Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Chu Li said, “This isn’t a small matter at all. If the High Duke’s Public House really is unable to manage this properly, I’m afraid that chaos will erupt within the borders. Money and wealth are enough to move people’s hearts. Why can’t the Cloud Slashing Treasure Manual do the same? The various martial arts factions within the border will take this opportunity to stir up trouble.”
“It’s best to let the High Duke’s Public House handle this kind of matters. It would be even better if the imperial court doesn’t interfere, especially the Secret Guardians Hall. You’ll only make things worse.” scoffed Lu Yurong.
Chu Li said slowly, “If it had occurred on the Chong Ming Road, I wouldn’t want to interfere either. Eldest Master is righteous, but the Ji Public House might not be so.”
He knew of the reputation of the Ji Public House. The High Duke Ji was not a righteous person by any means. He was rather materialistic and had the tendency to behave recklessly. It was because of this kind of High Dukes that had moved the courtiers to have vehement discussions about disbanding the High Duke’s Public House.
Lu Yurong said plainly, “I’ll tell you this: the Ji Public House and Hao Ran Faction are very close with one another.”
“Hm?” Chu Li frowned and said, “In other words, they’ll cover for Hao Ran Faction?”
“Of course they will!” scoffed Lu Yurong.
Chu Li shook his head. “Hao Ran Faction is at a disadvantage now. The Association Leader of the High Ridge Association shouted that the Cloud Slashing Treasure Manual was in the hands of Ling Haiya of Hao Ran Faction. The entire city heard it. I suspect everyone would’ve known about it by tomorrow!”
“Then Hao Ran Faction is really in hot water now!” Lu Yurong’s eyebrows knitted together. “I’m afraid their faction might be exterminated.”
Hao Ran Faction was a second class faction. If it were first class sects such as Green Hill and Feng Huang Mountain, the others would grow wary of them once they got their hands on the manual.
They would have to work together to obtain the secret manual, but cooperating with each other was troublesome. It was especially so to the people in the martial arts world who were usually willful and enjoyed the freedom to do whatever they wanted. They would not accommodate anyone’s wishes but wanted others to comply with their requests instead. Working together would only be possible should the mission was hosted by prestigious and intimidating figures.
Hao Ran Faction did not have that kind of threatening power. Once others received the news that the faction had the manual, they would pounce on them without qualms or hesitation and would definitely not care about anything else but getting the Cloud Slashing Secret Manual. They were all willing to die for something as precious as the manual.
“A murderer will always kill others.” Chu Li shook his head.
He did not have any sympathy for Ling Haiya, the same way he did not feel for Wu Zhi. If they died, then let them stay dead. None of them were innocent anyway.
However, this matter had involved too many parties and their resentment towards one another. It would plunge the martial arts world into chaos, and that worried him. The upheaval would not remain isolated once it had occurred. He was afraid that it would spread out, and even the Chong Ming Road would be affected.
If it were not for the Yi Public House, he would not concern himself with matters that were supposedly the Emperor’s concerns.
Lu Yurong said, “The important thing is that Hao Ran Faction doesn’t have the secret manual. They can’t hand it over even if they have taken note of how severe the situation is. I’m afraid their faction will end up getting exterminated.”
Chu Li furrowed his brows.
“If they want to prevent that, they can only form an alliance with the High Duke’s Public House.” Lu Yurong shook her head. “They would be committing a major taboo. Not only would the imperial court not allow it, but the various martial arts sects will also regard Hao Ran Faction as their ultimate enemy then.”
Chu Li said, “No matter what, Hao Ran Faction is doomed.”
Lu Yurong nodded leisurely. She did not care about the doomed faction at all.
Chu Li stood up and began pacing with his hands behind his back.
He stepped on the thick plush rug and smelt the refreshing fragrance. It was indeed a great pleasure to be inside the house.
However, Chu Li was unable to let himself enjoy the sensation at the moment. He muttered, “Hao Ran Faction can only establish an alliance with other sects if they want to solve the perilous situation they’re in. Unfortunately, they’re unable to hand over the secret manual… How about we return the secret manual to them?”
“Aren’t you kind?” scoffed Lu Yurong.
Chu Li shook his head. “The turmoil is brewing!”
Lu Yurong scoffed, “These kinds of things are not for you to worry about. You’re not the Emperor.”
Chu Li let out a laugh and shook his head.
Lu Yurong said, “Foul winds and bloody rain are about to return. There will be many who’ll fall, and there will be many who’ll rise and become notable masters. This kind of storm happens every ten years or so. It’s best for you to get used to it… If the various martial arts sects are not weakened, there will be chaos in the Great Ji Dynasty. The High Duke’s Public Houses will also be in trouble.”
