The entire of Prince An's Manor was decorated with lanterns and colored hangings. The Manor covered more than 20 acres of land and was full of festive decorations, window decals, and ribbons hanging under the eaves. This scene was not inferior to a marriage's. The guards patrolled to and fro with their chests and heads high. The servants shuttled back and forth with their brilliant smiles. The maidservants served drinks with laughter and cheerful voices.
The main courtyard was filled with people. Each of the subordinate officers in the Manor had their specific duties and responsibilities. Some of them were in charge of getting ready the platform, flags, and weapons to be carried by the guards of honor. Most of them were responsible for receiving the princes and nobles who came to observe the ceremony. Because the weather was getting warmer and the sun was getting stronger, curtains were set up on both sides of the courtyard and were equipped with seats. Servants and maidservants kept sending tea and snacks to those curtain tents.
"Why are there so many people coming?" Shangguan Qingcheng was in a military uniform with her saber, and she walked into the courtyard where she saw the crowded scene. A trace of astonishment crept onto her face.
"To watch the fun." Li Yan, the Prince of Pu, just came through the door. He heard Shangguan Qingcheng's words and replied with a smile, "All the princes and nobles, as well as high ranking officials and dignitaries in Chang'an City, would love to see how Prince An's Heir Apparent has changed from an ordinary person to an outstanding young man of the Imperial Clan in one night... Oh, from today, you don't need to call him the Heir Apparent, you should call him Your Highness Prince An."
With this, Li Yan burst into laughter and walked into the main courtyard.
"Why does Your Highness Prince Pu look much happier than us?" A guard beside Shangguan Qingcheng asked perplexedly.
"Your Highness Prince Pu... is an astounding person."
Before long, the drums and musical instruments started to ring and the ceremony began.
Different from the beginning of the month, when the Court of the Imperial Clan came to crown Li Ye, they had just casually sent an official, this time it was Wu Hongshan himself who came to preside over the ceremony.
"Look, that Li Ye fellow is coming out." In the western side of the curtain tents, Prince Wu's Heir Apparent stood up first and looked at the north entrance of the hall.
"That is Your Highness Prince An. If Heir Apparent does not want to cause any trouble or be noticed by the officials in the Court of the Imperial Clan, it is better to modify your previous words." Next to Prince Wu's Heir Apparent, Duke Chen said slowly.
Prince Wu's Heir Apparent changed his expression and he crossly glanced at Duke Chen but said nothing in the end. He turned his head back. In his sight, Li Ye was still dressed in the same clothes as what he wore at the beginning of the month. Armed with a sword, he wore a high hat, a wide belt, and a pair of boots. Only the black dressing attire was changed to the coiled dragon prince robe, plus there were guards behind surrounding him, his whole temperament had changed because of these, and he appeared more majestic out of nowhere.
With just a glimpse, Prince Wu's Heir Apparent couldn't help but snort coldly, his eyes filled with jealousy.
When Li Ye stepped onto the high platform, he looked around to see the scene in the courtyard. The place was still the same place as the beginning of the month. The people were almost the same people. But the layout of the scene was much more prosperous than it was at the beginning of the month. The reactions and expressions of the people were also quite different.
On his way to the high platform, the subordinate officers of the Manor and officials who came to watch the ceremony on both sides all got up and cupped their hands in congratulations. With smiles on their faces, they accosted him actively. Those princes who were a little farther away also cast their sights on him.
Looking at those subordinate officers and servants, who were in higher spirits and watched him closely. Some young maidservants held their chests with both hands, with little red faces and eyes full of admiration. They looked exactly like the female idol-chasers in later ages when they finally met their idols.
Li Ye laughed in his heart and came to Wu Hongshan. He arched his hands to salute him.
Wu Hongshan had no special look on his face, but his eyes looked a little different. He looked at the young Heir Apparent in front of him. He said in his heart, "Why didn't I see it before that this child has had quite a bit heroic spirit already? He indeed has some of the presence Prince An had in those past years."
Li Ye was also looking at Wu Hongshan. He was different from the beginning of the month. At this moment, his mind settled like still water, without the slightest of waves. He even had some spare time to think, "This Wu Hongshan is a snob. If he becomes my father-in-law in the future, will it be really awkward to get along with him?"
The etiquette was tedious, let's skip it.
