Inside Morning Song Pavilion, a waiter lazily leaned against the counter. Morning Song Pavilion was so popular that the other waiters were rushing up to passionately greet guests, so busy that they had no free time, but this waiter appeared completely at ease.

Wang Chong walked over and merely flashed the small token in his hand.

Buzz!

The red token in Wang Chong’s hand caused the lazy waiter to tremble, his eyes flying open.

“Guest, please! Come inside!”

The waiter shook his sleeves and enthusiastically led the way. Passing through the entire restaurant, Wang Chong was led toward a hidden passage going underground.

“Your Highness, thank you for the trouble! Milord is inside and would like to treat you to a meal!”

Now that no one was around, the waiter deferentially bowed.

Wang Chong grunted and gave a slight nod, then he pushed the door and went in.

The room was quiet, a fact which Wang Chong did not find surprising at all.

“Li Jingzhong, come out!” Wang Chong said without turning his head.

It was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. A few moments later, with a dry cough and the jangling of a concealed curtain, ‘Li Jingzhong’ walked out, an awkward expression on his face.

“Wang Chong, it’s me,” the man softly said, but this wasn’t Li Jingzhong’s voice. Wang Chong made out this man’s features in the dim light and was struck dumb.

“Your Highness?!”

Wang Chong’s body trembled in surprise.

He had come to Morning Song Pavilion on Li Jingzhong’s request, under the impression that he was going to see the number one treacherous eunuch of the Great Tang. He had never imagined that the one waiting in this secret room was not Li Jingzhong, but the progeny of the Son of Heaven, the revered Fifth Prince, Li Heng. Translated by: Hypersheep325

Edited by: Michyrr

Li Heng was not wearing the dragon robe of a Prince, but the indigo robes of a eunuch. If one didn’t look carefully, one really might mistake him for Li Jingzhong.

But upon close inspection, one would still note that deep concern and unease in Li Heng’s eyes.

“Your Highness, why are you here? And…”


Wang Chong froze as he glanced at the eunuch robes Li Heng was wearing. Just what in the world had happened in the Imperial Palace?

The son of a dragon had put on the robes of a fish, putting on a disguise to meet him in this secretive underground room. The situation was clearly grim.

And even more strangely, despite the Fifth Prince’s honored status, he did not have a single companion.

“Uncle Jing is outside drawing attention for me. Too many people in the capital are watching him right now,” Li Heng sternly said.

Wang Chong’s eyebrow instinctively rose. Li Jingzhong had been serving Li Heng for a very long time now. What did Li Heng mean by ‘outside drawing attention’? Were so many people watching Li Jingzhong now?

Wang Chong was befuddled.

“Wang Chong, you must think of a way to help me,” Li Heng anxiously said.

“Your Highness, don’t panic. I will definitely help you, but you first have to tell me what happened,” Wang Chong sternly said, getting more confused by the second.

Fifth Prince Li Heng was not the sort of person who couldn’t keep his composure, or else he wouldn’t have been able to emerge unscathed from that court session in front of the Sage Emperor. Even though he had the advice from Wang Chong, he still needed to possess his own extraordinary personality and ability.

But Li Heng gave off a different feeling now.

“Wang Chong, First Imperial Brother dominates the Imperial Court. Now that he’s serving as the regent for Imperial Father, his authority reaches the heavens and even a single step forward is difficult for me within the palace.”

Li Heng took in a deep breath and tried to calm himself down.

Buzz!

Wang Chong instantly grimaced. He knew that Li Heng wouldn’t come to find him unless he was in deep trouble, but he had never imagined that he had already been forced into this stage.

The First Prince and the Fifth Prince had not just been fighting for one or two days, but the First Prince was always cautious, composed, and extremely restrained. Thus, even after so many years of forming his own faction and ordering shameful deeds, the First Prince had never left behind a clue. His status as the heir apparent was as sturdy as Mount Tai.

