Chapter 117: The Stormy Night at Imperial City
Luckily after the incident with Lu Wan’er, there wasn’t another unexpected event on their way to the Imperial City that could delay their trip.
By noon, during the fifth day of the third lunar month, they arrived in Yue Kui Town. This small town is the closest to the entrance of Feng Cheng.
“We will rest here for a while. After lunch, we’ll depart.” They drove to a restaurant that looked somewhat clean. After they got off, Lin Si Yao asked the driver to park there.
“Waiter, a pot of hot tea,” called Situ Yun.
“Right away.” When the waiter saw the customers filling two tables, he couldn’t help but grin. Agilely, he brought two teapots to the tables. Moreover, he gave each table a plate of sunflower seeds, Yue Kui Town’s specialty snack.
“I assume you’re from somewhere else? You must have come to the Imperial City to celebrate the Emperor’s birthday?” The waiter hurled the tablecloth over his shoulder, and happily started a chat with them.
It wasn’t the rush hour yet, so except for Lin Si Yao’s group, there were just two or three other people at this restaurant.
“Oh right, I heard that the Imperial City would be very lively and bustling at the Emperor’s birthday. That’s why we’ve come from very far away just to join the celebration!” Situ Yun smiled. Among these people, he was the youngest. Thus, he had to work a lot! Ah, there were the twins, who were younger, but they couldn’t talk yet, thus excluded.
“Haha, sir, how spirited! Anyway, it’s the fiftieth birthday of the king. It should be more exciting than the previous years.” The waiter paused when he reached this part. Then, he acted mysteriously by lowering his voice and covering a side of his mouth, “I heard that the Emperor wanted to find a husband for the most favored Third Princess. Haha, little brother, you seem to be a dragon and phoenix among the sea of humans*. You can go and try tomorrow. If you get lucky and get selected, don’t forget this restaurant!”
(*人中龙凤 /rén zhōng lóng fèng – a giant among men (idiom))
“…” Situ Yun was speechless. He turned to look at Su Shuilian who was covering her smile. Lin Si Yao didn’t wear any emotion but his eyes flashed with a glint of humor. “Do I look like someone who wants to live with my in-laws?” Situ Yun was vexed. He was just thirteen, thirteen years old! It wasn’t his turn to talk about marriage yet!
“Accept fate,” Lin Si Yao spat out two words.
“Uncle!” Situ Yun resentfully glared at Lin Si Yao. “I’m going to order food.” wuwuwu*, if only Da Bao were here. Then, the waiter would try to match him, not me.
Situ Yun helplessly wiped his face of fake tears. He stood up and headed to the counter, “Whatever you recommend, bring it out to serve.”
It wasn’t a big city anyway. It was good enough that this small restaurant in a small town had meat. For each table, they had braised beef sauteed with some seasonal vegetables and a bowl of rice. It was a more than satisfying meal for the hungry.
When they were just about finished with their meal, a group of people entered the restaurant.
A bearded man wearing black garments led this group. As soon as they got in, he screamed and yelled at the waiter to quickly bring out liquor and food.
Following close behind him was a couple, a handsome man and a beautiful woman. They were in their forties, wearing luxurious clothes, moving elegantly.
Walking behind them were a man and a woman wearing bodyguard uniforms.
“Why are you standing idle? Hurry, bring me food!” The bearded man shouted at the petrified waiter.
“Lu Qing!” The man in fancy clothes frowned.
As soon as the bearded man heard his name being called, his face subsided. He then sternly ordered the waiter in a low tone. “Waiter, bring me food! Now!”
“Right away. Please, take your seats. This little one will go to ask the chef to bring your food immediately.”
As soon as those people entered the restaurant, they occupied the biggest round table in the room. The waiter had never seen the restaurant so packed with customers at times other than rush hour. Finally, he got a hold of himself and replied before happily running to the kitchen.
“Uncle, I recognize that bearded man. He’s General Lu Qing, the infamous general of the Blood Union.” Situ Yun seized the chance and muttered to Lin Si Yao while pouring him more tea.
“Mn,” Lin Si Yao nodded. He didn’t expect to see the Blood Union to send someone to Da Hui, especially during this time. Anyway, he didn’t know their purpose. Were they here to avenge the Twelve Blood Knights? Or just to stir up people’s minds in the capital? They shouldn’t be here for the Emperor’s birthday celebration tomorrow.
“It doesn’t matter to us. After we’re done here, we depart.” Lin Si Yao told him coldly.
Situ Yun nodded. He was curious, but that was not their priority. Their mission now was to escort Shi Niang and the twins to Prince Jing’s mansion.
Prince Jing’s Mansion was situated in the east end of Tian You Street. It’s the most crowded and liveliest street in the Imperial City. Tian Bao Street, just one block down from the palace, was quite quiet.
Previously, Prince Jing’s Mansion was called Ming Mansion, the mansion of Liang Zuo Ming, Liang Xuan Jing’s father. From the beginning of Da Hui Empire, they had regulated that: To reduce extravagance and waste, when a son inherited his father’s title, he would need to change the mansion’s name and use the same mansion. If the mansion had been used for two generations, and the current generation had merits in the military, they would be permitted to build another or expand their mansion.
Prince Jing’s mansion had its name changed once. Thus, as long as Liang Xuan Jing’s children had any big contribution to the imperial court, they would be able to build an additional mansion. This way, they didn’t need to change the name of Prince Jing’s Mansion, which had been used for two generations already. And, Liang Xuan Jing’s other relatives could stay in the old mansion.
Unless they bought some other houses by using their own names.
