The image of a perfect blue sky was ruined when a yellow smoke made erratic movements all over it. It landed in a huge yard, revealing the person within.
It was Ancestor Huang Mei and his cronies. Each was holding a knocked out hostage, Zhuo Fan and Holy Maiden Yun Shuang.
Throwing the baggage to the ground, the trio cackled.
With a slow clap, a nice-looking youth came over with a dozen people behind him. It was Yuwen Yong.
Second prince gave the baggage a curt nod, “Whenever the yellow wind blows nothing can catch him. Ancestor Huang Mei lives up to his reputation. To have even Zhuo Fan, the pain in the rear of all the houses, tied up, I am in awe, ha-ha-ha…”
“Hi-hi-hi, thank you, Your Highness. I am not like those nobodies, undeserving of their name. I had him captured even before I got to show what I was made of! I feel ashamed sometimes, undeserving of the second prince’s praise.”
“Ha-ha-ha, Ancestor is so modest. I’m sure that it is not Zhuo Fan who is weak, but Ancestor’s skills are out of this world to have achieved such swift success. Ancestor, you will have the ten 8th grade pills, rest assured.”
Second prince clapped and laughed while Ancestor Huang Mei gave out his creepy cackle.
With that out of the way, the second prince turned to the baggage. He flipped Zhuo Fan over and snickered at his dreamy look, “Is this all the Best Steward Beneath Heavens amounts to? This is what you get for ignoring my invite!”
Then he turned to Yun Shuang in confusion, “Ancestor, who is this?”
“He-he-he, not a clue. Since she was with Zhuo Fan, she has to be someone important to him. I figured the girl would be of some use to Your Highness so I brought her along.” Ancestor Huang Mei shrugged.
Second prince chapped his lips with so many praises, “That’s so nice of you, Ancestor, ha-ha-ha…”
He flipped her over as well, putting on display all that made her pretty. He was amazed, “Holy Maiden Yun Shuang? Ancestor, how come you’ve kidnapped someone from Parish?”
“You mean I can’t?” Ancestor Huang Mei was confused.
Squinting, the second prince took a deep breath and showed a twisted smile, “No, you are perfect, Ancestor. In fact, I’ll add two more pills as thanks!”
Ancestor Huang Mei blanked for a second then laughed, “Thank you, Your Highness!”
He thought he had brought along a mere girl but she proved to be of value, earning him a bonus.
Giving Yun Shuang a good look, second prince said, “Ancestor, could you wake her up. I have some questions.”
Ancestor Huang Mei nodded and pulled out a vial from his ring. He hovered it under Yun Shuang’s nose and said, “This is my prized narcotic, Thousand Years Dream. Not even a Radiant Stage expert can fight it. Their only chance at waking up is if I help them, he-he-he…”
“Ancestor’s skills are amazing. I am in awe.”
Second prince cupped his hands, then waited for Yun Shuang to wake up.
Fifteen minutes later, with a melodious sound, Yun Shuang stirred. The first thing she saw was the second prince’s warped smile. She cried, “Ah, second prince…”
“Miss, there’s no need to fear. You are a valued guest of my manor. You’re safe here. Grinning, second prince made a gesture for silence.”
Yun Shuang looked at him distraught. She shuddered backwards as she took in his accomplices with a heavy heart.
Her 5th layer of Profound Heaven Stage could hardly count as anything against the 9th layer Profound Heaven experts around, to say nothing of the five Radiant Stage experts.
The biggest shock was the yellow eyebrow Ancestor, in the 8th layer of Radiant Stage.
Looking at so many bigshots around her, all she saw was death. Then she glanced at Zhuo Fan having the sweetest dreams imaginable and shook him, “Steward Zhuo, wake up! Wake up!”
No use. Zhuo Fan was sleeping like a baby.
“Ha-ha-ha, miss, save your energy. Only my antidote can wake him!” Ancestor Huang Mei laughed.
Yun Shuang bit her lip, growing frantic and fearful of the men around her. She knew Zhuo Fan couldn’t do a damn thing as he was, but she stuck close to him either way. The closer she was the safer she felt.
Snickering inside, the second prince put on a genial smile, “Miss Shuang’er, I’ve heard of you being a Holy Maiden. But with all of Parish’s rules and other obstacles, I’ve never had the pleasure of paying you a visit. Imagine my surprise when you came to me instead. You honor and humble me with your presence.”
“Humph, what valuable guest, you kidnapped us!” Yun Shuang scoffed.
