C103 – Investigation
Inside the imperial palace.
“Brother, did I hear you correctly?” Lou Jing asked Lou Feng in disbelief. “You’re saying that the person Zheng Xuan is searching for is Mo Yi?”
Lou Feng nodded and replied, “Indeed, Mo Yi appears to be the most suspicious candidate so far.”
“But how is that even possible?” Lou Jing’s expression grew grim.
Lou Feng explained thoughtfully, “According to information from our sources, Xu Zihan has a brother named Xu Ziyu, who is an illegitimate child. These two siblings share a striking resemblance. When the Hidden Dragon Secret Realm opened several years ago, the Xu Family was concerned about Xu Zihan’s safety inside, so they had Xu Ziyu assume his identity and enter the secret realm.”
“Shortly after Xu Ziyu emerged from the secret realm, he arranged for those who were privy to this to be silenced by the Xu Family. This happened about three years ago.”
Lou Jing squinted her eyes and questioned, “But did Zheng Xuan also venture into the Hidden Dragon Secret Realm at that time? I can’t find any record of his presence there!”
Lou Feng narrowed his gaze and remarked, “Zheng Xuan’s talents were originally unremarkable, but the internal politics of the Zheng Family’s branch took an unexpected turn shortly after the Secret Realm closed. Zheng Xuan’s abilities suddenly improved, indicating that he, too, participated in the secret realm adventure but under a different identity.”
Lou Jing shook her head disapprovingly. “The Xu Family really underestimated Zheng Xuan’s intelligence to such an extent.”
Lou Feng agreed, “Indeed, Zheng Xuan’s gullibility played a part in him being deceived for three years.”
“Even so, why would it be Mo Yi?” Lou Jing clenched her teeth.
Lou Feng explained, “There isn’t concrete evidence yet. However, three years ago, shortly after Zheng Xuan joined the Zheng Family, someone sent by Xiao Mei attempted to assassinate Xu Ziyu. Interestingly, the place where Xu Ziyu vanished isn’t far from the Mo Family’s vicinity.”
“Not long after Xu Ziyu’s disappearance, Mo Yi suddenly emerged. Mo Yi’s background is enigmatic, as if he materialized out of thin air.”
Lou Jing’s countenance darkened. “Such a coincidence is hard to believe. Setting aside the wife our parents chose for Lou Yu, I refuse to accept that someone as close to Zheng Xuan as his attendant has such a connection.”
Lou Feng shook his head in agreement. “You think I want to believe it?”
His original intention had been to identify the person Zheng Xuan held genuine affections for and win them over. However, if that person turned out to be Mo Yi, the task would prove exceedingly challenging.
Lou Jing displayed a displeased expression, a clear indication of her reluctance.
“A Feng, how certain are you that Mo Yi is the one Zheng Xuan is searching for?” Lin Feiyu, who had remained quiet until now, inquired.
“I’d say about 60% certain,” responded Lou Feng.
“Well, that makes it somewhat less likely,” Lou Jing breathed a sigh of relief.
Lin Feiyu calmly suggested, “Actually, there’s a straightforward way to confirm it.”
“What’s that?” Lou Jing asked, intrigued by Lin Feiyu’s proposal.
“A bloodline test. Isn’t Xu Ziyu supposedly Xu Qing’s illegitimate child?” Lin Feiyu stated matter-of-factly.
Lou Feng nodded. At this moment, his primary concern was verifying whether Mo Yi was indeed the person they sought. If it proved true, he needed to make preparations. If not, he might have to resort to more drastic measures.
The Xu Family’s residence.
Xu Zihan picked at his unappetizing meal, his eyes welling up with tears.
Frustration surged within Xu Zihan as he reflected, “All the household staff are opportunists.” Seeing that Zheng Xuan was ignoring him, Xu Qing had also turned a blind eye. “How could they serve him such meager and spoiled food?”
