Chapter 288: A Trap!
The perimeter of the wall was exceptionally quiet. With the appearance of this figure, a bizarre atmosphere seemed drift across this peaceful night.
That masked figure didn't rush to enter the residence. Instead, standing beneath a Chinese scholar tree, he carefully assessed his surroundings.
Wang Chong had seen many assassins, be it those from Abbasid Caliphate, Goguryeo, or even the Eastern Islands such as Miyasame Ayaka... but none of them gave him a bizarre sensation as this person did.
This person was simply too calm. Rather than intentionally keeping himself composed, it would be more apt to say that composure itself was inscribed into his bones, disallowing him from rushing into anything recklessly.
It felt that even if a saber was pressed against his neck, his composure still wouldn't falter in the least.
Wang Chong had only seen this kind of disposition on a single person before.
"I wonder if it really is him..."
The thought flashed across Wang Chong's head as he recalled a particular person on White Tiger Peak. After all, Old Eagle did keep on hinting that it was that person.
But still, Wang Chong couldn't confirm it until he saw the other party's appearance for himself. On top of that, there was a slight difference between the stature of the masked figure before him and that person. Of course, this could also mean that that person might have just used some kind of secret art to alter the structure of his body slightly.
As they were too close to the masked figure, Wang Chong and Old Eagle dared not get careless. They lowered their stature and held their breaths so as to minimize their presence.
Wang Chong even utilized the Tortoise Breathing Art to seal the pores over his body, thus concealing his presence entirely.
While the duo was observing the situation silently, an abrupt change occurred. A particular sensation suddenly gripped their hearts, screaming that someone was looking at them.
"This is bad, he discovered us!"
Across the lush tree leaves, Wang Chong and Old Eagle noticed a pair of sharp eyes gazing in their direction. The glint in his eyes seemed to be able to peer through all facades, tearing away every inch of disguise concealing them.
"Isn't that fellow a little way too wary?" Wang Chong was astonished. He possessed the Tortoise Breathing Art, which allowed him to close the pores across his body, making it difficult for even a Profound Martial realm to sense his presence.
On the other hand, Old Eagle was an expert that was incomparably close to reaching Profound Martial realm.
To think that they would still be found despite this!
"Gongzi, wait a moment!" Suddenly, an arm stretched out from behind him and grabbed Wang Chong, stopping him from doing anything. With a grim expression, Old Eagle stared at Wang Chong intently, seemingly speaking to him through his eyes.
Just as Wang Chong was surprised by the situation, a crisp chirp suddenly sounded in the air.
The sound came from somewhere extremely close, just above the duo's head.
It was the nightingale which Old Eagle had trained!
In an instant, Wang Chong immediately understood Old Eagle's intention. That person wasn't looking at them, but the nightingale above their heads!
The intelligent bird seemed to understand Old Eagle's intentions, and after dancing around the narrow branches for a while, it spread its wings and flew into the distance. Before long, its figure was swallowed by the endless night sky.
And from the towering wall, the pair of eyes staring sharply at the nightingale slowly relaxed. At the same time, Wang Chong also felt the sensation gripping his heart slowly disappearing as well.
Glancing at the direction where the nightingale disappeared, Wang Chong couldn't help but be impressed. The bird scouts that Old Eagle trained were indeed formidable to be able to understand Old Eagle's intentions clearly. On top of that, he had also trained many different species of birds, ranging from the majestic eagles and condors to the humble sparrows and doves... It was as if there was no bird which he couldn't train for his own use.
This was the reason why Wang Chong thought highly of Old Eagle, and decided to entrust some of the intelligence gathering channels of the Wang Clan to him.
He might be weaker than Steel Arms, Solitary Wolf, and Ma Yinlong, but his capability was definitely proving to be the most useful of all.
After all, who could have thought that common birds would actually serve as the eyes and ears of another?
After confirming that the area was safe, the masked figure leaped into the Duke of Liu Residence adeptly and disappeared silently within the walls.
"Gongzi, do we follow him in as well?" Old Eagle turned around and asked with a hushed voice.
"Of course. Are the preparations on your side done?" Wang Chong smiled in response.
"Hehe, it isn't my first day training birds, so gongzi can rest assured. I have already planted my birds throughout the Duke of Liu’s Residence so we can keep track of his whereabouts no matter where he goes," Old Eagle smirked in response.
Ever since all of his scouting methods had been uncovered by the Goguryeons during King Sosurim's case, he gritted his teeth through the humiliation and worked diligently to further his skills. His current ability in training birds was far superior to that of a decade ago.
His ability was no longer limited to the mighty eagles and condors soaring high in the sky. Even those common sparrows that often lurked in the bushes could be trained by him and serve as his scouts.
It was impossible for anyone to think of this under normal circumstances.
The duo jumped down from the branches, dashed forward, and leapt onto the wall.
Within the towering walls, there were numerous elegant gazebos here and there, as well as a garden, pond, and artificial hills. However, that masked man was nowhere in sight.
