The spy glared at Ye Lang. “What'd you bring me back for?” he asked indignantly.
“Drop the act, it’s only you now. You can start speaking,” said Ye Lang slowly, tapping gently on the desk.
“What are you talking about? I don’t understand!” The spy was confused.
“I saw a will to live in your eyes, but even more so, greed. I don’t understand why your kingdom would pick you for a job like this! Alright, if you tell me what you know, I’ll let you go. I’ll give you a new identity and heaps of riches!” said Ye Lang slowly. The spy’s face changed with every sentence he spoke.
“I’m not…” The spy tried to object, but when he looked into Ye Lang’s eyes, he dropped his head. “Alright, I admit I am that kind of person. I can’t believe saw through me so soon, you’re not as simple as the rumours say!”
“Of course not, I just like to keep a low profile, that’s all,” Ye Lang accepted every compliment without a hint of embarrassment.
Ye Lang was shameless, yes, but no one noticed how he possessed unusual wit and wisdom before. Was he faking it?
Nonetheless, inviting Ye Lang over to solve this case was the right decision. He did way more than he was required!
“What do you want to know?” asked the spy.
“It’s simple, just tell me everything. So many spies from different countries came to gather here, why?” asked Ye Lang.
“I’m not sure, but I heard from the higher-ups that we are all observers this time. They told us we could just enjoy the scenery and maybe earn something if the opportunity presented itself!” The spy spilled everything. The issue was, what he said could not clarify the whole situation.
“Enjoy what scenery?” asked Ye Lang.
“Don’t know. All I know is that it's something related to your empire’s internal affairs, also it was one of you who hired us,” replied the spy.
“What?!” Everyone in the darkroom was shocked, they never imagined this to be something started by someone from within.
Now they were confused. Who could it be? Also, why?
“Okay, take him away!” Ye Lang felt he could not get any more information, so he ordered the guards to lock him up.
“Didn’t you say you would grant me freedom and riches?” cried the spy as he struggled.
“I did, but I didn’t say right now. Plus, it’s none of my business. Alright I’ve had my fun, I’m leaving!” Ye Lang stood up and stretched.
“You… You’re shameless…”
“Who said I’m toothless, I have a mouthful of good teeth!” Ye Lang opened his mouth wide and revealed his sparkling shiny teeth.
[Note: Shameless sounds like toothless in Mandarin]
Ye Lang returned to the study after he completed his mission, preparing to leave. Obviously the emperor and the rest would not let him leave that easily before figuring out what happened.
“Ye Lang, how did you know the spy would talk?” This was the emperor’s first question.
“It’s simple. I sentenced one person to death, but this man still reacted with so much defiance although there were still eleven of them left. This either meant he was extremely loyal or wanted to negotiate in private. I decided to check, and I turned out to be right,” waved Ye Lang casually.
“You were testing him? I thought you knew. He was strange though, why didn’t he consider you might actually kill him for real? That he might be very unlucky?” asked the seventh princess.
“Who knows what he was thinking. I guess he’s the type to die for money!” Ye Lang was not sure either, only the spy would know.
Nonetheless, it was not important anymore!
“Then let me ask you this, why did you release the spies who should be locked up, and locked up the rest instead?” This was the emperor’s second question.
“What do you mean? Didn’t you say I could do whatever? I admired their pride so I let them go, people like them are hard to come by these days!” This was Ye Lang’s answer.
“…” The emperor and others stayed silent. They should’ve known, this guy would not care about who deserved to be released. He only cared if he liked them.
That question was useless!
However, there was an interesting turn of events. The spies who were all loyal were executed one after another back home. Their kingdoms all grew suspicious of one another
The reason was simple. Although they told the truth, the situation was too absurd to be true. This led to authorities thinking the spies were lying, that they betrayed their own country. They thought the spies were spreading rumors for the Soaring Sky Empire.
If they were locked up here, their countries would do their best to negotiate terms and get them out. They were irreplaceable, talented spies after all.
