Everything in the house was left in place, and only she was gone. The only thing missing in the house was a piece of crystal, and that wasn’t any valuable item either—it was a gift Zhao Weihuang had bought for her using his first salary. It was also his only gift to her.
Zhao Weihuang wasn’t surprised. He issued a greeting just as though she were still at home and sat down to have dinner. He then recounted the interesting things that had happened in town just as he normally would. Her usual seat was empty, but Zhao Weihuang kept on talking to an empty chair.
At this moment, the doors burst open and a group of Zhao clan warriors rushed in. The leader was an old man—he was Duke Xuanyuan’s trusted subordinate and someone who had watched Zhao Weihuang grow up. All of them sighed in relief when they saw Zhao Weihuang. With the marriage drawing ever closer, Duke Xuanyuan had finally decided to the clan's utilize secret arts and was able to find him as expected.
“Uncle Wu, please go out first. I’ll go back with you after my meal,” Zhao Weihuang spoke calmly, but his tone left no room for disobedience. And that was the very first time this man, who would later ascend to the Zhao clan lord’s position, had exhibited the dignity of a leader.
Zhao Weihuang cleaned up the utensils after his meal. He then left the house, as well as that small town.
His life returned to the right track in the days that followed.
Zhao Weihuang successfully married Princess Gaoyi and established a formal residence in the Zhao clan. At the same time, he received permission to form the Fire Beacon Corps and won a series of continuous victories outside. The Northwestern Fire Beacon Corps achieved great fame outside, while inside the family, he gained four children in quick succession. All of them possessed outstanding talent, especially the fourth son, Zhao Jundu. During the talent assessment at one month of age, he had produced overflowing visions as brilliant as the midday sun—a rarely seen superior grade talent.
As the scion of a major clan, Zhao Weihuang seemed to possess everything. Power, achievements, children, and a bright future ahead.
That was until one year, the Swallow Cloud Zhao Clan and the Dark Nation once again fell into a total war. On his way to You Tongguan’s rescue, Zhao Weihuang was caught in an expected battle with the dark races and only managed to secure a narrow victory. Quite unfortunately, a small human town became the battlefield, and almost the entire settlement had been reduced to rubble by the end of the battle.
It was there that Zhao Weihuang saw her once again.
When she raised her head, a tall figure in martial attire was reflected in her indifferent eyes—it was as though the ten years of separation never existed.
There was seemingly no difference at all apart from the fact that she was already rank eight. The same aura, the same joy—the same captivation.
However, she had vanished once again when Zhao Weihuang woke up the next day. It was as though everything was just a dream.
With the military situation on the frontlines in a critical state, Zhao Weihuang could only leave some aides to search for her while he himself pressed on toward the conflict. Naturally, they returned empty-handed; perhaps she wasn’t even a resident of the small town and only a passer-by. With how big the world was, it was simply impossible to find this lady who called herself Yeji even with the Zhao clan’s influence.
Just when Zhao Weihuang was about to push this chance encounter back into the depths of his memory, a person appeared at the Zhao clan with a baby, asking to meet Zhao Weihuang by name.
That was an extremely ordinary old woman. Apart from handing Zhao Weihuang the baby, she also left a piece of crystal. Popular accessories in the empire were made of gold, silver, or gems. Crystal was rare, but this piece of crystal was so common in quality that it would be a slight embarrassment to display at the Zhao clan. However, Zhao Weihuang immediately recognized it as the crystal he had bought back then with his very first salary.
The craftsmanship of the crystal was just as clumsy. The only astonishing thing was the picture on it which was actually made up of two ancient runespeak characters. It was rumored that the genesis of these ancient runes took place even before the birth of the dark races, and that it was related to the deepest source of the great dao. Even the dark race experts could hardly comprehend a couple of them, but Zhao Weihuang naturally understood the meaning of the two runespeak characters.
That was: Qianye.
According to the old woman, she was entrusted by a terminally ill woman to return the child to his father. Up to this point, Zhao Weihuang still wasn’t clear as to what was going on. But after following the old lady to the last known town where the woman had stayed, he failed to find her remains in the common tomb where outsiders were buried.
The old lady’s identity was investigated countless times after that, but she was just an ordinary civilian of the Zhao clan’s territory—her family had been living here for several generations. She only felt compassion at the moment and decided to fulfill the woman’s dying wish. There was no suspicious clue to be found at all.
Zhao Weihuang finally gave up and accepted this truth.
However, the young and naive Zhao Weihuang didn’t remember to cover up his movements. The news quickly reached the pregnant Princess Gaoyi, causing her to fall into great illness, and Zhao Ruoxi was born prematurely due to the effects of the natal qi.
Zhao Weihuang sighed at this point, and it seemed as though he had aged by ten years. He said only moments later, “The matter that year was truly nature toying with men.”
Qianye’s expression was calm, but his heart was wracked with great fluctuations. From the Drinking Horse Yin Family to the Highland Song Clan, he had seen no small number of internal chaos and didn’t have a shred of good impression regarding those so-called major clans. But hearing such a story straight from this man’s mouth, the resentment and injustice he had harbored for his old injury gradually receded.
All kinds of feelings welled up in Zhao Weihuang’s heart as he stared at the young man standing before him like an unmoving mountain peak.
The so-called imperial bloodline wasn’t just a noble status. It also signified strong abilities and immense potential. The reason for Princess Gaoyi’s high position in the imperial family before marriage was because of the purity of her imperial bloodline. The previous emperor had passed for twenty years, but she was still able to mobilize a part of the imperial family’s resources and also had a fair bit of influence in the imperial clan. This went to show just how brilliant she was back then.
