Siao Qi asked, "Even the Spirit Blessing Pill can't save them?"
Zhao Qingshan looked quite serious as he shook his head, "They were a step ahead of us."
Siao Qi looked at Siao Tieying.
Siao Tieying muttered, "What about the things they brought?"
"It was robbed," Zhao Qingshan said, "Aside from our Protectors, no one could prove that they were the people from the Imperial Residence of Prince An."
Siao Tieying waved his hand, "Let's sit down and talk."
Zhao Qingshan forced a smile, "Master, we're too ashamed to sit."
"We can't possibly put the blame on you guys," Siao Tieying stroked his beard as he paced around, "How are the Protectors?"
Zhao Qingshan replied, "They were knocked unconscious. Only minor injuries, but they don't know a thing."
"Let them in," Siao Tieying ordered.
Siao Qi began speaking, "Lin Quan, call Chu Li over."
"Understood," Lin Quan bowed as he gently left the hall.
Siao Tieying looked over at Siao Qi.
Siao Qi explained, "Chu Li is far better at reading a person than I am."
Siao Tieying slowly nodded.
Four middle-aged Protectors entered the main hall.
The four of them were in their robust years and were all Innate Masters, but did not look the part. They had a distinct lack of energy, aura, and spirit within them. All of them were lacking in vigor and looked depressed, like they were having a bad hangover.
They stood straight in the presence of Siao Tieying and Siao Qi with lowered heads and silence.
Siao Tieying and Siao Qi stared at the men. Everyone, including Zhao Qingshan and his men were silent.
The air around them was frozen. Even the slightest of breaths could be heard in the deafening silence. The four Protectors instinctively held theirs along with their hearts, wary of the atmosphere.
They were ambushed and knocked out. The people they were escorting, dead. Envoys were not of normal ranking so they may as well have forfeited their Spirit Blessing Pill for the year!
After a cup of tea, Lin Quan returned along with Chu Li and fist saluted.
"Let's sit down and talk," Siao Tieying said, "The Envoys of the Imperial Residence of Prince An were murdered. The four Protectors here were safe. Interrogate them."
Chu Li nodded as he looked at the four Protectors.
"Chief Chu," Zhao Qingshan reported, "We found them at one of the residential areas in Soaring Aves Town. The Envoys were already dead. The Protectors were unconscious and their acupuncture points were sealed by the time we got there."
Chu Li nodded. He looked at one of the Protectors, "Brother Shar Shi, how many of our men were ambushed?"
One square-faced Protector was shocked and looked at Chu Li. He had never spoken to Chu Li before and had never thought that Chu Li knew his name.
"Do you know which one of the assailants' martial arts was the most powerful?" Chu Li continued, "There's no need to rush, Brother Shar Shi. Take your time and think."
"The one with the most powerful martial art?" Protector Shar Shi furrowed his brows and began digging through his memories. He looked at the other three Protectors, "There were ten assailants. The strongest was about the same height as me, in his late seventies. His eyes were close together, and the gap between his eyebrows was narrow as well."
Chu Li immediately saw the image within the Protector's head, "Scar below his left eye, long arms, and his front tooth are a little black, correct?"
Protector Shar Shi quickly nodded.
Chu Li turned, "Master, it's the High Official of the Ren Public House."
Protector Shar Shi hesitated.
Chu Li asked, "Did they state their own identity? The Huay Public House?"
"They said it by accident, but it indeed is the Huay Public House," the Protector replied.
Chu Li smiled.
He may have been successfully bluffed if it were not for the Omniscient Mirror.
They will still be unconvinced, but they dare not conclude that it was the work of the Ren Public House. If they were more willing to guess, they would have guessed that it was another faction framing the Huay Public House. There was no way they would believe that it was the Ren Public House, who had an allied relationship due to marriage with the Huay Public House.
It was surely the work of Lu Yurong, a brilliant play. She did not get her desired outcome, however. The existence of the Omniscient Mirror was still unknown to her.
Siao Qi said, "Lu Yurong intends to frame the Huay Public House?"
"Had an arranged marriage with the Huay Public House, but still willing to put dirt on them?" Siao Tieying coldly laughed, "This woman! She's really vicious!"
Siao Qi looked at Chu Li.
Chu Li slowly nodded as a sign that this could already be concluded.
Zhao Qingshan asked: "Then why didn't they just kill Protector Shar Shi and the others?"
Chu Li would not have had the opportunity to get the planted information if they had killed Protector Shar Shi and the rest.
Siao Tieying scoffed, "Lu Yurong always operates under the concept of two birds one stone. It was a good scheme. First, she wanted to use Protector Shar Shi to frame Huay Public House and create a conflict. Second, she wanted us to suspect Protector Shar Shi and the others, making us paranoid of everything that comes after. Third, she intended to have the Imperial Residence of Prince An suspect us. She's quite vicious, the woman."
Siao Qi muttered, "Could we take the advantage of this information and destroy the diplomacy between the Ren and Huay Public House?"
"That's a great idea!" Siao Tieying clapped his hands, "I'll go and inquire the Huay Public House personally!"
The heir to the High Duke of the Huay Public House had just recently sent the apology memorial to the throne. What would the Imperial Household think if they had killed several people from the Imperial Residence of Prince An? The Huay Public House may be powerful, but even they would not dare to pull a stunt like this. A full blown investigation will surely be initiated by them to get to the bottom of the scheme. A battle between the two evil-doers would be inevitable.
"Do you plan on going personally, Brother Siao Tieying?" Siao Qi furrowed her brows.
Siao Teiying replied, "Chu Li can't possibly go. Song, heir to the High Duke, will be jealous if he sees Chu Li. Negotiations will break down since he won't even listen to him. If Zhao Qingshan and the rest were sent, the High Duke would have not even granted them an audience! I think it'd be better if I went personally."
"High Duke Song will definitely try to embarrass you," Siao Qi said, "The heir to the High Duke Song will surely also take the opportunity to exact revenge on you."
"It doesn't matter what outrageous thing they may try. They wouldn't dare to kill me," Siao Tieying smiled as he looked at Chu Li, "This'll still be Chu Li's contribution!"
Chu Li's demon-like levitation skill was a great deterrent. All of them were smart people who understood the situation. If anything happened to Siao Tieying, not even the heir to the High Duke can escape assassination. The people of the Ren Public House would have been targets for assassination too.
Chu Li warned, "Master, you can't be careless."
"I'll just go over and return quickly. The Public House and Sister Siao Qi is yours to deal with, for now," Siao Tieying's expression turned serious, "I'll find men to continue investigating the matter."
Siao Qi saw his determination and gently nodded, "Would you like Chu Li to follow you?"
"There's no need," Siao Tieying smiled, "It'd be worse if he followed. Zhao Qingshan and the others are more than enough for me."
Chu Li warned once again, "Master Siao Tieying, High Duke Song is a cunning person as well. He may not be so easily duped."
"I wouldn't expect them to be hostile immediately. We'll have to make the first move," Siao Tieying smiled, "I also need to have a good talk with High Duke Song."
Chu Li slowly nodded.
Siao Qi said, "Protector Shar Shi, you and the rest are free to return to your quarters and have a nice rest. The matter ends here."
Protector Shar Shi quickly said, "Third Lady, we"
The Envoys of the Imperial Residence of Prince An were dead, but the Protectors were still alive. What was this really about?
There must have been an informant planted within them. This was not only apparent to outsiders. Even they suspected it themselves.
Lady Siao Qi, the Third Lady, was in charge of the traitor in the House of Solemnity. They wanted Siao Qi to investigate the matter and prove their innocence.
Siao Qi cleared their doubts, "There's no problem with any of you."
Protector Shar Shi and the other three men suddenly let out a long breath and saluted in appreciation.
Siao Qi waved her delicate hand as the four of them left the main hall.
"Elder Zhao Qingshan, we'll be off to Huay Public House tomorrow. Go and prepare for it," Siao Tieying said.
"Understood," Zhao Qingshan and the three men left the main hall.
Only Chu Li, Siao Qi, Siao Tieying, and Lin Quan remained in the main hall.
"There's still one more thing, Chu Li. I need you to go to the Imperial Residence of Prince An," Siao Tieying muttered.
Chu Li fist saluted, "Your orders, Master."
Siao Tieying sighed, "Prince An, I wrote a letter. I want you to send it to Prince An personally and explain it in front of him."
Chu Li nodded.
Lin Quan rubbed an inkcake on an inkstone to prepare the ink. Siao Tieying took the brush and thought to himself for a moment as he dipped the brush into the ink and authored three pages of paper in a single breath.
Lin Quan quickly blew the paper dry and folded it into an envelope. With a wax seal, he passed it to Chu Li.
Siao Tieying added, "I could just simply call a Protector to send the letter, but their status wouldn't be high enough. It might even come off as irrelevant, so I could only pass it to you. Besides, you're going to join the Imperial Residence of Prince An later on so having a look at the place a little earlier wouldn't hurt."
Chu Li accepted the letter and kept it, "I shall make my way there now."
Siao Qi furrowed her brows, "Prince An will show a little bit of his attitude, but you can just ignore it."
Chu Li smiled and nodded as he fist saluted and left Iron Eagle Island, returning to his courtyard.
Xue Ling grumbled as she packed the bundle for Chu Li, "Master, why do you need to do these mundane errands? It's bullying, really!"
Chu Li smiled, "There's no need to say that much. I wouldn't be the one sending it if it were a normal letter."
"This isn't good news! The Imperial Residence of Prince An is definitely not happy," Xue Ling neatly packed the bundle and passed it to Chu Li, "You'll definitely be bullied if you go!"
"The reputation of Prince An is good, so it may not resort to that," Chu Li smiled, he knew clearly in his heart that Prince An's reputation may not be that same as he believed it to be in reality.