The delicate maid in a colorful dress gently entered the courtyard and called out softly, "Scribe Chu Li, the Prince wants to see you."
Chu Li calmed his anger, nodded, and smiled, "Thank you for the effort."
He followed the maid out of the courtyard and saw Chief Zhu right as he exited the arch.
Chief Zhu lazily waved his hand, "Follow me."
Chu Li fist saluted and said nothing.
He sighed to himself. The Second Lady was going to marry Prince An, a cold-hearted person that only cared about the power and the position of Emperor. It was like a small rabbit that sent itself into the gaping mouth of a large grey wolf.
Forcing a smile, he was only able to blame the silly Second Lady and her unfortunate fate. Who knew that even through the clean reputation, Prince An was such a figure? This was truly an ill-fated marriage.
It was just like meeting a swindler in the modern world! Encountering someone who drives drunk and having bad luck, what could even be done about it!?
Chu Li felt a mix of anger, fury, and sympathy. The only thing in his mind was to scold the Second Lady in her face.
Chief Zhu slowly uttered, "I'll remind you of the prince's rules so you don't offend him and have him blame it on your Public House."
Chu Li replied, "I'll need Chief Zhu to give me a few pointers."
"Hmph!" Chief Zhu gently cleared his throat, "Our prince likes peace and quiet. He doesn't like loud sounds, especially from someone that's disturbing him. It interrupts his reading."
"Okay," Chu Li nodded. No wonder there was no one outside his study room, he did not like too much sound since he was sensitive to it.
Through that, it was clear that he was always in a state of impatience. Unsettled and short-tempered, there was a restrained anger within him that could not be released. These types of people were easily enraged.
Chief Zhu continued, "The Prince is very amicable and approachable. However, he really hates lies, just like the people in the Imperial Residence. Whenever a mistake is made, the punishment wouldn't be too serious if they admit to it honestly. If they were to lie, they'd be chased out of the Imperial Residence, never to be employed again!"
Chu Li nodded.
He understood what Chief Zhu was trying to say. Chief Zhu wanted him to be honest and not conceal anything.
"The Envoys of the Imperial Residence were killed. Was your Public House responsible for it?" Chief Zhu still sounded lazy but his eyes were sharp.
Chu Li sighed, "This is our responsibility. We were too careless and thought no one dared to attack people from the Imperial Residence which was why not many Masters were sent to protect them. My Public House is now searching for the assailants. We'll definitely punish them harshly and assist in avenging the Imperial Residence's Envoys!"
"Hmph!" Chief Zhu coldly laughed, "They're dead now, what's the point of avenging them!?"
Chu Li explained, "The perpetrators are quite daring. If they were willing to kill people of the Imperial Residence today, they'd surely do it tomorrow."
Chief Zhu furrowed his brows, "Isn't the Chong Ming Path very safe and peaceful? Why did this even happen in the first place? You're presenting a false picture of peace and prosperity!"
Chu Li sighed, "We didn't think the Envoys of the Imperial Residence would be attacked exactly because it was peaceful and prosperous."
"Always have your reasons, don't you!" Chief Zhu coldly remarked.
Chu Li smiled and stopped talking.
Chief Zhu's scheme was quite sinister. If he kept labeling and blaming the Yi Public House, Chu Li would have been forced into only reacting to his statements.
Both of them entered the wide and quiet courtyard, the study room of Prince An.
"Prince, I've brought the man over," Chief Zhu lowered his voice.
Before Chu Li stepped into the courtyard, his fine hair erected. He immediately went into a state of wilting, as if his wounds had not recovered yet. The vigor from the hidden Grandmasters was too overwhelming, as if they were warning him in secret.
"Come in," Prince An's voice came through.
Chief Zhu stepped on the stairs and gently pushed the door open. The wooden door quietly rotated and slowly opened.
He bowed respectfully, completely different from the neglectful attitude he had before.
Chu Li entered the hall and fist saluted.
Prince An was stable on his armchair in his yellow robe. Even though his face was yellow, withered, and sickly, he still had a luxurious attitude.
He was holding a green porcelain teacup in his hand as he checked Chu Li. His piercing gaze felt as if he could see right through Chu Li's organs.
Chu Li drooped his eyes as he quietly stood still, keeping the Omniscient Mirror active.
Prince An put down the teacup, "I've heard that the Second Lady's health is getting better. Is that true?"
Chu Li answered, "Yes, the Second Lady's body is doing much better now. She's already back to normal."
Prince An continued to stare at him, his gaze threatening, "She's been sickly since she was young, how'd she recover so quickly all of a sudden?"
Chu Li replied, "We found the Longevity Grass in the Public House."
"Ah, Longevity Grass" Prince An slowly nodded. His eyes were flashing.
