Zu An was shocked when he saw her face. He quickly redirected the force of his palm strike. This sudden change in stance was too much for him, and he crashed into the ground.
Qiu Honglei put on her usual, seductive smile. “What’s wrong, young master? You’re bowing as soon as you see me? How can I accept something like that?”
To hell with all that cold and aloof nonsense! This guy clearly appreciates the flirty and seductive type! If I hadn’t spent some time undercover in the Immortal Abode, I would be far inferior to that Zheng Dan!
Zu An crawled back to his feet in embarrassment. “So it was you, Honglei. Haha…”
She cut him off before he could finish. “Honglei? Are the two of us that close?”
Zu An was left speechless.
Isn’t that what I called you before? You were all smiles back then…
Zu An pretended that nothing had happened. “Why didn’t you say something before coming over?”
Qiu Honglei snorted. “How could I have witnessed such a stunning scene if I had let you know ahead of time?’
“About that… haha…” No matter how shameless Zu An was, he was still in a rather fine pickle. “I’m really glad that I got to see you again.”
Qiu Honglei sneered. “Really? It almost seemed like I’d arrived at a bad time, and was interrupting something.”
“You’re not interrupting anything at all! We were already done… ahem, ahem. Honglei, how did you know that I was here?” Zu An changed the topic again. It seemed like his bath was pointless. He was drenched in sweat again, and not just from the heat.
“Lord Ding, who used to live here, belonged to my Holy Sect, but you swooped right in and cleared him out. Of course I had to come to take a look.” Qiu Honglei’s regret was slowly building. She really should have had her subordinates clean this place out. Let’s see if this playboy dares to keep messing around after that.
“So, he was one of yours…” Zu An was apologetic. “Sorry about that, really. I had no control over that matter. Zhuxie Chixin’s men moved too quickly.”
“No one can stop Zhuxie Chixin from killing the people he wants dead.” Qiu Honglei wasn’t upset because of this. She was upset because she had dolled herself up for him, but had been rewarded with that disgusting scene instead. She hadn’t fully expressed her anger yet.
Zu An said, “Honglei, could you come down from that tree, please? Talking to you like this is making my neck sore.”
With her in the tree and him on the ground below, he was forced to tilt his head upwards to look at her.
“No way. It feels pretty good to have you speaking to me like this.” Qiu Honglei’s lips curved upwards, her legs swinging in the air. Her mood had improved significantly.
Zu An couldn’t help but point out something. “Um… You’re wearing a dress. I can see…”
Before he finished, Qiu Honglei shrieked in alarm and jumped down from the tree. She smoothed down the front of her dress and stared at him, her face red. “Why didn’t you say so earlier?!”
“I was trying to be tactful about it, but you didn’t get my message!” Zu An looked extremely wronged.
Qiu Honglei stared at him, speechless.
Zu An chuckled. “Honglei, let’s chat inside. It’s a little chilly out here.”
“It’s your fault for not dressing properly,” Qiu Honglei retorted with an angry huff. She turned her head away to avoid looking at his naked body.
Zu An laughed in embarrassment, and quickly found an outfit to put on.
Qiu Honglei looked around inside. “Oh? It’s only been a short while, but you’ve cleaned up the interior rather nicely. I didn’t expect you to have such skills.”
“Haha… you’re too kind…”Zu An obviously wasn’t about to tell her that this was Qiao Xueying’s work. Even though his relationship with Qiu Honglei wasn’t quite sorted out yet, his survival instincts still told him that he should not reveal this to her if he did not want to die.
Qiu Honglei dropped herself into a random chair. Enough time had passed, and most of her annoyance had dissipated. “I didn’t expect you to make it through such a tough situation alive. It’s a feat worth praising, whether we are friends or enemies.”
“I was just lucky. I should be thanking you for taking care of me along the way. If not for you, I wouldn’t have been able to reach the capital safely,” said Zu An sincerely.
“Hmph, you are making me sound like a rebel of the Holy Sect,” replied Qiu Honglei. “You managed to escape death because of your own prowess. It had nothing to do with me.”
Zu An nodded. “Of course, of course.”
The two of them looked at each other in silence. They did not require words to express their true thoughts to each other.
Qiu Honglei coughed lightly. “Did you really hand the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra to the emperor?”
Zu An grunted in acknowledgement. Of course, there was no way he would tell anyone that he had tampered with the sutra.
