A trace of anger flashed in Yang Mo's eyes. [You're a prince. Yet you are being so unfair to a boy who is linked to your own family? You wish to bully a boy to save your own reputation? Is that all you can do? You disgust me!]
There was only one Equality Prince in this Imperial generation.
This situation had become very embarrassing. Jun Mo Xie and Tang Yuan could decline the Third Prince. However, it could cause a lot of trouble if Yang Mo did the same. In fact, it could even lead to an internal dispute in the royal family.
"I allow the Third… Majesty," Yang Mo bit his lips as he whispered.
A cold look flashed in the eyes of the black robed man sitting behind Princess Ling Meng. He looked at the Third Prince, and then shifted his gaze to look at the Second and the First prince in quick succession. Then he closed his eyes and heaved a long sigh. However, he felt an endless sparse of sorrow.
[These are my sons!]
[I've always worked hard to nurture my successor and the future Emperor of the Tian Xiang Empire amongst my three sons.]
[I've always wanted them to understand that the title of the Emperor is a matter of competition; a position which demands sacrifice… victory and defeat is only natural in such matter. However, one's own flesh… is one's own flesh. All three of you would win — no matter which of you three brothers would get the title after this bitter struggle.…Because one of you would become the Emperor, and the other two… his helping hands.]
[That's why; I let you compete without objecting to it.]
[However, I had hoped that you would keep this rivalry within wraps, and wouldn't involve others into it. I had hoped that you would at least stand together in front of outsiders since you were born to the same parents! The bond between brothers should always be stronger than social relations!]
[However, my third son had bullied a young child outside the auction house despite being a Prince. In fact, the kid happens to be his little brother and a member of the royal family. Yet he humiliated his own blood in public view. However, the other two were simply indifferent as their younger brother was making a mockery out of himself!]
[In fact, it was the same when my second son was insulted earlier at the entry gate. His brothers had just watched and mocked along.]
[My first born was up against Gang Leader Hai Chen Feng earlier in the auction. However, my second and my third sons only wanted to create more trouble for their eldest brother.]
[And now, my third-born is exhibiting such shamelessness in public view. However, his elder brothers are just sitting and watching from the sides. They are making no attempts to impart some wisdom to him. They are clearly waiting to use this against him later… What kind of brotherhood is this?]
His Majesty was certain that his three sons would place detailed records of their brothers' actions on his table later at night. They will each impeach the other two. As for the contents of these records… the Emperor wouldn't bother to look at them.
[… I still remember my own days… Huai Nong and I was competing for Emperor's position. Huai Nong and I always maintained the relation of siblings even though things weren't easy between us. Why don't the three of you follow Huai Nong's example?]
[At least Little Yang Mo is acting as his father used to.]
Yang Mo's pitiful face flashed in the Emperor's eyes. He clearly knew that the boy was being wronged. However, he didn't raise any objections. He sighed with sorrow as he thought, [Is there no respect between the elder and younger brother? Would the bond between Huai Nong and me have turned sour in case he hadn't backed away from the contest? Is there no relation in Tian Family?
The Emperor sighed with exhaustion. Suddenly, he started feeling bored. He had spent the entire day scheming and plotting. Hence, he really couldn't take this dumb façade now.
[This is boring! This is very boring!]
He felt wronged. He had arrived here in the hope of finding out more about the mysterious person behind this auction house's set-up. However, he had never expected that his three sons would turn the situation to this.
The Emperor knew that the relations between his three sons were a bit strained at the moment. However, he had still assumed it to be harmonious. He had always considered that the three brothers shared a peaceful and fraternal bond. He had considered his eldest son to be a staid man, his second son to be quick-witted, and his third son to be simple and honest. He had always considered his three sons to be the three crowning jewels of his family-tree. He was aware that it's impossible to avoid a few flaws in character — a tiny blemish in any beautiful tree. However, he had never anticipated that the blemish would be this huge.
[Is this the condition of their temperament? Is this how one behaves in the public eye? In fact, they are even willing to use their name to obtain their desires; shamelessly at that.]
[This is naked robbery! In fact, it seems that they want the destitute to feel grateful while they pillage them.]
[I am convinced that even a county magistrate would properly consider the fallout of this! And this is an Imperial Prince? This is so unbearable!]
[Is this what I've taught you?]
The Emperor's face had turned pale, and his finger started to tremble. It seemed that he was unable to control his rage.
Mr. Wen extended his hand and held the Emperor's to give him support.
"I am very disappointed!" He supported his head with his hand. He had never once hung his proud head in all these decades. However, he had hung his head low in sadness after watching all of this. Wave-after-wave of sadness hit him as he continued, "Indeed, very disappointed."
