“Your Majesty, could you leave the Luo clan for us to handle?”
Leng Wuchang approached with a bow.
Huangpu Tianyuan looked at him astonished, not understanding what his scheming steward was after.
It was so obvious that with the Luo clan in custody, Zhuo Fan would come back to rescue them if he escaped Gu Santong’s chase. In other words, whoever had the Luo clan would face Zhuo Fan.
What happened at today’s feast was too fast and shrouded in mystery. But wasn’t taking the Luo clan inviting trouble?
As the Estate Lord, he had to go out there and reign Leng Wuchang in. But the cool and wise look Leng Wuchang struck, had him hesitate, choosing to believe his steward.
The emperor gave Leng Wuchang a hard look, not fully grasping his intent, “Sir Leng, why should I give Luo clan to the Regent Estate? Mind giving me a reason?”
“Ha-ha-ha, Your Majesty, Regent Estate has been the head of houses for the past millennium, settling any disputes among them. Now that there’s an eighth house, it still falls under Regent Estate’s responsibility. With Luo clan’s heinous crimes, it demands for Regent Estate to help Your Majesty in capturing the traitor Zhuo Fan as a warning and example to the houses!”
Leng Wuchang was praising but anyone with a brain could tell he was speaking terms with the emperor.
[We get rid of Zhuo Fan and you give us the houses. Only then we fight over the throne.] It was an obvious shot at getting the emperor to split the power.
[Or you can just face the monster all by yourself. We won’t give a hoot!]
Huangpu Tianyuan slapped his thigh, getting it as well. Facing Zhuo Fan was bummer, true, but using him to get the houses without the imperial family poking its nose in the process was a great play.
[Sir Leng’s noggin sure works fast. That’s our Unwonted Contriver!]
The emperor’s eyes flashed, but his mouth curled, “Since Regent Estate has this intention, alright. They’re yours to handle as you wish. Be sure to work with Gu Santong and catch the traitor. The other houses must combine their efforts as well. Use the Demon Purging Decree at the right moment in tandem with Marshal Dugu!”
“We obey Your Majesty’s decree!”
As they all bowed, only Hell Valley, Pill King Hall and Merry Woods looked happy for their boss’ taking the lead again.
Veiled Dragon Pavilion, Drifting Flowers Edifices and Sword Marquise Abode were filled with bitterness.
Zhuo Fan was their ally who all of them had to attack, forced into a corner. Now that the Regent Estate got the kill order for Zhuo Fan, the six houses had to obey.
Through this plan it would fulfill its own agenda in swallowing the houses. Troubled times awaited these three allies.
The emperor’s cold eye swept them all, “I have since lost the mood to celebrate. You are dismissed!”
With an ashen face, surrounded by guards and Shadow King, he left. Yongning wanted to plead for the Luo clan some more, but her father’s stone-cold look scared her.
What no one noticed was the faint evil twitch in his mouth just as he turned.
“Congratulations, Your Majesty. It all went smoothly. I’d never dreamed that that sly and conniving Zhuo Fan would be routed so easily!” Shadow King bowed after some distance, sending this message to the emperor.
The emperor laughed, but then a flicker of doubt came upon his brow, “It has been easy, perhaps too easy, making me uneasy. Besides the matter with Yongning, I had many more tricks ready, but he took the first bait instead. It baffles me how a level-headed man like him fell so easily.”
“Your Majesty must be overthinking things. In my opinion, it is not Yongning who irritated him, but what happened to Yun Shuang. Your Majesty, at the Esoteric Debate, he went berserk over a girl. I’ve heard that Miss Yun Shuang shares that girl’s qualities. That makes it more likely that he flipped because of her.”
The emperor nodded, “I hope so, but this only leads to even more questions. Why did the second prince propose marriage with the Holy Maiden, inciting Zhuo Fan? It’s too convenient.”
“It’s not my place to say, but the second prince is narrow minded and petty. Zhuo Fan and Holy Maiden ruined his home, so he came up with this proposal just to spite him. He used Your Majesty’s name to push him around. As any child, he was the first to turn to his father whenever he got the boot.”
