Yan Bei's group left, accepting the loss they were dealt. Before he left, looking despondent and reluctant, he said, "If it's you… if it's you, then I have no choice but to admit defeat."
'Fuck you! What, are you betrothing your younger sister to my uncle or something What the **! Why are you trying to be bosom buddies with me just because those in your generation were beaten! You were all giddy a second ago when you called me Liu Shan's Plague!!'
Prime Minister' Li's other subordinates left prior; Yan Bei was the last one remaining. He kept glancing at the prime minister. Before he left for good, he looked back to mouth what I interpreted as, "Take good care of him."
… I took in a deep breath and brayed in my mind, "Are you the second lead male protagonist in fiction, who crushes on the main female protagonist for his entire life, tells the main male lead to take good care of her and tacitly bid her farewell when she chooses him! Fuck out of here, gay boy! Shit, you've tarnished a nice dining scene!"
I wanted to express my heartfelt concern for the prime minister's future after that encounter with his subordinate.
I entered Dongpo Restaurant with the prime minister after sending Yan Bei off. Dongpo Restaurant's entrance was tantamount to the markets. There were seven floors - which they kept adding to eventually reach - yet there still weren't enough tables. Lining up was the everyday scenario. Everyone who liked to frequent treated it as common sense.
Given the prime minister was fond of Dongpo Restaurant, I acknowledged him as a distinguished cuisine expert. A place of Dongpo Restaurant's calibre even reserved a private room for him for prolonged periods. For many big names frequenting the restaurant, the restaurant needed to ensure they had their heads on right and reserved private rooms for them. I didn't know the prime minister frequented the place.
"Prime Minister, there are lots of people in the line. Are we going to take the backdoor"
"What backdoor We're entering through here."
"Oh From the main entrance"
The prime minister coughed twice. He took out a pair of western sunglasses and a wig. He wore them on, transforming himself. He, an almost seventy year old elder, looked young. He was somewhat hunched over, but he was teeming with energy. His new look reversed over a decade years of life for him. A rough guess would be he was a barely fifty. He then said, "Done. Let's go."
"Let's go" I repeated in my mind. I inquired, "Eh What about the private room"
The prime minister waved his hand: "What private room We're lining up right here. We can chat as we wait."
'I see. That's wise. Is that what you thought I'd say!'
Gaze frigid, I took three steps back then turned and left. At least I tried. The prime minister hastily caught me as I went to leave: "Don't go. Don't go!! Why are you such a naughty kid Come back. Come back. This is out of consideration for your safety."
'Oh, I know that sort of line. Those face-slapping male protagonists always say, 'Miss, for your safety's sake, this one shall share the room with you tonight.' You think I haven't used that trick before! Don't underestimate me; they call me the Demoness' dual cultivation man!'
Still, the prime minister stopped me. It would look ridiculous for two grown men (one young and handsome man and an old grandpa) to be getting touchy out on the street. I, therefore, had no choice but to obey him.
"Prime Minister Li Si does reserve a room at Dongpo Restaurant; however, I'm not Prime Minister Li Si at the moment."
"Huh" I condescendingly looked at the prime minister. I imitated Zha Pi's threatening act: "Have you finally gone senile, old man Huh So you're not Prime Minister Li Si but 'I'm **ed'"
"You hasty kid. This old one can't go in as himself. Think about it: How hard could it be for this old one to enter a restaurant as a prime minister People will accuse me of things, won't they"
"Oh Are you telling me His Majesty cares about your reputation being tarnished now"
"It's not that His Majesty won't let me use my status," said the prime minister, stern. With a melancholic undertone, he continued, "However… my wife won't let me."
'… I think I'll go back home to have a chat with Shiyi.'
"Don't go. Let me finish," called the prime minister, sighing miserably. "Due to old age, I suffer from all sorts of ailments. I even have to restrict my food choices; I can't eat any cold, raw or fried dishes. She visited all the places I frequent and told them she'd make them close down if they served me…"
'Fuck me! So you're going behind your wife's back'
"What happened to our last meeting at Eight Deities Tavern, then"
"Are you really going to bring it up She gave me an earful. That's why I have this disguise," explained the prime minister. He sighed: "When I invited Secretary Zhang to Eight Deities Tavern for drinks last time, my wife found out. She… went to his place and gave him two earfuls. I guess I spoil her too much."
