Chapter 91: Lodging a Complaint
“Feel free to try.”
The entrance of the building fell silent for a moment.
After a while, He Yan suddenly snapped out of it and shouted loudly, “Uncle!”
Is this guy her uncle? Sun Ling assessed the young man in front of him. Seeing his handsome appearance and elegant demeanor, he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. With a large birthmark on his face, he knew he was ugly, and he despised good-looking people even more. He had countless concubines at home and often defiled innocent women outside, not just because of lust, but also because he couldn’t stand seeing others possess what he didn’t have. He wanted to destroy what he couldn’t have.
The man in front of him was exceptionally good-looking, not just in Liangzhou, but probably among the best in Da Wei as well.
“Uncle!” He Yan jumped up and ran behind Xiao Jue in a flash, revealing only her head as she pointed shiveringly at Sun Ling. “This person, he bullied me!”
She cried out in a tone of innocence, as if a child who had been bullied outside and had returned home to complain to her elders. Fei Nu, who was standing nearby, was speechless at the sight.
Xiao Jue’s body also stiffened. He endured his disgust and ignored the person tugging at his clothes from behind, focusing only on Sun Ling. “Is it you?”
Sun Ling’s heart skipped a beat.
This young man was incredibly good-looking. His expression was calm, but there was an indiscernible edge to it. Even his calm question sent shivers down one’s spine, inexplicably instilling fear.
He composed himself and looked at Xiao Jue, asking coldly, “It’s me. And who are you?”
Xiao Jue? Sun Ling was skeptical. He hadn’t seen Xiao Jue before. More than half a year ago, he heard that Xiao Jue brought new troops to Liangzhou to station at Liangzhou, but he hadn’t visited Liangzhou City much, let alone Sun’s house. Sun Ling had heard of Xiao Jue’s name, the renowned Youthful Killer General of Da Wei, known for his handsome appearance. The man before him was indeed handsome, but aside from that, how could he prove that he was Xiao Jue? Moreover… the Right Army Commander only had one guard with him when he went out? As the son of a county magistrate, Sun Ling always had a large entourage with him. What was going on with this nephew? Regardless, these people in front of him all seemed strange.
Sun Ling asked his servant in a low voice, “Have you heard of General Fengyun coming to the city recently?”
The servant shook his head, saying, “No.”
Upon hearing this, Sun Ling became even more suspicious. However, he was cunning by nature and didn’t want to jump to conclusions easily. So he looked at Xiao Jue with a sneer and said, “Since you claim to be Xiao Jue, do you have a jade plate as proof of your identity?”
Xiao Jue: “I don’t.”
“No jade plate?” Sun Ling became even more certain that these people were impostors. He thought about how he had almost been frightened by impostors just now, which made him angry. He looked at Xiao Jue and shouted, “I don’t care who you are, but you dared to privately abduct an official’s family member. This is a capital crime. Guards, arrest them!”
“What official’s family member?” He Yan popped her head out from behind Xiao Jue and shouted loudly, “That’s my personal servant! If you claim they’re your official wife, please provide evidence! Where’s her identification? You don’t even have an identification, yet you’re arbitrarily arresting people. Is there no law left?”
“Law?” Sun Ling sneered, “In Liangzhou, my Sun family is the law! Get them!”
A group of soldiers moved forward aggressively.
He Yan, now playing the role of Cheng Lisu, had no intention of getting involved physically. She screamed loudly, “Murder! The soldiers are killing people!”
The inn was full of other guests, and chaos erupted upon hearing her words. Even the dogs in the street started barking.
Xiao Jue said, “Fei Nu.”
The black-clad bodyguard immediately stood in front of Xiao Jue. He Yan took the opportunity to get a good look. She didn’t know if Fei Nu was part of the Nine Banner Battalion, but judging by his skills, he was on par with her former self in her previous life. If the Nine Banner Battalion had this level of talent, He Yan, as the young miss, was probably not qualified.
She watched intently, and even Xiao Jue’s clothes became slightly distorted from her pulling. She heard Xiao Jue softly scolding her, “Let go.”
