Chapter 610: The Only One Who Knows

“The ascent of a stupid crown prince to the throne will only bring disaster to the land. For the sake of the common people, every capable man and woman should offer up their strength for this cause,” said the woman standing on the willow branch. Her voice was enthralling. It was clear and melodious, yet carried undercurrents of maturity.

Zu An found her voice very pleasant. Unfortunately, he had almost been killed by this very woman.

Shi Miao froze. “You’re part of King Qi’s faction?”

The first half of her statement was often repeated by those from King Qi’s faction, and those from that faction often held the second half of it to be true, although they never truly said it aloud, fearing the emperor’s wrath.

The woman shook her head. “I do not follow King Qi. I am doing this for the good of the world.”

The more she carried on, the more Shi Miao suspected her of colluding with King Qi, despite her denial.

A wisp of uncertainty crept into his mind. Given his own status and position, he did not want to get caught up in the conflict between King Qi and the crown prince. He had assumed that this was a random group of assassins. He never expected to find himself trapped in this situation.

Zu An, on the other hand, had a strange expression on his face. Shi Miao believed that the woman was a follower of King Qi, but he knew that she wasn’t.

He had just seen Qiu Honglei, who was from the Devil Sect, and he had never heard of the Devil Sect throwing their chips in with King Qi.

She had mentioned her master earlier. Was this person her master?

That made much more sense. Only someone this exceptional could have such a stunning disciple.

Even though this woman was masked, her eyes were beautiful, like the moon in a starry sky. She was undoubtedly an exceptional woman.

So this is the Devil Sect’s sect master. Why was she putting on the pretense of being in King Qi’s faction, intentionally or otherwise?

Wait a minute!

A sudden revelation struck Zu An. He was no longer a novice in politics, but had his fair share of experience regarding treacherous schemes. He quickly deduced that the Devil Sect had used the Shadow Group to attack the empress in order to draw away the attention of the imperial palace guards.

They would then be free to send their own elites to assassinate the crown prince in the eastern palace, while pinning the blame squarely on King Qi. The emperor was sure to take his anger out on King Qi.

King Qi would be severely wronged, and would surely not resign himself to his fate, especially considering his own strength. With such an incident to serve as a flashpoint, the entire country would rise up in rebellion.

This would grant the Devil Sect their greatest opportunity.

Zu An swallowed. Qiu Honglei’s master was truly remarkable. She had surely put a lot of thought into this plan. There was no way he would have deduced the truth if he hadn’t recognized Qiu Honglei.

He realized that he was the only one who had deduced this, and decided that it would be best to leave as soon as possible, before the Devil Sect’s sect master decided to silence him.

The one strange thing about this whole situation was… where the heck was the emperor?

Even though the Devil Sect had come up with an excellent plan, the emperor should have been strong enough to quell the chaos in an instant!

The woman spoke up again. “Lord Shi, this matter doesn’t concern you. Please move aside.”

Shi Miao gradually calmed himself. Since this assassin had recognized him, she was probably someone from the imperial court. “Now that I’m here, how can I stand aside and do nothing?”

Was she joking? All would have been well if he hadn’t come along, but now that he had, there was no way he would stand idly by. That would be akin to announcing to the whole world that he was on King Qi’s side. There was no way His Majesty would ever let him off the hook.

His regret grew stronger. He had assumed that these were a ragged band of assassins that could be easily dealt with, and that doing so would grant him great recognition. It was likely that the emperor would also generously compensate the Shi clan for Shi Kun’s death as well. There was no way he could have anticipated such a serious situation to develop. He was worried about just keeping himself alive, let alone the crown prince.

The woman’s voice grew cold. “Since Lord Shi insists on choosing the wrong path, I have no choice but to cross you.”

By the time the words left her mouth, she had already appeared in front of Shi Miao. Her palm flashed forward, sending out a terrifying wave of force. It was clear that she planned to get rid of the crown prince behind him as quickly as possible as well.