Yet, despite his complaints, no one paid him any attention, and no better food was brought to him. Xu Zihan had gone hungry for an entire day, and the quality of his meal remained unchanged on the second day.
Starving, Xu Zihan reluctantly ate what was provided. He had grown accustomed to plain fare and felt on the verge of tears.
Seated at the edge of the bed, Xiao Mei’s disheveled hair and bloodshot eyes were indicative of her anger. She continued to curse Xu Qing for his cruelty.
Xu Zihan set aside his chopsticks and stretched his weary limbs. Catching a whiff of his own perspiration, he called out to the person beyond the door, “Someone, please! I’m in need of a bath.”
The individual outside the door glanced at Xu Zihan and replied, “Master, please understand that everyone in the household is occupied. Finding time for your bath is challenging.”
Xu Zihan scowled at the person outside the door, his tone darkening, “What do you mean? Be cautious, or I might just pinch you senseless.”
The attendant outside the door chuckled, seemingly unfazed by Xu Zihan’s words. “Young Master, times have changed.”
A slender young woman approached, a sardonic grin on her face as she addressed Xu Zihan, “Zi Han! The scandal of you being jilted by Zheng Xuan has already caused quite a stir. So, cease your antics. What’s the use of bathing? Your filth is not just on the surface; you can’t wash away your inner dirt.” The woman in question was Yin Lin, a concubine from his father’s side, whose child Xu Zihan had secretly harmed.
Xu Zihan clenched his teeth, his gaze burning with rage as he confronted the woman before him. “I should have killed you,” he muttered, having once seen her as a meek and fawning individual who sought his favor through obeisance. Little did he anticipate this transformation into a defiant adversary.
Yin Lin smiled with coldness in her eyes and retorted, “What a missed opportunity! But you didn’t.” She glared at Xu Zihan with intense animosity.
Su Rong entered Lou Yu’s information center with a palpitation in his heart. The head of the center personally received him.
“Young Master Su, what brings you here?” inquired the minister courteously.
Su Rong hesitated briefly before stating, “I have something I wish to investigate.”
“What information would you like to inquire about, Young Master Su? I’ll initiate the search right away,” promptly responded the Information Minister.
“I want to know if anyone resembling Xu Zihan had been inside the Hidden Dragon Secret Realm. What was their code name?” Su Rong inquired, his nerves evident.
The Information Minister swiftly accessed the records and reported, “Based on historical data, Xu Zihan had ventured into the secret realm under the alias ‘Xiao Qi.'”
Su Rong bit his lip, his voice trembling slightly as he asked, “I see. What was Yin Feiquan’s code name?”
The Information Minister checked hastily and replied, “It was ‘Fourteen.'”
Su Rong shut his eyes, recalling how Mo Yi had uttered ‘Fourteenth’ in her sleep.
Holding his forehead, Su Rong contemplated the possibility that Zheng Xuan’s claims might hold truth. He and Mo Yi may have already committed to spending their lives together.
Concerned, the Information Minister inquired, “Young Master Su, are you feeling well?”
Su Rong shook his head and reassured, “Don’t worry, I’ll manage.”
Su Rong closed his eyes, his initial belief that, with Yin Feiquan’s demise, he’d have a chance with the person he desired, now challenged. It appeared that the individual who had entered the secret realm back then was not Yin Feiquan but Zheng Xuan.
Su Rong couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of frustration. Why did it have to be Zheng Xuan?
Inside the Third Prince Mansion.
Mo Yi leisurely sipped his wine.
Su Rong approached Mo Yi with a complex expression and settled beside him. “Yiyi, why are you drinking again?”
Mo Yi’s slender fingers clutched the wine glass as he slurred, “Let’s drink it together. Wine can be a remedy for all our worries once we’re intoxicated.”
Su Rong managed a bitter smile and replied, “Is that so? Well then, I’ll join you.”
Su Rong opened a bottle and downed its contents. The fiery liquor coursed through him, emboldening his spirit.
“Yiyi, what’s been bothering you?” Su Rong inquired lightly.
