Chapter 289: Matters of the Past [Volume 4 – Perpetual Conflict]
Zhao Jundu brought out a napkin and slowly wiped away the tea on his hand. By the time he looked back up, his expression had resumed its calm ambiguity. “Let me handle this matter. Don’t tell my father and brothers just yet.”
Uncle Wang nodded, heaving a deep sigh in his heart.
Those old matters were extremely convoluted, and its aftermath was also extremely bizarre. Although Zhao Jundu was old enough to remember the events back then, how much information could a child have heard? But since he was able to connect the dots just from some isolated phrases, it was apparent that he had never forgotten the past, or perhaps he had secretly investigated this matter before.
“But regarding the princess…” Uncle Wang was hesitant.
A spirited gleam flashed through the depths of Zhao Jundu’s eyes as he said indifferently, “Because of him, mother had to go through a difficult labor when she gave birth to Xixi and hadn’t recovered up to this to this day. Additionally, mother wasn’t, at all, involved in the matters back then. Regarding this, Uncle Wang, you should be even clearer than me. That being said, why should we trouble mother with something completely irrelevant?”
Uncle Wang’s heart trembled ever so slightly, but in the end, he nodded solemnly and said, “Rest assured, Fourth Young Master, this old servant won’t breathe a word of this.”
Uncle Wang’s loyalty toward Princess Gaoyi was unquestioned. Since he had made his way here, it was already apparent that he had no intention to alarm the princess.
Zhao Jundu didn’t say anything else and only asked, “What does that person look like? Since he was unconscious, you were able to obtain a personal belonging of his, right? I have methods to track him as long as I have something directly related to him.”
“Back then, the Young Miss didn’t allow us to approach, however, the young miss does have something belonging to him.”
Uncle Wang came prepared—producing a portrait and a dagger, he placed them in front of Zhao Jundu. The simple but lifelike artwork of the portrait outlined Qianye’s appearance with a few simple strokes. The dagger, on the other hand, was the Radiant Edge which Zhao Ruoxi hadn’t returned.
Uncle Wang said, “Fourth Young Master, this dagger belongs to the Young Miss’ collection. I only ‘borrowed’ it for a while and will have to return it afterwards.”
Zhao Jundu replied, “It’s fine. It’s said that Xixi will head toward the Northern Mountain King’s residence after visiting my mother. This journey will take at least ten days, and I won’t require more than five days.”
“In that case, this old servant is relieved.” Uncle Wang got up and excused himself, but he paused as he reached the door and hesitated for a while before saying, “Fourth Young Master, there’s one more thing. I’m not sure if I should speak.”
Uncle Wang, his heart full of worries, didn’t notice Zhao Jundu’s hand on the portrait tremble ever so slightly.
“What is it?” Zhao Jundu’s voice was still tranquil and without any fluctuation.
“It seems, to this old servant, that the Young Miss has… some feelings for that man.”
Zhao Jundu suddenly stood up with an astonished expression. “Is this true?”
“Unless my old eyes deceive me, it is… indeed so.”
Zhao Jundu inhaled deeply and soon resumed his calm. “Very well, I understand.”
Zhao Jundu held onto the portrait for a while even after the door was closed. He then proceeded to rummage through the documents on the table for that grey portfolio, within which was another sketch of a certain person. The two drawings were of completely different styles, but the subjects looked somewhat similar.
Zhao Jundu crunched up the two papers. They were slowly ground into fine powder in his hand before flowing out from the gaps between his fingers. He stood there for quite some time before picking up the Radiant Edge and walking out of the study.
Year round in the outer courtyard, there was a fully prepared carriage ready to set out at a moment’s notice. The main residence was the size of a small city, so a means of transportation was necessary to travel toward the outer residences. Zhao Jundu’s expression was as gloomy as water—he boarded the carriage and only instructed the driver to head toward the Elder Assembly before closing his eyes in silence.
The driver had followed Zhao Jundu for a long time. Seeing the young master in an extremely bad mood, he dared not say a single word and started driving steadily toward the Elder Assembly as swiftly as he could.
