The night was dark and windy, the half-moon faintly discernable behind the clouds.
The area around the eastern palace was filled with noise. The sounds of crying and screaming were everywhere, mixed with the clamor of footsteps. Along with the light cast by the torches, it gave the atmosphere an urgent air.
The Jin Prince urgently ordered his men to find the crown prince. They had even searched the crown prince’s concubines and consort’s residences but there was still no sign of him. The Jin Prince knew he had to be in the eastern palace. His spies had reported the crown prince had gone to sleep in the eastern palace, but he was nowhere to be seen.
The Jin Prince’s rebellion this time wasn’t against Emperor Xi. This was because in the JIn Prince’s mind, Emperor Xi was already done for and was merely prolonging the inevitable. The goal of his rebellion was to kill the crown prince. As long as they could wipe out the crown prince and Empress Xiao’s influence in the palace, it was naturally easy for them to handle the rest. It wouldn’t be hard to accuse the crown prince of conspiracy to harm Emperor Xi. History was written by the victor after all.
Who would have thought that the crown prince would vanish without a trace? A group of imperial guards had then charged towards the eastern palace’s gates, crying “his majesty is awake”.
Hearing this, the Jin Prince felt as though he was drenched by a bucket of cold water. He couldn’t help but shiver. Everything had been planned well and things had been looking extremely good. However, they ran into this hiccup at the crucial moment. Also, now that his royal father was awake, would he let him off if he knew what he had done?
Countless thoughts flashed across his mind. The Jin Prince’s eyes were bulging and he forcibly repressed his restlessness and worry. He ordered some people to block those that had come and verify if the information was correct. The others were ordered to continue searching for the crown prince. If he could kill him in this brief period of time, he still had a chance.
The Jin Prince wasn’t wrong. As long as the crown prince died, he had many opportunities to turn things around. For example, he could tell Emperor Xi that he suspected the crown prince of harming him. The reason he rebelled was because things were desperate. This was also why he attacked the eastern palace instead of the Violet Imperial Hall.
Furthermore, Emperor Xi had always been biased towards the Jin Prince. With the crown prince dead, he might very well choose to protect his outstanding son. After all, with the crown prince dead, the Jin Prince was the only suitable successor.
The scene immediately grew chaotic. The Jin Prince pondered many things while standing in place. Success or failure depended on the crown prince’s death.
That’s right, as long as the crown prince died!
Someone stumbled over helter-skelter, his voice containing unconstrained joy.
“The crown prince, the crown prince is dead….”
“What did you say?”
“Jin Prince, highness, the crown prince is dead in the courtyard….”
The Jin Prince’s heart tightened and swiftly headed over. When he arrived, he saw the crown prince lying in a flowerbed covered in blood.
He personally stepped up to verify and checked for breathing.
It was truly the crown prince, and he was really dead.
The Jin Prince’s hands trembled slightly. He didn’t have the time to wonder who killed the crown prince and how his corpse appeared in a place which had been searched repeatedly. He urgently gave some instructions before heading to the eastern palace’s gates.
Over by the gates, things were at an impasse.
The two groups wore the same armor but were split into two sides, resulting in a weird situation. Those who guarded the gates had strange expressions, seeming a little hesitant. The people across from them looked fierce, but apart from yelling “his majesty is awake”, they didn’t do anything else. It seemed that both sides had some reservations.
A disturbance occurred within one of the groups and the Jin Prince swiftly walked out. Someone next to him was already reporting loudly to him what was going on.
The Jin Prince’s face was filled with astonishment and joy. He looked towards the commanding officer across from him and asked: “Is this true? Royal father has really woken up?”
Commander Zhang walked out from the group.
His expression was a little weird as he said: “His majesty is already awake. After finding out the palace was in chaos, he ordered this subordinate to suppress it. Highness, hurry and order these people to drop their weapons.”
The Jin Prince’s people looked at each other in dismay.
The Jin Prince however cried out in excitement: “You are Commander Zhang.” Seeming to have verified his identity and confirmed that this person wouldn’t lie, he hurriedly ordered: “Why aren’t you lowering your weapons!?” He threw his own sword to the side.