“Oh.” He Yan snapped out of it and quickly let go of Xiao Jue’s sleeve. Seeing that she had wrinkled it, she tried to smooth it out and said, trying to please him, “Uncle, Brother Fei Nu has really impressive skills! Amazing!”
She didn’t need to think too hard to realize that her current self was probably similar to He Yunsheng’s conduct.
Xiao Jue ignored her.
The soldiers in the Liangzhou Magistrate Office were cut from the same cloth as Sun Ling, accustomed to being served with good food and wine all day long. They had developed a habit of eating without lifting a finger. When it came to capturing the weak and defenseless, they could manage, but when facing someone who could fight back, they were completely powerless.
Fei Nu single-handedly defeated them all.
Seeing this, Sun Ling took a step back and ordered his servant, “Go… go and bring everyone here!”
The servant turned to run, but before he could take a step, he was hit by a stone and his legs gave way, causing him to kneel.
He Yan discreetly discarded the stone in her hand. It was absolutely crucial not to let anyone signal for help. Although they could handle themselves in a fight, it was tiring, and Fei Nu needed rest.
Suddenly, there were no more available allies around. Sun Ling felt a mixture of anger and fear. He pointed at Xiao Jue and said, “You… dare to assault officials, is there no law left?”
“Didn’t you say that in Liangzhou, you are the law?” He Yan, feeling like she was taking advantage of her powerful protector, retorted from behind Xiao Jue, “This law of yours doesn’t seem impressive at all. It’s not even as good as people’s bodyguard’s fighting skills.”
Sun Ling drew a whip from his waist and was about to lash it at He Yan’s face. He Yan moved behind Xiao Jue, and in the next moment, Fei Nu had the whip in his grasp. He kicked Sun Ling, causing him to fall to the ground, and then he placed his foot on Sun Ling’s head, burying his face in the ground.
He Yan was astonished. Fei Nu didn’t say a word and was quite ruthless.
“Young Master, should I kill him?” Fei Nu asked.
“You… you dare to kill me… My father is the County Magistrate of Liangzhou,” Sun Ling struggled to speak as he was held down. He was both furious and terrified. However, at this point, he still didn’t believe that this man would actually kill him, so he issued a threat, “My father will never spare you! You will all die!”
“At such a young age, you shouldn’t curse others,” she said as she approached him and crouched down beside him. She looked at him and continued, “Besides, who doesn’t die eventually? Do you think you’re some kind of monster who never dies? Well, I truly admire you.”
Her lecturing tone, even more infuriating and humiliating than Fei Nu stepping on his own face, left Sun Ling speechless with anger.
He Yan had no sympathy for this man. In this world, she detested bullies the most, especially men who bullied women. Anyone with a shred of conscience wouldn’t do such things, only weak men would. To harm a lovely young girl like this, that man was nothing but a beast.
She intended to taunt Sun Ling a bit more when suddenly, there was a commotion downstairs, as if someone was leading a crowd upstairs. She had just stood up, and someone had already rushed to the door of the corridor and shouted, “My son!”
He Yan followed the voice and saw a man rushing up to Sun Ling, cradling his head anxiously, “My son! Are you injured anywhere?”
This was a middle-aged man who looked very similar to Sun Ling, with a similar black birthmark on his cheek. However, because he was older than Sun Ling, he had a vulgar and sordid demeanor despite his gorgeous attire, making him look out of place.
He Yan didn’t consider herself a shallow person who judged others solely by their appearance, but when she looked at this man, she couldn’t help but avert her gaze and then look at Xiao Jue’s face and waist. She felt much more comfortable from head to toe.
This was true beauty.
“Dad,” Sun Ling, seeing the man who had rushed to his side, pointed at He Yan and Xiao Jue, shouting with renewed vigor, “These two people impersonated imperial envoys, abducted my concubine, and injured my men. Dad, arrest them and make sure they have no place to bury themselves!”
“How dare you!” The man was instantly furious upon hearing this and pointed at He Yan and the others, “Come, seize them!”
“It turns out it’s County Magistrate Sun,” He Yan said with a smug smile. “Why waste time? Your people can’t beat us anyway. They’re just a bunch of good-for-nothings.”
