“It’s not like I want to do this. These men were all veterans that have served under you and Grandpa—even comrades that had experienced life and death together. However, we cannot risk the lives of the entire Jun Family on an uncertainty. If we are not merciless in this present moment, then others will be merciless to us in the future! Third Uncle, this is not just one man! Would they all betray the Imperial Family threw in their lot with the Jun Family? That is just wishful thinking! If our secrets are exposed and we arouse the Imperial Family’s suspicions, then the several hundred members of the Jun Family, the thousands of commoners living in the Jun Family’s fiefdom, and even the all the high-ranking military officers serving the Jun Family’s faction will be guilty by association! That is tens of thousands of lives! As for what to do next, I believe that Third Uncle should know better than me. Third Uncle had once told me what it meant to be part of the younger generation, so why are you so sentimental now? Third Uncle, you are now responsible for the lives of the entire Jun Family; don’t tell me you will shirk your duty?!” Jun Mo Xie’s calm analysis was terrifying, his expression was somewhat cruel, and his tone was rather fierce.
“If that is the case, is it possible that we will have to carry our secret to the grave?” Jun Wuyi frowned.
“Third Uncle, your foresight is lacking! Take a look at the Magnificent Jewel Hall…” Jun Mo Xie chuckled nefariously before leisurely continuing, “…currently overlooking the whole world. Which emperor dares to move against the Magnificent Jewel Hall?”
Jun Wuyi was overwhelmed in shock!
It turned out that his nephew had such incredible ambitions!
The Magnificent Jewel Hall achieved its current success through the effort of countless generations of people, yet our Jun Family…” Jun Wuyi deeply furrowed his brows.
“The Jun Family has me! It has you! It has Grandpa!” Jun Mo Xie grunted, gently swirling the wine in his cup. “The three of us are more than enough! The day will come when our Jun Family will be stronger than the Magnificent Jewel Hall!” The calm expression on Jun Mo Xie’s face revealed an unsurpassed confidence!
Jun Wuyi dazedly looked at his nephew and suddenly felt a surge of pride well up in his heart! His nephew’s words almost convinced him that these events will necessarily happen. He wanted to believe in this future, because if these words came true, then there would be hope for his redemption!
“Things are different now that your health has returned. Your priority in the coming days will be to all your body to recuperate and to make sure you do not recklessly activate your Xuan Qi. Although you have advanced into the Sky Xuan realm, your foundation is unstable because you had primarily relied on the medicinal strength of the Blazing Heart Meridian and not bitter cultivation for the breakthrough. I have already instructed the kitchen staff to prepare a specialized medical cuisine for Third Uncle. For the next ten days, you can only nurture your Xuan Qi in your dantian and continue until you have gained complete control. No matter what, you absolutely cannot take rash actions. When you are free, just use the power of your body to move a little. Exercise restraint. I think Third Uncle understands my meaning!” Jun Mo Xie gave Jun Wuyi a profound look. “I believe that Third Uncle will discover a pleasant surprise in your body after these next ten days.”
“I have waited for more than ten years; a mere ten days is nothing!” Jun Wuyi nodded.
“The three hundred guards have not returned from their training?” Jun Mo Xie asked rather casually as he swirled his cup of wine. After three hundred house guards have reached an acceptable level of physical conditioning, Jun Mo Xie moved forward with the next phase of their death training regimen: The three hundred men proceeded to the Heavenly Tribulation Forest to hunt low-level Xuan Beasts for their Xuan Cores and pelt. Also, they must obtain ten more rank 5 Xuan Beasts; the higher the level, the better, and naturally the more, the better for low-level Xuan Beasts.
Do not return until you have completed the mission!
Jun Mo Xie gave a stern warning before their departure. “This training exercise to the Heavenly Tribulation Forest will be left completely in your control and this includes your lives! I expect that less than half of you will return alive! This is where the path of the strong begins! Failure is not an option; that is the road to the Yellow Springs!”
Jun Mo Xie also used this as an opportunity to weed out any spies within these troops. After the troops entered the Heavenly Tribulation Forest, Grandpa Jun’s main forces were dispatched to guard their path of retreat. Anyone that turned back was killed without exception! Any birds that flew out from the forest were similarly shot dead! They followed up by entering the forest and killing anyone they suspect were sending out a message.
This operation was carried out by Grandpa Jun’s secret force of Jade Xuan experts so the outcome was uneventful.
“Twenty-seven men have already been exposed so far; all of them have been summarily executed! No information on this operation had leaked out as of the latest report.” Jun Wuyi appeared exhausted. “It did not occur to me that the Jun Family had sheltered this many enemy spies. Could it be that my Jun Family is easily bullied?!”
Jun Mo Xie smiled and said. “We can assume that most of the spies have been eliminated given that no messages have been sent out for such a long period of time. I’m not too worried about the remaining men. Anyone that is able to return had earned the right to live.”
Jun Wuyi slightly nodded before standing up. He had taken one last look at the wine cup in Jun Mo Xie’s hands before he returned to his courtyard.
Jun Mo Xie sat quietly for a while before he too stood up and left toward his courtyard; the second batch of fine wine ought to be ready at any moment. This batch will be the real deal.
A disturbance suddenly broke out in the capital and then subsided. A fast horse galloped post-haste to the main gate of the Jun Residence. The rider, who wore a yellow eunuch outfit, was precisely a messenger from the imperial palace. Shortly thereafter, Grandpa Jun hurriedly left the residence and rushed toward the imperial palace.
At the same time, the physicians of the imperial palace seemed extremely impatient as they hurried to the Li Residence.
The Dugu Family’s pair of father and son similarly dropped everything at hand and rode their fastest horse toward the imperial palace.
Members of every major family and cabinet ministers of comparable status continuously rallied in the direction of the imperial palace.
In the eyes of the onlookers, a major incident had undoubtedly occurred—an incident capable of shaking the Tianxiang Kingdom from top to bottom.
As a matter of fact, a major incident indeed happened. The Grand Preceptor and Chancellor of the State, Li Shang, suddenly contracted a grave infirmity and had been unconscious ever since, leaving his life and death uncertain. Grand Preceptor Li was the highest-ranking official in the imperial court in the Tianxiang Kingdom. His unanticipated collapse had thrown the imperial court into disorder and confusion.
His Majesty the Emperor was furious!
Sitting on the imperial throne, he slammed the table with both hands. “…a perfect healthy civil official cultivates his Xuan Qi behind closed door, but instead of restoring his Xuan Qi, he squandered away what remain of his old life!…had long since overseen all aspects of court politics. The entire imperial court has been paralyzed with his collapse today! How can we not grieve under such circumstance? You all, you…” After His Majesty said up to this point, he immediately fell silent. He massaged his temple as if to soothe a headache and sighed helplessly.
When he had looked up earlier, His Majesty realized that he had done something stupid! Something incredibly stupid!
Of the several people below, Jun Zhan Tian wore a long face as he stared vacantly ahead at nothing in particular, completely spaced out and apparently did not hear a word.
Dugu Zongheng was grunting and sighing while using a thick carrot-sized finger to dig at his nostril and nonchalantly flicking his finger from time to time. What kind of demeanor is this…
Tang Wanli frowned as he watched Dugu Zongheng from the corner of his eyes. His lip trembled, and he angrily cursed in his heart from having to frequently dodge errant balls of snot. Tang Wanli looked disdainfully at the Meng Family and arrogantly at the Li Family, but he did not dare to show his discontent against the big boss, even if he dared to curse in his heart.
The master of the Meng Family had a serious and solemn appearance, sitting quietly without looking sideways as if in meditation.
Murong Fengyun’s back lean against main hall pillar. Something that looked suspiciously like saliva appeared on his white beard…
The old fool from the Song Family had his head drooped down as if he was trying to figure out if he can insert his head in the crotch of his trouser…
His Majesty suddenly woke up from his daze and wished he could give himself two slaps. Would expressing my anger mean anything to these old bags of bones? Was that any different than casting pearls before a swine? Was it even worth a fart?! Eventually, he impatiently waved his hand. “Leave. Everyone leave. It was our mistake! We were wrong to inconvenience esteemed elders such as yourselves. Just leave and quickly go back home to your beds since you all seem too tired to be here!”
As if waking from a dream, the old men started blaming each other and then proceeded to thank His Majesty as they made their exit. Dugu Zongheng was just about to leave before he turned back and kicked Murong Fengyun’s body with a bang. “Wake up. Go home to sleep.”
Murong Fengyun mumbled incoherently, sleepy eyes unclear before loosely standing up, seemingly at a loss for what to do, “Your Majesty, this old official is guilty. This official must be going senile from old age to actually fall asleep in Your Majesty’s palace. This…”
“GET OUT OF OUR SIGHT! GO BACK HOME TO SELL RICE CAKES*!” The Emperor’s bellow frightened the many court officials waiting in the side chamber. The old men all appeared to be battered, exhausted and even scared witless as they exited the main hall. However, once they left the imperial palace, these crafty old men looked at each other with evil smiles before parting ways and leaving abruptly.
[*This is a play on word. Rice cake (年糕) is pronounced like old age (年高) in Chinese]
His Majesty’s thunderous bellow that shook the heaven had already echoed from the palace…
“Jun you old fool! Stand right there!” Jun Zhan Tian had only taken a few steps and was just about to mount his horse when he heard someone calling his name behind him. When he turned around, he saw the dark expression on Dugu Zongheng as the latter charged over.
“You want a beating?” Jun Zhan Tian furrowed his white brows. “You got some balls you little shit to have the audacity to bark like a dog in front of me, your father? I’ll turn you inside-out you old monkey!”
“Fuck you! Who do you think you are? When did I bark like a dog?” Dugu Zongheng snorted. “I need to help you teach that grandson of yours a lesson! I’m going to beat him until his skin peels off! What do you have to say for yourself?!”
“What?! What did you say?!” Jun Zhan Tian was about to turn and leave, but his eyes flashed like lightning when he heard what was said. “You want…on my behalf…BERATE…MY… GRAND…SON?” His voice continued to get louder with each word as a blue aura dramatically exploded out from his body causing a tyrannical pressure to emanate out. His blood orchid cloak fluttered wildly.
The old man was obviously infuriated! There are very few people in the capital that have the courage to stand face to face against Jun Zhan Tian in this kind of situation, but those few people are precisely from the Dugu Family: Dugu Wudi, Dugu Xiao Yi, and the one standing before him, Dugu Zongheng!
And Dugu Zongheng is a person that always followed through with what he said!