When the crowd saw the Chunyang disciple who had volunteered to go with Xu Zhi Nan to exchange hostages, they were all startled.
He had changed into Chen Xing Yong's clothes and hair crown, messed up his hair and pretended to have a broken hamstring, already resembling Chen Xing Yong by four to five points. The original taller and stronger body had shrunk to a moderately thin one, and even the facial bones had become feminine. At first glance, he looked like Chen Xing Yong himself.
In fact, with a little identification, one could tell that it was two different people, but with identical clothing, dishevelled hair and dim lights, it was enough to pass for the real thing.
"The Bone Shrinking Technique of the Chunyang Sect is so amazing." Song Zi Heng looked at the disciple curiously, and for a moment it was difficult to tell the difference.
Xu Zhi Nan said, "It can't be done exactly the same, plus it won't last long, but it can still bluff people a bit."
"It will definitely be possible to fool the other party. Brother Xu, no matter how many people there are on the other side, as soon as we save your junior brother, we have to withdraw immediately."
The rescue had been planned out in full, Xu Zhi Nan will take his disciple disguised as Chen Xing Yong to exchange for Cheng Yan Zhi, and wait for an opportunity to send out a signal as soon as he was rescued, and those who were waiting outside the city would go to rescue him at once. If all goes well, they would not only get the man back, but also catch the mysterious man.
"Don't worry, I'll improvise."
They sent Xu Zhi Nan and his disciple to the outskirts of the city, which was only two miles away from Dayang Slope and could be reached in an instant via sword flight.
Song Zi Xiao looked a little complicated after learning that Xu Zhi Nan had given Song Zi Heng a good sword.
He stroked Jun Lan: "It is indeed a good sword, he is a generous man." "Well, Brother Xu is generous and righteous. Chunyang Sect will surely
flourish under his command."
Song Zi Xiao gently put Jun Lan back into its sheath, he gazed at Song Zi Heng, "Big brother, will you ... blame Father?"
Song Zi Heng was slightly stunned. The two brothers had never discussed such issues before. Even when Song Zi Xiao was young, he was vaguely aware that his father treats his big brother and him very differently, and there were some words that he did not know either how to begin or how to end.
"I know that Father is not good to big brother, I ..." Song Zi Xiao frowned, and was really stuck.
Song Zi Heng said blandly, "Father actually does not treat big brother badly, it's just that big brother is the eldest son, so he has to be more strict in his upbringing." How could he tell his much-loved younger brother that because the Empress detested the mother and son and the Emperor still had to rely on the Wuliang Sect that is supporting her, thus he would never treat him well?
Perhaps his brother had grown up and understood long ago, but as a subject, loyalty and filial piety were the two mountains above his head that could only be tamed.
Song Zi Xiao looked as if he wanted to say something but did not. "Besides, it’s not that Father did not want to give me a sword. I should
have gotten a good sword at the Jiaolong assembly three years ago, and I missed it myself." Song Zi Heng stroked Song Zi Xiao’s head, "Our Xiao Jiu must not miss out on the precious sword forged by Shen Nong Ding."
Song Zi Xiao said with earnestness and certainty, "Big brother, what is mine is yours. Whatever we get as brothers in the future will not be divided. Even if you want my sword, I am willing to give it to you."
Song Zi Heng laughed, "Good, when you get the divine sword, lend it to big brother for a sword dance."
A disciple from Chunyang Sect raised his head and stared in the direction of Dayang Slope, worrying, "Why has it been so long without any news? I wonder if Senior Brother has seen Senior Brother Cheng."
"Yeah, it's been almost an hour."
"Senior Brother is so powerful, he will be fine."
Song Zi Heng was also anxious. Even if the fake Chen Xing Yong had muddled through, it didn't mean that the mysterious man would keep his promise and return Cheng Yan Zhi. If the fake Chen Xing Yong was discovered, the situation would be even more dangerous, and the only one who could adapt was Xu Zhi Nan, which was really worrying.
Qi Meng Sheng said, "Wait for another 5 minutes, if there is still no signal from Xu Zhen Ren, we will go over."
As soon as the words left his mouth, a loud bang was heard in the distance, and the incandescent flames appeared in the ink-stained night sky, shaking the earth. They had been waiting for Xu Zhi Nan's signal fireworks, but this was the signal they were never expecting; it was an explosion!
The Song brothers rose up with their swords.
Cultivators who fly in the air need the help of apparatuses most of the time; weapon cultivators use weapons, which is the simplest of all; the Cangyu Sect cultivates magic, so they can use frozen ice to fly. Only martial arts cultivators can use their physical bodies to fly.
They were all very fast, but when they arrived at Dayang Slope, they were still a step behind.
A huge crater had been blown out of Dayang Slope, and it looked as if a piece had been gouged out with a shovel from the top view. Several people had fallen on the ground, along with limbs that had fallen everywhere. Blood and mud mixed together, black and red splattered everywhere. It was simply unbearable.
The air was filled with the stench of burning and pungent odor. "It's Thunderfire Stone!" Qi Meng Sheng exclaimed.
As soon as Song Zi Heng landed on the ground, he ran with the others towards Xu Zhi Nan.
Xu Zhi Nan was half-covered in mud, his right arm had been blown away, and his body and face were covered in blood, but he was still crawling forward with one hand, not far from Cheng Yan Zhi, not knowing whether he is dead or alive.
The scene was a mixture of grief and anger.
"Brother Xu!" Song Zi Heng rushed up and picked up Xu Zhi Nan, infusing his spiritual energy frantically as he looked at Xu Zhi Nan's miserable state, anger surging in his chest. "My... My junior brother." Xu Zhi Nan said in a trembling voice, "I'm fine, go and see ...Yan Zhi..."
Song Zi Heng said urgently, "Don't say anything, protect your heart chakra."
"Senior Brother Cheng, Senior Brother Cheng is still alive! But ..."
Xu Zhi Nan heard these words before he closed his eyes and passed out.
Song Zi Xiao turned around quickly, "No, these people don't look like that mysterious person, where is he?"
Qi Meng Sheng took out two elixirs and fed them to Xu Zhi Nan and Cheng Yan Zhi respectively. She said in a deep voice, "Save the people first, take them back to the city. Bring back all the dead and alive, and send people around to search for any fish that have slipped through the net*."
"Senior Sister, it's confirmed, it's the formula for Thunderfire Stone."
Thunderfire Stone was a kind of explosive. It is a recipe formulated by a sect in Yongliang that specialized in making gunpowder and firearms, and its power was much more powerful than ordinary explosives. Exploding at such a close distance, if the Chunyang Sect people did not have the body of Vajra, they would have been blown apart, but the disciple who pretended to be Chen Xing Yong still did not survive. And the few suspected enemy cultivators at the scene, none of them left a whole body.
Qi Meng Sheng narrowed her pair of beautiful eyes, "Thunderfire Stones rarely appear in the Central Plains. Could this matter be related to Yongliang?"
Although the Thunderfire Stone was powerful, for the stereotypical and old-fashioned Central Plains sects that held themselves in high regard and it was disdainful to use them. It was destined to be swept into the ranks of heretical sects. Song Zi Heng said, "Thunderfire stones are indeed rare in the Central Plains, but I have heard that there are quite a number of people buying Thunderfire stones secretly. It's just that many immortal sects won't let people know because they are concerned about their face."
"Then it would be difficult to find out who used the Thunderfire Stone." "Flying Plume Ambassador, have those limbs been pieced together yet?
Can the mastermind be found?" A disciple of the Chunyang Sect said sadly, "My Senior Brother and Senior Brother Cheng were seriously injured and Junior Brother Wang was killed. This matter must be traced to the end!"
Qi Meng Sheng said, "It's been pieced, but none of them look like the mastermind."
Song Zi Xiao said, "I've already seen it at the scene. The person who was able to capture Cheng Yan Zhi must be a high-ranking cultivator, and a high-ranking cultivator's protective boundary would at least not let itself explode into pieces."
Song Zi Heng was puzzled, "But the Thunderfire Stone must be used at close range, and Brother Xu was even injured by the blast. That mysterious person could not have had time to escape. Could there be someone else faster than the Chunyang Sect cultivators?"
Qi Meng Sheng said, "This point is indeed puzzling." "Senior Brother is awake!"
At these words, the crowd got up and went to see Xu Zhi Nan.
Earlier, they had split up and gone to a nearby town to find a doctor to treat their injuries. Xu Zhi Nan had not been hurt in the vital areas, and his self-healing ability was so strong that even his missing limbs could grow back, but Cheng Yan Zhi's injuries were extremely serious, almost as if he was hanging on by a thread and could die at any moment. The most frightening thing was that Cheng Yan Zhi's golden core had been dug out. Xu Zhi Nan woke up, but they didn't know how to tell him the bad news.
But Xu Zhi Nan acted unusually calm, if not for the fact that his face was ashen, he looked like he was waking up from a long dream without too many ups and downs, but this was even more depressing and saddening.
"Did Junior Brother Wang not get saved?" Xu Zhi Nan said in a soft voice.
The Chunyang Sect disciple sobbed softly. "Yan Zhi's golden core was dug out."
"How did you know?" Qi Meng Sheng said in surprise.
"I saw it." Xu Zhi Nan opened his eyes, his gaze as cold as the deep winter, "After the explosion, I saw that man digging out Yan Zhi's core, and he tried to dig up mine, but when you guys arrived, he ran away."
"Ran away?" Song Zi Xiao's eyes widened, "Could it be that he didn't put the Thunderfire stone there? Or was his cultivation so profound that he was only lightly injured?" The only people who could withstand the explosion of the Thunderfire stone at close range and still move freely were most likely the sect leaders of the major sects.
"No, he wasn't injured at all and was safe and sound." Xu Zhi Nan's lips trembled slightly.
This statement was followed by a few huffing sounds.
"Impossible." Qi Meng Sheng said categorically, "Nowadays, the highest cultivated patriarchs in the immortal cultivation world are the Chunyang Sect’s Sect Leader Immortal..." She blurted out, then realized that it was inappropriate to say this in front of a room full of Chunyang Sect disciples.
But Xu Zhi Nan finished her sentence for her: "To be able to survive an explosion like that unharmed, even my master would not be able to do that."
"Could it be that there are really hermit experts in this world?" Song Zi Heng's face turned a little white, "I don't believe it. If there really is such a person, how could he be in cahoots with such scum like Chen Xing Yong? And where is the need to dig out people's golden cores?"
"What Your Highness said is extremely true." Qi Meng Sheng said, "Another possibility is that he has a special magical weapon that allows him to take cover. For example, if he used the Gong Shu Ju, he would be able to stay away from the explosion instantly."
"But Gong Shu Ju is in my Qiankun Pouch." Xu Zhi Nan said.
"Brother Xu, tell us in detail what happened then. Having caught Chen Xing Yong, this matter is far from over, we must uncover the mysterious person behind the curtain."
Xu Zhi Nan sighed tersely, a pained look gazed between his brows, "At that time, I took Junior Brother Wang to Dayang Slope, and I did see the mysterious man with a few of his men and Yan Zhi. At that time, I thought that everything was still as I had expected."
"I tried to talk politely to the mysterious man, but he was very strict. We never exchanged moves from the beginning to the end, and I had no way of knowing his martial path. Then, he offered to exchange hostages. According to the plan, after exchanging Yan Zhi back, Junior Brother Wang would suddenly rise in revolt and sneak attack the mysterious person. I would set off the fireworks, you guys would come to the rescue, and we would kill them all. However, the mysterious man did not want to exchange back Chen Xing Yong, he wanted to exterminate Chen Xing Yong together with us."
"So, when he was very close to us, he suddenly threw out the Thunderfire stone. I only had time to protect myself and Yan Zhi at that time. Junior Brother Wang was the closest to him and failed to ..." Xu Zhi Nan's voice choked at the end of his sentence.
fish that have slipped through the net*
[落⽹之⻥]---fugitive; criminal at large;
"That mystery man was able to hide from the explosives, yet he used his own subordinates as bait to deceive all of you. How malicious ah." Song Zi Heng's heart palpitated, "Brother Xu, you and Cheng Zhen Ren are lucky to have survived."
"That villain's ways are too bizarre. If he is from a decent sect, he would not usually think of such underhanded methods." Xu Zhi Nan said with a hoarse voice, "It's a pity that he got away. Even though Chen Xing Yong was caught, the immortal world will still not be peaceful."
Qi Meng Sheng said, "My sect has some dealings with Yongliang, I will order someone to go to Yongliang. Perhaps we can find out which sects and people they have sold their Thunderfire Stones to."
Song Zi Xiao snorted coldly, "Nothing is better than getting Chen Xing Yong to talk."
"Yes, we still have Chen Xing Yong. The mysterious man does not know that Chen Xing Yong is not dead, and if Chen Xing Yong knows that the man wants to kill him, he might give up and open up." Song Zi Heng said.
Xu Zhi Nan's eyes boiled with murderous intent, "I will make him talk, no matter what method I use."
"The mystery man thinks Chen Xing Yong is dead. Then the buyers behind the Lion Alliance, all think Chen Xing Yong is dead. We can use this to our advantage." Qi Meng Sheng pondered, "Use ... Gong Shu Ju to lure the buyer of human cores who is in cahoots with Chen Xing Yong." "Does Flying Plume Ambassador have a plan?" Xu Zhi Nan looked at Qi Meng Sheng. The Chunyang Sect’s sect leader’s senior brother, who was originally a eucalyptus facing the wind with dignified appearance, currently looked very pale and weak, which made people especially moved.
The cold and frosty Qi Meng Sheng's tone softened a bit: "When you are better, we will discuss it together."
Xu Zhi Nan struggled to get up, "I want to go and see Yan Zhi."
"Brother Xu." Song Zi Heng gently pressed his shoulder, "You are not yet healed, don't move around, Cheng Zhen Ren has a doctor looking after him."
"How is his ... condition?" Xu Zhi Nan's eyes were red: "I grew up with Yan Zhi. He was proud and never slacked in his pursuit of immortality. How could this happen ..."
Cheng Yan Zhi's injuries were extremely serious. All of his internal organs were damaged, and now he only had one breath left. Even if he managed to survive, losing his golden core would mean losing the self- healing ability of a Chunyang Sect cultivator, and he would be an invalid for the rest of his life.
