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    Chapter 87: What If I'm Lying to You?

    The Eight Immortals Restaurant, known for its influential background and ability to please officials, was surrounded by officers for the first time. Patrons panicked and rushed out in all directions.

    The manager's face turned pale as he repeatedly bowed to the leader, Ye Liang, "Sir, this is too much. We're just running a business here. How can you surround us like this? Let's talk this through properly, calmly."

    Ye Liang looked up at the Heavenly Room but remained silent.

    In the Heavenly Room, Ye Jiangbai sat composedly. He picked up a tea cup, rinsed it with hot water, poured in fresh tea, blew away the tea froth, and didn't even raise his eyelids.

    The men standing before him had been arrogant moments ago, but now their attitudes softened. However, they were still uncertain about the identity of the man sitting before them. The young man named Huo snorted and said with a curled lip, "Since we're both on the same side, this is like the floodwaters washing away the Dragon King's temple. We'll let this servant go. Please make way for us."

    After saying this, he made a polite gesture and tried to leave.

    Ye Liang stood at the entrance with his sword drawn, the blade only three inches from the young man's neck, sending a chill down his spine.

    Huo's expression changed, and he turned back, "We've given up the person, what more do you want?"

    "Didn't you want a fight?" Ye Jiangbai smiled faintly, "You have to finish the fight before you can leave."

    He smiled gently and harmlessly, but Chang Nian, standing beside him, shuddered at the sight. After spending so much time with Ye Jiangbai, she had learned one thing – the more benign his smile, the more perilous his thoughts.

    The man before them was the son of Huo Xu, who, in turn, was the most favored confidant under Third Brother's command. Ye Jiangbai was well aware of this fact, yet he showed no intention of sparing the young man's dignity.

    "You... are utterly outrageous!" The young nobleman from the Huo family was enraged. This person seemed to be around the same age as him, at most the son of some high-ranking official. Despite already conceding, he was still being provoked. Fueled by youthful arrogance and lack of experience, he acted impulsively without considering the consequences, throwing a punch directly at Ye Jiangbai.

    Ye Jiangbai remained motionless, his cold gaze following the fist as it, with fierce momentum, collided with the palm of Ye Liang.

    "Apologies." Ye Liang deftly neutralized the man's force and bowed politely towards him.

    Young Master Hao took a few steps back and spat on the ground. "Coward, seeking help? Do you take me for no one?"

    One of his followers hesitated slightly and tugged at his sleeve. "Young Master, it seems like they're from the Patrol Squad."

    "So what if they're from the Patrol Squad?" He scoffed. "Has anyone not given orders to the Patrol Squad before?"

    Empowered by his words, the rest of the followers also gained confidence and rushed forward, heading straight for Ye Liang.

    The Heavenly Chamber was relatively spacious, preventing any shoving during a fight. Chang Nian hid behind Ye Jiangbai, peeking out with a gloomy expression as she asked, "What would happen if this escalates?"

    Ye Jiangbai pondered for a moment before responding, "They would have to compensate with some silver and make an apology in person."

    "Aah?" Chang Nian wrinkled her nose. "That doesn't seem worth it. Tell them to stop immediately!"

    Fixing her with a deep gaze, Ye Jiangbai pulled her closer and wiped her hands with a handkerchief, saying as he did so, "What I meant was that they should compensate with some silver and apologize at our Marquis's residence."

    Chang Nian: "..."

    Over there, Young Master Huo had already been severely beaten by Ye Liang. Judging from his pained expression, any further blows might result in serious injury. Yet, why was it that someone was apologizing to him instead?

    Nonetheless, half an hour later, Huo Xu arrived with his entourage. He didn't even spare a glance at the barely conscious Young Master Huo on the ground. Instead, he repeatedly bowed to Ye Jiangbai, "Your Excellency Duke, please forgive me. My son failed to recognize your greatness and has offended you. It's my fault for not disciplining him properly. I will surely teach him a lesson when we return!"

