Sang Qian jumped. “Why do you know about this?”
“The only way anything can truly remain hidden is if you silence all those involved.” Sang Hong said with a cold snort. “A honey trap! Of course it would be someone like you who comes up with something like that!”
Sang Qian flushed red with embarrassment. “I was just trying to take over the Plum Blossom Sect’s business! After all, we have a gambling parlor ourselves…”
“Enough. I don’t want to know about such things.” Sang Hong cut him off with an impatient expression.
“Ah…” Sang Qian cursed endlessly in his heart. You’re noble and virtuous, and you don’t covet riches at all. However, a vast amount of wealth is needed to rise through the ranks of the royal court, so how can an official’s salary be enough?
Despite that, he tried to defend himself. “Those with grand ambitions do not bother with mere trifles. Moreover, history has proved time and again how extremely useful sexual entrapment can be!”
Sang Hong glared at his son. “Are you actually dumb? Others use carefully-groomed female spies to lay their honey traps. Who in the world uses their own fiancée?!”
Sang Qian chuckled sheepishly. “I couldn’t find a suitable candidate on such short notice, so I had Zheng Dan give it a try. Don’t worry, she has a graceful and reserved disposition, and she is quite intelligent. She won’t really let Zu An take advantage of her.”
Sang Hong snorted coldly. “I really don’t know where you get your confidence. This is playing with fire! A single mistake and you’ll end up giving away your wife too.”
“Don’t worry, father. How could he possibly match up to me in terms of appearance, family background and ability?” Sang Qian said arrogantly. “Miss Zheng has always had such high standards, so how could she ever fall for such a guy?”
Sang Hong frowned at how lightly his son was treating this matter. He was surely being a bit too cocky. However, he too had met that child Zheng Dan before. Although she looked gentle and sweet-tempered on the surface, she was definitely a headstrong girl. She had a distinguished background as well, so the chances of her falling for a mere drafted son-in-law was extremely low.
Reassured by his reasoning, he let himself relax a little. “Forget it. Since things are the way they are, give her another task. See if she can find out anything about that mysterious expert behind Zu An.”
Sang Qian was stunned. “Didn’t you already task me and that masked man to look into this separately?”
Sang Hong shook his head. “If that mysterious expert is concealing himself intentionally, they may not be able to root him out in the Chu clan. The same can be said on your side. That is why we must hope that Zu An will end up getting ensnared by her beauty and accidentally reveal something.”
His face was lined with worry. He had been supremely confident that he could complete what he had set out to do in Brightmoon City. However, the news of this mysterious expert suddenly introduced more unknown variables. The success or failure of his plans might very well hinge on this matter. That was why he had to determine what these variables were as soon as possible.
“Alright, I’ll talk to Zheng Dan.” Sang Qian agreed. He felt a sense of injustice. He had just been lectured on using his own fiancée as a honey trap, yet, in the end, his father had resorted to using this method at the earliest opportunity.
After a slight hesitation, Sang Hong said, “There is one other matter I need you to keep in mind. If Zheng Dan really ends up doing something that lets you down, what do you plan to do?”
“How dare she?!” The image of Zheng Dan being defiled under Zu An appeared in Sang Qian’s mind, and his eyes almost popped right out of their sockets. “If she dares do anything that lets me down, I will make sure not even her family’s dog is left alive!”
“As usual, your anger is driven by your ignorance!” Sang Hong angrily rebuked. “If something like that really happens, you have to pretend as if nothing happened—”
He was cut off before he could finish. “Isn’t that the same as willingly becoming cuckolded?!”
“Of course it isn’t!” Sang Hong said furiously, his tone hard as iron. “If you want to achieve great things, you must be able to endure far more than an ordinary person. When something really does happen, you cannot blame Zheng Dan without getting to the root of the matter first! Otherwise, you will only end up pushing her further into the embrace of another man.
“What you have to do is console and forgive her, completely ease her heart, and do as much as you can to make her continue working for you. Only after the overall situation has been resolved can you settle matters with her.”
Sang Qian didn’t really approve of this, but his father had always been strict, so he felt disinclined to argue. “I got it.”