Perhaps not expecting to encounter such a stubborn person, County Magistrate Sun was momentarily stunned and, when he regained his senses, he was furious. He ordered, “Capture them, regardless of life or death!”
Regardless of life or death? He Yan frowned. No wonder they say the Sun family father and son rule Liangzhou City with an iron fist. It seems that’s true; even high-ranking officials might not have this kind of authority, but they’re just throwing it around.
“Sun Xiangfu,” interrupted Xiao Jue, who looked at the man with a cold and sharp gaze. His voice was like a knife, cutting through the air, sharp and piercing. “Open your eyes wide and look carefully at who I am.”
When Sun Xiangfu received the message and rushed to the scene, he hadn’t had a chance to clearly understand what had happened. All he knew was that Sun Ling had led people to apprehend someone, but unexpectedly, they were the ones who were bullied. As a father supporting his son, especially in Liangzhou City, Sun Xiangfu didn’t think too much about it. When he arrived at the scene and saw the sorry state Sun Ling was in, he felt immense pity. In the dim light, he hadn’t taken a close look at Xiao Jue’s appearance, but now, upon hearing the words, he carefully raised his eyes to look.
As soon as he looked, he was stunned.
A moment later, Sun Xiangfu suddenly lifted the corner of his robe, knelt down, and pressed his head to the ground, his voice trembling with fear, “Subordinate… Subordinate didn’t know the Commander had arrived here. I’ve failed to welcome you from afar, and I beg the Commander for his forgiveness!”
The Commander? Sun Ling looked at his father with surprise.
Seeing that Sun Xiangfu had regained his senses and noticing his pitiful appearance, he probably wouldn’t cause much trouble. He Yan smiled and said, “County Magistrate Sun, what crimes are you asking for forgiveness for? When Young Master Sun came upstairs earlier, he wanted to abduct my servant, take my life, and make me suffer in front of my uncle. He was quite imposing then. But now you want us to forgive you? How could we dare?”
“Isn’t that right, Uncle?” She looked at Xiao Jue, confidently reporting the incident.
In this encounter, in addition to Xiao Jue, there was also his nephew, the young master of the Right Division Director. He was now claiming Xiao Jue as uncle, so he was undoubtedly Cheng Lisu. Unexpectedly, this disobedient son had clashed with both uncle and nephew. Sun Xiangfu felt indescribable bitterness in his heart.
He raised his hand and slapped Sun Ling’s face. Sun Ling was hit so hard that his head turned, and the force behind that slap was quite substantial, making a crisp sound that everyone could hear.
Sun Xiangfu knelt down and kept bowing his head while saying, “It’s my fault for not teaching my son properly. My son is foolish and couldn’t recognize the Commander and the Young Master. I offended an esteemed personage, and I hope that the Commander can forgive me. I will go back and educate my son properly.”
Seeing that Xiao Jue remained silent, Sun Xiangfu gritted his teeth and delivered another slap. Sun Ling was already injured, and his reaction was slower than before. He had been dumbstruck by the previous slap, and now he let out a miserable cry. However, Sun Xiangfu wouldn’t relent; he was doing this to impress Xiao Jue and hoped Xiao Jue would give him a way out. He kept hitting and scolding, “You unfilial son! I taught you etiquette, righteousness, integrity, and shame, and you’ve forgotten them all! How could you baselessly slander others? I know you admire Commander Xiao and thought someone was impersonating him, which led to your righteous indignation… But this is the real Commander Xiao. You’ve really messed things up!”
He Yan: “….” She observed with amazement. She thought that officials knew how to speak eloquently. Even in her previous life as a third-ranked military officer, she didn’t possess such persuasive eloquence. If she could speak so eloquently, she might have reached a higher rank and received noble titles.
After being repeatedly slapped dozens of times, Sun Ling’s cries had ceased. Sun Xiangfu saw this and couldn’t bear it anymore. Although he had many concubines, Sun Ling was his only son. He had done this for Xiao Jue to see, hoping that Xiao Jue would show some leniency. But this cold and ruthless Right Army Commander just watched without saying a word. If this continued, Sun Ling might be beaten to death.