Qianye’s appearance caused her to lose prestige. It was fine if that were the end of it because which major clan scion didn’t have a messy past? But not only did Zhao Weihuang not hide this matter, he had even announced his affection for that unnamed woman.
This action was like a ruthless slap to Princess Gaoyi’s face, and it tore apart the spousal relationship they had maintained for over a decade. However, Qianye’s bloodline and talent assessment was like a backhand slap following the frontal one—and that slap was even harder than before.
Qianye, who wasn’t even a year old, was not only a Zhao clan descendant but also an owner of an innate origin crystal!
The energy produced by the origin crystal would grow and multiply without end. Those in possession would be blessed with an unending flow of vitality and would slowly recover to the peak state no matter how severe the injury. This was the best kind of supplement for battle and cultivation. Although it wasn’t the most powerful of offensive abilities, the appearance of an origin crystal signified a straight path to the divine champion rank. Such talent was comparable to Zhao Jundu.
All the Zhao clan elders turned silent after learning of Qianye’s talents, and no one spoke up anymore against his return to the family. Fortunately, Zhao Weihuang could be considered somewhat clear-headed at this point. He immediately issued a silencing order and prevented this news from leaking out. In the end, only the highest echelons of the Zhao clan knew of this matter.
Meanwhile, Princess Gaoyi was busy taking care of the newborn Zhao Ruoxi and seemed not to know. She neither cared nor asked about Qianye after assigning him everything befitting of a Zhao clan bastard—everything was calm and quiet.
The serenity of the Zhao residence was finally broken by a great change after two years.
The matter came suddenly. The time was near new year, and the rebel army of the Western Continent had revolted once again. Zhao Weihuang returned to the frontlines to oversee the general situation, while Princess Gaoyi led the children to the imperial capital to attend the new year banquet. Zhao Ruoxi had never left the Western Continent before due to her weak constitution, and this was her first time visiting the imperial palace.
It was during this new year banquet that something happened which shook the entire empire—Red Spider Lily, the Grand Magnum that had been silent for many years, recognized a master. Everyone remembered that the master of the Red Spider Lily for the current generation was Zhao Ruoxi of the Zhao clan.
But what people did not know was that Zhao Ruoxi fell ill that night right after the Grand Magnum recognized its master. The imperial family experts had to pay an enormous price to stabilize her condition. It turned out that Zhao Ruoxi’s constitution was too weak, and her lifespan wasn’t that long. She was unable to withstand the great power which came from her fusion with the Red Spider Lily’s vital soul.
Zhao Weihuang stopped again at that moment.
Qianye exhaled deeply at this point because he had figured out the greater half of the story. “So, the origin theft was like that. That means the origin crystal is in Fifth Little Sister’s body?”
Zhao Weihuang nodded seriously.
Qianye wasn't distressed or gloomy. The frost on his calm, almost detached countenance gradually melted away as he said, “This ending… it can’t be considered too bad.”
“You…” Zhao Weihuang didn’t know what to say after seeing Qianye’s attitude.
Qianye said calmly, “There was probably no choice since I was the bastard.”
In large families, the status of a bastard wasn’t even as high as some of the larger branch families. Moreover, what price wouldn’t they pay to save Zhao Ruoxi under the situation? Not to mention Princess Gaoyi and the imperial family, even the Zhao clan’s elders would have made the same decision.
But there was still a final question. “What happened after that?” How did he appear in a dumpster on Evernight Continent?
Zhao Weihuang wasn’t able to give him an answer. Back then, Zhao Weihuang had rushed back from the frontlines after hearing news of the Red Spider Lily’s recognition and Zhao Ruoxi’s illness. But the die had been cast—Qianye’s origin crystal had been removed the day before. A big fight ensued between Zhao Weihuang and Princess Gaoyi.
Who knew a murder would take place in Qianye’s little courtyard while Zhao Weihuang was rushing over to Princess Gaoyi’s residence. Many unidentified experts invaded the building and inflicted great casualties upon the guards. When the Zhao clan people arrived, not only had the intruders all died, but they had also destroyed their own remains.
According to the survivors, the assailants’ aim was to kill Qianye. Just when they were almost unable to hold out, an expert clad in Zhao clan guard uniform charged in and killed most of the intruders. He then picked up Qianye and escaped.
Half of the Zhao clan had been alerted of the intrusion at that time, and the outer defensive lines were mobilized. But that person actually charged through the several defensive formations and injured a dozen or so Zhao clan experts along the way. Even two rank-twelve champions attacking together failed to drag him down for long. In the end, that person finally escaped the encirclement, but not without receiving heavy injuries himself.
An investigation afterward revealed that the person who had kidnapped Qianye was indeed a subordinate of the Zhao clan, an external expert who had joined the Zhao clan for several years. Among the younger generation experts, he was ranked toward the top in terms of combat strength. This result, however, baffled everyone because this person had nothing to do with Zhao Weihuang’s branch before. The Zhao clan proceeded to lock down every street and searched through the entire city but no one could find his traces. There was no more information after that.
Qianye couldn’t help but become surprised at this point—this was even more astonishing than Princess Gaoyi trying to finish him off completely.
Zhao Weihuang sighed in his heart. Apart from the servants and guards in charge of Qianye, Zhao Jundu was the person closest to Qianye.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Starting off the new year with a double chapter ^_^ This is the 8th chapter for the first week of January!
TL: Legion ED: Moxie