A slight blush came to Murong Qinghe’s tanned skin. “That’s not it,” she explained quickly. “My grandfather wants to hold a banquet tonight, and he’s invited you and the State Duke of Prestige for a chat. I agreed to come over since I wasn’t doing anything”
The master of the Qin clan, Qin Zheng, was the State Duke of Triumph, while the head of the second branch of the Qin clan was the State Duke of Prestige. These two national dukes came from the same clan, and they both wielded great authority. Clearly, the Qin clan was a clan covered in glory.
A state duke was the highest rank of all the nobility. Chu Zhongtian, as Brightmoon Duke, was a rank lower. However, the Chu clan had their own feudal land and army, so their true power was far greater than an ordinary duke’s, almost on par with a state duke.
Zu An wrinkled his nose in disdain when he heard Murong Qinghe’s awkward cover up. Who are you trying to fool? You’re sneaking looks at Chu Youzhao even as you’re speaking! Anyone can tell what your true objective is.
Does the master of the Qin clan know about Chu Youzhao’s real identity or not? At this rate, it’s not just the Murong clan’s young miss whose affection will be unrequited. This deception is going to prove costly to your own people…
Qin Zheng nodded. “All right, I will attend the banquet promptly with my brother tonight.”
He obviously knew the reason behind the Murong clan’s invitation. He glanced at Zu An subconsciously when he thought of this, rage surging within him.
The battle between King Qi and the crown prince was going so well, yet this stupid variable had shown up out of nowhere. King Qi’s side had suffered disastrous losses, and even a Security Officer was stripped of his important position!
You have successfully trolled Qin Zheng for 724 Rage points!
Zu An felt the beginnings of a headache when he saw the Rage points. He could roughly understand why, but this situation wasn’t really his fault. I’m a victim too!
It seemed that things weren’t going to go too smoothly this time.
Chu Youzhao quickly said, “Grandfather, brother-in-law has something he wishes to discuss with you.”
“Brother-in-law?” Qin Zheng frowned. “When did you have a brother-in-law?”
Chu Youzhao still hadn’t figured out the situation yet. She quickly introduced Zu An. “This is Zu An, my eldest sister’s husband…”
Qin Zheng cut her off before she could finish. “The Chu clan has already written a letter of divorce, annulling their marriage. How can he still be related to your eldest sister?”
Chu Youzhao was immediately at a loss for words. Strictly speaking, this was indeed true.
Zu An frowned. Yet before he could even say anything, Qin Zheng spoke again. “Young master Zu, I’ve heard that you offered up the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra to His Majesty, and were granted the title of Phoenix Man in return?”
Even though his tone was polite, it was still aloof.
Since this was Chu Chuyan’s grandfather, Zu An set aside his usual pettiness and replied, “Indeed. I offered up the sutra to His Majesty earlier.”
Qin Zheng stared at him. “Is there really a means to gain immortality in this world?”
“It does if you believe it, and it doesn’t if you don’t,” Zu An replied casually.
Qin Zheng sneered. “If there really is a way of gaining immortality, why would His Majesty leave you alive?”
“Is the State Duke of Triumph suggesting that His Majesty is narrow-minded and cruel?” Zu An asked in return.
Qin Zheng choked on his breath. He hadn’t expected himself to give into his emotions and make such a careless mistake. “That’s obviously not what I meant. It’s just that His Majesty is the ruler of an empire, so he cannot be judged as an ordinary person. He must make considerations for the longevity of the empire, so certain decisions he makes are excusable.”
Zu An replied, “His Majesty has read through the sutra and believes that, even though the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra is of benefit to cultivators, it cannot grant immortality. That was why he let me go.”
Both he and the emperor had agreed to this story. After all, it would be way too dangerous for him if he claimed to have the true secrets to immortality. He would be so busy dealing with all the annoying flies buzzing around him that he wouldn’t be able to focus on his mission.
Qin Zheng nodded. “That makes sense.” If it could truly grant immortality, then the emperor would not have let him go. Furthermore, he had only granted Zu An the lowest rank of nobility, which proved that what he had offered up was rather mundane.
The intelligence he’d received from the palace stated as much. The emperor had also specially emphasized that all those who wantonly discussed immortality were to be executed.
