The lights of the small courtyard were shining as if it were day.
Chu Li was quietly sitting at the side of the stone table, flipping and reading a book. Another stack of books laid on top of the stone table.
The guest house of Prince An's Imperial Residence was quite different from the ones in Huay Public House.
The yard was sophisticated and comfortable, but not luxurious. It did not feel overbearingly rich and the largest difference was in the study room. It housed thousands of collections of books.
Chu Li used all of his free time reading the books in the Yi Public House's Tower of Wisdom, but over half the books found in the guest house were not in the Tower of Wisdom.
He was like someone who was extremely thirsty that finally found a sweet spring of water. His heart itched so much that he was unable to hold on to it.
Around this time, a pretty maid in a colorful dress gently and elegantly walked towards him accompanied by a delicate fragrance. She held onto her sleeve as she bowed, "Would you like to have your dinner now, Master?"
"Yes, thank you for the effort," Chu Li smiled as he nodded.
The maid smiled, "What does Master want to eat? This is the menu. If the menu is not up to your tastes, we can inform our chef."
She said as she handed Chu Li a rather small booklet filled with names of dishes written on top of it.
Chu Li simply ticked a few names and smiled, "Please have Chief Zhu come here for a bit."
"Understood," the maid had a beautiful smile.
She looked like a flower when she smiled. It added towards her delicate, charming, and moving beauty.
Chu Li smiled as he nodded, saying nothing more.
He smiled to himself. What young lady yearned not for love? The maid must have fell for him.
Prince An may be cold and vicious, but he was very good at acting it out. He hid his true nature deep inside and showed his kind-hearted self on the outside. His staff were treated with lenience and peace. The atmosphere of the residence was strict, but active. Chu Li had to admit that he truly had the looks of someone who was ambitious and ruthless.
Maids of Prince An's Imperial Residence had not many things to do, usually. Guests dared not treat them impolitely either, which was why they were mostly active and energetic with a wonderful longing for life. The maids knew not of the dangerous landscapes and people of the outside.
Chief Zhu reached relatively quickly. His embroidered robe was shining under the light.
He walked into the small courtyard and lazily fist saluted, giving off a standoffish attitude, "Scribe Chu Li, you were looking for me?"
Chu Li smiled and welcomed him to sit before engaging in conversation.
Chief Zhu was jealous of Chu Li. He looked incredibly overconfident and his expression was undisciplined, "I have many things to tend to, tell me now if you have anything to say."
Chu Li smiled, "Chief Zhu, we're not outsiders to each other anymore. I'm going to follow Lady Siao Shi to Prince An's Imperial Residence not too far into the future. We should at least try to get closer to each other."
"You're going to follow?" the expression on Chief Zhu's face changed ever so slightly.
Chu Li nodded, "Our Public House obviously wouldn't let Lady Siao Shi come here alone. As the private Scribe of Lady Siao Shi, it's natural that I follow. I do hope that Chief Zhu will take care of me!"
Chief Zhu forced a smile as he fist saluted, "How is that possible? I should be the one asking for your guidance."
Ranking worked the same throughout the Great Ji Dynasty. The Imperial Court, the Public House, and the Imperial Residence all followed the same standards. Rank two Scribes from the Public House were still rank two even after they joined an Imperial Residence. Chief Zhu was merely rank four, so he needed to be polite to Chu Li.
Chu Li waved off his hand and smiled, "Lady Siao Shi is going to be the Empress, and I'm going to be the Scribe of the Imperial Residence. There's no need for everyone here to regard me as an outsider.
"That's certainly true. We're all one, all one," Chief Zhu forced a smile out as he nodded with a mouthful of bitterness.
Chu Li continued, "That's right, I had a small request."
Chief Zhu concentrated his attention and smiled, "Do say it."
"I wish to stay in the residence for a few more days," Chu Li pointed at the study room as he shook his head, "I'm someone who's fond of reading and it's quite torturing for me to not have a look at all the books here. I'd wish to leave after reading all these books."
"About that," Chief Zhu hesitated and smiled, "You're not putting aside your main mission, are you?"
Chu Li waved off his hand, "There are only a few books here that aren't in the Tower of Wisdom of the Public House. It won't take more than a few days. In fact, my mission here is already almost done. It'll be the same as I return to the Public House."
"...Well, it should be fine if that's the case. Make yourself comfortable, Scribe Chu Li," Chief Zhu smiled, "As long as it doesn't compromise the main mission Scribe Chu Li was assigned to, the residence wouldn't mind serving up a few extra meals."
Chu Li smiled, "I shall thank Chief Zhu for now, then."
"It's not much," Chief Zhu smiled as he stood up, "If there's nothing else you need, I'll be going off now. I still have many things to do elsewhere."
"Please do, and thank you for the effort you made to come over. I really do feel bad for making you walk all the way here," Chu Li stood up and genuinely sent him to the main door of the courtyard.
Chief Zhu scolded him for disingenuity. It was clearly a lie that Chu Li felt bad. He maintained his smile, unwilling to neglect his duties.
If Chu Li actually joined the Imperial Residence and became the personal Scribe to the Empress, he would rank much higher than him! He was only a mere treasurer! A single word would be all that was needed to give him a hard time. Countless amounts of people will have gotten him into trouble.
After Chief Zhu left, the maid served the dishes in three different times. The table was full of dishes.
Chu Li checked on Prince An in his head as he drank wine and enjoyed his dishes in leisure.
Prince An spent almost his entire day in the study room reading, writing, and cultivating. The man was hardworking and self-disciplined. He was not what Chu Li thought he was. Prince An was not extravagant nor was he greedy. He did not spend his nights drinking, singing, or watching luxurious dances.
The Prince was extremely ambitious. Strict with his own self-discipline, he was also troubled with his internal injuries. If he was not careful, he would be consumed by the odd inner energy within him which rendered him unwilling to let loose his desires.
Curious about the source of the inner energy was Chu Li. Whose inner energy was strong enough that it could restrain even Prince An?
Chu Li took a leisurely walk after his meal. He left the small courtyard and arrived at a delicate flower garden.
There were lanterns everywhere, illuminating the garden brightly albeit a little gently, as if it were a fantasy.
He looked like he was enjoying the beauty of the flowers, but he was actually trying to discover the heart technique of Prince An.
His body circulated ten times, and he found nothing special about the heart technique. The twentieth time, he slightly felt the wonder of the heart technique. Thirty the wonder was much clearer and his inner energy was oddly pure.
He felt how unique it was so he let it circulate. The feeling got stronger and clearer.
The type of heart technique was unknown to him. It was much better than the Infinity Sea of Azure. It was as thick but was even more pure. Truly, a heart technique transmitted to the royal household.
Learning this heart technique was something he did not want to do, however. Since he was not sure of the details of the heart technique, as well as the fact that the Infinity Sea of Azure had become an instinct to him and had been channeling perpetually. Changing to another heart technique now would have traded in too much time and effort for something lesser so he may as well not have changed it.
However, now was a key time. Channeling the heart technique for killing his enemies allowed him to hide his own identity.
After an hour of loitering around the garden, he returned to the guest house and washed himself. The maid left as he took a book and sat on the bed.
He searched for a dark green robe and wore it, leaving the small courtyard and walking along the side of the Imperial Residence right after.
The caution within the Imperial Residence was tight, masters were present everywhere.
His body was set to the 'death' state of the Scripture of Life and Death. Even the Grandmasters were unable to sense him. He was essentially fused into nature as one, like a piece of wilted wood. Omniscient Mirror had reflected five miles into him, which allowed him to avoid the attention of the masters and find gaps to weave around them. Successfully checking through the Imperial Residence, he saw through the true situation of it.
There were fifteen Grandmasters total in the Imperial Residence, much greater than that of the Public House. Their abilities were nothing short of impressive.
The existence of the Public House was to pressure the martial art word, and the Imperial Residence did not have such a responsibility. Even regular Protectors here had much more abilities than the ones in the Public House. It was apparent that the most of the masters here were directly contacted to Prince An in private.
Lingering thoughts of assassinating Prince An was withheld and drawn to the back of his head.
Prince An alone was a Grandmaster. With the rest of his personal Grandmasters, assassinating him was not an easy job.
He needed to rise to Grandmaster level if he wanted to kill Prince An.
Prince An being at the level of a Grandmaster was odd. He should not have been able to join any factions. If all assumptions were to be correct, it meant that the Royal Household had a Surpassing State as well.
Chu Li gently moved around the Imperial Residence twice. All of his attention was on Prince An.
He was always alone, and he never slept with his imperial concubine either.
During midnight, Prince An suddenly awakened and left his room. There were no Protectors around him as he walked into the yard holding his weapons.
The yard itself was mainly used for training martial arts. A few weapon racks decorated the sides while a training hall was placed in the middle of the yard.
No Protectors guarded the side. Precautions were not taken whatsoever.
Prince An passed through the training hall and entered the east room.
There was an ancient caldron in the east room as tall as two people and the length of one. Patches of green brass were embroidered onto it, covering the rough patterns.
Prince An leapt into it and sat in the ancient cauldron, legs crossed.