Chapter 255: Fake Meets Real

Zu An was speechless. Am I really going to run into bandits when I’m out here with a girl? Just what kind of shitty luck is this?

Despite this, he wasn’t that worried. His trip into the dungeon had boosted his cultivation greatly. As long as he didn’t run into some ridiculously strong enemy, he wouldn’t have an issue dealing with ordinary people.

Just as he was about to console Qiu Honglei, a sweet fragrance filled his nose. She had already arrived at his side.

“There’s no need for young master to fear. I will protect you.” Qiu Honglei positioned herself in front of him. Her previously gentle and loving appearance was nowhere to be seen. Instead, her expression was determined.

Zu An’s jaw dropped open.

Did we end up swapping scripts?

The curtains were crudely torn away, and several masked men charged in.

When they saw Qiu Honglei’s beautiful figure, they all whistled, and their eyes glazed over with infatuation.

Qiu Honglei said in a grave manner, “Who are you all? How dare you all behave like this in Brightmoon City? The Immortal Abode isn’t a party you all can afford to offend! If you leave right now, I can still pretend like this never happened.”

Zu An couldn’t help but feel a dash of admiration. She could still remain completely calm when faced with such a situation! Her bearing was clearly different from other regular beauties.

The masked men were momentarily stunned by her words, but their bravado quickly returned, and they retorted one after another:

“The Immortal Abode? Oh we are so so scared!”

“Before our Blackwind Stockade, your Immortal Abode is nothing!”

“The one we are out to get is precisely your Immortal Abode!”

The Blackwind Stockade!

Qiu Honglei’s expression wavered for a moment. She had clearly heard of the Blackwind Stockade before. They were a group of bandits based in the mountain forest, led by Great Bandit Chen Xuan, who plundered the caravans that passed by. Brightmoon Duke and the city lord had sent experts and armies to suppress them numerous times, but with little success. Often, they even suffered serious casualties.

“You all are from the Blackwind Stockade?” Zu An was a bit surprised. He’d just seen Chen Xuan earlier, and he still had some impression of what his subordinates looked like.

Even though these people were masked, they were clearly not the ones Chen Xuan had brought with him into the Immortal Abode. Could they have been waiting in ambush outside?

“What, scared?”

The one in the lead snickered. “Hand over your woman. If we brothers are in a good mood after we’ve had our fun, we might just leave you with your life.”

“Hurry and leave, young master, I will hold the rear!” Qiu Honglei hurriedly pushed him toward the exit.

Zu An was completely speechless. We’re in the middle of the river! Where am I supposed to go? However, he still nodded and said to her, “All right, be careful.”

With that, he turned tail and fled.

Qiu Honglei stared blankly after him.

She had fully expected him to modestly decline, and then frantically try to help her escape. Who knew he wouldn’t even have an ounce of hesitation in him as he left?

The men on the other side roared with laughter. “Lovely lady, the man you’v chosen really is too stupid and cowardly! Why not follow us big brothers instead? We can promise you that you’ll never go hungry.”

Zu An turned a deaf ear to them. He reached the front of the boat and then looked around. Apart from a smaller boat beside them, there weren’t any other bandits to be seen. The other flower boats were still making their way leisurely along the river, the scene still bustling with liveliness.

He pondered for a moment before re-entering the cabin.

Seeing him return, Qiu Honglei became nervous. “Why did young master Zu come back?”

Zu An gave no reply. The eyes of the bandit leader lit up. “His surname is Zu? Is this the Chu clan’s son-in-law, Zu An?”

“What, am I already that famous?” Zu An said in amazement. His voice dripped with self-satisfaction.

Qiu Honglei glared at him from the side. Why did he admit to it so easily?

That bandit couldn’t help but ask, “I heard that you won seven-and-a-half million silver taels from the Silverhook Casino, and then won another million from a different wager. Is that true?”

Zu An nodded. “What can I say? My luck has always been amazing. Winning a bit of money like this really isn’t much, and isn’t worth mentioning at all, if you ask me.”

Qiu Honglei placed a hand on her forehead, a resigned expression on her face. It was clear that she had already given up on him.

That bandit roared with laughter. “It appears that I am the one whose luck is in tonight! Not only did I snag a great beauty, I’ve even gotten myself a cash cow. Hand over the money and I might consider letting you off.”

Zu An shrugged. “I didn’t bring any money with me today. How about you come over to our Brightmoon Estate and ask my wife for it?”

That bandit sneered. “You can forget about trying to scare me by bringing in Brightmoon Duke. When has our Blackwind Stockade ever feared him?”

Zu An looked at him curiously. “You speak with such confidence. I wonder, what is your position in the Blackwind Stockade?”

“I’m obviously Master Chen Xuan! What, scared now?” That bandit snorted. “Just be a good boy and write a letter to the Chu clan to pay the ransom, or else I am going to chop off your limbs before sending you home.”

Zu An couldn’t help but laugh. “You are Chen Xuan?”

Standing beside him, Qiu Honglei tugged at his sleeves, saying quietly, “Young master, I believe it’s best if we don’t anger them.”

Zu An didn’t say anything. All of this was too strange. If he hadn’t learned what the true Chen Xuan looked like from his Keyboard system, he might have truly been deceived by this fellow.

Isn’t this an extortion scheme through and through?