At this time, who dared to tell the truth to Xu Zhi Nan? A room full of people all averted his eyes in unison.
Seeing such a reaction, what else did Xu Zhi Nan not understand, and he insisted to go even more.
"Senior Brother." Xu Zhi Nan's junior brother said with tears in his eyes, "Senior Brother Cheng ... is not well. The doctor said, he’s afraid, he’s afraid he won't make it through the night."
Xu Zhi Nan's body shook as he gritted his teeth and said, "Take me to see him."
--- Song Zi Heng and Song Zi Xiao sat side by side on the stone steps of the courtyard, staring silently at a field of decaying and withered leaves, without speaking for a long time.
"Big brother ..."
"Xiao Jiu ..."
The two of them looked at each other in unison. "Big brother, you speak first."
"I was thinking, if it were me, in Brother Xu's situation, would I still be able to keep you and me alive?"
"Why are you thinking about that? Worrying about nothing."
"It's not worrying about nothing. Three years ago, we almost lost our lives at the hands of Chen Xing Yong. If we were fighting openly, I wouldn't be afraid of him, but these people are so tricky that I can't anticipate what they will do. Brother Xu's cultivation level can already be ranked as an elder in the Chunyang Sect, there are not many people under this universal sky who can put him at a disadvantage. In the end ..."
"Still not strong enough." Song Zi Xiao said seriously, "We must be so strong that we are not afraid of these underhanded dirty tricks."
Song Zi Heng laughed, "Always talking so big."
"It's not big talk. I can do everything I say, just wait." "Fine, fine, fine."
A female cultivator from the Cangyu Sect walked in quickly and respectfully said, "Your Highness, Ninth Highness, a pair of cultivators called Huang Hong and Huang Wu have arrived outside the door. They claim to be the guards of the two Highnesses." "Huang Hong and Huang Wu?" Song Zi Heng stood up, his scalp tingling. These two brothers only took orders from Song Ming He and had come all the way here from Daming, no doubt for Song Zi Xiao. If he hadn't been in a hurry to capture Chen Xing Yong, he would have sent Song Zi Xiao back himself, and now he feared that his father was already angry.
Song Zi Xiao immediately said, "Don't worry big brother, it was me who wanted to come out. I won't let Father blame you."
Song Zi Heng frowned and said, "It is not for you to decide. Girl, let them in."
The two brothers, Huang Hong and Huang Wu, walked in and arched their hands in unison, "Greetings, Your Highness, Ninth Highness."
"Did Father send both of you here?"
"Yes." Huang Wu said, "Ninth Highness left a letter and ran away from the Wuji Palace. The emperor and Consort Chu were very worried, so we brothers snooped all the way to find this place."
Song Zi Xiao gave him a blank look, "What are you worried about? I am twelve years old and can go out and travel alone."
"Your Ninth Highness, you were in danger in Gutuo Town three years ago, and it is human nature for the emperor to worry about you."
"Then as you can see now, I am with my big brother and I am safe. I am not going back with you."
Huang Hong said, "In fact, the emperor did not urge us to bring you back to Daming immediately, as long as you return home before the New Year."
"Oh?" Song Zi Xiao smiled with satisfaction, "That's good, this is the first time I've been out of the palace in winter. I've heard that in the south, it still rains in winter. I'd like to see it."
Song Zi Heng was also relieved. He thought he had made his father angry. After all, at that time he had missed the Jiaolong assembly was also because of his temporary trip out of the palace, plus an incident happened unexpectedly. Now it was only a few months before Song Zi Xiao’s Jiaolong assembly, it was inevitable that it would cause people to make an associative connection.
"Your Highnesses, the emperor has a secret order, may I come inside and speak?" Huang Hong swept around warily.
When the four entered the room, Huang Wu opened the door and said, "I heard that Your Highnesses helped the Chunyang Sect and the Cangyu Sect to wipe out the Lion Alliance and capture Chen Xing Yong in one fell swoop."
"The word has spread in Jianghu?"
"Well, it has spread to Daming. Your Highnesses are really brave and have avenged what happened back then. Have you found out if Chen Xing Yong was instructed by anyone back then?"
"Not yet, the matter is somewhat complicated and Chen Xing Yong will not open up easily." Song Zi Heng did not intend to tell them what had happened last night, not because he suspected anything, but because the two brothers were his father's men, and that alone made him hold back from saying it.
"That man had been caught, so this matter will surely come to light, and whoever dares to harm the two Highnesses will surely be severely punished by the emperor."
"What exactly are Father’s secret orders?" Song Zi Heng asked.
The two brothers looked at Song Zi Heng at the same time, "The emperor wants Your Highness to bring back Gong Shu Ju."
Song Zi Heng froze.
Song Zi Xiao raised an eyebrow, "Father is so well informed." Huang Wu smiled, "There is nothing under the sky that is not the king's land, so naturally the emperor can see and hear from all directions."
"Gong Shu Ju ..." said Song Zi Heng hesitantly, "It is a magical weapon of the Cangyu Sect."
"The Gong Shu Ju is the magical weapon of Lu Ban. Since this magical weapon was handed down by the earth deities, according to the rules of the immortal cultivation world, it does not have a master. It was obtained by the Cangyu Sect by chance, so it cannot be considered as something belonging to the Cangyu Sect." Huang Hong said, "Besides, even if it is a magical weapon of the Cangyu Sect, so what?"
Song Zi Heng was silent.
Huang Hong was right. Earthly treasures were for those who could get them, but once it belonged to a certain sect, other sects would never fight for it as long as they did not want to cause strife. Just like the Map of Shanhe Sheji, which was an ancient divine treasure passed down from generation to generation by the Daming Song Clan, the Thunder Ancestor's Treasure Grant was a sect suppressing object of the Wuliang Sect, the Seven Star Life-Sustaining Lamp was one of the most precious treasures of the Chunyang Sect, and although Gong Shu Ju was not as good as a top- level magical weapon, it was worth any sect fighting over it.
The Wuji Palace has countless hidden treasures, but Song Ming He still wanted it.
Song Zi Xiao said proudly, "Yes, you can, but this magical weapon is ours once we have it."
"Xiao Jiu!" Song Zi Xiao gently shouted, "What are you babbling about?"
"Father has asked us to bring back such a powerful magical weapon, isn't it a prize?" Song Zi Xiao looked as if he was ready to do so. "I'm not talking about that, this Gong Shu Ju originally belonged to the Cangyu Sect and was taken away by Chen Xing Yong. This magical weapon doesn't belong to us. How can we just stretch out our arms and take it?!"
Huang Hong lowered his eyes and said respectfully, "The emperor has said that he hopes that Your Highness will not disappoint him again this time."
Song Zi Heng's body trembled slightly and he secretly clenched his fists, but when the words came to his lips, he could not spit them out. He thought of his father's rebuke when he missed the Jiaolong assembly three years ago, his mother's tears, and of the badly injured Xu Zhi Nan's senior and junior brothers, and was caught in a deep dilemma.
The Chunyang Sect, with one dead and two injured, still hadn't caught the mastermind behind it, and they were trying to find a way to lure people out with Gong Shu Ju, so how could he take Gong Shu Ju at this time?
Song Zi Heng's gaze flickered, and a fine sweat seeped out from his bare white forehead.
Ever since he was a child, he had craved Song Ming He's praise and appreciation, and three years ago he had messed up. Now he had another chance to make his father look at him again, and he ... what should he do?
Huang Hong whispered, "Your Highness, you have a gentle and generous character, which is a virtue that both of us brothers admire greatly, but there are times when one cannot help but think of oneself ah."
"Big brother." Song Zi Xiao also advised, "After we get Gong Shu Ju, I will go back and beg father to give it to you, so that you have a good sword and a powerful magical weapon. Wouldn't it be beautiful?!"
Song Zi Heng lowered his head soberly.
PS: sigh, each one of them trying to stain
his red heart into black heart ☹☹
"Big brother, big brother!" Song Zi Xiao took a few steps to chase after him and tugged Song Zi Heng's wrist.
Song Zi Heng's face was sullen, as if it was covered with a cloud of gloom.
"Big brother, what exactly are you afraid of?" Song Zi Xiao wrinkled his eyebrows, "Afraid of the Cangyu Sect's retaliation? Do they dare?"
"I'm not 'afraid' of anything, it's just that there are some things people do and don’t do."
"It's just a magical weapon, it's not like you're being asked to kill across the border. Besides, a magical weapon like Gong Shu Ju has no owner, so what if you snatch it over? Who would dare to chew their tongues*?"
Song Zi Heng looked at his younger brother, "If someone wants to snatch the Map of Shanhe Sheji, what should we do?"
Song Zi Xiao raised his chin, and there was provocation in his eyes, "That’s based on the individual’s abilities."
"Zi Xiao, is it possible that in life, all you want is benefits and no moral righteousness?"
Song Zi Xiao pursed his lips and did not answer the question.
"For the sake of Gong Shu Ju, Chen Xing Yong killed his own master, used it to harm so many cultivators, and in order to capture Chen Xing Yong, Chunyang Sect has one dead and two injured people. Now that the buyer behind the curtain is still at large, at this time, instead of thinking of how to work together to uncover the bad guys, we are hitting on the idea of magical weapons. Then what would I, Song Zi Heng, have become?”
"The bad guys need to be caught, but that doesn't stop us from getting the magical weapon ah." Song Zi Xiao breathed out through his nose and whispered, "Big brother, the way you are now is just soft-heartedness."
Song Zi Heng looked incredulously at the younger brother he had brought up with one hand, "What did you say?”
Song Zi Liao looked away, arrogance written on his pretty face.
"..." Song Zi Heng was momentarily angry, but he couldn't get angry. He just felt deeply disappointed. He said coldly, "I didn't teach you that." He brushed his sleeves and left.
Song Zi Xiao became anxious. He hesitated for a moment at the same spot, but still chased after him, taking Song Zi Heng's hand again, "Big brother, don't be angry ..."
Song Zi Heng shook off Song Zi Xiao's hand and said in a stern voice, "You've let me down too much!"
Song Zi Xiao's eyes were rounded and his thoughts and feelings in his heart were instantly blocked. For as long as he can remember, this was the first time his big brother had really lost his temper with him. He shouted in anguish, aggravation and shame, "I, I'm doing this for your own good. I just wished you could get a magical weapon and the acknowledgement from Father. What’s wrong with that?! Are you just willing to be ignored and despised?!"
Song Zi Heng's body stiffened, the luster in his eyes dimmed almost in an instant as he lowered his head and turned to leave.
This time, no matter how much Song Zi Xiao shouted, he didn't turn back. ---
Song Zi Heng, depressed in his heart, went to the town and wandered around blindly for half a day, and by the time he returned, he had calmed down.
But Song Zi Xiao had gone off to sulk somewhere and hadn't returned yet, but with Huang Hong and Huang Wu following him, there was no need to worry.
Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng were waiting for him to deliberate. "Brother Xu, you just get up like this?" Song Zi Heng saw that Xu Zhi
Nan was pale and weak. One of his missing arms had not fully grown yet, which heaved slightly beneath his sleeve robe. He was not supposed to get up at all.
Xu Zhi Nan shook his head, "I'm not seriously hurt anymore. There’s no time to lose, we're waiting for you to return and interrogate Chen Xing Yong together."
"Bring the man here." Qi Meng Sheng ordered.
Two female cultivators from the Cangyu Sect dragged Chen Xing Yong like a broken sack and threw him heavily on the ground.
Chen Xing Yong's two trouser legs were covered in blood, but his face was as white as paper. He planted himself crookedly on the ground, looking at them with vicious and fearful eyes.
Xu Zhi Nan suddenly lifted his sleeve robe, revealing a thin, white, daughter-like arm.
Surprise flashed across Chen Xing Yong's face.
"My arm broke off and hasn't grown back yet, so you can guess who did it." "You…Where is he? You're not going to save your junior brother?"
"My junior brother has already been saved, but he was seriously injured, and I nearly died. Do you know why?"
Chen Xing Yong frowned.
"Because he didn't intend to save you at all. I disguised one of my junior brothers like you and brought him to him. He used his own subordinates as bait to leave us defenceless, then took the opportunity to detonate the Thunderfire Stone, trying to blow everyone up together."
Chen Xing Yong was stunned there, as if his soul had been drained away all of a sudden.
Qi Meng Sheng's cherry lips spat lightly, with every word wrapped in ice: "You thought you were in the same boat as him, and that he wanted to save you if he wanted to save himself, but in fact he only wanted you to die, to take his secret with you and disappear forever."
Chen Xing Yong slowly clenched his fist, a deadly look in his eyes.
"So now you have no more leverage in your hands. You are worthless, and you have become a ruined man." Qi Meng Sheng stood up and slowly walked towards Chen Xing Yong, who could not help but cower.
Qi Meng Sheng stepped on his ankle and crushed it fiercely, "If you want to blame someone, blame that man, he abandoned you like a ragged shoe."
Chen Xing Yong screamed miserably and twitched wildly on the ground.
Qi Meng Sheng crouched down and said grimly, "Before I came, my master asked me to bring you back to Fenglin Continent and go to Elder Mu Ying's grave to apologize for your sins. You only have two choices now. If you answer whatever we ask, I will give you a quick death. Otherwise, when you return to Fenglin Continent, you will neither live nor die*."
Chen Xing Yong's face was stained with sweat, his eyes grey and hazy, looking at Qi Meng Sheng helplessly, "If ... if I say, I don't know who that person is, will you believe me?"
Song Zi Heng struck the case with his palm: "It's already this time, and you're still talking tough?"
"I didn’t, I really don't know who he is, I've never seen his face before." Chen Xing Yong took a deep breath, "Every time he takes the initiative to come to me, he is very extravagant. I just hand the core over to him. The rest, I don't know."
Xu Zhi Nan said sorrowfully, "If you really didn't know, there was no need for him to save you nor to silence you. At this point, you still refuse to tell the truth?"
Chen Xing Yong gritted his teeth and said, "Although I don't know who he is and where all those cores have gone, I have a clue about his identity."
"Speak quickly!" Song Zi Heng said in a stern voice, "What clues? Did he instruct you to sneak attack us three years ago? What kind of capability does he have to be able to survive the explosives unharmed?"
