Rong Yan’s little mansion, London
It was already evening. The hue of the evening sun was especially good-looking as it littered the area around the mansion in a shade of gold. The tall trees, green grass, and beautiful flowers made the scenery especially beautiful. Under the evening sun, it seemed like a static picture that carried a serenity and elegance.
Ye Wei took off her glasses and exclaimed. “It’s so beautiful! Rong Yan, what kind of hotel are you staying in?”
Rong Yan gently smiled and said, “Did you all believe me when I said I was staying in a hotel? Even after leaving Chu Li, I am not so despondent to the point I am utterly homeless and have to resort to staying in a hotel. Come on in.”
She led them into the mansion which was comfortably, cozily, and simply decorated. What looked like an utterly opulent mansion from the outside had a very homey interior that used warm colors. While the interior of the mansion did not complement its exterior, it gave people a feeling of home. It was extremely comfortable, cozy, and suited Rong Yan’s style.
“Was this a gift from Scheming Chu?” Ye Wei asked reflexively. Rong Yan followed Chu Li for five years, and they were only on better terms in the past one to two years following trials and tribulations. To gift her a mansion was hence not excessive. Rong Yan always stayed in the mansion and was responsible for sustaining Chu Li. When she was free, she was either tending to her plants or in the research lab and would occasionally take part in viral research for the terrorist organization. Although she had numerous qualifications ranging from TCM to herbal medicine to nutrition and biological studies, she never seemed to have struck out to make a living on her own.
Because of her connections with Scheming Chu, Rong Yan’s full gamut of talents was put to the service of the organization. Since Chu Li was their own, he would naturally not give her wages. After all, when Chu Li bought her from the slave market back then, Rong Yan had sworn to serve him for life.
Rong Yan smiled and shook her head. Eleven sat down on the sofa and coolly said, “Look, when did Scheming Chu even give Rong Yan anything? Rong Yan, I think you got the shorter end of the stick. A member serving in the experts’ service team earns close to ten million yuan annually, and that is before bonuses. He really has to give you something, and you should settle this score with him when you are free.”
Rong Yan prepared coffee for them and laughed. “They owe you quite a bit as well.”
“Are you saying that all that talk of bounty hunting results in no dough for the job? That is too much,” Ye Wei replied in righteous indignation. “How do you, without any income, get this mansion?”
Rong Yan brought the coffee over and gently smiled as she said, “Last year, I happened to save Count Rehage’s son and Count Rehage gave me the mansion as a gift.”
“That explains it then. To think that you have quite some dealings hidden away from Chu Li, not too shabby there.” Ye Wei chuckled.
“It is utterly pathetic for women who do not a source of income as they have to always rely on men,” Eleven plainly replied. If they had money, they did not have to worry about their livelihoods for their entire lives and could afford opulent lifestyles. They could lose everything save their financial sovereignty.
Rong Yan smiled and said, “If I had no money, I would definitely end up on the streets once I decided to simply walk out of the castle. Now that I have left him, I can live a comfortable life, and it’s better to clarify things.”
“You can’t be serious?” Ye Wei was shocked. “It’s one thing to vent your anger, and if Scheming Chu goes berserk and pulls off another life-death act, you will never be this lucky all the time.”
Rong Yan gently smiled and said, “I am indeed tired. While I have never thought of giving up, I want to take a temporary break. All this said, taking a break helps me travel further.”
“My surname’s Ye, and I am illiterate. Don’t ask me anything. My surname’s Ye, and I am illiterate.”
Rong Yan was at a loss for words.
“…More like ruffian,” Eleven said.
“Indeed,” Rong Yan replied.
Ye Wei played along with the muses and took off her shoes to reveal the bridge of her feet that Rong Yan had stepped on. “Rong Yan, don’t you feel ashamed? Did you just assume that your heels had no weight and left my feet with all these bruises?”
Her extremely good-looking feet were pale and as good-looking as jade. The bruises on the bridge of her feet ruined its natural beauty.
Eleven jabbed her evilly and Ye Wei kept her feet back as she rubbed it. Rong Yan said, “I know my limits. It will recover in two days.”
“You sure are one mean person. If you want us to teach Fang Ying a lesson, just throw us an eye gesture and we will settle the rest. If you want to have somebody do your dirty deeds, please do not injure them too.” Ye Wei silently mourned for her feet.
“I’ll make up for that with yummy dishes tonight.”
