Chapter 148: Undercurrents Billow and Surge
A tall and enormous figure strode in from outside the door as soon as this voice had resounded. Judging from his uniform, he was placed at a noticeably higher rank than those present. His eyebrows were as thick as silkworms, and he exuded a feeling of justice despite not having expressed anything.
When the Dragonteeth Guards saw this person, their faces all changed slightly as they instantly cleaned up their previously scoundrellousy act, and stood in a line with their gazes lowered, saluting the person who’d arrived.
“Tsk tsk. You guys are becoming too big for your britches eh? Blackmail and extortion. You’re my troops alright. Definitely showing off the pride of the lofty Dragonteeth Guard.”
“Commander, we…” Beads of sweat had gathered on the captain’s forehead as he was frightened to the point of almost peeing himself.
“What? Still want to argue? Do you think I’m deaf and haven’t heard anything?” Commander Tian’s gaze turned cold.
“No no, Commander Tian, we were wrong. We deserve to die.” The captain’s legs bowed as he abruptly kneeled down.
“Commander Tian, we were wrong. Please forgive us this once on the basis that we have followed you for seven to eight years.” Several of the Dragonteeth Guards also kneeled down and continuously knocked their heads against the ground.
It was said that nothing is like having a man on the spot to give orders.
Although General Lu’s position was high, a full level higher than a commander’s, but even his high position was of no use in keeping these fellows in line.
Commander Tian was the person who kept them in line and their real supervisor. Of the people in this group, whether it was the captain or team members, they all fell within Commander Tian’s jurisdiction.
How could they not be afraid that the commander had stumbled upon this ugly matter? Besides, they were very well aware that he abhorred evil as a deadly foe, and was renowned for being coldly impartial.
Once Commander Tian wanted to levy a punishment on them, even pleas for leniency from those in even higher positions wouldn’t necessarily be useful, much less than one from General Lu.
Commander Tian had a fiery temper. When ignited, he would butt heads with even a general, not to mention that General Lu was actually only a vice general.
“All of you, get the hell up! Are all my men as cowardly and timid as you guys?” Commander Tian roared.
When the Dragonteeth Guard heard Commander Tian roar at them, they were rather happy instead. They knew that if the commander was yelling at them, this meant that he wasn’t thoroughly enraged.
Once the Commander was thoroughly enraged, there wouldn’t even be a chance for him to roar at you even if you wanted him to.
The group of people meekly got up and carefully stood to the side, not daring to even breathe too loudly.
“Put this person in the single holding cell first.” Commander Tian instructed calmly.
“But…” The captain was a bit hesitant.
“What? Is there a problem?” Commander Tian rolled his eyes and asked in return.
“General Lu is personally handling this case, and…”
“What? Do you think that you can ignore my commands now that you’ve latched onto General Lu?”
The so-called single holding cell was a separate area within the Black Dungeons.
This has been readied for special individuals, and was equivalent to a VIP room within the Black Dungeons. Once within the single holding cell, this meant that this person was under a protected status within the Black Dungeons.
Otherwise, when held with another group of desperados within the Black Dungeons, anyone would lose at least a layer of skin, if not die outright.
Although the single holding cell wasn’t too large, it was a separate space and could bypass harrassment from other prisoners. It was indeed VIP treatment within the Black Dungeons.
“I’ll say this one last time. Take him to the single holding cell.” Commander Tian said emotionlessly. “You can choose to listen to General Lu and bear the consequences yourself.”
The Dragonteeth Guards looked at each other and were quite conflicted. General Lu’s position was higher and his backing was greater. This was a foregone conclusion.
However, Commander Tian was their real superior and treated them quite well normally. Out of the one hundred commanders within the Dragonteeth Guard, Commander Tian was renowned for favoring his own people, and often talked back to even generals for the benefits of his own men.
They truly did support a supervisor like him from the bottom of their hearts.
If they listened to General Lu and threw Jiang Chen into the Black Dungeons, they would then be thoroughly offending Commander Tian.
Afterwards, if Commander Tian wrote up their extortionist tactics displayed just now and handed it to a supervisor for the Dragonteeth Guard, what awaited them would be stern military punishment.
At the very least, they would lose their title as the Dragonteeth Guard, and at the very worst, they would be executed!
The matter of extortion and blackmail could be a small or large matter. If no one pursued it, then nothing would come of it. As soon as someone seized upon it however, then it’d become a great matter.
It’d be even worse when it was one’s own supervisor doing the investigating.
Everyone knew that Commander Tian was renowned for shielding his men’s shortcomings and taking care of his troops. If there was a subordinate that even he himself was publicly accusing, how disgusting and unpalatable would this person be?
Anyone who could make it to be a member of the Dragonteeth Guard couldn’t be a fool.
After hesitating for a slight while, the captain said hastily, “Commander Tian, we’re all your troops. Of course we listen to you.”
“Commander Tian, please be at ease. We won’t speak of this matter outside, and definitely won’t let General Lu know.”
“Yes, we listen to Commander Tian.”
Commander Tian had been listening with narrowed eyes. If these fellows had hesitated too long, he absolutely wouldn’t have minded using the coldest and cruelest methods to kick them out of his team and use military law to ensure that they could never receive another chance.
