His highness's Allure - Chap 165
Li Wu came out of the city gates himself to receive them, and had even brought a few other Anli officials along.
In front of everyone, Pei Zheng was wearing a rather ugly expression. He held Qi Changyi’s hand the entire way as he walked through the city gates with a cold face.
Li Wu arranged for them to stay in incredibly luxurious living quarters, and even mentioned hosting a welcoming dinner for Lord Pei, and organizing a banquet.
After everyone left, Qi Changyi sat down on a stool. It seemed that he was fuming over something.
“What are you so mad about?” Pei Zheng pinched his puffed cheek, “Who provoked you? Hm? I’ll deal with them for you.”
Qi Changyi looked up at Pei Zheng.
“You. You’re the one who provoked me.”
Pei Zheng found this to be quite funny. He sat down beside him. With a swing of his leg, he caught Qi Changyi’s stool and pulled it in front of him.
“I was wrong, I apologize. Don’t be angry, okay?”
Pei Zheng did not actually know what he had done wrong, but he immediately admitted to his wrongdoings. And there was nothing wrong with his pleasant attitude.
Qi Changyi lifted his little face, “Then tell me, what did you do wrong?”
Pei Zheng leaned a little closer and lowered his voice, “Whatever my sweetheart says I did wrong is what I did wrong.”
He leaned even closer, his lips on the verge of touching the small man’s.
A finger pressed against his lips, and the corners of Qi Changyi’s eyes reddened slightly.
“That Lord Li doesn’t want to help those people outside, and he lied, yet you still trust him, and you’re even going to his banquet. I’m not going, I don’t like him, I’m not going to the banquet, you can go by yourself.”
After he finished, Qi Changyi lifted his stool and was about to sit on another side, but Pei Zheng pinned the stool in place.
So that was what he was angry at him about.
Pei Zheng smiled. If even the small man could notice these kinds of things, how could he not?
It was just that the situation at hand was very unstable; Anli was far away the Emperor, and it appeared as though all the officials and dignitaries in the city had already twisted themselves into ropes, trying to establish themselves in this tumultuous world.
Since Li Wu dared to arrange a banquet, naturally, Pei Zheng would dare to attend. Perhaps, this would not be as simple as showing up at a mere banquet.
It would be a bit troublesome to explain all of this to Qi Changyi, but Pei Zheng still spent a long while patiently explaining it to him.
In the end, Qi Changyi seemed to have a better understanding of the situation. He grabbed Pei Zheng’s cuff, and looked into his eyes as he asked, “Really? You really can help the people outside the city? You’re really not lying?”
Pei Zheng stroked his hair, “Really. I told you that I would never lie to you again.”
Qi Changyi mulled it over for a bit, before he nodded, “All right then, I’ll go to the banquet with you.”
When evening came, several guards came to escort Pei Zheng and Qi Changyi to where the banquet was being held. Cheng Feng followed behind them.
They arrived outside of the banquet hall. This was an even more luxurious space; several elegant, ancient buildings were connected. Torchlight shone brightly, and one could faintly hear the plucking of a stringed instrument coming from inside.
Nothing was war-torn or broken by battle; this was just a fake, ostentatious show of extravagance.
After the group climbed up the staircase of the ancient building, several officials happened to be coming from the other side. They had all brought their families, and were dressed in their best; it was though they had come to attend a grand wedding ceremony.
That group of people walked through the entrance and were stopped by guards. They were only allowed to enter after they were searched to ensure that they were not carrying any weapons.
Pei Zheng and the others also walked to the entrance, and the hubbub from inside reached their ears. It was so noisy that it made one’s head hurt; Qi Changyi’s brow creased slightly, and he looked reluctant to go inside, so Pei Zheng gently squeezed his little hand.
The guards also stopped the two of them, and were about to search their bodies.
When one of the guards reached out to grab Qi Changyi’s shoulder, Qi Changyi shrank behind Pei Zheng in fright.
Pei Zheng did not even have to move; from behind, Cheng Feng blocked that guard’s advances with his scabbard.
“Master, you two can go in first. This subordinate will be there in a moment.”
Pei Zheng said airily, “Don’t make too much noise”, before he led Qi Changyi by the hand and walked through the entrance.
The moment they stepped through the door, Li Wu immediately came to welcome them.
“Lord Pei, you’re here, forgive me for the lack of reception. Lord Pei personally coming to my little city really terrified this lower official.
Pei Zheng smiled, “Lord Li, you don’t look terrified to me. You seem to be enjoying yourself here.”
Li Wu laughed dryly.
Beside him, a bold official had not even stood up. He remained seated, and said enigmatically, “Lord Pei, you’ve come from afar, so you should adapt to this environment1. Since you’ve come to our city, all visitors are guests. If the reception is inadequate in any way, please don’t be shocked, Lord Pei. After all, this isn’t a very good time. It’s difficult for everyone to protect themselves, so how can we be in the mood to care for any guests?”
Li Wu’s expression immediately changed, “Hahaha, Lord Pei, Master Sun doesn’t mean anything by that. Please don’t think too much of it. Quickly, please be seated first.”
Li Wu was about to lead Pei Zheng to his seat, but unexpectedly, Pei Zheng pushed his arm away and stared at Master Sun from a distance, before he smiled.
Pei Zheng did not say a word, but Master Sun’s mind fell into a panic under his gaze. However, there were so many people here, and he was one of the city’s public figures, so he absolutely could not lose face.
Not only did he return the stare, he also glanced over Qi Changyi, who was standing beside Pei Zheng.
