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132 Drunk Xie

 Chapter 49 Drunk Xie

Meng Qi withdrew his sword and tried some moves, pretending to be honing his swordsmanship.

Then there came the woman dressed like an exotic wench. She was not pretty, yet young enough to arouse lust. Her collar was quite low and her half-bared breasts showed a sickening vulgarity.

"Fifth Keeper, have you seen Fourth Keeper?" she asked in a soft voice. Meng Qi was quite good-looking, even prettier than Gu Changqing. Yet he was intimidating, behaving as he pleased and killing people whenever he felt the need to. When he met Butcher of Sun-setting Sea, Wang Hong, he had not shown any sign prior to unsheathing his sword. He seemed completely fearless.

Though men like him would take her fancy, she only dared to treat him with respect and awe and keep her distance from him.

Meng Qi frowned and sniffed. "No."

The girl was momentarily stunned. A fiery passion began to rise in her as she admired Meng Qi's good looks and the way he honed his sword art. She wanted nothing more than to eat him up. She gathered her courage and spoke in a voice as soft as silk, "Fifth Keeper, everyone went out to look for fun after arriving at Fish Sea. Why aren't you joining them?"

"I'm practicing my swordsmanship," Meng Qi said coldly.

"It doesn't matter if you rest a little." She slowly moved over to Meng Qi, her voice became more and more seductive. "Fifth Keeper, you are pretty young. Have you experienced being with a woman?"

Meng Qi stared at her grimly and pointed at her with his sword. "There are seven mistakes in your footstep. For every mistake you make, I can find a distinct way to kill you. Like here, or here..."

He pointed his sword at her as he spoke. The cold sword light sent a chill down her spine. She was so frightened that all her covetous mood was dissipated. She looked embarrassed and afraid that forced herself to appear calm. "My kung-fu is inferior. Thank you for pointing out that to me. I will immediately return and practice now."

She immediately left, flustered as if she was being chased by an evil ghost.

"I didn't know pretending to be a swordsmanship addict can scare them off..." Gu Changqing sighed, his expression showing that he should have done this as well.

Meng Qi sheathed the sword and smiled. "You wouldn't have been able to pull this off."

This was purely a matter of impression they had left on others. Who they truly were was irrelevant. What was important was what others thought them to be. Through certain actions, they could establish themselves as bold, generous, aloof, cruel, timid, or even agreeable. Then they could use that impression to deceive others.

Gu Changqing gave it a thought and sighed. "You are right. If I do so, they will just say things like, 'Oh, Fifth Keeper, your swordsmanship is so great. Come, hold my hand and slowly teach me.' Had I known this earlier, I would also pretend to be cold and impetuous."

"Too late for that." Meng Qi grinned. A person had to establish the proper impression from the very beginning for the impression to be effective.

He stood up. "Let's look for Zhong Yashe. You tell him this..."

Zhong Yashe had just finished grappling with Gongshayue in bed. He looked tired, though he was feeling very spirited. When he saw the two new keepers, he asked in confusion, "Brother Meng and Brother Gu, do you need anything from me?"

"Changqing brought me here." Meng Qi remained his cold demeanor.

Gu Changqing smiled. "Head Keeper, I thought of something that requires advance preparation. That's why I'm here to discuss it with you."

"What preparation?" Zhong Yashe became even more confused.

Gu Changqing's smile lingered. "Head Keeper, aren't you going to think about a Plan B? The little bald ass wanted by the Evil Sword Hunting Order is in our hands. If Yuan Mengzhi wants you to hand him over, will you do so?"

Recalling how Meng Qi had kept him on tenterhooks throughout the journey and undermined his image, he stressed on the words 'little bald ass' through clenched teeth.

Zhong Yashe sighed softly. "What you say is sensible."

Though he had come here betting only a small chance, what if he happened to be lucky enough? If the chance presented itself but he was not ready for it, he would regret it considerably!

The city of the Fish Sea was unlike the outside, where they could immediately escape with the monk and hide in the oasis and deserts. When the time came, Yuan Mengzhi would certainly make Bai Bazheng barricade the city gates. They should indeed make their preparations in advance.

"That little bald ass is cunning and has many tricks up his sleeve. He has strong kungfu, too. If we want to catch him, we can only hope that Yuan Mengzhi wounds him seriously without capturing him immediately. But we can't be too hopeful." Gu Changqing first put a damper on their plans before changing his tune. "But this doesn't mean we will leave empty-handed."

"The city is chaotic and this time there are so many cavalries. It's just like having a stack of dry hay. With the slightest bit of friction, it will light up and even more, chaos would be created. The little bald ass is definitely waiting for such a chance. Head Keeper, I say we try and take advantage of the chaos too. Fish Sea City is one of the most affluent places in the Immensity Sea. Who knows how many well-to-do households are here..."

Zhong Yashe was so deeply engrossed that his eyes sparkled. He clapped his hands and exclaimed, "Brother Gu, you are exactly what our team needs. You are ingenious!"

Gu Changqing had been working on his sage persona, which was not contradictory to his former character. It did not suit the rash Brother Meng, however.

Standing up in excitement, Zhong Yashe stood up in excitement paced back and forth. Being the hub of the South, Fish Sea must have accumulated a vast fortune. Though tribute had to be paid to the overlords like Ze Luoju and Shen Duliao, many giant traders were created here. Zhong Yashe had just lost a gang war and needed the capital to recruit more men. Not everyone sought opportunities and fame instead of money like Brother Gu and Brother Meng.

