Royal Concubine Hu had put in a lot of effort to build the close relationship with the Cloud Dream Mountain; so she should have many people there on her side, even if Luo Huainan and many others supported Jing Xin.
"It'd be all too easy to find out who did it afterwards; it's too risky," Royal Concubine Hu said with narrowed eyes.
Gu Qing said, "What we want is quite simple; all we want to know is that he has left the Cloud Dream Mountain, and he is not on a mission because of something unexpected happening."
Royal Concubine Hu was slightly taken aback, thinking this request was indeed simple.
It would be easy to satisfy these two demands, because Luo Huainan's whereabouts was well known in the Cultivation circle.
Staring into Zhao Layue's eyes, Royal Concubine Hu asked, "Did you suspect that I was the behind-the-scene person for the assassination attempt on you?"
"Is it because you have given Shi Fengchen's adopted son some gold and silver?"
Zhao Layue continued emotionlessly, "Though you have done something stupid in this matter, I'm not an idiot."
A faint flash of golden light suddenly appeared in the darkness of night.
Zhao Layue and Gu Qing stopped short.
"It looks like the peak master's wound has already healed."
The approaching person was wrapped in a black coat, looking even shorter and fatter.
The lights in front of the palace illuminated his face.
He was the Emperor's personal guard, Sir Jin Mingchen.
Gu Qing was quite nervous, his lips becoming lips.
Zhao Layue didn't respond.
Jin Mingchen took out a sword from inside of his coat and handed it over to Zhao Layue, saying, "This sword is called 'First Child'."
Zhao Layue said, "I have my own sword."
Jin Mingchen prompted, "Isn't the Thoughtless Sword lost in the snowland?"
"I still have my own sword, though," said Zhao Layue.
Jin Mingchen said, "Your sword is an ordinary sword, and it can be recognized easily, unlike the First Child sword, which has been hidden in the imperial palace for hundreds of years and forgotten by the masses a long time ago."
Gu Qing immediately became cautious, wondering if this was a scheme of killing using somebody else's sword.
"If the Emperor wants to kill someone, he doesn't need to use another person's hand to do it," said Zhao Layue.
Jin Mingchen said at a slow pace, "The Emperor is the ruler of the world. Since he is the ruler of all the people, there are some things he can't do."
Zhao Layue didn't say another word, taking the sword named 'First Child'.
Gu Qing glanced her way, feeling a bit surprised.
He was against the idea of coming to the palace that night, because the palace halls looked ordinary, but there were many dangers and true Cultivation swordsmen hidden inside these halls.
And these swordsmen could kill him and Zhao Layue easily if they wanted to; Gu Qing believed that they had no way to conceal themselves.
Yet, Zhao Layue appeared calm and worry free, as if she knew something that Gu Qing didn't know.
What Gu Qing didn't know was that Zhao Layue had already figured out that Jing Jiu left the Zhao's second manor that day three years ago to see the Emperor on Li Mountain.
There was a range of mountains north of Yu County, where there was a Cultivation sect called the "North-Brook Sect". It was a small satellite sect outside the Center Sect, famous for making weaponry and formations.
One day during midsummer, a dozen disciples and their master of the North-Brook Sect came out from the mountains, heading toward Guiyun City. The North-Brook Sect had made three earthly treasures last year. They had given two of them to the Cloud Dream Mountain, and the remaining one was not suitable for the magic methods of their own sect, so they were taking the treasure to the Precious-Ware House in Guiyun City for auction.
The Precious-Ware House was as famous as the Precious-Tree House of the Green Mountain Sect and the Outside House of the One-Cottage House, and it also had a powerful backer, which was the Cold-Food Valley on the Cloud Dream Mountain.
Unexpectedly, the most valuable treasure at this auction in the Precious-Ware House wasn't the product of the North-Brook Sect, but a medicinal grass.
"What kind of medicinal grass is it? Is it even more valuable than the earthly treasure?"
"It has nothing to do with us. We heard that the buyer has already been confirmed."
"Who dares confirm the buyers in the Precious-Ware House in advance? Is it something a grandmaster in the Center Sect wants?"
"Senior Master Liu, do you know anything about this?"
The medicinal grass drew a great deal of discussion and conjectures amongst the disciples of the North-Brook Sect.
The group looked at a skinny, middle-aged man, the leader of the group; and someone asked him out of curiosity.
Senior Master Liu smiled in silence while listening to these discussions.
In fact, he knew a lot about the matter.
This medicinal grass should be the rumored Three-Purities Grass, and it was of course qualified to be placed at the most prominent spot for auction.
The Green Mountain Sect had already expressed their interest in the grass, and nobody would dare contend with them for the grass. All the Precious-Ware House needed to do was undergo the regular procedure.
It was the plain land when one got out of the valley. The road to Guiyun City was flat and easy to walk on.
The sounds of cicadas seemed to bid farewell to the group.
All of a sudden, the cicadas' screams stopped.
Senior Master Liu commanded, with eyebrows raised, "Be careful. Set up the formation."
There was a saying: "Shutting up like the cicadas in the cold", but it was midsummer and hot; why had the cicadas' screams suddenly stopped?
A faint black fog flew into the valley, and the newly grown fruits on the trees instantly became rotten after being touched by the fog.
The disciples of the North-Brook Sect suddenly grew tense, taking out their magic treasures as fast as they could and set up the defense formation.
As the faint black fog dispersed, a few figures appeared. They were not a friendly bunch, judging from their clothing and gloomy energy.
"I didn't expect you to be so alert and discover our tracks so fast given that you are in a very low Cultivation state."
An elder continued with an apathetic expression, "Our young master wants the treasure you have brought with you. Hand it over now."
Senior Master Liu said, "I know you are the evil men of the Mysterious Dark Sect. This is Yu County, less than one thousand miles from the Cloud Dream Mountain. What has emboldened you so all of a sudden?"
"You are not from the Center Sect, so what could they do if we killed all of you? Can those Daoists on the Cloud Dream Mountain get all the way here in time?"
This old man was an elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect, possessing the powerful deviant sword style. So he didn't take these disciples and a master of a small sect so seriously; however, he was slightly worried about the formation of the North-Brook Sect. For some unknown reason, the Mysterious Dark Sect had an intense desire to acquire the regional treasure. They would rather rob it directly from these men's hands than bid for it in the Precious-Ware House through some free travelling Cultivation practitioners.
The battle began. The air had been sliced apart, and countless air waves collided with each other.
The black fog grew thicker and thicker, and the green light emitted by the formation of the North-Brook Sect became dimmer and dimmer.
Standing in the middle of the formation, the disciples of the North-Brook Sect operated their own magic treasures to maintain the formation. Attacked fiercely by the swordsmen of the Mysterious Dark Sect, these disciples found it harder to hold on, their faces turning paler, wondering when their colleagues could come to their rescue since the help signal had already been sent out, and whether they could come in time.
The elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect looked at the scene with icy eyes, but his eyes revealed anxiety even though they appeared composed.
As this place wasn't very far from the North-Brook Sect, they would be in trouble if the rescuers from the North-Brook Sect had arrived; worst of all, they would be in much more trouble if the Cloud Dream Mountain had been alerted.
The eyes of the elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect became cold as he suddenly found a crack in the formation. He turned into a band of black fog and then arrived in the midst of the disciples of the North-Brook Sect.
As the black fog re-gathered, the elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect showed himself and wielded the dark flag in his hand at Senior Master Liu.
Senior Master Liu didn't dare block such an evil treasure, and he used his own magic treasure to move back quickly to avoid the incoming dark flag, unconcerned about exposing those disciples who were maintaining the formation.
The elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect anticipated this result, and he sneered as he wrapped the closest disciple of the North-Brook Sect in his gloomy dark flag.
His dark flag had both the dark energy from the underground and the bloody dark energy; as such, an ordinary Cultivation practitioner, without a magic treasure protecting the body, would die immediately when being wrapped in it, without exception.
The disciple of the North-Brook Sect, who looked ordinary with the regular energy state, stood in the same spot motionless, seemingly being dazed by the attack, about to be melted into a bloody pulp.
Suddenly, the elder of the Mysterious Dark Sect felt something was out of place.
A small green bronze bell appeared in front of him from nowhere.
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