Despite this, he wondered whether the emperor was deliberately trying to pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes. He had to discuss this with Murong and the others.
Zu An noticed Qin Zheng’s flickering expression, and had to admit that the emperor’s plans were brilliant. It was hard to tell reality from falsehood. These people were left dumbfounded, and forced to come up with unfounded theories.
Zu An coughed and explained his reason for coming. “I’m here to bring Chuyan back home.”
Now that he’d expressed his request sincerely, it was the Qin clan’s turn to respond.
“Back home?” Qin Zheng’s expression darkened. “There’s nothing between you and Chuyan. What do you mean, ‘bring her back home’? Besides, this is her home.”
Zu An’s voice became cold. “If I recall correctly, the State Duke of Triumph has already severed his father-daughter relationship with Chuyan’s mother. Strictly speaking, the two of you are unrelated. How can this be considered her home?”
“You!” Qin Zheng erupted in fury. He was someone who enjoyed a high status and great authority. When has anyone ever dared to speak to him like this?
You have successfully trolled Qin Zheng for 999 Rage points!
Zu An remained expressionless. He’d made it through the debacle with the emperor. No matter how formidable Qin Zheng was, he could not compare to the emperor.
“Grandfather, please don’t get angry!” Panicked, Chu Youzhao tried to mediate the situation. “Brother-in-law, you don’t know everything! Grandfather has taken excellent care of us siblings all these years.”
Qin Zheng scoffed. “Who cares about an outsider’s opinion on my relationship with my daughter? Regardless, we are still related by blood. Things are different when compared to someone like you.”
Zu An replied, “If you truly think of her as family, then why did you place her under house arrest like a prisoner? Is this your idea of family?”
“You!” Qin Zheng was so angry that he almost laughed. Do you really have no idea why I put Chuyan under house arrest? It was because I was worried that she might do something stupid for your sake!
You have successfully trolled Qin Zheng for 999… 999… 999…
Zu An was rather pained when he saw the incoming Rage points. Is everyone in the army this hotheaded?
Now that things had reached this point, though, he wasn’t about to back down. “If the State Duke of Triumph refuses to release her, then I will ask His Majesty himself to judge this matter.”
“Not even His Majesty can get involved in our family affairs.” Even though this was what he said, Qin Zheng was beginning to hesitate. This damned brat had handed over the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra, which made him a rising star in the emperor’s eyes. If Zu An really got the emperor involved, he might end up becoming the laughingstock of the entire court.
He restrained his anger and said, “There is no point arguing the matter. Why don’t we hear what Chuyan has to say? We’ll see if she is willing to go with you or not.”
After a slight hesitation, Zu An nodded. “Fine.”
He would have no choice but to brace himself for the worst if he insisted on keeping her locked up. Leaving aside the guards, Zu An could judge from this elder’s ki fluctuations alone that he was the peak of the master rank. He was no match for him.
Soon enough, Chu Chuyan appeared. He could see that her face was slightly thin and pallid. She had clearly been worried about Zu An while at a loss as to how to save him, leaving her both mentally and physically exhausted.
When she saw Zu An, though, her eyes immediately lit up. She threw herself into his arms. “Ah Zu, you’re okay?”
Zu An patted her trembling body and said softly, “I’m fine. I’ve made it through the worst of it.”
Chu Youzhao felt her eyes go wide. Her big sister was always as cold as ice, and she always looked the part of a successful career woman. She supported half of the Chu clan on her shoulders all by herself! Who the heck is this weak and helpless girl?!
Murong Qinghe was also shocked by what she was seeing. Chu Chuyan had always been one of her greatest idols. She was always dressed in a stunning white, and her talent was exceptional. Murong Qinghe saw her as a role model, and had cultivated bitterly with the hope of surpassing Chu Chuyan when she got to her age, then gradually catching up to her.
However, she never expected the gap in their cultivations to be so huge. Wasn’t increasing one’s cultivation supposed to get harder as one progressed? She thought that she was on her way to catching up now that she had five ranks of cultivation, yet Chu Chuyan was already at the seventh rank!
Why would such a woman respond to a man this way?