Even Wang Chong felt a tinge of admiration.

The First Prince had cultivated the principle of looking out for his own hide to the apex, and what the Fifth Prince described was a complete mismatch for his customary cautious style.

“Your Highness has been gone for more than a month, so there are some things that you don’t know. The Confucian Sect and Li Junxian have taken over the Imperial Court while First Imperial Brother has taken complete control over the Imperial Palace. In this time, First Imperial Brother has closed ranks and begun to pressure me. In the span of a month, First Imperial Brother found excuses to transfer my advisors to the frontier, and anyone who defied him was imprisoned for the crime of disrespect.

“And some of my important advisors were intercepted and killed on their way to the border. The First Prince said that they were killed by bandits, but the roads to the west were cleared of bandits by Your Highness long ago, and they had many powerful experts guarding them, quite a few at the Imperial Martial realm. When did the bandits of the frontier become so formidable that they could even kill Imperial Martial realm guards?

“Does First Imperial Brother really think I’m a three-year-old child? He’s gone too far!”

The Fifth Prince was so enraged that his lips were trembling.

“What?!”

Wang Chong trembled in shock.

“How could this have happened?!”

Wang Chong’s mind was reeling from the Fifth Prince’s words. He had never imagined that such a thing could happen.

Seeing the Fifth Prince’s enraged and grief-stricken appearance, Wang Chong suddenly understood why Li Heng had appeared alone and without any companions.

Li Heng had been an underdog almost his entire life. On his first meeting with Wang Chong, he had even been compelled to hide in Deflecting Blade Manor.

But from his place of absolute submission and disregard, he had slowly begun to gather his own crew. All of this had come with great difficulty for the Fifth Prince, so he had cherished them deeply.

But with these acts, the First Prince had dealt him a mortal blow.

“…That’s not all. First Imperial Brother has become completely unrestrained. In the span of one month, there have been five attempts on my life within the Imperial Palace. Without Uncle Jing’s vigilance and instinct, I might not have been able to see Your Highness.”

The Fifth Prince’s face was pale and his eyes tinged with fear and anger. He had encountered all sorts of setbacks, but never before had he felt so helpless.


“Assassinations?!”

Wang Chong was even more stunned than Li Heng by this news.

Assassinating a Prince, particularly within the grounds of the Imperial Palace, was no small affair. Once the matter was investigated, it was bound to stir up a great storm.

Even if the First Prince was the heir apparent, he was going too far!

Wang Chong’s first instinct was to kick up a fuss over this matter, perhaps even use it to bring down the First Prince.

But after his initial rage, Wang Chong sensed that something was strange.

The First Prince has always been a shrewd and cautious person. Why has he suddenly become so impatient? This doesn’t match his style!


With this thought, Wang Chong calmed back down.

His intuition told him that something was wrong, that there might be someone else plotting behind the scenes.

But Wang Chong quickly understood.

Even if the other Princes wanted to deal with the Fifth Prince, they wouldn’t be so obvious about it, especially not when the First Prince was the regent. This would be spitting on the First Prince’s authority and would be an extraordinarily foolish act.

None of the Princes of the Great Tang imperial household were that stupid.

Wang Chong fell into silence.

“This isn’t my only concern…”

The Fifth Prince had no idea what Wang Chong was thinking. After finally getting a meeting with Wang Chong, Li Heng felt like he finally had a firm footing. He began to explain all the dangers and setbacks he had experienced over the last month.

“Although the palace is dangerous, as long as I’m cautious, First Imperial Brother would never be so brash as to attack me in my residence. My greatest concern is Imperial Father!”

Buzz!

Wang Chong felt like he had been struck by a bolt of lightning and instantly stared at Li Heng.

Wang Chong paled as he shouted, “What happened to the Sage Emperor?!”

“This…”

Li Heng hesitantly looked around, a deep apprehension on his mind, but he still voiced his concerns.

