Li Muzhao felt a deep unease. Immediately, he began to panic. They had a feeling that their operation tonight might end up in failure.
"If we're defeated, can we still walk away?" he asked himself.
He would've definitely said yes without the slightest hesitation before he attacked Prince An's Manor.
However, now Li Muzhao couldn't get a clear look at Li Ye at all. He didn't know how many tricks Li Ye had up his sleeve or what sort of strength Li Ye was hiding. More importantly, he didn't know what kind of traps Li Ye had!
Li Muzhao had lost his confidence.
They had attacked Prince An's Manor tonight on the pretense of capturing the remnants of Pang Xun's faction. What kind of consequences would they face if they suffer defeat and fail to run?
Li Muzhao didn't dare to imagine it.
However, the unquestionable thing was that it would be a great disaster for him.
Atop an attic outside Prince An's Manor.
"A bunch of good-for-nothings!"
Li Yao crushed the railing of the attic with his hand. He was so angry that his facial features were warped to form a malevolent expression.
Seeing Li Ye injuring four cultivators in an instant undoubtedly angered Li Yao, but what infuriated him more was the fact that attitude the cultivators had toward the assault.
The cultivators had retreated by a large margin, no longer trying to attack from above the Great Mystery Formation. Rather, they avoided the attacking range of the formation and hid behind the attic and treetops from a distance. They used long-range techniques to bombard the Great Mystery Formation instead.
Evidently, they were trying to avoid the Great Mystery Formation, the rain of arrows, and Li Ye's ambush so that they wouldn't fall into the range of the formation from midair.
However, due to their distance, the power of their techniques also drastically diminished.
The group of cultivators hadn't been able to break the defense of the Great Mystery Formation even when they were bombarding the formation in a neat manner. Now that they were confined to such restrictive manner, it became a complete pipe dream to break the formation.
It was evident from their fighting manner that they had lost their will to fight!
How could Li Ye not be angry?
"Young Master..." The advisor hesitated to finish his words.
"Shut up!" Li Yao interrupted him coolly. "I know what you want to say: The Great Mystery Formation is so firm that our people will have a hard time breaking it. Why don't we retreat for now and reconsider our plans?"
The advisor looked award. Evidently, Li Yao had hit the mark.
"But I don't have a way out anymore!" Li Yao turned around to glare at the advisor. "The Taoists from the Taixuan Hall are in his hands! So are Liu Renyi and the Glazed Cyan Jade Gourd! With the addition of this incident tonight, he has everything from human testimony to material evidence to accuse me of plotting against him! If we retreat just like this and allow him to report this to the Chang'an Office all the way to the Court of the Imperial Clan, how do I handle it?!"
The advisor opened his mouth, but no words came.
The evidence was irrefutable. Even if Duke Xing wielded considerable authority, even if Li Ye had no backing, even if the death of Prince An was suspicious, Li Yao would certainly suffer.
Li Yao took in a deep breath and forcefully stabilized his emotions. Then, he flicked his long sleeves and a long lance of eight Chinese feet appeared in his hand. The body of the long lance was entirely covered in veined patterns. With a shake of his hand, the lance glinted with a silver light. Clearly, this was a magic treasure. Moreover, it was a treasure of considerable rank.
Li Yao turned to look in the direction of Prince An's Manor and said coolly, "Isn't Li Ye a good fighter? Is he as good as me? Doesn't he own a magic treasure? Is his magic treasure better than mine? Everything will come to an end as long as Li Ye dies in the hands of Pang Xun's rebel clique. Prince An's title still belongs to me!"
With that said, Li Yao leaped and landed on the railing. Like a goose, he flew toward Prince An's Manor.
Chang'an City was home to 108 lanes, millions of residents, and countless high-ranking officials and dignitaries. However, no matter the era, the one wielding the most influence among court officials was the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister of the imperial court commanded the politics of the Tang Empire.
Inside the Prime Minister's Manor north of the city, a study was lit as brightly as if it was daytime. Prime Minister Wei Baoheng was currently tuning a pearl in his hands. The pearl was naturally not an ordinary object. Rather, it was a magic treasure with a high ranking. It was a gift that the Governor of the Taiping Army sent over the other day.