The dark red wine swirled slightly in the glass. Mo Yi leaned back on the sofa, his words tinged with confusion. “I used to think the worst-case scenario was his death, but now I see that his life was actually quite miserable.”
Su Rong forced another smile and took a hefty swig of wine. “It’s truly unfortunate, especially if it’s Yin Feiquan.”
Mo Yi gazed at Su Rong with a puzzled expression. “Rong Rong, is something troubling you?”
Su Rong appeared resolute, his voice quivering with hope as he asked, “Yiyi, if he turns out to be as awful as we suspect, would you consider me?”
Mo Yi was taken aback, looking at Su Rong in astonishment.
Su Rong pressed his lips together, maintaining eye contact with Mo Yi.
Mo Yi’s heart raced as he met Su Rong’s intense gaze. “Me?”
Su Rong nodded and said, “Yes, Yiyi. If you become disillusioned with him, could you give me a chance?”
A sense of disarray overcame Mo Yi, and the effects of alcohol had begun to dissipate. “Su Rong, I apologize.”
Su Rong forced a wry smile and conjured a bright one. “I was just teasing you.”
Mo Yi found himself at a loss for words and resorted to drinking more wine.
When Mo Yi and Su Rong left the practice room, they were both thoroughly intoxicated.
Mo Fei approached and stooped down to lift Mo Yi from the ground.
The moment Mo Fei’s hand made contact with Mo Yi, Mo Yi shouted, “Get lost!”
Mo Fei was momentarily taken aback and gazed at Mo Yi in confusion. Then, he heard Mo Yi speak vehemently, “Don’t touch me. Your status doesn’t impress me. I don’t care who you are.”
Mo Fei sighed in resignation and picked up Mo Yi. They were standing so close that Lou Yu, observing from upstairs, felt like they were engaged in a kiss.
Lou Yu hurried downstairs and inquired cautiously, “Mo Fei, what are you doing?”
Mo Fei blinked, “One at a time, he’s had a bit too much to drink. I’ll help him upstairs!”
Lou Yu blushed and stammered, “I saw you two kissing.”
Mo Fei shrugged it off and remarked, “We’ve been there, done that. Do you still want to kiss?”
Lou Yu’s face turned crimson instantly. He wanted to say something but couldn’t find the words, his embarrassment evident.
Mo Fei grinned mischievously at Lou Yu and boasted, “Just kidding.”
Lou Yu fixed a stern gaze on Mo Fei and, while supporting Mo Yi, said, “Let me handle it. Mo Yi is quite heavy, actually.”
Mo Yi was led away by Lou Yu and vomited directly in Lou Yu’s face without uttering a word. Mo Yi paused briefly in his vomiting before resuming in Lou Yu’s direction for a second round.
A strange odor clung to Lou Yu after being spat upon by Mo Yi. Disgusted, Mo Yi distanced himself from Lou Yu, while Mo Fei quickly offered support from behind.
Shaking his head ruefully, Mo Fei said with a regretful expression, “It’s because of you that he wanted to seek revenge. Can’t you see that? Watch what you say! Words have consequences.”
Mo Fei silently thought, “That was a close call. Thank goodness Lou Yu pulled Mo Yi away; otherwise, they’d both have ended up vomiting on him.”
Lou Yu cast a helpless glance at Mo Fei. “You have no sympathy for me at all.”
Mo Fei shrugged, “Why should I feel sorry for you? You brought it upon yourself.”
Lou Yu shot Mo Fei a fierce look.
Mo Fei pinched his nose with one hand while supporting Mo Yi with the other, saying, “Go wash up quickly. Every time you see him, he throws up. I wonder if you…”
Mo Fei glanced at Lou Yu’s somber expression and wisely decided to keep quiet.
Lou Yu’s gaze shifted to Su Rong, lying on the sofa, and his expression became complex. With a rival like Zheng Xuan, Su Rong’s future path seemed fraught with difficulties!