To the various martial arts sects, the High Duke’s Public Houses were very cautious in their way of doing things and would secretly instigate resentment between one sect and another. The sects then would fight against each other. This would weaken their might as a whole, and the sects would not, as a consequence, posed a threat to the High Duke’s Public House.
The moment the martial arts world within the border became stronger than the High Duke’s Public House, the prestige of the Public House would be deeply affected. That would be a real disaster. The various martial arts sects would take the chance to cause some trouble. They would definitely not let the chance to boast about their strength pass by. Some of them would take the opportunity to expand their territory and mass-recruit disciples. Some would even rob and kill.
Chu Li breathed out a sigh. “Actually, it would be very easy to calm this storm. The Ji Public House just has to say that they have obtained the secret manual.”
Lu Yurong’s lips curled into a small smile. “Why would the High Duke’s Public House do something as stupid as that? They would want nothing more than for that not to happen.”
Chu Li frowned. “There’s something strange happening this time. I find it very inappropriate.”
“I’ll be frank with you,” said Lu Yurong. “This case might have not been caused by the Ji Public House.”
“Hm?” Chu Li frowned at her.
Lu Yurong was silent as she contemplated for a moment. Her bright eyes were locked tightly on him.
Chu Li said, “Is there a hidden story I don’t know?”
“Alright, there’s no harm in telling you.” Lu Yurong sighed. “This kind of method is something usually employed by the High Duke’s Public House as well as the imperial court. They’re used to weaken the various martial arts sects so that the imperial court could suppress them, or else the world wouldn’t be at peace.”
“Aren’t they afraid that the national power will be damaged like that?” asked Chu Li.
Lu Yurong smiled. “So what if the national power is harmed? As long as the Li Dynasty doesn’t attack them, then it’s fine. Stabilizing their country is more important.”
She was bolder with her words since there was only the two of them alone in the secret room. She told him about the methods which would make a person’s heart grow cold so that he would not act recklessly, lest he disrupted someone’s plans and got himself yet another enemy.
If it really was the Ji Public House’s scheme, then they must have gotten the permission from the Emperor. No matter how strong Chu Li was, he could not take one mighty punch from the Emperor.
“Do you think this secret manual is a trick employed by the Ji Public House?” Chu Li frowned.
“It’s very possible. Don’t underestimate the talent of the High Duke’s Public House,” said Lu Yurong.
Chu Li sat on the armchair and heaved a sigh. “I thought that it was a conspiracy constructed by the Li Dynasty to weaken the national power of the Ji Dynasty. Now it’s the complete opposite of what I’ve thought. It was actually the Ji Dynasty themselves…”
He shook his head and laughed.
Lu Yurong beamed at him. “And here I thought that someone as smart as you would’ve guessed this long ago. I’ve hinted it to you, but you kept thinking that the Li Dynasty did it instead, so I had no choice but to tell you this!”
Chu Li said unpleasantly, “They’re basically playing with fire!”
“There’s no other way,” said Lu Yurong. “It’s not just the Ji Dynasty who’s doing this, the Li Dynasty, Zheng Dynasty, Fu Dynasty, and Qiu Dynasty are the same.”
Chu Li sighed. “Hm, I understand.”
This was the cold hard truth. There was no talk about feelings, only the benefits they would gain. The imperial court and the High Duke’s Public House would scheme against the martial arts factions so that their own power and martial arts would be equally important. The path he was on was not wrong.
“So don’t interfere with this case anymore. Let the Ji Public House handle it themselves,” said Lu Yurong.
Chu Li flashed a quick smile. “Thank you very much.”
These words could not be said by just anyone, and Lu Yurong also could not just talk about this with anyone. She was confiding in him out of the goodness of her heart with absolute sincerity.
Lu Yurong scoffed, “Just don’t do anything stupid. As for this secret manual, I’ll try cultivating it.”
“It’s all yours.” Chu Li stood up. “It’s late. Farewell.”
“Hurry and leave!” Lu Yurong waved her hand and took up the Cloud Slashing Treasure Manual to examine it once again.
Chu Li disappeared in a flash.
His following days were spent in idleness. He no longer meddled in the case about Autumn Wind Camp. He only watched indifferently as the winds change in the martial arts world within the borders of the Ji Public House.
On the third day, he received news that Hao Ran Faction was slaughtered by ten or so martial arts masters. Their strength was greatly crippled with half of their disciples killed and another half of them injured. There were none left who could stand properly.
The Grandmasters of Hao Ran Faction were reported missing.