Chapter 12: Discerning
Wang Chong bowed while ignoring Bao Xuan, who was standing beside him.
“Third Young Master.”
Lu Ting smiled at Wang Chong. He had a rough idea of what had happened in the Vast Crane Pavilion. Even though Wang Chong’s father, Wang Yan, was furious at his actions, thinking that Wang Chong had got himself into deep trouble, Lu Ting didn’t think much of it.
Yao Kuang Yi was a subordinate of King Qi while Wang Yan was a subordinate of King Song. The two of them were supposed to be nemeses, so it was normal for them to get into conflicts with one another. On the contrary, if King Song were to know that Wang Clan’s fifteen-year-old son had taught the Yan Clan’s Yao Feng a lesson, not only would he not blame him, he would even be impressed and persuade Wang Yan not to punish them.
“Third Young Master, there is no need for you to worry. All you did was to wound the gongzi of Yao Clan. When I return, I will inform King Song of it and you siblings will be fine.”
Lu Ting chuckled.
The Wang Family’s little sister immediately took his word for it and her eyes lit up. Her reaction caused Lu Ting to burst into laughter.
Wang Chong felt a tinge of warmth. Even though this Lord Lu had once testified against his father, he was only been made use of back then. All he did was to say what he had seen and his actions held no malice behind them.
“Lord Lu is indeed a respected man, I am impressed. Just that, while one mustn’t have the intention to harm others, one should always keep their guards up. Lord Lu should be careful not to be made use of by despicable crooks. There are some people who look righteous and loyal on the surface but privately, they hopped over to side with King Qi, betraying their own conscience for benefits. You must be guarded against such people!”
Wang Chong said. Even though he was saying these words to Lu Ting, his sight was fixated upon Bao Xuan, causing the latter’s face to change.
“Brat, what do you mean?”
Lu Ting wasn’t a fool as well. Instantly, his face changed and he followed Wang Chong’s gaze to stare at Bao Xuan as well.
Unlike his father, Lu Ting was much wiser.
A large number of King Song’s subordinates had decided to side with King Qi. Even though Wang Chong’s father wasn’t very clear on the affair, Lu Ting knew of it. Upon discerning the intentions behind Wang Chong’s words, he recalled Bao Xuan’s abrupt invitation to the Vast Crane Pavilion and the sudden appearance of the old butler. Lu Ting suddenly sensed that there was something deeper to the affair and his gaze turned frosty.
The reason why Lu Ting was used by the other party was because he wasn’t guarded against the other party. In the eyes of an upright person, everyone is righteous. From the bottom of his heart, Lu Ting had never thought that Bao Xuan would switch allegiance.
However, for so many things to happen just because of a simple meal at the Vast Crane Pavilion, Lu Ting couldn’t help but think deeper into the affair.
“You damned rascal, what nonsense are you spouting. Bro… Brother Lu, don’t listen to his nonsense…”
Bao Xuan was caught off-guard by Wang Chong.
He was still calm at the start but gradually, his nerves started to rattle beneath Lu Ting’s stern eyes.
‘If one didn’t have a guilty conscience, there was no need for fear ghosts knocking on one’s door in the middle of a night’, this saying definitely did not apply to Bao Xuan.
He had felt guilty over this incident. Furthermore, Lu Ting was the kind of straightforward man whose eyes pierced deep into one’s soul. When his secret was exposed by Wang Chong, under Lu Ting’s discerning eyes, Bao Xuan immediately flustered.
“Bao Xuan, I didn’t expect that you would be such a person.”
Lu Ting’s gaze was incomparably cold.
Initially, he held doubts toward Wang Chong’s words. However, at this moment, he was entirely convinced of the fact. Even though Wang Chong was a child and his words could not be taken for real, Bao Xuan’s reaction toward him had indicated that there was a problem.
He wasn’t a three-year-old kid. He still had the ability to discern between the truth and lies.
“Heh, Lord Bao, allow me to offer you an advice. ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’. It is still too early to tell whether King Song or King Qi will emerge victorious. Be careful of staking your bet on the wrong person!”