The silver carriage drove straight into the Elder Assembly and parked in front of a solitary courtyard on its eastern side.
Zhao Jundu alighted and, stopping the boy servant who was about to announce him, headed directly into the courtyard.
The courtyard wasn’t very big, but the flowers and plants within were arranged meticulously. There was even a canopy full of purple grapes. Being in season at the moment, the vines were heavily laden with fruit and bunches of them could be seen hanging down amidst the verdant leaves. An elder was sitting there on a chair made of vines, resting with his eyes clothes while fiddling with the two perfectly round jade spheres in his hand.
Just as Zhao Jundu entered through the door, the old man said without opening his eyes, “Ah, it’s Jundu. What a rare occasion for you to visit this old man. Speak, what kind of troublesome business do you need me to handle?”
Zhao Jundu was very familiar with the elder’s temperament and thus got right to the point. He passed the dagger over and said, “Sixth elder, it hasn’t been very long since this blade left its previous owner. This nephew wants you to take action and find that person’s whereabouts. He’s a youth about 20 years of age and about rank seven or eight in strength.”
The elder slowly opened his eyes and frowned. “I knew nothing good would come of your visit. This business will ruin my constitution. Is he on the Western Continent?”
After hearing this, the elder’s brows almost bunched up into a ball as he said, “That makes it even more difficult. You have to know that this deed will consume ten years of my cultivation.”
Zhao Jundu’s expression remained unchanged. “This matter is extremely important to me, and I will not hesitate to pay a certain price. Please help me, Sixth Elder.”
“This…” Sixth Elder was hesitant and his expression was quite unsightly. Even though he had already retired and no longer needed to engage in contests of strength, ten years of cultivation wasn’t something easy to part with.
Zhao Jundu said, “I heard Cousin Ruo Ming is preparing to break through to the champion rank. This nephew has some methods to help him obtain some of the most valuable medicines required for the process.”
Sixth Elder’s eyes flashed with a spirited glint and sighed while shaking his head. “This… so be it. This old man will stake it all on this one. Sigh, I wouldn’t need to worry so much for Ruo Ming, if only he were half as talented as you are!”
After receiving the Radiant Edge, Sixth Elder swiped a finger along the blade and said, “In order to trace its origin, I’ll need to offer sacrifice to the stars and pray for power. The process will require a few days.”
“Very well, I’ll be waiting for Sixth Elder’s good news.” With that, Zhao Jundu left without lingering further.
“A few days…” Zhao Jundu sat within the carriage with his eyes closed. Moments later, he said, “Notify the military; have them withdraw the ‘Blue Firmament’ and nurture it within the Celestial Pool. I shall go to war within the next few days.”
His voice was neither loud nor soft, but it was enough for the guards outside the carriage to hear clearly. Everyone’s expression trembled slightly as they responded, “Yes, Young Master.”
Zhao Jundu cultivated the Zhao clan secret art, West Pole Purple Cloud, and had already ignited nine origin nodes when he turned fifteen. The champion rank was already within arms reach, but he halted his vigorous progress for an entire five years to polish himself at the ninth rank.
During his earlier years, Zhao Jundu would disobey the family teachings and appear in battle from time to time. But since Zhao Weihuang became the clan lord, he mostly stayed within the residence to handle administrative affairs for his father. He rarely fought except in major imperial events such as the spring hunt.
However, he would never lose whenever he went to battle and even his guards had no clear grasp of his martial prowess. They only knew that he had never encountered his match at the same level.
Just before twilight, the atmosphere in Darkshore City was extremely tense. They couldn’t casually close off the city gates, but the inspection process had become extremely stringent, causing a long line to form at the gates.
Meanwhile, within a small inconspicuous courtyard two streets away from the city guard headquarters, Wang Youyuan was standing before Zhao Youpin with his waist bent at a near-ninety-degree angle and half his face badly swollen.
