"And for example, the Dugu Family's seven 'Heroes and legends bravely rushing forward' came to see the Third Young Master Jun when he was recuperating at his home. I seem to recall that the Young Master Jun would usually avoid those seven. However, you went-on to make a bet with them and set up the Aristocratic Hall. You were able to make the Dugu Family owe you ninety million in silver taels because of this matter. That was amazing…
"I've heard that one of the 'Great Eight Masters', Solitary Falcon, is currently residing at the Jun Family's residence for some reason… he he he… Third Young Master, do you want me to go on?" Li You Ran gazed gently at him and spoke softly, "I fail to understand… Why are you involved in each one of these matters…? You're indeed a very talented person. This is entire affair is very mysterious!"
Jun Mo Xie's eyes flashed coldly as he let-out a mischievous laughter. He replied in a sloppy manner, "Actually, I too find it very strange that Young Master Li's presence is everywhere. You're outstanding; …from the underworld to the Imperial Palace… Young Master Li, you show your disfigured face everywhere. I doubt it would bother you; but don't you think you'd scare the children? And even if you're not scaring the children… it's not good to scare the faint hearted."
Li You Ran's eyes flashed with a cold and sharp light. But he regained his usual calm and gentle manner again. He pretended to look as if he was embarrassed and then replied softly, "Third Young Master, are you sure that your surname is Jun?"
"Nonsense! I'm a member of the Jun Family! However, could it be that your surname isn't Li?" Jun Mo Xie snorted.
"We're both on the same boat!" Li You Ran looked distant as he took a long breath. Then, he stated in one go, "Third Young Master, I've looked down on you several times in the past. But ever since the explosion of the Jade Coral… he he he…"
Li You Ran raised his head and looked straight into Jun Mo Xie's eyes, "Third Young Master, you must treat everyone as fools. But there are many intelligent people in the world. You're certainly one of them, but it doesn't mean that others may not be."
"Really? And you might be one of those 'other' people?" Jun Mo Xie laughed savagely. He then slanted his gaze, "Seems like sitting at home after the disfiguration of your face has given you a lot of time to think; isn't that true?"
Li You Ran's eyes were momentarily brimmed with anguish since the other party had mentioned his disfigured face again. However, he smiled in an unrestrained manner and his eyes became gentle soon after. They flashed with many rare emotions as he smilingly said, "Indeed, I've been thinking a lot after the Jade Coral's explosion. There were many things which had evaded my eyes in the past. However, I see them clearly now.
"Therefore, I'm very grateful to that explosion; yes." Li You Ran took a step and slowly moved forward as he continued, "Third Master Jun, you agree with that… right?"
Jun Mo Xie laughed, "So… this was like 'turning a misfortune into a fortune'. Or perhaps 'gaining profit from loss'?"
"Indeed! It was exactly like that!" Li You Ran nodded seriously and looked at Jun Mo Xie, "I never suspected you and I didn't think that I could be mistaken. A pure debauchee couldn't figure in my plans. However, I know that Young Master Jun cannot be underestimated after I saw him at the Aristocratic Hall…"
"Is it possible that the auction may have had a loophole?" Jun Mo Xie had anticipated that this might become a problem. This was the reason he had decided to probe Li You Ran.
"Naturally; there's a loophole! Moreover, the loophole isn't small," Li You ran halted; they had reached the main door. The others had gone in, but Li You Ran obviously wanted to finish what he was speaking; and he wanted to finish it outside. "Tang Yuan… a man who could lose his own fiancée could come up with such a brilliant plan… he didn't bat an eyelid as his plan caused a huge storm in the Capital and induced such confusion. Third Young Master… don't you think it's strange? Is Tang Yuan qualified-enough? Do you think he deserves that credit?"
"So, that's the case!" Jun Mo Xie finally understood. The plan didn't have a flaw; it was the person who did. Li Yu Ran couldn't help but gravely underestimate everyone in the world. There was no doubt that Fatty Tang was unbearable. The auction was Jun Mo Xie's idea, but every arrangement had been made by the Fatty. His business skills were exceptional. However, Jun Mo Xie wasn't going to relay that information to Li You Ran.
"No matter how chaotic the Capital becomes; the more chaotic it is… the better. Due to the chaos… our Li Family, the Jun Family, the Dugu Family… all other powerful families will be relatively safer. We can secure these families — no matter what happens to the others. This would help us in acquiring time for some respite." Li You Ran smiled, "Our Li family has benefited from the auction; although the benefit isn't that massive."
"Do you wish to thank me?" Jun Mo Xie assumed the bearing of a benefactor, and looked at Li You Ran.
"If the Third Young Master decides to kill me — I'm afraid I won't be able to escape." Li You Ran ignored him, and continued to talk. It seemed as if he was minding his own business, "But it's important that I kill the Third Young Master… though I don't think I'll be successful. He he, you have the Solitary Falcon living at your residence — like I have my master at mine."
Li You Ran had a faint smile as he gently sighed, "There's presently a balance between us.