Wang Chong stepped forward and said brazenly.
Indeed, it was much more comfortable and easier to converse with the intelligent. Initially, he thought that it would take a lot more effort to convince him. He didn’t expect that Lu Ting was even more formidable than he had expected. With just a reminder, the other party was able to arrive at the truth instantly!
“Bro… Brother Lu… Don’t listen to his words. What is so bad about King Qi?”
Cold sweat drenched Bao Xuan’s back. The more he spoke, the more flustered he got. Eventually, he couldn’t go on any further. He turned around and squeezed into the crowd in a fluster.
Lu Ting paid it no mind and turned around to look at Wang Chong once more.
“Heh, ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’. As expected of the descendant of Duke Jiu, Third Young Master’s words sure are novel.”
Lu Ting complimented.
The feeling this fifteen-year-old young man gave him was special. He was by no means an ordinary person.
Wang Chong simply smiled. That phrase ‘The one who laughs in the end is the winner’ was nothing more than a common phrase in his previous world. However, in this world, it was apparent that Lu Ting had never heard of it. As such, he found it refreshing.
“Thank you for your generous compliment.”
Wang Chong said. His gestures exuded magnanimity and he was neither too humble or arrogant. Lu Ting found the sight confounding.
“Lord Lu, I still have some things to attend to, so I will be taking my departure.”
Wang Chong bowed and nodded his head.
This was the first time they were meeting and thus, Wang Chong didn’t want to say too much. It was sufficient as long as he left a good impression with Lord Lu and let him know that he wasn’t a true playboy.
From the memories of his past life, Wang Chong knew that this seemingly inconspicuous Lord Lu held great influence on King Song.
He would bring up all that he saw, all that he heard and all that he experienced to King Song.
In his previous life, there was an incident. It was the birthday of a concubine of an authoritative official and even the official himself had forgotten about it. However, mysteriously, the concubine received a present from King Song on that day.
It was the only present she received on her birthday!
After which, everyone was perplexed. King Song had never met his concubine, so how could he have known that it was her birthday?
Eventually, the official pat his head and he suddenly recalled that he seemed to have brought it up before Lu Ting before.
After the incident, everyone knew that this Lord Lu Ting held an extraordinary position beside King Song. He would tell almost everything he knew to King Song.
Wang Chong had a deep impression of the matter, that’s why he remembered it.
It would be convenient for him to do things in the future if King Song had a good impression of him. This was also why Wang Chong greeted this Lord Lu and tried to perform before him.
“Little sister, let’s go.”
Wang Chong called for his younger sister and got onto the carriage, which then moved slowly toward the Wang Clan.
“Interesting. He is truly an interesting person.”
Lu Ting shook his head and a slight glow radiated from his eyes. Only after the siblings disappeared into the distance did he turn around. Musing for a moment, he called for a carriage and headed straight for the King Song Residence.
At the same moment, in the Yao Clan’s residence.
Amidst a shout, Yao Feng gradually regained conciousness. He could feel intense pain in every single bone on his body. The siblings truly did not show any mercy in their blows at all.
“You have awakened!”
A faint voice reached his ears. Yao Feng jolted. He turned around and saw a towering figure standing by the window, with his back facing him.
Yao Feng struggled to stand up and walk over.
“Tell me everything about that Wang Chong and today’s affairs. Everything, including the insignificant details!”
Yao Kuang Yi’s voice was cold and it was difficult to discern his current emotions.
Yao Feng was stunned. He didn’t expect that the first thing his father would do after his awakening was to ask about that Wang Chong. Given his father’s position, there should be no need for him to bother about this kind of insignificant character.
However, Yao Feng knew his father’s temper well. Upon hearing him ask about it, he did not dare to refute him. He hurriedly spoke about the entire incident, including the minute details.
After which, Yao Kuang Yi’s face darkened and for a long moment, he was silent.
“That is to say, the reason why that pair of siblings was able to barge in was because of that Ma Zhou?”
Yao Kuang Yi asked.
The moment Yao Feng’s words sounded, pah! A slap struck heavily on Yao Feng’s face. Yao Feng’s face immediately swelled up.
