Liu Zhen had learned a lot after wandering for many decades, and many thoughts occurred to him after calming down. If he went directly after the Liu family, it would make him seem petty and narrow minded. Moreover, this method of revenge was much too old-fashioned. Thus, he decided to take a different approach. This method required the help of both Jiang Chen and Emperor Peerless.
Jiang Chen naturally wouldn't mind offering his assistance as he'd already decided to help Liu Zhen exact revenge. He was actually quite fond of Liu Zhen's plans after learning about them.
Vermillion Tang Empire's Defense Minister Wu was feeling rather downcast lately. His lioness at home was in the worst of moods in recent days and he'd rather avoid going home. However, the lioness had finally gone to visit her own family today. Minister Wu was finally enjoying the peace and quiet. Suddenly, he felt a light breeze by his ear. A person had appeared out thin air!
"…" Minister Wu was struck in the acupoint for muteness before he could yell.
A young man was standing beside him with a faint smile on his face. "Minister Wu, no need to panic. I'm only here to give you an invitation."
"Invitation? Who are you?" Minister Wu immediately asked after he regained his voice.
"You don't need to know who I am. It's all written in the invitation. Tomorrow at noon, I expect you to appear at the Drunken Immortal Tavern's sky suite, or you shall receive an invitation to your own funeral the next time we meet." The young man flashed a sinister smile. "You should know that I'm perfectly capable of such things. There are more details written in the invitation. Take a close look."
When the young man was finished speaking, he disappeared into thin air with a flash of his figure. Minister Wu was absolutely flabbergasted and trembled with fear. This was the minister's manor! The security here was as tight as it could get! Somehow, that person had snuck past everyone without alarming anyone! W-who… exactly was this man?
He immediately opened the invitation to take a closer look. It was very eloquently written, cordially inviting him to the Drunken Immortal Tavern. The time and location were all clearly defined. The writing also implied that an unexpected misfortune might happen if he failed to attend the banquet. But if he did attend, the banquet host assured that he wouldn't be harmed. In fact, there might even be a surprise in store.
Many other ministers and officials also received the same invitation. The contents and method in which they'd received the invitation were similar. The banquet host was apparently called Liu Zhen. Liu Zhen had been an insignificant character in Scarlet Tang City. None of the court officials had even heard of him. Their minds were blank when they tried to recall who he was. However, none of them dared disregard the invitation because of the way they'd received it. The messenger was simply too frightening.
On this day, the Drunken Immortal Tavern was bustling with activity. Many eminent court figures had appeared in the sky suite on this fateful afternoon. There was around forty august personages in total. These court officials felt a little awkward when they saw each other, but all of them had the same question in mind. Who on earth was Liu Zhen?
They quickly found out who he was when the banquet started. Of course, Liu Zhen himself wasn't too scary. The scary ones were the people beside him. Even though he was the host, he was quite polite and cordial. Other than introducing himself, he didn't do anything that was out of line. Liu Zhen offered the guests a few toasts after the banquet started. After that, he gave every single one of them a gift.
The court officials were already used to a life of being showered with lavish gifts. They grew a lot more relaxed when the banquet neared its end. By the end of it, everyone was in a jolly mood. They finally realized that Liu Zhen had made it big outside. He'd returned to his home with great fanfare and made a huge commotion because he wanted to build relationships with them.
They weren't terribly pleased with the way they were invited, but they were willing to hear Liu Zhen out. It was only right to show him some face after eating his food and accepting his gifts. The banquet dispersed under a festive mood.
More banquets were held over the next few days. A similar group of people were invited, but the invitation methods were completely different every time. Because of that, Liu Zhen's name began to spread by word of mouth at court. Being invited to these banquets slowly became a normal occurrence. Gradually, it even became a milestone of success. Those who weren't invited to Liu Zhen's banquets were considered to be lesser individuals.
At first, the Liu family wasn't too concerned about the matter. But after a few days, the firstborn of the Liu family still hadn't received any invitations. They could no longer keep their calm. The banquet invitations spanned throughout the nation and almost every single eminent figure had received one.
The firstborn of the Liu clan, Liu Dalang, was second-in-command in the Defense Ministry. Minister Wu had already attended the banquet multiple times, yet the Liu family still had no idea who Liu Zhen was. And so, Liu Dalang was in a rotten mood when he returned home. He expressed his dissatisfaction during the house dinner.
"Son, why are you in such a bad mood recently? Are you facing some difficulties at court?" His father couldn't help but ask.
The firstborn sighed. "Father, a strange thing has happened in Scarlet Tang City lately. Apparently, someone has achieved a lot of success outside and returned to our city with great pomp and circumstance. Lately, he's been inviting court officials to lavish banquets. Almost every single eminent court figure has been invited. In fact, Minister Wu has already attended the banquet four times! I heard that host was also extremely generous and showers the guests with food and gifts. It's become a trend of some sort lately."
"What's wrong? That bastard didn't invite you? You are a defense vice minister!"
"Aii… I've been brooding over it as well. Ministers lower ranked than me and even ministers from less prominent departments have been invited. I'm the only one who wasn't invited yet. It was very awkward for me when everyone was talking about the banquet."
"Maybe he forgot about you?"
"Impossible. A smart person like him definitely has a list of court officials. He can check who has been invited and who hasn't with just a glance. I have a feeling that he's left me out on purpose."
His father was displeased. "How unbecoming of him! Even ministers lower ranked than you have been invited! This is clearly a slap in your face!"
"Isn't that?" The firstborn was extremely depressed.
"Brother, isn't he a little too arrogant? Should I have some brothers to teach him a lesson?" The Liu clan's youngest son yelled out of exasperation.
"Who on earth is he? What's his name?" His father was very unhappy as well.
"His name is Liu Zhen if I'm not mistaken. Xiao Feng, don't be brash. He seems to be quite capable. I'm not sure how, but he's recruited a few henchmen that's frighteningly powerful. The bodyguards of first rank officials have admitted that they're far no match for his henchmen."
"Ah? That strong? Also, the Scarlet Tang City has never had a great clan that goes by any other character for Liu. There's just us. Did you make a mistake?"
"No. Their invitation card clearly stated that his name is Liu Zhen."
The youngest son was completely taken aback. "Brother, what did you just say? Liu Zhen?"
"Liu Zhen?!" The youngest son jumped up from his seat. "Brother, are you sure you have that right? You're certain that his name is Liu Zhen?"
"Yes. I'm extremely frustrated over this matter, so of course I'd pay double the attention to this matter. His name is Liu Zhen. Apparently, he was a commoner that used to live in a place called the Chunk Alley."
"Ah?!" Color immediately drained from the youngest son's face. "How can it be? How can he possibly achieve so much with his capabilities? How is this possible? How?!"
His brother was taken aback. "Xiao Feng, what are you saying? Do you know him?"
The youngest son wanted to deny it, but his father and eldest brother were both staring at him sternly. He found it impossible to lie.
"I… I seem to know him a little. That man used to be just another poor commoner!"
No one could know a man better that the man's father. The clan father's face darkened when he saw how his son was behaving. "Feng'er, judging by your reaction, did you perhaps offend him in the past?"
Liu Feng stuttered. "Y-yes… j-just a little bit."
"Only a little bit?" His father didn't believe him.
"Well, maybe just a tiny bit more than that. Aii… it's a matter from a long time ago. Back then I…" Liu Feng was stuttering nonstop and his face was as white as a ghost. His eyes kept darting around and was afraid of making eye contact with his elder brother.
The first son slammed the table, clearly enraged. "Xiao Feng, you bastard! I finally know why I wasn't invited! It's all because of you! You'd better tell me the truth! What happened between you two?"
"I…" Xiao Feng continued to stutter.
"Bastard! Nothing good from the way you're acting!" His father was agitated. He understood his youngest son all too well. The little good-for-nothing was always been up to all kinds of mischief. No amount of atrocities was beneath him. If that good-for-nothing hadn't been his son, he wouldn't have cared even if the boy died.
"Hurry up and tell us!" The firstborn slammed the table with his fist, launching the dishes into the air. The bowls and plates shattered when they hit the ground.
"Brother, don't hit me! I-I'll tell you! Back then… I felt that his woman was incredibly alluring, s-so… I fooled around with her a little. I never imagined that she'd be like firewood. A small spark was all it took to set her on fire. Aii… that woman is Xiao Qing. You know her as well. She's now my sixth concubine. I've gotten tired of her already. Liu Zhen can have her back if he misses her so much! Not a big deal!"
His brother exploded in anger and gave Liu Feng a swift slap across the face.