It was rather common to assassinate the emperors, and it was not rare for the subordinates to kill the emperors and propel their own masters to the throne.
It was mostly pretentious to claim that the emperor's robe was forced on somebody, though it happened occasionally in history.
It was certainly the case that the Grand Scholar Zhang didn't know about this assassination, neither did the Emperor; but many people knew about it in advance.
The guards in the Royal Palace were all appointed by the Grand Scholar. Though they didn't receive the direct order, they knew where the assassins in the water cart came from and kept silent. Those eunuchs who had heard the information were trembling in their quilts and didn't dare look out through the window. The whole Royal Palace was shrouded in an eerie quiet.
The Grand Scholar Zhang got up from the bed and washed himself, and he was dressed in official uniform with the help of his wife, ready to go to the court for the regular court meeting. Yet, he found out that one of his sons who usually saw him off to the court meeting was not among them.
"Where is your eldest brother?" he asked with furrowed brows.
His sons exchanged a glance and said nervously, "Eldest brother had a party with his friends last night and seems to have drunk too much; he slept outside, and hasn't come back yet."
The Grand Scholar Zhang was not pleased, but he didn't think too much of it. It wasn't until he entered the sedan that he found the atmosphere in his manor was not quite normal.
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang didn't drink alcohol, nor did he stay in a brothel. He sat in a room located in the deep end of a large house in the capital.
The morning sun was still under the horizon, and there was a layer of paper covering the windows; so the room was dark and gloomy. It was hard to see clearly the faces in the room, except hearing the sounds of breathing from a dozen people.
All these people in the room were the young officials in the imperial court who would only obey the wishes of the Grand Scholar Zhang.
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang, regardless of his experience or official status, was not qualified to occupy the head seat; but nobody in the room objected to it. And they showed even more reverence to him than before.
If they succeeded today, the eldest son would be the crown prince.
He would be qualified to sit on the throne, to say nothing of the head seat.
They hadn't heard any news for a long time. The atmosphere in the room grew more and more depressed. They felt like sitting on the needle carpet, restless.
Finally, somebody couldn't stand sitting there any longer. He stood up and walked to the window, saying in a slightly trembling tone, "Even if the assassins failed, what about those guards?"
A variety of reactions were born in many manors in the capital of Chu State. The officials who received the information had felt nervous all this time; some officials claimed they were sick and didn't go to the court meeting; some officials, like the minister of Rites, arrived outside the Royal Palace early with an excited expression on his flush face.
The morning sunlight moved from the palace ground to the window, streaming through to illuminate the carved floor in the grand hall, which reflected the wavy light lines in all directions.
The morning sun rose up in the east.
Jing Jiu opened his eyes. He had the same question as many of the officials: why hadn't they come yet?
The Royal Palace was a place as good as Green Mountain for Cultivation, as far as Jing Jiu was concerned, which is why he didn't want to leave. However, as he grew older, he would encounter more troubles here, so he was prepared to leave the palace.
He had determined the location of that mountain, and he would pretend to be dead and then go to the mountain as an unknown traveler; but the assassins hadn't come yet.
A few thudding sounds suddenly occurred outside the grand hall. Soon after, he could hear the footsteps and screams, and the colliding sounds of weapons. The sounds grew closer.
Why did the covert assassination turn into a fierce fight? Jing Jiu was baffled. He stood up and walked to the outside of the grand hall.
After pushing open the gate of the grand hall, he had to squint because the morning sun was too bright.
A few assassins' corpses were piled by the half-opened palace gate.
More corpses were inside the palace walls. Apart from the assassins' corpses in cotton clothes, there were a dozen guards' corpses. The blood was seeping out from the corpses, exuding a faint smell of blood.
A thin and dark young man stood amid the corpses and the blood.
The young man was wounded in many places on his body. He was covered in blood, and the wounds on his arms were so deep that white bone could be vaguely seen, and yet, the hands holding the sword were still quite steady.
