"It's just some petty thieves, our princess need not take this matter into her hands. A few guards of my house have disposed of them!" Li Ye joked. Of course, he knew that with Wu You's cultivation, it was impossible for her to detect the fluctuations in time under the isolation of the enchantment in Prince An's Mansion last night. Unlike Li Yan who had already lived apart by himself, she couldn't deal with it if Wu Hongshan didn't tell her.
"Really? Brother Ye is not injured?" Wu You looked at Li Ye with suspicion. Obviously, she did not believe it, but she did not want to poke at his lie, instead wearing an expression of belief.
She finished her words. Before Li Ye replied, she suddenly cried out and said to Li Ye, "Before I went out, I heard my father mentioning that Duke Xing is coming back today."
"Duke Xing?" Li Ye and Li Yan exchanged a quick look.
Li Ye looked at Wu You, and she lowered her head again before him. Rubbing a corner of her clothes, she said with a voice as small as a mosquito, "My father said, whether brother Ye can inherit the title of nobility or not, we should wait and see."
Apparently, Wu Hongshan did not intend to participate in the fight between Li Ye and Li Yao, nor offer his help to them. If Li Ye intended on succeeding in obtaining the title of nobility, he would have to remove the obstacle of Duke Xing himself.
In the huge Tang Empire and the unfathomable Chang'an City, Li Ye was almost all alone.
In the afternoon, Court of the Imperial Clan.
The warm late spring sunshine came through the window and lit up the scarlet official robe of Wu Hongshan. Usually, it was he who sat high in the Host's Seat, but now he sat opposite and was drinking tea with someone. His speech and posture were full of respect because the one who sat in front of him was in a purple official robe.
It was the premier of the State Council and Prime-Minister Wang Duo!
"Why do you have time to come to my Court of the Imperial Clan today?" After the greetings, Wu Hongshan smiled and introduced the subject to the conversation.
Wang Duo smiled gently like a spring breeze, "Couldn't I ask for a cup of tea from Mr. Wu even if I have no time?"
Wu Hongshan hurriedly said, "I wish I could, but I dare not to trouble you with my wish."
Wang Duo's smile disappeared and he sighed slightly. He leaned toward the window, his face was covered with wrinkles like withered barks which were clearly visible in the sunshine. It seemed those no longer clear, turbid eyes were filled with sadness as if he was lost in thought.
"If Mr. Wang is worried about anything, I absolutely will not refuse if I can solve the difficulties for you." Seeing Wang Duo's look, Wu Hongshan knew that the other man was waiting for him to ask forwardly so he hurriedly made a bow with hands folded in front.
Wang Duo restrained his mind and smiled apologetically. "When a man grows old, he always easily recalls the past, excuse me for this, Mr. Wu... If I remember correctly, Mr. Wu and Prince An are bosom friends, am I right?"
Wu Hongshan's heart startled, "Prince An had great literary talent and was highly skilled in kungfu, he was a rare hero in the imperial dynasty. I have tremendous respect for Prince An."
He said very conservatively.
Wang Duo still just nodded, "Prince An was wise all his life and he had made great contributions to the country. Just like you, I have a very high regard for him and what he has achieved... Unfortunately, only the good die young, Prince An died so young. If it were not for that, those Nanzhao villains would not dare to send an army again to violate our two river areas nowadays, would they? Twenty years ago, when Prince An led the troops to Yizhou and repelled the army of Nanzhao which invaded the North, I was still working in governor Mr. Bai's commanding office in Western Sichuan. When I think of him now, I still can't forget Prince An's grand and powerful figure at that time."
"Prince An's brilliant literary talents and martial arts were really worthy of admiration." Wu Hongshan responded, but in his heart, he secretly wondered what Wang Duo's intention was to say these words to him.
Wang Duo said suddenly, "Mr. Wu and Prince An are the same age. You were as intimate as brothers and were bosom friends in the past. You must have really looked after Prince An's Heir Apparent in those years, haven't you?" "A few days ago Prince An's Heir Apparent was crowned. Mr. Wu conducted the ceremony instead of Prince An, right?"