Seeing that they hadn’t hesitated too long in the end, Commander Tian nodded his head slightly. “Even if you guys don’t speak of this matter, this can’t be kept under wraps for too long. However, if General Lu has any opinions whatsoever, tell him to come find me. You guys were in charge of this case in the beginning, right? That Lu person is simply stretching his hand out too far.”
“Yes yes, regardless, we won’t run our mouths when we leave from here.” The captain promised.
They definitely wouldn’t speak of this. If they spoke of it, they would displease both sides and create further trouble for themselves.
Of this, Commander Tian was quite assured.
“I’ll take over. All of you are dismissed.” Commander Tian waved his hand and sent the fellows on their way.
When the Dragonteeth Guard had left, Commander Tian said to Jiang Chen, “Jiang Chen, I won’t speak unnecessary words. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the fourth prince. You are his honored guest and so I won’t let you suffer here. I’ve just taken a look at this case just now and it’s quite complicated. There’s certainly someone up to something behind the scenes. If the Azure Heaven Northern Palace hangs onto this matter with a death grip, I’m not sure if the fourth prince can hold up beneath the pressure.”
So Commander Tian was actually one of fourth prince Ye Rong’s men, Jiang Chen smiled with understanding. “Tell the fourth prince that if he’s not at liberty to intervene in this matter, he can just wait and see. I won’t blame him. I’m rather curious though, just who is General Lu? What relations does he have with the Northern Palace?”
Commander Tian sighed lightly, “It’s a long story. The Northern Palace has always been domineering amongst the four great sites and have always subtly styled themselves as the first amongst the four. Whether it’s the Northern Palace or General Lu, they’re all quite close to the first prince. The first prince is one of the hot contenders to be the next ruler and the one with the highest amount of support.”
Jiang Chen had an overall understanding after Commander Tian’s simplified summary.
Whether it was the Northern Palace or General Lu, the great backer behind them was the first prince of the Skylaurel Kingdom and a contender to be the future Crown Prince.
“This is to say that my careless execution of a robber unintentionally triggered both veiled strife and hidden struggles between the princes?” Jiang Chen couldn’t help but laugh ruefully. He hadn’t thought either that the situation within the Skylaurel Kingdom was this sensitive, and that a small matter could cause such large ripples.
“It would likely be a small exaggeration to say that this gave rise to a conflict between the princes. But it’s obvious that the first prince wishes to make use of this opportunity to suppress the fourth prince. This has been clearly indicated from various details.”
Suppress the fourth prince?
Jiang Chen was a bit ticked off. Make an example of me because of conflicts between you princes? So what if you’re the first prince?
It wasn’t that Jiang Chen liked to cause trouble, but that the Northern Palace had been the one to start this entire matter.
“Does this count as beating the dog before the lion? I’m that poor dog and the fourth prince is the lion?” Jiang Chen laughed coldly.
Commander Tian stared dumbly for a second and also laughed ruefully. “The first prince kills decisively. In his eyes, there’s no one who cannot be sacrificed. If he wishes to kill someone, it’s as easy as stepping on an ant for him.”
“An ant?” Jiang Chen smiled in his anger. “Good, very good. What a fantastic show of beating the dog before the lion. However, even if he views me as a chicken waiting for the slaughter, I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed this time.”
“Oh?” Commander Tian’s eyes gleamed.
Jiang Chen laughed faintly before he sat down crossed legged with a flourish, simply deciding to close his eyes and speak no further.
Commander Tian opened his mouth but ultimately decided not to ask further. He cupped his hands to say, “Brother, my power is limited with regards to matters above me and I cannot intervene. Here however, even if General Lu makes an appearance to suppress me, I still won’t let you suffer one iota. My power can only reach this far.”
“Alright, Commander Tian has a great heart. I, Jiang Chen, will remember this favor.” Jiang Chen nodded calmly. He also knew that Commander Tian spoke truly and was a person of solid character.
A female disciple was standing outside the door of a certain room within one of the strongholds of the Southern Palace within the capital. She spoke respectfully, “Elder Ning, there’s a man around 30 or so years old who petitions to see you.”
“A man?” A gentle yet somewhat lazy voice traveled out from within. “Who is it?”
“Your disciple has ignorant eyes and couldn’t recognize him. It looks like he’s not one of the nobles of the kingdom.”
“Did he say why he wished to see me?” Elder Ning asked again.
“He did, it seems to have something to do with the Wishing Tower. However, he didn’t go into specifics on precisely what. He only wanted your disciple to notify you as soon as possible and was afraid that a delay would bungle matters.”
“The Wishing Tower?” Elder Ning’s originally noncommittal voice suddenly became a little unsettled. “Are you sure you’ve heard correctly?”
“Your disciple heard very clearly. He did indeed mention the Wishing Tower.”
“Hurry, bade him come in. And, no one is allowed to disturb me while I receive my guest.” Elder Ning threw off her usual lethargy and gave hasty orders.
“Yes.” The disciple was a bit baffled. Why did Elder Ning turn into someone else when the Wishing Tower was mentioned?
Footsteps sounded outside the courtyard after a moment. An exceedingly magnetic voice rang out, “Foreigner Qiao Baishi petitions to see Elder Ning.”
The lazy voice caused Qiao Baishi’s body to shudder vaguely, involuntarily reacting in a way that he shouldn’t have.