"That's the clue I was going to say." Chen Xing Yong took a deep breath, looked at Qi Meng Sheng and said tremulously, "Sister, I want you to swear. I will never go back to Fenglin Continent."
Qi Meng Sheng said with an expressionless face, "I swear, as long as you reveal everything you know."
Chen Xing Yong closed his eyes, "I, I guess the magical weapon, that person used, could be the Wu Sheng Pen."
"'Wu Sheng Pen'?" Song Zi Heng froze, "Hua Sheng Wu Daozi’s magical weapon?"
"I heard that this magical weapon, the essence of the painting can transform magically into living creatures." Xu Zhi Nan's face was full of gloom, "If I remember correctly, it is in the hands of Elder Yan Shu of the Wuyun Sect." Qi Meng Sheng whispered, "Yan Shu ... is the junior brother of the Wuyun Sect's Leader?"
"Yes. Chen Xing Yong, how do you know that his magical weapon is the Wu Sheng Pen?"
"I suspected that every time he met me, it was not a real 'person', it was a human puppet drawn by the Wu Sheng Pen. As much as a human puppet looks like a person, after several contacts with it, you can detect that something is not quite right, so one time, I tested it."
"How did you test it?"
"I used Gong Shu Ju to cut a board so thin that it could not even bear the weight of a child, but he walked over it unharmed, and at that moment I was sure that what I had seen was not a real person."
Song Zi Heng said in a daze, "In that case, it would explain why he was unharmed in the explosion. That wasn't him at all, it was just a human puppet he had drawn!"
Xu Zhi Nan slowly closed his eyes and furrowed his brows in pain.
"It's so despicable ..." Song Zi Heng clenched his fists and said with righteous indignation, "There is no way to guard against it."
Xu Zhi Nan said in a hoarse voice, "Although my sect has always been at odds with the Wuyun Sect, Elder Yan Shu has been famous for a long time and has both talent and prestige. How could he do such a thing?"
"Three years ago in Gutuo Town, was he also the one who asked you to dig out our cores?" Song Zi Heng said viciously. They had no enmity with the Wuyun Sect. Although there were grievances from all immortal clans under the rule of the Daming Song Clan, they wouldn’t be so berserk to do so. Was he not afraid that the matter would be exposed and the Wuyun Sect would be implicated?
Chen Xing Yong nodded his head. Xu Zhi Nan said sternly, "How many benefits did he promise you to make you so bold as to covet even the two imperial sons of Emperor Ning Hua?!"
"No..." Chen Xing Yong stole a glance at Song Zi Heng, "He only let me take the big one and wouldn't let me touch the small one."
Song Zi Heng was struck by lightning. Yan Shu's target, was ... him?
Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng looked at Song Zi Heng in unison, both with astonished faces.
"Why?" Song Zi Heng stood up and took a few steps to force himself in front of Chen Xing Yong, "Yan Shu specified that he only wanted my golden core? Why!?"
"I don't know."
Song Zi Heng's eyes were red, like a raging beast.
He had no dealings, let alone grudges, with the Wuyun Sect or with Yan Shu. He did not believe that Yan Shu had merely taken a fancy to his core, which was not that valuable given his cultivation level at the age of sixteen, but it was a desperate move to strike at him. If he did not have a deeper purpose, he wouldn’t have targeted him. What's more, knowing what Chen Xing Yong said today, Yan Shu emphasized that Song Zi Xiao should not be touched. The real mastermind, who wanted him dead, yet could not hurt Song Zi Xiao?
Who exactly is it and why would he do that?!
"Zi Heng, calm down." Xu Zhi Nan said, "Whether that person is Yan Shu or not, and what kind of grudge he has against you, these are not certain yet. There is no need to rush to conclusions."
Song Zi Heng heaved a breath and forced himself to calm down, "You're right, this is just his side of the story." Xu Zhi Nan looked at Chen Xing Yong with contempt, "Chen Xing Yong, write down all the people you have harmed over the years, and the whereabouts of their golden cores, one by one, as many as you know. You have sinned so much that at the end of the day, so save yourself some humanity."
Qi Meng Sheng ordered her men to take Chen Xing Yong down.
Song Zi Heng mused, "If we go directly to Yan Shu, we only have a mere verbal statement which cannot be taken as proof, and if he doesn't admit it
"Yes, it would be too risky to take on the elders of the Wuyun Sect with just the words of an outlaw like Chen Xing Yong." Qi Meng Sheng said, "Plus, it's a mortal sin like stealing cores."
Xu Zhi Nan pursed his lips, "Especially with our sect's relationship with the Wuyun Sect. If there is no conclusive evidence, I am afraid it will cause a great disaster."
"It is in our favor now that Yan Shu thinks that Chen Xing Yong is dead. He is likely unaware that we suspect him, so now we must investigate in secret." Song Zi Heng mused, "We have to set up a trap to make Yan Shu reveal his original form without alerting the enemy."
"Does Your Highness have a plan?"
"We can't risk going to him, and we can't leak information." Song Zi Heng suddenly brightened up, "Right, the Jiaolong assembly!"
Xu Zhi Nan also remembered something, "The next Jiaolong assembly will be held at the Wuyun Sect. spring, we will have a legitimate reason to meet Yan Shu."
Qi Meng Sheng hesitated, "My sect has never participated in the Jiaolong assembly." "It doesn't matter, all it takes is for me to extend an invitation in the name of the Chunyang Sect, and you can come and watch the tournament even if you don't send your descendants to compete."
Song Zi Heng clenched his back teeth, "We must come up with a perfect plan to expose Yan Shu's true colors."
chew their tongues*[嚼⾆根]---metaphor; speaking right and wrong, or nonsense.
neither live nor die*[求⽣不得，求死不能]--- utter misery; one hopes for life
but cannot live and one prays to die but cannot die
When Song Zi Heng returned to his guest residence, he saw Huang Hong and Huang Wu guarding the door, and he cast a questioning glance.
"Your Highness." Huang Wu said, "Ninth Highness is sulking in the house and refuses to come out."
Song Zi Heng looked at the tightly closed doorway and let out a soft sigh. It was true that he had spoken too harshly before, but the older Song Zi Xiao is, the more opinionated he became. If he wasn't taught to understand right and wrong and accept gains and losses at critical moments, it would be even harder to correct him later.
"Your Highness, would you like to go in and take a look?"
Song Zi Heng hesitated for a moment and shook his head, "You guys take him back to Daming."
Huang Hong smiled bitterly, "Ninth Highness will not come with us." "Then keep an eye on him. We’ll go home after I’ve settled the things
"Yes, then Gong Shu Ju ..."
"Don't mention it again." Song Zi Heng said with a stern face. The two brothers looked at each other, "... yes."
Song Zi Heng intended to go and see Xu Zhi Nan and Cheng Yan Zhi. The Chunyang Sect disciples were guarding outside their guest residence day and night, each with a gloomy and listless face.
When they saw Song Zi Heng, several of them bowed, "Greetings, Your Highness."
"Where is your Senior Brother? I want to go and see him." "Senior Brother is at Senior Brother Cheng's."
"Cheng Zhen Ren has woken up?" The disciple said grimly, "No." "I'll go and see."
"Ah, Your Highness." They were puzzled, "Senior Brother has said that no one is allowed to ... disturb them."
Song Zi Heng said, "I am worried about his health and want to persuade him not to overwork himself." After saying this, he walked through several people and walked straight into the courtyard.
Those disciples did not dare to stop him and could only look at each other.
Song Zi Heng walked up to Cheng Yan Zhi's room and knocked gently on the door, "Brother Xu, it's me."
There was no sound inside the room, but through a door, one could smell the strong scent of herbs inside.
"Brother Xu?" Song Zi Heng waited for a moment and knocked again. There was a sudden thud from inside, like a person falling to the ground.
Song Zi Heng hurriedly pushed open the door, "Xu ..." He was stunned by the sight before him. On the floor, seven old brass candlesticks were placed in the order of the seven stars of the Big Dipper, on which were placed white candles, each one as thick as an adult's wrist, burning with a glowing flame.
Xu Zhi Nan collapsed weakly to the floor and said in a mute voice, "Close ... close the door, quick."
Song Zi Heng came back to his senses and quickly closed the door, isolating all the Chunyang Sect disciples who had arrived at the sound of the door. He hurriedly tried to run over to help Xu Zhi Nan up, but just as his foot lifted up, it changed to a gentle landing, lest his lapel carry half a breath of wind - he had already guessed what was in front of him.
He helped Xu Zhi Nan to a chair and lowered his voice, "Brother Xu, is this the ... Seven Star Life-Sustaining Lamp?"
Xu Zhi Nan grabbed Song Zi Heng's wrist with a force that was not at all like that of a sick and weak person, "Zi Heng, you absolutely must not tell anyone."
"Okay ... Why not?"
"Before Master went into seclusion, he gave me the Seven Star Life- Sustaining Lamp for safekeeping, but I cannot use it without permission, especially to save an ordinary disciple. Going against the heavens will create karma, and Master won't allow it if he knows about it." Xu Zhi Nan said sadly, "But I can't stand by and watch Yan Zhi die, we grew up together, we were like brothers. If I hadn't brought him here, if I hadn't sent him to track down the mysterious man, how could he have become like this?"
Song Zi Heng infused his spiritual energy into Xu Zhi Nan's body and said in a soft voice to comfort him, "Brother Xu, this is by no means your fault. There is no excuse for you to be affectionate, but you are also seriously injured now, so if you consume your spiritual energy like this, I am afraid that you won't be able to hold on to it yourself first." "I have to hold on even if I can't." Xu Zhi Nan looked at Cheng Yan Zhi, who was lying unconscious on the bed, "With the Seven Stars Life Sustaining Lamp, he will slowly get better."
"But I've heard that the Seven Star Life-Sustaining Lamp can only keep a person in a state where they have one breath left?"
"That's because many people have reached the time of their destiny, and with more time, it's impossible to recover one’s youthful vigor. But Yan Zhi is still young and only injured, so as long as he hangs on to his life, it is possible for him to get better."
Song Zi Heng frowned, "But he doesn't have his golden core anymore ..."
Xu Zhi Nan shook his head and said firmly, "I will definitely let him get better."
Song Zi Heng said helplessly, "Then what are you going to do next? He can't get better for a while, and you can't leave the Seven Star Life- Sustaining Lamp, so, just let him stay here forever?"
"For the time being, I can only stay here. To the outside world, just say that I am recuperating here. No one will be suspicious."
"But they will find out sooner or later. Even if you can hide it from your junior brothers, can you hide it from Qi Meng Sheng? We are all on her turf now."
"The people I've brought out are trustworthy, don't worry about that. As for Qi Meng Sheng ..." Xu Zhi Nan said, "I need her to help me, so I can only tell her the truth."
"What do you want her to help you with?"
"The Seven Star Life-Sustaining Lamp drains an extreme amount of spiritual energy, and the matter cannot be left to others, so I have come up with a solution."
"What is it?" "Let Qi Meng Sheng use Gong Shu Ju to make both the Seven Star Life- Sustaining Lamp and Yan Zhi smaller."
Song Zi Heng's eyes widened as he wondered if this method would work.
He was shocked at Xu Zhi Nan's boldness.
"There are still four months until the Jiaolong assembly, four months. It should be able to pull Yan Zhi back from the ghost gate, just that during this time, neither we nor the magical weapon can leave this place by half a step."
"Will she agree?"
"What harm would it do for her to sell a big friendship* to the next head of the Chunyang Sect?"
Song Zi Heng sighed contently, "I hope Cheng Zhen Ren will get better and not waste your hard work."
When Song Zi Heng returned to the guest residence. He saw a little glowing candle lit in Song Zi Xiao's room and could faintly see the swaying figures. He stared at it for a while before entering the next room.
Thinking of the people he had seen, the words he had heard and the events that had taken place today, he laid on his bed, unable to fall asleep.
He could not take away Gong Shu Ju, and how should he explain to his father when he returned to Daming? Was the mysterious man Yan Shu, and why did he want to harm him? Will Xu Zhi Nan's solution work, and will Cheng Yan Zhi survive? What will happen if Yan Shu's true colors are exposed at next year's Jiaolong assembly? What is the role of the Wuyun Sect in this? Where did the core that was dug up by Chen Xing Yong end up?
These were the many questions that gave Song Zi Heng a splitting headache. He had thought that by catching Chen Xing Yong, he would be able to eradicate the evil for the people and uncover the person behind the curtain and put an end to it, but the matter was far from over and had only just begun.
Song Zi Heng tossed and turned, unable to sleep at all.
It was around 3-5am when Song Zi Heng heard a small noise coming from next door. Such a small sound would have been almost impossible for him to notice if he were not an immortal cultivator and it was late at night.
Song Zi Heng sat up from his bed. Although he could not tell exactly what the sound was, his intuition told him that it was Song Zi Xiao. He listened intently and felt as if Song Zi Xiao had gone out. He followed suit and got out of bed, walked silently to the door and looked out through the crack.
With a limited view, he could only see a dark shadow flicker by and disappear into the night.
It was so late, where was Xiao Jiu going?
Song Zi Heng suddenly thought of a possibility. His expression suddenly changed. He quickly put on his clothes, grabbed his sword and chased after him.
When he rushed to Xu Zhi Nan's guest residence, he had indeed heard the sound of a fight. Song Zi Heng's heart sank as he rushed over to see several Chunyang Sect disciples on the ground, Huang Hong and Huang Wu guarding them left and right, and Song Zi Xiao holding Xu Zhi Nan's Qiankun bag in his hand.
"Bastards!" Song Zi Heng was furious, "What are you guys doing?!"
Song Zi Xiao was startled, but quickly regained his composure as he said rebelliously, "This is a task given to us by Father, and since Big Brother cannot do it, I will do it." Song Zi Heng took a big step forward and gave a fierce slap, slapping Song Zi Xiao to the ground.
"Your Highness!" Huang Hong and Huang Wu were simply too late to stop it.
Song Zi Heng swung out his hand again with his sword, and the scabbard struck Huang Hong across the chest, sending him flying backwards more than ten feet and landing on the ground with a stifled grunt.