“First Imperial Brother might be the regent, but the true decision maker has always been Imperial Father. After all that happened in the palace, my first thought was to find Imperial Father and seek justice. As long as Imperial Father gives the word, even First Imperial Brother will have to show some restraint. But when I went to find Imperial Father, I wasn’t even allowed to approach.

“All the people around Imperial Father’s residence have changed. I didn’t even recognize any of the bodyguards. Not even Princes were allowed to get close. I thought that this was First Imperial Brother’s doing to counter me, but I realized later on that this wasn’t the case. It wasn’t just me. Not even the Prime Minister or Grand Tutor have been able to get an audience with Imperial Father for some time. All the memorials seeking an audience have been returned.

“Wang Chong, you know how much Imperial Father respects the Grand Tutor. He studied from the Grand Tutor as a youth, but now, not even the Grand Tutor can get an audience with Imperial Father, let alone anyone else.”

Li Heng spoke in a fast and urgent tone, his chest heaving in agitation. Meanwhile, Wang Chong’s face had twisted into a nasty grimace.

“Your Highness! What is it that you want to say?” Wang Chong loudly interrupted.

Li Heng was caught off guard, not understanding what was meant. But seeing Wang Chong’s grim expression, he froze.

Li Heng was no fool, as no fool could have lived up to this point. Large-scale intrigue in the palace, attempted assassination of a Prince, speaking on behalf of the sovereign, cutting him off from his ministers… one or two were nothing special, but all of them linked together meant something entirely different.

Li Heng might not have realized yet, but everything he had mentioned pointed toward that greatest taboo of successive dynasties, that which all great clans and nobles feared, even members of the imperial household…

The crime of plotting rebellion!

In the various dynasties, not even the War of the Princes or factional strife could cause as much fear as the words ‘plotting rebellion’.

These words were often followed by large-scale massacres and bloodshed. Along with the crime of plotting rebellion came a mindset of ‘everyone is guilty, and the guilty are harshly punished’. Even if the innocent had to be killed, no one could be allowed to escape.

The crime of plotting rebellion would be accompanied by the deaths of thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands. Countless families would be broken apart, and not even members of the imperial household could escape death.

It was said that the walls have ears, and there were some things that one could not just casually talk about, not even in this underground room of Morning Song Pavilion. If someone was listening in and used this information, no explanation in the world could save him and the Fifth Prince. Translated by: Hypersheep325

Edited by: Michyrr

“I misspoke! Nothing of the sort happened! Nothing! I was just randomly speculating…”

Li Heng paled, and deep fear appeared in his eyes.

As a child, he had studied the ‘Admonitions of History’ and the mindset of a sovereign, so he was even more afraid than Wang Chong.

Not even he would believe that the First Prince wanted to rebel, let alone anyone else. Still, one could not speak with a loose tongue.

“…But I still feel that the mood in the palace is strange, extremely strange.”

Li Heng’s lips were trembling, his entire body oozing unease.

“Wang Chong, you have to believe me. There’s something different this time. You have to help me!”

Li Heng raised his head to Wang Chong with eyes brimming with hope.Whenever he was in grave danger, Wang Chong would always make a timely appearance to solve his problems.

It seemed like there was no problem in the world that he couldn’t solve. Thus, the moment Li Heng ran into trouble, he immediately thought about Wang Chong.

He had nothing but trust and respect for Wang Chong!

The room was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop. Wang Chong was silent, a pensive look in his eyes.

He did not doubt Li Heng’s words, but he needed to think about this matter carefully. Too many things made no sense.

There’s no reason for it. Based on my memories, this should be a period of comparative peace and quiet, with no major incidents. Moreover, since the First Prince has been made regent, if all goes as expected, he should be the next sovereign. There’s no reason for him to do all of this, acting so openly and leaving behind so many clues. That doesn’t match with his personality!

Wang Chong’s brows locked together in confusion.


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