Chapter 105 – Esteemed Elder Wu

“What a beautiful little lady!” A group of Black Tiger Gang members emerged from the depths of Willow Alley and walked over.

When they saw Yuan Luoxi astride her swift, mottled grey horse, all of them were stunned, and they looked enraptured. 

All of them, that is, except for their leader, a middle-aged man in blue.
His expression shifted dramatically, and he barked, “Are you trying to get yourselves killed? Let’s hurry up and leave!” 

With that, he immediately led his subordinates away.

He could tell at a glance that Yuan Luoxi and Cheng Wuyong’s origins weren’t simple.
A low-level gang that mixed with the lowest rungs of society couldn’t afford to offend people like that.

“They might be scum, but at least they’ve got decent eyesight,” said Cheng Wuyong flatly.

They ought to celebrate that they hadn’t said anything inappropriate.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have minded wiping them all out on the spot.

“Uncle Yong, why would Master Su live in a foul place like this?” asked Yuan Luoxi.
She sounded a bit confused.

“This isn’t where Master Su lives, but where his friend lives.
Let’s go in and take a look.” As Cheng Wuyong said this, he was already urging his horse further down Willow Alley.

Yuan Luoxi followed shortly after.
That day, after returning home, she kept thinking to herself that she had to find some opportunity to pay Su Yi a visit.
Her first step was ascertaining his address.
Once she knew where he lived, she could visit on a regular basis. 

Thus, this morning, she called up Cheng Wuyong and snuck out of their family home.

Cheng Wuyong spotted a sallow-faced, gaunt youth and immediately said, “Young man, might I ask you something?”

The boy’s eyes widened.
“You want information? Sure, but I want silver.
At least two taels.
No, at least five!” One glance at their outfits, and he could tell that these two were wealthy, or perhaps even nobles.

Cheng Wuyong smiled drily and tossed him a piece of silver.
“Here’s your reward.
If your answer pleases me, I’ll give you another ten taels.”

The boy’s eyes lit up.
“Your Excellency, what is it you wish to know?”

“Did two outsiders show up here two days ago? One in blue and…” Cheng Wuyong described Su Yi and Huang Qianjun’s appearance.

When the boy heard this, he was instantly on guard.
“I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that.
I’d best return your silver; I don’t want it.”

He tossed the silver piece back, then turned to leave, but before he got far, his lapels tightened as Cheng Wuyong lifted him into the air.

“Don’t be afraid.
We aren’t bad people, and we’re those two young masters’ friends.” Someone like him could tell at a glance that there was something off about the boy’s reaction.

The young man furrowed his brow.
“Is that true?”

“Of course it’s true!” Yuan Luoxi said from the sidelines, “Do we look like bad people?”

“Do bad people all have the word ‘bad’ carved on their foreheads?” the youth shot back.

Cheng Wuyong laughed, “Kid, you’re actually rather interesting.
Forget it; we won’t make things hard on you.”

He put the boy back on the ground, took out another handful of silver, and stuffed it into his hands.
“Meeting like this was a stroke of fate.
Use this to buy yourself some new clothes.”

The boy stared at the silver in his hands as if he didn’t quite dare believe it was real.

When he saw that Cheng Wuyong and Yuan Luoxi were about to leave, he hesitated, but in the end, he still asked, “Are you really Big Brother Su and Big Brother Huang’s friends?”

Yuan Luoxi’s eyes lit up, and without a second thought, she said, “Of course!”

“They moved out of Willow Alley this morning,” said the boy.
Then, he gnashed his teeth and returned the silver.
“Also, if you’re Big Bro Su’s friends, that means you’re my friends too.
I, A-Fei, can’t accept this money from you.” 

Yuan Luoxi and Cheng Wuyong looked at each other.
They couldn’t help but smile.
When they next looked at A-Fei, their gazes were appreciative. 

“Then do you know where Master Su moved to?” asked Yuan Luoxi softly.

A-Fei hesitated, then said, “Forget it.
Even if you were enemies, there’s no way you’d be a match for Big Brother Su, so there’s no harm in telling you.
Big Brother Su and the others moved to Bottlegourd Alley.”

“Bottlegourd Alley? So that’s where he is!” Yuan Luoxi inwardly celebrated. We’re lucky we met this kid. Otherwise, I’m afraid it would have taken us a long time to locate Master Su.

“Little Brother A-Fei, many thanks.” Cheng Wuyong patted him on the shoulder.
“There’s something else I’d like to ask.
Why is it that when I first inquired about Master Su, you were so tense, to the point of suspecting we were his enemies?

A-Fei whispered, “Just now, a group of bad guys from the Black Tiger Gang showed up.
They were investigating Master Su too, so I thought you were like them.”

“The Black Tiger Gang?” Yuan Luoxi was stunned for a moment.
“Which faction is that? Why haven’t I heard of them?”

“They’re a minor little faction that’s blended into the prefectural capital’s dark underbelly, but they’re unfit for the public eye,” Cheng Wuyong explained in a low voice.

Yuan Luoxi looked confused.
“A piddling little faction like that dares investigate Master Su? Are they seeking death?”

A-Fei interjected, “Big Sis, two nights ago, Big Brother Su killed his way into the Black Tiger Gang’s base all by himself….”

He then animatedly told them about how Su Yi broke into the gang’s base to save Feng Xiaoran.

Yuan Luoxi and Cheng Wuyong finally understood. From A-Fei’s tale, they learned that Su Yi’s friend was Feng Xiaofeng, a former outer sect disciple of Blueriver Sword Manor who’d been cast out after both of his legs were crippled. 

“Master Su is a man like a fallen immortal, but he didn’t forget his downtrodden sect mate.
It’s really admirable,” Yuan Luoxi exclaimed.