Eleven shook her head and asked Rong Yan, “Is Fang Ying scheming against you?”
Rong Yan’s character could be described with one word: harmonious. This was on the condition that one did not provoke her. If she could have Ye Wei teach Fang Ying a lesson this brazenly, Fang Ying must have provoked her.
Rivals in love are bound to unavoidably confront each other.
Bitterness flashed through the bottom of Rong Yan’s eyes as though there was a hint of agony in it. Her smile became much more subdued. As Ye Wei and Eleven looked on, they felt a little sad for her. Rong Yan, for Chu Li, had given up everything—her identity, fame, family. Everything. They could not bear to see the disappointment on her face.
She deeply pondered and asked, “What kind of person do you think Fang Ying is?”
“Fang Ying?” Ye Wei had a cup of coffee and smiled gorgeously. “I always clashed with her since young, and I would always avoid her, and likewise for her. We then ran the world, and she left Chu Li for a whole seven years. When she returned, I still disliked her. We never really talked, and I cannot say for certain how she is exactly like.”
Rong Yan looked at Eleven, and Eleven said with a hint of resignation, “She and I are inseparable. You know that I never crack my brain when she is around. If she is not certain about her character, so am I.”
Ye Wei propped up her chin and recalled her past few interactions with Fang Ying. She pondered for a moment and then said, “I can’t quite put a finger on what I am feeling, and all I know is that I just do not like her. While she used to be extremely adaptable and wise-cracking when she was younger, I feel that the more recent her is like a clown on stage. She might want to butter up to Chu Li and drive you away.”
“Why are you suddenly asking about Fang Ying?” Eleven was curious.
Rong Yan propped her chin and pondered deeply. Was that what it was? A clown on stage? “I can’t quite put a finger on how I feel. I just feel that this woman is not simple. How are her skills?”
“She is not too bad. I used to bicker with her and got into fights with her when I was younger. Hell, there were several times I almost wanted to disfigure her, and she has pretty damn good reflexes.” Ye Wei shrugged her shoulders.
“Did you know that? I have not seen her show her skills. I did ask Chu Li the same question, and he said no as well.”
“To remain in the mansion is nothing short of being useless.” Ye Wei was baffled. “Rong Yan, what are you trying to say?”
“I do not know, and I am just suddenly asking,” Rong Yan smiled and shook her head. A few images quickly flashed through her head and she was not able to capture them. She had to make do and said, “It’s fine. It has nothing to do with me anyway.”
“It really has nothing to do with you?” Ye Wei ambiguously jabbed the bite marks on her neck. “Who are you bluffing?”
Rong Yan had to change to a high collar coat, and she slightly blushed. “There is no relationship for now.”
Ye Wei wanted to ask some more questions, but Rong Yan sweetly smiled with a few silent hints of threatening. “I should add this. Please do not ask about things between me and him. I have no intention to feed your gossip, and I will not allow you to fish information from me.”
“Yan Yan, I am hungry.” Ye Wei responded well. Since Rong Yan would not allow them to ask, she did not ask and feigned dead on the sofa she lied on, touching her flat stomach. “I only had breakfast today…”
Eleven went to the fridge and there were indeed a few plates of desserts in them. She brought them over, and Ye Wei ate them up ravenously without care for her etiquette. As she ate, she said with food in her mouth, “Rong Yan, if you are down-and-out, open a little restaurant. I am very sure you will survive.”
The desserts and dishes that Rong Yan made were some of the nicest that Ye Wei had eaten. Rong Yan had the ability to turn anything in her hands into a delicacy, and Ye Wei, although having traveled the world and savored delicacies, had never been able to eat anything as good as what Rong Yan prepared.
As it was Rong Yan’s sentiments too, she smiled.
She went to the nearby supermarket to get some ingredients Ye Wei and Eleven liked and returned home to whip up an extremely sumptuous dinner for Ye Wei and Eleven. Due to her god-like culinary skills, Ye Wei and Eleven gobbled up all the food on the table.
As they were people of special identities, not to mention how Silver Face was following them, they could not always stay at Rong Yan’s place since Rong Yan would be in immense danger. Although Rong Yan did not mind, Ye Wei and Eleven minded.
If something happened to her, somebody would definitely go mad.
After dinner, Ye Wei turned on the computer and received an email by accident. She opened the email and her lips involuntarily curled into a smile. She called Eleven and said, “We’ve got a new job.”
The email was sent by a French businessman who offered them ten million USD to steal a particular painting.