Huang Wu lowered his eyes and knelt down with a plop: "Your Highness, please calm down."
"Did you encourage Zi Xiao to do such a despicable and underhanded thing!?"
Song Zi Xiao covered his face, tears and resentment in his eyes as he stared at Song Zi Heng incredulously, "You ... you hit me?"
Huang Hong wiped away the blood seeping out of the corner of his mouth and also climbed up, kneeling on the ground and saying calmly, "Does Your Highness mean that the emperor's orders are despicable and underhanded?"
"You're using Father to pressure me?" Song Zi Heng gritted his teeth. "This subordinate does not dare. Subordinate only wants to help Your
Highness complete the task given by the emperor." Huang Hong said in a deep voice.
"I will go to Father’s place and ask for my punishment. No matter how Father punishes me, I, Song Zi Heng, will never be a person who forgets justice in the name of profit!" He looked at Song Zi Xiao in a condescending manner and said coldly, "Give it to me."
Song Zi Xiao’s face was half swollen and his eyes were red. He looked wretched and pitiful. He said viciously, "You ... undiscriminating idiot, you actually hit me, I hate you!" "Give it to me!" Song Zi Heng said in a stern voice.
Song Zi Xiao threw the Qiankun bag to Song Zi Heng, jumped up from the ground, turned and ran away.
"Go and keep an eye on him." Song Zi Heng said to Huang Wu. "Yes."
Song Zi Heng took the Qiankun bag and found Xu Zhi Nan, who was sitting against the bed, his eyes obscure and indistinct.
Song Zi Heng only felt his face boiling, ashamed to show his face: "I'm sorry."
"... My junior brothers, are they alright?"
"It's fine, they're all lightly injured." Song Zi Heng returned the Qiankun bag to Xu Zhi Nan, "My brother's lack of discipline is my fault."
"Zi Heng, there are some things that I couldn't say to you before, but now it seems that I have to say them." Xu Zhi Nan said, "I see that you are really treated unjustly."
Song Zi Heng lowered his head.
"In terms of seniority, you should be the next Emperor Song. Even if you leave the Song clan, with your natural talent and cultivation, there is still a vast world at your disposal, so why are you half-heartedly fighting for it?"
"Above is my father, below is my younger brother, what should I fight for?" Song Zi Heng said softly.
Xu Zhi Nan shook his head as he came closer to Song Zi Heng and said in a low voice, "As long as you are willing, the Chunyang Sect embraces you as the human emperor."
Song Zi Heng was stunned. Xu Zhi Nan's eyes were calm and silent but certain, which were extremely powerful.
Song Zi Heng avoided his gaze and said with an arching hand, "Brother Xu, please forgive my younger brother's ignorance. Having done such a disgraceful thing, it is no good for us to stay here."
Xu Zhi Nan nodded.
"I hope all goes well for you, and I will see you at the Jiaolong assembly spring next year."
"See you later." "See you later."
sell a big friendship*[卖⼈情]--- do somebody a favour for personal consideration
On the way back to Daming, Song Zi Xiao neither looked at Song Zi Heng nor said a word, as if he had closed himself off in an invisible boundary, with anger and resistance radiating all around him.
Song Zi Heng looked at his half-swollen face, angry and heartbroken. His anger had almost died down along the way, and when he had calmed down, he reflected on whether he had failed in raising his younger brother, who was still young and still needed to be taught first and disciplined second.
Song Zi Heng took the initiative to walk over and lightly examined his chin: "Let big brother take a look ..."
Song Zi Xiao flatly turned his face away and walked straight ahead. Song Zi Heng sighed lightly.
In the late winter, it had just snowed heavily in Daming. From afar, the city-state, which was known as the pivot of Jiuzhou, was covered in snow, and the staggered layers of houses were like thousands of chess pieces on a chessboard, spreading out on the earth.
When returning to the Wuji Palace, Song Zi Heng did not settle down to rest, instead he went straight to apologize to Emperor Ning Hua. Huang Hong and Huang Wu's letter would arrive at Daming before they did.
When he arrived at the inner palace, he ran into Song Ming He and Li Xiang Tong walking out leisurely. Song Zi Heng greeted them and knelt on the ground, "Son pays respects to father and Queen Mother."
Li Xiang Tong looked at Song Zi Heng from above and said coldly, "Has Heng Er learned anything from your travels?"
"Queen Mother, I have caught the notorious thief Chen Xing Yong."
"Oh, then you must have found out who was responsible for the attack on you and Xiao Er in Chu land three years ago?"
"... not yet."
"'Not yet'? Then what is the use of you arresting him?" Li Xiang Tong's voice turned sharp, "For three years, there have been vile rumors circulating inside and outside the palace that it would be in your second brother's best interest if something happened to you and Zi Xiao, is that right?"
Song Zi Heng's face suddenly changed, "Son has never heard of it, such nonsense. Ridiculous as it is, it will ... it will dissipate itself."
"It will dissipate itself?" Li Xiang Tong sneered, "How will it dissipate? Your second brother and I are counting on you to dispel the rumors and clear our name, but you've failed to do your job, and you're blocking Huang Hong and Huang Wu from completing their mission. As the eldest child in Song clan, where did your elbows turn*?”
"Son, Son is still investigating. According to the clues given by Chen Xing Yong, I ..."
"Shut up!" Song Ming He said angrily, "You made a trip out of the palace, not only did you take your younger brother into danger, you caught Chen Xing Yong and yet couldn't find out the real culprit who attacked the both of you, and you returned the Gong Shu Ju you should have brought back. You were unable to accomplish anything but liable to spoil everything!" Song Zi Heng was so uncomfortable that he felt like he was being roasted on a fire. His head humbly resting against the bone-chilling ice and snow as he whispered, "Please forgive me, Father."
"Three years ago you missed the Jiaolong Assembly, and three years later you missed Gong Shu Ju. As the eldest brother, what example have you actually set for your younger siblings?!"
Song Zi Heng bit his lips, "Son ... recognizes his mistake."
Song Ming He's gaze fell on Song Zi Heng's sword and his brow wrinkled, "Xu Zhi Nan gave you a sword and you were able to ignore my orders. What if someone had promised you a greater benefit?"
Song Zi Heng looked up sharply, his eyes red with fear, he said, "Father, you have misunderstood son. Son's sword was broken, so ..."
"Are you accusing me for not giving you a sword?" "No, no."
"I promised you the sword at the Jiaolong assembly and did you come?
Who do you blame for that?"
"Yes, it is son’s fault, but I have in no way deliberately disobeyed father's orders. It is only that Gong Shu Ju, son thought that it would be unethical to seize their sect's magical weapon, and it would also damage the prestige of my Song clan."
"Gong Shu Ju is an earth deity magical weapon, when did it become the property of the Cangyu Sect?" Li Xiang Tong mocked, "For the sake of a sword, the eldest prince of the Daming Song Clan is deceiving his subordinates. Offending his superiors and accepting the benefits from one person while secretly helping another person. If this matter spreads, it will be ridiculed by everyone in the world."
He kicked Song Zi Heng to the ground and said in a stern voice, "Kneel here and reflect on yourself, rebellious son." The group of people left in a mighty huff, leaving him alone on his knees in the snow.
Song Zi Heng's eyes were blurred, tears hovering in his eyes, almost ready to fall, when suddenly, a piercing cold wind blew by and the hot tears were frozen into ice, sealing all his emotions.
He closed his eyes and straightened his back.
After nightfall, the Daming City was once again covered in snow, accompanied by a raging north wind that cut into Song Zi Heng's flesh like a knife.
He knelt motionlessly, with snow accumulating on his body, getting thicker and thicker. His pure, unadulterated white body gradually blending with heaven and earth. The howling, bone-chilling wind, is a silent cry of grief in his chest.
After kneeling like this for a day and a night, the snow stopped. The sun came out and the snow melted, but Song Zi Heng seemed to feel nothing at all.
It was only when footsteps approached behind him that his sluggish brain reacted for a moment.
A person knelt down beside him.
Song Zi Heng slowly turned his stiff neck to see Song Zi Xiao's pink and white face, his eyes stubbornly gazing ahead, but his tight jawline and slightly pursed lips all spoke of his anxiety.
"Xiao Jiu ... what are you ... doing …?" Song Zi Heng opened his mouth, his voice was hoarse and frightening, and every word was shaking beyond recognition.
Song Zi Xiao finally couldn't help but turn his head to look at him and said with red eyes, "Father's mission was given to both of us, and since we didn't complete it, we have to be punished together."
"Big brother ... doesn't need you to be like this, go back."
Song Zi Xiao looked at Song Zi Heng's blue and white face, cloudy eyes, and dry and cracked lips. His heart ached so much that he almost cried out, "You stupid bastard, why do you have to be like this?"
"How can you take by force for the things that don’t belong to you?” "The Gong Shu Ju isn't Xu Zhi Nan's either, and he keeps holding onto it.
He wants to keep it for himself!” "Brother Xu has other reasons."
Song Zi Xiao was filled with jealousy, "What makes you trust him so much. Just because he gave you a sword? I will give you something better in the future. I can give you anything. Why can't you listen to me?"
Song Zi Heng closed his eyes and sighed, "Xiao Jiu, you are still young, there are many things that you don't understand yet."
"I will grow up soon." Song Zi Xiao bit his lip, "When I grow up, no one can bully you, not even ... not even Father."
Song Zi Heng struggled to hold the corners of his mouth, "Get up quickly, don't do anything stupid."
Song Zi Xiao took hold of Song Zi Heng's hand like ice cubes, "I'm going to be punished with you."
"You will freeze."
"Freeze then." Song Zi Xiao wrapped both hands around his big brother's hand and rubbed it hard, "If Father doesn't pardon you, I'll stay with you on my knees and we'll freeze to death together."
"Xiao Jiu, you're getting more and more disobedient." Song Zi Heng had lost too much strength to have the strength to educate his younger brother. "Can I disobey?" "... eh?"
"If I disobeyed occasionally, you wouldn't ignore me and leave me alone, would you?"
"No." Song Zi Heng said softly, "Big brother shouldn't have hit you. That was not right of big brother."
Song Zi Xiao said reluctantly, "I shouldn't have gone and robbed Gong Shu Ju either."
Song Zi Xiao sniffled, "I just don't want Father to chastise you, I don't want to upset you."
Song Zi Heng said bitterly, "This is not something you should consider.
Big brother only wants you to be a decent and upright person."
"What’s so good about being a decent and upright person? To be aggrieved every time like big brother?"
Song Zi Heng lost his words for a moment.
Song Zi Xiao looked at his big brother, "It doesn't matter, I want big brother to be the person he wants to be, and when I grow up, I will never let big brother suffer any more aggravation."
Song Zi Heng shook Song Zi Xiao’s hand with his frozen hand, "Xiao Jiu, big brother will wait for you to grow up."
Song Zi Heng was almost unconscious when he was pardoned. He was carried back to Qinghui Pavilion. He heard his mother's cries coming into his ears from far and near. Heat sources suddenly appeared around him, and the heat came close to his frozen body like countless needles stabbing into his skin at the same time, reawakening his spirit and flesh with immense pain.
He eventually passed out.
When he woke up again, three days had passed and he had frostbite on all his limbs, gauze wrapped in layer after layer, and when he woke up, the pain awoke with him too, so painful that he didn't dare to move much.
"Heng Er." Shen Shi Yao, who was guarding the bedside, looked at him worriedly, "Are you awake?"
"Mother." Song Zi Heng looked at his mother's haggard face and said guiltily, "I've made you worry again."
Shen Shi Yao said ruefully, "Do you really care if I worry? If you cared, why did you let your father down and disappoint me again and again?"
Song Zi Heng said gloomily, "I didn't mean to. I didn't want to disappoint you, but ..." But he didn't know why he always did what he thought was right, and in the end everyone said he was wrong, and everyone close to him was disappointed in him.
Was he really wrong? Even he couldn't help but doubt himself.
Shen Shi Yao gently stroked his arm and said mournfully, "What's the use of talking about this now? Mother only hopes that you will get better soon."
Song Zi Heng held his mother's hand, but did not know how to comfort her.
"Get well quickly. Wait till next spring’s Jiaolong assembly, and you will meet the Hua family's daughter"
Song Zi Heng froze for a moment.
"I don't expect you to please the emperor anymore. As long as that poisonous woman Li Xiang Tong is around, she will find ways to keep us from having a good time as mother and son, but we haven't lost yet." Shen Shi Yao said softly, "Li Xiang Tong is only backed by the Wuliang Sect, but if you become the son-in-law of the Huaying Sect, the emperor will certainly have to look at you differently and she will no longer dare to ride over our heads."
Song Zi Heng hesitated, "Mother, I cannot force the Hua family's daughter to like me, it depends on fate."
"Both of you were meant for each other, it was that poisonous woman who had to interfere. Don't worry, the Hua family's daughter will not look at that trash Song Zi Mo." Shen Shi Yao caressed Song Zi Heng's face, and there was a warm fire in her eyes, "My son will definitely become the Hua family's accomplished son-in-law, and will be the head of the Huaying Sect in the future."
Song Zi Heng sensed that Shen Shi Yao's desire for him to excel had turned into a deep obsession. His heart ached for his mother, but such an obsession made him tremble with fear. He could only say, "I, I hope I can let mother's ... wish come true."
Shen Shi Yao pressed her face against the back of Song Zi Heng's hand and murmured, "Mother depends all on you. In my whole life, I have lived a depressing life. Fortunately, I have a good son, you will definitely fight for mother, won't you?"
"This is also for you. Mother wants you to have a magnanimous immortal path ah."
"Mother, if ..." Song Zi Heng whispered, "If you are tired of all this, son is willing to take you away from here. We will be far away from all these disputes and go live a free life, in fact ..."
"What are you talking about?" Shen Shi Yao widened her beautiful eyes, "Don't be silly, I am the consort of Emperor Song, you are the eldest prince of Emperor Song. How can you be willing to be ordinary? If I do leave here one day, it will be to join my son in the Huaying Sect. You are of noble birth and a superb natural talent, destined to be the honored one above millions of people. How can you venture such a wimpy thought?!"
"... I'm just, casually speaking."
where did your elbows turn*[胳膊肘往哪⼉拐]---it’s meaning represents selfishness
After the winter snow melts away, it is another year of spring in Jiuzhou.
