In the Imperial Palace on the Qin Continent, Empress Li was seated in the garden pavilion. She took a sip of the jade liquid from her teacup, one that was as thin as a cicada’s wing, before placing it back down. “Can you still not figure it out?”
Li Kuanglan was clad in a man’s attire. She sat across the Empress, keeping her silence in apparent displeasure.
Empress Li laughed. “What do you not understand, tell me.”
Li Kuanglan’s expression looked odd from the mixture of fury and embarrassment. “Y-You’ve never even seen him before. Why would you do this?”
Empress Li glanced at her with a spurious smile. “It worked out, didn’t it?”
Li Kuanglan lowered her eyes with a blush, but she was still quite stubborn with her words. “That doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do.”
“Our Jingtang Li Clan rose to power due to our divination powers. If a freak like Lin Xitang hadn’t appeared, our family would’ve monopolized the Empire’s divination path. I used our family heirloom for this, how can the results be anything but good?”
“But heaven’s mystery isn’t omnipotent, else our clan would be ruling the world.”
Empress Li’s tone softened. “Some things can’t be spoken of in the palace. Even you have to follow certain rules.”
Li Kuanglan snorted to express her discontent.
Empress Li said with a smile, “I’ll overlook this instance on account of your physical condition, but you should be cautious at all times. Otherwise, it’ll be bad if His Majesty hears of this. The palace is fairly big, and I don’t get the final say on everything.”
The conflicts inside the palace had always been dangerous and unscrupulous. Escaping punishment before Empress Li did not mean things would be fine everywhere. A slight lack of vigilance would allow those below to drag one down. Consort Zhao’s defeat back in the year was because she had underestimated the enemy.
Li Kuanglan might be blunt, but she wasn’t about to drag Empress Li back. She immediately nodded to indicate that she understood.
Empress Li sighed. “Okay, let me know if you have anything on your mind.”
Li Kuanglan said after some hesitation, “I still feel that the entire thing was too sloppy.”
Empress Li replied, “I’ve received news that Qianye has returned from the Great Maelstrom. Qingyun has been waiting to spar with him. It should be about time they’re done with the fight.”
Li Kuanglan shot to her feet. “Qingyun wants to challenge Qianye?”
“What? Are you worried he’ll lose or get injured?”
Li Kuanglan sat down. “Qianye won’t lose. I’m only worried that Qingyun will end up using those undignified moves.”
Empress Li took a sip of her tea. “I’ve made arrangements. Qingyun won’t be able to play any tricks, all he can do is fight honestly.”
At this point, an attendant walked over with brisk steps. The soft shuffle of his nimble footsteps made it seem as though he were treading on water. He arrived before the pavilion and, bowing deeply, presented a secret report. “Empress, news has arrived.”
“Very well, you may withdraw.”
Empress Li read the report twice before saying, “Qingyun lost miserably. This Qianye truly exceeds my expectations.”
She passed the report to Li Kuanglan, who went through the contents in great detail. Li Qingyun’s loss was already expected—having gone through life and death together in the Great Maelstrom, the girl knew just how terrifying Qianye’s combat strength was. His maximum potential could only be drawn out on the verge of mortal peril where his endurance and survival came into full play. On the contrary, there were certain moves he couldn’t quite use in a regulated sparring match.
There was no way he could use the Shot of Inception while sparring. Life Plunder wasn’t suitable, either.
Most of the contents of this report were familiar to Li Kuanglan, but the final comment puzzled her.
“A boundless intent? What’s that?”
Empress Li said, “That’s what surprised me the most. It’s only natural that Qianye’s overwhelming strength would counter Qingyun’s swordsmanship, but the observer noticed a boundless intent embodying the vicissitudes of the world. That punch smashed down with the force of a continent and was almost unstoppable. It was so powerful that Qingyun was defeated and even his sword was shattered.”
Li Kuanglan said, “But I had never seen him use that kind of attack in the Great Maelstrom.”
“Maybe he accumulated enough and broke through recently.” At the mention of this, Empress Li sighed emotionally. “No one under the divine champion is his match now, except perhaps Zhao Jundu. Even those forcefully manufactured divine champions would lose against him. This child is matchless in terms of talent, yet those idiots from the military just had to force him out of the Empire.”
At this point, the public had reached a conclusive opinion about Qianye’s incident back then. Seeing as how he didn’t join Evernight after leaving the Empire, they could tell that he was still a human at heart. The theory that a different race would have different intentions collapsed on its own.
