What Jiang Chen hadn’t thought of was that the ruckus raised at the Soaring Dragon manor would create currents and eddies beneath the calm surface of the capital.
The Duke of Soaring Dragon, Long Zhaofeng, was naturally feeling the most out of sorts. He might have been able to contain himself because of the greater picture, if Jiang Feng had only turned him down.
But to be declined in such a haughty manner, he felt that he had lost face.
Although Duke Long hadn’t immediately erupted or flown into a rage during the banquet, that wasn’t because he had a forgiving nature, but that he understood that as one in a position of power, he had to control his temper at such a gathering.
When all the guests had left and only his confidantes remained, his first sentence was, “Those who adhere to me prosper, those who defy me die. I don’t care what you do, the Jiang family must fail out of the Hidden Dragon Trials!
Let’s see how presumptuous this father and son duo can be when they lose their dukedom, including that land with the spirit vein!
And someone run an investigation into what’s going on with the Hall of Healing!” He was incredibly infuriated that the Hall of Healing had openly stood out at such an occasion to bolster the Jiang family. No one had anticipated that scene.
Those confidantes and buddies who yet remained all nodded their heads.
“That Jiang father and son duo are truly ridiculous! Duke Long’s prestige is bound to be damaged if we don’t suppress them and beat them down this time!
There must be something going on between the Hall of Healing and this Jiang Chen. When I was at the Hall of Healing the other day…” Long Juxue described the events that had happened at the Hall that day; how the third hallmaster had declined to do business with all the heirs of the preeminent dukedoms, and had sold the Dragonbone Sun Grass to Jiang Chen. He’d even honored Jiang Chen as an esteemed guest.
Even Long Juxue felt that these happenings were rather odd when she recalled them.
Long Zhaofeng didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he heard about them. “Xue’er, why didn’t you mention such an important matter when it happened?”
Long Juxue was similarly regretful. “Xue’er only felt then that a mere dandy wasn’t worth bothering father about. Who would have known that the Hall of Healing…”
To be honest, Long Juxue’s words made sense. At the end of the day, the day that they’d all fought for the Dragonbone Sun Grass was merely a small matter – an interlude in the lives of all the heirs. Although Long Juxue intensely disliked Jiang Chen because of it, she felt there was no need to bring such a small issue to her father’s attention.
But, within the capital, many subtleties could be gleaned from a small matter, and each small ripple encompassed great meaning.
If Duke Long had known of this beforehand, he would’ve been prepared when he invited the Hall of the Healing to the banquet, and would’ve avoided such a loss.
The unexpected showing from the Hall of Healing immediately removed the power that Soaring Dragon had gained from taking the initiative.
“Right! Duke Long, have you discovered that another thing is rather odd?” The person speaking was the duke of Yanmen, Yan Jiuzhuang.
Apart from the duke of Yanmen, there were tens of other dukes still present. Everyone who was left were the trusted confidantes of Duke Long.
That was to say, out of the 108 dukes in the Eastern Kingdom, more than ten of them had secretly thrown in their lot with Duke Long.
This was already an incredibly frightening power.
The duke of Yanmen was ranked in the top ten out of the 108 dukes. He therefore spoke with more authority out any of the other dukes who had sided with Duke Long.
“Duke Yan, what have you discovered?” Long Zhaofeng asked.
“There were two points of strangeness in tonight’s banquet. One, why were Princess Gouyu and Princess Eastern Zhiruo so familiar with Jiang Chen? Two, why was the duke of Tianshui’s performance so abnormal? Everyone please remember that the duke of Tianshui and Jiang Feng are hated rivals. He would been the first to strike out against the duke of Jiang Han normally, but did he even speak up today?
Not only him, but his son Shui Qingshu would bully Jiang Chen whenever the two met in the capital. Did he express any opinion at all tonight?”
His words reminded everyone of the obvious.
This was true, the Tianshui father and son duo had behaved rather oddly tonight.
The duke of Soaring Dragon oppressed Jiang Feng because of the land with the spirit vein, the former actually had no prior enmity with Jiang Feng.
But the duke of Tianshui were hated enemies with the duke of Jiang Han. The two territories were neighbors and fought openly and under the table over land, resources, ranking, and achievements. They were enemies-unto-we-die.
But, the duke of Tianshui hadn’t indicated anything tonight, and didn’t make use of this opportunity to suppress Jiang Feng!
Something was amiss here!
“I remember that the duke of Tianshui accompanied the king to pay their respects when Jiang Chen was caned to death for what happened at the Rites. Why did Jiang Chen come back from the dead? What on earth happened that night? This matter has never been able to be investigated fully. The old farts that went that day are keeping an extremely tight seal on their lips.”
All sorts of bizarre points were being unearthed.
Long Zhaofeng sank into deep thought. He too felt it was odd. King Eastern Lu had greatly capable and outstanding men; there was no reason for them to be unable to cane a good-for-nothing to death.
But Jiang Chen had survived the ordeal, and from the looks of things, not only had Jiang family’s relations with the royal family not soured, they had actually grown closer.
“Everyone’s information is quite useful. It seems the conclusion here is that I have underestimated Jiang Feng. Has this person latched himself onto the King Eastern Lu’s coattails?”
Although the duke of Soaring Dragon said Eastern Lu’s title, there was a certain lack of respect in his tone.
“Slot the duke of Tianshui into my schedule; it looks like clues of this matter must be gleaned from this person.” Long Zhaofeng ordered.
