Chapter 217 Having the Wrong Idea of Li Mu?
Li Mu shook his head and said, “Mr. Wang, if that’s what you are asking for, please take your leave. Last time, I already made it clear that I will never ever get involved in the royal power struggle.”
Wang Chen immediately explained, “Young Master Li, please hear me out. This time, it’s not the power struggle. Instead, it’s a rescue mission. As you perhaps already heard of, the remaining family of Tang Chong, the founding general has been banished to the Musical House in Chang’an. How sorrowful it is that the loyal general die of being wronged and his wife and daughters are about to be tarnished. Her Highness is more than willing to help them out, but her rescue measures failed. Thus, for the sake of the poor widow and her fatherless children who are the offsprings of a faithful and upright general, please step forward and cooperate with us this time.”
Li Mu was a little taken aback by the story.
Something in his mind suddenly clicked.
“It’s no wonder tonight there are so many experts around Liufang Street and some troops setting up the defense in the distance. Turns out that someone plans to rescue the widow and daughters of the deceased founding general tonight and has arranged the forces in advance.”
“And even though Wang Chen made it sound quite simple, I’m afraid this so-called rescue mission is still gonna be the vortex center of the political fight. Now that Wang Chen’s lot wants to rescue them, there is certainly an opposite party who doesn’t want them to succeed. Plus, the power of the opposite party is apparently larger than Wang Chen’s. That’s why he has to ask for my help.”
“If so, this is getting interesting.”
In truth, Li Mu deeply sympathized with the founding general’s widow and daughters.
Nonetheless, he shook his head and uttered his rejection directly. “Sorry, Mr. Wang, please forgive my incompetence in taking this mission.”
Wang Chen’s face fell. He asked in disbelief, “Young Master, can you really bring yourself to stand by and watch the upright general, who had performed deeds of valor in battles for the Qin Empire, still be tormented in the netherworld for knowing that his wife and daughters are driven to prostitution?”
Unwilling to continue this conversation, Li Mu raised a hand and waved him off.
Obviously, Wang Chen found Li Mu’s indifference rather hard to take and stubbornly gave it another shot. “Young Master, for this, this mission is as easy as lifting a finger. But why…”
“Mr. Zheng, see the guest off on behave of me.” Li Mu directly interrupted his remark.
Void of expression, Zheng Cunjian opened the door of the private room and said, “Mr. Wang, please.”
Wang Chen looked a little agitated now. He demanded, “Does Young Master Li really decide to sit by?”
Li Mu turned his back to Wang Chen. He was watching through the windows, his fixed eyes on the last prostitute doing her performance on the main stage. Plainly, he felt like saying nothing more.
“I never knew you, Young Master Li, are such a callous and aloof person. I do have got the wrong idea about you…” Wang Chen was highly disappointed. Li Mu’s reaction was completely beyond his expectations. Based on his knowledge of Li Mu’s operating style, he actually thought Li Mu would certainly agree to stick up this time. After all, this hot-blood county magistrate had once fought his way into the base of the Shennong Faction for an ordinary villager in Taibai County. So, how come he could remain unsympathetic at the news that the family of an upright general was about to suffer a calamity?
“Mr. Wang, your goading strategy won’t work on me. Please leave my room.” Li Mu waved at him without even looking back.
In the end, Wang Chen was escorted out of the room by Zheng Cunjian.
“Oh, he rejected?” said Qin Zhen, the princess, with a poker face.
With shame and self-condemnation written in his face, Wang Chen admitted, “It’s my misjudgment. Well, I should have known better than picking the wrong guy… This Li Mu… Well, never mind.” During the whole time, he had kept telling Qin Zhen that Li Mu could be persuaded into joining their league and work for them. Also, he had put in tons of good words for him. This time, it was Wang Chen himself who volunteered to do the lobbying and promised that he could positively bring Li Mu here to help them. However, he returned to the princess with a total defeat.