Qi Changyi noticed his eyes, and began to feel uncomfortable. He tugged Pei Zheng’s hand, leaned up to Pei Zheng’s shoulder, and complained quietly, “H-he’s staring at me-“
Pei Zheng’s gaze shifted sideways as he comforted the small man, “I’ll have somebody dig out the eyes of anyone who dares to stare at you.”
When Master Sun saw how intimately they behaved toward one another, he said in a loud voice, “I didn’t expect that those from the Imperial City really are another breed. Look at Lord Pei, wherever he goes, he has a beauty by his side.”
He purposely blinked, and spoke in an incredulous tone, “Oh, no, no, not a ‘beauty’. So this is a young master. But it’s the same thing.”
Indeed, several people began to laugh. These people had probably never been to the Imperial City in all their lives. In their minds, Anli was the most luxurious city in the world. They were this city’s officials, so naturally, they were figures of great importance.
The mightiest dragon cannot overpower the local snake2; no matter what kind of powerful figure this Lord Pei was, once he was in their Anli, he would have to play by their rules.
But Li Wu understood Pei Zheng; he was the only one whose expression turned incredibly ugly after he heard Master Sun’s words. Unfortunately, the short-sighted crowd around him could not make heads or tails of his meaningful glances.
How could anyone who was able to stay by Pei Zheng’s side be a normal person? However, no one present had ever seen a prince, so naturally, they did not know Qi Changyi’s identity.
But Pei Zheng was not planning on telling them.
Luckily, Cheng Feng had already returned. Not only had he tied up those guards outside and threw them downstairs, but he had even restrained the guards who had been keeping watch around the building, binding them and tossing them away as well.
“Be good, sit over there first.”
Pei Zheng said in a low voice to Qi Changyi, “I’ll be there in a moment.”
Qi Changyi let go of his hand, and said worriedly, “Then you have to be quick.”
“All right,” Pei Zheng patted his little head, “Go on now.”
Qi Changyi followed Cheng Feng to a seat at the side, and obediently sat down cross-legged. Then, he stared at Pei Zheng unblinkingly.
Li Wu laughed as he tried to mediate, “Lord Pei, Lord Pei, please don’t be angry. Listen to me first, Master Sun, he’s,” Li Wu whispered, “He’s rich, but he doesn’t have much class. You mustn’t lower yourself to his level.”
Then, Li Wu walked back over toMaster Sun’s side. The two exchanged a few mutterings, and the gaze with which Master Sun was looking at Pei Zheng flickered.
After the two finished their conservation, Master Sun took the initiative to apologize to Pei Zheng, saying that he had acted impetuously earlier. But Qi Changyi turned his head to the side; he did not even want to look at Master Sun.
Master Sun passed a cup of wine to Pei Zheng, “Lord Pei, I toast you with this cup.”
Pei Zheng took the cup, but he did not drink from it. Instead, he flipped it over and poured the its contents over Master Sun’s head.
Master Sun’s face was covered in beads of wine. His guan was out of place, and he looked quite disheveled. His face immediately turned livid. He pointed at Pei Zheng’s nose and began to yell.
“I apologized to you out of goodwill. If Lord Li had not persuaded me, I wouldn’t care if you were Lord Pei or not! I’m the big shot here, got it?! There are plenty of people who want to enter the city, which one of those refugees out there doesn’t want to come in? We’ve already given you enough face by letting you all in here. We didn’t make you pay the city entrance fee, so now you’re turning your nose up at me, is that it?!”
Most of this diatribe went in one ear and out the other, but Pei Zheng heard the three words “city entrance fee” quite clearly.
“The refugees who want to enter the city must first pay a city entrance fee?” Pei Zheng’s gaze was frigid; he really was growing furious.
Master Sun said with complete confidence, “Of course! If they don’t pay, are we just supposed to give them free room and board? Such a good deal doesn’t exist in this world!”
Pei Zheng’s eyes narrowed slightly, “You lot are quite intelligent, profiting from war like this. But the laws of the Celestial Dynasty state that during war, cities must open their gates to receive refugees. Who gave you the right to require a city entrance fee?”
The last sentence was spoken in such a cold tone that it made one’s heart fill with panic.
Master Sun shrank back at his advance, and was already pressed up against the wall. There was nowhere for him to retreat to, and right in front of him was the cold-faced Pei Zheng.
Li Wu shook his head anxiously; this Master Sun really knew how to fuck things up. How could he have blurted out such an important matter? He really was unable to resist the mind games of others.
Pei Zheng towered over Master Sun and looked down at him, “Tell me, how much money have you taken?”
Master Sun finally understood that it would be best if he trailed off and stopped talking.
Pei Zheng grabbed a porcelain bowl on the table next to him and crushed it against the wall with a “bang”. Then, he picked up one of the porcelain shards and held it front of Master Sun, leaving only a few millimeters between the shard and his eyeball.
“You’re not going to tell me?”
Pei Zheng smiled, and said softly, “Earlier, how did you use this pair of eyes to look at him? How about I… dig one out first?”
Just as the porcelain shard was about plunge in, Master Sun suddenly cried out.
“I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you! Every person has to pay 20 taels-“
The porcelain shard did not stop, and it sliced Master Sun’s eyelid open. Blood immediately gushed out.
Pei Zheng squeezed out each word, “Each person, 20 taels?”
“Truthfully, every person has to pay 20 taels each day-”
Pei Zheng could no longer control the strength of his hand, and he actually drove the porcelain shard into the eyeball beneath it.
Now I want to read the next chapter to see how the author describes the stabbed eyeball…
Thanks for waiting, and for reading~
入乡随俗 (rù xiāng suí sú): Basically “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, adapt to local customs.
强龙不压地头蛇 (qiáng lóng bù yā dì tóu shé): Refers to how local gangsters can be above the law, or how they are more advantaged in their own territory.