The palace gate was finally pushed open forcefully by the royal guards from the outside. The assassins' corpses blocking the gate were knocked away from the gate.
Dozens of guards rushed in one after the other while yelling "Protect the Emperor", and encircled the thin and dark young man.
Some guards tried to come to the side of Jing Jiu, but they were stopped by a flash of sword light.
The beam of sword light came from the hands of the young man.
A brutal battle was about to take place. No matter how well the thin and dark young man could fight, the outcome for him would be death or capture.
"This is not something you people should do."
Jing Jiu's voice echoed outside the grand hall, which became filled with bloody scent coming from the corpses of the assassins and the guards.
He walked down the stone steps and arrived by the side of the thin and dark young man. "He is my bodyguard. Do you want to kill him?" he demanded while staring at those guards.
Upon hearing this, the guards were stunned. Some of them exchanged glances secretly, and didn't dare do anything further.
By this time, the royal army arrived and encircled the whole Royal Palace as tightly as a water tank. The leader of the royal army was a general trusted most by the Grand Scholar Zhang. The look on his face at the moment was terrible as if his mother had just died. He ordered all the guards bound and then dropped on his knees before Jing Jiu.
Jing Jiu ignored him, returning to the grand hall with the thin and dark young man.
The leader of the royal army's face was pale as he ordered his subordinates to bring the corpses out and clean the ground with water. He then closed the palace gate gently behind him.
Jing Jiu drove all the eunuchs and servant girls out of the grand hall. The hall appeared empty and lonely now.
Jing Jiu found some medicine at the maidservant quarters in the rear of the hall and handed it to the thin and dark young man, then signaled for him to sit down.
The thin and dark young man should be the disciple of the No-Mercy Sect. it was only that his appearance had changed, different from before, after entering the Illusionary Realm.
Yet, Jing Jiu could remember this familiar face, especially the naïve and tenacious expression in his eyes, which was truly unforgettable.
The thin and dark young man took off the coat that had already been torn to shreds by the swords and knives, wrapping his wounds himself. He didn't speak the entire time.
Jing Jiu looked out through the window and exchanged a glance with the green bird on the tree branch.
The green bird flew away soundlessly. She perhaps went to the palace of Zhao State, or the Governor Manor of Beihai. No matter how far the end of the world was, it would merely take a moment for her to get there.
Jing Jiu asked, "Why did you go to the Longevity Mountain from the Fruit Formation Temple? Shouldn't you go to the One-Cottage House after leaving the Fruit Formation Temple? Didn't the Young Zen Master write a letter to them?"
He asked three questions in a row. This was a rare thing for someone who had an indifferent temperament.
These three questions revealed another astonishing fact: This thin and dark young man was Liu Shisui.
Liu Shisui was studying the Buddhist scripts at the Fruit Formation Temple; why did he come and participate in the Dao Competition as a disciple of the No-Mercy Sect?
"The Immortal Sect Master guessed that Young Master would come and participate in the Dao Competition and asked me to come here as a No-Mercy Sect disciple to help you."
Liu Shisui hesitated to tell Jing Jiu why he didn't go to the One-Cottage House; he only told him why he came here.
It hadn't happened so often that Liu Shisui chose not to tell Jing Jiu something, as he regarded Jing Jiu almost as his Master and father.
Jing Jiu understood Liu Ci's intention.
As the Green Mountain Sect Master, Liu Ci must know that Liu Shisui had left the
Sword Jail on Shangde Peak, and that he was at the Fruit Formation Temple.
Jing Jiu had never intended to conceal it from Liu Ci, and it was almost impossible for him to do so in his current Cultivation state anyway.
Now that Liu Ci wanted to help Jing Jiu attain the Fairy Book from the Center Sect, he had to get some helpers for Jing Jiu.
Zhuo Rusui was too noticeable, so Liu Ci thought of Liu Shisui, who was at the Fruit Formation Temple far away.
If the green bird were still on the tree branch outside the window and leaked Liu Shisui's words out, it would cause an uproar and shock in the outside world.