If things hadn’t turned out the way they did, the higher-ups of the Empire could pretend not to know about Qianye’s vampire identity even if it were discovered. After all, he had the Zhao clan’s full support. He would still be able to play an important role within a certain grey area.
The Empire had a lot of grey areas in its policies, and they were only growing.
Li Kuanglan was discontent regarding Qianye’s exile. “That Longevity Monarch is muddled! Does our Li clan still need to provide for him? Why would we need to give him so much white wine?”
Empress Li replied calmly, “Who would’ve thought things would turn out this way? The monarch has long since remained aloof from civil affairs and is only focused on extending his life. Regardless, he is still the eldest among the heavenly monarchs and still in charge of the Imperial military. Having a good relationship with him will bring us no harm.”
Li Kuanglan added, “He’s also the weakest.”
“If he wasn’t, there’s no way we would’ve had any chance.”
That was a fair point. Li Kuanglan sighed after some thought, “Sister, do you not think highly of us?”
“Our Li family must become a major clan.”
“But we… aren’t the weakest among the four major clans, right?” Li Kuanglan’s voice grew smaller.
“There’s no need to even compete with Zhang and Zhao.” Empress Li chuckled. “The Bai clan seems to be following the orthodox path, but Bai Aotu is the only one worth mentioning. There are many things about them that we can’t see through, and they might be hiding certain people. As for the Song clan, what do you think about Song Zining?”
“That pervert! I’ve always known he would stir up useless trouble.” Li Kuanglan looked disgusted. Song Zining’s notoriety with the ladies was rather resounding.
Empress Li smiled. “He’s definitely a sly one, but he’s quite intelligent. The Song clan is definitely in danger, but that’s a matter for the next decade. Who knows, maybe Song Zining might be able to save his clan’s status by then.”
“Ah.” Li Kuanglan hadn’t expected the empress to speak so highly of the man.
“So, our Li family’s younger generation can’t really overpower any of the major clans.”
“But we can’t be weaker than the Bai and Song, right?” The girl wasn’t convinced.
Empress Li said calmly, “Being not weak isn’t enough to become a major clan, our only hope is to overpower one of them. I had to make plans because I don’t see that ever happening.”
“So Qingyun and I were both expendable pieces…” Li Kuanglan laughed wryly.
Empress Li pointed at her abdomen. “That’s not right. On the contrary, you will be the most valued member of the family. As for Qingyun, what can we do about him? No one wants to abandon him, yet he wishes to court disaster on his own.”
Li Kuanglan rubbed her belly with a sigh, her expression a mixture of joy and worry.
The airship journey was uneventful, and Qianye meditated in silence during the several days in transit. The void might not be a suitable place to cultivate for other people, but Qianye was unaffected by this rule because of the Profound Combatant Formula.
By the time the airship had arrived on the Western Continent, Qianye’s seventh origin node had already condensed successfully.
Qianye was accompanied by a puzzled little girl when he disembarked. Featurewise, she looked around ten years of age, but she had already reached Qianye’s shoulders in height and was stunningly beautiful.
It was just that this young lady looked half asleep and more often than not was hanging from Qianye’s arm. It almost looked like she would just cling onto him entirely if she were any smaller.
The person arriving to welcome him looked away with a strange expression. “Sire Qianye, the seventh young master has arranged for your journey. Please follow me.”
Qianye followed him to a different airship. This vessel was somewhat older and looked like a model from a hundred years ago. Qianye was an expert by this point—a glance at the reinforced body structure told him that this was an airship made specifically for the neutral lands.
“This flight will take you directly to the Eastern Sea. It also carries some cargo that needs to be shipped to the neutral lands. Seventh young master left you a letter, please read it.”
“Where’s Zining right now?” Qianye asked.
“He’s on the Qin Continent to handle some clan affairs and some businesses regarding the Ningyuan Heavy Industries. He also needs to head back to Evernight after that to manage some things. He told you not to wait for him.”
Qianye had a weird feeling that Song Zining wasn’t busy but rather avoiding him because of a guilty conscience.
The guide was only a subordinate, so there was no information to gain out of him. Qianye simply boarded the airship and headed back to the Eastern Sea.
Along the way, Zhuji found a bed and went to sleep. She had been growing taller and taller each day after eating the six-armed giant’s heart. She was like a seven-year-old when she left the Great Maelstrom, and now, she looked like a ten-year-old.
In the cabin, Qianye fished out the letter Song Zining had left for him. The first line read: Something has happened in Southern Blue that requires immediate suppression.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie