Chapter 409: Li Heng's Plea for Help!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"Huang Qian-er, stop!"
Before the pair could approach, a long spear had shot out in front of their necks, shocking them out of their wits. Wang Chong hurriedly ordered Huang Qian-er to stay her hand.
"You're saying that you came to Deflecting Blade Manor just to see them?"
Huang Qian-er measured up the three people, a doubtful look in her eyes. Even though she had spent a long time at Wang Chong's side, there were still some things that Huang Qian-er did not know.
The messages that Wang Chong sent through carrier pigeon, for example.
Wang Chong smiled. He naturally hadn't left the spirit vein because he was strong enough. It was because he had received a plea for help from the Fifth Prince, Li Heng.
"Can Huang Qian-er give us some space?"
Wang Chong made an inviting posture.
"Hmph! You think I care!"
Huang Qian-er raised her head high and gave a cold snort before turning and leaving. Although she was very curious as to why Wang Chong was secretively meeting with these two, her pride did not allow her to linger.
Although she left with her horse, she did not go far. She waited only fifty-some zhang away.
"Who is that woman?"
Li Heng looked at the figure of Huang Qian-er fifty-some zhang away, a strange look flashing through his eyes. He truly had been scared out of his wits a moment ago.
Although he was often berated by Li Jingzhong, even slapped at times, that was because Li Jingzhong had a special status, having raised him from a child.
This was truly the first time someone outside the Imperial Palace had pointed the tip of a weapon at his neck.
Wang Chong gave a simple explanation. Huang Qian-er was a daughter of the Huang Clan and was quite distant from the imperial household, so it was quite normal for Li Heng to not know her.
Both Li Heng and Li Jingzhong showed rather ambiguous expressions at Wang Chong's answer.
Wang Chong knew that their thoughts had gone awry, but he only smiled, giving no additional explanation.
"Your Highness, what's wrong? What has you so anxious and bothered?" Wang Chong asked.
Li Heng's message by carrier pigeon had come in a great rush. If not for that, Wang Chong would not have so quickly left the spirit vein.
"Wang Chong, you have to think of some way to help me in this matter."
Li Heng's face instantly became fraught with concern as he touched upon the main subject.
"…Right now, I can only think of you."
"Yes, Young Master, you have to think of a way to help His Highness. Otherwise, His Highness will assuredly be doomed."
Li Jingzhong piped in on the side, his concern no less than Li Heng's.
"Just what in the world happened?" Wang Chong asked.
"Imperial Father has summoned me into the palace!" Li Heng concisely stated.
"His Majesty has summoned you into the palace…"
Wang Chong was dumbstruck. This should be a good thing, but seeing Li Heng's worried face, he quickly reacted.
"Did somebody intentionally facilitate this?"
"Yes, Third Brother arranged it," the Fifth Prince said, fear evident in his words. Of the princes of the imperial clan, the Third Prince was the most dreaded. He schemed against his rivals and was never picky about his methods. At the same time, he also rarely left behind any information that could be used against him.
"What's going on here? It's not like His Majesty just transferred you to Kunwu Training Camp today. Why does he suddenly want to summon you back to the palace? A sufficient reason should be needed, no?" Wang Chong voiced aloud. In the month or so that Wang Chong had spent in the spirit vein, something must have happened that he had no knowledge of.
"The fact that His Highness has recovered his ability to cultivate has been discovered."
It was Li Jingzhong that offered this information.
"How could this be? It should only be a few people who know of this matter, right?"
Surprise covered Wang Chong's face.
Li Heng had always been inconspicuous in the training camp. Wang Chong himself had spent several months in the camp before accidentally running into Li Heng and discovering that they were in the same camp. Moreover, amongst the princes, it had already been 'proved' that Li Heng had no hopes in cultivation, thus leading him to be the least observed of the princes.
As long as Li Heng himself did not leak the information and Li Jingzhong did not leak the information (which Li Jingzhong would actually never do), their inconspicuous demeanor should have kept the news hidden.
"I ran into Nihuang in the training camp…!" Li Heng somewhat helplessly said, after which he gave the whole story.
As they say, 'a blessing is no disaster, and a disaster can't be avoided'. Li Heng's demeanor had always been abnormally inconspicuous amongst the princes.
Ever since he had gone through the blood reformation and become able to cultivate, he had become even more inconspicuous. He essentially spent his time in the mountains outside the training camp.
As for Wang Chong's Deflecting Blade Manor, Wang Chong had warned him that Princess Nihuang was there and that he should do his utmost to avoid it. If there was nothing he needed, he should stay away from Deflecting Blade Manor, dispatching a servant whenever he needed to send a message. If he needed to talk, he should go at night so as to avoid Princess Nihuang.
Li Heng had taken all these warnings in, but what he hadn't expected was that when he was coming back from the forest, he would encounter Princess Nihuang taking a stroll in the training camp.
When the two ran into each other, Li Heng froze.
Princess Nihuang possessed a much higher cultivation level than his, and she also had an unfathomable old nanny of profound cultivation at her side. The old nanny noticed what had happened to Li Heng to moment she grabbed his wrist.
Li Heng had gone ghastly pale, and it took ages for him to come to his senses.