Everybody thought that the Center Sect would have the absolute advantage in this Dao Competition, because they had four disciples in the Illusionary Realm.
But nobody realized that the Green Mountain Sect had secretly sent three disciples into the realm. Save for Jing Jiu, who represented the Water-Moon Nunnery, who could have thought that they had placed a secret member, Liu Shisui, in the realm?!
If so, the Immortal Liu came to the Cloud-Dream Mountain in person not simply to show a friendly gesture to them but more likely to personally supervise the competition to ensure the final victory!
"How is the zhengqi in your body right now?" Jing Jiu asked.
Liu Shisui replied, "I had some relapses a few years ago; but it has been suppressed after the Immortal Sect Master taught me a magic method to deal with it."
Jing Jiu said, "You still need to go to the One-Cottage House after getting out of here. Suppressing it is not a permanent solution. We still need to find a way to resolve it."
Liu Shusui didn't want to go to the One-Cottage House; but since his Young Master said it, he couldn't object, so he had no choice but to accept the advice.
Jing Jiu was still worried about Liu, thinking that Liu Shisui lied in order to stay in the Illusionary Realm to protect him. Jing Jiu reached out a finger to point at the spot between his eyebrows.
Liu Shisui didn't dare dodge his finger. He sat with a straightened body obediently, and stopped binding the wounds.
The crisp ringing of a bell could be heard in the distant empty realm, but Jing Jiu was the only one who could hear it. Soon after, Jing Jiu pulled back his finger, his eyebrows furrowing.
Liu Shisui knew that such an expression on his Young Master's face indicated that something was wrong. He couldn't help but feel nervous, as he asked, "What's wrong?"
Jing Jiu sensed a mark in the deep part of Liu Shisui's body.
They were in the Illusionary Realm, and their bodies here were their spiritual souls. Nobody could leave a mark on Liu Shisui's spiritual soul that Jing Jiu couldn't discover.
Liu Shisui's Cultivation state of the Bloody Magic was at a very high level now. The regular Cultivation practitioners couldn't leave a mark on his spiritual soul.
It occurred to him that this must be the doing by the spirit of the Green Sky Mirror. He then waved his hand to wipe the mark off his body, but he didn't say anything to Liu Shisui. After the death of the Underworld Emperor, he became the one who understood and controlled the spiritual souls the best either in heaven and earth, or in the illusionary realm. Even his Big Brother was inferior to him now, let alone a mirror spirit.
It was then that the green bird flew back to the Chu Royal Palace and landed on the tree branch.
Jing Jiu said nothing afterwards. Liu Shisui kept silent while continuing to wrap his wounds.
Seeing the thin and dark young man with wounds all over his body, the green bird was bewildered, wondering why the mark she had left on the body of this remaining disciple of the Bloody Demon Church disappeared.
The assassination attempt on the Emperor had soon spread around, even though every attempt was made to keep it covered up.
The atmosphere in the court meeting was extremely depressing. The Grand Scholar Zhang looked gloomy and upset. He glanced at those subordinates who were loyal to him, with the expression in his eyes that seemed to explode like thunder. In the end, he didn't say anything. He entered the Royal Palace as quickly as he could. As he came to the gate of the grand hall, he pleaded earnestly to see the Emperor.
The gate of the grand hall opened slowly.
As the Grand Scholar Zhang saw the thin and dark young man, he remembered what the leader of the royal army told him; but he was baffled, wondering when the Emperor had established contact with the Cultivation practitioners outside the palace.
The corpses of the assassins and the guards had been carried away, and the ground was washed many times with the clean water; but the bloody smell was still lingering in the air.
The flies were hovering and singing happily over the ground; nobody knew where they came from.
Smelling the bloody scent and thinking of the treacherous incident that happened here earlier, the look on the Grand Scholar's face grew even more terrible.
As he came in the hall and saw the young emperor leaning against the bed, the Grand Scholar Zhang tottered forward and then pulled up his front lapel and knelt down reverently in front of Jing Jiu.
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