However, with Ye Lang releasing them like this, these spies lost their kingdom’s trust and only gained suspicion.
The ones who were locked up gained their kingdom’s respect, thinking they were good spies.
The loyal ones were executed while the unfaithful ones were rewarded. The capability of the kingdoms fell.
Many people began to suspect if this was Ye Lang’s plan all along...
“That head. Was it one of your alchemy things?”
“Yeah, I can make an exact copy of anything in a very short span of time. Not just heads, I can make other stuff too,” nodded Ye Lang.
This kid had all things weird, even the handwritten order… Right. The order.
“One more question. How did you get that order?” This was a serious matter, it had to be clarified.
“I bought it, obviously,” Ye Lang’s answer was surprising yet very possible because he did buy a lot of curious artefacts.
“… Where did you buy it?” The emperor and rest were speechless.
“Got it on Baker Street, there’s a lot of fun things there. I saw this blank order by accident... I bought it to pull a few pranks but I guess it turned out to be very useful,” replied Ye Lang, his tone casual and calm as if he did not know how serious this was.
“Is this real?” asked the emperor seriously.
“It’s a fake!” answered Ye Lang instantly.
“…Fake?” The emperor and the rest looked at the order. Something was different, but they couldn’t tell what.
“Can’t you tell? The royal jade seal, it’s too perfect!” said Ye Lang.
“That’s right, look here. The real royal jade seal has a flaw at the bottom left corner, this jade seal, however, is perfectly complete.” Everyone suddenly came to a realization. They could not believe they forgot about this detail.
Although they saw the jade seal on a daily basis, it was easy to neglect this tiny detail.
Also, it was because they thought no one would dare to forge the royal seal, so they wouldn’t notice something like that!
“Who did this? How dare they forge the jade seal!” said the emperor in a low voice. He would definitely conduct an investigation on this.
“I don’t know, there was only one piece left at the shop. Also, even if you knew, you wouldn’t be able to investigate anymore,” said Ye Lang.
“Why?” asked the Emperor.
“This order may look new, but it is actually something from two hundred years ago. This order was made from Hui snow paper, this material vanished two hundred years ago,” said Ye Lang. Just when he was about to continue, someone interrupted —
“This piece of paper might have been passed down to the next generation to make the order, no?”
“Uh, probably. But there is a small signature up here. The guy who made this left his signature here, it even has his name and the date. I know you can’t tell, but in between these patterns right here, he used the lines to cover his name. Don’t say someone else pretended to be him, because no one could have done something like this…”
“World’s Greatest Craftsman, Hong Ye…”
“Hong Ye is no doubt the world’s greatest craftsman, the order looks so realistic! This is a very valuable piece of artefact. And Ye Lang, you scribbled on it, what a waste!!” It was a pity.
“Nah, my words are more valuable than his. This order would have a higher value because I scribbled on it!” Ye Lang ignored everyone and left.
Ye Lang and the two girls left the premise, but the Emperor and others could not leave yet. They had to find out who the mole was and what they wanted…
Although none of this could be confirmed, they could be sure of one thing. Something was about to happen. They had to strengthen their defences without anyone knowing in case they rattled the enemy.
However, they had to figure out who was to be in charge of the defence. It had to be someone they trusted because this case was caused by a mole.
Everyone thought of Ye Lang but they denied it immediately. He was not suitable for something like this.
Then, everyone thought of their children. Their children were the most trustworthy people they knew. Even the emperor would think of his children first too.
The emperor did a mental selection process. He picked the ones who would never betray him and would complete the mission best...
Ye Lang was omitted, as well as Ye Lanyu. Even the seventh princess was omitted too!
It was not that these three were not trustworthy. It was because these three were not suitable for the job, their souls were far too pure to battle against dark forces. It seemed like people who spent time with Ye Lang had such pure souls...
Whatever the others had to say, it would not affect the relationship between these three. They grew up together and were always together. Although they argued a lot, the three of them were still closer than ever...