Suddenly, Wei Baoheng frowned. He put down the Pearl of the Night, got up, and walked to the window. There, he raised his head to look southward. The Milky Way had created a glittering painting out of the night sky. Everything appeared so calm and peaceful.
However, as a high-level Qi-refining cultivator, he could detect the abnormal fluctuation of Spiritual Qi in a spot somewhere. Even with an enhancement blocking his senses, he could sense a hint of it.
Not long after, the sound of urgent footsteps came from outside his door.
Wei Baihong remained still. From where he stood by the window, he asked, "Where did it happen?"
"Replying to Prime Minister: It's Prince An's Manor," the person outside the door answered in a low voice.
"Prince An's Manor?" Wei Baoheng frowned.
"The subordinates said that it's Pang Xun's faction attacking the manor," the person continued. He paused a moment before adding, "The Magistrate of Chang'an requests a meeting with you, Prime Minister."
Wei Baoheng fell silent.
Moments later, he suddenly smiled for an inexplicable reason. "Tell the Magistrate of Chang'an that Pang Xun's rebel clique is an incredible evil for attacking a Prince's Manor. He must conduct a thorough investigation when day breaks tomorrow."
The person outside said deferentially, "Yes."
Evidently, getting the Magistrate to investigate after daybreak meant that he could ignore it for the night.
Since the Magistrate didn't have to bother about this incident tonight, the "thorough investigation" tomorrow was no more than mere words.
In Chang'an City, the place with the most high-level cultivators and the strictest defense was naturally the Imperial City.
The official institutions of all three departments and six ministries were located in this place.
The place with more experts and stricter defense than the Imperial City was located north of the city, the Palace.
That was the residence of the Emperor of the Tang Empire, as well as the place where officers came and went.
In a small courtyard in the gloriously lit palace, two elderly officers were playing Go inside the house.
The Tang Empire had a myriad of armies; among them, the one with the highest authority was undoubtedly the Regal Guards of the Imperial Guard Legion. They were responsible for the security of the entire Chang'an City, controlling even the garrison in the Imperial Palace.
To a certain extent, one could say that the entire Chang'an City was effortlessly under the control of the Regal Guards.
The highest-ranking commanders of the Regal Guards were the lefthand and righthand Lieutenants. The positions had been monopolized by officers for many years. Presently, the Lieutenant of the left platoon was Liu Xingshen while the Lieutenant of the right platoon was Han Wenyue. They were none other than the two people playing Go against each other.
The lefthand and righthand Lieutenants of the Regal Guards, along with the Vice Military Affairs Commissioners, made up the "Four Noble Officers".
These four men's grasp of military power naturally lead to their dominance over the court politics. Even the Emperor had to rely on them to win the throne. Even if the Prime Minister commanded a hundred officials in the court, he was merely a yes-man in front of them.
Liu Xingshen, who played with white stones, was placing a stone on the board when he detected something. He raised his head to glance at the southern night sky.
Han Wenyue followed suit in placing his stone. Without lifting his head, he said, "Prince An's Manor."
Liu Xingshen chuckled. "Prince An's Heir Apparent went to the Court of the Imperial Clan today to report his Level 1 Qi-refining Realm cultivation. He wants to inherit Prince An's title apparently."
Han Wenyue extended his hand to the side and someone behind him immediately handed him a cup. After taking the cup from the person's hand, he took a mouthful of the tea before handing it back. He said indifferently, "Didn't Duke Xing spare no effort in scheming to get his son Prince An's title? Now that Prince An's Heir Apparent has obtained cultivation, I suppose he must be panicking."
Liu Xingshen pinched a stone with his fingers and took some time to scrutinize the board before putting it down. "It's merely a case of two children fighting. It's nothing worth paying attention to."
Han Wenyue put both of his hands into his sleeves and suddenly sneered. "Prince An's henchmen in court still have reservations about his death. In the past two years, they had been going around trying to investigate the matter."
Liu Xingshen said, "Weren't most of them killed already?"
Han Wenyue replied, ""There are certainly fish that had escaped the net."