While the people are busy plowing the fields in the spring and looking forward to a good year, the immortal cultivation world was busy preparing for the Jiaolong Assembly. Hoping their beloved sons, nephews and disciples will stand out among their peers and shine in a spectacular way, bringing glory to their faces and their family.
The quadrennial Jiaolong Assembly is the most important event in the immortal cultivation world. As the saying goes, heroes emerge from youths, and those who are able to rule the immortal cultivation world often display remarkable talent in their youth. Various sects will show off their descendants here, as well as consider the descendants of other sects, and predict the future of each sect from the group of the young generation.
At the same time, the Jiaolong Assembly is also a gathering of those in power. Many important matters can be discussed at this time, so it is common for alliances, marriages and exchanges to take place during this time.
The Jiaolong Assembly only allows young girls and boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the tournament, and usually those who have yet to reach adulthood just go there to have a look. After all, when they are young, the difference in cultivation level between one and two years is very significant. If they can get first place at a very young age, they are bound to be a heavenly pride rarely seen in hundreds of years. So when Song Zi Xiao said that he was going to win the championship at the age of 13, the adults just listened for fun and didn't really have any expectations.
This year's Jiaolong Assembly was held as scheduled, but there were some changes.
The Jiaolong Assembly will be hosted by the main sects in turn. This year is Wuyun Sect’s turn, but the old Sect Leader of the Wuyun Sect passed away in the first month of the Lunar Year. In fact, there wasn’t enough time to choose the next Sect Leader. Actually, he has been fostering his own eldest disciple for many years. His attitude is very clear, but the position of the Sect Leader was not conferred personally to him, so Elder Yan Shu and the sect do not recognize him as the successor. Thus, the Wuyun Sect broke out into a fight for the position of Sect Leader.
In the end, the successor who was originally decided was expelled, and Elder Yan Shu took the position of the new Sect Leader of the Wuyun Sect.
When this news came out, the immortal cultivation world was shaken. About Wuyun Sect's internal feud, other sects can't have a say. However, all the immortal sects under the heavens are subordinates of Emperor Song, and this leadership position needs to be appointed by the predecessor and approved by Emperor Song. Otherwise, the title will be unverified.
During that time, the immortal cultivation world was waiting to see how the farce of the Wuyun Sect would end, but surprisingly, Yan Shu somehow managed to convince Emperor Ning Hua to be approved and take the position of Sect Leader.
The strife led Emperor Ning Hua to change this year's Jiaolong Assembly to be held in Daming, as it was inappropriate to host the Jiaolong Assembly in Wuyun Sect because of the unresolved civil unrest. Not only is it a great honor for a sect to host the Jiaolong Assembly, but it can also greatly benefit the livelihood of the local community. Most importantly, the descendants of the host sect always had some unspoken advantages over the visitors. When he got the news of the change in command of the Wuyun Sect, Song Zi Heng did not sleep well for several nights, and he believed that Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng, who were far away, were just as apprehensive.
The day Yan Shu came to Wuji Palace, Song Zi Heng and Song Zi Xiao quietly went to see this man. Just a glance from afar, they felt that this man had a face of ambition. The mysterious person behind Chen Xing Yong is almost certain to be him. It's just that his identity is so much heavier* than before, and as the head of a major sect, it will definitely cause a fierce storm if he unmasked his true colors. They are in the middle of a whirlpool, so how can they get out of it?
With a lot on their minds, the Jiaolong Assembly came as scheduled.
In a very short period of time, a large number of cultivators came to Daming City. All kinds of heroes and heroines gathered here from all directions, and all the businesses in the city were booming.
Song Zi Heng and several of his younger siblings were arranged to receive guests from the big immortal sects, and Song Zi Heng took the initiative to receive Chunyang Sect.
A little more than half a year had passed since they had parted from Yan city, and Xu Zhi Nan's injuries had all but healed. No longer in the disheveled and frail state he had been in when he was injured, and he had regained his former dashing and relaxed appearance.
As soon as the two of them met, Song Zi Heng immediately suspected the news he had received some time ago.
When no one was around, Song Zi Heng immediately asked, "Brother Xu, I heard some time ago that Cheng Zhen Ren had ..."
Xu Zhi Nan nodded, "Yan Zhi is indeed still alive." Song Zi Heng let out a breath, not knowing whether he should relax or become more nervous. ly the news spread in Jianghu, saying that Cheng Yan Zhi died at the hands of Chen Xing Yong due to the inability to heal his serious injuries. At that time Yan Shu just robbed the position of the head of the sect. He was disturbed despite having some doubts, so he only sent a letter of condolence and did not ask in detail. Today once he saw Xu Zhi Nan, he became even more suspicious. He said, "So where is he now?"
"Meng ... Flying Plume Ambassador helped me bring him and the Seven Star Lamp back to Chunyang Sect." A strange look flashed in Xu Zhi Nan's eyes, and he coughed lightly to hide it. "Nowadays, Yan Zhi's condition is better than before, but he still can't leave the Seven Star Lamp. Mainly because he doesn't have his golden core anymore, and his self-healing ability is just a bit stronger than an ordinary person, so he still needs time."
"Then why did you tell the outside world that he had passed away?"
Xu Zhi Nan sighed, "I didn't know when he would be able to leave the Seven Star Lamp, and it had to be kept a secret. I also had to give an explanation to my senior brothers, junior brothers, and his family, so I had no choice but to do this. I am waiting for my master to come out of seclusion. I will accept any punishment from master, but only master may be able to save him.”
Song Zi Heng said respectfully, "Brother Xu is really a man of love and righteousness."
Xu Zhi Nan smiled sorrowfully, "I have to be blamed for what happened to Yan Zhi. Rather than saying it’s saving Yan Zhi, it is also saving myself."
"By the way, where is Chen Xing Yong?" "He was brought back to the Cangyu Sect."
Song Zi Heng blinked. They had heard Qi Meng Sheng swear at the time.
This woman is indeed no ordinary person. Xu Zhi Nan looked at Song Zi Heng's expression and knew that the two of them were thinking of one thing. He smiled, "She's, uh, someone from their Cangyu Clan who often doesn't play by the rules and is eccentric as hell. But what credit is there to be said to a brute like Chen Xing Yong? He is bound to go to his own master's grave to repent for his sins."
"That's true." Song Zi Heng said, "Then Yan Shu ..."
Xu Zhi Nan's face instantly clouded over with hatred, "He actually became the head of the Wuyun Sect. The old Sect Leader died too suddenly. As people who cultivate immortality, as long as they don't die accidentally, they have a premonition to their end of life, but the old Sect Leader didn't even remember to appoint his successor. It's too fishy."
"That's the rumor in Jianghu too, but he's already become the Sect Leader, so there's no use doubting it anymore." Song Zi Heng said in a heavy tone, "Now that he can dispatch such a large sect, how can we find out the truth?"
"Even if we find out the truth, there is a chance that he will feign innocence in order to conceal it, or that the evidence will be conclusive but there is nothing we can do about him." Xu Zhi Nan narrowed his eyes, "The head of the Wuyun Sect, how can it be easily shaken?"
In the current immortal world, in addition to the Daming Song clan, Wuling’s Wuyun Sect is one of the top four immortal sects, along with Mount Shu’s Wuliang Sect, Jingzhou’s Chunyang Sect and Kunlun’s Cangyu Sect. They are the behemoths that even the Daming Song clan have to be courteous. Last time when Yan Shu was only one of the elders, they didn't dare to act rashly. Now he had become the Sect Leader. To be his enemy is equivalent to being an enemy of the Wuyun Sect, and who would dare to be an enemy of the Wuyun Sect so easily?
"What should I do then?" Song Zi Heng clenched his fist, "He has long since obliterated his conscience. As capable as he is, he can do as much evil as he wants. Since he became the head of the Wuyun Sect, in the future, there will only be more and more cultivators like Cheng Zhen Ren who will be victimized." "Right, so he must be stopped at all costs." Xu Zhi Nan said, "When the Flying Plume Ambassador arrives, we will discuss it together. He will definitely come to the Jiaolong Assembly. If it was in his own territory in Wuling, the plan would not work as well. In Daming, at least it will be to our advantage."
As he spoke, a pink and white orchid suddenly floated in from outside the house. Song Zi Heng stretched out his hand and the orchid flew straight into his palm, while the petals filled the air, a voice mixed with anger sounded out, "Heng Er, return to Qinghui Pavilion quickly!"
This was the sound transmission flower he used with his mother. With a spell cast, only the mother and son could hear it.
Xu Zhi Nan said, "This is your sound transmission object?" "Yeah, mother has something and asked me to go back." "Give my regards to Consort Shen."
"By the way Zi Heng, come out of the palace to drink with me in the evening. I've brought good wine from Luojinwu."
"Haha, no problem."
Song Zi Heng didn't know what had happened in the palace. Since sword flying was not allowed in the inner Daming City, he ran back quickly.
Once he returned to Qinghui Pavilion, he hadn't even caught his breath, only to see Shen Shi Yao raging and scolding him head-on, "What's going on in your head? The emperor asked you to receive the distinguished guests from various sects, but you actually went to receive the Chunyang Sect?"
Song Zi Heng doesn’t understand, "Mother, don't be angry, what happened …to Chunyang Sect?” If it wasn't for the Chunyang Sect, no one would have gotten a personal welcome from the Prince at all.
"What's wrong? Song Zi Mo went to receive the Huaying Sect, and now I'm afraid he has already caught the worm and gotten acquainted with Hua family’s daughter!"
Song Zi Heng had not thought of this at all. He said warmly, "Son has neglected to do so, but if second brother insists on going, son also ... cannot compete with him."
"You have to fight even if you can't compete." Shen Shi Yao glared sternly at Song Zi Heng, "Anyway, the emperor doesn't care about you in the slightest now. This Jiaolong assembly will determine your immortal path in this life. Your task is to get close to the Hua family’s daughter by all means, make her like you and make her marry you, do you understand?"
Song Zi Heng couldn't help but sigh in his heart. He had once had fond imaginings of Hua Yu Xin, had expected to marry her, and wanted to see if she was as intelligent and beautiful as the legends said, but this pure hope and first awakening of love had long since been worn away by his mother's persecution and the Empress' threats. Deep down, he even resisted, perhaps not so much against Hua Yu Xin, but against fighting, against stealing, against doing unscrupulous things for his future.
But he could not defy his mother. He wanted her to have what she wanted, he wanted her to be less miserable and happier. He could only nod stiffly, "Son will pay a visit to Miss Hua tomorrow."
"No, you are a step behind now, and if you go visit in such a hasty manner, you will instead appear to have bad intentions." Shen Shi Yao's willow brows furrowed lightly, "Child, your nature is too upright, and you also don't understand women at all. Mother will teach you. Do what I tell you to do. I will definitely not let you miss this opportunity again."
identity is so much heavier*[⾝份分量很重]---means this person has a very high status, good at talking
It was still early in the morning, so Song Zi Heng went to the back kitchen and personally made some of Song Zi Xiao’s favorite snacks and sent them to Bailu Pavilion.
Song Zi Xiao was practicing with his sword. All those who aspired to show off their skills at the Jiaolong Assembly in a few days' time were nervous and excited, seizing the last minute to improve themselves.
Song Zi Heng set aside his snacks and leaned against the wall, quietly watching his younger brother, whom he had raised by himself.
Children at this age grow up too fast. In half a year, Song Zi Xiao's stature had clearly been stretched, and he was taller than anyone else his age. His facial features have also lost their tenderness and have taken on a more angular appearance, totally taking on the full form of a tall man.
Dressed in black and as agile as a demon, he performed the Zongxuan Sword Technique with such a dashing and fierce style that one could not miss a single move.
Only when he had finished the whole sword dance did Song Zi Xiao pant slightly and withdraw his momentum. He turned his head and smiled at Song Zi Heng, asking confidently, "Big brother, how was it?"
"Good, very good." Song Zi Heng gave a high five, "Come and rest for a while." Song Zi Xiao walked over, took the water handed over by his big brother and gulped down the large glass. When his big brother took a towel and was about to wipe his sweat, he snatched it away, "I'll do it myself."
"Hmm." Song Zi Heng opened the bamboo basket, "I made some snacks, they’re all your favorites."
"Thank you, big brother." Song Zi Xiao smiled brightly, picked up a piece of glutinous rice cake and stuffed the whole thing into his mouth.
"Is someone snatching it away from you?" Song Zi Heng scolded, "Be careful not to choke." Looking at Song Zi Xiao's cheeks puffed out like a little squirrel hiding grain, he couldn't help but laugh again, "You've got it all over your chin." As he said that, he was about to reach out to wipe it.
Song Zi Xiao took a step back to avoid him, rubbing it off himself, "Don't keep treating me like a child."
Song Zi Heng raised an eyebrow and snorted, "Aiyo, so eager to be an adult?" During this period of time, he did clearly feel the changes in his younger brother, especially after he returned from Yan City. He no longer came to pester him to sleep with him, nor did he ask him to carry and hug him anytime and anywhere like he did when he was a child. He never pouted in front of outsiders, and often pretended to be mature and steady. All these changes signified one thing - growing up.
"I'll be an adult soon. I'll be an adult in two years."
Hearing these words, Song Zi Heng was really stunned for a moment, and he let out a soft sigh, "Yes, two more years and you’ll be an adult. How did it happen so fast ah?" It was as if in the blink of an eye, the youngest brother, who was still only learning to speak, had already grown into a gallant young man.
"Anyways, big brother has to slowly start treating me like an adult." "Oh, tell me, how am I going to treat you like an adult?" "Well ... you have to discuss everything with me, no lecturing or punishing me at every turn, especially in front of others, take me with you everywhere you go, and not don’t give me ‘you’re still young’ as an excuse so that you can abandon me and go out to play alone."
Song Zi Heng knocked him on the head, "Wait until you are reborn as a big brother in your next life."
"There is no such thing!"
Song Zi Heng smiled as he watched him protest while happily eating his snack, so he asked, "Xiao Jiu, are you nervous?"
"I’m not nervous." Song Zi Xiao looked like he had a well thought out plan, "Those people are nothing to fear."