However, Chu Li's heart dropped.
He had finally found the answer to his suspicion. Prince An was the one who cast the Vitality Sealing Finger!
When Prince An was in his twenties, he took advantage of the Second Lady's birthday celebration by visiting the Yi Public House and secretly casting the Vitality Sealing Finger on her. Everyone would be disappointed if they knew of how vicious he really was.
Prince An calmly continued, "I heard that she was struck by the Vitality Sealing Finger. Your Young High Duke and I are good friends. He stayed over at my Imperial Residence for quite some time when he was young. Tieying went to find the Emperor for help, but he was isolated for cultivation. So we went to the Empress for help, but she only sent the Imperial House's High Official. Has the Vitality Sealing Finger been undone?"
Chu Li sighed to himself. No wonder the Second Lady was so silly. Prince An and Master Siao Tieying were close friends!
He knew that Master Siao Tieying disliked Prince An. Chu Li believed that this was simply due to the natural reaction to a brother-in-law so he did not dwell on it for too long. However, now that he really thought about it, Master Siao Tieying may have clued in on how despicable Prince An was.
Unfortunately, as the elder brother was unable to cure his sister, so were the parents unable to cure their children.
Chu Li said, "The Second Lady is a great person, so God will naturally bless her. It has already been lifted. Has Prince met the Third Lady before?"
"Young Siao Qi? She's quite an eccentric and anti-social girl. Always liked to be alone, even when she was young. I've never really taken a good look at her before. Well then, it's still a good thing worth celebrating," Prince An stroked his smiling beard, "Then I can rest assured."
"Thank you, Prince An," Chu Li said, "The Envoys were murdered this time due to an oversight in my Public House. We should've sent a few more Grandmasters to protect them."
However, Chu Li really meant to say that Prince An should have sent more Grandmasters to protect them.
He sighed to himself about the ill destiny of the Second Lady. Prince An did not have the chance to see the true colors of Siao Qi.
Prince An waved his hand, "I can't pin the blame of this on you. The Public House wouldn't resort to killing the Envoys of the Imperial Residence. If you aren't willing to, just tell me! I won't force you guys."
Chu Li smiled, "Prince An has a good reputation with the public. Having a marriage with Prince An is a thing of celebration in the Public House. Who wouldn't be willing to!?"
Prince An had ulterior motives. By trying to make the incident sound heartrending, he made it sound as if it were the Yi Public House that was unwilling to have the marriage, so they killed the Envoys of the Imperial Residence to stop it. Of course, he would not admit to his deeds or his motives.
Prince An stroked his beard, "Then I can rest assured. My way of doing things is to never force people into doing things they don't want to. The Second Lady is a world class beauty. I'd be overjoyed if she joined the Imperial Residence."
"Thank you, Prince An," Chu Li fist saluted.
"The letter Tieying wrote said that the ones who murdered the Envoys was the Ren Public House?" Prince An calmly asked.
Chu Li replied, "Yes, they supposedly intended to frame the Huay Public House. Coincidentally, one of our Public House's Protector recognized one of the murderers. It's one of the High Official of the Ren Public House."
"That's really quite the coincidence," Prince An smiled.
Chu Li nodded, "The prediction of man will never catch up to what God throws at us. If Huay Public House takes the fall for it, their vigor may take a huge hit."
"Isn't the Ren Public House about to have an engagement with the Huay Public House? Why go so far to do something like this?"
"There's always a need to see which tiger is the strongest if there are two in a single mountain."
"Hmm, with that in mind, it is no wonder that there are always people from the martial arts world who tries to mess things up," Prince An stroked his beard as he shook his head and sighed, "They've already forgotten the reason why Public Houses were established!"
"We can't blame the Public House for the things people from the martial arts world mess up," Chu Li shook his head and said, "These Mayors took advantage of their power and preyed on the common folk. They ran amok and the Imperial Court didn't enforce the rules to control them. The more lawless they became, and the more resentful the people became. God was truly angry. Any human who has any shred of righteousness would not have tolerated this."
Prince An furrowed his brows, "I believe what you said was a little too much?"
Chu Li replied, "This time, the Mayors of the Desolate Town were assassinated. I'm guessing the Imperial Court already knows that it was the doing of the High Official of the Huay Public House."
"The Wang Brothers," Prince An calmly answered.
Chu Li said, "They're the High Officials of the Public Houses and they knew how serious the problem was, so they can't kill the Mayors. They were aware of the dangers and consequences so why did they still go through with it? This is beyond endurance! With them acting like that, what will the martial arts world think? What will the people with a strong sense of justice, ready to help the weak do?"
Prince An stroked his beard and smiled, "After everything you've said, it seems like you're on the side of the martial arts world?"
