Chapter 2451: Pretending to be a Couple
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Translated by XephiZ
Edited by Aelryinth
The others had left to carry out their tasks. Hua Yuezhu remained beside Zhang Xiaohou, standing there elegantly.
Hua Yuezhu was an imperial bodyguard, and her job was to protect Zhang Xiaohou. She did not take part in other jobs.
“I’m thinking of visiting the villages to learn more about this place, but if we wear our uniforms, the villages might be afraid of us. I think we should change into some casual clothes,” Zhang Xiaohou suggested.
“Afraid of us? Why would the villages be afraid of soldiers? Are they doing something fishy?” Hua Yuezhu asked quickly.
“Not necessarily. Most civilians are respectful but cautious towards the police and the military. If we talk to them in our uniforms, they will only give simple responses to our questions, and we won’t find the answers we are looking for. If we are dressed casually, they will treat us as passersby. They will act more normal around us, but we will have to distinguish whether what they say is the truth or something they made up,” Zhang Xiaohou answered.
Zhang Xiaohou had investigated many incidents happening in villages and towns when he was in Qinling Mountains. The Magic Association had passed the incidents they could not handle to the government and the military.
Zhang Xiaohou was thus experienced in dealing with locals. He had problems in the past discovering any useful information when he visited the villages and towns in uniform.
The two changed into some casual clothes and pretended to be young travelers.
The village had electricity, but most households had already gone to bed. It was only a little past eight, but there were not many people outdoors.
Zhang Xiaohou was wearing a windbreaker and a warm shirt underneath. The coasts were cold at night, especially in the colder seasons. It was important to wear some warm clothes.
Hua Yuezhu had changed into a pair of jeans and a jacket with open slits. She was wearing a close-fitting sweatshirt underneath.
Zhang Xiaohou had not known Hua Yuezhu for long, and he always saw her in her uniform. She always wore a pair of loose military trousers instead of a skirt.
Her appearance changed as soon as she changed her clothes. She no longer had the heroic and sharp bearing of a soldier; she looked far more sweet-tempered and charming, like a beautiful woman from the city.
“What is it?” Hua Yuezhu was puzzled. She did not understand why General Zhang was looking at her differently.
“It’s my first time seeing you outside of uniform. I think it suits our disguise perfectly,” Zhang Xiaohou said.
Hua Yuezhu thought Zhang Xiaohou would compliment her on her looks. She pulled a long face after hearing his neutral words.
The peninsula must have rarely had any tourists. They did not see an inn or hotel where they could stay for the night.
They found only a house with a stone fence. They went closer to the door.
The house was very old, as its wooden walls had already darkened. It must have been built a long time ago.
“Can I help you?” An old man was smoking cigarettes and drinking tea in the yard.
A dog started barking there. The old man snapped at the dog to stop before looking at Zhang Xiaohou and Hua Yuezhu again.
Zhang Xiaohou scratched his head and said with an awkward smile, “Mister, my friend and I were cycling when we saw this beautiful place. We crossed the wetland and came to take a look, but we couldn’t get back after the tide rose and drowned the trail.”
“Oh, no wonder I have never seen you around before. Are you having a hard time finding a place to stay for the night?” the man asked.
“Yes, we couldn’t find any inn,” Zhang Xiaohou confirmed.
“That’s normal, we rarely have any outsiders. You can stay here for the night if you don’t mind. I’ll ask my son to prepare a room for you. Ugh, do you mind sleeping on the floor? I’ll give you a mattress.” The old man shook off the ashes on his cigarette.
“That will do, thank you.”
“Thank you so much.”
“It’s nothing. Come and have some tea. I can tell you two are tired. Have a seat… my goodness, young man, you have a beautiful girlfriend. Lucky you,” the old man said.
Hua Yuezhu was happy to hear the compliment, and purposely looked at Zhang Xiaohou. She believed Zhang Xiaohou should have said something similar to her before.
“Mister, we saw a lot of factories and fields on our way here. What are they for?” Zhang Xiaohou asked casually.
“They are used to dry salt. What else can they be used for? Most of the villagers here either plant sugar cane or are salt farmers. We manage our own fields and dry the salt. The factories send someone to collect them. They will tell us the price depending on the salt’s quality,” the old man poured them a few cups of tea.
“Is the salt used for food?” Hua Yuezhu asked brightly.
The old man burst out laughing and said, “It sounds like you two are students. There’s a huge difference between edible salt and industrial salt. We are producing sea salt. It is only edible after it’s processed through some complicated methods. The salt we produce is for other uses.”
“Other uses?” Zhang Xiaohou had a feeling he was on the right track.
The old man stopped talking. He obviously did not want to say too much to outsiders.
Hua Yuezhu was impatient. She wanted to ask more, but Zhang Xiaohou stopped her with a look.
The old man was obviously going to be suspicious if they kept asking questions. There must be a reason why he did not answer the question.
Zhang Xiaohou was growing more suspicious of the factories.
Salt might have a lot of other uses, but there were no logistics in place to transport the salt from the peninsula. Were the farmers producing so much salt just for themselves?
“Father, I’ve prepared the room,” a tanned man around the age of twenty-seven spoke up.
“Go get some rest. You two can go around the towns tomorrow. The path you took will only return after several days,” the old man told them.
Zhang Xiaohou brought Hua Yuezhu to the second floor. The old man’s son was staring at Hua Yuezhu, as if he had never seen such a beautiful woman before.
The old man hit his son on the head and scolded, “What are you looking at? That’s someone else’s girlfriend. You can get your own wife. You say you don’t fancy the girls in our village. Go and look in the cities then, but how are you going to make a living there? You only know how to dry salt!”
“Father, didn’t I stay because I wanted to take care of you? You would be alone if I moved to the cities. I’ve given up a potentially great life just to stay with you,” the young man protested.
The father and son were talking so loudly that Hua Yuezhu could hear them on the second floor. She giggled when she heard them argue.
“They are pretty funny.”
“The old man must know a lot of things,” Zhang Xiaohou said softly.
“How can you tell? I feel like he’s just an ordinary old man.”
“He’s a Mage.”
“What?” Hua Yuezhu was confused. She had not been able to tell that the ordinary-looking old man was a Mage!