“If that was your plan all along, you should have just handed it to my master. Who knows, you might have even been appointed vice sect master. That’s much better than being a mere baron.” Qiu Honglei was slightly unhappy.
“But that might have led to the emperor wiping out your sect,” replied Zu An.
Qiu Honglei fell silent. It was true that, in its current form, the Devil Sect did not have the strength to fend off a full-scale offensive from the emperor. “But why would the emperor let you live? Unless… the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra cannot really grant immortality?”
Zu An smiled ambiguously, “I’ve already lost track of how many times I’ve been asked this question. Indeed, the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra cannot truly grant immortality.”
This wasn’t a lie. Even the real Phoenix Nirvana Sutra would not be able to grant immortality if it was cultivated on its own.
“Then why didn’t you just release that information to the world earlier? Instead, you were forced to run for your life,” Qiu Honglei complained, as she recalled the dangers he had encountered along the way.
“No one would have believed me even if I’d said it earlier,” said Zu An with a bitter smile.
Qiu Honglei knew the truth in that statement. After another moment of silence, she said, “I’ve heard that you’re now the crown prince’s palace secretary?”
“Does the palace secretary keep him company during the day, or at night?”
Zu An looked at her strangely. “During the day, of course. The eastern palace is within the inner palace. How could they allow other men to remain inside at night?”
“That’s good then, that’s good.” Qiu Honglei sighed in relief.
Zu An was puzzled. “Why would you suddenly ask that?”
“It’s nothing. Just an idle question.” Qiu Honglei’s eyes sparkled. After a slight hesitation, she continued, “You shouldn’t get too immersed in your role as the crown prince’s secretary. Leave each day once you’re done with your duties. Don’t stay there too long.”
Zu An looked her in the eye. “Are you saying this because you know that something will happen soon?”
“Nothing will happen.” Qiu Honglei had calmed down as well. “However, there are rumors that maids and eunuchs often go missing in the eastern palace. I’m just worried that something might happen to you too.”
Zu An felt a surge of warmth within him. “Thank you, Honglei, but I shouldn’t have any trouble protecting myself.”
“Okay,” replied Qiu Honglei. She did not seem inclined to speak for much longer. “I’m relieved that you’re all right. I’ll head back, then.”
“You’re leaving so soon?” Zu An was reluctant to see her go.
Qiu Honglei turned around and gave him an ambiguous smile. “You did all that with another girl, and now you’re coming onto me? Don’t you feel like you’re fooling around too much?”
Zu An forced a smile. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
Qiu Honglei snorted. “It’s already getting late, so I have to go back. There’s still a lot that I need to take care of back at the sect.”
“Let me know if you need any help in the future,” Zu An offered quickly. “I’m now a court official, after all. I can take good care of you.”
Qiu Honglei gestured at the courtyard they were in. “The last official who worked with us had his entire clan wiped out. Are you trying to follow in his footsteps?”
Zu An was momentarily at a loss for words.
“I’m only helping you, not the Devil Sect.”
“Hmph, isn’t helping me the same as helping the Devil Sect?”
Despite her tone, Qiu Honglei felt her mood lighten. “Since you’re having such thoughts, our friendship hasn’t been in vain. We’ll meet again if fate wills it.”
With a tap of her feet, her dress fluttered about, and she took off.
Zu An quickly waved at her. “Oh, I forgot to say that your eyebrows look prettier than usual.”
Upon hearing this, Qiu Honglei turned around and smiled sweetly at him. I guess I didn’t pretty myself up for nothing.
When Zu An entered the palace the next morning, his mind was filled with images of Zheng Dan’s wonderfully supple figure, as well as the smile that Qiu Honglei had flashed at him just before she left. Each girl truly had their own unique charm, and it was really hard to say who had the upper hand.
I really am trash...
Even he was disappointed in himself.
It didn’t take him long to reach the eastern palace. After his identity was verified, he was brought to the crown prince’s study.
“The crown prince is inside. Please report on your own.”
Zu An nodded. Standing outside the door, he announced, “Newly appointed crown prince secretary Zu An requests an audience with the crown prince.”
“Come in, come in,” came the crown prince’s voice.
He could imagine just how excited the crown prince was from his tone. Zu An chuckled and pushed open the door, but was instantly on guard as a gust of wind blew towards him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter