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Ji Han froze for a moment, then quickly snapped out of it.
Elder Wen and the rest had no idea what Zhao Jiangui looked like. He was the Demonic Creed Lord! So what if he slept with a man?!
Thinking like so, he got his confidence back. “Who let all of you in here?” he asked coldly. “Go to the discussion hall. This Lord will be there soon.”
Xiao Lin looked at the clothes on the floor blankly. “C… Creed Lord, aren’t those Hero Zhao’s clothes?”
“Hero Zhao?” Elder Wen asked.
Protector Hua was a bit astonished, too. “Zhao Jiangui? The number-one swordsman?”
As if understanding that he had made a huge mistake, Xiao Lin plopped down into a kneel. “This subordinate doesn’t want to die! Spare my life, Lord!” he yelled.
Ji Han: “Hah…”
The look on Elder Wen’s face was inscrutable, but he eventually let out a heavy snort, then turned to go to the discussion hall.
Protector Hua concealed her smile for a moment. “Creed Lord, this subordinate will head to the hall ahead of time. You… should put your clothes on before heading over.”
She took two steps away, then looked back again. “You have a really nice figure,” she added with a cheeky grin.
Ji Han said not a thing more to Zhao Jiangui as he hurriedly put his clothes on, turned, and left without looking back.
Zhao Jiangui’s mind was still all blank. What had actually happened last night?
He remembered that Yu Xian’r had told him that if the seduction was actually successful, the one on the bottom would most likely be sore, weak-legged, and overall have some discomfort the day after. However, aside from some dizziness and nausea, there wasn’t anything wrong with him.
Had Ji Han…?
No. Seeing how the other was, he didn’t appear to be uncomfortable at all.
Had they both simply gotten drunk, stripped naked, and then slept peacefully under the covers the whole night?
Xiao Lin poked half of his head out from behind the door, looking overjoyed and utterly rejoicing.
Zhao Jiangui suddenly recalled that Xiao Lin was Ji Han’s personal servant. He ought to be very clear on what had happened last night.
The other picked his clothes up off of the floor for him, beaming. “It’s fortunate that you got the Creed Lord drunk yesterday evening, Hero Zhao, so that I could drag you two into bed. Now, he’ll definitely think that he did something to you. The rest of the Creed will soon know about it, too.”
“Nothing actually happened?” Zhao Jiangui asked, confused.
Xiao Lin had a face of lament. “The two of you drank seven total jars of wine, and got so drunk, you lost consciousness… it’s really difficult for anything to happen in that state.”
Did something like that need to be lamented?!
The other sighed. “The Creed Lord normally has extremely high alcohol tolerance, but he got intoxicated pretty quick last night. That was probably caused by him drinking on an empty stomach, right?”
“I will convey this success to the Vast Alliance! Keep on with your efforts, Hero Zhao! It is imperative that you get the Creed Lord to trust you completely! Then we can attack from both inside and out, felling the Demonic Creed in one go!”
Cool. He had barely managed to not fail the seniors’ heavy responsibility in seducing him successfully.
But, why did this feeling of seductive success… seem a bit strange?
“The Creed Lord may have high tolerance, but he isn’t at all one to randomly get drunk. How exactly did you manage it? This lowly one is rather curious,” Xiao Lin asked.
Zhao Jiangui was obliged to tell him each of the events that had happened last night.
Xiao Lin’s expression was off. “Hero Zhao,” he said with difficulty, “the seniors weren’t asking you to find the weakness in his sword arts.”
The other was confused.
“They were asking you to find the flaws in his character and life experiences.”
So that was it! Only by grasping the soft part of Ji Han’s heart would the man turn gentle towards him!
While Zhao Jiangui had an epiphany, Xiao Lin took out a tiny booklet from his pocket. “That previous scriptbook is presumably no longer enough to deal with the present circumstances. This is a new one that the seniors entrusted me with giving to you.”
Zhao Jiangui had carefully read the scriptbook several times over, but Ji Han still wasn’t back yet.
He was quite doubtful towards the contents of the book. “Is this really going to work?”
“It will, it will! Of course it will!”
“Ji Han’s really going to believe it?”
“The Creed Lord is just like you; a sword fanatic that’s never gotten near beauty. He doesn’t understand all this, so he should believe it.”
Zhao Jiangui internally struggled for a long time, then finally acquiesced. “Alright. I’ll give it a try.”
By the time Ji Han returned from the hall, it was already dusk. His face was overcast, mood quite terrible.
Zhao Jiangui knew why. The Creed had always blindly followed its Lord alone; its laws were not as firm as the righteous faction’s, but Ji Han was still young. It was unavoidable that the Creed’s Elders would discipline him a little more. He had probably had to endure a scolding for making this mess.
As soon as Ji Han walked in, a maid brought in hot water and food afterwards. She asked him to wash his hands and mouth, after which she would attend upon him to dine.
At an earlier time, Zhao Jiangui had eaten dinner under Xiao Lin’s attentiveness, but at a later time, he had begged him incessantly to get in close and eat together with Ji Han.
The latter was quite surprised to see that he had not left yet. He really didn’t want to talk to him, so he had to shoot the Elder Maid beside him a meaningful look.
Being an astute young lady, she naturally understood what the look in his eyes meant. She walked over to Zhao Jiangui. “Don Zhao, you should return.”
Zhao Jiangui struggled internally a bit, then ultimately decided to walk down the path the book had set.
“Don Zhao, you should return,” she repeated.
“Return where?” he asked.
“Your own room, of course.”
“It’s getting late in the day, Don Zhao. Please go back, okay?”
“No.” He paused a bit in his words, and did his best to put on a dejected look. “My legs are weak. I won’t go back.”
The Maid: “…”
Ji Han: “…”
The Maid really wished that she could just vanish on the spot. Meanwhile, Ji Han’s face had since become very hard to look at. She knew that the Creed Lord was right on the verge of exploding, and if Hero Zhao said anything else, he would very likely be thrown out and chopped up into pieces to feed the wild dogs.
She began to sympathize slightly with this Great Hero.
“What business of mine are your weak legs?” Ji Han couldn’t resist saying. “Why do you want to stay in my room?”
“Why would my legs be weak, if not because of you?” Zhao Jiangui said, genuinely struggling with this.
It was true; he was indeed a sword fanatic, wasn’t fond of others’ charms, and had never taken a wife, nor sired children. However, he was still twenty-eight years old this year, and wholly understood the meaning behind these phrases.
After saying as much, he was unable to stop the sustained-year-round calm look he had from collapsing, and became just a tiny bit bashful.
Ji Han was caught off guard for a moment, then anxiously shouted at him. “Why are you saying nonsense?!”
“How was that nonsense?”
The other looked to want to give a few more words of justification, but then he remembered that the two of them had shed their clothes and slept on the same bed together that morning. After that, he swallowed the entirety of what he was going to say back down, holding back so much, his face couldn’t help but go slightly red, twisting away in a refusal to speak.
And then, he caught sight of the expression on the maids’ faces.
The insides of those big, limpid, almond-shaped eyes appeared to be written full of the all-caps words of ’heartless man’, ‘exploitative hoodlum’, and ‘shameless’. Even the Elder Maid, who was the most loyal to him, had a bit of an odd look.
He went quiet.
Zhao Jiangui felt like he was bullying a young man that was ill-versed in the ways of the world. On the inside, he was incomparably ashamed, but he could only grit his teeth and follow the script. “I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten yet.”
The maids’ gazes uniformly shifted to Ji Han’s face. He was quiet for a long time before he finally said, “Go add an extra serving.”
Zhao Jiangui sighed in relief. Xiao Lin had hit the mark; Ji Han really didn’t get it.
The maids added another bowl and pair of chopsticks, invited Zhao Jiangui to sit beside Ji Han, then withdrew one after the other, leaving the Elder Maid alone attending.
Ji Han, staying quiet, ate with muffled sounds. Zhao Jiangui had eaten prior and wasn’t hungry at all, so he set down his chopsticks after taking a few bites.
A long time later, Ji Han awkwardly asked, “Why aren’t you eating?”
The other considered his next words. “I’m too uncomfortable to eat.”
Zhao Jiangui was beyond embarrassed.
What the hell kind of junk had been written in that book?! Couldn’t it have been any better?! Why did each and every line seem to imply that something unspeakable had happened last night?!
All of a sudden, Ji Han placed a chunk of meat into his bowl extremely stiffly, then spoke like there was a fishbone caught in his throat. “You can’t go hungry just because you’re uncomfortable. Order the kitchen to make you whatever you’d like to eat.”
This wasn’t the Creed Lord he had come to know!
Zhao Jiangui was dumbfounded at once. For a second, he forgot how to speak.
The two ate for a time with soft noises, until Ji Han abruptly asked, “Since there’s discomfort on your body, I can call a doctor over to come take a look at you.”
Zhao Jiangui nearly choked to death on a mouthful of food.
Ji Han was really too… too upstanding. He had no illness to see a doctor with! If one came visiting, he’d be exposed!
Zhao Jiangui coughed for a good while, after which he managed to swallow. “There’s no need for that!” he hurriedly said.
Seeing him choking terribly, Ji Han had raised a hand, seemingly wanting to rub down along his back soothingly, but had ended up only leaving it in midair for a while before setting it down. He was still hesitant, though. “You don’t have to panic. Our Creed’s Doctor Yan has always been very tight-lipped.”
“There’s really no need…”
“Don’t hide your ailment to avoid seeing doctors.”
“I’m pretty alright…” Zhao Jiangui stammered. If a doctor came here, nothing good would come of it.
Ji Han’s brows creased a little as he appeared to be utterly confused. “Didn’t you just say that you were uncomfortable and your legs were weak?”
“That was just… just…” He had no idea how to circumvent this lie.
Ji Han said nothing, and Zhao Jiangui was too afraid to speak again.
The Elder Maid felt that this atmosphere was awkward, and also believed that Ji Han’s notion had been inappropriate. She had to lean in close to his ear and quietly whisper a few things to him.
“There’s no need to ask for a doctor?” Ji Han asked in astonishment.
Although dignified-looking, she still nodded. Ji Han believed himself to have now understood this matter. “Then there isn’t.”
Zhao Jiangui sighed in relief.
“Go fetch the medicine,” Ji Han said to the Elder Maid.
What were they just talking about?!
No! He couldn’t just randomly take random stuff!
A flash of divine light appeared in his head — he faintly recalled that there was a phrase pertaining to medicine in the older scriptbook. All of sudden, he reached over the table and tightly grasped Ji Han’s hand.
The other expectedly went pale from fright. “What are you trying to do?!”
“There’s no need to get medicine.”
Ji Han understood nothing. “If you’re ailed, there’s no harm in it.”
Zhao Jiangui forced himself to take on an adoring tone of voice. “You are my medicine.”
Ji Han: “…”
The Elder Maid, who had just gotten to the door: “…”
After saying that, Zhao Jiangui felt it to be way too sickeningly sweet. He dared not look directly into Ji Han’s eyes, so he had to look down at their connected hands.
Ji Han’s hand was fair and thin, its fingers slender. His palm and web had a layer of thin calluses, and his nails had been trimmed just right.
This was a hand that had wielded swords.
Still, as far as far-wandering jianghu people were concerned, it was somewhat overly pretty.
Likely scared by Zhao Jiangui’s words, Ji Han was dumbstruck for a very long time, completely neglecting to take his hand back.
The Elder Maid faltered. “Creed Lord, does this maid still need to fetch the medicine?”
Nobody answered her.
Ji Han was slowly coming back to his senses. He strived hard to pull his individual fingers out from Zhao Jiangui’s hold, but the other’s grip was quite firm, and that phrase had been rather too cloying. His face couldn’t help but turn a bit red.
At this exact moment, Xiao Lin walked in with a thick stack of account registers in his arms. “Creed Lord, these are the present-year registers of the seven subdivisions, like the Desert’s North and such.”
Ji Han nodded, then ordered him to bring those to his study. The Elder Maid took this chance to slip out along with Xiao Lin.
“Fine,” Ji Han said to Zhao Jiangui, face wooden. “If you don’t want to take any medicine, this Lord will not make things difficult for you.”
Zhao Jiangui sighed in relief.
That’s good. Can we call back that maid that was going to get it, then?
After frowning for a long while, Ji Han stiffly said, “Go… go rest a bit earlier, since you’ve eaten.”
Zhao Jiangui didn’t feel anything amiss with that at all, only nodding. Not having to take any medicine was great!
Ji Han had left, and the maids were all waiting for instruction outside the door, leaving Zhao Jiangui alone in the room. He set down his bowl and chopsticks, momentarily unsure of whether he should go back to his own room to rest, or continue staying here.
He had taken a few rounds around Ji Han’s room ages ago. The portrait at the headboard had likely already been taken down, as he had never seen it.
A moment later, Xiao Lin snuck back in. “Hero Zhao,” he cautiously called out, “the Creed Lord is busy with official stuff, so he likely won’t be coming back so soon.”
Zhao Jiangui nodded.
“I’m afraid that you’ll need to be wronged with waiting a little longer.”
“…I can’t go back to my room?”
“Of course not!”
“This current situation is great! We should chase after this victory to win over the Creed Lord in one go! How could you give up so readily?!”
Xiao Lin gulped in excitement, seeming to have a careful think through about this. “Hero Zhao, there is one thing… that I still have to discuss with you.”
“What is it?”
“I just received news from the Leader. The Alliance intercepted a secret Jackdaw correspondence; they received a hefty sum to assassinate the Creed Lord at the time of the Rat(11p-1a) tonight.”
Zhao Jiangui was startled.
Jackdaw was an infamous assassination organization in jianghu. Neither the dark nor light paths were willing to associate with them. Their abilities were extremely terrifying, the arts of their three highest masters so frighteningly high, even Zhao Jiangui had to admit that if Jackdaw wanted to take his life, he would most likely be straight-up murdered by them.
He wasn’t worried at all, though. Ji Han’s sword arts were slightly inferior to his own, but the Creed was heavily guarded. How could its Lord be killed so easily?
“We aren’t sure who in the Creed has been bought off by Jackdaw. Even the Lord’s personal bodyguards might attack him.”
Zhao Jiangui hesitated slightly. “Who is it that wants to kill him?”
“The Lord is far too young, has shallow foundation, and has been dragging his feet in attacking the Vast Alliance. There are some Creed people that are unhappy with him.”
In Zhao Jiangui’s head, the appearances of Elder Wen and Protector Hua from today flashed past.
“If you succeed in your seduction, you could talk in his ear and separate him from the Protectors and Elders of the Creed. If he dies, the Creed will definitely select the next Lord from the same group, and then this gambit will then lose its effect. The majority of them have shrewd and serious personalities to the extreme, which would give us not one advantage.”
“What does the Leader want me to do?”
“He hopes that you’ll be successful as soon as possible, of course. Over these few days… I’m afraid that you’ll have to be more vigilant, and carefully protect the Creed Lord.”
Xiao Lin gazed at him eagerly.
He had to sigh. “Don’t worry. I’ll definitely assist with aiding Ji Han.”
“If you defend him with all your heart, Hero Zhao, and he sees, he’ll be delighted!” Xiao Lin said, ecstatic. “He’ll surely love you even more!”
“Everything is depending on you!”
Once the time of the Rat drew near, Ji Han returned from his study.
Zhao Jiangui was nearly about to lose his cool. His sword was not by his side, as absolutely no one was allowed to bring blades into the Creed Lord’s room whenever they wanted. When Xiao Lin had dragged him over here last night, he had already taken his sword off and placed it back in his own room; now, the other had gone to fetch it, but for some reason, he still hadn’t returned.
Upon seeing him, Ji Han looked quite shocked. “Why haven’t you left yet?”
Once he said that, he immediately regretted it. Zhao Jiangui was definitely going to answer him with something weird.
Why had he insisted on drinking last night?!
“Why should I leave?” the other shot back.
Ji Han didn’t want to say anything, opening the door to call in the Elder Maid from outside. “Bring him back to his room. This Lord is going to rest.”
“I’m not going,” Zhao Jiangui said. He was a bit nervous — Xiao Lin had just told him that if Ji Han really wanted him to leave, he was to pounce forth immediately and hug him tight around the middle. He wouldn’t be able to drive him out, like that.
Ji Han creased his brow as he looked at him, and Zhao Jiangui geared up to sacrifice all of his dignity in embracing him.
A shriek suddenly came from outside the door.
Zhao Jiangui went on the alert at once.
The time of the Rat had come. The Jackdaws were calling.
With no sword at his side, Zhao Jiangui couldn’t help but be a little tense.
Ji Han was overly confident in his martial skill. There were not many bodyguards outside the door, but even so, that these foes had been able to kill them all in one go made them extremely formidable.
The Elder Maid looked pale, yet as tranquil as ever. Even though Ji Han had no idea what had happened, he understood that it was definitely nothing good — he could smell the stink of blood.
Three people stepped in from outside the door.
One was a white-faced scholar with a light mustache, one was an eighteen-year-old maiden in dark clothes, and one was a limping, shriveled-up old man leaning on a cane.
This was a very weird combination, but Zhao Jiangui didn’t find it the least bit interesting at all; in order to assassinate the Creed Lord, Jackdaw had actually dispatched its three grandmasters all at once.
They hadn’t needed to do a sneaky ambush, because their skills were already enough to kill the majority of people in jianghu.
The white-faced scholar — who went by the name of Shi Ge — was the first to speak. His gaze lingered on Ji Han for a long time, after which he sighed. “I didn’t expect that the Creed Lord would be this handsome. What a shame.”
Ji Han: “…”
The maiden had a face filled with revulsion. “Can you be less gross?”
Her name was Xu Jingying, and she was once the Emei Sect Leader’s succeeding disciple. She looked like a young girl, but in reality, she was twenty-eight; she could also wield a sword, and wield it exceptionally well.
The leftover old-timer had the surname Sun, his given unknown to all. In jianghu, he was known as Caned Sun, as his fighting weapon was the iron cane he held.
Ji Han had likely already guessed who they were. He inevitably became a bit nervous.
“That one is Hero Zhao Jiangui?” Caned Sun asked.
“It is,” Zhao Jiangui answered.
Shi Ge smacked his lips from the side. “I didn’t expect that the number-one swordsman would also look so sharp. It’s just a shame that you’re a bottom.”
He didn’t understand what those words meant at all.
Caned Sun gave a light cough. “Hero Zhao, you are not our target. Please leave at your convenience.”
Shi Ge sighed again, seemingly quite rueful. “I heard from the servants here that Hero Zhao’s body is not in a good state. He must not be able to move. Since you’re no rival to us, why not just throw this demon aside and run off yourself?”
It took a very long time for Ji Han and Zhao Jiangui to understand what he was talking about. Both of their faces went slightly red at the same time.
Shi Ge was surprised, on his end. “So, what they said was actually true…”
“Shut up! Stop talking!” Xu Jingying scolded.
Ji Han didn’t want to talk to them anymore, either. He gave the Elder Maid a look, and she grabbed Zhao Jiangui, withdrawing to the side.
The latter was confused. “What are…”
She drew a flexible sword out of her belt; obviously, she had a bit of martial arts to her. “You’re out of sorts, Don Zhao. Please don’t force yourself.”
He wasn’t out of sorts in any capacity!
“Please have faith in the Creed Lord!” she went on, completely earnest.