The Light In The Past Is Now But Smoke and Dust
Rewinding back a bit in the royal family's seating area. The orange prince who was adamant on his stance when questioned by the emperor and Eunuch Wang went silent for a moment before saying: "Please forgive me father, but I do not understand what you are saying." He sat in his seat without moving or showing a hint of being unsettled.
The emperor frowned and solemnly said: "Cheng'er, are you still going to be so stubborn? Forget it, I shall put your ambition to rest. Eunuch Nan, bring him out."
Eunuch Nan responded to indicate he heard the emperor's orders and then turned around to leave. Not long after, he returned with a unique long-faced individual with yellow-ish skin and a skinny appearance over.
The orange prince didn't show any sign of surprise. He just casually said: "General Manager Liu, you are the general manager of my manor, and you've come all the way here to manage things here too?"
"I was called upon by his highness. I came for his highness's orders."
The orange prince scoffed indifferently. He then grabbed a filled cup of wine to the side of his arm and tossed it out. He cussed: "Traitor, selling out your master for wealth and status. What a scoundrel!"
Cao Jian didn't move. He reached his long arm out, caught the wine-cup and shifted it forward to catch the wine in it. His movements were fluid and his reaction was quick. It was a surprise to learn that he was well-trained. Cao Jian courteously returned the cup to the table, knelt down and said: "Greetings, your majesty. I would like to let you know today that my surname is not Liu. My surname is Cao and my name is Jian, an Yi-rank warrior in his highness's entourage. I have been by your side for the last three years under his highness's orders. You have looked after me for three years, so I dare not tell the truth. Please forgive me, your majesty."
The orange prince turned sideways, not to accept his bow, but to just laugh coldly whilst looking at him.
The emperor bluntly said: "Cao Jian reports back to me all the things you've done each month. When you went where, what you wore, what you ate, nothing escapes me. I know everything you're thinking and doing. I don't care about you taking bribes, but do you think you can explain today's matter?"
"Explain what? Heh, interesting." The orange prince clearly didn't care. He played with the white-jade ring on his thumb, chuckled indifferently and continued: "First it was Cha Yuan, and now General Manager Liu. I would think that they aren't the only ones, right, father?"
"Did you think I'm a moron? Heh, all of the eunuchs, maids, servants, elders, all of them were spies you planted by my side."
The orange prince looked into the distance as though he was reminiscing something. He continued: "I knew that there were some who were different ever since I was six. The way they looked at me was different. Their looks were cold and resolute. Yeah, just like your guards. It was the look of someone who was putting up with it for the sake of completing a mission. I know that there are some people in the palace whom are different. When I grew up, there were some in my manor who were different too. I could tell. They were so easy to see through. The way they breathed was different. They were like a black dot on a white sheet of paper. It wasn't hard to figure them out."
After listening to him silently, the emperor sighed and replied: "You and I are the most alike among my seven sons… I was the same as you when I was young. If you were just willing to use your talent for good and fulfil your role as a prince, the situation wouldn't have turned out like this today."
"So now it's my fault? I can't believe you have the nerve to be talking about talent."
The orange prince's expression changed into a frightening expression as if he was going to explode as he said: "Ever since I was young, I liked reading military books, and learning about strategy. I was willing to help protect our borders so that our people could lead peaceful lives. When I was eight and had my birthday with my eldest brother, he said…… he wanted to be a rose in the flower garden. You gave him a piece of white-jade in front of everyone. But when I told you I wanted to be a general and that I wanted to lead the army to protecting our borders, you wore an annoyed look. You scolded me 'you're so young and yet you're up to no good'. You slapped me hard enough to give me a blood mouth in front of everyone. I still remember it now. That's your idea of learning? That's your idea of making use of your talents?!"
The emperor's face went stiff: "I… I have my unfortunate reasons."
The orange prince took in a big breath as if he was only finished now.
"After that, I accidentally pushed a maid into a well out of a fit of anger. I immediately hid away afterwards. I was bewildered. If the child of a normal household were to push another child into the water, they'd just save the child and things would be fine. But instead, you beat me and then locked me in the study for days. I only got to eat mantou and salted vegetables during that time. I was forbidden from reading military books and forced to read books authored by sages.
You then raised me like I was retarded after that incident and I started to hate you more and more. You didn't let me study military strategies so I secretly stashed them away and hid in my room to read them. You didn't let me get acquainted with military personnel so I made acquaintances with those from the pugilistic world. I called for the Black Winds Thirteen Wings, and the warriors of the imperial court were killed by me. I was behind it all. And I've already done it. What are you going to do about it, father?"
The emperor wrestled with himself and finally, painfully said: "If you stop now and hand over all the people responsible for killing the Qilin Guards, I promise… I'll only strip you of your rank. I'll spare your life."
"Well thank you very much." The orange prince chuckled aloofly and added: "But that's not the best outcome. I want a better option."
Without giving the emperor time to speak, he suddenly called out: "Batian! Jiaomeng!!"
As soon as the orange prince called out, Xiang Batian who was lying in wait below the royal family's seating area leapt straight up like a large bird. He wasn't particularly good with qinggong, but his internal strength was decent. He leapt several yards up with his first jump and reached half-way up. He then he used a stone as a stepping-stone to jump the remainder of the distance up to the seating area.
What was most surprising was "Jiaomeng" on the ring to the side. He had just sent his opponent flying with his palm strike. The young man flew away like a cannonball. The young man was oddly tall and he wasn't light, yet he got sent flying like a feather with that palm strike.
