The fourth prince poured a cup of tea for Long Chen. He smiled lightly. “Brother Long truly is a dragon amongst men. No matter what, such boldness truly is worth admiring.”
“Fourth prince flatters me. But this little brother still doesn’t know just how you recognized me,” replied Long Chen.
He really did want to know just what he had forgotten about. He was confident that his appearance changing technique did not have the slightest flaw.
“Even a wise man who thinks it over a thousand times will forget at least one thing. To be honest, I didn’t actually recognize you at first, and it was only when I saw that ring on your hand that I managed to figure out something was strange. Then, adding on your gaze, I realized it was you.” The fourth prince pointed to Long Chen’s hand.
Only then did Long Chen suddenly realize that he was wearing his spatial ring on his finger. That ring had a design that was specific to the alchemist guild. He had actually forgotten such a large detail.
“The fourth prince truly is someone observant to the smallest detail. It really is worthy of admiration. But what I really want to know is, why did you help me?” asked Long Chen.
“Haha, you might not believe me even if I tell you. The truth is, I dislike Xia Changfeng intensely. No matter what, Chu Yao is still my sister. Although familial affection is a luxury that can’t be afforded in the imperial palace, I still have some in my heart.
“I do not have the heart to force Chu Yao to marry someone she doesn’t like. But you also know that the imperial palace is simply like that. All that matters is if it will benefit the empire; no one cares about your emotions. That is simply the helpless truth of living in the imperial palace.
“I’ve tried to persuade the Empress Dowager many times in hopes of changing her mind, but none of it had any effect. In the end, I actually ended up infuriating her and being kicked out of her Empress Dowager Hall.
“From the fact that brother Long come to visit Chu Yao today, I can tell that you have truly sincere feelings for Chu Yao. But my ability is limited, and I can only help you this much,” sighed the fourth prince.
“Fourth prince is too polite. Long Chen will remember this matter.” It seemed he would have to owe a favor to the fourth prince for today.
“As for the matter of your Long family losing its stipend, I once tried investigating. But I was shut down before I could get to the bottom of it. So, I’m also powerless when it comes to your Long family.”
Long Chen frowned and asked, “Can fourth prince tell me what he discovered?”
“Ah well, it was something that happened in the imperial palace, so it’s extremely muddied. My brothers and I also fight and scheme against each other. I really am powerless when it comes to it.” The fourth prince shook his head.
Long Chen’s eyes brightened ever so slightly. Although the fourth prince didn’t give him a direct response, the fact that he had purposely mentioned his brothers was definitely somewhat interesting.
There were a total of seven princes. Other than the fourth prince, there were six left. Of those remaining six, the seventh prince could also be excluded.
Then, that left the crown, second, third, fifth, and sixth princes. Long Chen had observed each of them carefully at the Phoenix Cry Lantern Festival. Other than the crown prince, none of the others seemed to be shrewd enough.
Then, the most suspicious one would have to be the crown prince. Moreover, Long Chen had recognized the assassin who had killed Li Hao as one of his henchmen. All the evidence pointed to him.
“Many thanks.” Long Chen cupped his hands.
“Haha, I didn’t say anything. I can’t accept your thanks,” laughed the fourth prince. He then sighed, “Sometimes I truly envy you noble heirs. You can be free and unconstrained, not like us who do not have freedom. I even have to suck up to people I plainly dislike. Speaking of which, Xia Changfeng is returning to the Grand Xia in ten days to prepare for his wedding with Chu Yao. Although I truly wish to punch him in the face, I can only give him a smile. That’s the sorrow of living in the imperial palace.”
“He’s leaving in just ten days?” Long Chen didn’t bat an eye, but a cold light flashed in his eyes.
The fourth prince seemed to not notice any change in Long Chen’s expression. Sipping some tea, he replied, “Yes, he’s taking the southern pass, a shortcut to the Grand Xia. A prince’s wedding naturally requires many preparations.”
Long Chen nodded and kept that information in mind. At the same time, an outrageous idea popped into his head. If he could pull off that plan, this matter with Chu Yao would be easily resolved….
The fourth prince chatted for a bit longer with Long Chen before politely seeing him off. When he once more returned to his room, a woman appeared.
That woman seemed to be in her thirties. She was tall and veiled in extravagance, giving off a cold sensation that she could not be offended.
“What you’re doing right now is extremely dangerous,” she said.
The fourth prince smiled slightly and sipped some tea. “Danger means risk, and risk means there’s a chance of a high payout. I feel that it’s worth it. If Long Chen loses, then he will just be another corpse, meaningless to us. But if he succeeds, then the plan will advance a couple of steps. Mom, don’t worry about it.”
That woman was precisely Phoenix Cry’s Queen Mother of the Western Palace. She shook her head and said, “I hope you know what you’re doing. I had a mission in being married off to here. You and I have to remember that.”