His half-hearted tone caused Sang Hong to narrow his eyes. However, he refrained from saying anything further. He hoped that child Zheng Dan was smart enough not to head down the wrong path.
Sang Hong sat down again. “I just remembered. Weren’t you planning to go to the Courtesan's Meeting?” he inquired, leisurely sipping on some tea.
“Yes. I heard that the Immortal Abode’s courtesan queen Qiu Honglei is even going to entertain a single guest in private. Lady Qiu’s skills in the arts are exceptional. Countless men have prostrated themselves before her, and yet she has remained a pure woman to this day, only entertaining with art and never with her body. The men of this city have pined after her for a long time, and I’m going to try my luck tonight as well…”
As he spoke, he suddenly noticed that his father’s eyes had begun to smolder dangerously, and his mouth snapped shut in embarrassment. Talking about such things with his father was far too inappropriate.
Sang Hong snorted derisively. “There’s no need for you to go tonight. A glorious court official visiting a place for prostitutes… what could come next?!”
“Visiting brothels is commonplace for the suave and elegant. There’s nothing unacceptable about it,” Sang Qian defended himself.
“There’s more to that Qiu Honglei than meets the eye.” Sang Hong said with a heavy voice. “I even sent someone to look into her…”
Ah, it turns out my father also has an interest in her. Sang Qian’s face betrayed a knowling look. No wonder you’re stopping me from going! It’s because you’re afraid I’m competing with you for her affections.
With a single glance, Sang Hong knew immediately what kind of nonsense was going through his son’s mind. His face became as dark as charcoal. “Absolute nonsense! I just wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed to complete the task I was assigned. That woman is famous in Brightmoon City, so of course I would look into her. It is a pity that she is only an ordinary courtesan.”
“Was she always a courtesan to begin with?” Sang Qian wondered where his father was going with this.
“This is what’s strange.” Sang Hong looked out the window, toward the south of the city. “She was born with such great beauty that her reputation spread far and wide. If she was only an ordinary courtesan, how could she have possibly retained her purity after so many years?”
“Ah…” When his father put it this way, he also realized that something was off.
Sang Hong carried on, “Furthermore, you’ve just announced your engagement with the Zheng clan, and yet you’re already looking for some courtesan. What exactly are you trying to show Zheng Dan and the entire Zheng clan? In order to deal with the Chu clan this time, we need the full support of the Zheng clan. I do not want there to be any friction between our two clans because of your ‘opportunity’. Stay at home today. You aren’t permitted to go anywhere!”
Sang Qian was crestfallen. However, he understood that he couldn’t go against his father’s orders. He looked towards the south of the city, where the Immortal Abode was located, and his heart was filled with bitterness. He wondered which lucky bastard would end up picking this exceptional flower.
After Zu An saw off Ji Dengtu, he returned to his room to carry out meditation cultivation. Qin Wanru was watching Chu Chuyan right now, so there was no way for him to head over to her.
Not long after he sat down, there came a persistent knocking. “Ah Zu, Ah Zu are you there?”
Zu An stared blankly for a moment. There was something familiar about this voice. After thinking for a bit, he recognized the voice as belonging to Chu Yucheng, the junior from the third branch that he had met during the Clans Tournament. They had also exchanged some greetings in Chu Estate before, but hadn’t interacted much beyond that.
What does this guy want from me? Zu An was puzzled. He got up to take a look. Sure enough, a chubby ball of a youngster stood at the entrance, a big smile plastered on his face.
His eyes were so narrowed that they almost formed a line.
Zu An didn’t dare underestimate him. During the Clans Tournament, this fella had roved around like a small tank, his fat acting as the perfect meat shield, overwhelming his opponent without giving him a single chance to retaliate.
Even more shocking was the presence of another person at his side. His hands were folded in front of him, hugging a sword. His face was cold and proud; this was none other than Chu Hongcai, of the second branch.
“Is there something the two of you need from me?” Zu An asked curiously.
“Of course! We need you for something good!” Chu Yucheng walked over and draped his arm around Zu An’s shoulders, the knowing smile of a fellow bro on his face. “Tonight is Immortal Abode’s Courtesan's Meeting! You in?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter