“Crown Prince, believe it or not, I have never, not once, abandoned you.” The emperor spoke up.
But all Crown Prince heard was the most outrageous joke ever, shaking his head, “Never? You’re still trying to fool me, even now? Your last jubilee made your choice painfully clear.”
“You gave old second your men, to keep the peace. You gave me a scepter, a symbol of power and fortune, to do as I wished. But tell me, which Crown Prince in our entire dynasty could do as he wished? When have you, imperial father, ever managed to do so? It was clear as day that you never cared for this Crown Prince. And what did you say to the fatty? No reward. Humph, only the emperor doesn’t need a reward in this world. Do you think I am dumb?”
“Big brother, you’ve got it all wrong. How can you jump to conclusions over some jokes, and think that imperial father wants to throw you away?”
The innocent Yongning stared back at him as Fatty remained silent with his thoughts.
The emperor sighed, “Crown Prince, is this why you kept sending assassins after your third brother?”
“What?!” Yongning cried, “Big brother went after… third brother too? “
Crown Prince grinned while the fatty’s face widened.
The emperor sighed, “I’ve known it for years. Crown Prince has sent his men again and again. Even as I had him go to Windgaze City, miles away from the imperial capital, the killer was right behind him. And with the last jubilee, the attempts only intensified. Your brother never once mentioned this, but I’m sure he was aware. Isn’t it true, Cong’er?”
“Yes, imperial father.” Fatty spoke with resolve.
The emperor smiled, “Why haven’t you told me?”
“All I had was no proof and empty words.” Fatty shook his head.
The emperor praised, “A real man shows patience, just like a monarch. Crown Prince, you said I favored your third brother and you’re right. But ever stopped to think as to why? You’re a stickler for formality and quick to anger. When going after an adversary, either finish him off the first time or you might as well not try at all. In all of your frequent attempts these past years, not once have you prevailed. You are a sore disappointment.”
Crown Prince gnashed his teeth, face ashen.
Yongning watched her father lost, “W-what are you saying, imperial father? You would just let them kill each other?”
“This is why I kept you in the dark. The throne is singular and the one to take it is the one to come out on top from the killings. He is the sole ruler of Tianyu, defender of the Yuwen clan’s domain.”
He sighed, “I never could bear to watch the three brothers tear each other apart but this is our fate, survival of the fittest. This will reveal the perfect candidate for the crown. Success is built on the bones of others, by killing with impunity. While the throne is created on a mountain of corpses.”
The fatty nodded and Yongning was so overwhelmed that her tears never stopped.
[What kind of family is this? Father against son, son against father. Doesn’t anyone have the slightest compassion?]
Crown Prince snickered, “Imperial father, you make damn good sense. The sole survivor shall inherit the throne, which would be me. Since we’re in understanding, imperial father, hurry up and make it happen. It should at least justify my ascent.”
“Ha-ha-ha, Crown Prince, when did I ever say you’re fit for it?”
The crown prince spoke, “Imperial father, you said it yourself. The last one to survive will be king. Now that I have dealt with everyone, even you, the throne belongs to me by right of heaven!”
“I’m not finished!”
The emperor shook his head, “Crown Prince, your methods are ruthless and had good timing, unlike your second brother. But you’re just too fixed on your path, too narrow-minded to hold the weight of the lands on your shoulders. Not to mention your short gaze. Like I said, you can’t see beyond your nose, unlike your third brother.”
“What a load of crap. Why do I get the feeling that you’re still testing our reactions, our policies?” Crown Prince bristled.
The emperor mocked, “And that’s where you are lacking. A ruler has his own reasoning, not jumping to conclusions about everyone’s intentions. Following the monarch and going with the flow is how a lackey does it. An emperor needs to be firm, to have his own judgment, and you sorely lack in this department.”
“Enough! You’re breathing your last so stop splitting hairs and give me Tianyu!” Crown Prince flicked his hand.
The emperor smiled, “Crown Prince, you’re not worthy. Guards, to me!”
Five Radiant Stage men landed before the emperor.
Crown Prince was unphased, “Ha-ha-ha, you’ve spared nothing in getting rid of Zhuo Fan, sending even Divine Dragons and shadow guards. All that’s left are the dregs. Men, get them!”
Behind him were ten Radiant Stage experts.
The winner was obvious just from numbers alone.
Although the emperor kept his cool, “Attack!”
His guards went for it and Crown Prince’s men reacted.
The imperial court became a maelstrom of auras.
Emperor’s guard fought tooth and nail, even at a disadvantage. Though they lasted only fifteen minutes.
Crown Prince grinned, his prize within sight. Yet the emperor still had that unnerving calm.
“Cong’er, Yongning, turn the dragon head on the throne’s left armrest and take the tunnel out of the city. I’ve already placed the imperial seal inside. Just take it and flee to Commander Touba. They should be on their way back from taking Windgaze City. Say you’ll rescue the emperor and he’ll help you. The only way to get his share of Tianyu is by having the agreement signed with the seal. He has to help you.” Weak as he was, the emperor showed his mettle.
The fatty was overwhelmed by complex emotions, “Imperial father…”
“My time has come. I can only stall them.” The emperor smiled.
“Father!” Yongning sobbed.
Fatty saw the emperor’s loving gaze and his insides twisted with indecision. Just as two guards fell.
The emperor said puzzled, “Cong’er, why aren’t you going? You’re not one to be so sensitive.”
Fatty spoke firmly, “We don’t need to go. Big brother can’t win. “
The emperor was taken aback.
A white sword strike butted into the fight. Crown Prince’s men lost their heads and spurted blood like fountains.
Crown Prince panicked.
A man in white, of impressive aura and holding a green jade flute floated there wrapped in green flickers.
“Fang Qiubai?! Y-you’re supposed to be gone! Imperial father sent you with the Quanrong!” Crown Prince gulped, then flicked his head over to the emperor, “Is this another one of your plans?”
The emperor was just as confused, “Mister Fang, I didn’t call for you.”
The stunned emperor met fatty’s beady green eyes, “This day is also the first time I’ve acted. Master wanted to lend me support for a while.”
The emperor shook his head, “Cong’er, I have read many people in my life, had the world at my fingertips, but you are the last one I ever expected to elude me.
“Cong’er, you’re truly my one good son.” The emperor spoke heavily, whether from excitement or anger…