“How could someone like him discriminate based on class or social rank?” Cheng Wuyong then clasped his fist at A-Fei.
“Little Brother, thank you.”

A-Fei grinned, then asked tentatively, “Your Excellency, if you’re planning to visit Big Brother Su and the others, might you take me with you? I’ve never been to Bottlegourd Alley, so I don’t know what it’s like.”

“Why not?” said Cheng Wuyong with a hearty laugh.

Before long, he and A-Fei were riding the same horse and heading toward Bottlegourd Alley at top speed.

……

In a mansion outfitted with a bridge, a rock garden, and a gazebo, the leader of the Black Tiger Gang, Lu Quan, stood respectfully at attention.
There was no trace of rage or bluster in his demeanor, and his expression was respectful as could be. 

“Esteemed Elder, if not for our Black Tiger Gang suffering such enormous losses, I wouldn’t dare come here to request your assistance,” said Lu Quan in a bitter whisper.

The man beside him was an elder with the air of an immortal and a head full of grey hair.
He was busy pruning a lush, flowering bush, leisurely and at ease.

Wu Tianhao!

He was a famed, long-established figure of the Cloudriver Prefectural Capital’s underworld.
He mixed with all the major gangs of the city’s southwestern district.
All of them saw him as their supreme ruler, and all of them looked to him for guidance.

His authority was so vast that ordinary clans and factions dared not offend him lightly.

After a long time, Wu Tianhao finally responded.

“I heard about what happened that night,” he said casually.
“Have you determined who the culprit was?”

Lu Quan said hurriedly, “According to my subordinates’ reports from Willow Alley, they say it was a stranger, a young man they suspect is the former Blueriver Sword Disciple Feng Xiaofeng’s friend.”

Wu Tianhao was stunned.
He pointed to himself, as if he found it absurd.
“You want me to go deal with a little baby?” 

Lu Quan said hurriedly, “Esteemed Elder, that youth isn’t simple.
He strode into our territory, alone except for his sword, as easily as if it were unguarded.
He’s at least at the peak of the Blood Circulation Realm, and he’s a tough customer.
Add that to his youth, and I’m afraid his origins aren’t simple either…”

Before he could finish speaking, Wu Tianhao waved and cut him off.
“In the prefectural capital, young talents are as numerous as carp in the river.
I certainly can’t be bothered to remember every unimportant nobody.”

Lu Quan’s heart sank.
He gnashed his teeth, then respectfully proffered the jade box he’d prepared in advance.
“Esteemed Elder, this is a tier-two spiritual medicine.
If you can help me get revenge, I’ll be sure to personally deliver you three more!”

As he spoke, his heart bled. To ordinary martial artists, a stalk of tier-two spiritual medicine was worth a fortune! Even after pooling years of the Black Tiger Gang’s accumulated wealth, they could at most scrounge together a few stalks of tier-two spiritual medicine.

Wu Tianhao furrowed his brow, then said flatly, “Never mind.
You’ve served me for years.
I cannot remain uninvolved.” 

He then ordered a servant to fetch a pen, ink, and a folding fan.
He casually wrote his name upon the fan: Wu Tianhao.

His handwriting soared like a dragon and danced like a phoenix, free and unrestrained.
“Take this folding fan and tell that young man that I, Wu Tianhao, am getting on in years.
I have no desire to engage in wanton slaughter, so I’m willing to give a junior like him a chance to smooth things over.”

Wu Tianhao paused to admire his own calligraphy before passing the fan to Lu Quan.
“If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll come to my estate, lower his head, and apologize.
Then, as proof of his sincerity, he’ll compensate your Black Tiger Bang for its losses.
If he does so, we’ll let this matter go.”

Lu Quan was a bit stunned. That punk killed so many of my subordinates, yet this muddleheaded old fart wants to give him a chance to make up for it? Is this because he turns his nose at my gift? Was it not enough?

A while passed before he asked, “Esteemed Elder, what if he doesn’t know what’s good for him?”

Wu Tianhao’s expression frosted over. In the past, all he had to do was give a single command, and every gang leader in the southwestern district would lower their heads in submission.

Yet now, all Lu Quan wanted was for him to dispose of a youth of unknown origins.
He, Wu Tianhao, disdained bullying the weak, so he magnanimously offered the boy a chance.
If the youth was at all clever, he’d know what to do.

He glanced at Lu Quan.
“Do you suspect that in the Southwest District, my prestige isn’t enough?”

Lu Quan instantly broke out in a cold sweat.
He said hurriedly, “Sir, please don’t be angry! I’ll go right away.”

But in his heart, he was raging. I’ve got to find an opportunity to drag you underwater, you blasted geezer!

Lu Quan was keenly aware that even if the youth really did lower his head obediently, and that even if he provided enough compensation to make up for the Black Tiger Gang’s losses, the Black Tiger Gang wouldn’t see a single silver of it.

No, Wu Tianhao was sure to keep it all for himself!

“Wait! Didn’t you forget something?” Just as Lu Quan was about to turn and leave, he heard Wu Tianhao’s indifferent voice.

Lu Quan froze.
His lips twitched, and he gingerly set the jade box in his hands onto the table by the side of the gazebo. He forced a rigid smile.
“Please rest assured.
I’ll be sure to keep my end of the agreement.”

“Mm.” Wu Tianhao grunted, then returned his attention to the flowering bush he was pruning.

A hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. I might very well be able to take advantage of the Black Tiger Gang’s misfortune to profit big time. 

As for that youth of unknown origins…

Hah!

He’s on close terms with a dirty beggar from a slum like Willow Alley.
How tough could he possibly be?

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