Luo Yunhai left with the crime of killing a central area prince on his shoulders followed by the retreat of the five million army. The four lands breathed easier, rejoicing at having avoided another bitter war. Whatever Baili Jingwei was thinking, they never wanted to wage war with him.
Be it in strength, numbers and peak experts, they lost to the central area by a clear margin. In a high level battle, last time they had Zhuo Fan leading them, so who was to match Baili Jingwei’s brains now?
The leaders’ joy and celebration was Luo clan’s sorrow.
Everyone, with Luo Yunchang and the numb Luo Sifan, sat in their chairs with worry. The three minds sighed, the venerables lowered their heads, losing their boldness.
Li Jingtian slammed the table and jumped to his feet, “We’re going to get Clan Head back, hide for a while and the news will just blow over!”
“Bull! Did you forget who holds him? Sword Star Empire! Have you forgotten the miserable defeat to Danqing Shen? Save him? Watch out not to leave your life first, humph!”
Leng Wuchang glared back with a louder voice.
Everyone started, for Sir Leng was always respectful to the venerables. It was clear that even he took the loss hard.
Li Jingtian slammed the table again, “What then? Are we going to let Clan Head go with them and have the empire execute him? I’ve been with Clan Head in wars for a hundred years now and never so furious!”
“Elder Li, wait.”
Zhuge Changfeng was quite calm, his eyes sharp, “Baili Jingwei is known as the best minister in the world. His schemes are deeper than anyone’s. Nobody can rival his strategies either. Did he make such a convoluted plan just to take our Clan Head’s life? No disrespect, but no matter how strong the Luo Alliance is, it’s far from worthy of his full attention. The play has yet to end. Just wait.”
The others nodded in silence.
Luo Sifan lit up, “Grandpa Zhuge, you mean dad will live?”
“He should. Clan Head is a pawn that Baili Jingwei now may use in some way. What’s certain though, is that a pawn isn’t to be discarded so soon.”
Zhuge Changfeng frowned and sighed, “But Baili Jingwei is treacherous and cunning. We may guess his next plan, but what of it? We don’t even have the strength to hold negotiations. Steward Zhuo was the best at this.”
Leng Wuchang sighed, “If Steward Zhuo was here, Clan Head would’ve never been taken. He’d have a way to make the central area suffer for it.”
The others all nodded their heads, recalling the good old days.
Luo Sifan let the words sink in, “Is he the one auntie loves? How could he save dad?”
Patting her head just a bit harder, Luo Yunchang held a bitter smile, her eyes filled with emotion, “Yes, the Luo clan would have no problems with him around.”
“Sifan, you may not know, but Steward Zhuo is our first steward and the founder of the Luo Alliance. The first seven elders all know Steward Zhuo’s power back in the day, playing a pivotal role in what the Luo clan is today.”
Li Jingtian was grave, “With Clan Head’s righteous style, the people respect us. But Steward Zhuo commanded with an iron fist, shaking many of us just thinking about it. But more than anything he has our admiration and reverence. Clan Head is a righteous leader while Steward Zhuo was a tyrant. The Luo Alliance’s foundation was laid by Steward Zhuo every step of the way. Without him, there wouldn’t be a Luo Alliance.”
Luo Sifan gasped, “Really? Is he that great? I thought he was just auntie’s lover and so you didn’t talk about him to not make her sad. Now I see he was so important to the Luo Alliance, even more than the seven elders.”
“Not just important, the elders bowed at his coming.”
You Ming finally spoke, recalling his past, “In essence, he was the Luo clan’s Clan Head and its darkness.”
“Yes, the Luo clan couldn’t have grown so much without a dark past.” You Ming said, “He is behind it all. He handled and fought everything without qualms or fear. After he left and Clan Head took the seat, our lives changed. The darkness remained, brought by those two old men, but not as heavy and cruel. From dark to light, we developed honor and loyalty, winning popularity.”
“Hey, You Ming, I’m the nicest grandpa to Sifan here. Don’t just taint me!”
“Yeah, like you haven’t seen darkness either!”
Zhuge Changfeng and Leng Wuchang joined, glaring at him. [Don’t go spilling our secrets to the children!]
You Ming smirked, “Old yet still playing nice? Look at me, I’ve always said it openly, I never left the darkness.”
“How could you leave the darkness when you’re the head of the shadow corps, in charge of intelligence? Tch!” The oldies snickered.
You Ming turned serious, “One thing is certain, we must save Clan Head, not through honor, but the most vile and darkest trick. Old men, bring out all your dirty tricks from ages past and let’s see if we can do it!”
“Take what out? We’d have done it if we had any!”
Zhuge Changfeng rolled his eyes and sighed, “We’ve been wracking our brains and still couldn’t find anything usable. It seems only Steward Zhuo could handle Baili Jingwei.”
Luo Sifan lit up just then, “Steward Zhuo can really save mom and dad?”
“If there’s anyone in the world that can match Baili Jingwei and save them, then that’s Steward Zhuo!”
Zhuge Changfeng said, “Sifan, a hundred years ago, in the world war, the central area’s army, directed by Baili Jingwei, was invincible. With little choice, the four lands made Steward Zhuo their Grand Marshal, turning the whole thing around in three moves and crushing Baili Jingwei’s plan. In other words, if there’s one that can foil the best minister’s plans, that would be the Best Steward Beneath Heaven!”
Luo Sifan jumped out of Luo Yunchang’s embrace in excitement, going to Zhuge Changfeng, “Grandpa Zhuge, tell me, where is Steward Zhuo now?”
“I’d have gone to find him if I knew…”
Zhuge Changfeng sighed, “We only know that Steward Zhuo is dead, swallowed by the sea demon a hundred years ago. It’s unclear if it’s true or not, but a hundred years came and went without anyone seeing him. Maybe…”
Luo Sifan’s hope was dashed as soon as it sprouted. Having just heard of someone that could bring back her parents, the next moment she found out he was dead.
What about her parents?
Luo Sifan turned forlorn, tears welling in her eyes.
A chuckle reached their ears, “Of course it’s fake. Steward Zhuo is alive and well!”
All eyes turned to a girl grinning from ear to ear.
Luo Sifan cheered, “Auntie Shuang’er!”
“Sifan, don’t worry, there’s hope for your parents yet!” She hugged the girl and chuckled.
Zhuge Changfeng jumped to his feet, as did the rest of them, cupping their hands, “Holy Maiden!”
“Shuang’er, weren’t you cultivating in your homeland? You’re back so soon?” Luo Yunchang rejoiced and welcomed her with joy.
Yun Shuang’s eyes shone in a mysterious azure light, “Yes, I had been training and saw the demise of Alliance Leader Luo, but then his saving. So I rushed out to ask about it, only to learn that Danqing Shen was after him. It was certain death, yet abated in the end. Among all the people I know, there’s only one man that can change fate, and he did it many times to release Clan Head Luo of his death. Who do you think it can be?”
Everyone cried out, then Luo Yunchang turned dully at Luo Sifan, “Sifan, didn’t you say you scared Danqing Shen away? Just what exactly happened? Did you see him?”
Luo Sifan’s mind was hit with immense shock.
“He’s the one auntie and everyone calls Steward Zhuo? Blind uncle is the first steward of the Luo Alliance?”
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