Second prince laughed, “True, but it’s fine. All that matters is that you are in my home and that makes you a guest. And let me tell you, I do know how to treat my guests. Though there is just one small detail that has been vexing me for a long long time, something that I hope you can clarify for me.”
“What?” Yun Shuang asked.
Second prince gave a deep bow, “I’ve heard that Miss is the same as the High Priest, with eyes that can read the heavens, able to look into a person’s fate. Would it be possible to glimpse upon mine? Am I…”
Second prince was getting excited and shouted, “Fit to rule?”
“Not in your life!”
Yun Shuang was stubborn and shot him down there and then, “By Yun clan’s ancestral teachings, we have always been neutral. We look after the people, not the rulers. Peeking into the empire’s fate is taboo and against the Yun clan’s principles. I cannot help you!”
Second prince’s face fell and he snorted, “I see, ancestral teachings, is it? Why then I heard that twenty years ago, the High Priest had read Huangpu Qingtian’s fate?”
“How is that the same?”
Yun Shuang explained, “Huangpu Qingtian was a child then. His fate was full of twists and turns. He had yet to mature into someone being fit to rule. You, on the other hand, are fully grown and have fewer turning points. If you do have a dragon’s disposition, it will come to pass more often than not. And reading it will mean revealing heaven’s plan, inviting heaven’s wrath and bringing hell upon the masses!”
She shouldn’t have said that. Now the second prince’s heart was thrumming in his chest out of excitement.
When Huangpu Qingtian died, his fate as an emperor wasn’t certain and even if he had the disposition of a king, he still couldn’t overcome the tribulation called Zhuo Fan. But the second prince was different, his fate was set in stone. Once determined, it would come to pass.
Summing it up, all Holy Maiden had to do was to say that he had it in him to be an emperor and no one would stop him. He’d have a smooth sailing towards the throne!
Second prince’s delusion of grandeur grew so much that his eyes were bloodshot, “What are you waiting for then? Bask your eyes on my regal self. Tell me if I have what it takes to reach the top!”
“I told you already. I mustn’t…”
Second prince held a 5th grade spiritual sword and poked at Zhuo Fan’s throat in his lunacy, “I heard you two are close. Look already or he dies!”
“Easy, Your Highness. He is after all the one His Majesty bestowed the Best Steward Beneath Heavens title. We will also have to answer if anything happens to him.” Someone urged in the second prince’s ear.
Second prince glared and roared, “Codswallop! Once I take the throne, Best Steward Beneath Heavens isn’t worth shit!”
He now turned to Yun Shuang and threatened, “Look or I will kill him! Didn’t the Yun clan always come to people’s aid? Are you going to let this man suffer?”
Yun Shuang was torn. She couldn’t watch him die nor go against her ancestor’s teachings. She just couldn’t choose.
She glanced at Zhuo Fan’s dreamy face and recalled her grandfather’s warning.
Zhuo Fan was an anomaly that changed fates and she was to guide him on the straight and narrow path. Recalling Zhuo Fan’s selfless act of jumping in front of her to meet the poison, she finally made her choice.
Zhuo Fan had to survive!
“Fine, I will!” Yun Shuang nodded.
Second prince was jubilant. He took back the sword and straightened his tunic, “Then, Holy Maiden, if you please.”
Yun Shuang closed her eyes and the next time she opened them they turned into a sucking abyss. Just that in that endless darkness faint glimmers shone, like stars.
After a while, she regained her normal sight and sighed.
“What is it, Holy Maiden, am I…” Second prince couldn’t control himself with joy.
Yun Shuang nodded with a relaxed smile, “How fortunate, you are not fit to rule. I didn’t go against my ancestors. Oh, such a blessing!”
Second prince’s mind exploded. His face twitched as he babbled, “H-Holy Maiden, aren’t you mistaken? Do it again!”
“Grandfather has taught me since I was a child. There’s no mistake.” Yun Shuang stated, “You are unfit for the throne. Don’t waste your breath. But I will tell you this, my kindness to you. The path you tread is fraught with danger, towards eternal doom. Turn back and you may live a life of peace. If you don’t…”
“You damn liar! You dare to deceive me? I’ll kill you!”
With a roar, the second prince denied this wretched fate with all his being and even lost his mind. Holding out his sword again, he slashed at Yun Shuang.
Yun Shuang shrieked and curled.
The sword failed to cut even a hair from her head as it clanged in the vise of a dragon claw.
What came next was the cackle of a demon, “Ha-ha-ha, you fool, even if you were fit to rule, the instant you grabbed me your fate was doomed…”