"Where is he?" Old Eagle muttered in a hushed voice. Suddenly, he raised his finger and pointed toward a gazebo. Tracing Old Eagle's finger, Wang Chong saw a blurred silhouette flitting across the gazebos. If not for his sharp eyes, he wouldn't have noticed it at all.
What is that fellow doing?
Wang Chong gazed at that silhouette and fell into deep thought. Judging from the actions of that masked figure, he seemed to be looking for something.
"Gongzi, do we follow him?" Old Eagle asked with a glance at Wang Chong. While the Duke of Liu didn't wield any actual authority, he was still a duke of Great Tang, and he had plenty of guards in his residence. There was a good chance that they might be found if they were to follow the masked figure.
Also, that masked figure was also extremely wary. It wouldn't be easy to remain out of his awareness while following him.
Standing on top of the wall, Wang Chong pondered for a moment.
"Let's go down to take a look. Regardless of what happens, I have to confirm whether the masked figure is him or not, and why he would be snooping around the residence of a duke of the empire in the middle of the night!" Wang Chong said.
He had to confirm this matter before returning back to Kunwu Training Camp. This was the final agenda he had in mind.
As for the danger involved in the matter, in truth, he had no fear even if the Duke of Liu were to find him.
The duo landed quietly on the other side of the wall without alerting anyone. Following that, they began advancing in the direction the masked figure was headed toward.
Those birds which Old Eagle had planted in the residence played a crucial role at this moment. They were able to keep track of his movements clearly without even keeping the other party in their sight.
"That fellow is way too brazen. What does he intend to find here?"
The masked man's trail was completely random. He would head east for a moment and west in the next. Even Old Eagle was slightly astonished by the other party's movements.
After all, this was the residence of a current duke of the empire, and it was guarded by formidable experts.
Even Wang Chong and he had to proceed around carefully so as to avoid notice, needless to say others.
Yet, that masked figure moved around without the slightest worry.
With the knowledge from the scouting he had done in the past few days, the masked figure seemed to have gained a deep understanding of the layout of the residence. He seemed to have a tight grasp over the patrol schedule of the residence, allowing him to avoid every single guard that came his way, as if he was a member of the household himself.
Following behind the masked figure, the duo saw him enter the bathing house, main hall, sleeping compartments, lounge, garden...
Before long, the masked figure had already visited every single location throughout the residence except for the tightly-guarded places.
His movements were frighteningly silent and steady, like an apparition of the night.
"Hm?" All of the sudden, Old Eagle froze.
"What's wrong?" Wang Chong immediately asked after noticing Old Eagle’s behavior.
"That... He has entered the living quarters of the son of Duke of Liu," Old Eagle uttered in shock.
"What?" For a moment, Wang Chong wasn't able to process what Old Eagle said properly.
"That is where the son of Duke of Liu lives!" Old Eagle gazed at the room before him.
"!!!" Wang Chong's body trembled, and he turned his head around to look where Old Eagle's sight was fixated on. Faint but clear in the darkness, across a roof, there was a room that was still dimly illuminated with candlelight, forming a stark contrast with the otherwise dark Ducal Residence.
Wang Chong finally understood why Old Eagle was so astonished. Most spies would try to avoid the illuminated rooms, but the masked figure didn't seem to mind at all.
However, this wasn't what Wang Chong was concerned about at the moment.
"Old Eagle, are you certain that that is the living quarters of the son of Duke of Liu?" Wang Chong asked grimly.
"Un," Old Eagle nodded, "Gongzi, shall we go over to take a look?"
Old Eagle thought that Wang Chong would approve of his suggestion, but contrary to his expectations, Wang Chong's face warped in shock and he exclaimed in a hushed voice, "We must leave right now! This is a trap! It'll be too late if we don't leave now!"
Old Eagle was astounded by Wang Chong's words.
How could that be possible?
Even the birds he had planted in the surroundings hadn't noticed anything at all, so why would Wang Chong claim that it was one?
But Wang Chong didn't explain the matter. After leaving behind those words, he immediately turned around and darted for the outside. Old Eagle hesitated for a moment, but he eventually chose to heed Wang Chong's words and leave as well
The duo left by their original path, and before long, they had already leaped across the wall and left the Duke of Liu’s Residence.
"Gongzi, what is going on?" Old Eagle asked from the forest beyond the towering walls.
"Old Eagle, things aren't as easy as it seems. I don't think whether the men from the Duke of Liu Residence has noticed you or not, but without a doubt, they have already noticed that person. Regardless of whether that person is finding something or is planning on dealing with the son of the Duke of Liu, he won't be able to achieve anything at all," Wang Chong spoke grimly.
He had underestimated the nature of this incident. The Duke of Liu had already declined so far that he had lost the right to intervene in the governance of the nation. He would only be invited to the Royal Palace during the Lantern Festival every year for a gathering with the other nobles of the capital.
But even if in decline, how could a duke of Great Tang possibly be that simple?
Old Eagle claimed that that person had loitered around the vicinity of the Duke of Liu’s Residence and hadn't been noticed by anyone. This in itself was underestimating the other party!