"The young leader of the Huaying Sect, the Empress' nephew, the young apprentice of the Giant Spirit Villa’s Master, and the female cultivator of the Cangyu Sect, who is participating in the Jiaolong Assembly for the first time and whose skills are unpredictable, are not to be underestimated. Taking the enemy lightly is a big taboo, you know?"
"I know, I am not taking the enemy lightly. Even if they are powerful, they are not more powerful than you. I am not even afraid of you, why should I be afraid of them?"
"It's not like big brother will really fight you."
Song Zi Xiao curled his lips and looked askance at Song Zi Heng, "You didn't show any mercy when you hit me."
Song Zi Heng smiled lightly, "That was for your own good."
"Anyway, I just thought I would win." Song Zi Heng puffed up his chest, "Because I was taught by my big brother."
When Song Zi Heng had become an adult, their Uncle had gone into seclusion, and since then he had had to ask other uncles for advice on any doubts in cultivation. Although Song Zi Xiao could have had direct guidance from Song Ming He, Song Ming He had a lot of business to deal with, and was still largely brought up by him. He acknowledges that he was not as well taught as his father, but he should not be much worse than other people's masters. However, he has always been modest, "The descendants of other families also have been practicing since they first remembered, and may not be inferior to you. I have said all this because I am afraid that you will be arrogant by nature. Underestimate your enemy and suffer a setback when you arrive at the tournament."
"You can rest assured." Song Zi Xiao said seriously, "I really want to win, so I won't treat any of my opponents perfunctorily." Wearisome surfaced on his face as he thought of something, "Especially that Li Bu Yu. If I happen to draw him, I will beat him to death."
"Don't talk nonsense, Bu Yu has quite a future, don't underestimate him. Moreover, you have to take into consideration the Empress’ face and not overdo it."
Li Bu Yu was the nephew of Li Xiang Tong, the first grandson of the current head of the Wuliang Sect. Li Bu Yu's birth mother had passed on early, so his father had often sent him to the Wuji Palace to be with his aunt. Although Li Bu Yu was the closest to Song Zi Mo, Song Zi Mo had always liked to play with girls since he was a child, and Li Bu Yu, on the contrary, had to find Song Zi Heng every time he came here, which made Song Zi Xiao very unhappy.
His blood brothers and sisters are stealing his big brother from him, so be it, but an outsider also wants to play with his big brother? How outrageous.
Song Zi Xiao snorted coldly: "I know. By the way, did you go see Xu Zhi Nan today?" He licked the fruit puree from his lips and pretended to ask in a casual manner.
"Well, I'm going to find him tonight and have a drink."
Although Song Zi Xiao was not as clingy as he had been with Song Zi Heng when he was a child, he still followed him everywhere he went, but this time he did not offer to go along, because the matter of him stealing Gong Shu Ju in the first place was still a knot in the brothers' hearts, and he asked, "And Yan Shu, does he have any ideas?"
"When Qi Meng Sheng arrives, we will discuss it together. Daming is our territory, it's better than being in Wuling, no matter how powerful Yan Shu is now, in order to stop him from brutalizing more cultivators, we must make his true colors known to the world."
Song Zi Xiao frowned. Even a temperament like him, who is not afraid of the sky and the earth, was well aware of the meaning behind being an enemy of the Wuyun Sect: "Yes, let him be judged and crusaded against by the entire immortal cultivation world, and on that day, I would like to ask what it is that he is trying to harm us for."
Song Zi Heng did not answer. In this Yan City trip, there were two things he did not tell Song Zi Xiao, one is about Cheng Yan Zhi. Song Zi Xiao does not need to know this matter. He should keep the secret for Xu Zhi Nan. Second is the attack on Gutuo Town. Yan Shu's target is actually only himself, and also specifically instructed not to hurt Song Zi Xiao. Chen Xing Yong's men saying they would take Song Zi Xiao's core was likely just a threat to mess with him, but this matter he also could not tell Song Zi Xiao. Not knowing the truth will only cause people to think wildly, which brings no benefits.
"Well, don't eat too much either, we still have to eat dinner." Song Zi Heng looked at the sky, "Big brother is leaving. Don't get too tired from practicing your sword these days, keep your best form."
"Got it ... Wait, big brother, I heard that Hua Yu Xin has also arrived at Daming, you ... haven't seen her yet, have you?"
"Then, do you have any plans?" Song Zi Xiao’s face was full of annoyance.
Song Zi Heng did not want to say more because even he himself did not know what “plans” he has, and can only say: "I’ll listen to my father and mother."
"Then what exactly is it ah!?"
"Big brother doesn't know either." Song Zi Heng turned and hurried away.
Song Zi Xiao bit his lip, his eyes sprinkled with cold intent.
Song Zi Heng invited Xu Zhi Nan to a banquet at the best restaurant in Daming. Three years ago, Xu Zhi Nan had taken care of him when he was injured, and the two of them had thus bonded. It was a drink he had wanted to treat for a long time.
During the meal, they tacitly refrained from mentioning those headache matters, but only talked about the recent situation, the local customs of Daming, the strength of the descendants of the Jiaolong assembly, and so on and so forth.
Just when they were drinking passionately, they heard a waiter downstairs shouting in a very flattering tone, "Second Highness, you are here. Greetings to Second Highness."
Song Zi Heng's hand paused.
Xu Zhi Nan looked at him with a questioning gaze.
Song Zi Heng shook his head, "My second brother often comes here. Just pretend you don't know. Let's eat what we have."
But immediately afterwards, he heard the waiter call out again, "Ninth Highness is also here, along with all the Immortal Sovereigns. Your presence brings light to my humble dwelling ah."
Only then did Song Zi Heng put down his wine cup with a frown. How could Xiao Jiu have come here to eat with Song Zi Mo? The two hardly ever hung out together.
Although this Wangxiang House was famous in the city, Song Zi Heng never brought Song Zi Xiao here because one street away was the red light district, where many prostitutes come and go, and he was afraid that Song Zi Xiao, who was at the age of puberty, would pick up Song Zi Mo's bad habits and become addicted to sensual pleasures, thus destroying his immortal path.
Thinking of this, Song Zi Heng couldn't sit still. He was afraid that Song Zi Mo would badly influence his Xiao Jiu. He stood up, "Brother Xu, let's go down and take a look."
The two of them headed downstairs while Song Zi Mo was leading a group of people upstairs.
"Second brother." Song Zi Heng said, "What a coincidence." His gaze drifted to Song Zi Xiao.
Song Zi Xiao looked sheepishly at him.
"Aiya, it's big brother, what a coincidence. This is ..."
Xu Zhi Nan arched his body and said, "Xu Zhi Nan from Chunyang Sect, greeting to Second Highness, greetings to Ninth Highness."
"So it's the Sect leader’s senior brother of Chunyang Sect, I've heard a lot about you." Song Zi Mo smiled, "I am here today to give a banquet to the distinguished guests of the Huaying Sect. This is the Young Master of the Huaying Sect."
A tall, handsome, fluttering young man stepped forward, and without being condescending, he arched his hand, "Hua Jun Cheng of the Huaying Sect, greetings to Your Highness and Xu Zhen Ren." Song Zi Heng was stunned. This group of people were from the Huaying Sect, which meant ... He quickly swept through the crowd and behind Hua Jun Cheng, he spotted a stunning young girl dressed in a blue and purple cultivator's uniform sneaking glances at him.
That young girl was extremely delicate and nimble looking, like a budding flower. Each dewdrop shining with the moving light mapped out by the early morning sunrise.
They glanced at each other in silence and then misplaced their gazes at the same time, but their hearts were left stirring.
There was no doubt that she must be Hua Yu Xin.
Everyone in the room was exchanging pleasantries, except for Song Zi Xiao who kept his eyes on Song Zi Heng and was so angry that he almost gritted his teeth when he saw Song Zi Heng's reaction.
Only Hua Yu Xin stepped out from behind her own brother and gave a valiant arch of her hand, "Hua Yu Xin of the Huaying Sect, greetings to Your Highness and Xu Zhen Ren."
Now that they had met, they naturally converged to form a table.
Song Zi Xiao sat beside his big brother, glancing warily at Hua Yu Xin from time to time, in case the two of them were making eyes at each other under his nose.
Song Zi Mo was used to the scene and acted as if he was the master of the world, gently gathering people's hearts. He was right to do so. As the first legitimate son of Emperor Song and the Wuliang Sect as his relative, there was no doubt that he would become the Lord of Jiuzhou in the future.
As Song Zi Heng watched Song Zi Mo’s ability to move from one side to the other, he thought to himself: It is not necessary to choose the most profound cultivator to lead a sect. His second brother's strengths are not in cultivation, but he not necessarily cannot be a good Emperor. It seems that each person has his own strengths.
During the meal, Song Zi Mo did not hide his attentiveness to Hua Yu Xin, but Song Zi Heng's mind kept recalling his mother's advice to him, and he became moodier and moodier. He wanted to be a filial son and fulfil his mother's wishes, but a tiny, unbroken voice in the deepest part of his heart cried out, wishing to be free himself.
If Song Zi Mo were to hold on to his beauty as he wished, would he no longer have to carry any expectations and live freely?
Two conflicting thoughts rushed through his mind, causing him a headache. "Big brother, what's wrong?" Song Zi Xiao asked in a low voice when he saw Song Zi Heng frowning incessantly.
"Nothing." Song Zi Heng took a sip of wine to hide it, "Didn't I tell you to stay in the palace? What are you doing out here?"
Song Zi Xiao had heard that Song Zi Mo was hosting a banquet for guests from the Huaying Sect and wanted to come and see what the Hua family's daughter really looked like and whether she was worthy of his big brother. But of course he wouldn't tell the truth: "Second brother said there was good food, so I wanted to come out and relax."
"What's relaxing about being outside of the palace? The city is full of cultivators from all over the world now, it's a mess. Don’t wander off like this anymore."
"Got it." Song Zi Xiao suddenly noticed Hua Yu Xin looking this way again. He turned sideways and deliberately blocked that line of sight, saying unhappily, "Big brother, do you think the Hua family’s daughter looks good?"
"Of course she looks good."
"Second brother also thinks she's good looking." Song Zi Xiao gave a bad smile, "I think second brother and her are quite a good match."
Song Zi Heng was silent.
This meal made Song Zi Heng awkward and unhappy. If he had known this, he would not have shown up. It would have been nice to have a drink with Xu Zhi Nan, who had similar interests, instead of sitting here on pins and needles*.
Xu Zhi Nan is also a very clever person, and soon guessed what these young people were thinking and gave a thoughtful smile.
Three days later, the Jiaolong assembly officially began. The tournament will take place on the hunting grounds at the back of the Wuji Palace, and the competition will last for three days. With a very simple selection process - lots will be drawn at random and the winner will advance. The rules for the tournament are not too many, there is no limit to men or women, any kind of weapons, magical weapons and talismans can even be used. Everyone can show their skills, but there is only one rule; no killing blows.
In order to prevent the young cultivators from injuring themselves, one elder from each sect has to guard the ring, so that they can stop it in time if it gets out of hand. If they want to fight to the death, they will be forced to end it and the elders will discuss the winner.
When the competition comes to an end, those who remained are naturally the heavenly pride. They shouldered the honor of their sects, so how can they easily concede defeat? When this happens, the more likely they are to encounter the elders' verdict. If they are in their own territory, it is easier to use some force in the dark, that's why everyone wants to host the Jiaolong assembly, which is why there is a rule of rotation among several major sects.
Song Ming He took advantage of the civil unrest in the Wuyun Sect to justly steal the hosting of this year's session. It was a great way to plunder the position for his only beloved youngest son, leaving outsiders with many speculations about the strength of Song Zi Xiao.
This time, other than Song Zi Xiao, the third princess Song Ruo Ning and the fifth prince Song Zi Yun will also participate, together with the descendants of various sects. There are more than a hundred people.
Amidst the beating of war drums, Song Zi Heng rode a tall steed and led his younger siblings into the tournament arena.
Around the field, tents of every color were scattered in clusters, and flags of every color waved as their eyes were turned to the descendants of Emperor Song. At the age of twelve, Song Zi Heng's first participation in the Jiaolong assembly caused quite a stir. Although he did not win any fame, his potential at such a young age was impressive enough to make people sigh, knowing that the younger generations will surpass them in time. After that, he wandered the world on his own, and there were rumors of his achievements from time to time. The whole immortal world thought that Song Zi Heng would most likely win the Jiaolong assembly. But at that Jiaolong Assembly, he did not show up. For three years afterwards, he kept such a low profile that he seemed to have disappeared, and one could not help but think of Zhong Yong's pain*.
Now, he was riding in the lead, with his jade sword, his white horse and golden restraint. His whole person was proper and prudent, Like green pines and cypresses*. This handsome young man has no traces of dejectedness as rumored by the outside world. Everyone present couldn't stop throwing their gazes at him, and the women of the right age were already whispering.
Song Zi Xiao was behind Song Zi Heng and was so proud to see his big brother receiving the attention of the whole crowd. He squinted his eyes and watched the warm spring sun spread over the earth, tracing Song Zi Heng's handsome silhouette with sparkling golden light. At this moment, it was as if a heavenly god had descended, and he could not help but want to chase the light in front of him - Chasing this kind of light was human nature.
Song Zi Xiao clipped the belly of his horse and gave chase, the two horses moving in tandem. He wanted the whole immortal world to see that it was he, and only he, who was walking alongside his big brother.
And so one white and one black, two heavenly prides, made their appearance, and astonished everyone present.
They sat in their tents, waiting for the results of the draw. Song Ruo Ning paced back and forth, looking a little nervous. Song Zi Heng said, "Ning Er, stop walking back and forth, you're making our heads hurt."
"Big brother, I'm a bit worried. What if I draw a particularly powerful person for the first match?"
"That's up to fate, what's the use of worrying? It just adds on to your worries." Song Zi Heng held out his hand, "Come, sit down."
Song Ruo Ning took her big brother's hand and shook it petulantly, "Big brother, this is the only time I'll be participating in the Jiaolong Assembly, you must watch me when I compete."
"Big brother still has to watch me." Song Zi Xiao muttered.
"You'll still be able to participate four years from now. Sister will soon be married and will never have the chance again, and you're still competing with me."