By this moment, Wang Chen was still puzzled by Li Mu’s hard rejection.
He believed that he knew Li Mu well. And he also kept a close eye on Li Mu and observed his behaviors. But now, Li Mu’s response proved him wrong.
“Mr. Wang, you can stop reproaching yourself,” Qin Zhen, the princess, said with a serene expression. “We’d rather work on this rescue by ourselves than place our hope on other people.”
She was absolutely not that unflustered as what her face showed. But even she did not know how to describe the specific feeling she had at the moment.
Was she elated? Yes, to some extent. Li Mu’s rejection verified her previous view and assumption on him.
Was she disappointed? Yes, a little, too. Because due to Wang Chen’s continuous persuasion and introduction about Li Mu’s deeds and achievements, she was sort of looking forward to Li Mu’s character and morals.
“It’s all my fault. I thought it too simply. I placed our hope on a wrongly perceived man. Now, with the mission about to take off, I failed to get the help we need and ruined Your Highness’s original plan.” Wang Chen could not stop blaming himself.
Qin Zhen said, “The situation is not that worse. I wish General Tang’s soul can bless our mission from heaven.”
Wang Chen nodded. Then, something occurred to him, which made his face harden in alarm. He said, “Could it be possible that Li Mu… rats on us by leaking our plan?” At this thought, he was drenched in cold sweat.
Qin Zhen shook her head and said, “No, he won’t.”
That was what her intuition told her.
Her intuition was always right.
“The plan of Wang Chen and his master is unlikely to work out.”
That was Li Mu’s judgment, because through his Third Eye he had spotted many experts hiding and lurking in the dark. Clearly, they had set up traps there and were waiting for the princess and her men to walk into it.
Once the battle broke out, Hua’er might be in danger.
Li Mu deliberated it for a while before getting to his feet and saying, “Go to the backstage.”
He knew he must stay by Hua Xiangrong’s side.
After tonight, he would help Hua Xiangrong redeem her freedom, remove her registration, and leave the Musical House.
A few minutes later, with Zheng Cunjian leading the road, Li Mu came to the backside of the main stage and located the tent of the Holy House.
Li Mu suddenly came up with another idea and looked back to talk to Zheng Cunjian. “You go and find the manager of the Musical House. Make him remove the registrations of Miss Hua and Xin’er tonight.”
“Yes, sir.” Zheng Cunjian wheeled around and left to complete his task.
In his view, it was pretty easy. Even if he did not play the Li Mu card, he was confident that he could make it happen with his status and influence in Chang’an.
Then, Li Mu tapped on the door of the tent and walked in.
“Brother Mu?” Hua Xiangrong was treating Xin’er’s injury. As she saw Li Mu cross the door, she jumped to her feet in excitement and cried, “What brought you here?”
Only in the presence of Li Mu would this otherworldly beautiful girl show her coquettish side.
Li Mu stroked her hair and said beamingly, “I’m here to check on my drop-dead gorgeous girl who has staggered the world with one dance.” His affectionate stroking seemed quite intimate. Truthfully, when enjoying her company these days, Li Mu was starting to accept Hua Xiangrong. This lovely and sweet girl who was beautiful as the fairy living on the moon had been head over heels in love with him. As a normal man, Li Mu had no way to remain untouched or untempted, didn’t he?
Although men had to go through a load of ordeals to pursue women, women would not encounter many difficulties when pursuing men.
Hua Xiangrong’s tender and sweet love eventually moved Li Mu and softened his heart.
“Brother Mu…” Hua Xiangrong coiled her arms around Li Mu’s shoulders, her face blushed in shyness.
Li Mu sniffed her fragrant hair and then rested his eyes on Xin’er’s face, which was sporting a clear mark of a slap. He asked, “What happened? Who picked on our Xin’er?”
Xin’er poured out her grievances while recounting the incident.
The reason that she felt aggrieved was not being slapped but seeing her master be humiliated. She was edgy to seek justice for Miss Hua, for those from the Yi Cui House had really gone out of bounds.