'Hah, my teacher's wife is a tough one… Hmm Wait. Something's odd. Why the hell are you dragging me in when your wife is so aggressive! You were the one who suggested coming here, by the way. You're clearly setting me up for revenge last time!'
"I bet anything you are exacting your vengeance!!"
"Exact a vengeance This old one would never do such a thing. We just happen to be discussing important and complex business. In consideration of your cuisine knowledge, this one decided to provide the best location. Don't worry. This old one will pay. You don't need to spend a single tael. Don't misconstrue this old one's kind gesture."
And… we were in line as we spoke. I had to line up in the past, too. I couldn't go to Dongpo Restaurant during my free time, anyway. Since someone was treating me, I decided it was worth the risk. We were finally offered a table after an hour of waiting - which was normal.
I ordered eight dishes, and the prime minister ordered four. I didn't order strong wine to be considerate. The two of us first had a toast. Before the prime minister could bring up the case, nevertheless, I spoke first.
"This one has a request to ask of you, Prime Minister," I said. I placed my cup down and smiled: "Would you happen to know why His Majesty divided us into three different departments and the most important departments for that matter"
"Young Ming, don't try and guess what His Majesty is thinking," replied Prime Minister Li, smiling. "It is very hard to predict what His Majesty is thinking; we, for one, will never be able to comprehend what he is thinking. If we want to be well off, we need adhere to a five word principle: do as you are told."
I placed a mushroom in the prime minister's bowl: "I see. This one has a guess, though. May this one ask if you could provide an answer if he asks"
The prime minister heartily ate the mushroom: "Let's hear it."
"Su Xiao and Tang Ye made a name for themselves during the Imperial Martial Arts Tournament. As a result, His Majesty rewarded them with official ranks. Tang Ye even made it into the Seventeen Hidden Dragons, becoming an inspiration to many martial artists in the capital," I said in a detached tone.
The prime minister picked up food as he listened. I wasn't sure if his grin was due to what I said or if it was thanks to the food being tasty.
"This one, however, suddenly recalled Vice-Captain Shen told him the tournament pertained to Liu Shan Men's rise and fall, subsequently concerning the balance of power between the three law enforcement offices. There were supposed to be many difficulties and risks involved. This one thought he understood at the time. A few days ago, though, he suddenly felt something did not click.
Su Xiao and Tang Ye were conferred official ranks and acknowledged as martial arts. That said, one was a mere Rank Six military official. The other was ranked as one of the Seventeen Hidden Dragons. They would not be able to do anything about His Majesty's entourage or any other department in the imperial court, let alone the Qilin Guards who run the martial world. There are superior individuals among Liu Shan Men's female constables.
They could not possibly oppose His Majesty's entourage or the Qilin Guards. Why would Vice-Captain Shen evaluate them so highly As such, this one spent the last few days mulling on the topic to see if he missed something. Could there be an agreement of some sort between Vice-Captain Shen and His Majesty Our performance at the tournament was not a victory. More precisely, it was not a result but a condition. Did the fallen Liu Shan Men have to fulfil the condition to be restored to glory"
The prime minister smiled with his eyes narrowed. He had a drink and said, "Go on."
I placed my chopsticks on my bowl and grabbed a pigeon. I shoved the entire thing into my mouth. The bones were nice and crunchy. I totally ignored the fact a high-ranking official sat opposite me with his eyes down.
I went on: "I love putting myself in other's shoes to think. For that reason, I found myself thinking the opposite at that point. If I was His Majesty and wanted to revive Liu Shan Men without aggravating his entourage and the Qilin Guards, what would I do What is Liu Shan Men still lacking"
I answered, "Merit. A commendable merit. Liu Shan Men needs a big accomplishment that can make up for their past mistakes and surpass any accomplishment prior. Boss Shen has been sent to Jiangnan to deliver, but that is merely in name. In reality, she is there to investigate Jin Wangsun's recent incident, Gold and Silver Sect's activities and the recent large-scale war between Night Fortress and their sect. It is obvious what His Majesty wants Liu Shan Men to accomplish."
The prime minister and I exchanged eye contact in silence. Then, we laughed heartily together.
"Not bad. Not bad. Not bad at all," said the prime minister, nodding. "I'd say I now know why Shen Yiren considered you one of the talented ones now. She has a good eye for people. I would argue you are more valuable than your two colleagues considering your knowledge and insight."
I touched my nose: "I heard you had an eye for people. Boss Shen also sought your guidance on the topic. I suppose a good teacher produces an exemplary student."
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