When they arrived, Shangguan Yu looked at the people that were still lying on the ground and sighed. “Ah, I should have listened to you. They really don’t look like the bandits Merchant Wang described.”
That Liangqiu Min was wearing a simple but elegant robe while the other people were wearing something more practical, all in the same color and style. Obviously, this was some important person traveling with his guards. How had he been able to think they were a group of bandits? It eluded him right now as well.
He sighed again and then crouched down next to the nearest guard, checking for clues.
Ao Jing surveyed the situation and then went over to Liangqiu Min himself, reaching out and holding his hand below his nose as if this were a real person. “It seems you’re in luck. Or maybe it’s not really luck but rather what this quest is about.”
Shangguan Yu raised his brows. “Why? Did you find some clue?”
Ao Jing shook his head and glanced over his shoulder. “I didn’t. But you can ask him yourself after we’ve healed them. This guy is still alive. Barely hanging on, but still alive.”
Shangguan Yu shot to his feet and stumbled over, almost falling to the ground in his haste. “Then give him a potion!”
Ao Jing smiled and reached out, poking his husband’s forehead. “The potions I have are for people with spiritual energy. He’s likely a normal person so that’d kill him. You’d better give him one of yours.”
Shangguan Yu slapped his forehead and then rushed to look through his inventory. Knowing this game, they were sadistic enough to only give them a certain timeframe before they would let this Liangqiu Min die. He definitely couldn’t waste this chance. He finally spotted a potion at the bottom of the list. Taking it out, he carefully tilted Liangqiu Min’s head and slowly poured the liquid into his mouth.
Thankfully, the people who designed the game at least weren’t making things so difficult that they would require them to do this like with a real person. After going through the motions, the man blinked his eyes before trying to get away from him with a shudder.
Shangguan Yu gave a strained smile and then raised his hand, which was still holding the potion.
Liangqiu Min furrowed his brows and looked at him as if he couldn’t quite understand what was going on. “You …” He looked as if he was pretty sure that this was the person who had killed him but didn’t understand what was going on. His expression didn’t look that optimistic though as if he was worried that he had only been saved to be tortured for answers.
Ao Jing sighed when he saw that. “This … I can imagine that you are wondering what is going on. Please let me explain.”
Liangqiu Min turned to him, seemingly not recognizing him. “Who are you?”
Ao Jing first pulled Shangguan Yu back slightly so he was out of the guy’s reach. While this Liangqiu Min hadn’t done anything yet and did not seem to be the bandit that Merchant Wang had claimed him to be, they couldn’t know how he would react in the end. He might as well try to kill them. Well, not that they could actually be killed. But he could imagine just how much Shangguan Yu would be cursing later on if he lost the experience points for this level.
“My name is Ao Jing. This here is my … companion, Shangguan Yu. He was told by a merchant surnamed Wang that a despicable group of bandits was terrorizing the people of his town. Unfortunately, you happen to match the portray that the merchant gave him. That was why he attacked you. We came back in the hope of rescuing you when we realized the mistake.”
Liangqiu Min furrowed his brows. “A merchant surnamed Wang?”
Ao Jing nodded. Judging from the expression of this NPC, he felt like there should be some relation between the two of them. At the very least, this guy should know who this merchant Wang was. “Yes.”
Turning to Shangguan Yu, Ao Jing motioned at the bag that he was carrying. “Why don’t you show him the painting? He might be able to tell us what exactly went wrong. It’s bad enough that this misunderstanding has cost several lives already. Since we were able to save at least one person, we have to get to the bottom of this.”
Shangguan Yu kept quiet, not daring to say anything for fear of making things worse again. Instead, he just nodded and took out the painting, handing it to Liangqiu Min. “This is the one.”
Liangqiu Min took the painting from him, unfurled the scroll, and then furrowed his brows when he saw it. “This …”
Ao Jing watched his reaction, feeling that it very much pointed in the direction that he had already assumed: Obviously, this painting was definitely not what it seemed to be. In fact, this Liangqiu Min seemed to know this painting. That was to say maybe it was even one that his family had made. “Do you recognize it?”
While it was good to watch for clues that could be had from things happening around them, verifying with the NPCs was still the better way. While there was a chance that they would be lying like that merchant, it was much easier to discern truth and falsehood from their words than it was from those minuscule clues around them.
Liangqiu Min stared at the painting and gave them a wry smile. “I do. In fact … This painting was done by a good friend.”
Shangguan Yu’s eyes went wide and he finally couldn’t hold himself back. “Do you think he gave it to that Merchant Wang because he wanted to get rid of you? Like, he isn’t a good friend after all?”
Liangqiu Min gave him a strange look while Ao Jing sighed.
“This friend … I guess he made the painting on your order?”
Liangqiu Min’s smile became a little softer when he was asked that question. “I wouldn’t call it an order. It was rather me asking him for a favor. You see, I’m about to get married. Unfortunately, my bride is … a little special. She was complaining that she had to have her marriage painting taken while she wouldn’t see one of me. She complained that if I was as ugly as an ogre, she’d rather commit suicide than to be wedded to me since I would obviously reject her for being ugly as well.”
Ao Jing and Shangguan Yu both blinked and then turned to each other as if on cue before awkwardly turning away. Somehow, this hit a little too close to home now that they were almost about to meet each other in real life.
If one of them was as ugly as an ogre … Would they get a divorce?