Chapter 203: The Mantis Stalks the Cicada, Unaware of the Oriole Behind
Dan Fei’s clever eyes looked at Jiang Chen, a faint smile on her face, “Do you think that just because you and the lordmaster think the same that all heroes think alike?”
Jiang Chen rubbed his nose, “You’ve already said it for me, what else can I say? Frankly speaking, I don’t really care who the Crown Prince is or who the king is. However, I’m a guest of the fourth prince after all, and should do something for him. Besides, from my perspective, him being Crown Prince is better than Ye Dai being in that position, no?”
Jiang Chen’s voice suddenly paused, “How come you’re not surprised by them killing each other? Did you guess it would happen a long time ago?”
Dan Fei displayed a smile full of wisdom, “It wasn’t that I guessed it a long time ago, but that the lord master guessed it a long time ago. The talk about deciding the Crown Prince’s position early next year was actually a purposeful leak authorized by the lordmaster. He wanted to make use of this in order to observe and study everyone’s reactions.”
“This examination seems to be a bit big, isn’t it a bit difficult to stop it now?” Jiang Chen smiled.
“Why would this be considered big? Everything is under control.” Dan Fei smiled in response.
“What makes you say that? They’re about to take action. Once the slaughter starts, who knows how many will make it out alive?”
“If only one makes it out, then he’s the Crown Prince. If everyone emerges unscathed, then Ye Rong is the Crown Prince. It’s that simple.”
“Does this mean that you decided that it would be Ye Rong long ago?” Jiang Chen was a bit surprised.
Dan Fei shook her head and smiled mysteriously, “It isn’t that we’ve long since decided on Ye Rong. This conclusion was only reached after the Skylaurel Kingdom Medallion was given to you at the lordmaster’s birthday banquet.”
“Eh, I command that much face?” Jiang Chen was a bit ashamed. He hadn’t participated in the struggles between the princes at all. Could it be that he could sway who the Crown Prince was, merely by participating in a birthday banquet, carelessly giving out a random gift, and answering a difficult question? This… this was too ridiculous!
“Don’t be doubtful, the lordmaster is never wrong in his assessment of people. Although he hasn’t spoken clearly, his meaning is still quite clear. Whoever has Jiang Chen at their side will obtain the position of Crown Prince.”
“The king is able to agree to such terms? Can he sit idly by while his sons kill each other?”
Dan Fei sighed. “Jiang Chen, if I were to say that you’re naive, you’re actually slippery beyond belief. If I were to say that you’re sly and crafty, you’re sometimes quite naive as well. To make it to the position of monarch, who amongst them hasn’t killed their own siblings? You even know that the spirit apes will fight and kill each other such that only one is left alive in the end. Do you really think that the rules of survival in the homes of emperors are more gentle than those of the spirit creature world?”
Jiang Chen smiled dashingly. This was true.
Weren’t there rumors that the previous king of the Eastern Kingdom, Eastern Lu, had colluded against the previous Crown Prince Eastern Jun, only taking his throne after the latter’s death? Given that that existed already, it made sense that that similarly existed within the Skylaurel Kingdom.
Guo Jin’s father had been dragged into this matter, and the entire Guo family had suffered a precipitous decline as a result and had fallen into decay.
If Ye Rong were superior enough to walk out alive from this law of the jungle situation, that meant he could withstand trials, and that he had the potential to be king, no matter if it was strength, breadth of vision, or luck.
In contrast, if he died from this little bit of competition, then although his talents outshone those above him, he still hadn’t possessed enough fortune and luck to become a monarch.
They would then have no other choice than the second best. The law of the jungle would determine who walked out alive and who was king.
When his thoughts finally flowed smoothly, Jiang Chen smiled, “Sister Dan Fei, I can’t sit idly by since I’ve run into this. I’m still a guest of the fourth prince after all. When one’s master is humiliated, his subject seeks death.”
Dan Fei gave a winsome smile, “Don’t you put on that kind of act with me. Do you think I can’t tell that you aren’t one of those subjects with high principles?”
Jiang Chen strode forward quickly on the mountain path, with Dan Fei following quickly thereafter. “You’re making a scene with great fanfare. Aren’t you afraid of being discovered and silenced by them?”
“Don’t I have you, a great beauty? I believe that, even though they’ve lost all judgment, they won’t do anything to you!”
“You overestimate my allure. Women are but the decorations of life in the eyes of men. How many emperors from ancient times haven’t loved both land and women?”
Jiang Chen laughed heartily. “No wonder you speak so bluntly to those princes. You’ve long since seen right through them.”
Dan Fei said huffily, “Stop talking nonsense. Jiang Chen, tell me the truth, are you hiding something from me?”
“Do I really need to tell you that? Of course I am.” Jiang Chen smiled. “Don’t you worry, I’ll be able to find them one step before they’re able to discover me.”
He’d anticipate the enemy’s movements, and discover traces of the other one step before they discovered him!
Although Dan Fei didn’t know why Jiang Chen was so confident, she couldn’t find it within herself to doubt him even the slightest bit when she looked at him brimming with confidence.
Jiang Chen didn’t follow behind Ye Dai and the others. Rather, he speedily headed to the southeast.
Since he knew that Ye Rong and the others were around fifty li to the southeast, Jiang Chen naturally wouldn’t tarry, and made for the mountain valley with full speed.
Ye Dai and the others would still have to make a round of preparations before meeting up. Jiang Chen was quite confident that he could make it to the mountain valley before them.
Indeed, Jiang Chen and Dan Fei made it to the mountain valley after only fifteen minutes.
There was a scout of the first prince’s at the entrance the mountain valley. Jiang Chen took Dan Fei in a circle past the scout’s eyes and ears, and snuck into the mountain valley.