Liu Xingshen: "When he was alive, Prince An's influence could be considered as exceeding that of heaven. How could he not be dead when we wanted him to be? Now that he was gone, what kind of scheme can those fish that had escaped the net even cook up?"
Han Wenyue: "There are always people in this world who believe themselves to be loyal and upright. They speak of supporting the Emperor in governing the country, but aren't they just wary of the military power in our hands?"
Liu Xingshen: "Prince An thought that he could order us around because of all the merits he made for the Tang Empire, yet he didn't know that the Tang Empire didn't belong to him."
Han Wenyue: "Ultimately, everything that one fights for in this world, one fights for himself. No one is better than anyone. Why be hypocritical and put up the pretense that one's fighting for the country and the people? It simply disgusts me. We feel disgusted, and His Highness even more so."
Liu Xingshen: "Since His Highness is disgusted, we naturally have to relieve him of his burden."
Suddenly, Han Wenyue laughed. "What should we do if Duke Xing's son loses?"
Liu Xingshen appeared fully focused on the game. "Since Duke Xing played a role in Prince An's death, so we don't mind giving him Prince An's title. However, if he himself is useless, who can he blame? If he can't even deal with Prince An's Heir Apparent, a person like him can only be abandoned."
Liu Xingshen then smiled. "Ultimately, we must still act fairly. It's Prince An's title. If that child has the means to snatch it, we won't make things difficult for him and stop him."
The two of them continued to talk and laugh as though nothing had happened. It was as if they were heroes of the world who paid the affairs of the world no mind. To them, it was nothing more than an argument.
Well, that was only expected. Even the enthronement and dethronement of the Emperor required their approval. Who would they even fear?
To them, the fighting between their subordinates was merely a show that they could watch.
"What is it?"
"There's trouble in Prince An's Manor."
"What? Trouble in Prince An's Manor? What happened? How's Brother Ye?"
In Prince Pu's Manor, the young son of Prince Pu, Li Yan, was drinking and humming while lying on his side on the platform. He was shaking his head in delight as he savored the lovely dance put on by the dancers. He abruptly jumped to his feet after listening to a report.
The one bowing while making the report to Li Yan was also an officer, but he was fairly young.
Li Yan jumped off the platform and grasped the officer by the collar. He bellowed, "Tian Lingkong, hurry and tell me what has happened to Brother Ye!"
Li Yan put a lot of force into his hold. He was so mad that he lost judgment of his strength. Had it been an ordinary person, he would already be muddle-headed by now. However, Tian Lingkong remained calm and composed. Evidently, his cultivation was considerably high.
After escaping Li Yan's clutches with much difficulty, Tian Lingkong said, "Pang Xun's faction attacked Prince An's Manor. The battle is still going on."
Momentarily stunned, Li Yan then bellowed, "Pang Xun's faction? How audacious! How dare he attacks a Prince's Manor in Chang'an City! Does he think we have no laws?!" With a turn of his foot, he walked toward the door. "What are we waiting for?! Hurry and rescue Brother Ye!"
"Please halt, Your Highness!" Tian Lingkong immediately tugged on the furious Li Yan. Meeting the latter's anxious and confused gaze, he sighed heavily. "It's actually not as simple as it looks."
"What do you mean?" Li Yan stopped in his tracks.
Tian Lingkong sighed once again before saying earnestly, "There are more than 10 practitioners attacking Prince An's Manor. There wouldn't be that many people in Pang Xun's faction in Chang'an City; it's not like the officers of Chang'an Office aren't working for their pay..."
"I don't care!"
"Your Highness!" Seeing how anxious Li Yan was, Tian Lingkong knew he couldn't be too subtle with his words or Li Yan wouldn't be able to understand. "Not even Chang'an Office is doing anything about it. You're a Prince, Your Highness. How can you recklessly step in? How can you not know what sinister things lurk in the shadows of Chang'an City, Your Highness? There's definitely some sort of scheme behind this incident. If you recklessly go over, it'll be unfavorable to you, Your Highness..."
Before Tian Lingkong could finish his words, he was stunned.
That was because Li Yan had already charged out of the door.
After a long time, Tian Lingkong finally shook his head and sighed for the third time. "Your Highness, oh, Your Highness. When will you grow up..."