“In addition, tell Du Ruhai to use all necessary methods possible, in order to block Jiang Chen in the Trials. No matter how much backing they have, the Jiang family will be nothing as soon as they lose their dukedom!”
This was tackling a problem at it’s foundation. No matter how strong someone’s backing was, or how many crafty schemes they had, losing the dukedom meant they had lost the right to control their territory.
On what basis could the Jiang family talk, once they lost control?
This method was simple and crude, but direct and effective!
Schemes and seizure, schemes and seizure. Since scheming hadn’t worked, then seizure would have to do.
The duke of Soaring Dragon wasn’t a kind soul. His methods towards achieving his desires were diabolical and without a bottom line.
In his eyes, treating someone courteously before resorting to force wasn’t because he feared the Jiang family power. But rather, he wished to build a reputation of overcoming others through morals and ethics. But since the Jiang family was ignorant and dense, rendering these hypocritical methods ineffective, then all bets were off and violence was the only way!
Just as the duke of Soaring Dragon was holding a meeting late into the night, so were the senior executives in the Hall of Healing.
The four hallmasters and ten elders. The highest levels of the Hall’s power, were all in attendance.
The third hallmaster, Qiao Baishi, fully conveyed all the happenings that had occurred in the banquet.
In the Hall of Healing, the lord hallmaster Song Tianxing held the absolute right to speak. It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say that he was the main pillar of the Hall.
When the third hallmaster had finished describing the situation, all eyes swivelled smoothly to Lord hallmaster Song. It was apparent that no one dared rashly venture forth an opinion before understanding the lord hallmaster’s thoughts.
Song Tianxing chuckled, “I’ll refrain from speaking first. Everyone share your thoughts!”
“Even elder Shun has vouched for the Heavenly Karma Pill with 90% surety, it must be reliable. I think the third hallmaster has made the correct decision.” One of the elders spoke first.
“I too support the third hallmaster. The Hall of Healing has been established in the capital for hundreds of years; it would be impossible to please all and offend none. Offending a few for the profits of the Hall is unavoidable.”
“Indeed, and since the Heavenly Karma Pill has such a bright future and such market potential, we have no choice if we have to offend even more dukes, not just the duke of Soaring Dragon.”
It was apparent that there were more senior executives who supported Qiao Baishi. Everyone weighed in on the issue from the perspective of future profit to the Hall, and all felt that there was no problem with Qiao Baishi’s decision.
“Number two, say something as well.” Song Tianxing looked at second hallmaster with a congenial smile.
“I agree with everyone’s opinions. Anything that benefits the Hall is commendable.” These words were quite slippery and didn’t say much.
Elder Blue spoke up suddenly, “Lord hallmaster, I have a few words.”
“Alright, everyone is welcome to speak their mind. Elder Blue, go ahead.” Song Tianxing encouraged her.
“I feel that the Jiang father and son are not too dependable. Has everyone thought about the consequences if Elder Shun is in the wrong? Wouldn’t the Hall become a great laughingstock? If rumors of this travels, what of our credibility? If the Heavenly Karma Pill is pure bluster, then haven’t we offended Soaring Dragon for nothing? I’ve heard that Long Juxue, the beloved daughter of Duke Long, possesses an azure phoenix constitution and has attracted the attentions of one of the hidden sects. Her future in martial dao is incredibly promising. This way, wouldn’t Soaring Dragon rise in her wake as well? Could a change in the landscape of kingdom ownership occur in the future?”
The Hall of Healing wasn’t a governmental agency, and thus was less reserved, more bold about discussing matters of power. People’s expressions didn’t even flicker when discussing potential changes in rulers.
“Elder Blue, you worry too much. Firstly, it’s impossible for elder Shun to be wrong. And another thing, changes in ruling families follow the laws of nature, and will not be suddenly upended by the emergence of one or two people. The duke of Soaring Dragon is filling out his wings, sure, but the Eastern royal family will not idly sit by.”
Qiao Baishi immediately refuted elder Blue’s words. “Besides, even if the duke of Soaring Dragon was able to, he would not openly declare war against our Hall over one business deal. Our Hall has been established for hundreds of years, and will not be easily trifled with. Ignoring profits at hand to consider details that will not happen, has never been the way our Hall has conducted business.”
No one could deny that the future profits they could gain from the Heavenly Karma Pill were simply too tempting. If the pill was supplied in large quantities to the market, then none of the other medicines currently in the market for bodily injuries would be the slightest bit competitive.
They said that inferior goods would be discarded after comparison. The Heavenly Karma Pill was a superior good that would sweep away its peers.
This market was practically a treasure bowl. If leveraged appropriately, the profits from this single pill medicine would be enough to support the operations of the entire Hall of Healing.
After rounds of debating, everyone’s gazes finally landed on Lord hallmaster Song Tianxing again.
“It seems that most still agree with number three’s decision. I’m sure you can deduce my attitude as well. I confidently left things in number three’s hands when I ventured out. This also meant that I trusted his judgment and abilities.”
Song Tianxing’s attitude was quite apparent by this point.
“I also must remind everyone that our Hall of Healing pursues the greatest profits. Although we avoid the battles of politics, we need not fear involvement. It’s impossible to keep one foot on both sides of the fence forever. When a side needs to be picked, there’s only one side for us, and that’s profit. The Heavenly Karma Pill will bring us profit, so we choose it! As for who wins or loses, our Hall has survived for so long, do we lack even this little bit of adaptability?”