Chapter 369: The Third Button [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
Nangong Xiaoniao went over to open the door and said, “Please come in. It’s a bit messy here.”
Song Zining entered sideways through the door with a flash of light green origin power. He stood just inside the doorway and didn’t go further in. “Nevermind. I’ll leave after a few words.”
“P-Please speak!” Xiaoniao was apparently somewhat nervous.
Song Zining didn’t beat around the bush and got straight to the point. “I heard there’s an unpleasant feud between you and the Nangong family.”
“We have a deep enmity! Sooner or later, I’ll have that old thief, Nangong Yuanbo, pay with his blood!” Nangong Xiaoniao’s emotions were riled up at the very mention of this.
Song Zining continued with an apathetic nod, “Then why haven’t you taken action?”
A startled Nangong Xiaoniao stammered, “That old thief… t-that old thief is very powerful. I-I’m not his match at the moment.”
“Then why hasn’t he made a move against you?” Song Zining’s expression was indifferent.
Nangong Xiaoniao replied, “Elder Gu, Elder Zhou, and Elder Yin said that the old thief won’t dare do anything to me as long as they’re alive.”
“Then you should know the weight of the three elders, right?”
Nangong Xiaoniao nodded with a bewildered expression. She had no idea why Song Zining was asking these obvious questions.
Song Zining smiled and said, “You’re not afraid of Nangong Yuanbo because you have the three Red Scorpion commanders supporting you. Miss Zhao, as the granddaughter of Duke You, has no need to fear him. I’m from the Song clan and naturally have no qualms either. But what about Qianye? He has nothing. If Nangong Yuanbo can’t do anything to you, he’ll take it out on Qianye. Do you understand?”
“I-I…” Nangong Xiaoniao didn’t know what to say.
“I’ve said all I came to say. Now please excuse me.” With that, Song Zining opened the door and disappeared into the night just as silently.
It was yet another night of the scarlet moon. The Dark Flame headquarters was fairly quiet during the latter part of the night with the exception of occasional patrol squads.
Song Zining’s figure materialized in the shadows behind the dormitory. He looked up at the full, scarlet moon which had almost taken up half the sky, the gauze-like moonlight showering onto his cheerless face.
He suddenly turned around and saw Wei Potian walking over from the other side of the drill grounds.
A passing Dark Flame patrol unit left after greeting them.
Wei Potian watched the soldiers disappear over the other end of the drill grounds before turning back to stare at Song Zining with a cold expression. “Don’t you think you’re meddling too much?”
“Ignorance is not an excuse for being stubborn, and neither is innocence an excuse for recklessness. If Nangong Xiaoniao wants to stay here, she must be clear about the consequences of her action.”
“You underestimate Qianye. He knows what he’s doing.”
“Must I let him bear this burden just because he can?”
Wei Potian was silent. He sized Song Zining up with luminous eyes and said slowly, “In that case, I have something I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time. What is the relation between the Ningyuan Group and the Northern Legion?”
Song Zining chuckled out loud. “Two years ago, the Ningyuan Group provided them with a thousandth of their origin arrays. Presently, we provide one percent of their armaments—all types of them.”
“You’re… Lin Xitang’s man…” An implication of exceptional danger was apparent in Wei Potian’s suppressed voice.
“The Wei clan heir should speak cautiously. It’s not a good habit to make irresponsible remarks.” Song Zining’s voice was similarly soft. “Although the Far East Wei Clan has never taken sides between major clans, it’s a known fact that the second grand elder of the Wei clan is very close to Marshal Zhang. Why then are you so interested in Marshal Lin’s matters?”
The two glares met, the coldness in them cut through the flesh like sharp blades.
Wei Potian said slowly, “Song Seven, you’re a smart person. Don’t play with fire. It’s fine if you burn yourself to death and rid the world of a scourge, but don’t drag Qianye into these waters.”
“Did you think everything Qianye experienced back then has ended? He’s already been in the water for a long time.”
Wei Potian gripped his fist so tight that it started emitting popping sounds. In the end, he relaxed his hands and said, “I know your Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art is quite extraordinary. But, Song Seven, the world is filled with myriad dao and the most important is to maintain one’s conscience. No one has the right to make decisions for Qianye and you’re no exception.”
“That’s your path, not mine.”
“Then we shall see,” Wei Potian replied in simple words. At this point, he had nothing more to say and thus turned around to leave.
However, Song Zining’s voice reached him from behind. “Qianye and I were classmates for five years and partners for two. If you’re interested, you can find out what it means to be partners in Yellow Springs.”
Wei Potian noticed that Song Zining’s tone as he spoke those last words was especially odd. He couldn’t help but glance back—Song Zining’s jade-like countenance almost seemed devilish under the scarlet moon. He then took a deep breath and left.
In truth, he didn’t need to inquire. Wei Potian knew what kind of place Yellow Springs was. Less than one out of a hundred students survived the place, and their very first class involved killing their partners. These were the two charges frequently brought up by the opposition party to condemn the death training camp.
After Song Zining left, Nangong Xiaoniao sat in her room for an entire night, doing nothing apart from stroking the metallic sphere subconsciously. Only when there was, once again, a knock on the door did she jump up like a startled little bird.