Of course, if this could bring enough fortune for them and even their heirs! They could just quit being horse bandits!

Gu Changqing smiled. "Head Keeper, that's why we need to prepare ourselves and devise a way out after."

"Truly smart." Zhong Yashe thumbed up. "I will meet some of my acquaintances now to arrange the way out."

Gu Changqing immediately stopped him. "Head Keeper, you are renowned in the Immensity Sea. You will attract attention if you do this yourself. Just leave this to Brother Meng and me."

Pondering over this, Zhong Yashe found it reasonable. Though he was not all that eminent in the Immensity Sea, he was known to the other gangs. Never mind the rest, Wang Hong alone would definitely be monitoring his every move. If someone discovered and intercepted their escape route, then they would really be in big trouble.

He nodded. "You two may be unfamiliar faces but they can be a problem too. You may not be able to find a reliable turf lord and they may not trust you."

"Don't we have you to act as our introduction? As long as we show them a token from you, they would trust us."

Zhong Yashe clenched his teeth, pondering over this. "Brothers, I leave this task to you. This concerns the survival of our gang. You must succeed."

"Please have faith in us," Gu Changqing said, face full of smiles.

Zhong Yashe nodded. "Go to the Old Cao Hotel on the West Street and look for..."

Before he finished his sentence, he heard Gu Changqing interrupted him with, "Look for Drunk Xie."

"You know him?" Zhong Yashe looked at him in surprise.

Gu Changqing smiled. "I came here several years ago with a Family Elder. He told me that Drunk Xie of Old Cao Hotel is the most revered person by those who commit dirty deeds. Once you have made a deal with him, he will never betray you. If you need to kill someone, launder money, seek intelligence, or find an escape route, you can just entrust your dirty secret with him and enjoy his service. Even Ze Luoju and Shen Du Liao dare not to touch him."

"Yes. Drunk Xie came here over ten years ago. His background is unknown. Not even Boss Zeluo and Shen Du Liao dared not to offend him." Zhong Yashe lowered his voice. "Rumors had it that Drunk Xie is a martial arts master of the Exterior Realm level..."

Meng Qi frowned, thinking those words seemed rather familiar.

After discussing a little more, Zhong Yashe took off a jade pendant off his neck. There was a visible crack on the pendant. "I have once laundered my loot with his help so we're considered acquaintances. Take this to him. He will recognize it."

When they were about to leave, Zhong Yashe pulled Gu Changqing close and said lowly, "Little Meng is too reckless. You have to watch him all the time. If not for the fact that it is too dangerous for you to go without protection, I would've made him stay."

"Please reassure yourself, Head Keeper. I have known him for a long time," said Gu Changqing solemnly.

Having overheard their conversation with his enlightened ear, Meng Qi thought to himself they had only known each other for merely ten days... He laughed to himself, thinking that Gu Changqing had finally learned something from him: telling lies.

Even if Drunk Xie betrayed them, the others would not be able to decipher their true identities now that they had Zhong Yashe's endorsement. They would merely be regarded as Zhong Yashe's henchmen tasked with procuring an escape route.

Equipped with their swords, they made their way through several bustling streets. When they entered the West Street, the people there were dressed in obviously shabbier clothes. They wore numbed expressions as they went about in a hurry.

The Old Cao Hotel was a short adobe house, with dozens of tables inside. The light was dim and the people boisterous.

Amidst the merrymaking and banter of the guest, Gu Changqing walked Meng Qi through the crowd and led him to a square table in a corner. A disheveled man, reeking of wine, was seated there with his face pressed against the table. His hands were sprawling out and a jar of wine sat before him.

"A few years had passed, but this place didn't change at all," Gu Changqing told Meng Qi. He then knocked on the table before him.

Drunk Xie raised his head slowly and mumbled, "Spit it out or leave!"

He was unexpectedly good-looking. If he was not so drunk and disheveled, he could be described as having sword-like brows and starry eyes.

"An easy way out of this city without being noticed for dozens of people," said Gu Changqing in a low voice.

Drunk Xie was momentarily quiet. He sipped his wine and said, "50,000 silver taels. No bargaining. Pay me 20,000 upfront. When you are ready, tell me at least an hour in advance. You can pay the remaining 30,000 after your escape."

Gu Changqing took out a small bag of gems and passed it to Drunk Xie. "This is more than 20,000 inside."

This was the outlay that Zhong Yashe had given them, so they had no need to be frugal.

Drunk Xie opened the bag and a smile finally appeared on his face. For the first time, he looked at them both straight on. "Eh? You're so delicate and pretty. From the Central Plains, aren't you? Or the oasis north of the snow range?"

He was not anticipating an answer. "Have you passed by the Immensity Sea Hotel No.1? Is Jiuniang still so beautiful? So voluptuous?" he continued, his eyes languorous due to the alcohol.

When he spoke of Jiuniang, he seemed strange somehow. His voice was full of zeal, his face radiating, and his eyes tender and gentle. He seemed like a youngster who was experiencing his first crush.

Realization hit Meng Qi. No wonder he had found it so familiar! Unknown background, suspected to be of the Exterior Level! These were the same as Qu Jiuniang!