The emperor paused, then nodded, “Ha-ha-ha, indeed. That’s his style alright. Though he helped me instead. But I have to change this trait about him, lest he invites trouble.”
“Your Majesty is wise!” Shadow King bowed.
The emperor continued, “Yet, out of my predictions, Regent Estate volunteered to take charge in fighting Zhuo Fan. I planned on letting those dogs bite at each other until they couldn’t move, but stepping in was in fact an even better outcome.”
“Your Majesty, this is even easier to understand. Leng Wuchang is no fool and with Zhuo Fan becoming the center of this chaos, the public enemy number one, he felt something was off and didn’t want to be passive. Doesn’t he want what Your Majesty wants, to lead the seven houses? It will be great for the Regent Estate’s campaign to expand its power.”
“Yes, Leng Wuchang was right in his assumption. But, does he think I’ll just let him? Humph, we’ll just see who’s campaign is faster, mine or his.”
The emperor’s eyes flashed walking on with Shadow King…
Meanwhile, Leng Wuchang and Huangpu Tianyuan took the Luo clan off the imperial guards’ hands and left the Imperial Palace.
“Estate Lord, this chance comes with risks. We need to act quickly or by the time the imperial family roots out all the spies from court, he will turn on us!” Leng Wuchang spoke gravely.
Huangpu Tianyuan nodded, “Sir Leng, you’ve done well. Although the emperor plans to have both of us exhausted, if we don’t take this chance, he will swallow us all sooner or later. Now is the time to act when the imperial family is too busy.”
“Yeah, since we’re dealing with Zhuo Fan, we can’t threaten the imperial family either. This is the first time in the history of Tianyu that neither side has to watch for the other. But also the most dangerous. If we are late in uniting the houses, the imperial family will march all over us.”
Leng Wuchang sighed, “Life or death, winner or loser, it all rests on what we do in this period. Such a rare opportunity, fraught with destruction, must be taken with utmost caution.”
Huangpu Tianyuan turned heavy, “Did the meeting go smoothly?”
“No worries. The kid has lost faith in the second generation, deciding to side with us. At the right moment, he will buy us time.” Leng Wuchang nodded.
Huangpu Tianyuan eased up, eyes flashing with savagery.
Regent Estate’s long cherished wish would soon come to a head. Win or lose, this was it…
Zhuge Changfeng had the Quanrong delegation taken back to the garrison, but on their way there, he was plagued with worry.
“Prime Minister sir, what is it?” Tuoba Liufeng asked.
Zhuge Changfeng took a long time to respond, “What happened today is because the geezer made it happen. Forcing Zhuo Fan to flee. But, what made the geezer act so soon? Did he prepare everything?”
“Prime Minister sir, don’t overthink it. The more chaos there is the better, making it easier for us to invade, ha-ha-ha…” Tuoba Liufeng grinned.
Zhuge Changfeng nodded but then his smile slipped.
His heart seized, his brow furrowed. [Why did the old coot choose this moment to act, when the Quanrong delegation was present? Is it…]
Zhuge Changfeng shook his head.
[No, it can’t be. I must be jumping to conclusions.]
[No matter what, with the nation in chaos, everyone will move and everything will go according to plan. Old man, you want to use chaos for yourself, but did you think you’re the only one with that idea?]
[You won’t get to rule these lands!]
Zhuge Changfeng laughed…
A hundred miles out of imperial capital, Zhuo Fan was hugging Yun Shuang’s soft, exquisite and perky body as he flashed across the blue sky. Yun Shuang huddled in his chest, restless and blushing.
She was still out of it from Zhuo Fan’s declaration of love for her, that he was now fighting the empire for this reason.
For a naive girl, it was the most romantic thing in the world, her heart beating like crazy. Although Yun clan answered requests in a neutral way, it was their responsibility to help the people.
While Zhuo Fan was a bad boy through and through. These two had absolutely nothing in common.
Yet for some odd reason, she felt her pure heart influenced by that repulsive and dashing bastard. She couldn’t get him out of her mind.
This time in a flash of red, Gu Santong approached from behind.