Then again, she remembered her fight with him earlier, and decided that Zu An wasn’t as bad as the rumors put him out to be. Hmph, is that kid from the Shi clan blind? Why does he keep calling this guy trash?
Of course, he’s still worse than big brother Chu.
Her eyes quickly shifted to Chu Youzhao, and her clear, sharp eyes immediately glazed over.
Qin Zheng couldn’t keep watching this anymore. “The two of you are already divorced. What kind of scandal are you trying to start, holding each other like this? You’re making a joke out of yourselves in front of outsiders!”
Murong Qinghe was about to say something, but hesitated. I’m not an outsider… I’m going to marry big brother Chu sooner or later!
Chu Chuyan blushed. She gently pushed Zu An away before saying, “Grandfather, the reason we annulled the marriage was because Ah Zu was worried about our Chu clan getting involved. Since the matters have already been taken care of, we can go ahead and restore our marriage. Besides, a marriage agreement doesn’t mean much to me. In my eyes, he has always been my husband.”
Qin Zheng stared blankly at her. It seemed like he had traveled back in time. Back then, Qin Wanru had argued with him in the same manner. In the end, she had chosen that bastard Chu and eloped with him.
Hmph, it’s true that daughters only cause the clan to suffer losses!
He calmed down and said, “It doesn’t matter what you believe. What’s important is that the two of you are no longer husband and wife, and everyone else knows this as well. Your actions will only bring shame to the Chu clan and our Qin clan.”
Chu Chuyan curled her lips in contempt. She clearly did not agree, but was not about to argue with her grandfather over this.
Qin Zheng had not forgotten his reason for summoning her. “Make your decision. Are you going to stay in the Qin clan or let this rascal take you away?”
Chu Chuyan was confused by his question. Chu Youzhao quickly ran over to fill her in on what had happened.
After listening to what she had to say, Chu Chuyan replied, “Grandfather, may I speak privately with Ah Zu?”
Qin Zheng frowned. He waved his hand, letting them go ahead.
Chu Chuyan led Zu An out of the study and into her own room.
Zu An sighed. “I know what choice you will make, even if you don’t say anything. You’re someone who cares a lot about duty. How can you abandon the Qin clan just like that?”
Chu Chuyan looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, Ah Zu. My grandfather and my mother severed their relationship as father and daughter, and even though my mother never said anything, I know that she has always regretted her choice. Because of their stubborn nature, neither one of them is willing to submit, so it’s up to the younger generation—us—to ease their relationship. Youzhao has been under my grandfather’s care all these years, and that has gradually improved the relationship between the two clans. If I leave now, all of our efforts will amount to nothing, and there won’t be another chance to fix my grandfather and my mother’s relationship ever again. Besides, what will happen to Youzhao in the Qin clan?”
Zu An sighed. “You’re always thinking about others, but you never consider your own happiness. You’re always the one sacrificing for your clan…”
Chu Chuyan smiled. “If it wasn’t because of these sacrifices, how could I have met you?”
Given her beauty and cultivation, she had her pick of the outstanding men of the other great clans. However, for the sake of the Chu clan, she had had no choice but to settle for a randomly-chosen drafted son-in-law, and eventually found Zu An.
She had been willing to sacrifice a lifetime of happiness, but she never expected that she would stumble upon the perfect match for her.
Zu An didn’t expect her usually cold self to pour everything out. He took her into his arms and bent down to kiss her.
Chu Chuyan was embarrassed. “They’re still waiting for our reply.”
“Let them wait.” Zu An scoffed, and continued to kiss her.
Chu Chuyan relented. She gave a lot of consideration to her clan, yet she hadn’t given much consideration to her lover. She knew that she had made Zu An suffer. She felt like she had let him down, and therefore let him do as he pleased.
While the two of them were passionately engaged with each other, in another residence within the capital, the members of the Devil Sect were giving their reports to an incredibly charming woman. “Lady Saint, Lord Ding was killed by the Embroidered Envoy and the residence has been granted to another official.”
That woman snorted. “If the Embroidered Envoy lays their hands on our people, they’d better be prepared to pay the price. Kill the new owner of Ding Manor as a warning. We are not a force to be trifled with!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter