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This old man was the Duke of Xian, and the current Monarch of Xian Kingdom, Taba Ao. He was also the birth father of both Taba Haofeng and Taba Qingye. Under his rule were thirty-eight provinces, nine hundred and forty-three great cities, and an army of one million iron-armored soldiers. Among all the vassal kingdoms of Great Yan Dynasty, Xian Kingdom could be ranked within the top three most powerful kingdoms.

According to the secret records found in Scouting Office, when Taba Ao was still a baby, there was a revolt in the palace of Xian Kingdom. His birth mother was killed by poison. During that time, Taba Ao was just a baby slightly over two months old, and was brought out from the palace by a loyal maid. They were pursued by the enemy, and the maid fell from a cliff and was killed on the spot. Taba Ao was fortunate enough to survive, and was kept and raised by a pack of ' Moon Howling Divine Flying Mastiffs’, until he was three years old and eventually found by the previous monarch of Xian Kingdom. As he was grown up among Mastiffs, Taba Ao had a rude and unreasonable natural disposition. Among all the monarchs of Great Yan Dynasty, he was the most unreasonable person, and had a natural murderous instinct.

In fact, it could be clearly seen from his name. Although he was a prestigious monarch of a powerful kingdom, yet he had chosen to use 'Ao' [1] as his name. The Imperial Clan of Xian Kingdom couldn't do anything about his decision, and though the Imperial Court of Great Yan Dynasty was discontented with the name as well, they couldn't do anything to him either. Today, early in the morning, he had brought a group of guards and came aggressively to Duke Yan Le's Mansion, bringing together the head of his nephew. The style of how he handled matters was indeed savage, ferocious to the extreme.

With an unsightly expression, Wu Qi stared at Taba Ao, whose fat face was now trembling furiously. The head of Taba Muxiang held in his hand seemed to get heavier and heavier.

Hideously, Taba Ao gave both Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng a gaze, then he said with a fierce voice, "Taba Muxiang was the love child of my own younger sister and Yan Buji. As she had given birth to a child before marrying, it would be a disgrace to be known by the public. Thus, I had given him the status of my own son and raised him up in the palace. I admit that when I heard Yan Buji was drowned in the river, I was tempted for the title of Duke Yan Le, and that made me came out with a plot for Taba Muxiang. Could that be considered a wrongdoing?"

He gnashed his teeth, widened his eyes and stared straight at Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng, whose faces were extremely unsightly. He let out a hideous laugh and continued, "Mister Chengfeng, you've inherited the title of Duke Yan Le now. Can you tell me that both your hands are clean from any stains of blood? You are no better than me, so why should you still clinging to this matter and don't want to let me go? My eldest son, Taba Qingye, was killed by you two, and now, I've brought the head of the chief offender, Taba Muxiang, to you. If anyone still wants to use this matter to buzz me like pertinacious bees, then don't blame me for being rude to him!"

Two streams of tears trickled down from his face as Taba Ao threw his head back and let out a loud cry into the sky, "Taba Qingye, Taba MuXiang, you two fools! Damn you!"

Forcefully, he stomped his feet and kept cursing with a loud voice, which attracted the attention of many princes and ministers who happened to pass by. After that, he hit the floor with the walking stick, spun and returned to his coach. An order was given out, and all the guards of Xian Kingdom answered and returned to their coaches as well. Then, the coachman shouted out and turned the coaches around, and began riding the coach toward the direction where they came from.

Lu Chengfeng's face turned almost green with anger. With a low voice, he reproached, "Presumptuous, this is ridiculously unbridled! Even though he is the monarch of Xian Kingdom, how could he be so overbearing in front of me? Could he have forgotten that the Xian Kingdom is also under the ruling of me? The Xian Kingdom of his is one of the thirty-seven vassal kingdoms on the west!"

Furiously, he thrust his feet and kicked onto the stairs. A stone brick of a few feet in both width and length was shattered noiselessly by the powerful kick. Clenching his jaw tightly, Lu Chengfeng said, "For today's insult, I swear I'll not let the matter between me and Taba Ao drop! The Xian Kingdom, hmph, Xian Kingdom! Though he has given us the head of Taba Muxiang, could that mean he is on the right side?"

Wu Qi weighed the human head with his hand, then casually handed it over to Lu Chengfeng.

Lu Chengfeng was startled by his action. Without thinking twice, he took over the head and hugged it with both arms, staring at Wu Qi as he said with a low voice, "He had brought us this human head early in the morning, could Qin Qingshui really have driven him too far? But why is Qin Qingshui doing this to him? I can still remember that it was Qin Qingshui who aided Taba Qingye in assaulting us during that night. So, why is he looking for trouble with Taba Ao?"

Wu Qi pondered for a while, then he shook his head and said with a frown, "As what Taba Ao had said, that Qin Qingshui is a mad dog. Who could guess the thoughts of a mad dog? Young master, you can just carry on to attend your task in West Supervisor Court. As for the conflict between the Gao Ling Kingdom and the Li Shan Kingdom, let's put it aside for now. Wu Qi has some ideas for the solution, and I'll explain to you later when I return."

He sneered, then nodded his head at Lu Chengfeng, spun and returned back into Duke Yan Le's Mansion. He sprinted along the wall for a while, then peered around before lightly and swiftly leaping over it, running along the main street and chasing toward the direction where Taba Ao's coaches went. In front of Duke Yan Le's Mansion, Lu Chengfeng was seen hugging on the human head and appeared to be in a daze. Suddenly he furiously threw the head over to Yan Fu, asking the chief steward to give it a proper burial. After that, he boarded his coach angrily, brought along a large group of guards and went straight in the direction of West Supervisor Court.

Yan Bugui was following closely beside Lu Chengfeng. Unconsciously, he turned his head and looked at the direction where Taba Ao went, then he gazed at Wu Qi's back. Hastily, he gave out a signal with his hand, using a gesture that was uniquely known to the secret agents of Scouting Officer. There were a few pedestrians who appeared to be passing nearby, who saw the gesture, slowly turned around and left. When they came to a distance of over one thousand feet from Duke Yan Le's Mansion, they suddenly sped up their pace, sprung into alleys on the side of the main street, and chased toward the direction where Taba Ao's coaches went.

In just the time it took to finish a pot of tea, the news about Taba Ao paying a visit at Duke Yan Le in the early morning and presenting the head of Taba Muxiang, his own nephew, and also the half-blood brother of Lu Chengfeng, had been spread throughout the entire Ji City through countless big and small grapevines. When those members of prestigious clans heard the news, as they were all well aware of how Taba Ao conducted himself usually, they just laughed off at such tiding. To them, Taba Ao's savage nature that was cultivated within the pack of Mastiffs had gone wild again.

Taba Ao's coaches were running amok through the street of Ji City. Numerous innocent pedestrians were knocked and hurt by them. They took nearly half a complete round in the Inner District Six, venturing through a couple dozens of streets and alleys, before finally halting at a remote alley where nobody was around.

There were three groups of coaches waiting in the alley, each having a different outlook and color. Wearing a gloomy face, Taba Ao came out from his coach, simply choose a random coach and walked towards it. Then there came a low shout, as four groups of coaches went slowly out from the alley, blending into the ever-flowing streams of traffic on the main street. The group of pitch-black coaches took a detour on the main street, and finally arrived at a guild set up in Ji City by the Xian Kingdom. This place was also the residence of the prince hostage of Xian Kingdom.

Wu Qi didn't get confused by Taba Ao's deceptive trick. Along the way, he kept his eyes fixed on Taba Ao's coaches, stealthily following closely behind while they rode round and round in the city. During the journey he discovered that wherever Taba Ao's coaches went, there were at least one thousand spies watching over the surrounding activities of the coaches. With his own eyes, he saw that at least eighteen secret agents and spies of Scouting Office were detected by these spies of Xian Kingdom, and using all sorts of approach, they were entangled or trapped, losing their trace to Taba Ao's whereabouts.

Fortunately, Wu Qi was skillful in the art of tailing, and he was gifted with an excellent talent of hiding his own trace. Thus, none of those Xian Kingdom's spies could detect him. Determinedly and firmly, Wu Qi kept fixing his gaze at Taba Ao's coach, followed him and came to a mansion located in the north-west of Inner District Two, a place near the Imperial City.

The mansion was not huge, but it was quiet and secluded. Not far on the left of it was the office of Central Wind Guard, the place where they handled official documents and daily tasks. The street in front was fully packed with secret agents of Central Wind Guard and soldiers of City Guard. Those who traveled through this street were usually officials that were related to Scouting Office, and some rangers. They had different shapes and looks, making the place look complicated.

The mansion occupied a land of merely tens of acres. The front and back were fully planted with pine and cypress of peculiar shapes. Over thousand years old ancient trees with their trunks and branches twisted like some coiling serpents were seen planted everywhere within the mansion. From the outside of the mansion, one could only see a large green shed that hovered overhead like clouds. There was absolutely no way that anyone could have a glimpse at the inside of the mansion. There was a spy clad in a green cloak hiding on top of these gigantic trees, as they put on a high vigilance and formed an impenetrable web, blocking off every direction to prevent any possible intruder. Although it was just a courtyard that covered only tens of acres of land, there wasn't a single corner that allowed Wu Qi to sneak in.