"Our Li Family controls the politics, and the Jun and the Dugu Family jointly control the military. That's a balance as well. However, I'm temporarily unwilling to ruin that balance, and I believe that you aren't either, Young Master Jun. But if either of us dies… the balance will cease to exist. Would you agree with me Third Young Master?" Li You Ran smiled in a very relaxed manner.
"Young Master Li is right! The situation is very balanced and harmonious," Jun Mo Xie smiled. But his inner thoughts were fierce; [I know that the balance cannot be disturbed for the time-being. However, that won't remain the case forever. And I won't mind taking your head in the dark of the night when the time comes. It will be fairly easy for me to do that!]
"I cannot imagine how the Third Young master will act. But I, Li You Ran, will do nothing excessive for a short while." Li You Ran smiled, "I wouldn't dare to act too rashly for the time-being. However, when the conditions are right — the first rival I must urgently eliminate is the Third Young Master."
Li You Ran said this quite seriously. It was more like an earnest commitment than a few pleasantries. Li You Ran's conduct was very magnanimous in this case.
"I believe you," The corners of Jun Mo Xie's mouth rose crookedly as a seven-lettered word came into his mind; [Strange!] If Li You Ran had the opportunity to eliminate him without being suspected for it… then, Jun Mo Xie was sure that Li You Ran would take the task on without the slightest hesitation.
The reverse situation was the same as well. However, the situation was exactly as Li You Ran had described it to be. Hence, the Li Family and the Jun Family would wish the balance to remain undisturbed. Otherwise, Jun Mo Xie would've killed Li You Ran by now.
Jun Mo Xie wasn't very interested in sitting and chatting with him at present.
"Therefore, there's no harm if we have some fun; right?" Li You Ran didn't know whether he had convinced Jun Mo Xie. The corners of his mouth rose crookedly. His face revelled in a happy expression as he said, "Third Young Master, you're become quite capable. You wouldn't have been anywhere near me a few years ago. But it seems that we're the same now. We both had a poor childhood… and never had any fun.
"So, there's no harm in making-up for it and giving it a go. Is it possible that you have another playmate?" Li You Ran seemed very interested as he asked that question.
Jun Mo Xie coughed, [I didn't have a childhood… just like you… But Jun Mo Xie's childhood was much more colourful than yours!]
"Have fun while killing people? Or have fun while creating havoc?" Jun Mo Xie laughed mischievously.
"Killing and creating havoc… can be considered a game of sorts," Li You Ran tilted his head and pondered. However, the look on his face was seemingly akin to that of a longing. "And we have played it…"
The two men stepped inside the hall. Li You Ran gently spoke the moment they passed through the door, "There are very few in the younger generation who can play with me, and then defeat me; repeatedly. You're a very fascinating playmate… we might as well continue to play."
His eyes had been on the ground, and his voice had been low as he had spoken those words. In fact, it had seemed as if he had merely thought these words out-aloud.
"Continue to play?" Jun Mo Xie laughed heartily. He saw that hundreds of people had assembled inside the hall. He laughed in a wretched manner as he saw the setting of the hall, "Then let's continue with our fun games. Ha ha! Then, you and I shall start to play this game properly..."
Everyone scoffed in unison. The orioles and the sparrows pouted and mutter in their respective voices. Thought, they kept it low. Every individual of notice in the Tian Xiang City had gathered inside the Imperial Palace's main hall at the moment. Jun Mo Xie could distinctly feel that every eyeball was fixatedly gazing at him.
Li You Ran couldn't help but smile as he heard Jun Mo Xie end their conversation in his usual hoodlum style. There were several hundred people inside the hall, but he knew that Jun Mo Xie had aimed those words at him.
The two men then parted without looking at each other.
The two of them had some hidden-aces up their sleeves. In fact, they could see some of the cards the opposite party held as well. However, both of them had become more serious… as if by prior agreement.
[A worthy opponent!]
These words emerged inside the minds of those two individuals as they parted.
Young Master Jun regained his train of thought; [that hypocrite Li You Ran is my only rival at the moment. But I can't always focus my thoughts on him. There are other matters of importance in this feast.] He looked-up and instantly recognized something strange about the setting of the feast.
[It is quite elaborate and… very unique!]
The seat high-above the banquet was where the Tian Xiang Empire's Emperor would sit. [Does he wish to personally participate in tonight's feast?]
There were a few more seats around the Emperor's. They were presumably set to seat the three Princes, and the other members of the Royal Family. The other members of the Royal Family would refer to the Prince Equivalent; Yang Huai Nong. However, the seat which seemed reserved for the Prince Equivalent and his son seemed to be less that luxurious in comparison. However, one seat seemed to have been designed for the comfort of its guest. It seemed rather obvious that this seat was reserved for Princess Ling Meng.
Another set of tables had been placed in the fair vicinity. Those were undoubtedly reserved for the Patriarchs of the powerful families. However, why was one table placed separately, and slightly higher than this set? It seemed reserved for someone senior. But who was it for? This was a confusing mystery.