Song Zi Xiao said reluctantly, "I'm so much younger than you, and you're still competing with me?"
"I think you're looking for a fight." Song Ruo Ning waved her fist.
Song Zi Heng laughed, "Alright, big brother is going to watch all of them, but if your competitions are going on at the same time, then I'll go and watch Ning Er’s, okay?”
Song Ruo Ning smiled sweetly and nodded heavily, "Mmm!"
Song Zi Heng stroked his sister's satin hair and sighed, "Big brother always thought you were still a little girl, and you're about to get married in the blink of an eye."
"I don't want to either, but ..." she suddenly came up to Song Zi Heng's ear and whispered shyly, "Big brother, I went to see him secretly. I think he's quite good looking." Song Zi Heng snorted, "That's good, good to be worthy of our Ning Er." When the Wuyun Sect was in civil unrest, he was also worried that it would not be safe for his sister to marry there, but her future father-in-law had long since disregarded affairs of the world and focused on cultivation. Although he was also an influential elder of the Wuyun Sect, he had no conflict with Yan Shu. That day when Yan Shu was summoned into the Wuji Palace, he must have also talked about this matter, and now it seemed that it should have no effect.
"Third sister, if I or fifth brother met your future husband, what should we do ah?"
Song Ruo Ning laughed playfully, "Hit him hard and don't disgrace our Daming Song clan."
"The lottery is out, the lottery is out!"
A group of palace staff each held a red silk roster and trotted all the way to the tents of the major sects to deliver it.
Getting the draw roster, Song Zi Heng unfolded it amidst the impatient gazes of his younger siblings.
Song Zi Heng caught a glimpse of Song Zi Yun's name: "Xiao Wu, you
Song Zi Yun scratched his head, "How come I drew a female cultivator from the Cangyu Sect in the first round? I heard that they know demonic arts and the path of their technique is not at all understandable. It's very evil."
"There's no such thing. Don't listen to outside nonsense and scare yourself." Song Zi Heng said, "Do your best, big brother believes in you."
"What about me? What about me?" Song Zi Xiao poked his head through. "Your Highness!" A teenager's voice came from a distance, and in the blink of an eye, the owner of the voice burst headfirst into the tent.
It was a tall, handsome teenager with a long, witty face. "Bu Yu?" Song Zi Heng laughed.
"Li Bu Yu?" Song Zi Xiao said disgustedly, "When did you get here?"
"There was a delay at Mount Shu, I just arrived yesterday." Li Bu Yu walked up to Song Zi Heng's side, his eyes glittering with expectation, "Your Highness, this is my last time participating in the Jiaolong Assembly, can you come and watch me compete?"
Song Zi Xiao said nonchalantly, "My big brother still has to watch us.
How can he have the time to watch you? Go back to your tent." "Zi Xiao, don't be so rude."
Li Bu Yu ignored Song Zi Xiao, "Your Highness, you guided me in body movement techniques last year, I have benefited a lot. This time at the Jiaolong assembly, I will definitely fight well."
Song Zi Heng laughed, "You have the Sect Leader Immortal himself to teach you, how can I really guide you on anything? At most I can help you with a few mistakes you have made. I will definitely be there to watch your match. Bu Yu, have you drawn lots yet?"
"Yes, I drew." Li Bu Yu looked at the roster in Song Zi Heng's hand, "But I haven't read it yet."
Song Zi Heng looked at the roster again, "Your first round is with ..." Several people froze at the same time.
Song Zi Xiao slowly raised his head and stared at Li Bu Yu, his gaze shining.
Li Bu Yu tightened his grip on the sword in his hand.
Zhong Yong's pain*[仲永之伤]---This was
mentioned in one of the previous chapter, can’t remember which, anyway you can
ready the story here: https://chinablog.cc/the-pity-of-zhong-yong-a- wasted-child-prodigy/
green pines and cypresses*[松翠柏般]--- it is a metaphor for a person with noble quality and firm integrity.
PS: Hohoho, who will win? (Honestly
speaking, I forgot who won LMAO, I will know when I translate the next chapter
The most unexpected draw for the first round of the competition was none other than Song Zi Xiao and Li Bu Yu.
One was rumored to be the youngest son of Emperor Song who possessed the greatest talent and was particularly favored by Emperor Song, while the other was the first grandson of the head of the Wuliang Sect and the nephew of the Empress, who treats him like her own son, yet one of these two had to be eliminated in the first round of the competition. Given the in-laws relationship between the Song Clan and the Wuliang Sect, no matter who loses, this is not a good scene to watch.
Once the news got out, many people were betting silently in private. Li Bu Yu has outstanding roots and has learned under the head of the Wuliang Sect, while Song Zi Xiao formed a core at the age of nine and is a rare talent found once in a hundred years, and he is three years younger. It is hard to say who will win or lose between these two, and hard to say who has bad luck.
After seeing the roster, the scene was very awkward for a while. Li Bu Yu said a few polite words, "It is delightful to be evenly matched", and then hurriedly left.
Song Zi Heng pulled Song Zi Xiao to a deserted place, with the look of a headache on his face.
"Big brother, don't worry, I won't lose to him." Not only was Song Zi Xiao not half worried, but he was also even a little excited. "I'm worried about you losing, and I'm also worried about you winning." Song Zi Heng rubbed his brow and said with a sigh.
"Why should you worry about me winning? I am definitely going to win against him." Song Zi Heng hummed lightly, not hiding his good nature in the slightest, "And I've always wanted to defeat him myself. This draw has fulfilled my wish."
"He is the Empress's nephew."
Song Zi Xiao said coldly, "So what? In the ring, it is based on an individual's ability. Could it be that the Empress can still blame me if I win against him?"
"Xiao Jiu, the Empress has always been very scornful of you and Consort Chu for getting in the way of father, and because of that will not treat me like..." Song Zi Heng paused and said in a deep voice, "Anyway, big brother hopes that you will not overdo it. Never provoke Li Bu Yu, and also don't really hurt him."
Song Zi Xiao reluctantly curled his lips, "Got it."
Song Zi Heng patted his younger brother's shoulder, "Big brother will watch over you, and big brother also believes that you will win."
Only then did Song Zi Xiao reveal a smile, "I will definitely not disgrace big brother."
On the first day of the Jiaolong Assembly, it will be the first match between descendants and their chosen opponents through balloting, but all the matches on this day were not as appealing as the duel between Song Zi Xiao and Li Bu Yu.
The two youngsters, with outstanding family backgrounds, qualifications and looks, stood solemnly on the competition ground. Their boyish faces full of a stern aura, their stern gazes clashing in the air, and the mere exchange of gazes already made the people around them feel a powerful spiritual pressure.
Song Ruo Ning whispered, "Big brother, will Xiao Jiu win?" "He will." Song Zi Heng said with certainty.
"But Li Bu Yu is three years older than Xiao Jiu."
"There are many formidable opponents waiting for him behind him, so if he can't even beat Li Bu Yu, then stopping here is not unjust at all."
"Big brother, why does Li Bu Yu always like to hang out with you?" Song Ruo Ning wondered, "Isn't he the Empress's nephew?"
Song Zi Heng whispered, "Keep your voice down." Song Ruo Ning quietly covered her mouth.
Song Zi Heng lowered his head and whispered in his sister's ear, "I saved him unintentionally when he was young."
After Song Zi Xiao and Li Bu Yu saluted each other, they drew their swords out at the same time.
The Zongxuan Sword was known as the number one sword technique in the world, but before the Song ancestor came out of nowhere, the Wuliang Sword was the leading sword cultivator technique. In fact, there was no superiority or inferiority in the sword book. Victory and defeat depended on the person.
The fight was a good one even for adults, let alone for two teenagers.
Li Bu Yu's skills are noteworthy, and he is certainly a role model among his peers as the "son of another family", and did not disgrace the Wuliang Sect at all. It’s a pity that his opponent is Song Zi Xiao.
Song Zi Xiao is not tall enough and is still using a small sword, but he has shown his ability to be astonishing. His sword style is tricky, sharp and aggressive, showing the essence of the Zongxuan Sword. After only exerting 2 moves with Li Bu Yu, everyone already knew Li Bu Yu will lose.
The Zongxuan Sword and the Wuliang Sword are both top class sword techniques, but they are completely opposite in style.
The Zongxuan Sword uses offense as a means of defense to make an unexpected winning move, with brutal and sinister strokes, often resulting in a quick battle, while the Wuliang Sword is vast and limitless, pursuing waves that stack layers upon layers like the sea endlessly. This is like a drinking competition at a wine table, where Zongxuan Sword comes up and punishes itself with three cups, shocking everyone, and the Wuliang Sword still remains standing, cup after cup.
There is no difference between the two. It all depends on the skill of the swordsman. The Zongxuan Sword can often end a fight in the shortest possible time, but if the Wuliang Sword drags on until they start to deplete each other, it will be very unfavorable.
However, Li Bu Yu was still too young and did not have the "power of the sea" and was soon defeated by Song Zi Xiao’s sword.
Song Zi Heng sighed as he watched Li Bu Yu's eyes turn red and his face change from anger to humiliation to resignation.
This was Li Bu Yu's last participation in the Jiaolong assembly. Although the person who had defeated him was Song Zi Xiao, the stain of being eliminated in the first round was a stain that a high-minded and arrogant young man could not accept.
Li Bu Yu, who was of noble birth, did not lose his poise even after losing, and endured the humiliation to thank Song Zi Xiao before leaving in style.
Song Zi Xiao jumped out of the ring happily and ran to Song Zi Heng's side, saying excitedly, "Big brother, did I fight well?"
Song Zi Heng whispered, "Very good, let's go." Song Zi Xiao looked up at his big brother, "I listened to you, I didn't provoke him, I didn't mock him, I didn't hurt him, I didn't even use my full strength. You didn’t want me to lose to him on purpose, did you?"
"Of course not." Song Zi Heng frowned, "I'm just worried ... forget it, maybe I'm overthinking it." Song Zi Xiao had the emperor as his backer, and although the empress also hated the mother and son, she didn't dare to do anything blatantly, so his own worries should be superfluous.
Song Zi Xiao was talking about all the things he had done with Li Bu Yu, when Hua Yu Xin suddenly came up to him.
Song Zi Xiao's face instantly fell.
Hua Yu Xin arched her hand and said, "Your Highness, Ninth Highness." "Miss Hua." Song Zi Heng's heartbeat instantly quickened, and he
became slightly unnatural.
"Congratulations to Your Ninth Highness on your promotion." Song Zi Xiao gave a nonchalant "hmm".
Hua Yu Xin's gaze shifted to Song Zi Heng, boldly looking him in the eye and smiling, "I've always wanted to find an opportunity to thank you personally, Your Highness, for turning my young martial uncle into a man. Allowing him to return home and be buried in peace."
"You are most welcome, Miss Hua. It is in the nature of all cultivating people to do what is right and just."
"Not only that, Your Highness also captured Chen Xing Yong together with Chunyang Sect, exterminated the Lion Alliance and avenged my little martial uncle." Hua Yu Xin's bright eyes twinkled, and between the flowing waves of light was a young girl's heart that could not be hidden, "The entire Huaying Sect is very grateful to Your Highness."
Being praised and worshipped by such a beautiful and spirited young girl with so many complimentary words, Song Zi Heng could hardly contain his joy, and his cheeks burned a little as he said modestly, "It's nothing to mention."
Standing beside the two, Song Zi Xiao could clearly feel the unusual ambiguity in the air. He was burning with anger and pulled Song Zi Heng's arm, "Big brother, I'm hungry, let's hurry up and go eat."
"Ah, okay." Song Zi Heng looked at Hua Yu Xin hesitantly, "Miss Hua is new to Daming. There is a big difference between the north and the south. I’m not sure if the food is to your liking, please forgive me if I did not host well."
"Not at all, I am used to it." Hua Yu Xin said hurriedly, "I think Daming is very good. Of course, Min Nan has a different style. I don't know when Your Highness can ..."
"Big brother, let's go!" Song Zi Xiao didn't wait for the two to finish, and dragged Song Zi Heng away stiffly.
Song Zi Heng was not good at forcing himself to stay and talk to people, and only after walking a long way did he shake off Song Zi Xiao's hand angrily, "Xiao Jiu, what are you doing?"
"I already said I don't want you to take a wife. Do you think I'm only just saying that?" Song Zi Xiao said unreasonably.
"Why are you still so ignorant?" "So what if I am ignorant?"
Song Zi Heng slapped his head, "Alright, aren't you hungry? Hurry up and have your meal."
At noon, during the break of the tournament, Song Ming He hosted a banquet on the hunting ground for all the guests, and his concubines and children were all seated in order.
Song Zi Xiao went to find his mother, while Song Zi Heng also came to sit beside Shen Shi Yao. Shen Shi Yao did not say a word as she looked at Song Zi Heng, her gaze somewhat cold.
Song Zi Heng didn’t know why: "Mother, what's wrong?" Ever since Li Xiang Tong had interfered with his marriage with Hua Yu Xin, Shen Shi Yao's temper had become increasingly odd. Sometimes she was sad and crying, looking delicate to the touch, and sometimes she was accusatory and her words were extraordinarily harsh. When Song Zi Heng faces her, he became more cautious.
"See for yourself." Shen Shi Yao lifted her chin.
Following the direction she pointed, Song Zi Heng saw that Hua Yu Xin was sitting next to Li Xiang Tong at some point, and Li Xiang Tong was holding Hua Yu Xin's hand, laughing and talking to each other.
"Just now I saw Hua Yu Xin went to find you, why did you walk away after saying two sentences?"
"Xiao Jiu said he was hungry, so ..."
Shen Shi Yao glared at him, "Such a good opportunity and you let it slip so easily? By taking the initiative to find you, she is showing her affection for you. Are you going to watch her be snatched away?"
"Son will find another opportunity to have a good chat with Miss Hua."
Shen Shi Yao turned her face away, leaving only Song Zi Heng with an icy back.
The afternoon's competition wasn’t really that exciting. After it was over, the Song clan returned to the palace, and the guests returned to their guest residences.