Sun Xiangfu had no other choice. He released his grip and crawled to Xiao Jue, who had remained silent all along. He kept kowtowing and pleaded, “Commander, if I continue, my son will die. I beg you to spare him. Commander, if you must punish someone, punish me!”
For a moment, Sun Xiangfu kowtowed incessantly on the ground, while Sun Ling laid there with blood dripping from his mouth. It was somewhat pitiful. If she hadn’t known Sun Ling’s true nature from before, He Yan might have been moved by this display of fatherly love. After all, it was the son who had done wrong, so why was the father being punished?
However, Xiao Jue didn’t disappoint He Yan. Even though Sun Xiangfu had cracked his head open, there was no change in Xiao Jue’s expression.
When Sun Xiangfu felt he couldn’t hold on any longer, Xiao Jue finally spoke.
He said, “A son’s failure reflects on the father, Sun Xiangfu.” He lowered his head, looked down at Sun Xiangfu from a commanding position, and spoke calmly, “Have you forgotten how Zhao Nuo died?”
With these words, Sun Xiangfu’s sobbing abruptly stopped, and a chill ran down his spine.
How did Zhao Nuo die? Zhao Nuo was beheaded under the monument by the man before him. Who was Zhao Nuo? He was the eldest son of the current Minister of Revenue!
Why had he forgotten about this? When Zhao Nuo had met with misfortune, thanks to the influence of Lord Zhao, numerous high-ranking officials had come to plead for mercy. At that time, the sixteen-year-old Xiao Jue hadn’t even blinked his eyes and had carried out the execution. Even the emperor had been powerless to interfere.
This man was truly capable of taking decisive action. He could execute the son of the Minister of Revenue. Although he ruled and dominated Liangzhou, in the end, he was just a small county magistrate.
Sun Xiangfu was terrified, tears welled up in his eyes, and he tremblingly said, “Commander, please spare my life! I beg for your forgiveness!”
Sun Ling didn’t understand why his father was so afraid of Xiao Jue, but seeing his father’s reaction, he couldn’t help but feel alarmed.
Upstairs and downstairs, all the guests were shocked by this turn of events. They were delighted to see the father and son, who had always been wicked in Liangzhou, in such a sorry state.
It was unclear how much time had passed when Xiao Jue finally turned around and said, “You may get up.”
Sun Xiangfu, weakened almost to the point of fainting, looked at Xiao Jue and asked, “Commander?”
“If there’s a next time, I’ll be after his life,” Xiao Jue said.
Sun Xiangfu was overjoyed, and he kowtowed to Xiao Jue, saying, “Commander, you are magnanimous. Please rest assured that if there’s a next time, you won’t need to take action. I will personally take care of him!”
Xiao Jue turned and walked into the room, saying, “Take your people and leave immediately.”
“Commander… Aren’t you coming to our mansion?” Sun Xiangfu asked cautiously.
“No need. I have matters to attend to in Liangzhou. When Yuan Baozhen arrives, I will visit.”
Sun Xiangfu wanted to say more but restrained himself. Today’s incident had happened suddenly, and it wasn’t the right place to talk. It was better to take Sun Ling back first and have a doctor examine him. He followed Xiao Jue’s instructions and gave orders to his subordinates.
Sun Xiangfu acted swiftly. In less than the time it took for an incense stick to burn, his subordinates had withdrawn, and they had also cleaned up the mess caused by the commotion. The guests had scattered as well. The innkeeper, who hadn’t expected such a high-profile guest, looked at them with a mix of fear and awe in his eyes. He Yan patted his shoulder and said, “It’s okay, we’re all very friendly. You don’t need to be afraid. Your mung bean chess noodles are delicious. I want to eat them again tomorrow.”
The innkeeper, seeing this young man’s innocence, was relieved. After the innkeeper left, He Yan breathed a sigh of relief. But when she turned around and saw Xiao Jue’s back, her heart tensed again.
How should she explain this to the Commander?
Xiao Jue didn’t enter his own room but entered He Yan’s room. Fei Nu followed him. When He Yan walked into the room, she immediately saw Tao Tao cowering in the corner.
Tao Tao had probably been frightened just now and had hidden in the corner since Xiao Jue arrived, keeping her head down. He Yan walked over and gently patted her back, comforting her, “They’re gone now. Everything’s fine.”
He Yan’s gentle and soothing words made both Xiao Jue and Fei Nu unable to help but look at her. Seeing this, He Yan said, “Uncle—”
“You didn’t tell me,” he stared at He Yan and sneered, “that your fiancée came to Liangzhou to find you?”
Fiancée? He Yan thought for a moment and remembered that she had made up the story of a fiancée on the spot to avoid having the female physician, Shen Muxue, discover her true identity. She didn’t expect Xiao Jue to remember.
“Of course not, Uncle,” He Yan said seriously, “I am in Liangzhou City, and I saw Sun Ling forcibly taking away a commoner girl. I couldn’t stand by and intervened. Little did I know that this Sun Ling is so lawless in Liangzhou. He chased us into the inn, and I…” She smiled, trying to please him, “I inadvertently used your reputation for eliminating evil and helping the common people!”
Xiao Jue chuckled, “I don’t need such things.”
He Yan couldn’t continue the conversation in this direction.
She thought for a moment and decided to change her approach. “I was really scared just now. Luckily, Uncle, you arrived in time. If it weren’t for that, I don’t know how Sun Ling would have bullied me. Who knows, I might not have had the chance to see you again.”
“You’re my nephew,” Xiao Jue said leisurely, lifting his lips into a faint smile. “Who would dare to bully you?”
The words were comforting, but why did they sound so strange? He Yan thought. Well, since he already called himself her uncle, and she had taken some verbal advantage, she didn’t care if she took a little more. After all, it was only a verbal advantage, and it didn’t cost her anything.
“That being the case, Uncle, should we send this girl back home? Staying in Liangzhou, she will surely face retaliation from Sun Ling,” He Yan tentatively asked for his opinion.
“You handle it yourself.”
Truly heartless, He Yan thought to herself.
At this moment, the silent bookboy suddenly raised his head and looked at Xiao Jue, saying, “Second Young Master Xiao?”
Her voice, though hesitant, was not soft, and it sounded particularly clear in the quiet night. Xiao Jue looked at her and saw that she was a slightly dark-skinned youth with swollen eyes. Strangely, her voice had a delicate quality, which made him furrow his brows involuntarily.
Seeing his expression, the bookboy became even more frightened and blurted out, “I’m Song Taotao!”
So her surname wasn’t Tao; it was Song. He Yan thought to herself. Why did the name Song Taotao sound more familiar now? Moreover, did Song Taotao voluntarily call Xiao Jue, indicating that these two knew each other?
With these thoughts in mind, He Yan asked aloud, “Do you… know him?”
Song Taotao glanced at He Yan, her eyes showing a complex expression. She said, “Second Young Master Xiao… he’s the one I am engaged to.”
“What?!” He Yan exclaimed.
“…s uncle,” Song Taotao added.
He Yan let out a sigh of relief. She never heard of Xiao Jue’s engagement, so how could a fiancée suddenly appear? It turned out she referred to him as her uncle… as her uncle?!
She quickly came to her senses and looked at Xiao Jue, asking, “Um, Commander, how many nephews do you have?”
Xiao Jue’s gaze at her seemed to imply that he was looking at a fool.
He Yan immediately understood.
This was Cheng Lisu’s fiancée! Cheng Lisu had come from Shuo Jing to Liangzhou to escape marriage. It was a coincidence that his fiancée had the same idea, but she had been abducted to Liangzhou on the way and had been rescued by He Yan. What a twist of fate! Perhaps they were destined to be together!
No wonder when Sun Ling came earlier, He Yan had mentioned that she was Cheng Lisu, and Song Taotao was so shocked. It turned out she was startled by the news of her fiancé.
“Second Young Master Xiao,” Song Taotao looked very conflicted, “I… I don’t want to return to Shuo Jing for now. I heard that you are stationed in Liangzhou, can I stay with you in the garrison? I… I promise not to cause you any trouble!”
“Are you sure you want to go to Liangzhou Garrison?” Xiao Jue asked with a cold expression. “Your fiancé is here.”
Song Taotao’s expression stiffened, and He Yan felt she was on the verge of tears.
“Miss Song, you don’t like Young Master Cheng?” He Yan whispered, “I think he’s quite nice.” Cheng Lisu, apart from being a bit foolish, was actually a decent person. Sometimes he was a bit naive, but he had a good heart. His appearance was also quite handsome, and his family background didn’t need to be mentioned. He wasn’t someone who should be disliked so much.
“He doesn’t know anything,” the young girl spoke of Cheng Lisu with a hint of disdain. “He’s neither good at literature nor martial arts, and he’s not ambitious at all. I don’t like him at all. He can’t compare to you.”
He Yan was somewhat flattered. She had only spent half a day with Song Taotao, and she had received such high praise. It was truly a compliment.
Xiao Jue cast a sidelong glance at her and said to Song Taotao, “We’ll discuss this matter later. Rest for now, and I’ll have a doctor come tomorrow.”
Song Taotao nodded.
He Yan yawned, feeling tired. Because Song Taotao was a young lady, the innkeeper arranged a room for her, right next to He Yan’s and Xiao Jue’s. Fei Nu stayed with He Yan, and gave up his bed to He Yan, moving to a smaller couch for himself. He Yan was very grateful and even felt a bit guilty.
However, this guilt was quickly overshadowed by other matters.
The incident of saving Song Taotao tonight was truly a coincidence of fate. Even He Yan hadn’t expected that the young girl she had rescued at random would turn out to be Cheng Lisu’s fiancée. These two seemed to have childlike temperaments, escaping marriage at the drop of a hat and even ending up in Liangzhou, thousands of miles away. Fortunately, she had been spotted by He Yan today, or the consequences would have been unimaginable.
Sun Xiangfu seemed to be terrified of Xiao Jue, and it was understandable given Xiao Jue’s arrogant attitude. He Yan recognized that even during her most illustrious military career, when she held the highest position, she would never have spoken to colleagues or subordinates in such a condescending manner. In the end, it came down to differences in character.
No wonder Cheng Lisu had been molded into a “useless young master” who couldn’t do anything and remained unapologetic. With such a formidable uncle to back him up, he could walk unhindered in Da Wei, so what was the need for him to excel in both civil and martial skills? Tonight, with just a casual complaint, He Yan had made the county magistrate and his son in Liangzhou, who had always had the upper hand, kneel and apologize. This feeling of being protected was quite refreshing, and the taste was excellent.
He Yan couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of Cheng Lisu.
As for Song Taotao, there was no way she could stay alone in Liangzhou. It was likely that she needed people around her for safety. Who knew if the Sun family would seek revenge? The best course of action would be to send her back to her parents in Shuo Jing. With the Song family’s protection, it was undoubtedly the safest option. However, considering that Song Taotao had come all the way to Liangzhou to escape marriage, she might not be willing to return to Shuo Jing so easily. Moreover, finding someone to escort her back to Shuo Jing might not be straightforward.
In order to ensure Song Taotao’s safety, the only option for now was to keep her in Liangzhou Garrison. He Yan didn’t know what kind of expression Cheng Lisu would have when he saw Song Taotao. Would these two fight? If they did, there was a ready-made martial arts field available.
He Yan didn’t even know what she was thinking anymore. Her thoughts were all jumbled up into one question: Who is Song Taotao?
Why did this name sound so familiar? Several times, it was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t recall it no matter how hard she tried.
Fei Nu is a martial artist, so he didn’t make any sound when he slept, very quiet. He Yan has long been accustomed to the loud snores in the Liangzhou Garrison, so she couldn’t sleep for a while. She turned over, who would have thought that she would end up as someone’s nephew after joining the army? It’s really unbelievable.
Joining the army… joining the army!
In the darkness, He Yan suddenly sat up.
She remembered who Song Taotao was.
In fact, He Yan had her first big argument with He Yuansheng, and then she joined the Fuyue Army under the covers of the night, all because of this Miss Song.