Rong Yan was curious and asked, “What painting could be worth this much?”
“Rich people have many fetishes, and they are burning money by offering ten million USD for a single painting,” Ye Wei shrugged her shoulders. She pulled out information about the drawing. It was a famous French painting from the 14th century of a girl, who was good-looking, elegant, and sexy, in a golden suit.
“This painting is not worth the price,” Rong Yan said as she pointed to the documents. “It is worth three million USD at best.”
“Hearsay has it that smuggling of artifacts has been pretty brazen thus far?” Eleven asked Rong Yan. “Indeed. The Mafia is extremely short on money, and with the firearms market locked down by Jason and Chu Li, they should be resorting to smuggling artifacts, precious jewels, and drugs to profit off them. With so many famous paintings in London that were recently stolen, the Mafia must be, especially smuggling drugs and artifacts.
Ye Wei raised her eyebrows and said, “I really cannot see how a messed-up drawing is worth this much if one brings it home for appreciation. Does he have that DNA in him? I am illiterate, and the lady in the painting is, in my honest opinion, not as good-looking as me.”
“Her narcissism is nowhere like yours.” Rong Yan laughed and tapped her. She went to make them a cup of flower tea as they had overeaten earlier.
Eleven used another computer to look for information and learned that the painting was in a secret room in Henry’s ancient castle that was loaded with hidden traps. Hearsay had it that people who stole the painting would be cursed and would either go mad or die. Eleven conveniently looked up who had tried to steal the painting and discovered a name by accident.
Silver Face had tried to steal it before?
He failed two years ago and was captured by Count Henry. He was released under ambiguous circumstances and then he left. As she told Ye Wei, Ye Wei raised her eyebrows but did not say a word.
“Eleven, look up the famous paintings which were lost in London in this period of time, and who else also stole this painting,” Ye Wei plainly replied.
The two of them went down to work. A moment later, Eleven said, “If the information is correct, all the famous paintings that were recently lost were all related to the Mafia. There were famous paintings in London, France, Athens, and other countries that were also lost.”
“Big Boss Mo is really talented.” Ye Wei laughed as she slumped onto the sofa and smiled. “With his funds being squeezed hard by Jason and Chu Li, he has nowhere else to go. When we needed money as badly back then, we stole brazenly too. These missing famous paintings will easily fetch several times their price in the black market when auctioned off then. F***, this was way easier than smuggling firearms. Damn, I have to give it to him.”
Eleven’s lips twitched. She said, “This is immoral. The risk in smuggling artifacts is too huge, and if it’s damaged in the process… Forget it. I am illiterate, so why should I bother.”
“But I feel it’s extremely strange. Given how eminent this target is, how could he strike?” Ye Wei grunted.
“Chances are that he is paying somebody for it.”
“Why doesn’t he steal the Mona Lisa instead? That would be worth so much more.” Ye Wei teased. “That’s not correct. Don’t we kill people? When did we become open bandits?”
Rong Yan brought some flower tea and said, “It’s not like you had not stolen before.”
Eleven suddenly said, “Wei Wei, could Mo Jue be in London for the smuggling of these artifacts? The artifacts that were lost in London have not cleared customs.
Ye Wei frowned and remained silent. She pulled out a few documents and read them. As of late, six of the top bandits had tried to get their hands on this drawing. Four of them were killed on the spot whilst the fates of the other two, who were captured, remained unknown.
She frowned. Were Henry’s security systems that powerful? Or were they as accursed as the information described them to be?
“Wei Wei, since Silver Face had failed before, would he steal it again?” Eleven grunted and asked. Ye Wei smiled gorgeously and said, “If I had failed before, I would undoubtedly try again.”
When Rong Yan saw their faces, she knew that they had made up their minds.
“If you get your hands on the drawing, he will even wish to kill you all.”
“Whatever. If Gorgeous Mo Jue is indeed here for these artifacts, I will make sure he loses everything.” Ye Wei smiled as beautifully as a flower. “Although I am illiterate and can’t quite appreciate artifacts for what they are, I am quite proficient at destroying them.”
Eleven wanted to see how formidable the hidden traps in the castle were, and so she nodded. She also had sparred with a few of them, amongst many, who had been to the castle on a one-way trip, and they were formidable.
“We act tonight.” Ye Wei flicked her fingers and stood up. She called Chu Li and said, “Scheming Chu, send me a copy of the map of Henry’s seaside castle. Everything.”
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