This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Fang Wenshi had so many doubts it felt like he could stuff his rotund belly with them until they spilled out through his face.
But he was a military counselor, and answering questions and drawing conclusions were his duty, so he suppressed his curiosity and methodically analyzed the situation based on the Dragon King’s account and the information he had heard. “I’ve heard about the assassination in the palace. It was said that King Kuari and King Rizhu joined hands to lead the interrogation and in the end, the culprit confessed that the masterminds behind the scenes were the disciples of the Essence Pavilion who told the young warriors that the Khan had been possessed by demons and that only by killing him could they save the soul of the Khan and the future of the Norland.”
Fang Wenshi thought for a moment, stroking his chin. “Now that the Dragon King mentions it, the Khan seemed to know about the assassination beforehand. Strange, very strange. I’d guess that the Khan arranged the assassination himself and that his true purpose was to lure the Dragon King into saving him as a public display of loyalty. King Kuari and King Rizhu are wise men who recognized what was going on in the initial moments, so they took the chance to strike at their opponent. Who is the common opponent of the two? Naturally, it is King Shengri who had been deluded by the Essence Pavilion.”
“The Khan probably also intended to remove the ‘masters’ around him.” Gu Shenwei had called his counselor in to discuss the latest situation as soon as he returned to the Dragon Army camp. He had many ideas which he couldn’t reveal in front of the Khan.
“The old man finally came to his senses and realized that the so-called immortality was a lie?” Fang Wenshi’s tone was filled with irony but also of understanding. The great desire and pursuit of ‘immortality’ had developed under the patronage of the emperors of the past dynasties, and there were many records left in the long history of time. The old Khan was no exception.
“Or he found a more powerful ‘master’ and the old ones became redundant.” Gu Shenwei had a different guess.
Fang Wenshi shook his head and didn’t care much about it. “It’s hard to guess what the Khan is thinking. On one hand, he’s busy trying to extend his life. On the other, he is secretly supporting two unknown royal children, preparing to destroy and rebuild the Norland. Does he want to bury the whole Royal Court with him?”
“That’s it.” Gu Shenwei felt that the counselor had said something very important. “From what I’ve seen, the Khan is the kind of man who clings to what he has and isn’t willing to let go. He’s still afraid of death, but if he can’t live forever, he must want to continue controlling the people and things he’s familiar with in the other world. That’s why he is looking for help from outside the Norland because the real Norland people have always had some sentiments and interests attached to the Norland and may be reluctant to destroy it completely. But an outsider, either me or Golden Roc Castle, can obtain some benefits from the destruction.”
“And the Dragon King and the Unique King will never have the right to rule the grasslands and therefore will concentrate on assisting the new Khan.” Fang Wenshi added one more reason but shook his head even harder as he said his next statement. “Madman, the Khan is a madman.”
“He’s a sane madman; he shows his ugliest side first, and after that your impression of him will get better and better, and then he’ll naturally arrange everything so that you don’t have a chance to say no.”
Fang Wenshi looked at the Dragon King carefully. This wasn’t like the lord he remembered. The Dragon King’s pursuit of being in control had reached the point of paranoia. ‘Having no chance to say no’ was usually a reason for him to say no. “If we could really gain power in the prairies, it would be easy to defeat Golden Roc Castle and dominate the Western Regions.”
This was a great temptation. The future was clear. Everything might not go as smoothly as one wished but it was no longer a foggy road ahead. Duodun and Luoluo were all in urgent need of help. With the edicts in hand, the Dragon King would certainly be greatly valued and put in an important position.
The Khan knew their value, so he had made no promises to the Dragon King. He was leading a man who had no way out on a paved and ready road, believing that this was the greatest reward.
“I need more reasons.”
Fang Wenshi nodded his head, a rare occasion. “Anyhow, those two posthumous edicts are good things. The Dragon King has to get them tonight and I’ll find out the information as soon as possible. Duodun and Luoluo, heh, the Khan has hidden them well. I’m afraid that very few people in the whole Royal Court have taken them seriously.”
There were some things that Gu Shenwei hadn’t told the counselor such as the Khan letting him only pick one woman and the false story of his origin, especially the former, which was, in fact, a precondition for the collection of the posthumous edicts.
The Khan’s emotions had long been consumed during his long career of ruling the Norland, but it had made him see the way of the world more clearly. To walk on the well-arranged road, the Dragon King had to make a choice and pay a price. Only in this way could he treasure and hold onto it.
“Let’s do it.” Gu Shenwei still hoped to go on his own way.
This was another busy day. Although he had been invited, Gu Shenwei didn’t go to the suburbs to watch the war games of the ten kings. When he walked out of the tent, he found that the sun was shining brightly and that everything was clear, but it was still not easy to notice the details.
Two tents away, Shangguan Fei was excitedly talking with the six guards about how he had bravely saved the Khan, and he then generously distributed the gold and silver he had received to the audience and only kept a string of Buddha beads. “The Khan used it. There’s divine power in it,” claimed Shangguan Fei.
Beside Shangguan Fei stood Old Man Mu, who was watching on with disdain but in rare fashion did not interrupt him.
Only the six guards were on sentry duty, and most of them had been permitted by the Dragon King to attend the Tournament of the Royal Court. There were many small-scale kung fu competitions, at which they could relax or perhaps even win some drinking money.
Chu Nanping was standing beside the Dragon King. With his head lowered, he seemed lost in his own thoughts and wasn’t as vigilant as usual.
Fang Wenshi was leading a horse and two guards outside the camp.