Wu Qi was hiding on a tall tower a few courtyards away, twitching his lips as he shook his head helplessly. The defense of this courtyard was indeed impenetrable. If it were one month ago, Wu Qi would have no way to sneak into it without alerting anybody. But now, it was a completely different story. He sneered and formed a finger gesture, then his body suddenly transformed into a vague curtain of light and shadow. Noiselessly, he leaped into the air and plunged into the courtyard onto a huge tree.

Since he obtained the innate energy of Wood element and started the cultivating of Source of Wood Chapter, Wu Qi could already use the escape art of Innate Wood. Using the huge trees in the courtyard as his cover, he didn't alert anybody and came into the courtyard leisurely. Then, he followed behind Taba Ao and came to a side yard.

There was a shelf fully covered with grapevines under the eave of a few large pine trees. Clad in a black silk robe and having his feet bared, Qin Qingshui was seen having two beautiful young girls massaging his body gently. He heard the footsteps of Taba Ao, then lazily opened his eyes, waved his hand at Taba Ao and said, "Duke of Xian, how is everything? After giving them the head of Taba Muxiang, this matter has nothing to do with you anymore. Now, can you have your mind rest in peace?"

Taba Ao snorted coldly, strode to his side and sat down on a couch. Fuming with rage, he clenched both fists tightly and roared with a low voice, " I, Taba Ao, have lived such a long life, since when have I had to suffer like this? Qingye was dead, and in order to get myself out of this, I even had to kill Muxiang personally. Haofeng has also received a punishment from His Majesty. In the future, when it is time for him to inherit the throne of Xian Kingdom, perhaps there will be more troubles for him!"

With great hatred, he cursed Wu Qi and Lu Chengfeng's eighteen generations of ancestors, then furiously said, "Qin Qingshui, find a way to kill a few loyal subordinates of that little kid, or else, I won't be able to swallow this grudge."

Qin Qingshui sneered mockingly, then from the corner of his eyes, he gazed at Taba Ao and said, "You better be content with the result. By sacrificing Taba Qingye and Taba Muxiang, you have removed yourself easily from this incident. Hmph, you should know this very well, using the military equipment of City Guard and the defensive mechanism of the city to assault the descendant of an Imperial Clan is a severe crime. However, with the death of a son and a nephew, you have washed off all the responsibilities from your hand. It is such an easy escape, what else do you want?"

He then ferociously groped on the breast of a young girl standing beside him, before saying worriedly, "There is still a great trouble waiting for me. His Majesty had ordered me to find out who the mastermind of this case is. But, who exactly is the person? If I can't find someone to take the blame, and am forced to retire in cultivation, hmph, at that point in time, Duke of Xian, you will become a blind and deft man in Ji City."

Taba Ao's face turned dark and gloomy instantly. He rose to his feet, glared at Qin Qingshui and said with a sneer, "I don't care what method you are going to use, you have to handle this matter properly. I've lost a son and a nephew, and if you are forced to retire, then you better spit out all the things you had eaten and taken from me for all these years. The gold, silver, and jewelry, beautiful girls and great mansions, do you really think my gifts to you are something you can accept without working hard for me?"

He once again glared at Qin Qingshui ferociously, whose face had turned dark now. Then, he spun and said with a cold voice, "Remember, for me, this matter has come to a complete end. Muxiang did not inherit the title of Duke Yan Le. So, don't get me involved in anything that happens afterward. You, Qin Qingshui, had accepted my money, yet you had failed to help me in getting that title of nobility. I will not ask you to return that money, but for all the consequences, you better clean them up properly!"

While striding out of the yard, Taba Ao gave out a warning with a deep voice, "I hope His Majesty would not know that this incident was related to me. I never sent someone to assassinate Yan Buji, and I did not send someone to assassinate the current Duke Yan Le in order to help Taba Muxiang in the fight for the title of nobility. I have no involvement in this case."

Then, Taba Ao left the mansion.

Qin Qingshui sunk into silence for a long while. Suddenly, he clapped his hands and said, "Ying Chuan, come here. I have something to talk with you."

Hiding amidst the crown of a huge tree, Wu Qi's heart suddenly raced. Ying Chuan? Which Ying Chuang? Was she the Princess Ying Chuan of Lu Kingdom?

[1] Ao - (獒) It means Mastiff.

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