“Hmph, you were originally a princess from the Grand Xia, but you came here to Phoenix Cry for your own goals. As for me? Was I born to be just a chess piece? They plan on seizing Phoenix Cry’s lands, making Xia Changfeng the ruler of this empire. Then, he’ll monopolize all the rich lands. When the time comes for credit, it’ll all be theirs. As for us mother and son, are we destined to become their tools? Why?”
The fourth prince suddenly let out all his anger into a loud bellow. The current him was just like a beast that had been provoked, capable of devouring anyone at any moment.
“Xia-er, I know you’re mad inside. With your talent, you wouldn’t lose out to anyone. But this is fate.”
“Fate? Fate is dictated by man. I will control my own fate. I will not be a puppet! I will become the Emperor!”
“Don’t worry about it; I’ve already made all my plans. Right, how is the Empress Dowager?” asked the fourth prince.
“She’s under my Soul Assimilation Art. I can basically completely control her. But as a precaution, I always add a bit more ‘control’,” she replied indifferently.
“Okay, good. Now we just have to wait for good news from Long Chen. I hope he doesn’t disappoint me.” The fourth prince smiled. Raising his cup, he drained it in a single gulp.
When Long Chen returned home, he saw there were a couple of carriages by the gate. As soon as he walked past the gates, the housekeeper immediately informed him that there were guests present.
Long Chen was startled, as it had been many years since someone had paid a visit to their Long family. Why were there guests now?
He went straight to his mother. He could already see that she was talking with a couple of smiling guests. Seeing Long Chen come over, she hastily said, “Chen-er, come. Greet your two aunts.”
Amongst the group, two of them were old wives who were similar in age to his mother. Long Chen had no alternative but to greet them as maternal aunts.
“Haha, what a good child. He’s grown up in an instant. Quick, you guys. Come greet your cousin.” One of them hastily called out to the few people behind her.
There were three men and two women, all around the same age as Long Chen. One of the men awkwardly said, “Cousin, it’s been many years.”
Long Chen nodded. He still vaguely remembered this person. Back when they were little, this person had forcefully snatched his toys, causing him to cry.
Although he felt that it was a bit abrupt to suddenly meet his mother’s family, seeing how happy she was, Long Chen also felt it would be bad to say anything about it, so he merely forced out a few courteous sentences.
As soon as that was done, Long Chen stood up and said his goodbyes. Only then did Long Chen learn from his mother that they had come to apologize to her.
“Chen-er, I also have a bit of grudge against them for not helping us back when we first entered a crisis. However, now they came and told me the whole story. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help, but that they didn’t dare to,” sighed Mrs. Long.
“That crisis has already passed and you’ve also become a high status alchemist. Our Long family has also risen from that. Mom has also thought about it and accepted it. Let the past stay in the past. I hope you also won’t hold it against them. After all, they are your mom’s family.”
Long Chen coldly sneered inside; they hadn’t dared to help? What had they been doing when the Long family had almost gotten to the point where they hadn’t been able to afford food?
Even if they didn’t dare help obviously, secretly sending a bit of money to help was still something incredibly easy.
The current Long Chen was now a towering figure that no one in the capital didn’t know of. He had a close relationship with grandmaster Yun Qi and even dared to compete with Marquis Ying at the auction. That was enough to display how domineering he was.
Long Chen had used that kind of method to tell everyone that his Long family was no longer the same Long family as before. He was not someone that could be bullied by just anyone.
The fact that they had only come now to apologize was clearly just them trying to curry favor. Long Chen truly held them in contempt, but since his mother had already forgiven them, he could not argue too much about it.
If his mother wanted to, then she could do whatever she wanted. Living in the secular world meant you had to endure living as how society expected you to.
Seeing that Long Chen didn’t have that much of a bad reaction to her family, Mrs. Long also became more at ease. After all, no matter how much of a grudge she had, they were her family. And having been alone for so many years, she also thirsted for familial love.
Long Chen accompanied his mother for a while. She asked him a couple of simple questions about his current situation, and he replied with a few vague sentences. Even if he was just doing the same thing as he always did, telling her the good news but not the bad, it still let her feel a bit relieved.
After that, Long Chen went into seclusion. Having been busy all this time dealing with Chu Yao’s matter, he hadn’t truly had time to focus on cultivation.
Right now, he had an idea to make sure Xia Changfeng remained forever in the Phoenix Cry Empire, but Xia Changfeng always had many guards around him. He had to be absolutely sure to completely eliminate that bastard in just one attempt.
But ever since condensing the eleventh cyclone, he had become completely bewildered about how he was supposed to cultivate further. He had no idea just how to use the Nine Star Hegemon Body Art to break through to the Blood Condensation realm.
But there was no other way for him to get stronger... He had no real Dantian without the Nine Star Hegemon Body Art, so only by further training in it could he advance.
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