A maid’s voice came through the door, “Miss Nangong, the commander invites you to breakfast.”
“Breakfast? Ah, okay! Just a moment! I’ll be done right away. Right away!” Nangong Xiaoniao practically flew into the bathroom and, as expected, found a girl in the mirror with disheveled hair and panda eyes.
She was almost in tears. She made herself presentable as quickly as possible and rushed out within three minutes. As for the effects, she could only leave it to fate. At this time, the anxious thoughts that had wracked her for the entire night had been tossed away.
Breakfast was served in a small guest-cum-dining room at the other end of the corridor from Qianye’s room. Qianye’s life wasn’t that luxurious at first, but a reception area became necessary after the arrival of Zhao Yuying and the noble ladies. In addition to being a necessary etiquette, it was also to prevent them from charging into his living room all the time.
Qianye and Zhao Yuying were already seated by the time Nangong Xiaoniao arrived. She rushed to the table, jumped into the seat, and quickly sat straight with a very unnatural expression.
Zhao Yuying was cutting a cigar on the dining table at the moment. She tossed one at Nangong Xiaoniao and said, “Enough, stop pretending! It’s tiring to do this every day and you still have a long while ahead of you! Smoke one first to celebrate the slap I gave Nangong Ling. The goods here are quite rare.”
Nangong Xiaoniao picked up the cigar reflexively but soon came to. She stole a glance at Qianye, put the cigar back onto the table, and said with her head lowered, “I… I don’t smoke.”
Zhao Yuying let out an odd cry, “Oh! You don’t smoke?! Enough! Who stole half a box of my premium goods back then? Humph, I still remember how you almost choked yourself half-dead on your first try. But, half a month later, you’ve already learned how to steal my cigars!”
“When… did I…” Nangong Xiaoniao’s head was almost pressed against the table.
“Then there was that one time you demonstrated how to light a cigar with origin power!”
This time, Nangong Xiaoniao really pressed her red face directly on the table and mumbled, “Stop, please stop. I-I’ll smoke!”
“Now that’s more like it! There’s no need to act like a refined lady in front of my Qianye!”
Qianye glared fiercely and whispered, “What’s this about not needing to act like a refined lady?”
Zhao Yuying patted Qianye’s shoulder in an incomparably outspoken manner. “She’s already trying to act like a refined lady and probably won’t let you bring her onto your bed so easily. Listen to this sister, just push her down and be done with it! We’re doing big things. How can we have the time to spend on a woman?”
Qianye didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Beside them, a trembling Nangong Xiaoniao succeeded in lighting the cigar only after numerous attempts. It took her several continuous puffs before she managed to calm down.
Qianye had nothing more to say about her habit of smoking cigars at breakfast. He shot Zhao Yuying a sidelong glance and said, “These cigars will go into your tab. Stop eyeing the military budget.”
Zhao Yuying immediately sat straight. She approached Qianye with a charming expression and said gently, “Qianye, you’re already an important character who wields a big territory. Don’t be so miserly! It’s just some cigars. Rest assured, when have I ever mistreated you? Xiaoniao!!!”
Nangong Xiaoniao was shocked out of her wits. “Eh?!”
“Undo your top three buttons! Now!”
Nangong Xiaoniao was momentarily dazed. “Un-undo my buttons? I-I haven’t…”
Zhao Yuying said with an evil smile. “There’s only me and Qianye here. And it’s only three buttons! What’s the big deal? Undo them! If you don’t, then I’ll talk about our little incident in the tent…”
“No!” Nangong Xiaoniao was apparently worried. She quickly opened up the top two buttons but began to hesitate at the third. The greater half of her bosom would be revealed after undoing the third button on her military uniform.
“Enough! Stop messing around!” Qianye roared and knocked Zhao Yuying on the head before leaving the dining room in large strides.
Zhao Yuying shot an angry glare at Nangong Xiaoniao. “Look at you! Why didn’t you unbutton quickly? Now you pissed Qianye off.”
Nangong Xiaoniao’s hands were frozen on the third button and her brain was muddled. Eh? Qianye was really angry? Just because of this button? She instinctively felt that something wasn’t quite right, but couldn’t think of what it was.
Zhao Yuying summoned the maid regretfully and said, “Put this meal on your commander’s tab. Oh right, send a box of cigars to my room in a while and put that on his tab too.”
The maid naturally understood this rather famous Zhao young miss and, with a nod, proceeded to do as instructed. As such, a small part of Qianye’s military budget was swindled yet again.
Qianye was already quite full and didn’t want to deal with the piles of documents just yet. As such, he asked his guards to open up a drill grounds so he could warm up his sword techniques. But he was feeling ill at ease throughout the session—Nirvanic Rend would either fail to exert its full might or it would go out of control.
After destroying half the steel dummies in the drill grounds with a single slash, Qianye finally put away East Peak and headed toward Nangong Xiaoniao’s room.
He knocked for a long time but the room remained silent. The maid outside had clearly seen Nangong Xiaoniao return, so why was there no response? Qianye tried pushing lightly on the door and proceeded to walk into the room after finding it unlocked.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 4/7 of the week. What will he see in the room? What is about to happen?
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://www.masterfile.com/image/en/700-00934558