    Ye Jiangbai smiled amicably, "Your Excellency is too kind with your words."

    Ye Liang, standing at the entrance, showed no intention of making way.

    Upon seeing this, Huo Xu immediately realized that Duke Guo was extremely furious. He hurriedly spoke more apologies and scolded his wayward son, eventually invoking the Third Prince's name to slightly alleviate Ye Jiangbai's stern expression.

    "Never mind," he rose to his feet. "I have other matters to attend to. I'll take my leave first."

    "Huo Xu humbly bids you farewell, Duke. I shall visit your residence tomorrow to apologize. Please, calm your anger," Huo Xu bowed repeatedly as he escorted Ye Jiangbai to the staircase.

    Chang Nian couldn't help but sigh in admiration. Power and influence truly had their advantages.

    However...

    On their way back home, Chang Nian gazed at the setting sun and softly said, "Duke, you've lost this round."

    Ye Jiangbai huffed lightly. "So be it. I'll grant Prince Xu one request."

    Chang Nian released a breath of relief and reached out to grasp his hand.

    "Hmm?" Pausing his steps, Ye Jiangbai turned his gaze back at her.

    "I have a secret to share with you, Duke," she beckoned him with a secretive smile. "May I ask for a slight bend of your knees?"

    Intrigued, Ye Jiangbai leaned closer. Just as he was about to question what kind of secret a child like her could possess, he noticed a mischievous glint in her eyes. She suddenly pecked him on the lips. Then, like a cat that had tasted forbidden cream, she took a step back with her hands clasped behind her back, grinning radiantly and triumphantly. The dimples on her cheeks seemed to hold a sweet intoxication—three parts mirth, seven parts mischief.

    For some inexplicable reason, Ye Jiangbai's cheeks flushed slightly.

    "He's even learned how to deceive people?" He coughed dryly, turning his gaze away, feigning anger.

    Chang Nian held his hand, intertwining her fingers with his seriously. "Would Duke Guo hate me if I lied?"

    The atmosphere was relaxed, and Ye Jiangbai didn't take it too seriously. He simply hummed and lifted his chin.

    Chang Nian lowered her eyes and smiled again. "As long as Duke Guo remembers that one can't deceive anyone in matters of the heart, that's all that matters."

    "What could possibly be going on in that tiny head of yours?" Ye Jiangbai tapped her forehead, speaking in a teasing manner. "Come on, let's go home."

    Her throat tightened slightly, and Chang Nian grinned, nodding vigorously. "Mm-hmm!"

    Returning in the glow of the sunset, their silhouettes formed a pair. Nothing could be more heartwarming than this scene. She wished that this path would never end.

    As spring grew warmer, Prime Minister Tang invited Ye Jiangbai to play chess.

    In between moves, the prime minister casually asked, "Is Duke Guo still on good terms with Seventh Prince?"

    Ye Jiangbai paused, nodding slightly. "Why do you say so?"

    "Old as I am, I believe that someone like the Duke has no need to become entangled in emotions with the royal family," Master Tang gazed deeply at him. "Since ancient times, the royal family has been known for its ruthlessness, regardless of gender."

    Ye Jiangbai smiled gently, taking one of Master Tang's pieces. With his slender fingers, he picked up the black stones one by one, saying, "I appreciate Master Tang's concern for a junior like me."

    "You are still too confident in yourself," Master Tang shook his head and sighed. "You'll suffer for it."

    "Has Master Tang heard some unfavorable rumors?" Ye Jiangbai raised an eyebrow. "People in this world have the most diverse tongues. It's best not to believe everything you hear."

    Master Tang chuckled softly. "Marquis, do you truly believe that Seventh Prince won't betray you?"

    Ye Jiangbai didn't reply. Of course he trusted her; what could his little fool deceive him with? If she wanted power or wealth, she only needed to speak up, and he would help her attain it. Why would she need to deceive him?

    Observers may seem clear-sighted, but their vision is not necessarily any clearer.

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