"I understand… what you are feeling." They were within the earshot of many people. Therefore, Mr. Wen couldn't call the Emperor by his proper title. Moreover, the Tian Family's Emperor did not care much about it. The position of an Emperor was a very lonely one. It needed him to be cut-off from the world. One or two slightly unworthy descendants could hardly be avoided…
Mr. Wen had realized that the Emperor had laid his heart bare, and could sense that his Majesty must've been feeling very sad. The Emperor had always been an outstanding crown prince his entire life. His brother, the Prince Equivalent was never competitive from the very beginning and had always retreated in front of him. And although the Emperor was very wise, he was still lacking when compared to the very fierce Sovereigns of the past. He had never experienced the fierce struggles for a harem, or the meetings for political marriages. Everyone had simply given up in front of him.
Though receiving the Emperor's title in this manner would be considered quite fortunate… it was also his greatest misfortune.
The Emperor was certainly the most important person in the Kingdom. And that was the reason why all the great families pledged their allegiance to him. However, this was also one of the greatest flaws at play here. An Emperor is also a man, and has to choose the next successor to the throne. He will naturally choose the one who is most-suited for it. Fortune may favor a man, but may not do the same with his son. Such was the case here… therefore, a dispute for the title of Emperor was sure to arise.
"It is strange; all three show promise… and there's hope in each of them. Then why are they handling matters in such an unwise manner? Especially the youngest one; why does he have to speak in such a way in front of everyone? Is he not worried about the ensuing ridicule? Or is he possibly unaware of it?" the Emperor frowned as he said this in a low voice.
"I believe that the Prince has considered this. The Emperor's three sons are no fools. However, what he considers the most at this point — is you." The shrewd and far-sighted Mr. Wen smiled.
"He wants you to know how much he respects you. His position would remain solid as long as you get to know. And as for everyone else's ridicule… he does not care about it. It doesn't matter to him as long as you don't have to see it!
"If this wine went to the palace… and if you were there instead of here…would you not be surprised? Would you not be happy? This was the Third Prince's real intention! As for the rest of the matter, it's irrelevant to him for now." Mr. Wen said in a somewhat grim and sharp manner, "The Third Prince simply wished to demonstrate his admiration by gifting you this delicious wine. As for the scene ensuing post that… what effect would that have on you?"
"Yes! Yes! This is exactly what it is!" The Emperor finally came to himself. [Apparently, it seems that my third son is not to be blamed entirely. It's just that his method of handling things is a bit reckless. That's all. ]
[Is this what they call, 'what man proposes, God disposes?']
"So according to you…my sons wouldn't… " The Emperor grinded his teeth, "…destroy each other in the future?"
Mr. Wen was stumped for words. He reined-in his desire to speak. [My close friend is a man of wisdom. How on earth is he asking such naïve questions today? Enemies cannot live under the same sky!]
[Once in power, the elder brother would certainly eliminate the younger one. Was it too hard to imagine? But how can I say such things?]
"You need not say it. I understand!" The Emperor strenuously covered his face with his hand, and hung his head again. He did not know what to think. He massaged his temple with his fingers.
He would do this when he had an important decision to make; it was a force-of-habit action.
"Mr. Wen, the Aristocratic hall is being supported by the Jin Yang Gang. Moreover, they also have a very talented person who is controlling things from behind-the-scenes. I do not believe that three children can be responsible for this hall's operations. It is impossible for Jun Zhan Tian and Tang Wan Li. My younger brother is completely out of question. We set out today on this journey in order to find who this man is! This man managed to assemble all the rich and powerful. And many of these people will fall-out with each other after today's matter. Moreover, he gave the three princes a chance to interact with all the powerhouses of the city."
The Emperor lifted his head with sudden understanding. His eyes flashed coldly, "I reckon that he not only managed to glimpse through the wisdom of the three princes, but may now be able to protect himself by forming connections with the rich and powerful — this was a very ordinary method to arrange meetings with the masters of the powerful families.
"Regardless of whatever this person's intentions are, he has used the sale of these bottles to his advantage. However, this person must not succeed! And it is important that we find him!
"And as for the matter concerning the Three Princes…I must give it…careful consideration!" His Majesty's facial muscles convulsed painfully. "I will look at that matter once again to make a decision!"
Princess Ling Meng, who was sitting ahead of them, suddenly felt her fragile body becoming stiff. She could not believe what she had heard. [That can't be what I heard… am I blowing things out of proportion in my head?]
The final transaction had already been made by this time. The Prince Equivalent's heir, Yang Mo, had glumly retreated. The Third Prince had finally gotten his hands on the hundred bottles of extraordinary wine… without spending anything. He was now impatient to return to the palace and show his "affection."
A calm and composed silhouette appeared in front of Princess Ling Meng. "May I have the honour, Princess?"
The Princess looked up to see the Grand Preceptor Li's grandson — the Young Master Li You Ran!