The Emperor’s Strategy

Qing Yao

Chapter 8

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Scene 8: Let's Be Friends 

 

   It's the seventh day of the seventh month, lanterns were lit all over the streets, the night markets were bustling. Su Li Li pulled Mu Tou out to walk on the streets. The streets were overflowing with people, there were big red lanterns, orangey-yellow lanterns, light purple lanterns, green lanterns, the bright colours chased away some of the worries of the people. 

 

  Mu Tou was like a block of wood that could walk, he silently followed Su Li Li on the streets. Su Li Li just let him be, looking at the interesting things at the stalls, sometimes taking an accessory and comparing it with his figure. After walking a long stretch, Su Li Li faced the night wind and let out a deep sigh, she laughed, "I haven't walked outside for a long time, it turned out to be rather special. I remember that along the river there is a Fu Gui building that sells very nice milk pudding, suddenly I feel like eating it."

 

  Mu Tou looked at her smile, his golden mouth finally spit out a jade phrase, "Let's go."

 

  In the middle of the capital, there is a lake that encircles the whole city. It was said that this lake was constructed based on fengshui, it is a sacred lake that protects the royal family's dragon pulse. Su Li Li followed the river, there started to be less people walking around, but far away on a bridge, there were three people. 

 

  Since she was in the dark and they were in the light, she did not put them to heart, under the light of the lanterns, she suddenly realised that the middle person looked like that person whose surname was "Qi". Her heart was suddenly shocked. She pulled Mu Tou far away to avoid them, backtracking in another alley, they finally reached Fu Gui building. 

 

  There were many customers tonight, Su Li Li immediately went up to the second storey, there was only one empty table left next to the window. She pulled Mu Tou to sit down with her, she could not help looking out of the window, but the three people at the small bridge were no longer there. She lightly let out a breath of air, why did Qi Feng Xiang come to the capital again, she could only hoped she saw wrongly.

 

  She drank a mouthful of hot tea, looked at the menu and ordered some dishes, just as she was ruminating on which wine to order, she received confirmation that her eyesight was excellent, she truly did not see wrongly.

 

  The three people were walking up to the second storey, they had garnered everyone's attention. Qi Feng Xiang wore a brocade robe which had threads of gold, although it was not ostentatious, the details were clearly grand. At his waist held a small jade pendant, his hair was tied up, he wore high boots, he did not have his usual philandering att.i.tude, but seemed liked a hero who was traveling. Bright and strong eyebrows, with such robes, he appeared like he was equally at ease with the pen as he was with the sword. There were two people next to him, one in complete black, he looked powerful even if he wasn't angry, Su Li Li felt that it was like the whole world owe him money; the other person wore a long robe and wide sleeves, he seemed a bit weak, and had a scholarly air. Compared to these three people, the rest of the shop customers were like the light from the firefly under the bright moon, there was no comparison.

 

  Qi Feng Xiang's gaze sharply swept across, he met Su Li Li's eyes, Su Li Li did not hide her head on the table in time, she dazedly stared, and let out a wordless sigh. Qi Feng Xiang was slightly surprised, then broke into a smile, he told the shopowner, "Isn't there an empty s.p.a.ce there?" He raised his arm and pointed at Su Li Li's table.

 

  Su Li Li quickly decided, she told Mu Tou, "You should go away to avoid this first. I will chase him away, then we can drink wine and eat food."

 

  Mu Tou looked at Qi Feng Xiang, his brows lightly furrowed together. Qi Feng Xiang's group of three had already walked over, the shopowner smiled and said, "Customer, this table can fit six people, is it ok if you share it with the other three gentlemen?"

 

  Su Li Li smiled as if she wasn't smiling and said, "Sure, why not?"

 

  Qi Feng Xiang sat on the stools brought over by the shopowner, as he was about to speak, Mu Tou suddenly said, " The treats we ordered at the end of the street should be ready, I shall go and collect them now." He flicked his robes, stood up and walked away.

 

  Qi Feng Xiang silently watched as he headed down the stairs, he slowly returned his head and smiled, "The moon shifts the shadow of the flowers move, as if an old friend has returned. Su Li Li, we meet again.*" 

 

  Su Li Li's heart thought, everytime we meet must you cite a poem? Looking at his expression as if he was in the midst of ten thousand flowers, but not a single leaf would stain his robes, her heart did not feel comfortable, she replied, "Yes, what a collision."

 

  "Su Li Li, you don't sound happy to see me?" Qi Feng Xiang said.

 

  Su Li Li earnestly said, "Gentleman Qi, the saying is right, one is not afraid of being robbed by a thief, only afraid that the thief will remember me."

 

  The white-faced scholar broke into a laugh, Mr Owe Money glared at her with a black face.

