You Wanshan’s group was slowly getting into a mood of celebrating Zhuo Fan’s death. Meanwhile, the one-armed 5th elder was shedding tears of vindication. However, this stopped when Leng Wuchang shot them a look, “You all need to proceed to Windgaze City!”
The smile froze on the four and You Wanshan turned his head mechanically, with a bright smile to offer the two, “Estate Lord, Sir Leng, haven’t we been keeping watch of Windgaze City just so we could get rid of Zhuo Fan? Why do we need to attack that place now that Zhuo Fan is out of the picture?”
Huangpu Tianyuan barked, his eyes cold, “That’s the place that gave birth to Zhuo Fan and there’s a good chance for a second, a third, maybe even a tenth Zhuo Fan to rise! Rather than deal with that mess, we need to level that clan. Furthermore…”
Huangpu Tianyuan’s tone shifted to a darker one, “Have I ever gone back on my words?”
[You did exactly that just now!]
Shivering, You Wanshan’s group complained in their minds, but they were on their best behavior on the outside. Bowing to Huangpu Tianyuan again, they then left.
“Send them a message. It’s time for them to begin!”
Huangpu Tianyuan, nodded, pleased. Once the four were out of sight of the hall, You Wanshan stomped in rage, “Who does Regent Estate think they are to use us as messengers?”
“Yeah, the Emperor banned us from Windgaze City two years ago. Regent Estate wants to test the imperial family’s limits and doesn’t dare go himself. So, he is making us face the danger. What an abominable man!” Yan Bogong gnashed his teeth.
Lin Rufeng furrowed his brow in worry, “But, we will be offending Regent Estate if we don’t go. And if we do, we will incur the imperial family’s wrath. What is the better choice?”
They stared at each other for a long time but came out empty as they sighed.
The imperial family may be a frail tiger now, but that didn’t mean one should start groping its tail. If by some chance they touched a sore spot, the weak tiger would snap back at them. The three houses would feel the fangs and claws of the imperial family and would have no place to hide in the empire.
[Go to hell, Regent Estate!] Each of them was thinking along the same lines, but none dared to turn Huangpu Tianyuan down.
5th elder continued, “Valley Lord, we should choose the lesser of two evils! We don’t know if the imperial family will act if we move in on Windgaze City. But going against Regent Estate will have Huangpu Tianyuan on our backs. And you know his short temper.”
The three house lords shuddered and sighed.
“In this situation, our only option is to go on a limb!”
You Wanshan spat, “That the imperial family is useless and won’t act against us!”
You Wanshan picked a green jade slip and made a gesture. The jade slip turned into a light and shot in Windgaze City’s direction.
The other two house lords followed his gestures.
Leng Wuchang was outside the hall, smiling at the three lights tracing the sky above Caged Dragon City.
“The three realized my plan but they chose to follow it anyway!” Huangpu Tianyuan chuckled as he walked next to Leng Wuchang.
Leng Wuchang nodded with a smile of his own, “The three are house lords, after all, not mere idiots. How could they not see through Estate Lord’s intentions? But even so, after balancing the gains and losses, they ultimately sided with Estate Lord. The seven houses seem to take the imperial family as just an empty shell!”
“Indeed. Over the last thousand years, the seven houses thrived while the imperial clan declined. It reached a point where the current Emperor is the weakest this empire has ever seen. A great opportunity presents itself to us!”
Huangpu Tianyuan grinned and showed his ambition, “If the imperial family remains passive even after the battle of Windgaze City, then I can enact the Demon Purging Decree and purge all outsiders while unifying the seven houses. I will ultimately control the whole land!”
“Ha-ha-ha, with the seven houses under you, not even the Four Pillars can stand in your way! I would like to be the first to congratulate the Estate Lord for taking the throne!” Leng Wuchang gave a deep bow.
Huangpu Tianyuan laughed having his ego stroked, then helped Leng Wuchang up, “Leng Wuchang, you are the genius of this generation yet, chose to become my steward, helping Regent Estate’s rise to glory. I hereby vow that once I ascend the throne, I will make you the head of the Four Pillars!”
“I am most grateful for Estate Lord’s kindness!”
Leng Wuchang bowed again as hope flickered in his gaze, “Once Elder Li kills Zhuo Fan and brings back the Bodhi Root. I will assist Estate Lord in obtaining the Nine Dragons Diamond Body. Not even the imperial family’s five Divine Dragons will be able to harm you then. You will truly wield ultimate power and rule above everyone!”
“But won’t that martial fanatic catch an interest into that worldly treasure? Or would he just throw it away?”
“Ha-ha-ha, you must be jesting, Estate Lord. Elder Li is only a martial fanatic and not a complete idiot. How could he throw away such a treasure? Of course he’ll return it to us. And with Elder Li’s ability, Zhuo Fan will have no opportunity in damaging the treasure at all. Rest assured, Estate Lord.”
Leng Wuchang and Huangpu Tianyuan started laughing together. As if the world was their oyster.
In a different part of the city, Long Yifey, Xie Xiaofeng, and Chu Bijun convened in a secluded place once they left the hall.
Long Yifey showed Chu Bijun proper respect, “Grandmother, what has gotten into Regent Estate? Could you please enlighten me?”