Wu Hongshan's face changed and lowered his head a little. He didn't know how to answer it at the moment, "I..."
Wang Duo smiled genially and said with understanding, "Mr. Wu takes charge of Court of the Imperial Clan, you must be so busy that you should have no time to take care of a junior's ceremony."
Wu Hongshan opened his mouth and only felt that his heart was a bit bitter. He didn't know how to answer. After quite a while, he said, "I have been occupied with official business that I indeed care less about the people around these days."
Wang Duo nodded slightly and this could be an agreement with Wu Hongshan's reason. He took the teacup, tasting the tea, and said approvingly, "This is Huzhou tea in the new spring. Drinking it, the fragrance is left lingering in the mouth, it indeed has a long aftertaste."
With this, he got up from the couch and cupped his hand to Wu Hongshan. "I will not disturb Mr. Wu anymore. There are some government affairs in the office, I need to hurry back to deal with that."
Wu Hongshan promptly followed, "Let me walk you out."
Wang Duo waved his hand, "We are acquaintances, you don't have to be so courteous."
"This is what I should do." Wu Hongshan gave no chance to explain and went out with Wang Duo.
At the door, Wang Duo slowed down. He asked seemingly unintentionally, "I heard Prince An's Heir Apparent has achieved Qi-refining, like father like son, it seems that Prince An has a qualified successor to take over his mantle now. Mr. Wu is the firmest friend of Prince An. You must like seeing this?"
Wu Hongshan's heart froze. The words Wang Duo had said to him naturally referred to Li Ye's inheritance of Prince An's title.
"Of course." Wu Hongshan said with a severe countenance.
Wang Duo said no more, they cupped their hands to say goodbye.
After going back to the room and sitting down, the respectful expression on Wu Hongshan's face had long disappeared. He meditated for a long time before he sighed slightly. Wang Duo had been steeped in official circles for many years. With his status, if he wanted to ask Wu Hongshan to do something for him, he would not state it explicitly, instead, he would only stop at where he should.
In this way, nothing would be left behind.
Wu Hongshan knew Wang Duo's intention, so it was a great headache for him. "Mr. Wang, ah, Mr. Wang, if I could, I also would like to see Li Ye inherit the title of nobility. You are a Prime-Minister, a position of which is equivalent to prime minister, but after all, you are not a prime minister in power. The power of the imperial court is now in the hands of Wei Baoheng's party and Duke Xing is Wei Baoheng's right-hand man..."
In the evening.
A luxurious carriage surrounded by hundreds of mounts firmly stopped in front of Prince An's Mansion, and a middle-aged man with sturdy eyebrows and resolute eyes walked down. He took a look at the plaque of Prince An's Mansion with his hands back and snorted coldly, then he strode toward the gate of the manor.
In front of the gate, there were four guards who stood solemnly with armors and swords. The middle-aged man ascended the steps, it seemed that he wanted to come straight towards the mansion. Upon seeing his such posture, the guards pressed their knives and stepped forward, they reproached loudly, "Who is it? Stop immediately!"
The middle-aged man turned a deaf ear and went straight ahead.
The four guards drew their swords in unison and glowered at the coming one. "The mansion is a restricted area, no trespassing. If you dare to take a step forward, you will die!"
"Scram!" An old man in a black robe followed the middle-aged man said. Upon saying this, his expression turned cold, he flapped his long sleeves and launched a strike with his palm. His Spiritual Qi surged out and directly hit the four soldiers...
The guards hit against the gate with a "bang" sound. The corners of their mouth overflowed with a trace of blood. One of them saw the middle-aged man stepping on the stone platform, he stepped out with a rush and chopped down on the middle-aged man's head vehemently, "Those who trespass the mansion, die!"
"A small ant!" The old man in black robes was furious, he arrived in front of the guard in the blink of an eye. He pressed his palm on the chest of the guard which seemed like a casual touch but was in fact weighty. The armor gave out a muffled sound and a big mouthful of blood spurted out of the guard's mouth. The guard flew backward again and fell into the door.
He was about to hit the screen wall but someone obliquely loomed out and held his shoulder, steadily stopping him before the screen wall.
The newcomer was in a fine-scaled armor, lips red and face white, her eyebrows were like the edge of a sword, she was precisely Shangguan Qingcheng. She stared at the people outside the door, "Where did you thieves come from? How dare you offend Prince An's Mansion and hurt the guards of the mansion?"
"A practitioner of Qi techniques?" The old man was startled slightly. Obviously, he was very surprised that there were other practitioners besides Li Ye in the mansion.
The middle-aged man also frowned, but his footsteps did not stop and he continued moving forward. His actions were extremely aggressive and rampant.
The eyes of Shangguan Qingcheng were burning with anger, her right hand reached into her left waist. She pulled her sword out neatly and shouted in a low voice, "Where are the guards in the mansion?!"
"Yes!" In the passage on both sides of the screen wall, two teams of guards armed with shields and swords surged out suddenly. When they ran, their footsteps rumbled and the sound of their iron armors and jade pendants rose one after another. In an instant, they had lined up and were ready to fight any time.
Standing in front of the battle array, Shangguan Qingcheng held the sword flat across her chest and point directly at the middle-aged man, "If you do not retreat, you will die!"
"Son of a b*tch!" The old man in the black robe thundered out, "This is the General of Left Guards. You dare point your weapons at Duke Xing. Do you know not of death nor danger?"
This middle-aged man was Duke Xing Li Guanshu.
"This place is the Prince An's Mansion, you dare trespass the mansion, do you know not of death nor danger?!" Shangguan Qingcheng coldly scolded. As soon as she finished speaking, she ordered the guards without any hesitation, "Attention, guards, advance!"
"Yes!" Five rows of guards stepped out in unified steps after hearing the order. Guards in the front row directly pushed toward the middle-aged man with their shield in hands.
"How dare you!" The old man in the black robe was unable to restrain his fury. He had already returned behind Li Guanshu but now he flew out again and was in front of the battle array within one step. His speed was extremely fast such that his figure could not be captured. He ferociously hit against the round shields, and suddenly the round shield was broken, and the guard who held the shield flew out spitting blood.
"Kill!" Shangguan Qingcheng ordered in a deep voice.
"Kill!" More than 50 guards shouted in unison, they changed the battle array from pushing forward to rushing ahead and rushed like tigers and wolves to kill the middle-aged man and the old man in the black robe!
"Enough!" Li Guanshu, who lowered his eyebrows and didn't say anything all this time, was finally was willing to make a sound. He stepped on the ground. A circle of Spiritual Qi surged from his feet and rushed over the ground like a flood and it swept down all the advancing guards of the Prince An's Mansion.
After the shot, Li Guanshu looked at Shangguan Qingcheng, "Where is Li Ye? Let him out to speak!"
"Who the hell are you!" Holding her sword with both hands, Shangguan Qingcheng stepped across the guards lying this way and that in front of her. She raised her sword and slashed at Li Guanshu.
"Courting death!" Li Guanshu's eyes were cold, he was going to kill her. He turned over his wrists under the long sleeves and slapped a palm suddenly, which turned into a ten-foot long palm aimed directly at Shangguan Qingcheng who was coming from the sky.
However, before his palm hit Shangguan Qingcheng, it was smashed by a streak of Spiritual Qi. Then a voice full of sarcasm rang in the ears of all people, "What a mighty prestige, Duke Xing!"
Hearing the sound, Shangguan Qingcheng stepped on the ground and did not rush forward further. She sheathed her sword and turned to salute with cupping fists. With full courtesy, she said, "Heir Apparent!"
Guards in front of the gate stood up one after another. They all made a way for him and saluted to the coming man on both sides orderly. "Heir Apparent!"