Chapter 669: Two Faces

Zu An felt rather unsettled. Danger lurked around every corner, and he wasn’t about to let down his guard.

Even though his cultivation had reached a rather high rank, there were many others stronger than him within the imperial palace, and there were many techniques in this world that enabled their practitioners to hide their traces. It wasn’t a surprise that he couldn’t sense the other party’s aura.

He used the jade badge to communicate with the little creatures nearby. Through their eyes, he could see everything in a ten-zhang radius.

Aside from the patrolling guards, there didn’t seem to be anyone else.

Hold on… Zu An suddenly noticed someone familiar around the corner a few zhang away. It was a pale and chubby eunuch.

“Him?” Zu An frowned. This was none other than Eunuch Wen, who served at the emperor’s side.

He always saw Eunuch Wen smiling, regardless of who he was around. His constant cheerful demeanor, coupled with his chubbiness, made him seem like the friendly sort. Now, though, his expression was dark and foreboding, very much unlike his usual self.

Was this his true self?

Zu An shivered. He’d been well and truly deceived by this fellow’s amiable features.

He’d assumed it was King Qi who’d someone after him, especially after the setback Zu An had inflicted on him. He never expected it to be someone on the emperor’s side.

Has the emperor always had someone tailing me?

That doesn’t seem right, though. The emperor possessed a divine will, and so he did not need to have anyone tail him. Furthermore, this sensation had only appeared recently, probably right after he’d offended King Qi. Hm? Is Eunuch Wen one of King Qi’s men?

Zu An immediately jumped in fright as soon as this thought emerged. After all, Eunuch Wen served at the emperor's side! If even he had been bought by King Qi, it was merely confirmation of how formidable King Qi was.

Didn’t this make the emperor look dumb, though? Given how powerful he was, how could he be completely oblivious to the fact that those closest to him had been bribed? That can’t be possible, can it?

However, he recalled the TV shows he’d seen in his past world. The more unlikely it was, the more deadly the trap…

His thoughts ran amok, and his mind started to spin.

Around the corner, Eunuch Wen smoothed out his clothing, then rubbed his chubby face. The smile that Zu An was used to seeing returned to his face.

As the eunuch turned the corner, he directed a look of pleasant surprise at Zu An. “Lord Zu, I was just looking for you.”

Zu An forced a smile. Now that he knew this man had two faces, it was difficult for him to be as easy-going as before. “Eunuch Wen! Is there anything you need from me?”

Eunuch Wen smiled. “His Majesty wishes to meet with you. Please come with me to the imperial study, Lord Zu.”

Even though the sun was high in the sky, the eunuch’s smile still caused Zu An to shiver. “Thank you for your trouble. I’ll make my way over right now.”

“This way, Lord Zu!” Eunuch Wen said with a smile.

Zu An bowed, then followed the eunuch to the imperial study.

Now that he’d met with the emperor a few times, he didn’t feel as scared as before.

Besides, the emperor still had many things that he needed Zu An to take care of. He’d employ his political tricks to scare him, but there was no way he would really harm him.

Instead, it was Eunuch Wen, hiding behind his innocent smile, that gave Zu An a headache.

Should I bring this matter up with the emperor later, to determine if he’s truly working for King Qi or not?

Zu An immediately dismissed the thought as soon as it appeared.

If Eunuch Wen had actually been sent by the emperor to monitor him, he would be the one being exposed instead.

Even if there’s something not right with Eunuch Wen, I have no proof. Now really isn’t the time to say strange things and ruin my relationship with the emperor. This man has served the emperor for so long, and he would surely trust him more than he trusts me.

If Eunuch Wen retaliates against me, things would be much worse.

It’s better if I don’t reveal anything right now. Eunuch Wen doesn’t know that I know his true nature, so I’m the one with the advantage. If I unmask him now, I’ll lose this advantage.

“Lord Zu, is there something on your mind today?” asked Eunuch Wen with a chuckle. “You seem much more quiet than usual.”

Zu An shivered. Did he notice anything? He quickly flashed a smile. “I can’t help but feel a hint of alarm whenever His Majesty summons me,” he explained.

“I see.” Eunuch Wen seemed relieved. “There’s actually no need for Lord Zu to feel too worried. His Majesty seems to be in a rather good mood today.”