Song Ming He invited some more famous sects for dinner, and the Huaying Sect was naturally among them. Song Zi Heng originally decided to take the initiative to look for Hua Yu Xin, but after seeing Yan Shu, he had no more thoughts of love between men and women. He took the opportunity to toast Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng and quietly agreed to meet in secret this evening to discuss how to deal with Yan Shu.
When the banquet dispersed, it was already late at night. Song Zi Heng returned to Qinghui Pavilion, intending to see Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng after he had sobered up.
He had just walked into the Qinghui Pavilion, followed by the hazy moonlight, when he saw a person sitting in a chair in the darkness, which startled him.
"Who is it?"
"It's me." Shen Shi Yao's soft voice came as she lit the oil lamp and looked at her son quietly in the dim light.
"Mother? Why are you still awake at this late hour?" "Waiting for you."
"Waiting for me for what?" "Have you talked to Miss Hua?"
Song Zi Heng experienced a choking sensation of stuffiness from his throat as he explained, "Miss Hua has been accompanying the Empress, and son has not found an opportunity."
"I knew it would be like this." Shen Shi Yao said quietly. "Mother, it's late at night. You should rest."
Shen Shi Yao lifted a hand.
Song Zi Heng helped her up and walked her back to her bedchamber. When they passed Song Zi Heng's bedchamber, Shen Shi Yao suddenly stopped. She looked up and gazed at Song Zi Heng, that look was numbing to the scalp.
"It seems that you cannot be counted on in this matter. You have let me down again and again, yet I cannot put my son's future in jeopardy."
"What are you talking about?"
Shen Shi Yao suddenly opened the door to Song Zi Heng's room.
Song Zi Heng smelled an odd floral fragrance and before he could think more, he was violently pushed in by Shen Shi Yao, and the door to the room closed behind him.
Song Zi Heng was startled and turned back to push the door, only to find that a barrier talisman had been affixed to the door. He was wondering what exactly Shen Shi Yao was up to when he suddenly realized that the flower fragrance was different and his body was heating up rapidly.
A slight trill sounded from behind him.
Song Zi Heng was as if struck by lightning, ran a few steps to his bed, and found Hua Yu Xin lying on his bed, her cheeks abnormally flushed, her consciousness blurred, and she was pulling at her clothes with her hands, and kept saying it’s hot.
Song Zi Heng was so frightened that he took two steps back, drew his sword and was about to break down the door, but in the end he did not swing it down, thinking that if he made too much noise at such a late hour, he was afraid that everyone would come.
He held his breath and searched for the source of the flower’s fragrance. When he saw the incense burner on the table, he smashed it on the floor in anger, but the fragrant, sticky scent of the flowers had already filled the room, so smashing it would not help. He tried to open the window, but the window was also covered with a talisman.
It would be easy to destroy this type of talisman, either by removing it from the outside or by forcing it from the inside, but if it brought in outsiders, his reputation would be at stake, and Hua Yu Xin, an unmarried girl, could not bear such a stigma.
Song Zi Heng was so anxious that he did not even have time to think about Shen Shi Yao's absurdity and madness. The fragrance of the flower had already invaded him. He only felt his mouth dry and increasingly hot, and he could not restrain his instinctive reaction even though he tried desperately to suppress it. He stumbled and hid furthest away from Hua Yu Xin, curling up his body in shame and wretchedness, his mind becoming more and more confused.
He can’t go on like this, no, he would lose his mind ... what to do, what to do!
In a flash of light, he thought of something. He took out a sound transmission flower from his Qiankun bag and said to the flower with a trembling voice, "Xiao Jiu, come to my bedchamber quickly." He tucked the petal out from under the doorway and a hint of spiritual energy caused it to float and fly off into the distance.
When Song Zi Xiao arrived, he caught a glimpse of the yellow talisman taped to the window. He tore off the talisman and jumped through the window, shouting anxiously, "Big brother?!"
A suppressed, ragged gasp came from the corner.
The scent of flowers still lingered inside the house, and Song Zi Xiao held his breath as he cautiously walked over.
Through the hazy moonlight, Song Zi Xiao saw a soft, unkempt white figure huddled in a corner. His white clothes and snowy skin were indistinguishable from the autumn scenery. The night was so bleak, and he was so bright that he seemed to have captured all the light in the world. Looking up at the moon in the sky, the new moon is like a hook, looking down at the man on the ground, the beauty and the person deeply attached to each other, like a pair of couplet written with gorgeous ornate phrases, hanging between heaven and earth, the banner is written - Qinghui Pavilion enjoys clear and bright light.
Song Zi Xiao only felt that his heart was like a running horse, running wildly without stopping. Many years later, he was certain that it was at this moment that he realized that his feelings for Zong Zi Heng were out of the ordinary.
Song Zi Xiao came back to his senses and busily helped Song Zi Heng up, "Big brother, what's wrong?" "Don't ... don't smell ..." Song Zi Heng's eyes were misty, his face was flushed, sweat was soaked through his lapel, his chest was mostly bare, he looked extremely embarrassed.
Song Zi Xiao's Adam's apple had roughly just grown, like a tiny bean sliding under the skin. He forced himself to take his gaze away from Song Zi Heng's jade-like chest and gather his loose clothes: "Big brother, what's wrong? Have you been poisoned?"
"Take me out, quick."
Song Zi Xiao carried Song Zi Heng on his back and jumped out of the window nimbly. With the cold wind blowing, Song Zi Heng was instantly awake in just a few moments.
"Big brother, what has poisoned you? Was it that scent?" Song Zi Xiao had a slight guess in his mind, even though he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, after all, he had read the book before.
"..." Song Zi Heng was ashamed to say it. Not that he was shameful about the love potion, but that the person who had poisoned him was actually his own mother!
"You go in, take my clothes ... and cover Miss Hua up and bring her out."
"What? Hua, Hua Yu Xin is in there?" This completely solidified his suspicions, and once the cause and effect were connected, Song Zi Xiao understood it all, and he said sternly, "Who did this? Was it... "
"Shhh, lower your voice. You go quickly. It's better not attract anyone here." Song Zi Heng anxiously gave him a push.
Song Zi Xiao was surprised to find blood on the floor. He opened Song Zi Heng's hand and saw that his palm was a bloody mess, full of blood marks left by nails embedded deep in it. His eyes were red with shock and anger. "Go on!" Song Zi Heng urged in a weak voice.
Song Zi Xiao gritted his teeth and turned to walk away.
Song Zi Heng fell to the ground on his back without any regard for decency, allowing his hot body to press against the cold ground as much as possible to ease the pain. He ramped up his spiritual energy to excrete the drug. If he hadn't been resisting and the drug hadn't excrete along with his sweat, he didn't know what irrevocable things he would have done by now.
All the torment, humiliation and anger were no match for the pain of being set up by his own mother. He couldn't understand why she had done such a reckless and stupid thing!
The sound of footsteps and chatter came from the distance, and Song Zi Heng struggled to get up from the ground, thinking about how to settle this matter.
At that moment, Song Zi Xiao came out with Hua Yu Xin in his arms: "Big brother, what should we do with her?"
Song Zi Heng was simply in a terrible fix as he listened to the approaching noises, but he knew for sure that he could not leave Hua Yu Xin here, nor could he just send her back, so he gritted his teeth, "Sword flight out of the palace."
Sword flight is not allowed in the entire Daming City, but recently the city was full of foreign guests, and every day there were those who forgot the rules and flew around in the sky. Since the superiors did not pursue them, the guards turned a blind eye, so the two of them successfully took Hua Yu Xin and flew out of Wuji Palace to a carriage station outside the city, where they had agreed to meet with Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng.
Song Zi Heng was an hour late, but when they saw the three of them running in embarrassingly, Xu Zhi Nan and Qi Meng Sheng both tensed up.
"Zi Heng, what happened to you guys? Have you run into any danger?" Song Zi Heng waved his hand and was helped to sit down on a chair by Song Zi Xiao, who took the tea on the table and drank it down in one go.
Everyone in the room looked at him, and then at Hua Yu Xin, who was unconscious, dishevelled and wrapped up tightly.
Song Zi Heng wiped the sweat off his forehead and said, lost in thought, "Talking about this matter, it is really...shameful."
Qi Meng Sheng scowled with a cold eye and said nonchalantly, "Could it be you did something to Miss Hua?"
The murderous intent in Song Zi Xiao's eyes boiled over, "How could my big brother have done anything to her!? Don’t spout nonsense!”
Qi Meng Sheng, neither haughty nor humble said, "Then let's hear Your Highness explain."
Song Zi Heng took a deep breath, "I will explain later. Flying Plume Ambassador, please help Miss Hua force out the residual drug in her body and tidy her up."
Qi Meng Sheng glanced at Hua Yu Xin and said to Xu Zhi Nan, "Go and ask the innkeeper to open two other guest rooms. Your Highness, you should also tidy up a bit."
The innkeeper quickly prepared a bathtub and a new set of clothes for Song Zi Heng.
Song Zi Heng was so weak and feeble that he even shook while walking, but he insisted on not letting Song Zi Xiao help him bathe, "Hurry up and get out, I can wash myself."
"I'm afraid you'll pass out." Song Zi Xiao said angrily, "Wouldn't it be a joke for the Eldest Prince of the Daming Song clan to drown in the bath?"
Song Zi Heng said in a loud voice, "I said I'm fine, get out!" How could he let his younger brother see his embarrassing state? Song Zi Xiao grunted in dissatisfaction and slammed the door to leave.
Only then did Song Zi Heng undress and climb into the tub. He was humiliated by the embarrassing sight of his lower body, but now that he was finally alone to ‘tidy’ himself up. In the quiet environment, surrounded by warm water, his heart, which had been tense for half the night, relaxed a little. He leaned back against the edge of the tub, closed his eyes and soothed his restless agitation.
What he didn't know was that Song Zi Xiao hadn't gone far, and merely listened to the movements inside through a door sheet, using his spiritual power to enhance his hearing.
Song Zi Xiao was genuinely afraid that Song Zi Heng would pass out from physical exhaustion, but when he heard the odd and low moan coming from inside, he froze for a moment until he understood, and his whole body turned almost red from head to toe as he diffidently touched his boiling face and quietly left.
"Consort Shen did this?!" Xu Zhi Nan's jaw dropped, not knowing what to say for a moment.
Song Zi Heng's expression was extremely unsightly. He lowered his head and said in a deep voice: "It is said that family shame must not be disclosed. I really can't help it, and I still hope you two will keep it a secret for me."
Qi Meng Sheng snorted coldly, "Obscene."
The end of Song Zi Heng's ears turned red, as if the word "obscene" had been put directly on his head. After all, a child shares their parents' honors and losses together.
Song Zi Xiao glared at Qi Meng Sheng, but in his heart he actually agreed with her words. He simply could not believe that Shen Shi Yao would do such a foolish thing. When he was young, he also liked Consort Shen very much. Thinking that she was gentle and beautiful, just like his big brother, and when he grew up, he could see Shen Shi Yao's scruples about his cultivation level. Although he was not as close to her as before, he still loved her. But what had happened tonight had almost destroyed his respect and love for Shen Shi Yao.
She had actually used such underhanded tactics to set up her son and an innocent girl? The thought that if he hadn't arrived in time and Song Zi Heng lost control under the drug and really done something, he would never be able to forgive Shen Shi Yao for the rest of his life.
"My mother wants me to tie the knot with the Huaying Sect." Song Zi Heng held his forehead, his temples throbbing with pain, "But I didn't expect that she would do something so ridiculous."
"So, after she saw that the Empress wanted Miss Hua to be her daughter- in-law as well, she took the desperate step of trying to cook the raw rice*." Xu Zhi Nan sighed, "It's really ... absurd." Since it was Song Zi Heng's mother, he could not say unpleasant words, and could only sigh.
Qi Meng Sheng said, "Your Highness was able to have some perseverance and is worthy of being a modest gentleman. It’s just that we believe Your Highness, but outsiders may not. When Miss Hua wakes up, how can we explain it to her?"
Song Zi Heng said in a weak voice, "I don't know."
Xu Zhi Nan said warmly, "Zi Heng, if Miss Hua learns the truth, and refuses to forgive and the matter becomes too big, the Song clan will have to give an explanation to the Huaying Sect. When that happens, not only will you and Consort Shen's reputations be ruined, you will also surely be punished."
"... I know."
"But how should this be rounded off?" "Do you know how Miss Hua appeared in Qinghui Pavilion?" Song Zi Heng shook his head again.
Xu Zhi Nan analyzed, "I think it is likely that she was invited there by Consort Shen. If she was taken captive, not to mention whether or not Consort Shen has the ability to do so, the Huaying Sect would have been in chaos by this time, and it would be impossible to not come looking for her."
"That makes sense, but even if she was invited to Qinghui Pavilion by Consort Shen, if she hasn't returned by this hour, her elder brother should be worried." Qi Meng Sheng said.
"So it's imperative that we send her back as soon as possible. If we let Hua Jun Cheng make a scene in Wuji Palace at this hour, everyone will know about it."
Clutching his sword, Song Zi Xiao paced back and forth in the room. His concern for Song Zi Heng's reputation and safety made it impossible for him to calm down and think.
Song Zi Heng was equally at a loss as to how he was going to cover up his mother's wrongdoing and make Hua Yu Xin understand at the same time.
Xu Zhi Nan thought for a moment, "I do have a plan."
"Then say it quickly." Qi Meng Sheng urged in an unpleasant manner.
Everyone knows that Xu Zhi Nan is wise beyond his years. If only one’s cultivation level is high, one may not be able to lead a sect. There are too many lonely talents with high level cultivation but a temperament that others cannot tolerate. Xu Zhi Nan has been appointed as the next head of the sect at a young age, he naturally was exceptional compared to others.
Therefore, if he said he had a plan, then it must be a real plan.
Xu Zhi Nan said, "I just smelled the scent of wine on Miss Hua's body, in addition to the love potion. Did she drink wine?” "She drank at the banquet. I don't know how much she drank."
"We can set up a trap to make her think she was close to being victimized and we saved her, so we can kill two birds with one stone."
"Where's the other bird?" Song Zi Xiao said in confusion.
Xu Zhi Nan said coldly, "Yan Shu. Exploit Miss Hua a little and lead him into a trap."
cook the raw rice*[⽣⽶煮成熟饭]--- What is done cannot be undone