He had always been able to lead a peaceful and inconspicuous life because he couldn't cultivate and was no threat to the other princes.
Thus, he had kept a good distance from the cruel and callous War of the Princes and suffered few attacks.
But if he could suddenly cultivate again, everything would change. He would become the target of excruciating observation while being barraged with attacks both open and hidden that he could not defend against.
There was no brotherly love in the imperial household, and the conflicts between the princes were as cruel as could be. They would not end in something as simple as injury or denouncement.
All would be fine if Li Heng could secretly cultivate until he gathered enough strength, but right now, he was still incredibly weak.
This would make him a target of even fiercer attacks, perhaps even from multiple sides at the same time.
If a threat could be removed while it was still weak and young, one wouldn't just sit back and watch as it grew up! This was a tacit rule amongst the imperial household.
Anyone who understood this point would understand Li Heng's anxiety.
"…But if it was Princess Nihuang who exposed your ability to cultivate, why was it the Third Prince who broached the matter?" Wang Chong asked.
"This is exactly why I don't like staying in the palace."
Li Heng sighed.
"Because the princes aren't always in conflict," Li Jingzhong said. "They occasionally work together. It's not convenient for the First Prince to show his face here, so it's best to work through the Third Prince. Moreover… those assassins who were sent to kill His Highness in the past were basically all dispatched by the Third Prince."
Li Jingzhong had lived his entire life in the palace, so he had developed a keen eye for the political struggles, fights for power, and constant backstabbing, and knew the tricks of the trade.
"But that's not the crucial point. The crucial point is that when the Third Prince brought up His Highness with His Majesty, he showered His Highness with praise, saying that His Highness was endowed with intelligence, having made great leaps in progress and already reached Origin Energy Tier 8! He requested that His Majesty bestow a great reward."
Li Jingzhong sighed.
"But the Third Prince clearly knows that though His Majesty inquires little about the War of the Princes and is completely relying on the strategy of raising Gu1, what His Majesty hates the most is if one of the princes is deceiving him. Though the Third Prince is full of commendations, he really wants to push His Highness into a pit of fire."
"In the current situation, Imperial Father has already summoned me into the palace. If I enter the palace and display the full extent of my talents, I will commit the crime of deceiving the sovereign and also attract the envy and hatred of my brothers. If I don't show off my talents, I will still be committing the crime of deceiving the sovereign, and my other brothers still won't let me go. All my choices are wrong."
Li Heng's brow was tightly knit, his words and face fraught with worry and anxiety.
To have no influence or backing, no protection from the maternal clan, and no strength to protect oneself while deep in the palace was a harbinger for disaster.
Having no strength to resist the princes while also attracting their hatred, Li Heng's fate was obvious.
In truth, that he was able to keep enough composure to find Wang Chong to discuss countermeasures was already quite decent.
Another person might have completely lost their nerve.
Wang Chong silently frowned. The situation before him had completely surpassed his expectations. He had wanted to keep as far from the War of the Princes as possible.
This was not his domain of expertise.
"Wang Chong, only you have met Imperial Father, and you were even released after being jailed in the imperial prison. You're the only one that can help me with this."
With these words, Li Heng finally revealed the reason he had come to find Wang Chong.
'A sovereign does not go back on their words'. Once the words emerged from the Son of Heaven's mouth, he would never alter them. Other sovereigns might be liable to give an order in the day and change their mind at night, but it was an extremely rare occurrence with the Sage Emperor, Son of Heaven.
In the previous decades, the Sage Emperor's words essentially decided whether one lived or died. Even after living in the palace for so many years, Li Heng had only heard of a scant few times where someone like Wang Chong—who had been vilified by all the Hu generals, stirred a great storm, and been imprisoned—was able to come out alive.
In the aftermath, everyone could see that the Sage Emperor cherished Wang Chong. This was beyond doubt.
"Young Master Chong! The heart of a sovereign is difficult to fathom. That you were able to so confidently present that memorial, not even caring that you would anger the world or anger His Majesty, must be because you were able to fathom the thoughts of His Majesty. Please, Young Master, you must show mercy and save His Highness."
As Li Jingzhong spoke, tears welled up in his eyes.
Although this fellow was no good person and those tears were not guaranteed to be real, Wang Chong had to admit that this wretch, Li Jingzhong, was undoubtedly sincere in his pleas for him to save Li Heng.
This is a problem… Wang Chong inwardly said, deep furrows appearing on his brow. He knew the affairs of his clan because that was his clan, but his grasp over such matters had caused Li Heng and Li Jingzhong to completely overestimate him.
And the result of the Regional Commanders incident hadn't been because he had grasped His Majesty's thoughts and knew that he would be fine. He just hadn't cared whether he would live or die.
But nobody would possibly believe that.
Moreover, in his memories, nothing like Li Heng being suddenly summoned from the training camp to enter the palace had ever happened in his last life. It was unquestionably his involvement that had led to this peril.
This abrupt and unexpected incident simply had no precedent. In other words, Wang Chong's memories were utterly useless here
1. 'Raising Gu' refers to a practice of placing numerous poisonous insects in a jar and letting them kill each other until only one remains. The poison from the survivor, the concentrated poison of all the insects killed, is then extracted to be used in assassination.↩