King Qi watched Zu An’s retreating figure. An eleventh golden-token envoy had suddenly appeared as soon as he arrived at the capital, while, after all these years, the Embroidered Envoy had only ever had ten golden-token envoys that had gone through a stringent selection process. This Golden Token Eleven seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Even he couldn’t find out anything about him, despite his extensive information network.
After matters surrounding Cheng Xiong had come to a head, he’d looked into the matter and discovered that Cheng Xiong had his suspicions regarding Golden Token Eleven. And it was only after Zu An entered the imperial prison that the assassins immediately changed their tune. Their confessions were the final nail in Cheng Xiong’s coffin.
Even though it seemed rather unlikely, it was better to have someone look into it quietly.
The Phoenix Nirvana Sutra was on his mind as well. Even though Zu An said that it didn’t grant immortality, he was not about to trust him so easily. The only way he could be sure was if he could snag a copy to examine for himself.
He’d called Zu An over precisely because he wanted to extract the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra out of him. However, after several meetings with him, it was clear that Zu An wasn’t easy to deal with. Now that the crown princess was sheltering him like this, he couldn’t push too hard, in case he incurred the emperor’s wrath.
How was he going to get the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra out of him, then?
A sudden flash of inspiration struck King Qi, and he recovered his usual composure.
Meanwhile, the crown princess noticed Zu An returning. She quickly walked over and asked quietly, “Did King Qi do anything to you?”
Zu An’s expression was sour. “Do you think King Qi is the type who will pat you on the shoulder innocently, but a few days later, all your blood vessels somehow end up exploding?”
The crown princess froze. “He is a grandmaster, so he probably can do that…” she replied subconsciously.
Her words made Zu An’s expression curdle even further.
“Did King Qi make things difficult for you?” The crown princess’ expression grew concerned.
Zu An shook his head. “He didn’t. He only asked me some questions.”
It wouldn’t be helpful to reveal anything else to her. She wouldn’t be able to retaliate against King Qi anyway.
Despite this, he still expressed his gratitude. “Thank you, Crown Princess, for saving me. If you hadn’t shown up, I might have been finished.”
Whether it was the Devil Sect’s assassins being exposed, or King Qi’s questioning, either would have led to a bad ending.
The crown princess approved of his attitude. “Don’t dwell on it too much. I didn’t do this specially to save you. I would have done the same for any other subordinate loyal to the crown prince.”
Zu An couldn’t help but chuckle. King Qi’s earlier words were already showing their effects. This woman was afraid that he would develop unrealistic expectations about her.
“The crown princess empathizes with us officials,” he replied. “We all understand.”
The crown princess nodded. “Let’s head back to the eastern palace before King Qi finds you alone and seizes you again.”
Zu An found himself in a bind. “I won’t be returning with you, Crown Princess. I still have some matters to take care of.”
He still had to clean up the situation within the imperial prison, before anyone grew suspicious of him.
“What else do you need to take care of?” the crown princess asked curiously.
Zu An cast his mind about, then said, “His Majesty made a request of me.” He wasn’t exactly lying. After all, the emperor had ordered him to infiltrate the Devil Sect, hadn’t he? Even if the emperor found out about this afterwards, it would be no big deal.
The crown princess was rather surprised. She looked at him with fresh eyes. She was surprised that he had gained the emperor’s favor as well.
Indeed, I must do my best to rope him in.
As the crown princess’ entourage began to leave, Zu An pulled Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun aside. “I won’t thank you guys since we’re bros. We’ll all go to the government brothel when there’s some free time. It’ll be my treat.”
Piao Duandiao’s eyes, which were ringed in dark circles, lit up. “That sounds great!” he said with a laugh.
Even though his back was about to break from the frequency with which he visited that place, he wasn’t about to refuse, not when someone else was footing the bill.
Jiao Sigun couldn’t help himself, and blurted out, “That’s not right... Since you’ve already said that there’s no need for thanks, then why are you inviting us to…”
Piao Duandiao cut him off before he could finish. “All you need to say is whether you want to go or not!”
Jiao Sigun seemed conflicted, but he couldn’t resist in the end. “I want to!”
“If you want to, then just shut up.” Piao Duandiao smacked him on the back of the head, then smiled at Zu An. “It’s decided, then! We’ll meet up when we have some free time.”
Zu An chuckled. He felt as though he was among friends from his previous world… Pah, was I also such a person back then?
Seeing that there was no one left around him, he quickly went back inside the imperial prison. He had to somehow wake up those jailers, and then pretend to have just woken up as well.
The jailers blinked rapidly when they realized that the prisoners were gone. All of them began to panic.
“This is a sin punishable by the eradication of the entire clan…”
As they mumbled amongst themselves, their leader hurried to sound the alarm.
Zu An grabbed him. “What are you doing?”
“Obviously I’m contacting the other imperial guards to search for the criminals,” he replied swiftly.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” asked Zu An. “If word of this matter gets out and it blows up, all of your possessions will be confiscated, and your entire clan will be eradicated!”
“But if we don’t immediately issue a report, the same thing will happen…” The head jailer was on the brink of tears.
Zu An said, “All of us are responsible for the escape of the criminals today. Once our superiors begin to assign blame, none of us will survive..”
The prison head grabbed his clothes. “Lord Zu, you’re experienced and knowledgeable. Please tell us if you have any suggestions.”
“How about we send some people out to see if the criminals have done anything yet?” suggested Zu An.
The prison head paused for a moment, then quickly sent out some of his men to investigate. They reported back swiftly. “All is quiet within the palace. Nothing seems to have happened.”
Zu An sighed in relief. Sun Luzhen and the others must have already escaped.
The head jailer was confused by this. “How could this be? How could these prisoners escape without drawing any attention?”
“I know!” Zu An pretended to have suddenly realized something. Drawing the head jailer’s attention, he pulled him into a corner and said, “Do you remember those golden-armored guards that barged in without warning?”
His conversation with King Qi had revealed that King Qi knew about the events within the prison.It was likely that he had informants within the prison. He wanted to talk to the head jailer privately, to prevent any more information from reaching King Qi’s ears.
“Were there? I don’t remember.” The prison leader scratched his head in confusion. His brain felt extremely foggy. He just couldn’t remember.
Zu An criticized him harshly. “How can you remember nothing? They were King Qi’s men. Your men tried to stop them from barging in, but were knocked out by them.”
“Huh? It’s coming back to me, vaguely. I was pretty angry as well. What happened afterwards…” The prison leader felt as though his head was about to explode, yet he still couldn’t figure anything else out.
Zu An sighed. ‘Worries Be Gone’ really could disrupt one’s memory. However, it didn’t completely erase the memory, but merely broke up the memories into fragments. With enough reminders, the mind could still piece a little of it back together. After speaking these half-truths, the lead jailer finally remembered the arrival of King Qi’s men.
Zu An pressed on. “Who do you think could possibly rescue these criminals in such a supernatural way, without alarming any of the other guards?”
The head jailor seemed alarmed. “Are you talking about King Qi?”
He remembered that the prisoners had insisted that they were working for King Qi. Could King Qi have come to rescue his own men? Or perhaps he’d come to silence them?
Zu An immediately took a step back. “You said that, not me.”
The jailer jumped in fright. “I… I was only speculating!” he said quickly. “I’d never slander King Qi.”
Zu An walked over and put his hand on the jailer’s mouth. “We’re all tied to the same ship now. If King Qi rescued these prisoners, there’s no need to make this information public. We’ll find a way to report this secretly. Our superiors will know how to handle this.”
The head jailer hesitated. “But we’ll still be punished for our negligence…”
“Are you dumb? Think about who the culprit is for a minute! It’s King Qi, His Majesty’s own brother! Would His Majesty really take him to task over this? This matter will surely remain unsettled indefinitely. If no one investigates, we can’t be charged with any crimes,” explained Zu An.
The head jailer’s eyes lit up. “Lord Zu, you truly are the guiding light that shows us the way! If it wasn’t for you, Lord Zu, all of us would have been dead many times over.”
Zu An’s expression darkened. Is this the right way to use a guiding light?
Despite this thought, he repeated his warning to the head jailer. “This is an extremely important matter. Don’t tell anyone else about it. The more people know about it, the faster things get out of hand. Once the nobles within the imperial court find out, it’ll be a bloodbath. If that happens, His Majesty would not be able to keep the peace, and we’d all be done for..”
The prison head patted his chest and said, “Of course I know that! Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about it. As for my guys over there, I know how to keep them quiet.”
“That’s good, then.” Zu An left the imperial prison in a better mood. The only thing left to take care of was to get Yun Jianyue out of the palace.
He sighed. To be honest, I really want to continue living together with that incredible beauty…
As he wallowed in regret, he suddenly sensed something, and his head whipped around. However, there was no one behind him.
Is there someone following me? Or was that just me being paranoid?Previous Chapter Next Chapter