This also concerned Xie Xiaofeng deeply. They knew Regent Estate was up to something, and it was not good by the looks of it, but he couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
Grandmother sighed and shook her head, “Pavilion Lord Long, Abode Lord Xie, the three of us are in an alliance so I’ll be frank. You two are at the very top of Huangpu Tianyuan’s blacklist.”
Startled, the two had guessed as much, but there was another thing to hear it from Grandmother, a renowned figure among even the seven houses.
Chu Bijun took a deep breath and resumed, “I have dealt with the houses for all my life and can attest that I know every house’s style like the back of my hand. Let’s turn back to when we just entered the hall. You believed since Leng Wuchang spoke of the ‘lords and subject’ that he was looking for you to follow Regent Estate blindly, right?”
“Isn’t that the case?” The two asked together.
Shaking her head, Chu Bijun sighed, her eyes focused, “That was a test of obedience!”
“Precisely. The so-called ‘lord and subject’ setup was in fact, a way to lord over the masses. To sum it up, to judge obedience! The instant we entered the hall, it was made abundantly clear.”
Chu Bijun squinted, her tone cold, “Huangpu Tianyuan is too proud and he only wants those who obey around him. So when you saw the seats he had laid out for you, he expected you to take them without making a peep. Pavilion Lord Long may have been clever, but to him, it was all the same as not obeying him and putting you first on the blacklist.”
Long Yifey never would’ve thought Regent Estate was so overbearing to impose his will even on the seven houses.
Xie Xiaofeng frowned as he nodded in agreement, “I can see now why Grandmother has been going along with his intentions. It was all to make Drifting Flowers Edifice among the last to get rid of.”
“That should be the case!”
Chu Bijun nodded, “Now that he believes the Bodhi Root is with Zhuo Fan, and that I obey him throughout this whole farce. In his eyes, Drifting Flowers Edifice should be behind your houses on the blacklist.”
“Brother Xie, we must stay vigilant.” Long Yifey laughed dryly.
Xie Xiaofeng nodded.
What they thought would be a hidden alliance with Drifting Flowers Edifice to make a joint covert attack, now became a full-blown and open assault.
Suddenly, becoming the vanguard had placed a heavy weight on their shoulders. As if the vicious eyes of Regent Estate were fixed on them both.
But they had to admire the Lady of Steel.
Drifting Flowers Edifice had now revived to the one of old along with Lady of Steel’s recovery. For her to shift Regent Estate’s main priority from them was a difficult feat to pull.
Putting these two in the first line of fire…
Chu Bijun knew what they were thinking and tapped with her dragon head staff, “House lords, do not think for a second you are shouldering Drifting Flowers Edifice’ disaster alone. With you in front, Drifting Flowers Edifice is indeed safe, for now. But we are all in the same boat. If one house falls, the ruin of the other two will only be a matter of time.”
The two bowed in profound respect, “Grandmother has always had the greater picture in mind. We are ashamed!”
“Now that we are allies in the truest sense of the word, we must devise a plan to stop Regent Estate’s campaign!”
Chu Bijun spoke in an imposing tone, “His plan to use the Demon Purging Decree was not to deal with demon Zhuo Fan, but take advantage of the chaos and swallow the six houses. But I knew his keen interest in Bodhi Root and mentioned it, all so he would give up on that notion. It won’t last, however. Once he kills Zhuo Fan and obtains the Bodhi Root, the Demon Purging Decree will be issued all the same.”
“But wouldn’t the death of Zhuo Fan take away the sole reason behind the Demon Purging Decree?”
Grandmother tapped with her staff, her tone dropping lower, “Demon Purging Decree never had anything to do with Zhuo Fan from the start. He is an excuse. And this excuse remains valid even if he kills Zhuo Fan while the facts are hidden! I am convinced that Regent Estate had long since sent a team to deal with the kid. And since Unwonted Contriver Leng Wuchang is also lending a hand, I can only assume the worst.”
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng nodded, hearts overwhelmed with shame.
This was the Lady of Steel, a woman worthy of her title! In times of great peril, she was not a bit inferior to a man. Before this senior, the two house lords were naught but mere children that listened to her orders.
“All that Regent Estate is missing is to determine the limit of the imperial family. Only then, will they unleash the Demon Purging Decree without scruples. And this limit is none other than Windgaze City!” Chu Bijun’s eyes focused and shouted, “We do not know the imperial family’s stance on Windgaze City, so we have to help them. We cannot let Luo clan fall!”
“Qing’er, Peony, go and inform Huangpu Tianyuan that I, Pavilion Lord Long, and Abode Lord Xie have urgent matters to attend in our houses and have to leave.”
“At once!” The two overseers bowed.
Chu Bijun turned to the house lords, “We must make haste and aid Windgaze City. The enemy must have forces in place already. I can only hope we make it in time.”
“Uh, Grandmother, won’t the three houses be moving together?”
“We can’t afford any delays!” Chu Bijun cut through their hesitation on the spot, “Leng Wuchang is a shrewd man and we won’t be able to hide our cooperation from him for long. It’s best we make it public and face them head-on. This will also work to show that we are one and not to be pushed around.”
Saying her piece, Chu Bijun flew away.
Long Yifey and Xie Xiaofeng looked at each other and laughed dryly. [Lady of Steel is fierce indeed.] The two house lords couldn’t gain any word in at all. All they could do was follow her lead!
[She’s a bit too fierce…]
And at this moment, three figures landed on a mountain outside Windgaze City.
“Guess who’s back!”