Liang En Zai was just seventeen years old this year, so he did not have many merits. However, not only had he inherited the Wangye title recently, but he also received permission to build a new mansion by the Emperor. Wangye Xiang, who was one year older than him, with the same compliments for his talents and appearance, didn’t share such glory.
Many rumors had been spread out after Liang En Zai had received his reward – the permission to build his new mansion. But gossip did not stop there…
Most of the nobles and officials guessed that the Emperor wanted to let the Third Princess, his most favorite daughter, marry Liang En Zai. Of course, only the involved persons knew the truth.
The carriage drove into Prince Jing’s Mansion and parked by the area where horses could be tethered. “Guye, the Prince’s mansion has strict regulations. All carriages have to stop by here. You can choose to use the sedan chairs or walk. We’ve prepared the sedan chairs. Guye, please…” The driver looked at Lin Si Yao who wore a dark face. He just followed the Prince’s mansion’s rule. He didn’t dare to violate the rule.
“Then we should use the sedan chair.” Su Shuilian pulled Lin Si Yao’s sleeve, nodding to the driver.
“Thank you for your understanding!” After Su Shuilian agreed, the driver bowed, then drove the carriage away. He needed to feed and shower his horses. The porters were waiting for them with four soft sedan chairs.
“Tch, tch, this Prince’s Mansion has too many rules. It’s already complicated just to enter the door.” Situ Yun shook his head when he saw that. When he came here to invite the imperial doctor, he didn’t take the main entrance. He jumped from the roof and followed a maid who delivered tea to find Wangye Jing’s study room. That’s why he hadn’t experienced the complicated etiquette of aristocratic people.
“Younger sister, brother-in-law, I’m sorry I didn’t come to welcome you.” Liang En Zai’s friendly greeting sounded from the front. Walking towards them, he had naturally heard Situ Yun’s words. He smiled and explained, “Our grandfather had set this rule. It is difficult to omit. Sister, you sit in the sedan chair! Brother-in-law, would you like to take a walk with me?”
Lin Si Yao shot Liang En Zai a meaningful look. The last time they met, Liang En Zai didn’t call him brother-in-law at all. What’s wrong with him today? Wanted to provoke him? Or was it unintentional?
Although he thought so, he didn’t ask further. After Su Shuilian and the others got on the sedan chairs, he and Situ Yun walked with Liang En Zai as they headed towards Prince Jing’s Mansion’s main hall.
“These days have been very unusual here. Spies may have infiltrated.” When they walked past the waterfall pavilion, Liang En Zai’s lips finally moved.
Although the waterfall was loud, Lin Si Yao heard Liang En Zai’s warning.
“Am I their target?” Lin Si Yao asked without lifting his head.
“Unsure. I had found two but they bit their tongue before I could ask anything. I’m not sure if there are any more.” Taking advantage of the noise caused by the waterfall, Liang En Zai briefed the others about the current situation of Prince Jing’s Mansion.
“For the Twelve Blood Knights?” Lin Si Yao pondered while frowning. “Could it be true that the Twelve Blood Knights are just a distraction?” It was to attract the real military power out of Da Hui so they could capture them without any obstructions.
“Could be. I couldn’t manage that much. Just be careful! I will send more people to protect En Xu.” Liang En Zai reminded Lin Si Yao because he was worried about En Xu and the twins, who were vulnerable and couldn’t protect themselves.
“No need, Situ Yun is here. More people and it’ll be too conspicuous.” Lin Si Yao shook his head. He had seen the imperial guards in Prince’s mansion. The chief guard was said to be the strongest, but he couldn’t stand one strike of his. That kind of guard, he would rather not have; more people meant more trouble.
Although Situ Yun wasn’t as strong as himself, Si Tuo, and the others, he was the strongest among the younger generation in Feng Yao Court. It was the reason why he replaced Da Bao, after discussing with Xi Chong. Shuilian and the twins were his weakness. They could not afford to make any errors.
The others didn’t matter to him.
“Okay, it’s up to you. Oh, right, when we go to the palace to meet the Emperor on the eighth, you should be careful while in the palace.”
Liang En Zai thought of the current Emperor. Although on the surface, he has a good relationship with his father, the Emperor is a sly character. His father was a frank and honest man, that’s why he could be close to the Emperor. But he himself is different. Although the Emperor outwardly showed his appreciation to him – with his new title and the military power from his father, but also the Emperor’s promise to let him build his own mansion when he was eighteen years old.
With high praises, he became the focus of the Imperial City. Even some of The Knights’ operation was leaked. He was afraid that the Emperor would catch on.
Thus, after the event of the twelve Blood Knights, to conceal The Knights’ existence, he had selfishly revealed Lin Si Yao to the public eyes. He thought that with Lin Si Yao’s infamous title of the God of Slaughter, the Emperor wouldn’t want to see him. However, he had failed to read the bizarre character of the Emperor.
However, no matter what scheme the Emperor had, Lin Si Yao wasn’t a reckless man. He should be able to avoid the Emperor’s trap.
“Emperor’s birthday tomorrow… was the Blood Union invited?” Lin Si Yao suddenly recalled the people he met in the restaurant in Yue Kui Town.
“Of course not. Why would we invite them here? Is there any problem?” Liang En Zai asked, slightly bewildered. Lin Si Yao never talked about useless things. Something must be up.
“On the way here, we saw some people, possibly from the Blood Union.”
Liang En Zai frowned. The noise from the waterfall was subsiding so they no longer continued to talk. They then switched to some irrelevant topics. Soon, they arrived at the main house where Liang Xuan Jing and his wife resided.
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