He’d read so many stories online about some high-spirited fellows who had gone into sketchy places to meet hot girls, only to end up being extorted and blackmailed by some big bad men.

Wasn’t this the same situation?

“What, do I not look like him?” Zu An’s expression really was getting on the bandit’s nerves.

You have successfully trolled Gu Yueyi for 233 Rage points!

Gu Yueyi? Seeing the name pop up in his notifications, Zu An was momentarily stunned. This was a name he hadn’t seen before.

“You do, of course you do!” Zu An couldn’t keep the ridicule out of his voice. However, he didn’t expose the other party. He wanted to see what this fellow was up to first.

Even with a mask covering most of his face, Zu An could vaguely tell that Gu Yueyi was quite a young lad. The bandit frowned. He had clearly sensed something amiss from Zu An’s reply. “Stop spouting nonsense. Hurry up and write the note so I can contact the members of the Chu clan and arrange for the ransom to be paid.”

Zu An shook his head. “Your decision doesn’t seem all that wise to me.”

Gu Yueyi’s brow furrowed. “Are you trying to teach me how to do things?”

Zu An chuckled. “I am merely helping you analyze the situation. Look, even if I write a letter for you to send to the Chu clan, what dignity would the Chu clan have left if this glorious dukedom were to obediently hand over the ransom?

“Not only that, everyone in Brightmoon City already knows that this drafted son-in-law isn’t all that well received in the Chu Estate. Who knows, they might just use you all as an excuse to get rid of me, and even pocket my few million silver taels.

“This way, no one will blame the Chu clan for being heartless. Rather, the blame would be on you for resorting to such cruel methods.”

The bandits exchanged dismayed looks. Completely at a loss as to what to do, Gu Yueyi asked him, “What should we do, then?”

“How about this? The two of us will go to the Chu Estate, and I’ll bring out the banknotes for you,” Zu An said.

Gu Yueyi sneered. “Do you take me for a fool? What if you don’t come back out after I take you to the Chu Estate?”

Zu An pointed at Qiu Honglei, who was still beside him. “You’ll still have her, won’t you? With her as a hostage, I will definitely come back with the ransom! That is why you absolutely must not harm her, or else I won’t be giving you any money!”

Seeing their continued hesitation, he added, “Even though Lady Qiu is pretty, there isn’t enough of her for all of you to divide amongst yourselves. I have a few million silver taels in banknotes back home. That’s enough for you to have a different girl every day. Wouldn’t that be even better?”

Gu Yueyi was still uncertain. He gave Qiu Honglei a subconscious look, and she nodded slightly in return without batting an eyelid.

Only then did he concede. “Fine,” he said gruffly, “but you’d better not play any tricks. Otherwise, not only will we take turns with her, we’ll definitely kill you.”

Zu An had observed their expressions and exchanges closely. “Don’t worry, I am more scared of dying than anyone else.”

Inwardly, he still couldn’t puzzle out why Qiu Honglei was doing all of this. Did she really covet his few million silver taels?

But with the Immortal Abode’s information network, there’s no way she doesn’t know that most of the silver is in the form of a promissory note. Whether or not the note can even be exchanged for money is still an issue. What could she even do with something like that?

“All right, we are going to the Chu Estate!” Gu Yueyi waved his hand, gesturing for his subordinates to turn the boat about.

“The two of you had better not do anything fishy.” As he said this, two of Gu Yueyi’s subordinates moved to stand behind the two hostages, and two shiny blades swiftly appeared, hovering in front of their necks.

“Sorry I ended up making you lose so much money,” Qiu Honglei said apologetically.

Zu An dismissed her remark casually. “I am someone who loves the carefree life, and I love gorgeous beauties even more. Money can always be earned again, but once you are gone, you will really be gone!” Despite his words, he sneered coldly on the inside. Like hell I’ll come back out after I reach the safety of the Chu Estate! You’re all probably in on this together, anyway.

Once he was safe, he’d have Yue Shan lead troops to capture and interrogate them, to figure out what they were really scheming at.

When the time comes, I should bring Qiu Honglei back to personally interrogate her one-on-one.

The main reason why Zu An hadn’t yet exposed anything was because Gu Yueyi’s cultivation wasn’t low. The ki rippling around his body seemed to be at the fifth rank. Of course, if he’d been alone, Zu An wouldn’t have cared much.

However, Qiu Honglei was also present. Even though she looked soft and tender on the surface, he couldn’t see through her at all.

This either meant that her cultivation was either considerably higher than his, or that she had some type of artifact that concealed her aura.

Regardless of which one it was, he didn’t dare act carelessly.

A sudden commotion erupted outside.

“Hahaha, I’ve finally found Lady Qiu’s flower boat!”

Gu Yueyi suddenly turned around. “What is going on?”

Several muffled and miserable-sounding screams greeted his question.

His expression growing dark, he immediately drew his blade and ran out. He’d been gone for just a split second before he was sent flying back in, as if struck by an artillery shell.

The walls of the cabin were blasted into pieces by the powerful wave of force, revealing the scene outside.

They were surrounded by several small boats, one of them containing a red-haired man. He stood at the prow of his boat with a dominant stance. He looked down on Qiu Honglei as if he was looking at his spoils of war.

His gaze shifted quickly to Zu An, his lips slowly spreading in a cruel smile.

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