Chapter 10 – Two People From Dongzhou

Mercury led Fang Tinglan inside. The room had no windows and the darkness made it seem small and narrow. In other words, it was the perfect setup to discuss shady secrets.

“What would you like to know?” Mercury lit a light. Waiting for a response, he opened a drawer and filled a pipe.

“About two people.”

“Alive or dead?”

“One is alive, I’m not sure about the other.”

“Then let’s hear about the living one first.” Mercury took a puff from his pipe.

“I have standard prices for living people.”

“Then I’ll be frank.” Fang Tinglan said calmly.

“Is there a way to secretly meet with the hostage Prince Qin Weiyu of Southern Hong1hostage Prince Qin Weiyu of Southern Hong: As collateral for alliances between two kingdoms, they would exchange princes (usually not the crown prince).?”

The swaying pipe in Mercury’s hand abruptly stopped. He stared at this new customer in surprise. A moment later, Mercury slowly closed his open mouth and sighed.

“…When Hai Lian brought a Dongzhou citizen, I thought that at most it would be a naive, rich businessman who’d been scammed by Tisu traders.”

Fang Tinglan smiled wordlessly.

Indeed, Mercury knew about this hostage prince. From time to time, he’d hear the name “Qin Weiyu” from his other customers and knew that the prince lived in an embassy in the Bainiao District. After the Hong dynasty violently split their country in two, Southern Hong allied with Tisu in response to Northern Hong’s alliance with Beimo. To this end, Southern Hong sent their sixth prince, Qin Weiyu, to Tisu as a token of goodwill.

Qin Weiyu had spent ten years in Tisu; the two countries had thrived in peace for ten years. Northern Hong feared Tisu, and naturally didn’t dare to act rashly. As long as Tisu’s royalty remained stable, it was likely that this hostage Young Highness would even grow old here. Furthermore, Qin Weiyu was here as collateral and not a prisoner — if Dongzhou citizens wished to meet, they only needed to arrange it with the embassy. Yet Fang Tinglan had asked to meet him “secretly.”. Mercury felt he shouldn’t pursue this train of thought. He took a deep breath through his pipe to scatter said thoughts.

“There certainly is a way, but it’ll be like I told Hai Lian: three days at least.” He said quietly.

“There’s no hurry.” Fang Tinglan was extremely considerate.

“Can I ask about the other person now?”

“Go ahead.”

“Like before, it’s a Dongzhou person.” Fang Tinglan raised a single finger.

“Have you heard the name ‘Fei Yi’? I’d like to know where he is now, what he’s called, and how I can find him.”

This time the pipe froze for a while longer. Mercury put the tip of tongue between his teeth, as if he’d forgotten how to speak.

“This… I don’t know.”


“Yes.” Mercury looked back at Fang Tinglan.

“I’ve heard of Fei Yi; he was a general who betrayed your late emperor eight years ago and escaped to Nanjing. But this is a scandal everyone knows. I also know that your emperor flew into a rage, accusing and rounding up many innocents as well. However, nobody could find Fei Yi again.” Mercury paused.

“And since then, nobody has inquired about this name — you’re the first to ask me.”

Out of Mercury’s sight, Fang Tinglan slowly clenched his hand, but his expression unaffected.

“In that case, I’ll tell you something I know — someone said that Fei Yi is in Tisu.”

“Why don’t you continue asking them then?” Mercury returned.

“They died.” Fang Tinglan answered with a smile.

Mercury stayed silent.

Fang Tinglan didn’t mind his lack of response. Instead, he took the chance to emphasize a couple of points.

“When Hai Lian introduced you to me, he said you were the best informant in Anwan’na District. Even high officials in Bainiao District still need to swallow their pride and consult you.”

His voice maintained a calm and gentle tone, completely different from the other people who came for information. Those people spoke hurriedly, anxiously, and aggressively, their every word filled with their shallow desires. Mercury was neither afraid of his customers, nor did he care what they meant to do with the information they received. In his eyes, those who wanted information from him were no different from those who wanted to sleep with him.

Yet in this moment, instinct told him that the person in front of him was more dangerous than all his previous customers combined.

Much more dangerous.

“…Dear guest, I can only tell you that Fei Yi isn’t in Bainiao district.” Despite his dry throat, Mercury still subconsciously swallowed.

“The people of Bainiao despise everything about the Dongzhou people, except their wallets. If a Dongzhou general were to appear at some nobleman’s banquet, there is no way I wouldn’t know — unless this Fei Yi managed to change his entire face and disguised himself as a Beimo mercenary or some Nanjing military officer…”

The lock sounded outside. Moments later, the aroma of flour floated through the cracks. Hai Lian was back with lunch.

Surrounded by the scents of tobacco and food, the two sat in silence.

“I’ll put my trust in your efforts.” Fang Tinglan spoke first.

“No problem. I’ll help you investigate and let you know if I find anything,” Mercury promised. He stood up, emptied his pipe, and moved to leave this depressing room.

“Don’t worry about the money yet, I’ll come find you when the time is right.”

“Well, I don’t want to leave empty handed.” Fang Tinglan said, “Let me ask you about someone you definitely have information on.”


“Hai Lian.”

Mercury almost choked. He stared at the man.

“Didn’t he bring you here? If you want to know about him, can’t you just ask him?”

“I’m itching to spend money.” Fang Tinglan said without batting an eye. He held out a gold coin for Mercury to see.

“Say anything that comes to mind, like what Hai Lian used to do or if he has any family left in the city. Things like this.”

“Why are you asking about him?”

“I like Hai Lian — fell for him at first sight and want to know him a little better,” Fang Tinglan said without so much as a blush.

This time Mercury actually choked. He coughed and massaged his neck, looking to Fang Tinglan when he finally caught his breath.

He knew Fang Tinglan was lying. But passing up a chance to make money was like passing up a chance to get a man laid. It just wasn’t his style. Mercury decided to only answer Fang Tinglan’s first question.

“I haven’t known Hai Lian for very long. Back then, he was still a mercenary in the Baihu gang and was in charge of dealing with situations that couldn’t be solved by a simple gang fight. Three years ago he messed up and defected from the gang. With nowhere left to go, he went to Yun Sea to become a pirate. But Lady Luck was on his side. He was on the run for no more than a year before the public security department dealt with the leader of the Baihu Gang.

Nobody was hunting him down anymore, so he moved here from Yangjiao District. From time to time he’d come to me for information — sometimes as a pirate, sometimes as an assassin. In the end, he’s just making a living by selling his life.”

“He’s quite skilled,” Fang Tinglan suddenly interrupted.

“Not like any ordinary mercenary.”

“Of course,” Mercury said plainly. “The Baihu Gang spend many years training their mercenaries.”

Fang TInglan was startled, his expression changing for the first time since he entered the room.

“You said he… was trained by the gang?”

“Of course,” Mercury wrinkled his brow.

“What’s the problem?”

“It’s not possible,” Fang Tinglan blurted out.

“What’s so impossible about it?” Mercury didn’t realize Fang Tinglan would actually care about this small detail and couldn’t help disagreeing.

“You think gangs can’t train their members well? Come off it. From the start, Tisu specialized in producing assassins. We know the techniques and strategies much better than you Dongzhou people. Hai Lian’s teacher was the ‘Blind Eagle Ah’ge.’ Twenty years ago, he was the best assassin of Jiumeng City.”

After speaking, Mercury took the gold coin and added, “Alright. I won’t answer any other questions about Hai Lian, even if you paid extra.”

“I thought you’d forgotten that you were selling information.” Fang Tinglan’s smile disappeared.

“I always give business my all.” Mercury held Fang Tinglan’s gaze.

“But Hai Lian is my friend.”

“I know. It wasn’t me he bought lunch for.” Fang Tinglan nodded.

“Dear guest,” Mercury warned, “On account of the gold coin, I’ll give you a warning. If you really want to pursue Hai Lian, be careful of his lover.”

“His lover?”

“Didn’t you meet Hai Lian at sea?” Mercury raised a brow. “It’s his vicious and nasty captain, Hui Sha.”

“So it was like that… ” Fang Tinglan murmured.

“Hm?” Mercury didn’t quite catch Fang Tinglan’s quiet Dongzhou speech.

“Nothing. I was just thanking you for the reminder, but I don’t think I need to worry about a dead man.” Fang Tinglan smiled and headed for the door first, leaving a stunned Mercury behind.

Outside, Hai Lian had already finished his portion. He licked his fingers, frowned, and complained.

“You sure took your sweet time.”

“Jealous?” Seeing Hai Lian glare at him, Fang Tinglan changed his tune.

“Just a joke. Thank you for buying lunch; you’ve worked hard.”

Hai Lian hummed.

“Hurry up and eat; it’ll get cold.”

Fang Tinglan smiled and answered, then turned to Mercury.

“Come on.”

He walked out the door.

The informant was still standing in the inner room. He cursed the seemingly unshakeable Dongzhou man. After a while, he finally found words:

“If you’ve really fallen for Hai Lian… then that’s your bad luck.”



Fang Tinglan: I’ve seriously fallen for him

Hai Lian: Then you’re seriously unlucky

Fang Tinglan: ……

  • 1
    hostage Prince Qin Weiyu of Southern Hong: As collateral for alliances between two kingdoms, they would exchange princes (usually not the crown prince).


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