“Worthless! What use would I have for you if you can’t even manage such a small business? Now we have neither the goods nor the person, and even lost a fair number of our city guard brothers. How do I report such a blown-up matter to the superiors? Humph! Although that old man, the city lord, has one foot in the grave, he’s still sitting in that position!”
Before Zhao Youpin’s tongue-lashing, Wang Youyuan could only repeat the same words while slapping himself. “I’m worthy of death.”
Zhao Youpin suddenly glared coldly at him and said, “Is there no news yet?”
The guard nearby said hurriedly, “Sire, we’ll give you a report as soon as we have news!”
“A bunch of trash!”
The guard glanced at Zhao Youpin’s expression and hurriedly left after saying, “I’ll go rush them!”
Zhao Youpin walked toward the window in frustration and said suddenly, “Fine, since that brat is still in the city, I’ll take action myself and take his worthless life!”
“You’re going to act personally?” Wang Youyuan swallowed hard and said cautiously, “Sire, I think that brat is a rank-eight fighter, the same as yourself. Even Triblade Ma lost in his hands, so I fear he’s not easy to deal with! Why don’t we find more people to join you?”
Zhao Youpin replied coldly, “How can our Zhao clan’s combat techniques be compared to that low life’s? Triblade Ma maybe of a higher level, but I only need three moves to kill him! Find more people?! Are you worried that the matter isn’t big enough yet? The top priority right now is to kill that brat as soon as possible. The goods are secondary. Even I will be in trouble if this matter is exposed, to speak nothing of you. That bastard’s aides are all watching us attentively and waiting for us to make a mistake!”
“You’re indeed valiant, sire!” Wang Youyuan hurriedly flattered with a somewhat frightened expression.
The city guard was, of course, not under Zhao Youpin’s sole command. There were two other captains, one of whom was a trusted aide of the current city lord. The other captain, the strongest among them, was from an external family, and thus had always remained neutral in factional disputes.
Although Wang Youyuan had given Li Liu the timely instruction to finish off Triblade Ma, he naturally wouldn’t let the latter’s nephew off either. That way, the escaped brat would have no proof even if he wanted to complain to the authorities. Even so, it would be akin to breeding a calamity if they couldn’t kill him off.
Zhao Youpin suddenly felt his emotions in disarray and waved at Wang Youyuan, saying, “Leave!”
Wang Youyuan hurriedly excused himself as if he had received a great pardon. But he began to move back just as he got to the door.
“Didn’t I tell you to leave?! Eh?!”
Zhao Youpin saw an origin gun pressed against Wang Youyuan’s head; the latter was edging backward one step at a time, followed by a young man.
Zhao Youpin focused his gaze on Qianye and said, “Are you the one who killed my subordinate?”
“It is I.”
Zhao Youpin sneered and said as he unbuttoned his robe. “You dare kill our Zhao clan’s warriors and even make your way here. You’re quite bold!”
Qianye replied indifferently, “Your public attempt at murder and robbery is even bolder. Does imperial law still exist in this world?”
Zhao Youpin laughed and said, “The imperial law is another matter entirely. Now that you’ve killed our Zhao clan’s warriors, you’ll have no place to hide even though the world is vast!”
Qianye sneered, “Is that so? That’s fine. I won’t be losing out too much if I also kill a city guard captain like you.”
Zhao Youpin revealed a mocking smile and said, “With just you?”
He had already removed his robe to reveal the full set of flexible armor underneath. He then relaxed his limbs and lifted one leg upward while supporting himself on the other. He took on a stance resembling that of a soaring immortal crane and shouted, “I’ll let you experience the Zhao clan’s secret art, Soaring Wader Fist!”
Qianye calmly crushed Wang Youyuan’s neck and tossed the carcass away. He then slowly moved toward Zhao Youpin and assumed a combat stance.
“Military Combat Arts?” Zhao Youpin’s face was the picture of disdain.
The Military Combat Arts was the hallmark of an ordinary citizen. Even landowning households would possess familial or sect-taught secret arts. Only the most ordinary of recruits from the army would be using the Military Combat Arts up until rank eight.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
1/7 of the week!