Chapter 650: A Sinister Undertaking

They had deliberately chosen to discuss matters in the spacious courtyard precisely because they were worried that there might be a secret eavesdropping room inside.

The main structure of the residence wasn’t that far away from the courtyard, though, and those with higher cultivations could still hear what they were saying. However, once Qin Guangyuan took out a strange rock and put it on the table, the two of them inside the building discovered that they couldn’t hear anything anymore.

“That’s a soundproofing stone produced by the Royal Academy. It can prevent sound from leaving a certain radius.” Qiu Honglei was experienced and knowledgeable, and quickly explained what had happened.

“The Royal Academy?” Zu An was momentarily puzzled, but he quickly realized that this was probably the highest educational establishment in the Zhou Dynasty. It would be akin to the Imperial College of the olden days.

The most outstanding students from places like Brightmoon Academy would be enrolled in the Royal Academy to further their studies. Once they graduated from their studies there, they would immediately become officials.

In reality, any student who could enter this Royal Academy was already good enough to become an official. However, everyone still wanted to achieve as much as they could within the academy before leaving it. After all, the greater their cultivation, the higher the starting point in their careers, which would have a snowballing effect on their future prospects. No one was keen on beginning life as an official too quickly.

Qiu Honglei was worried. “I can’t hear what they’re saying. What do we do? Should I have Shuangyue find a way to get closer?” 

“There’s no need. I have a way.” Zu An closed his eyes and began to look around for small creatures around the courtyard. Besides the insects, he mostly found mice. However, mice would be quickly killed once they got close.

He eventually chose a tabby cat, and made it approach the group lazily.

Cats are cute. These people probably wouldn’t react badly to it, would they?

Sure enough, the four of them noticed the cat as soon as it approached, but when they saw that it was just a cat, they let out sighs of relief, and left it alone.

“Why did you bring us here today, Brother Cheng?” Qin Guangyuan asked, his posture steady and upright. 

Across from him, Qin Yongde lounged in a much more relaxed manner. He leaned lazily into his chair as though there were no bones in his body.

As for Chu Youzhao, her face was flushed red from intoxication, and her vision was slightly blurry. She looked extremely captivating.

Cheng Gang looked over, then retracted his gaze in shock. The young master of the Chu clan really was pretty. If he had been from an ordinary clan, he might have taken him home to play with him for a little bit.

Even though he didn’t swing that way, he wasn’t averse to giving it a try if it were someone as pretty as Chu Youzhao.

He coughed lightly and put away these thoughts. “All of you should already know that the assassins from the previous attack have all admitted that they were sent by King Qi.”

Chu Youzhao slammed the table. “But we’re clearly being framed!” The alcohol had clearly made her much bolder.

Qin Yongde smiled slightly. “If even we can tell that this is a setup, why can’t His Majesty?”

Qin Guangyuan frowned. “I’m afraid that His Majesty knows, but is pretending otherwise.”

Qin Yongde’s smile froze, and Chu Youzhao frowned as well. They clearly recognized that the chances of this were high. Cheng Gang said, “As expected, young master, your vision is sharp. This is what my father believes as well. His majesty might use this attack as an excuse to target those belonging to King Qi’s faction. My father’s current situation is rather precarious, and he cannot seek out the State Duke of Triumph and the State Duke of Prestige directly. That is why they need us to serve as intermediaries.”

Zu An nodded inwardly. So, they had come all the way to the government brothel just to pull wool over everyone else’s eyes.

Qin Guangyuan asked, “Has your esteemed father determined where those assassins came from yet?”

Cheng Gang shook his head. “He hasn’t. We only know that the assassins were led by a young, long-haired woman with grandmaster-rank cultivation.”

“A young woman, a grandmaster?” Chu Youzhao said in a high-pitched voice. She has always been annoyed at the fact that she hadn’t been born a man. It would have solved many of the Chu clan’s problems.

When she heard that this young woman was actually a grandmaster, though, she could not help but feel a sense of admiration.

Qin Yongde smiled. “Youzhao, do not be deceived by outward appearances. Those with profound cultivation can preserve their youth. She might seem like a young woman in your eyes, but she’s probably already an old granny.”

Zu An had a weird look on his face. Tell that to Yun Jianyue’s face if you have the guts. She’ll smash your stupid head open.

Although… How old is big sis sect master, really?

Chu Youzhao continued, “She looks like a long-haired young woman, but she is a grandmaster. Shouldn’t it be easy to find out who she is?”

Qin Guangyuan shook his head. “It’s far from easy. Even though there aren’t many grandmasters in this world, most of them live in seclusion, and rarely appear in public. It’s difficult for outsiders to know much about them.”

Qin Yongde, who had been slouching lazily, straightened. “Even though ordinary folk might be clueless, His Majesty should be able to guess who it is, shouldn’t he?”

Qin Guangyuan smiled bitterly. “We’ve now come full circle. His Majesty might use this opportunity to attack those in King Qi’s faction.”

Cheng Gang grunted in agreement. “That’s what my father believes as well. He is the Left Guard General, who controls part of the imperial palace army, and is an influential figure connected to King Qi. He is probably one of the people that His Majesty wants to get rid of the most. That is why my father is proactively trying to redirect the attention onto one of the Embroidered Envoy.”

No wonder this mad dog keeps trying to bite me! He was looking for a scapegoat for this matter.

“One of the Embroidered Envoy?” Qin Guangyuan nodded. “I heard something about that.”

All of them worked in the palace, so there was no way they hadn’t heard about it. 

Cheng Gang spoke through gritted teeth. “Our scheme was meticulously planned, but that embroidered envoy is rather tricky. He managed to avert disaster every time, and deflected all of my father’s plans. My father’s situation is steadily worsening.”

“He’s a golden-token envoy. Of course he’s hard to deal with.” Qin Yongde’s voice was full of dissatisfaction. There was definitely something wrong in Cheng Xiong’s head. Why did he insist on choosing a golden-token envoy? Wasn’t he courting disaster?

Cheng Gang’s own tone darkened. “My father chose him because his foundation in the capital is weak, and there was much to be suspicious about him. He might truly have a connection to the assassins. There was no way to halt the investigation once my father went that deep. Now, he has offended the Embroidered Envoy. If he cannot redirect the blame, then the retaliation from the Embroidered Envoy will be brutal.”

Qin Guangyuan nodded. “Given the current situation, there is no one else we can choose. Is there anything that General Cheng wishes for us to convey to our grandfathers?”

Even though they were outstanding among their peers, these major affairs were still dealt with by their elders. They were only messengers.

“Of course,” Cheng Gang said. “We require the two State Dukes to do a background check of Golden Token Eleven, to see if there is anything we can take advantage of.”

The Qin clan had great influence within the military, and they were also in charge of the selection of various officers. They were very much involved in such matters, and were the best people to look into this.

Qin Guangyuan frowned. “The members of the Embroidered Envoy all have mysterious backgrounds, especially the golden-token envoys. Even though the Qin clan has many people in official positions, we might not be able to find out this information.”

Cheng Gang chuckled. “Even if you do not find anything, we can still try to frame him for colluding with the assassins. This shouldn’t be too difficult for the two State Dukes to handle.”

Cheng Xiong couldn’t carry out such a task in his current predicament, so he had to ask others for help.

Qin Guangyuan frowned, but did not reply.

Chu Youzhao couldn’t stomach this any further. “Aren’t we harming an innocent person?”

Cheng Gang sneered, but stayed silent.

Qin Yongde stepped in. “Youzhao, you have to remember that, within the political circles, there is no such thing as innocence or guilt. The only thing that matters is that we choose the path that provides the greatest benefits. If we don’t do this, then His Majesty will use this opportunity to launch an attack on King Qi. If that happens, wouldn’t King Qi be the one to suffer unjustly?”

Chu Youzhao opened her mouth to speak, but  despite her disapproval, she couldn’t find a good counter argument. 

Qin Guangyuan spoke up. “Leave this matter to our Qin clan. We must act quickly and decisively.”

Cheng Gang smiled. “As expected, you young masters are straightforward. Let’s toast to success tonight!”

Now that business was out of the way, the drinking continued. They called Shuangyue and the other maids back to join them.

Zu An’s expression was dark. If he hadn’t chanced upon this discussion, he would have been in the dark about all this scheming.

These old foxes in the capital are each more treacherous than the last.

After listening to his explanation of events, Qiu Honglei grew upset as well. “These people really are a little too shameless.”

Zu An laughed bitterly. “Worst of all, they just got extremely lucky. What sort of luck is this?”

Qiu Honglei’s expression also became strange. After all, Zu An really was colluding with her group, the assassins.

Zu An turned the matter about in his mind, then said, “I need you guys to help me with something…”

As she listened to what he had to say, Qiu Honglei’s brow began to furrow. “I’m willing to help you of course, but this is a huge matter that could ruin the decades of work we’ve put into this capital city branch of ours. I can’t promise to help if the rest of the sect does not agree. I need you to agree to something first.”`

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