Chu Li replied with a serious face, "Just the opposite. I'm worried about the Imperial Court. If this continues, the assets of the Great Ji Dynasty will be unstable. Prince An, as a Prince, you should understand that if water can help a boat float, then it can certainly swallow a ship. The people are boiling with resentment! How will the world not fall into chaos?"
"Then what do you have in mind?" Prince An stroked his beard and smiled in disapproval.
An individual was no match for the law. Those ants for citizens would not cause a large enough commotion.
Chu Li suggested, "Equalize the powers. The powers of the Mayor is far too much. What's the point of the Governor if it's just a decoration? Normally, bad guys would collaborate with bad guys so they can fool everyone. If more power was added to the Governors, the Mayors would have less power to abuse. Then it wouldn't be that easy for them to consolidate their power. This would be so much more beneficial for the Imperial Court to control."
"Hmm," Prince An was deep in thought.
Chi Li still had an ace up his sleeve, but he did not want to say it. That is, he wanted to add one more to divide the power.
If he proposed what he was thinking, then the official posts will automatically increase. Officers would have been thankful to the person who gave the suggestion. He did not want Prince An to have that credit.
"Of course, this is merely a suggestion from an unprofessional Scribe. Try not to laugh at me if it doesn't convince you, Prince An," Chu Li said.
Prince An stroked his beard and waved his hand, "You really do deserve the position of a rank two Scribe. Your level of knowledge isn't normal."
For a senior official of the Imperial Court to be able to view society with an arrogant outlook based on their social position normal. However, Chu Li was but a scribe. Having such knowledge was truly extraordinary. A rare and commendable spirit.
This recent world and the previous world's Dynasties were alike. In these few thousands of years, the politics was stable. Chu Li came from the modern world, Dynasties change far more frequently and wins out the previous world. The histories precipitates crystals of knowledge. Chu Li got them naturally. He felt as if all these things were common, ordinary knowledge. However, him being here made him look like a knowledgeable person beyond the likes of the common folk, different from the profane.
"We sent people over this time because they wanted to teach the Second Lady the rules of the Imperial so she wouldn't be a joke when she joins the Imperial Residence," Prince An stroked his beard and smiled, "Other than that, it's because we need to choose the wedding date. The Empress has already found a suitable Imperial Astronomer to calculate the perfect date for a wedding, and it seems like March of next year is good for marriage."
"March of next year?" Chu Li muttered.
It was only September. March was still a full six months away. It was hard to believe that a six month delay would go by without much trouble.
It turned out that the Empress was actually quite satisfied with Siao Shi, and Prince An had no way out of marrying her. He had no choice but to secretly play his tricks.
Chu Li raised his head and looked at Prince An. Anger welled up inside him as he held to urge to slap Prince An's head clean off very badly.
It took constant vigilance to stave off evil, and evil always kept justice down. The human heart was vicious to its core. No matter how neglectful and cold Siao Shi may be, her heart lost no trace of innocence. It would have truly be sending a goat to the open mouth of a tiger if she really joined the Imperial Residence.
In comparison with Prince An, Siao Shi intended to sacrifice herself to give the Public House some breathing space. It was truly childish and laughable. She was silly, funny, and pitiful!
When his thoughts crossed that point, Chu Li's anger grew more defined.
Under the effect of Omniscient Mirror, his mind stayed calm and controlled no matter how angry he was.
"Is Prince An not feeling well?" Chu Li showed a concerned look, his tone was sincere, "Prince An's complexion isn't good."
Prince An's face was dark yellow. He looked sick and he was a Grandmaster. Chu Li already saw it in his Omniscient Mirror. Two forces were battling within his body.
Prince An continuously cultivated the heart technique to defeat the inner energy, but he was never able to remove it.
Prince An waved his hand, "It's just a minor injury, nothing too bad. How does Tieying intend to solve the recent problem?"
Chu Li smiled, "I've just been ordered to sent letter over. I don't know anything else."
Prince An said, "I'll send a reply to Tieying along with a few more people. You may leave now."
Chu Li said, "Very well, I shall take my leave!"
Prince An stroked his beard as he smiled and nodded. He picked up the green porcelain teacup.
Chu Li fist saluted and left.
He returned to the previous courtyard but was not in a hurry. This was the perfect opportunity to pry more of the Imperial Residence's true nature. Finding a way to kill Prince An was also of priority.
If Prince An did not die, Siao Shi would have had a hard time getting away. Chu Li had no choice.
The Imperial Residence may be huge, but Prince An spends most of his time in the study room reading books, meditating, and repressing the odd force within his body. Chu Li saw his heart technique circulating within him through the Omniscient Mirror.
The heart technique that the Royal Household cultivated was top secret and never spread to the public. Chu Li was trying to cultivate Prince An's heart technique to find its weakness.