Chapter 419: One Game Ends and Another Game Begins!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The great gate opened and a horse galloped out. Outside the palace, Li Jingzhong felt nervous as he saw the Fifth Prince ride out. Pulling at his sleeves, he quickly walked up and took the reins of the Fifth Prince's horse.
"Your Highness, how was it? Your Highness, how was it, how was it…"
Li Jingzhong raised his head, his body practically shuddering from the anxiety running through him. The importance of this matter was not to be underestimated. It could be said to decide the Fifth Prince's fate.
And similarly, Li Jingzhong's fate would also be decided. 'The disgrace of the master is the death of the servant' was a principle known throughout the palace. Thus, one could easily imagine Li Jingzhong's worries as the hours passed.
"Uncle Jing, don't be nervous. It's fine, it's fine…!"
Li Heng sat on the back of his horse, his face flushed with excitement, and even his neck was red. He seemed even more agitated than Li Jingzhong.
The thoughts of what had just happened in the palace still running through his mind, Li Heng couldn't suppress his excitement. His lifetime of inconspicuousness, of cowering, of enduring, of timidity, had vanished into a puff of smoke within that hall.
Li Heng had known that the Third Prince was trying to set him up, and he had also known that once he exposed his martial arts, he might anger the Sage Emperor and be targeted by his brothers and be charged with the crime of deceiving the sovereign.
But Li Heng hadn't been able to care about that much.
After living a substanceless life of bullying, scheming, disregard, and jeering for twenty years, Li Heng finally felt the most intense longing in his heart explode.
Even if he was executed tomorrow, he wanted his imperial father to have a good look at him.
Li Heng didn't know how to do a sword dance, but he still went up and did one. There was no order or technique, nor was it like any other sword dance of this world.
Li Heng's sword dance came from the heart, a bold and unrestrained dance venting the emotions of two decades.
When the sword dance stopped, one could hear a pin drop.
Li Heng waited to receive the worst judgment, but what he heard was the most heavenly tune in the world.
After ten-some years, he finally heard that voice of his father's from his childhood, a voice filled with certainty toward him.
Li Heng could still remember the surprised looks on the faces of his brothers when they heard those words, their marvelous expressions.
"Uncle Jing, Wang Chong was right! He really was right! Come on, let's quickly find Wang Chong…!"
Li Heng's mind was buzzing with excitement.
If not for Wang Chong's encouragement and analysis, even if he gave a performance, he would not have done it with as much courage.
The facts had proved that everything was within Wang Chong's expectations.
If he had even slightly hesitated in today's audience or even rejected the offer, he really might not have escaped disaster.
Wang Chong had been right. As long as he was extremely proactive and did his best, he still had some hope of survival. His Majesty was proactive, and his life had been one forged through all sorts of predicaments.
As long as one was extremely proactive in displaying their abilities, they would be able to receive his imperial father's true favor.
When his imperial father opened his mouth, Li Heng had raised his head and seen clearly what was in those eyes. For the first time in his life, he had felt what his imperial father was feeling.
Li Heng had been like a bird in a cage, but when the sword dance began, he had cut off the chains on his heart, cut away all the worries that plagued his mind and body!
Li Jingzhong said nothing. He looked in a daze at the elated Fifth Prince, his entire body dumbstruck.
He had never seen this sort of Li Heng, this dancing, confident, enthusiastic, infectiously proactive Li Heng.
Even with all his years of service, he had never seen Li Heng like this.
Li Jingzhong had a vague feeling that the Fifth Prince standing before him was no longer very similar to the one he had served.
But as for where the difference lay? Not even he could tell.
Li Jingzhong came back to his senses and began to lead Li Heng's horse out.
Upon returning to his palace hall, the Third Prince slapped his palm down in rage, crushing a three-inch-thick ebony table into pieces.
The Third Prince's complexion went ghastly pale as he thought about what had happened in the palace. He had gone through great efforts, taking everything into account, when he had made his plan.
The only thing he had not expected was that the Fifth Prince would suddenly change his attitude and take the initiative to perform the dance.
And to his complete surprise, his imperial father had not found fault. On the contrary, he had even awarded Li Heng a special embroidered robe meant for children of the imperial clan who dwelled within the palace.
An embroidered robe gifted by the Emperor was no trifling matter. Even the slowest of them understood what their imperial father meant.
Starting from now, no one was permitted to scheme against Li Heng. The embroidered robe served as a protective talisman.
Anyone who dared to move against Li Heng would be seeking their death.
Because that would be challenging the Sage Emperor.
"Investigate for me what's going on with Fifth Brother! Not even Imperial Father was able to cure his illness. How was he suddenly able to cultivate and even reach as high as Origin Energy Tier 9!"
The Third Prince turned his head, his mind fuming with rage.
"Your Highness, it's useless."
In the hall, the sharp-eyed, black-robed elder who had appeared near the spirit vein mountain, Phantom Hands, sternly said, "The First Prince already launched an investigation but wasn't able to turn up a single clue. The Fifth Prince was extremely inconspicuous in the training camp. Moreover, the Fifth Prince's illness… was not something even His Majesty could deal with. No normal person could have done this. There is something in this matter that we do not know!"
The Third Prince muttered to himself, a hint of fear in his eyes. This had been one of the reasons he had not sent any more assassins to kill Li Heng.
If Li Heng had some powerful expert protecting him, and this person could help Li Heng change his fate and completely transform his body, then this was not an expert that anyone the Third Prince dispatched could deal with. If the job was done poorly, then clues might be left behind that could be used against him.
This was also why he had made a large detour and used his imperial father to scheme against Li Heng.
In the end, though, he had still failed.
The Third Prince grit his teeth and his knuckles cracked as his hand clenched into a fist.
"No matter who they are, we have to find them. I'm actually quite interested to see what sort of person wants to help him. Phantom Hands, take some people with you. Fifth Brother was just rewarded by Imperial Father and is probably at his proudest. Once he leaves the Imperial Palace, he'll definitely go to find that person. Take some people with you and keep a close watch on him.
"Bastard thing! Even if they're an immortal from the heavens, if they dare to involve themselves in the War of the Princes, I'll bring them down to the ground!"
"Yes, this subordinate will go!"
Phantom Hands lowered his head, summoned his helpers, and swiftly left.
At this very moment, when Phantom Hands was leading his group out, in the palace halls of all the other princes, the Second Prince, the Fourth Prince, the Sixth Prince, and the Seventh Prince were also keeping a watch on this matter.
Their ever-cowering and seemingly timid Fifth Brother had suddenly become so proactive and show-offish, shocking all of them.
And even more shocking was the Sage Emperor's stance. In this lowkey manner, Fifth Brother's recovery had been exposed.
But not only had the Sage Emperor not charged him with a crime, he had even gifted him an embroidered robe. He had not even asked how this had been possible.
"I truly have underestimated Fifth Brother. I didn't think he was so good at concealing his talents."
"I had originally planned to let him sit quietly and let him be as long as he wasn't too far out of line, but since he has this sort of ambition, I can tolerate him no longer."
"There's only one imperial throne. Since he wants to sit on it, there's no brotherly love to speak of."
"While he's still lacking in strength, he should be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. Otherwise, once his position is steady, how can we deal with him?"
"There are already too many brothers fighting in the palace. We can't have any more!"
Li Heng had probably not imagined that his one sword dance had simultaneously provoked the hostility of all the other princes.
If one said that their hostility to Li Heng was confined to their thoughts before, now, after that banquet, these ideas were about to be realized.
There was no familial love in the imperial clan. It didn't even exist between father and son, so why should it exist between brothers?
Not even a sage could resolve this problem, so how could an embroidered robe? All that meant was that they had to work more secretively!
As the day darkened, a black crow flew through the clouds, eventually landing somewhere in the northwest of the city.
Old Eagle raised his palm and received the crow.
"It seems that the Fifth Prince is fine."
Wang Chong, his hands held behind him, looked at the crow in Old Eagle's hand and gave a light sigh of relief. The one he was most worried about right now was the Fifth Prince.
He had been waiting here this entire time for news of him.
"Young Master was right. Li Jingzhong says that the Fifth Prince's ordeal was more scary than dangerous, and he was even rewarded an embroidered robe by the Sage Emperor. The Fifth Prince said that he wanted to meet you, but Li Jingzhong writes in this letter that he stopped him."
Old Eagle nodded after he finished reading the letter.
"This fellow… is actually a little useful."
Wang Chong nodded, a strange look flashing through his eyes as he listened to Old Eagle reading the letter.
Li Jingzhong, this future treasonous minister, actually had a very fast reaction on things like this. He knew that this was not the time for them to meet, so he had stopped the Fifth Prince of his own volition.
Wang Chong hadn't let him live in vain.
"I hope that he can keep being like this…!" Wang Chong quietly said to himself.
Li Jingzhong was gradually beginning to show his true nature. As a future treasonous minister who had almost complete grasp over the Imperial Court and monopolized power, Li Jingzhong had an unquestionable ability to perceive danger and an excellent sense of politics.
With him at the Fifth Prince's side, the Fifth Prince would be much safer and have much more help. At least this was the case right now!
"Let's go. It's also time for us to leave. Right now, we have a very important mission. This is only the beginning…"
Wang Chong raised his head, his gaze seeming to pierce through the buildings as it looked in the direction of the Imperial Palace.
Only he understood that Li Heng's successfully overcoming this challenge was not the end, only the beginning of an even more grandiose and dangerous chess game.
Once one entered this chess game, one could not back out, and only when it reached the end would it finally resolve. Big Uncle, himself, the entire Wang Clan, King Song, King Qi, the First Prince, the Second Prince… all the princes and princesses, no matter who they were, would not be able to back out until the very end.
The victor was always the last person standing and the people at their side!