There is ‘u’ in volunteer
“The world will always be filled with injustice. If you have time to give up or hold a grudge against that injustice, then use that time to enjoy battling those injustices instead.”
--Koro-sensei, ‘Assassination Classroom’
Chapter 136 – There is ‘u’ in volunteer
Uncle Li Hong was frightened when Zhen Tian and Tian Zhu returned to the Li Clan residence to pick him up. The two bodyguards were escorted by Cao Shuang’s men, and they were all unfamiliar to him. But he knew of the two bodyguards and did not hesitate to follow them when they told him that Quan Lu and Huang Ming were in trouble.
“A matter of life and death! We must hurry!” the older man said anxiously.
Zhen Tian and Tian Zhu shared sheepish looks. How were they going to explain to him that their ward Quan Lu suddenly asked them to bring the paramount leader of the prominent Li Clan to a brothel?
When Li Hong saw that he was being led towards the pleasure district, his face turned white with shock, and then red with anger.
“Did my nephew get his thing stuck somewhere? I thought he had turned a new leaf!” he growled. His ears were steaming: just a few days ago the entire clan was exultant by the king’s royal summons for Huang Ming, and now that kid has the temerity to get into trouble in a pleasure house!
Zhen Tian and Tian Zhu kept their mouths shut, not wanting to be mired in explaining that their young master was completely innocent. They only hoped that Quan Lu and Cao Shuang would be able to clear up matters later.
Their shame about the subterfuge was replaced by unbridled joy when they came across not just Huang Ming but also Huang Lang in the brothel. Uncle Li Hong became emotional: the worry about Huang Lang’s disappearance had weighed heavily upon him though it was but a just a few short days.
The two brothers were bewildered at the sight of their uncle standing in the brothel, having just arrived there themselves. They had barely reunited with Quan Lu/Qiong Ying and Cao Shuang when their uncle arrived.
“Aren’t you a little too old to be visiting this sort of place?” Huang Ming asked slyly once the initial confusion wore off.
“You brat!” Uncle Li Hong roared. “If those two louts of yours didn’t come running home crying about how you were in trouble and needed rescue, I would never step foot in a place like this!”
“It wasn’t even me who had sent them,” Huang Ming said defensively, shooting Quan Lu a look. The disguised Qiong Ying was airily fanning herself, as if she was uninvolved in the matter.
‘I’ll need to have some long, meaningful talk with her later,’ he made a mental note. Maybe it was due to his age and clothing in this world, his deceptively slender physique and handsome boyish features, but it seemed all the women in this particular life were quite assertive and have the habit of making decisions and giving orders without taking him into account. From his mother to his two fiancées and to his sisters-in-laws, they all share the common characteristic of not taking him too seriously, despite his new-found status as a rising hero of the country.
Maybe he should be more assertive.
But where were all the docile, jade-skinned damsels in distress for him to provide relief for? Instead he had a fox and a pantheress for company.
Speaking of fiancées, where was Sunli? Huang Ming was a little surprised that the Amazon did not come running with his uncle to ‘rescue’ him.
“And you! Where have you been?” Li Hong whirled and gesticulated at Huang Lang in frustration.
“Uncle, I know you’re excited but please calm down,” Huang Lang said placatingly.
Huang Ming could not help but snicker at his choice of words. “Brother, you shouldn’t make fun of uncle like that. He can’t help but be excited here.”
There was a pause as everyone in the room took in what he said. Of course, there would be one or two whose eyes inevitably travelled downwards to verify Li Hong’s ‘excitement’.
“That is not what I meant,” Huang Lang said with vast understatement.
“I swear, you two will be the death of me. I can’t wait for you both to be gone from the capital,” Li Hong groused.
“Can we all please be serious here?” Cao Shuang demanded. Barely five minutes since he had seen the Huang brothers again and already they were giving him a headache.
“Nice to see you too,” Huang Ming said to him. “Does your sister know that you’re in this deadly conspiracy?”
“Conspiracy? What deadly conspiracy?” Li Hong interrupted.
“Why, didn’t anyone tell you? You’re now part of a secret plot to kill the Prime Minister of Wu,” Huang Ming replied casually.
“Kill the prime minister?” Li Hong’s mouth fell open.
“Yes. Welcome to the conspiracy,” Huang Ming said blandly.
There was another pregnant pause as Uncle Li Hong stared at him, aghast.
“You… uh, ah… I need to sit down,” Li Hong said weakly.
“Ah Ming, I would appreciate it if you do not say such things so openly,” Huang Lang said in admonishment. “One misstep and all our families can be implicated,” he added ominously.
“Oh, now you want to keep our family out of it,” Huang Ming said sarcastically. “What about me then?”
“I knew I could count on you,” his brother said dryly.
“So you have made your resolve?” ‘Quan Lu’ spoke up, snapping his fan shut.
“Big brother over here,” Huang Ming said while jerking a thumb at Huang Lang, “…had even deceived Princess Wu Liying.”
“You have done what to who now?” Uncle Li Hong exclaimed, jumping back to his feet.
“Uncle, it was a necessary ruse for me to enter the palace,” Huang Lang answered.
“Enter the palace?” Li Hong repeated in disbelief.
“Don’t worry, she has forgiven us,” Huang Ming said cheerily.
Cao Shuang drew a deep breath. “You have succeeded then?” he asked.
Huang Lang nodded. “We have met the king,” he informed him.
“Met the king?” Li Hong echoed weakly.
Huang Lang looked at each person in the room in the eyes.
“The king himself has called for us to rid the country of Tong Xuan,” he announced solemnly.
Huang Ming smiled. “Congratulations. All of you have been volunteered.”
The course is set,
No time for them to fret.