The water roiled as the boat gradually sunk when A Hu returned to shore. He crossed the water by using qinggong to hop across floating timber boards. Jin Wangsun and the boatman' corpses sunk into the river together with the boat, leaving no traces behind. He courteously greeted Mr. An: "Mr. An. Your subordinate has not disappointed you and successfully completed the mission."
"Well done. Well done," praised Mr. An. He stood there outside in the cold night in his black robe. He laughed: "A Hu, your skills have improved yet again. You haven't disappointed me as my disciple. You also absorbed Jin Wangsun's energy, progressing your internal energy substantially. Poor Jin Wangsun spent his life fulfilling the wishes of others. He continues to serve even in death, feeding fish this time."
"It was all thanks to you, Mr. An."
Mr. An didn't appear interested in A Hu's martial arts or the Golden Crow Moon Eater sabre in his hand. He asked, "Spare the drivel. Where is it'
"On me." A Hu stabbed Golden Crow Moon Eater into the ground then took out a brocade box, which was the same size as one used to store jewellery. Longdan took the box on behalf of Mr. An.
A Hu then abruptly undid his shirt. He wore two undershirts underneath his poor-quality outer garment. Deep inside was a snow-white long strip of cloth with blood on it. To be specific, it was text in written in blood. The blood stains were made on the same day everything took place. He removed the white cloth and handed it over. Mr. An, personally, took the cloth.
"You have everything Her Highness asked for"
"Yes," replied A Hu, hands in a cupped-fist salute whilst half-naked. "I slashed the white wall to obtain the Profound Ice sword soul she wanted. As for Hero Shenzhou's carving, I used my blood as a substitute for ink and printed it on the cloth. The sword soul is a very rare possession."
Mr. An glanced at the text out of the corner of his eyes to ensure it was the same text he saw when he entered the imperial palace back then. Then, he gave Longdan a nod. The great swordsman opened the brocade box. Before he could see the contents inside, a metal grinding sound escaped the box. It was the sword howl. The box wasn't large. There wasn't a sword or broadsword in there; there was only a black tip of a blade.
Mr. An had someone place the tip of the blade inside Zhaixing Hall over two decades ago. The plan went awry when the sword soul inside developed beyond his expectations, making it a challenge to reclaim. Since A Hu was sent in to steal Hero Shenzhou's carving, Mr. An figured he might as well have the former take the sword soul with him.
"You have done Jiangnan's fiercest tiger's name proud as her descendant. You are the only one who can resist Hero Shenzhou's sword soul and copy the text down thanks to your Fragmented Heart Mental Cultivation," stated Mr. An, as he examined the text. He sighed: "This text mentions the secret of the nation's destiny. Back when Her Highness seduced Ming Huayu, she planned to have him try and unravel the mystery of the text with his skill as a direct disciple. Who would've thought the shrewd bugger would run. Even worse, he substituted the fuma position with his disciple, putting her in a dilemma. However, Her Highness truly is a phoenix; she was able to acquire the text within a mere three year time frame."
Bemused, A Hu commented, "The text seems to hide a martial arts manual."
Mr. An chuckled: "The text hides a supreme style: Fragmented Sword Eighth Layer Candle. It's the supreme swordplay the Founding Emperor used to conquer the lands. He didn't pass the swordplay on to his descendants; instead, he passed it on to his comrades. Hero Shenzhou wanted to return it to the imperial family. Unfortunately for them, Yuansheng is an imbecile. Two decades he spent, and he still couldn't comprehend it. The nation is doomed in the hands of such a fool."
"Mr. An, who will you be passing the swordpl-"
Mr. An calmly interjected: "What are you so eager about You wield sabres; your physique cannot be changed. You will never replicate half of your success with a sabre when it comes to swordplay. Not even swordplay of this calibre will change that fate, so stop wasting your energy coveting it."
A Hu responded: "Your subordinate dares not. It is just that the sword intent in the text is incredibly overwhelming. Your subordinate was injured even with Fragmented Heart Mental Cultivation protecting him. Anyone who practices it must be wary."
"You don't need to tell me that; I have plans in place. As a thorough guard and astute individual, I'm sure it'll be deciphered," replied Mr. An, chuckling. The Founding Emperor's supreme swordplay has been returned to his descendant. Perfect, isn't it"
A Hu didn't know who Mr. An was referring to. He let Mr. An laugh heartily, and then asked, "What should your subordinate do now"
"Do as Her Highness initially ordered. Emperor Yuansheng is impressed with you. You need to continue rising through the ranks in the imperial court and improving your image. As for Gold and Silver Sect, that old Jin Laishi is holding down the fort. That being said, the new patriarch will be decided based on martial prowess. You know what to do."
"Understood." A Hu quietly said, "I will return to Zhenjiang and fight for the seat. I will then instigate a war between Jin Laishi's Gold and Silver Sect and the other Seven Champion White Princes to plunge Jiangnan into chaos. I shall await my chance to make Jin Clan pay the price."
The tiger grew up in a bloody grudge and blood. He was out to realise his mother's curse.
Ming Feizhen caught sight of Jingan preparing to get into a carriage when he sprinted out of the palace doors. He dashed over and yelled, "Please wait!"
The guards were startled. They had no clue who would have the audacity to stop the Princess. They yelled, "Halt."
Princess Jingan calmly said, "It's fine. Let him over."
Ming Feizhen lowered his head and rushed over.
"What are you doing" calmly asked Jingan. "Are you not worried people will find out"
"They're two separate matters." Voice quiet, Ming Feizhen asked, "What… exactly have you done"
"Fuma, Jing'er cannot understand such profound and cryptic speech."
"I asked you… since when… did Jin Wangsun fall victim to your trap"
"Oh What would your guess be, Fuma"
"Half a year ago… at least half a year ago. That's how long it's been since he last consumed a taiyin pill. Did you know his mental state would be unstable if he didn't consume the pill, and then…"
Jingan just smiled. However, her eyes seemed to say, "What are you trying to ask me"
"A Hu and Huo Qing'er are a couple; the former can't possibly be a loyal servant. You bribed him, didn't you He took something from Zhaixing Hall for you, correct You plan involves many entities and people; it's going to take a lot of time. What exactly do you want'
Jingan's smile was beautiful and captivating. In a soft voice, she responded, "What exactly are you talking about"
"… Is Jin Wangsun dead already"
"Jing'er does not understand anything you have said."
Jingan gently turned her face away. She wore an ambiguous, yet beautiful and youthful, smile. Her expression looked alive as though her nose could speak. There was no way of acquiring any information through her appearance and body language.
"You won this time, and you won beautifully. Fuma, Jing'er always loses to you. Jing'er is a failure."
Hopeless, Ming Feizhen gave up: "Where… are you going now It's late now, so head back to the fuma estate, and we'll t-"
"I am returning to Hangzhou tonight," interrupted Jingan, letting down the curtain at the same time.
"W-Wait, let me finish!! Why are you still so hasty!"
The curtain slowly fell. The last thing Ming Feizhen saw was Jingan's entrancing smile.
"Will meet again."
Despite her smile being beautiful, it sent chills down spines. You could never tell what she had on her mind. If her rationality and emotions were written as a ratio, her emotions would be a tiny numerical value compared to the former. She could use anyone as her pawn without batting an eye. Add her astuteness to the mix, and she made the most terrifying tactician one could go up against.
That was why people obliviously walked into her double-layer traps. Why were they called double-layer traps Because you'd think you found out something, but that would be what she wanted you to know. As for what she didn't want to let you know, you would never know regardless of how you racked your brains. Even the one who taught her military strategies commented, "Rarely is there anyone with talent of this calibre."
*Longdan - This isn't an actual name. It's an alias similar to the Ultimate Threes' system. Longdan essentially means "bravery of a dragon". If the meaning isn't obvious enough, it's a way of depicting someone as very courageous.
** As a thorough guard and astute individual, I'm sure it'll be deciphered… - The gender and so forth of individual who is praised and supposed to be able to decipher the manual is shrouded in mystery.
***Brocade Box - A timber box usually covered in silk on all sides but the lid, which has a thicker layer. You will find numerous variations. Visual: https://imgur.com/875aOVY
If you find any errors ( broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible.-