Shangguan Yu ignored the other players and turned to his husband, lowering his voice so nobody else could hear. “You talk with him.” Anyway, this was still the NPC he had almost killed the other day. That did make him feel a little awkward.
Ao Jing nodded and then reached out, taking his hand and interlacing their fingers before he pulled him toward the table in the corner where Liangqiu Min was already sitting with a pot of tea in front of him.
The NPC glanced up at them when they approached and then motioned at the chairs on the other side of the table. “Please, take a seat.”
He took the teapot and then filled their cups, looking very much as if he had also just arrived instead of already sitting here for several days.
Ao Jing accepted the cup of tea and gave him a nod. “I hope we didn’t make you wait. Anyway, considering that your life is at stake, you probably don’t want to waste any time with pleasantries. Let’s talk frankly: What is your plan?”
Liangqiu Min gave him an appreciative gaze, obviously happy that he wasn’t talking in circles. “We do know what that merchant Wang’s plan is but that is only because we do have some inside information. Nobody else is privy to this.”
Shangguan Yu couldn’t help but glance at his husband, poking his leg under the table.
Ao Jing glanced at him and looking at the expression in his eyes, he turned back to Liangqiu Min. “That merchant Wang overtly announced that you had been killed on the market square of the town. I’m not sure if it can really be said that nobody else is privy to this information.”
Liangqiu Min fell silent for a moment and gave a hum. This was slightly unexpected. Thinking about it for a moment, he didn’t have trouble figuring out what was going on though. “Most likely, he is playing two games at the same time: For one, he is trying to ruin the relationship between my family and that of my fiance, and second, he wants to make sure that his position in that town is secured.
“People have likely been unhappy with him. After hearing of me marrying into the family that is directly opposing him, they might’ve held a faint hope that things would turn for the better. But now, ha has pronounced me dead. That will shatter their hope and make it much less likely that they will turn against him. After all, they will be afraid that they could be the next ones.”
Ao Jing slightly furrowed his brows. “What you say does make sense but how to make sure that your family won’t become aware of this matter? It does seem a little … risky.”
Liangqiu Min nodded slowly. “That is indeed a problem. And to be honest, I haven’t quite figured it out myself. I’m afraid that to solve this puzzle, we would need to acquire some more information.”
Ao Jing and Shangguan Yu exchanged a glance. Obviously, this was the part of the task they would have to accomplish next to solve this quest.
Seeing that it was something so straightforward, Shangguan Yu straightened up. “Please tell us what you want us to do. We’ll go and accomplish it at once.”
Liangqiu Min’s gaze flickered toward him, seeming quite complicated. The appreciation for helping him out mixed with a feeling of dread and anger for what he had done was quite difficult to bear. He didn’t know what to do.
After a moment of silence, he still explained his plan. “I’m sure that this merchant Wang couldn’t have worked alone. For one, he must’ve gotten the drawing of me somehow. So there’s likely a traitor in my fiance’s family.
“Then, he would need somebody in an appropriate position in the town that he can trust in case something goes wrong or if my family comes to inquire. Since I’ve only once been to the town before, I can’t make any guess as to whom that might be. You will have to find out yourself. It might very well be somebody from the guards or law enforcement because those would likely be the ones my family would go and ask if they were investigating my death.
“You should go and make some inquiries into this. From there on, we can plan further. Overall, we have to make sure that we get a clear picture of what is going on so we can expose him to my family when they come over later on.”
Shangguan Yu nodded and promised that they would do that. Ao Jing also gave his word and the two of them got up and left the teahouse, stopping a few meters away to talk things through among themselves.
“What do you think of this? We could probably go to one of these places after the other or we could split up and investigate both places at the same time. That might save some time.”
Ao Jing nodded at that. “Yes, we’d be faster if we split up but we do have more time with each other if we go together.” He squeezed Shangguan Yu’s hand, giving him a happy smile. To be honest, he didn’t really want to split up. It would be much better to stay together.
Shangguan Yu shook his head at him with a smile. “Yes, I’m sure that you see it like this. Anyway, staying together also has the advantage that we can talk things through together. And two pairs of eyes still see more than one. We might overlook some clue if we were alone.”
Ao Jing nodded and then motioned down the path that was leading past the teahouse. “The town isn’t far from here so I guess we should go over right away. There is still quite a bit of time today, isn’t there?”
Shangguan Yu nodded and the two of them made their way over to the town’s gate. When they arrived, there was the same guard standing there on duty as had been the last time. His gaze was different though. Before Shangguan Yu could ask Ao Jing for his opinion, the guard already motioned in their direction and his voice rang out.
“There! Those are the evil practitioners that murdered Mister Liangqiu! Apprehend them!”