Yao Feng grabbed his left cheek as he stared at his father in shock. This was the first time his father had hit him like that.
“You beast! Do you know that you have wrecked my careful planning! Do you how much effort I have put into today’s affair!”
Yao Kuang Yi had a savage expression on his face. He was truly enraged. There were many people in the Vast Crane Pavilion previously and it wasn’t appropriate for him to vent his temper in public. However, now that there wasn’t anyone here, Yao Kuang Yi finally burst.
Yao Feng’s face changed and he immediately knelt onto the floor. This was the first time seeing his father flying into such a temper.
Even so, Yao Kuang Yi’s rage wasn’t quenched.
The more he thought about it, the more he found the matter with Wang Chong and Wang Xiao Yao amiss.
Yao Kuang Yi never would have expected that after planning everything down to the very details to achieve perfection, his plan would be foiled in the hands of a small hoodlum in the capital.
What is that!
Usually, this kind of person was nothing more than an ant to them. Yet, to think that two relatives of the royal family, King Qi and King Song, as well as the influential figures in the royal court, would be affected by the actions of such an insignificant hoodlum.
If word were to spread out, he would become a laughingstock!
“Our Yao Clan could have climbed to higher heights, but because of you and that Ma Zhou, everything I had planned was ruined! Do you know what kind of losses this would bring to our Yao Clan? Do you know how important King Qi viewed this matter? I kept guaranteeing him that nothing would go wrong!”
Initially, Yao Feng felt indignant of the slap. However, after hearing these words, his face gradually grew paler and paler. It didn’t take long for his entire body to tremble and cold sweat streamed down his entire body.
“Father, I am at fault. I didn’t know about it!”
Yao Feng felt terrified.
He knew of that King Qi wanted to deal with King Song, and the best way to do it was sow discord between King Song and the Wang Clan.
The key to distancing King Song from the Wang Clan was to distance King Song from Wang Yan. That was also the easiest way to strike a blow at the Wang Clan.
Yao Feng thought that it would take very long before such an important matter would be finalized and carried out. He would have never thought that the plan would go into action so quickly.
To think that the banquet he set up in the Vast Crane Pavilion would unintentionally ruin his father’s plans.
“…You can’t be blamed entirely for the matter either!”
Seeing Yao Feng’s terrified look, Yao Kuang Yi’s heart softened. He only had this son and he had his own faults as well.
In order to deal with Wang Yan, he intentionally locked down the news, not even telling his own son about it. Most probably, King Qi’s guests, who were in the Vast Crane Pavilion then, still did not know what was going on.
With gains come losses!
If he had told Yao Feng about it, such an affair wouldn’t have happened.
Even though Yao Kuang Yi tried to console him, Yao Feng still felt uneasy. He knew how serious his actions were.
If King Qi were to allocate blame to them, this wasn’t something his father could bear.
“Father, does this mean that the plan is a complete failure?”
Yao Feng thought of King Qi.
Father had promised King Qi that nothing wrong would happen with the plan. Now that such an incident had occured, it was hard to tell how King Qi would react.
Unlike King Song, Yao Feng clearly knew that King Qi was unable to tolerate the inability of his subordinates.
Hearing Yao Feng’s words, Yao Kuang Yi sneered coldly. Instead of getting furious, he abruptly calmed down:
“How can a plan of Yao Kuang Yi fail that easily? Since I had fallen out with Wang Yan in the Vast Crane Pavilion, I just have to resort to self-harm.”
Even though Yao Feng was not a foolish person, upon hearing the words ‘self-harm’, he was stunned. On this aspect, he was unable to match up with his father.
苦肉计 (ku rou ji) [Self-harm]: Inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy’s trust
This is actually the 34th of the Thirty-Six Stratagems.
Interesting fact from Wikipedia: It is well-known that the Thirty-Six Stratagems came from Sun Tze (or Sun Wu, his birth name) or Zhuge Liang, but in fact, historians do not regard them as the true authors. (They probably contributed to it, but not entirely)
I translated it to ‘self-harm’. It fits the context but doesn’t bring out the full meaning.