Chapter 616: Come and Go as We Please

Zu An panicked and pulled her to the side. “You caught them unprepared earlier on, but the guards have already responded to the situation, and the palace defences have been fully activated. You’ll be throwing your life away if you go back now!”

“But my elderly master has taken good care of me all this while. How can I just do nothing?” Qiu Honglei replied anxiously.

“Elderly?” Zu An had a strange look on his face. The long-haired woman didn’t look that old! Bloody hell! You can’t trust anything you see in this world of cultivation. These women look like lolis on the outside, but they might just be older than your grandma.

But those female immortals in the books he’d read were all thousands of years old as well. Chang’e, the lady in the moon, the seven female immortals… they surely all had their fair share of simps through the ages. Did any of these men care about their age at all? 

Leaving aside these female immortals for a moment, any semi-attractive, middle-aged woman who was rich would surely draw the attention of many admirers, who would say to them, ‘Auntie, I don’t want to work anymore’...

He coughed lightly and put away these random thoughts, then quickly replied Qiu Honglei. “You can’t just throw away your own life trying to save someone else! I saw the dagger you pulled out. I know you were about to end your own life. What if you get captured on your way back into the palace?”

Qiu Honglei pursed her lips. “I’ll fight to the death with my master if I have to! My master definitely needs help right now. If I abandon her now, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. My journey along the path of my dao will be disturbed, and I won’t be able to make any more progress.”

Zu An knew that she wasn’t lying. Many cultivators of this world paid careful attention to their own mental states. If something happened to their conviction, not only would they lose the ability to advance, they might even struggle to maintain their current level of cultivation.

Zu An had no other choice. “Let me escort you out of the palace first. I’ll look for your master afterwards.”

“Really?” Qiu Honglei was overjoyed. She jumped into his arms and gave him a peck on the cheek.

Qiu Honglei blushed at his surprised expression. “What are you looking at? It’s not like I haven’t kissed you before. Didn’t I suck out the poison from your back before?”

Zu An laughed. “You consider that kissing?”

“Of course!” Qiu Honglei said with a huff. Her expression grew worried again. “I’ll go with you. We’ll be able to watch each other’s backs.”

Zu An shook his head. “No. I’m part of the Embroidered Envoy right now, which is a huge advantage for me. It would be inconvenient if you tagged along.”

Qiu Honglei nodded. She wasn’t the type of woman to pester endlessly, and was always clear on her priorities. “I’ll leave it in your hands. Please help me save my master.”

“Okay, I’ll do my best. Rest easy. Your master is a glorious grandmaster rank cultivator, after all. It’s not that easy to finish her off,” consoled Zu An, holding onto her hand comfortingly.

Qiu Honglei was still worried. “I wouldn’t have been worried if her opponent had been anyone else, but it was the emperor that she faced!”

“Don’t worry. Even if it’s just for your sake, I will do everything I can to save her,” said Zu An.

Qiu Honglei looked at him with gentle, tear-filled eyes. She was incredibly moved. “Ah Zu, you’re the best.”

She had already completely forgiven him for protecting the crown princess and fighting on the side of her enemies.

Zu An smiled cheekily. “In that case, how about you give me another kiss?”

Qiu Honglei’s face turned red. She got on her tiptoes to give him another kiss on the cheek. However, he suddenly turned his head and met her lips with his own.

Caught unprepared, their lips met in a kiss. Qiu Honglei backpedaled immediately, horrendously embarrassed. Her face was entirely red. “You… you’re shameless!”

Zu An laughed. “Now that I’ve gotten a kiss from Honglei, I feel much more motivated to rescue our master.”

Qiu Honglei rolled her eyes when she heard him call her master ‘our master.’ This fellow really is as shameless as before. But… I suppose I don’t hate it.

She felt her cheeks heating up and said quickly, “My master has a mask covering her face. How are you going to recognize her?”

Zu An looked at her strangely as the image of the woman from the eastern palace flashed into his mind. “With hair that long, it’ll be hard not to recognize her, right?”

“I guess you’re right,” replied Qiu Honglei with a chuckle. She had always been envious of her master’s beautiful long hair.

“I’ll escort you out of the palace first.” Zu An looked over at a nearby palace gate. “I’ll draw the guards’ attention. Use that opportunity to climb over the wall.”

He chose this place because the palace walls here were slightly lower.

“All right!” Qiu Honglei looked up at the walls. As long as no one was keeping watch up there, her cultivation was high enough that she could scale the wall without any trouble.

Zu An strutted towards the gate.

The gate guards noticed him immediately. “Halt! Name yourself!” 

He gave no reply, but continued walking forward. His uniform, which marked him as an Embroidered Envoy, made their eyes narrow.

“My Lord, may I ask what you’re doing here?” A lesser officer asked. His eyes continuously drifted towards Zu An’s command token, clearly incredibly shocked. It was a golden-token envoy!

“I wish to leave the palace,” Zu An said in low, muffled tones.

The guards looked troubled. “My Lord, assassins got into the palace, and the palace gates are shut. No one is allowed out.”

Zu An picked up his golden token and held it out in front of them. He deliberately roared out in anger, “I am carrying out a mission for the emperor. How dare you stop me? Are you willing to bear the consequences of delaying His Majesty’s orders?”

The guards looked at each other in dismay. They wanted to dissuade Zu An from leaving, but Zu An maintained an unquestionable attitude, which was starting to get on their nerves.

This golden-token envoy really was quite a character!

Uh… wait. He really isn’t that incredible...

However, they did not dare let anyone out of the palace, not after the assassins had managed to breach it somehow. They were confident that they could bar his way.

The atmosphere was growing more and more tense, and the guards stationed at the city wall were drawn in as well. If a fight broke out, these guards were definitely going to suffer, going up against this golden-token envoy.

Qiu Honglei smiled when she saw Zu An disciplining the guards like they were his grandsons. This fellow really was a first-rate bully.

She didn’t waste this chance he had created for her. Using the chink in the guards’ defenses, she scaled the wall.

Zu An sighed in relief when he saw her leave safely. He could see more guards making their way over, all of them holding blades, with sour looks on their faces. He coughed lightly and said, “All of you men are excellent. You have carried out your orders loyally. I was only coming here to test your response. I am satisfied with the result. Remember to keep up the good work. No matter who comes, unless they come with the emperor’s decree, no one is allowed to leave! Do you understand?!”

“We understand!” 

Zu An raised his voice at the end, scaring the guards into replying subconsciously.

“Thank you for your hard work. I am heading to the other gates to let them know.” Zu An seemed unfazed, but his heart was pounding. He quickly turned around to leave.

All the guards stared at his departing figure in bewilderment.

Is he crazy?!

We’re already in such an anxious situation, yet he still has to come and put us to the test!

We had to listen to your lecture as well! Are you using us for your own amusement?

Of course, since he was a golden-token envoy, they could not openly express their anger.

You have successfully trolled the palace gate guards for 666… 666… 666…

Zu An felt incredibly refreshed when he saw the incoming Rage points. As expected, Rage points were easier to earn when there were more people to taunt! He had to pay a visit to the camps in the city outskirts. He’d surely make a killing in Rage points there!

Now, though, he had to find and rescue Qiu Honglei’s master. The imperial palace was massive, and finding her was going to be quite troublesome.

He returned to the eastern palace and was about to enquire about the situation. However, he was stunned to realize that the entire palace had been razed to the ground.

The emperor fought against a grandmaster… isn’t the aftermath just a little too ludicrous?

He was just about to question someone when a bronze-token envoy rushed to his side. “My Lord, I’ve been looking for you for some time.”

Zu An was stunned. “Why were you looking for me?”

The one drawback about the Embroidered Envoy was that they all wore masks and uniforms, making it difficult to tell who was who.

The envoy replied respectfully, “His Majesty has summoned you. We weren’t able to find you until now.”

Zu An was surprised. “Take me there immediately.”

He followed this person to the imperial study. Even before he even entered, he could already hear the emperor’s furious voice. “Do you think the imperial palace is a market? Why were those assassins allowed to come and go wherever they pleased? Do you still wish to keep your heads or not?!”

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