And the matter was settled.
Although Gordon was elated by the settlement, he knew it wasn’t suitable for him to show it.
“Divine Prince, thank you so much for saving Claire. I present my utmost gratitude. Master Cliff, you stood up for Claire today, I present my utmost respect and gratitude. Your eminence, Divine Princess, thank you for defending us. Please let me set up a banquet for all of you to express my gratitude.” Duke Gordon invited sincerely. Of course he had his own plans. Today was a good day. It was nice to gather with these famous people and would be even nicer if they could establish some close relationships. Especially with the people from the Temple of Light. Since the beginning of time, the relationship between the crown and the Temple had been complicated and subtle. Maintaining a good relationship with them on the outside can never do harm.
“It’s nothing. Your grace, you need not do so.” Leng Lingyun obviously loathed these gatherings, rejecting politely.
Naturally, the rest didn’t agree either. None of them liked these banquets.
“Well then, after ten days it’s Claire’s birthday. I hope all of you would be able to attend.” Duke Gordon was an old fox and immediately added.
“Oh, Claire, it’s almost your birthday?” Cliff and Lawrence both smiled at Claire, then turned to each other and glared.
Claire was at a loss. Birthday? There seemed to be such a day in her memory. But it seemed to be always Mother celebrating with her. The memory wasn’t that clear.
“It’s my disciple’s birthday. What’s that to do with you? Why are you so excited?” Cliff glared at Lawrence.
“In any case, Claire almost became my disciple. Of course I, as an elder, should show some care and buy her some presents.” Lawrence started blabbing.
“Pah! Since when did my disciple almost become your disciple? Tell me!” Cliff grabbed onto Lawrence and wouldn’t let go.
The two left quarreling with each other, with no concern for the rest behind them.
“I promise I’ll come to Claire’s birthday. Farewell today. Because I have just returned to the capital, I still need to deal with some business for the temple.” Leng Lingyun said politely.
“If so, great. I will be looking for the arrival of the Divine Prince that day then.” Gordon smiled, already exploding with happiness in his heart.
Astonishment flashed across the Divine Princess Liu Xueqing’s eyes. She almost thought she heard wrong. Lingyun actually agreed to attend those boring banquets?! He hated them! Numerous ladies had invited him and he had always refused flatly, yet today he agreed so quickly. Is it still only because Xuanxuan liked this Claire??!!
“Divine Princess, will you have time then too?” Duke Gordon brought the distracted Liu Xueqing back to reality.
“Of course. I will come with the Divine Prince.” Liu Xueqing smiled warmly, her usual elegant temperament.
“We will be so honored.” Duke Gordon was in a very good mood.
Throughout the conversation, Claire had not spoke a single word, for she was feeling a little uncomfortable. First, was the future of Alice’s family. Next, was Duke Gordon’s words and actions. Claire understood clearly that the future of Alice’s family had not been settled this way because the emperor overly shielded her, but instead was due to Duke Roman trying too hard to protect his granddaughter, infuriating the emperor. Profoundness suddenly filled Claire’s heart. If, one day, her own life came into conflict with the interest of the Hill clan, how would Duke Gordon choose?
The crowd exited the royal palace together. All the way till Liu Xueqing boarded her carriage, her eyes were fixed on the fur ball on Claire’s head. As the carriage started, Liu Xueqing lifted up the curtains, still staring at the figure, frowning and thinking. Suddenly, Liu Xueqing’s pupils dilated.
She recalled now. That fur ball was the fur ball that appeared on the black dragon’s back the day the Gift of the goddess was stolen!
Suppressing the urge to exclaim out loud, Liu Xueqing glanced at the Leng Lingyun beside her. She knew, if she told Leng Lingyun now, Leng Lingyun would only dislike her. The pope must be told, and after they’re sure about it they could tell Leng Lingyun. If it really had something to do with Claire, it would be a good thing for her. Lingyun has been growing more and more fond of that girl, and that wasn’t good.
At this time, Claire had been stroking the wind leopard’s head, conversing with Duke Gordon.
“Claire, please come home. After what happened today, it’s certain that your mother will come see you. If she knew that your relationship with your father has become like this, she would be heartbroken.” Duke Gordon knew Claire’s soft spot, tempting her patiently.
Claire kept silent. She did not want to see that Marquess Leger, that father that never fulfilled the duties of a father.
“If your mother saw this, saw how you have a home but wouldn’t return, she would be very sad. Plus your birthday is coming up. Are you going to stay at Camille’s house and let all the guests come to see me, a funky old man? When your mother comes, do you want her to go to Camille’s house to celebrate your birthday?” Duke Gordon said softly, knowing in his heart that by phrasing it this way, Claire was certain to come home.
“Okay, grandfather. I will come home after the auction tomorrow.” Claire compromised.
“Good. I will let Emery send you some paper gold. Buy whatever you want! Just treat it as a birthday present from Grandfather.” Duke Gordon smiled. Emery was very well-respected by Claire; with him there, how could Claire not come home?
“Okay, but my friends should still stay at teacher Camille’s house for now. Because it wouldn’t be nice for them to see father.” Claire suggested.
“Don’t worry about that, I have already scolded your father. I promise that will never happen again. Please bring your friends back.” Of course, Duke Gordon was thinking about the man with black hair and black clothes.
“Sure.” Claire reluctantly agreed, then hopped onto the wind leopard, “Let me first return to teacher Camille’s house. I will come back after the auction, the day after tomorrow.”
“Good.” Duke Gordon nodded, a big smile on his face.
Claire rode the wind leopard around the city, a number of things on her mind. Duke Roman’s tottering when he got up from kneeling. Alice’s hate-filled eyes. Duke Gordon’s smiling face. She was so occupied that she didn’t even notice that the people around her were all looking at her. Of course, a blonde girl with green irises riding on a mighty black leopard was very catchy.
“Chirp chirp~~” White Emperor slid down from Claire’s head and squatted on her shoulder, then softly licked Claire’s neck.
“White Emperor~~” Claire cupped White Emperor in her hands, “Are you comforting me?”
“Ma, this little meatball is very unstable! He has terrifying power, but is unable to use it when he wants to. Usually he’s just useless garbage, and his IQ is also very very low. Yet he’s your master! Surpass him, then beat the crap out of him.” Golden Lotus‘s complaining voice sounded suddenly.
“Chirp chirp!!” White Emperor waved his tiny claws around angrily, obviously dissatisfied by Golden Lotus’s words.
Claire let out a small smile, cheering up a bit.
“Let’s go, Leo. Let’s go home.” Claire gave the wind leopard a little pat on the neck, signaling for it to start running.
“I, I already said I’m sorry.” Suddenly, a pathetic voice reached Claire’s ears.
Claire turned her head and saw a pretty girl being sandwiched by two burly men on the road. The man standing in front of her said furiously: “You think a ‘sorry’ will do? You bumped into me and injured me, and now I can’t work today! You must pay for my losses!” It was hooligans blackmailing a young girl. Usually, Claire wouldn’t care to interfere. But when she examined the girl’s appearance, she stopped the wind leopard.
“Pay for your losses? How, how much is that?” The pretty girl asked, scared.
“Ten gold coins!” The burly man demanded. Ten gold coins was enough to support a family for one month!
“What? So much? ~~” The pretty girl looked like if she were about to cry, “But, but I don’t have that much money.”
“Then how much do you have?” The burly man asked ferociously.
“I only have this much~~~” The pretty girl carefully took out a plain money bag and looked inside.
The burly man snatched it over and emptied it. There were only three gold coins and several copper ones.
“Well, I’ll let you go this time. These will do.” The burly man cackled, about to put away all the money. The pretty girl watched in panic, “But, but, that’s all the money I have! If you take it I’ll starve!”
“Why would I care about that……” The burly man tossed the money bag on the ground and turned to leave. The other burly man followed, laughing out loud.Yet he turned to face a humongous black leopard. Frightened, he backed up quickly.
“Pick up the money bag. And return her her money.” The girl sitting on the black leopard said coldly. Iciness filled her voice.
The two burly men swallowed. They knew clearly that this cold girl in front of them wasn’t easy to deal with. Using such a fierce magic beast as her mount, how could she be simple?
“You don’t want your ears anymore?” Claire squinted her eyes, shooting a dangerous gaze at the two.
“Oh, sorry, sorry.” One of the burly men regained his senses, hurriedly crouching down to pick up the money bag. He then carefully put all the blackmail money back into it and handed it to Claire.
Claire snatched it at once and sneered: “You can go now.”
The two burly man were gone in a flash.
“Here’s your money bag.” Claire jumped off the black leopard and handed the money bag to the pretty girl, who was still dazed.
“Thank, thank you~~ Thank you so much! My mom left me this.” The pretty girl carefully tucked the money bag into her clothes, thanking Claire.
“You’re very poor?” Examining the young girl’s plain clothes and her honest expression, Claire asked.
“Yes, my family is very poor. I have always lived with my mom in the deep mountains by ourselves. When my mom passed away, I came out. I wanted to see the outside world. It was not easy to get here……”
The pretty girl wasn’t at all ashamed of admitting that she was poor.
An indistinguishable smile appeared on Claire’s lips, and she spoke clearly: “Work for me, and I’ll give you a hundred gold coins per year, plus free food, lodging, and clothes. You’ll live in a good place, eat delicious foods, and wear new clothes.”
“Really?” The pretty girl was pleasantly surprised, “Such a good deal?”
“Really, as long as you sign a five year contract. And if you like it here, we can sign another one. If you work hard, I will increase your salary.” Claire smiled warmly.
“Yay, yay, big sister you are such a good person!” The pretty girl was so excited she almost bounced up and down.
Claire smiled but didn’t speak. Her gaze fell on the bow on the young girl’s back. The arrow nock on her unremarkable bow was extremely smooth, obviously the result of extensive shooting. An ordinary bow would have broken by now, so this bow must be much more than it looks. And this pretty girl’s hands were very different from her appearance: under her knuckles, calluses dotted both her hands. There was only one explanation for that, and that was that this young girl was a great archer, and able to shoot both left and right!
Only one hundred gold coins, what a deal!