lan Wei’s heart sunk and he lowered the hand that was held up.
In those eyes, Lan Wei saw Ling Xiao’s determination to save Fu Yujun.
It was determination to save him no matter what…
Lan Wei clenched his teeth in hate. This man obviously fears to cause trouble, but why must he have such a kind heart?
Lan Wei pursed his lips as a vague memory flashed before his eyes. It was when he had fallen off the horse and down the cliff…
Back then, Ling Xiao had risked his life to save him.
Was he acting reckless like Ling Xiao that time, so impossibly stupid?
Lan Wei’s heart soften, and he silently glanced at him for a long time before quietly sighing. With a trace of reluctance, he asked, “Let me ask you one last question.”
Lan Wei’s voice had clearly calmed compared to before, but Ling Xiao did not want to listen to what he had to ask. He directly broke away from the hand, which was blocking his way, crossing over to where the maid was.
“I have no reason to listen to you anymore.” Ling Xiao said in such a manner.
Lan Wei frowned, turned and then pulled on Ling Xiao’s wrist, slightly applying pressure.
Ling Xiao called out in pain and stopped walking.
Lan Wei asked in a cold voice, “Do you have special feelings for Fu Yujun?
“What?” Ling Xiao was confused, his face full of loss, “What are you hinting at?”
Seeing Ling Xiao’s expression, Lan Wei relaxed his brows and cleared his apprehensions as he relaxed his grip and let go.
It looks like, Fu Yujun was just one-sidedly in love.
He didn’t know why, but Lan Wei felt relieved and his mood improved. He said in a deep voice, “You should go back. Worry not as Fu Yujun won’t die. I’ll help you ‘persuade’ him.”
“Huh?” Ling Xiao was astounded, “You’ll help me? You, Young Master Lan Wei, will help me?”
It was simply unbelievable. Ling Xiao sneered, “If memory serves me right, us two never seem to get along and always disagree.”
Lan Wei pursed his lips, “Our problems were all caused by Mo Qi. Now that Mo Qi is no longer here, what other disputes would I have with you?”
Ling Xiao heard what he said and raised an eyebrow, “So be it, but didn’t you always loathe me? So why help me? Can I even… trust you?”
Lan Wei turned silent, his face black. He clearly did not want to reply.
But Ling Xiao would not let him go, he kept questioning him.
“If you can’t give me a reason why, how can I trust you?”
Lan Wei was at the end of his patience and he pulled Ling Xiao, regretfully saying, “Back then when I fell off my horse in the mountains, the one that saved me was you!”
Ling Xiao was startled. His face turning a bit unnatural for a split second, but Lan Wei caught it and released his grip.
“I won’t ask you why you lied to me. Since you saved me, then I will take this as me repaying your kindness.”
Speaking his part, he did not wait for Ling Xiao to say anything as he walked to the maid first, telling her, “The King Consort said that his body isn’t feeling too well, that is why he cannot go visit the prisoner today.”
The maid heard and nodded in understanding, “I see. Then this subordinate will take Young Master back.”
The maid spoke as Ling Xiao caught up.
Looking at Lan Wei’s sincere face, which did not seem fake, Ling Xiao thought that perhaps he could trust him this one time.
Concluding so, Ling Xiao nodded and did not refute the reason Lan Wei made for him. He turned to follow the maid onto the carriage.
Following Ling Xiao’s departing with his eyes, the corners of Lan Wei’s mouth bent down as he turned around coldly toward the prison.
Within the damp prison was a cell that was even more secure than the others. On the door were layers of iron chains locking it, while a beggar-looking man sat within.
His figure was slender, and although his clothes were already covered in dirt and ash, making it so that the original color could no longer be made out, one could still discrem its exotic style that was very different from Mu Country.
“Fu Yujun.” Lan Wei stood at the iron gates and called out.
Fu Yujun heard his name being called and slightly raised his eyes. Seeing that it was Lan Wei, he coldly smiled and immediately lowered his eyes back. He clearly did not want to deal with Lan Wei.
Lan Wei frankly spoke when he saw that, “Ling Xiao arrived just now.”
Fu Yujun’s eyes brighten at the news and he quickly looked toward the entrance, his face carrying hope.
But no matter how long he looked, he did not see Ling Xiao’s figure. He looked at Lan Wei a bit angrily.
Lan Wei flatly said, “He already left.
“……” Fu Yujun’s felt at loss and he turned around back to his sitting position. Lan Wei hurriedly said, “He wanted me to pass on a message to you.”
Fu Yujun stopped and asked with his back to Lan Wei, “What?”
The voice was hoarse and unpleasant to hear, not only did it astonished Lan Wei, but it also made Fu Yujun frown more at himself.
Fu Yujun tightly pursed his lips, he had made such a sorry figure not so long ago.
However, his life was about to end, so what if he made a sorry figure?
“Ling Xiao said he didn’t want you to die.” Lan Wei stated.
Fu Yujun shook and forced a smile, muttering, “I’m afraid I can’t make him such a promise.”
“If you want to, there is still a way.” Lan Wei lured.
A light flashed by in Fu Yujun’s eyes, he turned his head to look at Lan Wei, “What way?”
“The Emperor promised, as long as you surrender, he’ll let Shao Country become Mu Country’s vassal state. He could let you live, and allow you to continue being Shao Country’s Sovereign King.
“Impossible!” Fu Yujun interrupted Lan Wei in a rage, “Even if I die, I will not die a traitor!”
“Traitor?” Lan Wei sneered, “to which country?”
“You!” Fu Yujun was extremely angered as he glared at Lan Wei.
Lan Wei indifferently said, “Shao Country has already been exterminated. If you were to die, then Shao Country would also cease to exist.
“……” Fu Yujun tightly gripped his hands.
Lan Wei observed the sight and stepped aside so Fu Yujun could see the situation in the other prison cells.
The ones in this prison were all Shao Country’s important ministers, along with the soldiers that did not surrender.
Their appearance was no different from Fu Yujun, disheveled and beggar-like, their faces were blank and full of despair. Fu Yujun saw it all and retreated in guilt.
His incompetence caused his subjects to suffer a calamity.
“If you don’t surrender, then these men will all die with you. And Shao Country will no longer exist.”
When Lan Wei saw how his words caused grief to appear on Fu Yujun’s face, he sighed in his mind and then closed his mouth. Only after a while did he leave a sentence behind, “Just think about it.”
Speaking his piece, he turned and left.
He didn’t know if it was right or wrong to help Ling Xiao as he did.
There was only one reason why the Emperor would promise to keep Fu Yujun alive and it was because Lin Xiao asked. However, there was another, a second reason; if they had the Shao Country’s king in their hands, then the country’s territory could be put under their control in a much shorter time.
However, Fu Yujun was a dangerous person. Lan Wei didn’t know whether it was a mistake or not, trying to control the Prince.
But it was a pity that the only one that could replace Fu Yujun as the country’s king, and had already complied with Mu Country, Fu Shangjun was long dead. If he was still alive, then even if Ling Xiao asked, the Emperor would not let Fu Yujun live.