He was far from the orange prince yet he amazingly heard him. He spun around and leapt over. His qinggong was top-tier. He leapt over two rings and upon landing in the last ring, he shouted out loud. With a single jump, he jumped over ten yards like a proud dragon, landing right before the emperor.
The emperor exclaimed to himself: What profound skill!
The orange prince took a step back and shouted: "What are you waiting for! Do it!"
The guards around the emperor rushed forward but Xiang Batian knocked a number of them over with a punch.
Fu Xiang casually threw a palm strike upon reaching the seating area. A strong gust of wind blew forth from his palm. The power of Fu Xiang Divine Palms shocked the entire venue once again. Just the wind from the palm strike alone destabilised several guards while the ones at the forefront suffered internal injuries from it.
Fu Xiang just beat Night Fortress's master, the master of legend, so he was understandably elated. The more he fought the more his spirits rose. His internal strength from decades exploded onto the scene. A single palm strike alone took care of most of the guards.
He threw another palm strike with his left hand but another force countered his. Fu Xiang discovered that his opponent possessed astounding internal strength so he didn't dare to take his time. He focused himself and threw another palm strike. Their palms collided but no winner was decided. He found his ground and then looked over to discover that it was Eunuch Nan who was by the emperor's side.
Fu Xiang laughed and said: "I'm amazed a dick-less guy like you can put up a fight."
Eunuch Nan exclaimed: "How arrogant!" But he too knew that Fu Xiang was a strong opponent unlike any other he had faced before. He used a quick palm strike but drew with Fu Xiang's single palm strike.
As Fu Xiang exchanged blows with Eunuch Nan, he suddenly felt painful sensation in his back. His body shifted a little and a sharp sword stabbed towards him.
"Heh, nice timing! I was worried I wouldn't have a decent opponent!"
Fu Xiang used his hand as a blade and slashed out a blade of wind with the edge of his palm. Given his profound internal strength, his slash was no less dangerous than a scimitar. It collided with the newcomer's sword but both ended up being forced a step back. Fu Xiang thought to himself with surprise: How old is this lass to have achieved such a profound internal strength level? They say that she is the strongest among all the young females in the pugilistic world and she sure doesn't disappoint.
The owner of the sword who stabbed him in his back was the best female fighter present, Liu Shan Men's vice-captain, Shen Yiren.
Shen Yiren wore a cold smile on the corner of her mouth and exuded her murderous intent in all directions.
"You killed my subordinate and committed treason. You've done both of the things I hate most. Alright, I don't need any other reason to kill you now."
Seeing her sword flicker, he got excited. He revealed an odd smile and exclaimed: "You and your subordinate are in a shady relationship. You could still add 'vengeance for my husband' you know?!"
Shen Yiren didn't care about his drivel. She swung her sword like a gust of wind. Midway through, there seemed to be a hidden electric current. She struck with her next strike like rainfall before her straight thrust was complete. She executed three different intents within a single move. Now that was truly frightening.
Fu Xiang had an ominous feeling. Liu Shan Men's Six Shaped Art was renowned throughout the pugilistic world, so it was not to be underestimated. Realising that, Fu Xiang struck towards her centreline with a palm strike powerful enough to split Hua Shan, forcing Shen Yiren backwards. He then used a second strike to deal with Eunuch Nan.
Both sides were on even footing. The orange prince had powerful men while the emperor had numbers.
The orange prince and the emperor, the two faction leaders faced off. The emperor was much more skilled than the orange prince so there was virtually no need for them to compete. The only problem was that the highly-skilled Fu Xiang was between them. Considering the importance of the emperor, he couldn't risk his own life.
At the same time, about ten Qilin Guards jumped up. Needless to say, they were actually the Black Winds Thirteen Wings in disguise. Liu Shan Men was outside the city while the emperor's entourage was guarding the viewing platform and therefore couldn't make it in time. As for the Qilin Guards, Long Zaitian ordered them not to enter the flying fish pavilion today so only just over ten of them were present. The Black Winds Thirteen Wings joined the fight and the situation changed in the blink of an eye. The emperor was in trouble.
That was when Xiang Batian suddenly shouted loudly: "Your majesty, beware of sneak attacks. I'm coming to save you! All of you make way!"
He somersaulted over and landed before the orange prince.
The Black Winds Thirteen Wings were bewildered. The orange prince wasn't in any danger, so what was Xiang Batian shouting for?
He was quicker than words could describe. As soon as he arrived at the orange prince's side he slashed with one arm and then he impartially grabbed the orange prince's collar. Since he was so skilled in comparison to the orange prince who wasn't so skilled, he was in his hands in the blink of an eye.
The orange prince frowned. He never imagined the situation would change so fast.
Xiang Batian held the orange prince steady as he laughed and said: "You're right, your majesty. His highness didn't just arrange for two people to spy on you. There is yet another one, and that is me!"
*While the idea that the orange prince can identify people based on their breathing sounds ludicrous, it's what the breathing tells you that matters. In psychology, one of the ways of lie-testing is via detecting changes biologically by measuring things such as heart rate and blood pressure. By being able to control your breathing, you can control your heart rate and blood pressure as well as affecting hormones such as cortisol. So here, he could "shit-test" them by asking them a question where under normal circumstances, one would flinch or heart rate would increase. If he didn't detect that change, he could surmise that they are not your average person/maid/servant etc.