Shi Miao’s expression changed, and his guard went up immediately. A giant tornado took form in front of him, sending countless wind blades flying towards his opponent.

Zu An was completely bowled over. He had seen Shi Kun use something similar in the dungeon behind the academy, but Shi Kun’s tornado was a mere loach compared to this massive dragon!

Not only that, Shi Miao’s tornado had wind blades hidden within it, every single one of them boasting destructive power. A single hit would surely result in a fountain of blood.

Zu An was even more convinced that it was past time to leave. Now that the sect master of the Devil Sect’s was here, Qiu Honglei’s safety was guaranteed.

A huge boom echoed around the palace as the giant tornado crashed into the slim, fair palm standing in its way. Not only was her hand not diced up, the tornado was scattered instead.

The shockwaves made the entire eastern palace tremble, and the assassins and guards who had been locked in a fierce battle were thrown to the ground.

This was the power within just a single strike!

The woman smiled sweetly. “Your cultivation was slightly lower than mine to begin with, and now, you have to protect both the crown prince and princess. That makes you even less of a match for me.”

Shi Miao calmed the swirling blood and ki within his body as he replied, “The winner of our contest will be determined soon enough. Do you only fight with your mouth?”

The woman’s eyes turned cold. “You’re courting death!”

She attacked even more viciously, aiming straight at his vital spots.

Shi Miao was stunned. What did I say to make you this angry?

He had no time to answer his own question. All his focus was on defending himself.

Zu An was the only one who almost laughed out loud. She’s the sect master of the Devil Sect, and those she interacts with tiptoe around her. A girl using her mouth to fight? It was easy enough to associate that with something else. She probably thought that Shi Miao was mocking her, although he had no such intention.

Yes, keep fighting! Beat the shit out of Shi Miao for me! Zu An wanted to see the world in chaos. He was connected to Shi Kun’s death, after all. He was worried that, if the Shi clan could not hold the crown princess accountable, they would come after him instead. It was in his best interests if the most powerful member of the Shi clan was beaten down.

At that instant, a faint breeze brushed past him, carrying a sweet fragrance. The crown princess was beside him, carrying the crown prince and looking at him with her beautiful eyes. “Golden token lord, please keep us safe,” she pleaded with him.

Even though Shi Miao was formidable, they could clearly see that his entire body was trembling, and his robes were spotted with blood. He had clearly been wounded already. 

The crown princess was an intelligent person, and she knew that she was in danger if she continued to stay behind Shi Miao. If he left a single opening for his opponent, it was likely that they would all be dead. That drove her decision to flee. This removed the need for Shi Miao to defend them, which meant that he could fight with no distractions, and perhaps hold on a little longer. What they needed the most right now was time.

The area was crawling with assassins, which limited the safe places that she could flee to. It would have probably been best to join up with the crown prince’s lesser tutor, since his cultivation was high, and he was loyal to the crown prince. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by powerful assassins, and bringing the crown prince to him would only cause him more trouble.

The only choice left to her was the golden-token envoy. He had demonstrated great strength earlier on. Even though he had been heavily outclassed by the woman’s flying sword, it was expected, since that was a full-powered attack by a master rank cultivator. Just being able to evade it was already rather impressive.

The most powerful member of the assassins, that woman, was being held up by Shi Miao. The rest of the assassins should be no match for this golden-token envoy.

As she spoke, the crown princess felt her entire body go weak. She staggered, and couldn’t help but fall into Zu An’s arms.

Zu An was stunned speechless.

What the hell? I was just about to bail! Why the hell are you coming to me and pulling all the aggro with you?

Also, why the hell are you falling into my arms? Please conduct yourself in a more dignified manner.

He had just gone through the whole ridiculous situation with the empress, saving her while having her fall into his arms. Not only were his contributions not recognized, he had instead found himself in a mountain of trouble.

The crown prince’s eyes lit up when he saw this. He spread his arms and leaped at Zu An. “I want a hug! I want a hug too!”

Zu An would have facepalmed if he could.

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