“This is truly outrageous! Don’t be annoyed by this. I’ll go and wipe out those in the Yi Cui House now!” Li Mu said with an affectation of anger.
“Ah, don’t…” Hua Xiangrong tried to stop him in haste. But as she saw Li Mu’s look, she understood that her Brother Mu was just joking around. So, she softly whispered, “Brother Mu, you’re so naughty!”
Li Mu felt his heart leaped in delight.
“Generally, what does it mean when a woman tells a man he is naughty?”
He was reminded of some classic pieces he had read on Earth.
As they were talking, the door of the tent was suddenly pushed open. Bai Xuan stormed in from the outside and yelled, “This is flagrant! I can’t stand it, can’t stand it…” In the middle of her shouting, she looked up only to see Li Mu was also in the room and got startled. Then, she swallowed back the words on the tip of her tongue.
“Young Master Li.” Bai Xuan hailed hurriedly.
Li Mu asked, “What is it? What’s going on?”
Bai Xuan hesitated for a second and said, “According to the ratings given by the distinguished guests at the professional panelist, Hua’er did not make to the top three.”
She handed Li Mu a sheet of rankings she had grasped, which displayed the rankings of the thirty prostitutes based on the points given by those famous scholars at the panelist after the first round of performance. The one who came as the first was Lu Hongxiu, from the Yi Cui House; the second was Si Yuhua, from Soft Jade Hall; the third was Xue Rui, the non-local prostitute. However, Hua Xiangrong, who had held everyone spellbound with a dance, merely ranked the 21st.
Even a pig in the Musical House knew there was some shady deal after watching the show.
Adding the points given by the professional panelist with the scores of her flower baskets, Hua Xiangrong’s current ranking was precisely second to the top three.
“Someone is going against Hua Xiangrong?”
Li Mu scowled. A surge of fury rose from his heart.
Bai Xuan said, “The Top Beauty Competition held by the Musical House every year is quite a relatively fair contest. That’s also why it is pretty reputed and all the popular prostitutes and brothels in and around Chang’an are willing to participate in. But the result of the competition this year is obviously tempered. Someone deliberately wants to cast Hua’er down.” She was very vexed by the new finding.
Just then, a knock on the door was heard.
“Young Master.” The voice of Zheng Cunjian fluttered in.
Li Mu said, “Come in.”
Looking rather frustrated and embarrassed, Zheng Cunjian entered the room and said, “The manager of the Musical House, Liu Chenglong, refused to start the deregistration procedure for Miss Hua and Xin’er.” At first, he reckoned this matter would be solved with little effort. However, to his sheer shock, he was rebuffed. He even tried threatening the manager, but it did not work, either. After that, he realized something was wrong and immediately sent his men to do some investigation. Yet, no one had given him clear feedback.
“It seems that Liu Chenglong has got someone as his backing.” Zheng Cunjian suggested.
Li Mu brooded over this clue and found the answer at once. “The second prince!”
Yes, perhaps the one secretly preventing Hua Xiangrong from being the champion was that second prince, a man who only seemed to be courteous to the talent he wanted to enlist.
A moment ago, Hua Xiangrong had told him that the manager of the Musical House, Liu Chenglong, had been here. On the face of it, he was here to help Xin’er and her out, but in fact, he was acting on behave of a so-called distinguished guest to invite Hua Xiangrong over. And he even bragged that the distinguished guest was an extremely powerful man, and there was no problem in the entire Western Qin Empire that he could not handle.
If Liu Chenglong was telling the truth, then, that distinguished guest was undoubtedly the second prince.
No one could be that powerful and capable other than the second prince.
Even Li Gang, the magistrate of Chang’an and local tyrant, was a little far away from that scale.
“In this case, that second prince is definitely coveting Hua Xiangrong’s beauty.”
“He does dare to dream wild!”
Li Mu gave a snort inwardly.