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No matter how dangerous the situation became, Chen Changsheng remained indifferent and continued to practice the sword in the Li Palace. Xu Yourong also remained occupied with her own business within the Divine General's estate.
When the thousand swords finally returned to the Vault Sheath, Linghai Zhiwang and the other Prefects could no longer restrain themselves and entered the stone room.
Hu Thirty-Two said with a sour face, "Your Holiness, you and the Holy Maiden are endowed with the pearls of wisdom and have plans at ready, but we know nothing, so how can we coordinate?"
Chen Changsheng looked at them and sincerely said, "I really do not know what she wants to do."
Hu Thirty-Two was struck dumb by these words while Linghai Zhiwang and Daoist Siyuan appeared rather gloomy.
This answer had truly caught them by surprise. They instantly felt the pressure on their shoulders increase.
Seeing their expressions, Chen Changsheng knew that he finally had to give an explanation. Helplessly sighing, he said, "I'll go and ask."
It was early spring and the weather was warming, so appetite for Fortune Peace Road's stewed beef ribs was rather lacking. The stores near the entrance of the alley had already been renovated for a switch to steamed prawns. The stores that still persisted were rather empty, but perhaps because of the Yellow Paper Umbrella, no one noticed the young man and woman by the table.
A puff of steam would occasionally leak out from under the heavy lid over the boiling metal pot, from which one could imagine the pressure within.
Chen Changsheng's gaze pierced through the steam and onto Xu Yourong's beautiful face. He hesitated to speak.
Xu Yourong said, "Ask whatever you want to ask. Am I that scary?"
Chen Changsheng said, "I hear that the Old Lady of the Mutuo clan and the head of the Wu clan are both very afraid of you."
Xu Yourong ignored this comment. She turned to the owner and yelled, "Please bring a jar of Pear Blossom White."
Chen Changsheng gazed at her and said, "Gou Hanshi said that before you left for South Stream Temple, you invited the Mutuo clan's Old Lady and the head of the Wu clan to that village to play mahjong?"
Xu Yourong took a cup of hot tea and rinsed his cup and chopsticks, saying, "It's a custom of the south to do this before eating, although I don't think it does anything."
Chen Changsheng asked, "Just what happened in that mahjong game?"
Xu Yourong had failed to change the subject, so she gave him a rather bored glance and said, "We didn't even sit there for an entire hour. What could have happened?"
She had been in a rush to head to White Emperor City back then, so she truly had not had much time, but it had been enough for her to win all the chips she needed.
Chen Changsheng recalled the mahjong table in the old estate of the Wenshui Tang clan and those comments from the Tang Old Master, becoming even more interested.
Xu Yourong said, "Shuang'er managed to get a few fish from the river's first thaw today, so I have to go back."
These words were both a prompting and warning: 'since you've finally come to ask me, please ask about the most important thing.'
Chen Changsheng said, "I originally didn't want to ask because I was afraid I would hear a bad answer."
This was one of the important reasons he had remained in the Li Palace these past few days, practicing the sword and meeting with no one.
The restaurant owner brought over a jar of Pear Blossom White wine and also removed the lid of the pot. After throwing ten-some small, snow-white bread rolls inside, he declared, "You can eat now."
Xu Yourong took up a wooden ladle and vigorously stirred the beef ribs twice, then gestured to Chen Changsheng for him to go first.
Chen Changsheng looked at the oily beef ribs and the bread rolls soaked in broth, somewhat at a loss as to where to begin.
The first time he had eaten beef ribs, he had been too excited, so he had been very focused when eating.
Now, he realized that though it was very delicious, it was also very unhealthy.
"At times, we don't need to think about things in too complicated a fashion."
Xu Yourong used a pair of long chopsticks to take up a piece of food that was five parts bone, three parts meat, and two parts tendon, and placed it in his bowl.
There were naturally two meanings behind these words.
Chen Changsheng looked at her and sincerely asked, "Is it really that simple?"
Xu Yourong seemed to be eating the meat on the ribs in a very refined manner, but her speed was quite astonishing.
A complete and cleanly picked bone clattered onto her plate.
It was like an official concluding a case, or a storyteller beginning their story.
Xu Yourong continued her assault on the food in the pot as she casually said, "That's right, this is just to force Shang Xingzhou to return to the capital."
After a brief pause, Chen Changsheng asked, "Why?"
Xu Yourong raised her head, looked him in the eyes, and earnestly said, "Because he is not willing to meet you."
As spring warmed the air outside and the fires of the stove blazed, it became rather hot in the restaurant, but Chen Changsheng felt a comforting warmth in his body.
"Don't get angry about these things."
He said to Xu Yourong, "He's not willing to meet me perhaps because he doesn't dare to meet me."
"You said this when you were facing Eunuch Lin in the Orthodox Academy, and when you faced Shang Xingzhou later on, you said the same thing."
Xu Yourong said, "Even if this is the case, I'm still not happy."
Chen Changsheng was startled as he asked, "Why?"
Xu Yourong said, "He doesn't dare to meet you because he feels guilty, and he feels guilty because he treated you poorly, and even now, he has not thought about resolving this problem."
Yes, that Shang Xingzhou had no intention of resolving this problem was the most troublesome problem in her eyes.
After White Emperor City, although Chen Changsheng and Shang Xingzhou still treated each other as strangers, their relationship had actually improved somewhat.
Shang Xingzhou had given his tacit approval for Chen Changsheng's return to the capital and done nothing to stop him, but this was still far from enough.
He was like a massive and invisible sword hanging over Chen Changsheng's head. Whenever he was in the mood, it could drop at any time.
"If he wants to kill you, he'll kill you, and if he wants to treat you well, he'll treat you well?"
Xu Yourong raised the wine cup to her lips and drained it, her expression unchanging as she declared, "Based on what?"
Chen Changsheng looked hesitantly at the wine cup.
Although Pear Blossom White looked clear and cool, it actually had a biting taste and was extremely strong.
In the end, he still took a light sip, his eyes slightly reddening as he said, "He's still my master."
Seeing his appearance, Xu Yourong felt rather angry. "But I'm your fiancée."
Chen Changsheng looked at her in a daze, somewhat unable to connect the two sentences.
Xu Yourong took the cup from his hand and finished off the rest of the wine.
"Only one person can treat you so freely, and that's me. No one else is allowed, not Shang Xingzhou and not your senior brother."
Chen Changsheng felt that this wine was truly very fierce, or else why would just a small sip make his entire body feel so hot?
He was also worried over whether Xu Yourong's drinking so quickly might make her intoxicated. He quickly took a bread roll that had not been too soaked by the broth and placed it in her bowl, indicating that she should quickly eat.
Xu Yourong felt thoroughly uninterested, but she still lowered her head and ate the bread roll.
As the steam rising from the pot gradually cleared up, the scenes within the restaurant became clearer and clearer. Chen Changsheng looked at her face, feeling very calm. He asked no more questions.
He didn't ask about what would happen once his master was forced to return to the capital, nor did he ask why she was so sure his master would move according to her expectations.
But everyone's eyes contained their thoughts at the moment, and the cleaner one's eyes were, the more obvious their thoughts.
Xu Yourong raised her head and looked into his eyes, and this was enough to know what he was thinking, what he was worried about.
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