Li Tianquan’s heart still couldn’t calm down even as he watched Duan Chengpeng being carried away. On the contrary, he felt himself in a state of greater suspense and restlessness. As such, he got up to meet that mysterious lobbyist.
This person was a lean middle-aged man with a meticulously groomed beard. Seeing the old man enter, he put down the jade object he had been fiddling with and said with a smile, “Elder Li, why the panic?”
Li Tianquan gathered his thoughts and said wryly, “This matter is simply too serious. How can I calm down? That person’s promise won’t change, will it?”
The middle-aged man appeared somewhat unhappy. “Elder Li can choose not to believe me since my status and words are insignificant, but that seal I brought can’t be faked. It’s also something you’ve verified. Whatever I say is that person’s opinion. Moreover, he had personally spoken those words, I neither added nor removed a single letter.”
Li Tianquan laughed. “That’s great, that’s great! Please don’t blame this old man for being cautious. The Zhao clan people are simply too arrogant and fearless! It would be a major problem if they bring the fight to our doors.
The man surnamed Liao paid little heed to this. He merely said while stroking his beard, “No matter how insolent the Zhao clan is, they still have to follow certain protocols. This empire is not surnamed Zhao.”
“Yes, yes.” Li Tianquan nodded repeatedly, quickly calming down.
The middle-aged man shot a glance at him and said indifferently, “The sire has long since gained fame throughout the world and his words hold enormous weight. He has already promised thus, yet Elder Li isn’t doing his part in a clear-cut manner. This can’t be justified, can it?”
Shocked, Li Tianquan said in a trembling voice, “What must this old man do?”
The middle-aged man said calmly, “Simple, Elder Li should hand that Stillwater Rebirth to me. I will then disappear, removing any proof that the medicine was ever in Elder Li’s hands. Even if the Zhao clan wishes to blame someone, they can’t blame you.”
Li Tianquan forced a smile. “This… allow me to think about it.”
Mister Liao’s smile was rather insincere. “You’ve already reached such a stage, what would you need to think about? Unless Elder Li feels he has a chance to redeem himself with the Zhao clan? But then again, the one who should be anxious right now is you, not me. Establishing a new aristocratic family is no joke; land, residents, resources, and military power, you can’t lack any of that. Even that character has only two patches of such land. Do you have any idea just how many people are eyeing them?”
At this point, Mister Liao cupped his hand, a gesture used when seeing the visitor out. “Please take your time to think about it.”
Li Tianquan said, “Thank you for your advice, this old man will give you an answer very soon.”
Mister Liao’s countenance turned gloomy after Li Tianquan left the room. Apparently, he hadn’t expected the cat-and-mouse ploy to be ineffective. He cursed the old man for being a spineless buffoon as he pushed open the door and left.
Before long, Mister Liao appeared outside the stronghold prison. At this moment, he had changed his appearance and even his original aura had transformed. He produced an order token and waved it in front of the guard. This was an elder-level insignia, so the guard didn’t dare block his path as he went in.
After entering the dungeon, Mister Liao waited for the prison officer toward whom he made a mysterious finger gesture. The officer’s expression changed slightly but quickly reverted to normalcy. He called for a prison guard and instructed him to show Mister Liao around the prison chambers.
The stronghold prison was deep in the ground. It was simple but firm and well-guarded. Mister Liao remained calm as he walked by each of the prison chambers, pausing occasionally along the way until he came to a special cell. This room was covered in origin arrays—it was sturdy, and the arrangement inside was fairly comfortable. Duan Chengpeng lay unconscious on the bed, but there was a faint medicinal aroma around him. Apparently, he had been given treatment and sedatives to aid his recovery.
Mister Liao stood there for a moment and casually flicked his finger. A wisp of origin power shot out in the form of a grey needle and disappeared into Duan Chengpeng’s body. His actions were so well-concealed that the prison guard beside him wasn’t aware of what he had just done.
“I’ve seen everything, let’s go,” he said indifferently, and then followed the guard out.
The walk from the secret room to his office wasn’t long, but Li Tianquan felt that the journey was simply endless. At this moment, Duan Chengpeng’s words echoed in his mind, “The fourth young master has a shot left to fire!”
After finally returning to his office, a conflicted Li Tianquan stood gazing at the painting on the wall.
Newly established aristocratic families were usually assigned to border areas. As the lord of the land, the family was in charge of defending it. Throughout the thousand years, countless aristocratic families had fallen to the dark races and beast tides before they could gain a proper foothold. The territory offered by that major character was easy to defend and close to an important imperial military ground; reinforcements could arrive within days in critical situations. Moreover, that major character had promised to garrison several battalions of elite soldiers in his land for three years. This would allow Li Tianquan to get through the most difficult period of his endeavor.