Across the road, the much larger Golden Roc Castle camp appeared much quieter. It seemed that everyone was out searching for fun except for a few bored sabermen.
Unknowingly, Gu Shenwei was impressed with this ordinary scene and couldn’t forget it for a long time. Whenever he reminisced back to this sight afterward, he felt that it was particularly unreal.
It was like the impressive calm before the storm.
Gu Shenwei waved to Shangguan Fei.
“What can I do for you, Dragon King?” asked Shangguan Fei cheerfully.
“Well, go over to the other side.”
Shangguan Fei glanced back, “Ah? What am I supposed to do there? Nobody’s there.”
“Send Zhang Ji a bottle of good wine. You must hand it to him yourself and not let anyone else do it for you.”
“Okay, but I think Zhang Ji is also watching the tournament right now.”
“Then wait till he returns. Anyway, you have to give the wine to him yourself.”
“All right.” Shangguan Fei agreed hesitantly and didn’t understand the Dragon King’s intentions.
Old Man Mu had come along uninvited, and he couldn’t help but say, “Idiot, the Dragon King suspects that this guy surnamed Zhang has fled and is letting you take advantage of the pretense of delivering wine to confirm it.”
Shangguan Fei suddenly came to understand and patted his forehead. “Right, I’m really stupid. I drank too much last night and haven’t sobered up yet.”
There was no risk in seeking information so Shangguan Fei was relieved. It wasn’t easy to get such an easy task from the Dragon King, so he solemnly pledged, “Don’t worry, Dragon King. I will find out Zhang Ji’s whereabouts for sure.”
Shangguan Fei turned to fetch the wine. Old Man Mu curled his mouth, “Inexperienced kid, what’s the big deal about the Khan? He’s just a dying old man. Look at him, he will probably brag about his heroic deeds after he goes into Golden Roc Castle’s camp and forget about his business of the Dragon King. I will go supervise him.”
Without waiting for the Dragon King’s permission, Old Man Mu had already rushed at Shangguan Fei. This was the tool he had found first and he would not let another old man take it away.
Gu Shenwei saw two female officers of the Land of Fragrance meet with Fang Wenshi at the camp gate, exchange a few words, and then anxiously walk to him. “Where’s Tie Linglong?” He suddenly asked.
Chu Nanping looked up blankly, “She’s gone.”
“Where did she go?”
“I don’t know.”
“Get her back, and if she’s disobedient, tie her up and bring her to me.”
Chu Nanping was stunned at first then showed a look of gratitude, which was already a rare emotional outpouring for him. “Hmm.” He agreed and set off at once.
The two female officers came to the Dragon King and said, “Dragon King, there’s something strange… Red Bat is also missing.”
“Red Bat often runs back and forth between the east and west camps but she didn’t return after leaving the camp yesterday. We thought that she had stayed here last night, but we realized that couldn’t be right after a second thought. The Dragon King had followed the orders to enter the palace, so why would she stay here?”
What they said sounded a bit ambiguous, but Gu Shenwei didn’t care. He thought for a while and said, “I know where she is. Don’t worry. She’s not in danger.”
The Dragon King’s calmness and comfort dispelled most of the two female officers’ worries. Their brows stretched out but they were not entirely reassured. One of them asked, “Dragon King, is the disappearance of Red Bat related to the instructor? Could it be that she found some clues?”
“It’s possible. I’ll get them back as soon as I can.”
The two still had a lot of questions, but they believed the Dragon King and therefore, didn’t ask more.
“Is Shangguan Yun still there?”
Shangguan Yun had volunteered as a hostage and remained in the camp of the Land of Fragrance.
“Yes, he is behaving well.”
“I’ll go and see him.”
Shangguan Yun seemed to be quite satisfied with the living environment. The tent was not big and the decoration was somewhat feminine but he calmly accepted it all. “Sister Ru trained these female soldiers well. I really can’t believe that she had such an ability.”
“I want to talk about the future of Golden Roc Castle.” Gu Shenwei went straight to the point.
“The future of Golden Roc Castle?” Shangguan Yun’s smile didn’t change at all. “The Unique King will die naturally and I’ll inherit the throne. By then, the title will probably have been recognized by the Norland and the Central Plains. That’s it. As for any greater ambitions, I’ll leave it to my children and grandchildren to consider.”
“What a coincidence. My future is almost the same as that of Golden Roc Castle; it’s just that there’s no such title as ‘Unique King’ in mine.”
“Hehe, it seems that only one of the two futures can be realized.”
“Is the bastard of King Dari satisfied with you?”
Shangguan Yun’s expression suddenly changed for an instant but returned to normal in the next. “The Dragon King is really clever. I haven’t seen him yet.”
“Zhang Ji will help you gain his favor.”
“Maybe.” Shangguan Yun leaned on the rolled up quilts and put his hands behind his head, revealing a languid look. “I’d like to just sit back and have the others find a way out.”
“And you also like others’ protection. Tell me, who are you hiding from?”
“Doesn’t the Dragon King know?” Shangguan Yun pretended to be surprised. “I already told you at the Heaven’s Pass.”
It was Lotus. Zhang Ji had asked Lotus to stop spying on Shangguan Yun at that party.
Gu Shenwei’s speculation was finally confirmed.
“Lotus is too vindictive, I really regret offending her at that time, and I regret even more not killing her. Only the Dragon King, hehe, only the Dragon King could possibly be forgiven after offending her, right? So I have to hide in your place for a while.”
Gu Shenwei had finished all his questions. ‘It’s not certain yet who will be the one to be spared,’ he thought.
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