Everyone was astonished. They didn’t expect the Jin Prince to be so straightforward. Commander Zhang seemed to have sensed something but didn’t have time to think too much. Before coming, Emperor Xi had clearly instructed not to hurt the Jin Prince. Commander Zhang was one of Emperor Xi’s trusted aides and naturally understood his majesty’s complicated thoughts.
He was merely responsible for carrying out orders. There was no need to second-guess the thoughts of those above. Since Emperor Xi had said not to hurt the Jin Prince, he naturally had his reasons.
Just as he was considering whether to treat the Jin Prince as the leader of the rebellion or as a prince, something unexpected happened.
An arrow came out of nowhere.
It was an extremely ordinary arrow with an iron head.
Its shaft was black and it was extremely sharp.
There were many gathered here but the arrow shot directly at the Jin Prince. Under Commander Zhang’s astonished eyes, it directly struck the Jin Prince’s head.
It was extremely powerful and half of the Jin Prince’s head disappeared on the spot.
Everyone was stunned.
A sharp cry penetrated the night, “The Jin Prince is dead….”
“The Jin Prince is dead….”
As things grew chaotic, several people ran out from the eastern palace and cried out loudly in a panic “the crown prince is dead.”
The scene grew even more chaotic.
In the shadows near the eastern palace’s gates, a figure silently vanished. No one saw this person. Perhaps only the moon in the sky saw that the killing arrow had been shot by this person.
However, who was there to care about this matter? There was no one.
Outside the palace, there was also a silent struggle.
Since the Jin Prince was personally participating in the rebellion, there had to be someone responsible to organizing things and making the plans. That person was Xu Xiang Rong.
No one realized that an obscure private residence was at the center of the events in the palace. All the orders were sent out from this place. Every now and then, a black horse would gallop over, passing information back and forth.
The lights were brightly lit in the residence. Xu Xiang Rong’s clothes were neat as he sat behind the desk. It seemed he wasn’t planning on sleeping that night.
That made sense. Who would be able to sleep at this time?
Several of the Jin Prince’s advisors were also gathered here. They were all restless or anxious. Xu Xiang Rong was probably the only one who could maintain his calm. However, his hands repeatedly clenched and unclenched, and he would occasionally tap his desk. It was clear he wasn’t as calm as he appeared.
Success or failure depended on this moment.
He had estimated that they had almost an eighty percent chance of success. If they succeeded, the Xu household’s status would be extraordinary. Decades of scheming had led to this moment. His heart was filled with excitement. However, his nature had always been weird. Despite being excited, he didn’t reveal it in his expression, and instead looked extremely cold and stern.
Perhaps only Yan Ting was able to notice his inner turmoil from his deepening expression.
Were they really about to succeed?
Even Yan Ting who seemed unmoved by anything was inevitably a little astonished.
It wasn’t like Xu Xiang Rong hadn’t mentioned his grand plans to him before. However, once he really got involved, with all the efforts he put in, Yan Ting was a little at a loss despite being pleasantly surprised now that success was imminent.
“The palace is probably in chaos right now.”
Xu Xiang Rong stood up and looked out into the dark from the window. He had a faint smile. The faint moonlight mixed with the room’s lighting turned his face a weird color.
“The Jingguo Duke Estate’s people are probably still sleeping. They won’t know what’s happening. Even if someone informed them in advance, it wouldn’t be any use. No one in the palace will be able to get out.”
Xu Xiang Rong had planned a long time for this day. Those in the palace who were willing to rebel had all rebelled. People had long since been lying in ambush outside the various palace gates. The main street outside the Jingguo Duke Estate had also been secretly surrounded. Xu Xiang Rong had used everything that was available to him. Victory or defeat would be decided here.
However, there was no chance of failure in Xu Xiang Rong’s mind. He truly couldn’t find any reason for them to fail.
“When the sun rises, everyone will be in for a shock!” As he spoke, Xu Xiang Rong started laughing quietly and didn’t stop for a long time.
On the other side, in another residence, the Jing Prince and Luo Huai Yuan were chatting idly.
The Jing Prince remained silent, fidgeting with the edge of his teacup. Luo Huai Yuan spoke to him idly. However, the two of them glanced outside repeatedly and the topic of their conversation kept straying. It was clear they weren’t as calm as they seemed.
