King Yu was calm and composed as he slowly walked along a covered walkway with his hands held behind his back. He was wearing a long robe with a feather cloak draped over his shoulders.
Behind him, the high-ranking official who went to receive the third prince had a trace of fear on his face as he followed King Yu without making a single sound.
"You're saying that my third brother rejected the invitations from both me and the crown prince?" King Yu's indifferent voice sounded out, startling the high-ranking official. That high-ranking official hurriedly nodded in response.
King Yu suddenly started to chuckle with a laughter that contained a trace of amusement. The corners of his mouth curled up as he stared at the pure white snow that covered the courtyard.
"What's this supposed to be? Now that your wings have grown tough, you have come to participate in this mess? The situation within the imperial city is already chaotic enough… do you think it's not chaotic enough?" King Yu muttered to himself. He seemed to be questioning something and then a trace of disdain appeared on his face.
"You're just a prince that was almost abandoned… What right do you have to compete with me?"
Next to the Gate of Heavenly Mystery, in the crown prince palace.
Two figures were standing straight, looking into the distance from the crown prince palace. They could nearly see the entire plaza of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery from where they stood.
"Regarding my third brother's return, does elder Zhao have any questions or suggestions?" The crown prince looked toward the elderly man standing next to him. Calling him elderly was not actually correct. Even though Zhao Musheng's hair had already turned white, his facial features were not considered old.
Zhao Musheng's gaze was both cloudy and everchanging, as if he could see through the fickleness of the world. He indifferently said, "There's no need for the crown prince to be worried. Even though the third prince is a noble prince, he was still disregarded by the former emperor after all. After spending long periods of time on expeditions outside the border, he has the air of a soldier ingrained upon him. He's destined to have no connection with the throne."
The crown prince was immediately pleased when he heard those words. Even though he was not really concerned about his third brother, the interference of a prince—while the imperial city was in such a chaotic situation—was enough to create some disturbances.
Zhao Musheng gave the crown prince a glance and put up a faint smile. "With the support of the Ouyang family and Yang family, as well as the Zhao family, what other worries does the crown prince have? So what if His Majesty's will has not been announced? With your subjects' support, Your Highness only needs to wait for your enthronement."
There seemed to be some kind of magic in Zhao Musheng's words. The anxiety in the crown prince's mind could not help but be soothed, making him feel at ease. Even though the crown prince kept feeling something was strange, he was unable to find the source of the strangeness.
"Your Highness, this Gate of Heavenly Mystery was built by the Light Wind Empire's founding emperor. According to legends, a spirit array was engraved into this place. Is there any truth to this?" Zhao Musheng asked as he pointed toward the vast plaza of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery in a distance.
The crown prince was startled for a moment. He looked toward the plaza of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery that had long since been covered by a layer of pure white snow.
"There are indeed mentions of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery's oddness within the records left by our forefathers. However, the earliest record is already dating back to a few hundred years ago. Now, we have no way of verifying the truth. At least, father has never made any mentions about the Gate of Heavenly Mystery having a spirit array. Perhaps… this is just a legend," the crown prince said.
Zhao Musheng seriously sized up the crown prince for a moment. When he saw that the crown prince did not seem to be lying, he knitted his eyebrows together.
"Is it really only a legend?"
"Here's your Golden Shumai, please enjoy your meal."
Bu Fang said as he placed a bamboo steamer filled with piping hot Golden Shumai in front of Ni Yan. When he subconsciously glanced toward the porcelain plates on the table, he realized this woman had actually ordered every single dish in his store.
Ni Yan's pretty eyes immediately lit up when she saw the glittering Golden Shumai. She hurriedly nodded and swallowed the last piece of Red Braised Meat in her mouth.
"Burp… It's been a long time since I've tasted such delicious food!"
After letting out a burp, Ni Yan stretched her rosy tongue out and licked her petal-like, tender, red lips. Her pearly white teeth were partly visible. Her dazed expression was filled with charm.
The corners of Bu Fang's mouth curled up as he glanced at her actions. He wiped off the water droplets on his hands before pulling over a chair and sat down opposite to Ni Yan.
Tang Yin and Lu Xiaoxiao had ordered some dishes as well, but they were already full from eating. However, even though she was a woman and a beautiful one at that, Ni Yan was unexpectedly eating without a care in the world. Her appearance while eating was completely like that of a veteran glutton.
As she picked up a Golden Shumai with her chopsticks, the slight squeeze immediately caused the oil within the shumai to shake and almost spill out. Ni Yan carefully held her hand below the chopsticks as she ate the shumai with a single bite. She looked really adorable with her cheeks bulging from the food in her mouth.
"Senior… I didn't expect that you really were an authentic chef," Tang Yin exclaimed as he looked at Bu Fang. He always thought that was just an excuse for Bu Fang to conceal his identity.
"I am as real as real can get. I am a professional chef, the chef of a small restaurant located in the imperial city," Bu Fang said with a nod.
Lu Xiaoxiao's large eyes blinked as she looked at Bu Fang. She was feeling slightly suspicious about how Bu Fang's current behavior was completely different from how he was in the Wildlands...
However, when she saw her own master wolfing down her food in an unladylike manner, her suspicions toward Bu Fang were immediately dispelled… Compared to her own gluttonous master, this senior was simply far more exemplary.
"Senior, may I ask whether the Phoenix Blood Herb from the Fallen Phoenix Valley is in your possession?" Lu Xiaoxiao seriously asked.
Bu Fang was slightly surprised when he heard this question. He expressionlessly gave her a glance and nodded without concealing the truth.
At that time, the two of them probably went back to the Valley of the Fallen Phoenix after getting into safety. When they discovered the Phoenix Blood Herb was already harvested, they naturally suspected Bu Fang...
Seeing that Bu Fang did not deny, a trace of delight immediately appeared on Lu Xiaoxiao's face. She hurriedly turned toward her master, only to discover that Ni Yan had once more picked up another two Golden Shumai and was shoving them into her mouth with a face filled with happiness.
"Master… Don't forget our purpose for coming to the imperial city!" Lu Xiaoxiao thought, while not knowing whether to laugh or cry. This gluttonous master of hers immediately forgot about everything else once she found something delicious.
"Junior sister, there's no need to hurry. Senior is right here. We can discuss the matter of the Phoenix Blood Herb after master has finished eating." Tang Yin slightly frowned as he gave Lu Xiaoxiao a glance.
Bu Fang leaned on his chair as he glanced toward the three of them. He looked pensive as he thought, "So, the objective of these three for coming to the store is the Phoenix Blood Herb..."
"Haha! Owner Bu, it's been a long time."
Just when Bu Fang was contemplating, a gallant laughter suddenly came from outside. This laughter was somewhat familiar and interrupted Bu Fang's contemplation.
Bu Fang puzzledly looked toward the entrance and saw two figures stepping into the store together.
That person who was laughing, was he not Ji Chengxue, the third prince who had just returned after an expedition outside the border?
There was also a man wearing a bamboo hat with a face veil standing next to Ji Chengxue. His figure was rather familiar as well.
"Hmm? It's you? Did you just come back from your business trip?" Bu Fang asked with a smile.
Ji Chengxue was startled, seemingly unable to understand Bu Fang's words. However, that did not matter. With a smile, he sat down at a table and urgently said, "Owner Bu, it's been a while since I've drank the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine. I am really craving for a jar right now. Hurry and give me a serving."
Bu Fang nodded. As he stood up, he looked toward the man wearing a bamboo hat with a face veil and asked, "What about you?"
"I'll have the same." A hoarse voice sounded out as the man took off his bamboo hat, revealing a handsome face that was familiar to Bu Fang. Xiao Yue chuckled as he nodded toward Bu Fang.
It was the two of them as Bu Fang had expected, but he was still somewhat puzzled. Why would the two of them be hanging out together?
"Are you not going to order any side dishes to go with the wine?" Bu Fang asked as he turned around after reaching the entrance to the kitchen.
"No, I just want the wine. I am here today to sate my craving for wine," Ji Chengxue said with a smile as he shook his head. Xiao Yue responded the same way as well. Bu Fang immediately felt a tinge of disappointment as he entered the kitchen.
Xiao Yue was sitting opposite to Ji Chengxue. When his gaze landed on the face of the peerless beauty that was gobbling down her food, he stared blankly at her for a moment.
Thereafter, Xiao Yue's pupils constricted as he suddenly sucked in a breath of cold air.
"This woman… Why would she be here?"