"The ceremony is over." On behalf of the imperial court and the Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, Wu Hongshan placed the crown on Li Ye, after which he stepped back a few steps and saluted solemnly, "Greetings, Your Highness Prince An."
If it came to dignity, the Emperor's son-in-law was naturally inferior to the Grand Prince, not to mention Li Ye was a Grand Prince of the Imperial Clan.
According to the law of the Tang Empire, if the sons of princes were to inherit the royal title, their titles would go down a grade. That was to say, if the Heir Apparent who was going to inherit the title of the Prince, he could only become the king of a state, but if the son's cultivation had achieved Qi-refining before he was 20, then he would not be subject to this law, so the title Li Ye inherited was still the title of the Grand Prince.
This was also the reason why Prince Wu's Heir Apparent was jealous of Li Ye. The latter was already in his twenties, but he still only achieved the Grand Master Realm. After the death of the old Prince Wu, he could only get the royal title of the state king.
The sun was shining and the spring breeze caressed his cheeks. Li Ye turned around on the high platform and faced the south-side guest seats.
"Congratulations to Your Highness Prince An!" All the princes and nobles, as well as high ranking officials and dignitaries, bowed to him.
Li Ye smiled slightly.
"Prince An was always an outstanding figure. I have always said that your highness could take over the mantle of the old Prince An." An official said emotionally.
"A tiger father will not beget a dog son. Now foreign invasions on the border rise from all directions and civil strife often happens, it is precisely when a hero is needed. When Prince An leaves Chang'an City in the near future, he will be able to gain achievements for the Tang Empire just like the old Prince An!" An old man of the Imperial Clan sighed.
The subordinate officers and servants saluted in unison, they bowed down or cupped their hands in accordance with their own statuses, "Greetings, Your Highness Prince An!"
The high ranking officials and dignitaries discussed animatedly and kept on congratulating him. After Li Ye walked down the high platform, many people took the initiative to go up to him and talk cordially.
Li Ye smiled and talked with everyone. He found some time to announce to everyone, "The manor has already prepared a feast, everyone please follow me to take your seats!"
Outside the gate of the Prince An's Manor.
Li Guanshu's face darkened like deep water.
"How impudent! How dare you prevent the Duke from going into the manor?" Beside Li Guanshu, a guard berated loudly.
"There is an order from Your Highness, Duke Xing is not allowed to enter Prince An's Manor!" Shangguan Qingcheng slightly lifted her chin, looking down her nose at them.
"So many high ranking officials and dignitaries can go in, only the Duke cannot?" The guard was furious.
"Why the Duke can't go into the manor, don't you already know?" Shangguan Qingcheng sneered.
"This Li Ye fellow is really pushing it too far!" The guard was eager to protect his master, and it looked like he was going to lose his temper.
But Shangguan Qingcheng was the first to grab her sword hilt, and she glared at him fiercely, "You dare call Prince An's name directly, do you want to die?"
"Enough!" Li Guanshu flicked his long sleeves. He knew that obviously, Li Ye did this to humiliate him. His heart was resentful but now there was something more important. "Where is Li Yao?"
Shangguan Qingcheng sheathed her sword, and raised her hand to order, "Bring him out."
After a while, a carriage drove out from a corner gate. Shangguan Qingcheng smiled inexplicably, "Li Yao is there."
Li Guanshu loved his son so much that he didn't say more to Shangguan Qingcheng nor did he lose himself. He came to the carriage in a steady manner and opened the curtain. Li Yao was really sitting in the carriage but with feeble breathing, it seemed he was suffering from a serious illness.
"Father..." When he saw Li Guanshu, Li Yao's heart was full of mixed emotions and he shed tears without knowing it.
"Yao'er..." Li Guanshu was a cultivator in the middle level of Qi-refining. He discovered Li Yao's abnormality just at a glance and thus he quickly picked up his wrist to examine. His expression changed drastically. "Your cultivation..."
Li Yao burst into tears and gnashed his teeth, "Li Ye, that son of a b*tch, has ruined my cultivation!"
"Li Ye!" Li Guanshu could no longer withstand his anger such that he turned back from the carriage and made a sudden angry roar at the gate of the Manor.
Li Yao was an outstanding young man of the Imperial Clan and he was also a genius in cultivation such that he was destined to have a promising future. If there was nothing else, it was not difficult at all for him to surpass Li Guanshu in the future.
But now, Li Yao had lost his cultivation, falling from grace in an instant. In the future, let alone make contributions, gain achievements, or getting a high position, he had no hope of becoming an official and he could only be a common man.
For the sons of the Imperial Clan, being a common man was equal to being a total wreck.
Shangguan Qingcheng was still in front of the gate of the Manor. She sneered, "Your Highness said that the Manor had been attacked by Pangxun's followers the other day. Fortunately, Childe Yao came here in time to rescue us so the Manor was preserved. However, Childe Yao fought the enemy so bravely that he was seriously injured. Thus, Your Highness is very grateful to him. If there is anything the Duke needs to do in the future, the people in Prince An's Manor certainly will make an all-out effort."
Now the words coming out of Shangguan Qingcheng were full of great irony, which penetrated their hearts.
Li Guanshu was so angry that his face muscles were twitching and he wanted to make his move to trample down Prince An's Manor and to chop off Li Ye's head.
"Father, kill him, kill him for your son, avenge your son!" Li Yao struggled to get out of the carriage and shouted himself hoarse at Li Guanshu.
Li Guanshu also wanted to revenge for Li Yao.
But he couldn't. Could he really rush into Prince An's Manor to murder a Grand Prince of the Tang Empire?
"Where are the others?" Li Guanshu stared at Shangguan Qingcheng. When Li Yao attacked the Prince An's Manor, he took more than a dozen Qi-refining cultivators with him. Although they were not big masters, they were also the nucleus of the Duke's Manor and were very important to Li Guanshu.
"No others." Shangguan Qingcheng said stiffly, "Thanks to Childe Yao's bravery against the Pang Xun followers, all of them were executed."
Done talking, Shangguan Qingcheng cupped her hands. "You can go now."
There was not a single sentence or word after she said that. She turned to the Manor efficiently.
Of course, Li Ye would not give Li Muzhao's cultivators back to Li Guanshu because they were all practitioners of Qi techniques who had real strength. Li Ye was not stupid enough to set these tigers free. To minimize the power of the enemy was what Li Ye should do.
"Father, kill him, kill him..."
Li Yao burst into tears in the carriage.
Li Guanshu's face darkened like still water, and he did not say a word.
At nightfall, in the east study room of the Prince An's Manor, Li Ye was receiving an honored guest.
The premier of the State Council and Prime-Minister Wang Duo.
As one of the people who were at the top of the Chang'an City or even the Tang Empire, Wang Duo's understanding of Li Ye's succession to the royal title of Prince An was certainly incomparable to those princes and nobles who could only flatter Li Ye.
The truth about the death of Prince An was a secret. Whether they knew this secret or not was now something of a class indicator. It divided officials in the imperial court into two different classes. Those who knew something about this secret were really powerful men. Those who didn't know the secret were actually only marginal roles even if their identity seemed to be very honorable.
Li Ye was no stranger to Wang Duo.
When the old Prince An was alive, Wang Duo was also a frequent visitor to the Prince An's Manor.
After Li Xian's death, Prince An's Manor had few visitors. Like Wu Hongshan, Wang Duo barely came either.
Therefore, Li Ye was very surprised when Wang Duo expressed his intention of having a deep conversation with him.
However, Li Ye did not feel bad towards Wang Duo. The other was a loyal minister that was beyond doubt.
After exchanging greetings, they went straight to the point.
"Your Highness has now inherited the royal title, what's your plan for the future?" Wang Duo asked Li Ye kindly, just like an old man facing the younger generation who carried his great expectations.
"I want to become an official, please advise me." Li Ye replied. This was inevitable. The royal title gave Li Ye status, but did not give him power. If he wanted to have the power, he must become an official.
Wang Duo said seriously, "Your Highness has already started an unsolvable feud with Duke Xing, who is the right-hand of Duke Wei. If Your Highness wants to start your official career, they will inevitably create all sorts of obstacles to deal with you, they will even take this chance to calculate and frame Your Highness. If Your Highness lives in the seclusion of your own manor, Duke Xing will find no way to stir trouble. Though it will be impossible for you to make a big impact, once Your Highness goes out of the Manor to pursue your official career, you will offer them the opportunity."