“Why isn’t that Barbarian Yan back yet!? Also, how is your mole by the crown prince’s side? And is Imperial Physician Zhou able to get the timing right?” Luo Huai Yuan finally couldn’t help but ask.
No one responded.
The Jing Prince had always been calm and composed but his innards were also churning at this moment. Over ten years of efforts came down to this moment. This was the easiest and most promising plan he and the Yun Prince had come up with. Luo Huai Yuan was naturally the one who came up with the idea. Only he could come up with something so dishonorable, and even a little despicable.
Luo Huai Yuan naturally didn’t know that the Jing Prince had people he wanted to protect. If the Jing Prince was by himself, he wouldn’t have been so “proactive” in doing things. But now that he had her and the two children, how could he be willing to lose them?
So what if the means were a little dubious?! All he wanted was to survive!
It wasn’t clear how much time passed before there was movement outside. Soon, a tall and sturdy man with a bearded face walked inside.
“How did it go?”
The usually apathetic Jing Prince revealed an unusual concerned expression, making Barbarian Yan feel a little strange. He wanted to speak up and make fun of him, but the Yun Prince was present and he also knew things were critical. He didn’t mess around.
“I didn’t let you down!” Barbarian Yan cupped his hands and said.
Luo Huai Yuan immediately felt his heart relax. The Jing Prince also couldn’t help but reveal some joy.
Xu Xiang Rong was describing to Yan Ting the various circumstances that would arise after the Jin Prince ascended. This usually low-key person couldn’t help but forget himself now that success was imminent.
Suddenly, there was a clamor and there seemed to be torchlight outside.
The steward hurriedly came in, his expression grave and concealing some panic.
“Lord heir, we, we seem to be surrounded.”
The ornamental ring on Xu Xiang Rong’s thumb shattered in his clenched fist.
“Surrounded?” His eyes filled with disbelief.
Even the steward didn’t believe it, let alone Xu Xiang Rong. A group of men in black suddenly appeared and charged towards the residence. There were quite a few guards so they managed to stop them and shut the doors. However, from the noises outside it was clear there were a lot of people.
As they spoke, the noises outside grew louder. The people seemed to have already barged inside and the guards were being massacred.
Xu Xiang Rong couldn’t help but slump.
Who could it be?
Outside on the streets stood a group of people dressed in black. Their leader seemed to be in his forties. His face was pale and hairless, his skin smooth. Only the corner of his eyes had some faint wrinkles.
“Keep a close watch. Don’t let a single one get away.”
Compared to the chaos inside the residence, it was much calmer outside. The night was dark and silent. No one would have thought such a fierce struggle was taking place inside the capital. The five cities’ troops and the night patrols were all actually unaware.
This was thanks to the master of the residence. If he hadn’t arranged things this way, the attackers also wouldn’t dare make such a commotion.
The middle-aged man ordered the people to split up, leaving only around ten people by his side.
One of those large men who seemed to be in charge said: “Eunuch Fu can rest assured. This place is so tightly surrounded not even a fly can get out. We definitely won’t overlook a single one.”
Eunuch Fu smiled and cupped his hands: “That would be for the best. Give my thanks to your royal highness for his assistance.”
This large man said he didn’t dare accept the gratitude and the two of them turned their attention on the residence across from them.
The fighting was extremely bitter. Everyone seemed to be very skilled and Xu Xiang Rong’s subordinates were soon defeated. Tragic cries sounded and bodies were everywhere. It was an extremely frightening scene.
The people had already penetrated into the heart of the residence, which was Xu Xiang Rong’s study. Xu Xiang Rong didn’t have many people remaining. There were only around ten.
Xu Xiang Rong had always cherished his life and usually kept many hidden and overt guards in this residence. However, today was not like any other. His most capable people had been sent to assist in the rebellion. Only ordinary guards were left in the residence. No one expected for there to be an ambush.
Even the honest looking steward had picked up a large blade and started battling the men in black. Yan Ting, for some unknown reason, had also picked up weapons and stood in front of Xu Xiang Rong.
Xu Xiang Rong had one hand behind his back and looked calm, but was actually soaked with sweat. He didn’t know martial arts and would always have people guarding him. Unexpectedly, his life was in danger during such a sensitive time.
The steward announced that this was the Chengen Marquis’s heir in a moment of desperation but no one bothered with him. These people seemed well-trained. Their gazes were calm. It seemed that in their eyes, the Chengen Marquis’s heir wasn’t important. Perhaps they would remain calm even if it were the current emperor.
Xu Xiang Rong had quite a lot of deathsworn warriors himself and he could tell that these people were the same.
Was it the crown prince or the Jingguo Duke? Could their plot have been discovered? What about the Jin Prince in the palace?
Xu Xiang Rong’s mind was a mess and his forehead covered in sweat.
“You might as well cease your meaningless resistance. Since we knew to come here, we naturally know who your backers are. The Jin Prince? He’s probably already dead.”
A light laugh sounded from the darkness and soon faded in the sounds of clashing weapons.
Xu Xiang Rong told himself that it was a psychological ploy, but he really wasn’t able to convince himself. Those who were here were mostly Xu Xiang Rong’s trusted aides. They were naturally aware of what their master went to do. Hearing those words, they inevitably lost their spirits. Many of the remaining guards were immediately struck down.
Xu Xiang Rong was tragically pale, his eyes lifeless.
In a flash, he moved and suddenly said to Yan Ting who was locked in combat behind him: “You should go.”
Yan Ting’s movements paused before striking out with his blade again, “Go where?”
“They are here for my life. It shouldn’t be hard for you to escape.”
During the past few years, Yan Ting’s skills had improved quite a bit.
He was normally taciturn. Apart from occasionally speaking a few words with Xu Xiang Rong, he was either handling matters or bitterly training. The issues with his leg after falling from the cliff could only be made up for with martial arts. He wanted to tell himself he wasn’t a cripple. Therefore, despite being attacked by two of the men in black, he wasn’t at a disadvantage. Only his occasional stumble revealed he was an arrow at the end of its flight.
Only Xu Xiang Rong noticed this. His two opponents were extremely cautious. They could tell this person in front of them who was blind in one eye was extremely skilled.
Through the flashing blades, Yan Ting quietly said: “You saved my life. Now, I will give it back to you!”
Xu Xiang Rong smiled in distress and no longer spoke.
At this time, the steward had also fallen at some point and the remaining guards fell one by one. Only Yan Ting seemed to still be struggling meaninglessly. He had more and more blood on him. Some was his own but some was also his opponents’. However, since it was two on one, he gradually became disadvantaged.
“This one-eyed man is quite tenacious!”
These deathsworn seemed to be amusing themselves and didn’t overwhelm him with numbers. Instead, they watched from the side as though watching a show.
“Since you’re going to kill me, shouldn’t you at least give an explanation?!” Xu Xiang Rong said sternly.
The other party laughed lightly, “Since you’re going to die, no need to be an enlightened ghost!”
Yan Ting was no longer able to hold on. His legs were weak. Seeing his opponent’s blade coming at him, he turned to avoid it but his body couldn’t keep up with his mind.
Suddenly, he was pulled aside and someone stood in front of him. He seemed to hear an extremely quiet voice. The person smiled before spraying a mouthful of blood onto his face.
Through the blood, many thoughts flashed through Yan Ting’s mind. There was regret, remorse, confusion….many, many things. However, it all became calm in the end.
It was also fine this way!
Yan Ting though, this was also fine!
He felt a pain in his heart and was finally unable to remain standing. He fell, and the tall person fell on top of him. It seemed that person hadn’t died just yet. There was a weird smile on his face.
“If there is a next life, you will still be mine!”
In a daze, Yan Ting heard these words.
He suddenly felt rather amused before the world faded to black.
The surroundings became quiet once again. Corpses were everywhere. Two bodies were lying in the center of the courtyard. One was on top and one was underneath, the two tangled together.
However, no one paid attention to this. A blaze of fire suddenly sprung up and all the men in black retreated.
“Leave a few people behind to keep an eye on the fire. Don’t let it get out of control. Let’s go.” Eunuch Fu said.
Scummy dad and scummy CEO Xu have finally died. Don’t worry, no more body switching this time.
We’re in the home stretch. Eleven chapters left!