“Thank you for letting me know.” Zu An passed him two banknotes, each worth a hundred taels of silver. It was always better to appease such sly and cunning individuals first.

Eunuch Wen’s smile widened further when he noticed the banknotes. His eyes almost closed into slits.

When they arrived at the imperial study, Eunuch Wen waited outside. When Zu An walked in, the emperor was seated on the dragon throne, reading a book. He seemed rather relaxed.

“Your Majesty, I pay my respects,” Zu An said in greeting.

The emperor grunted in acknowledgment. A moment later, he lowered the book and asked, “You’ve already freed the assassins in the imperial prison?”

“I am fortunate to report that I haven’t disappointed His Majesty in this task.” Zu An cursed him in his heart. Aren’t you asking a question you already know the answer to? You even swept your blasted divine will over me.

The emperor nodded in satisfaction. “Does the Devil Sect suspect anything?”

“I don’t think so, I pushed all of the blame onto King Qi…” He told the emperor what had transpired, leaving out a small bit.

“That was rather intelligent of you. Now, those people stationed within the imperial prison won’t suspect a thing, and no news will get out.” The emperor smiled. This kid from the streets is much more capable than those well-educated children of the nobility. I don’t think there are many others who could have taken care of this matter as cleanly as he did.

“Unfortunately, I ended up accidentally bumping into King Qi as I left the imperial prison,” continued Zu An. “He was suspicious of the group of assassins, who were disguised as imperial guards. In a moment of desperation, I had no choice but to say that Guard Leader Liu Chenyu had been summoned by you, Your Majesty…”

The emperor laughed out loud. “I never expected that resourceful lil’ bro of mine to be completely fooled by a kid like you.”

Zu An’s expression grew strange. He knew that the two of them were brothers. The emperor was the older brother, while King Qi was the younger, which made him number two. However, calling him ‘lil’ bro’ just sounded so weird.[1]

Not wanting to draw suspicion onto himself, he quickly said,  “I’m only clever when it comes to trivial matters. King Qi was only tricked because of his carelessness. Once he looks into the matter, he will know that I was lying.”

As he said this, he tried his best to look worried.

Sigh. I’ve hung out with these old foxes for so long that I’m about to become one myself.

The emperor waved his hand and said, “You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll make the arrangements.”

Zu An exhaled audibly. He’d been afraid that King Qi would look into Liu Chengyu’s whereabouts. Now that the emperor said that he would take care of it, that was surely nothing for him to worry about anymore.

The emperor remained quiet for a moment, then said, “Now that you’ve offended King Qi, how are you going to complete the first task I gave you?”

Zu An explained, “King Qi has a suspicious personality, and is incredibly shrewd. If I hand him the fake manual directly, he will only become more suspicious. By doing the exact opposite and making him think that he obtained the manual through his own means, things will go much more smoothly.”

“Hmph, not bad. What you say makes sense.” The emperor nodded. That fit with what he knew of his little brother.

Something came to Zu An’s mind, and he said anxiously, “Your Majesty, King Qi patted me three times just now. I’m worried that he might have used some sort of treacherous technique on me, like a bone-melting palm. Unfortunately, I can’t tell right away if he’d done so. Can you help me take a look? My life is of no consequence, but I fear I will fail to carry out the mission Your Majesty has given me.”

The emperor was momentarily stunned by this mention of a bone-melting palm technique, and only realized what Zu An meant after listening to his whole speech. He grew serious as well. “Come over and let me take a look.”

“Yes, Your Majesty!” Zu An was overjoyed. With the help of the strongest expert, any restrictions or techniques that King Qi had placed on him could be easily cleansed.     

The emperor looked him over, then unexpectedly patted his body gently three times. “It’s done.”

Zu An was overjoyed. “Thank you, Your Majesty!”

The emperor sneered. “Don’t be so pleased. King Qi doesn’t know how to employ the restrictions that you described, but I just happen to know them. What you said  earlier on reminded me about it, so I’ve set up some restrictions on your body. This way, you’ll carry out the tasks I have assigned you with more care.”

Zu An’s mouth fell wide open in shock.

1. The ‘lil’ bro’ here is slang for penis.

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