Such a term was more than just generous—it was well thought-out and thorough in every aspect. It was impossible for Li Tianquan not to be moved. There would still be some risks within the three years since these elite battalions might not be able to repel every dark race assault. But which aristocratic clan hadn’t risen through dangers of blood and fire? When all was said and done, Li Tianquan was still the second elder of the Li family. How could he shrink back from such an opportunity?
It was just that he had a vague feeling that this Mister Liao wasn’t as simple as he looked. Why would that major character need to offer land if the only thing at stake was Qianye’s life?
This piece of territory was highly valuable. Not to mention a Stillwater Rebirth, it wasn’t enough even if he were to throw in a Storm Pearl.
There was an unwritten rule in the empire—if one were to move his family to the border areas to pioneer new ground, his old feuds would have to be set aside temporarily. The vendetta could only be resumed several generations later, after this clan had gained stable footing. This also meant that neither the Li family nor the Zhao clan could pursue him during these years. Otherwise, they might incur the wrath of all the other aristocratic families.
That, however, was under normal circumstances. There would always be exceptions to the rule. What if Zhao Jundu were to attack regardless of everything? That character in the imperial court was, after all, in the wrong. Would he be willing to contend against the future Heavenly Monarch for an upstart aristocratic family? Ignoring whether or not that person’s authority would last forever, he would still need to think about his descendants even if he did remain in power.
Zhao Jundu had broken the rules more than once for Qianye. That was exactly the reason why Li Tianquan couldn’t feel relieved.
The Stillwater Rebirth in his secret cabinet was like a volcano. Even stepping closer to it made him feel stifled.
It was at this time that the office doors were flung open. A stream of cold air rushed in, causing Li Tianquan to shiver uncontrollably.
He hadn’t even turned around when Li Kuanglan’s voice rang out behind him, “Second elder, why are you so restless?”
Shocked, Li Tianquan turned around and said with a forced a smile, “Nothing, it’s just a small matter. Why has virtuous nephew arrived all of a sudden?”
“I came to get something, I’ll leave right afterward.”
Li Tianquan’s expression relaxed a fair bit. “What item is so important that you had to come and get it personally? Why didn’t you just send someone?”
Li Kuanglan said indifferently, “I won’t feel at ease leaving it to others.”
“Oh, just what is it? Don’t hesitate if you need my help.”
Li Kuanglan’s lips rose slightly into a spurious smile. “I do need second elder’s help, I want the Stillwater Rebirth.”
“Stillwater Rebirth!?” Li Tianquan was shocked out of his wits. He took a while to collect his wits before saying, “What are you doing? Don’t tell me…”
Without waiting for him to finish, Li Kuanglan said, “Correct, I’m getting it for Qianye.”
Li Tianquan was first startled and then furious. “Kuanglan! Do you know that Qianye will become a great enemy of our Li family? How can we hand him a treasure like Stillwater Rebirth? How can you be so muddle-headed?”
Li Kuanglan’s brows rose up as she said in a cold voice, “Doesn’t this Stillwater Rebirth rightfully belong to him? I only came to pick it up for him. What else does second elder want to say?”
“You…” Li Tianquan suddenly realized that the other party was no longer addressing him as second uncle but second elder instead. That being the case, he simply adopted a stern expression and said, “The circumstances have changed. It is his, no doubt, but I didn’t say when I would give it to him. I can’t decide such a major issue on my own. We need to wait for a nod from the clan lord and the empress.”
Li Kuanglan placed her hand on the hilt of Cold Moon’s Embrace. “Not handing it over, eh? Then see how many moves you can last under my sword!”
Li Tianquan was terrified. His origin power cultivation was far ahead of Li Kuanglan, but the latter possessed a divine weapon and was trained in the Li family’s most powerful sword arts. He wasn’t too confident about a victory if they were to fight. Moreover, Li Kuanglan’s identity was special. Even if he could beat her, he wouldn’t dare injure her. How then was he supposed to fight this battle?
“Kuanglan, the clan lord and the empress won’t let you off for your mischief!” Li Tianquan shouted in a stern voice.
Li Kuanglan smiled coldly. “I’ll naturally talk to my sister about it. She understands my feelings quite well, so there's no need to the trouble the second elder regarding this. Besides, it’s not certain how long you can remain in your position. Now, move!”
A line of blue appeared out of thin air, bringing with it a sharp, austere chill as it made for the elder’s forehead.
The attack was extremely abrupt. Li Tianquan activated his origin power in full force and used it to move his body. Only then did he manage to barely evade this strike. However, the blue glow didn’t disappear—it shot straight into the wall and broke the door to that secret cabinet.
Li Kuanglan took a step forward, picked up the Stillwater Rebirth, and put it away. She then left without even glancing at Li Tianquan.
The second elder was left stunned. Gazing at the empty secret cabinet, he could feel all his fame, power, and influence leaving him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Such a tsundere this girl.
TL: Legion ED: Moxie