 

  Qi Feng Xiang broke into laughter, his att.i.tude was very gentle, he said, "I'm a thief that does not steal, only remember. Miss still remembers that my surname is "Qi", so you must remember me too."

 

  Su Li Li drank from her cup, she lightly smiled, "Not necessarily."

 

  Qi Feng Xiang pa.s.sed the menu over, "Since I've interrupted your pleasure, let me treat you a meal today."

 

  "I have already ordered, you can order your share," Su Li Li replied lazily.

 

  Qi Feng Xiang also did not look at the menu, he just asked the shop to bring out all their famous dishes. Su Li Li shamelessly laid down on the table, she heard Mr Owe Money said, "Brother Qi, so let's confirm the matter we discussed, the latest will be ten months."

 

  Qi Feng Xiang looked at Su Li Li, he said in a deep voice, "No hurry, I have not found a person who can go."

 

  Mr Owe Money appeared very impatient, "I can go, why find someone else."

 

  Qi Feng Xiang said firmly, "You can't, without full confidence, we cannot lightly act."

 

  Mr Owe Money appeared to want to dispute this but the white-faced scholar interrupted, "Brother Qi is not saying your martial arts is not good enough, but you don't need a butcher's knife to kill a chicken. You are not a small thief nor an a.s.sa.s.sin, why lower yourself that way." He suddenly turned to Su Li Li and asked, "Don't you agree?"

 

  Su Li Li lifted up her head and yawned, she did not have the proper behaviour of a lady at all, she roughly nodded her head, "Yes yes, why not." Mr Owe Money gave her a look of disdain, Qi Feng Xiang suddenly opened his mouth, "Who was the person who sat next to you just now?"

  

  "My... my friend, Mo Da from the tailor shop next door." Su Li Li quickly lied, she was afraid Mu Tou's ident.i.ty wasn't good and people will find trouble with him. Since Mo Da had left the city and the tailor shop had closed, it should be fine. 

 

  Qi Feng Xiang no longer asked, only examining the menu, as if he was studying the relationships of the dishes. In a moment, the shop owner returned and said the dishes were about ready, should they serve it now. 

 

  Su Li Li waved her hand and said, "No no no, my friend has not returned." 

 

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  Qi Feng Xiang also nodded, "Then let's wait." 

  Su Li Li spoke even more earnestly, "Since your friends have left, you won't be able to eat happily, since my friend has not returned, I also cannot eat happily. Why don't you go to Ming Yue Brothel and find a girl or guy?" 

 

  Qi Feng Xiang was not angry when he heard this, he appeared to give it serious thought then replied sincerely, "I do not like guys, only girls."

 

  Su Li Li almost spat out her tea, she looked left and right, seeing that no one had noticed them, she finally turned back and glared at him.

 

  Qi Feng Xiang continued, "Since both of our friends are not here, why don't we become friends, eating and admiring the scenery together will be a good thing."

 

  Su Li Li quickly replied, "Good good. Since Gentleman Qi wants to be my friend, then please with a friend's heart, do me a favour. I really do not want to eat with you, since I had come to the table first, you had better go. The green mountains will not change, the rivers will continue to flow, we shall meet again."

 

  After she spoke finished she saw his expression darkened, Su Li Li quickly said, "Since you just said we are friends, you cannot be angry, treat it like you are helping a friend."

 

  Qi Feng Xiang was rendered speechless by Su Li Li's shamelessness and weird logic, he finally laughed, "Fine, I shall help you this time, since we are friends, we can catch up next time." After he finished, he stood up and left.

 

  Su Li Li quickly cried, "Gentleman Qi."

 

  "Yes?" He turned back.

 

  "That... just now.... you said you would treat..." Su Li Li shamelessly smiled.

 

  The veins jumped out of Qi Feng Xiang's forehead, he was silent for a moment, then he took out big note, and placed it on the table, his smile was a bit forced, "I will get the change from you next time."

 

  Su Li Li was not worried about having debts, since you have targeted me, I will not fear you cannot find me, she comfortably accepted it, said "walk slowly", and cried to the shopowner, "Bring out the dishes". 

 

 

  After Qi Feng Xiang walked out of the Fu Gui building, he suddenly found it hilarious, he was cheated by a shameless young girl, and even chased out with dust on his face. He turned to the right and felt a wintry atmosphere being pressed upon him. Mu Tou was standing on the street, his gaze like the winter stars, his brows like knife blades, coldly looking at him.

 

  The night wind blew up his sleeves and they billowed with the wind. 

 

  Qi Feng Xiang stood to face him with his hands behind his back. After half a moment, his narrow eyes started to lift up, he spoke in a low voice and smiled, "Jiang Qiu Di, you aren't dead yet?"

 

*Su Li Li, we meet again. Somehow, that line just stayed with me. 

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