“Jiang Chen, are we heading in to meet up with them or…?”
“Let’s not find them first, in order to avoid acting rashly and alerting the enemy. If the fourth prince knew we were here, his formation would change, and it’d be easily picked up by the scouts.”
Dan Fei was lost in thought as she nodded.
“How much of your Mind Enchantment Powder is left?” Jiang Chen asked with a smile.
“Just three bottles.” Dan Fei took stock of her inventory.
Jiang Chen chuckled. “Looks like I’ll have to use some of my equipment.”
Jiang Chen had extraordinary potential in the area of pills, and was naturally quite adept at using poison. He’d made many preparations.
He had two or three choices for items similar to the Mind Enchantment Powder.
Dan Fei saw Jiang Chen almost put on a magic show as he continuously took out a variety of bottles and cans. They appeared to both his left and right as he set them up around him.
Jiang Chen quickly set up a perfect trap.
Dusting off his hands, Jiang Chen smiled. “They’re almost here. Shall we take cover and wait, so we can watch the show?”
“Jiang Chen, does this count as helping Ye Rong cheat?” Dan Fei’s laughter tinkled.
“This is called making our position impregnable. How could this be called cheating? If we were to really cheat, we’d kill Ye Dai outright. This is just called justified self defense, alright?”
There were seven people in total in Ye Rong’s small team. Apart from Xue Tong, the remaining six were all his handpicked men.
However, Xue Tong had unexpectedly brought a lot of surprises to him during this Autumn Hunt, particularly throughout the course of hunting. Xue Tong’s skill with the bow and arrow were unparalleled as he distinguished himself greatly with his contributions.
Xue Tong’s age was young, yet his mind was very calm. He’d participated in the brainstorming before every hunt, and had always been able to find the holes in the plans. He’d been able to pick up on various clues, and been able to take down prey with one hit.
Ye Rong had originally felt that allowing Xue Tong into the team was only giving face to Jiang Chen. He hadn’t thought that Xue Tong’s abilities would be his unexpected gain.
In terms of absolute power, apart from Lin Qianli in Ye Rong’s team, there were two other guards at the half-step spirit realm.
The other three, including Xue Tong, were all at the peak of true qi.
As for Ye Rong himself, his level of strength was also only at the peak of true qi.
In terms of absolute power, apart from Lin Qianli who could solidly overpower Xue Tong, if the other two half step spirit realm personal guards were to engage in a mutual hunt of each other with Xue Tong in this maze realm, it’d be difficult to determine who would come out on top in the end.
“Fourth prince, this spirit creature is heavily injured, and we’ve already trapped it within the area. Lin Qianli has already gone to search for it, we’re certain it won’t escape.”
Ye Rong nodded, “We mustn’t make any mistakes this time. One spirit creature is more valuable than a hundred violent beasts. The first prince has many spirit realm practitioners in his team this time. I’m worried that their haul will far outstrip us in this time’s Autumn Hunt.”
There were still traces of envy in Ye Rong’s tone. The first prince had had a good birth, and had an impressive background. His network was broad, and he was easily able to call upon spirit realm practitioners—even disciples of the Precious Tree sect.
Although Ye Rong was also acquainted with the Precious Tree Sect disciples, it was impossible to expect them to toil on his behalf.
At the end of the day, his foundations were still inferior, and he didn’t have enough of a background or enough connections.
Ye Rong sighed in his heart. If Jiang Chen hadn’t been reassigned by sister Dan Fei this time, he would’ve absolutely had hope to make a play for the championship in this time’s Autumn Hunt.
But now —-
He could only try his best. Although there’d been intelligence that the Crown Prince would be finalized next January, Ye Rong didn’t believe that a single Autumn Hunt was enough to determine everything.
However, he also couldn’t rest on his laurels. He had to at least demonstrate a proactive attitude.
Xue Tong walked over at this moment. “Fourth prince, this mountain valley is narrow, and the entrance and exit are also quite cramped. This area is a bit bizarre.”
“Xue Tong, are you worried about something?” Ye Rong’s greatest advantage was that he was adept at listening to his troop’s opinions, and that he was able to easily grasp his underlings’ meaning.
“Your underling is worried that someone is purposefully manipulating the spirit creature in order to lead us here. Otherwise, how would we have the luck to randomly meet an injured spirit creature? And, the plains are quite vast, why would it escape to a quiet valley with no exit?”
“You think that someone is purposefully manipulating it?”
“Yes. Your underling has just checked the terrain. There’s only one entrance to this mountain valley and one exit. We’ve darted in as if we were running headlong into a cloth bag.” Although Xue Tong wasn’t one of Ye Rong’s men, he was still willing to speak what was on his mind since they were on the same team.
Ye Rong mused silently for a bit. After spending a few days together, he actually didn’t hold any more doubts about Xue Tong’s analysis. He was actually rather superstitious about it.
In terms of power, Lin Qianli and the others in the spirit realm were naturally stronger than Xue Tong. However, in terms of observation, judgement, and skills of analysis, Xue Tong was absolutely top of his class.
“Fourth prince, there will still be opportunities later if we don’t succeed in hunting this spirit creature. However, our team can’t afford to gamble. If we’re surrounded in this valley, we’ll never make it out. And if a slaughter happens here, the outside world will never know.”
Xue Tong had already spoken very clearly.
Ye Rong’s face changed as he was finally moved. “Convey my orders, give up on the hunt. Leave the valley immediately!”
He was born from a king’s household after all. He knew the gravity of the situation after connecting the many dots together.
How was the Maze Realm Autumn Hunt not a struggle of scheming and plotting between the princes? Although it was clearly delineated that no killing was allowed, the rules were dead and only people were alive.
Xue Tong’s words woke Ye Rong up to this possibility.