The estate in the south of Duskwater City was owned by a local cultivation family. Its head was a golden core realm cultivator, which made him reasonably influential in his district.
Before a giant like House Ge, however, his cultivation and connections were meaningless. In fact, he’d willingly given up his own home and time to serve the number one house in Dusk Province.
A chance to do that didn’t come by often, after all.
When Lu Yun, Qing Han, and Mo Yi led a sizable force of people to the residence in question, they were intercepted by a clearly prepared group.
“Who comes? Identify yourselves!” A man in green strode out from the front door, blocking Lu Yun’s way. He cast a look of proud scorn at the approaching crowd.
“Do you not recognize the face of your own city lord, Ba Chuyi?” Mo Yi’s tone was chilly.
The middle-aged man’s cocksure attitude made it very clear that his ignorance was feigned. Though she’d expected to have trouble getting through the door, she hadn’t expected House Ba’s head himself to be the doorkeeper.
“Oh? The city lord! So it is, so it is.” Ba Chuyi turned to face Mo Yi directly. Her beauty momentarily stunned him, despite her masculine outfit; it couldn’t hide the incredible beauty beneath. “If I may, for what reason has the city lord come calling today?”
Before House Ge had moved in, he would’ve spared every effort to curry favor with the city lord. Now, however, his status was different. He was an outer circle steward of House Ge, and the whole of his house had become subordinate to it. Their future was limitless and bright, so a mere lord of Duskwater was no longer worthy of his attention.
In fact, if Li Youcai hadn’t betrothed Mo Yi to the Skyriver city lord, Ba Chuyi would probably be considering whether or not he could use House Ge’s clout to get his hands on her.
“You’ve latched onto House Ge’s thigh, then?” A derisive smile played at the corner of Mo Yi’s mouth.
“Precisely!” Ba Chuyi proudly confirmed without so much as a blush. “They’ve rewarded me with the position of a steward in their outer circle.”
“An outer circle steward of House Ge.” Qing Han took a weighty step forward. “You are Ba Chuyi, head of House Ba?”
“Indeed, it is I. And who are you?” Ba Chuyi peered at Qing Han, then puffed himself up even more.
The recuperating youth was ugly, swarthy-faced, and looked rather feeble. Ba Chuyi had no reason to pay attention to someone so insignificant. If Qing Han hadn’t come with Mo Yi as one of the ‘troublemakers’ House Ge had warned him about, he would’ve disregarded the speaker altogether.
“This emissary is here on behalf of His Majesty the Celestial Emperor. House Ge is guilty of treason and rebellion, first in attacking the Dusk Phalanx, and secondly in trespassing upon the Duskwater city lord’s residence. I have come to apprehend the criminals in question.” A shiny token had appeared in Qing Han’s hand; it was none other than the identification for his status.
Ba Chuyi paled, then took several steps backward. A special emissary of the emperor? Treason and rebellion? House Ge?
“Impossible! House Ge is the foremost house in Dusk Province. Its head will soon become the next governor, how could they possibly be planning rebellion?”
“The next governor?” Lu Yun laughed. “The current one is standing right here. You shouldn’t be saying that to my face, should you?
“It’s public knowledge that House Ge attacked the Dusk Phalanx, and that the head of House Ge barged into the Duskwater city lord’s residence. If House Ba is subordinate to House Ge, and you’re a steward in their outer circle…. What, has House Ge’s head said that he’ll make you the governor? After he becomes the celestial emperor, of course,” Lu Yun accused with a half-smile.
“Th-this is complete nonsense!” Ba Chuyi’s legs shook with fear. He didn’t doubt Qing Han’s identity for a second. There’d long been rumors circulating about the arrival of an envoy from the celestial emperor that even the prefectural prefect had to dance attendance upon.
That the special emissary was here to arrest some rebels was quite a shock, though. His anxiety made him nearly incoherent. Ba Chuyi was only a golden core realm cultivator, unimportant even in Dusk Province. Rebel? He wouldn’t dare dream of it.
“Nonsense? You’ve decided to resist to the last, then. Soldiers! Apprehend him immediately.” Lu Yun barked a sudden command. The hundred black-armored soldiers behind him surged up like a flood, ready to comply with his order.
These soldiers were men that Yin Xuantian had sent to him. Every soldier was a golden core cultivator, and their leader was at the origin core, the same as the Dusk’s city lords.
Normally, they would’ve taken a bit of time to arrive, considering the complicated logistics of an army. Lu Yun didn’t have that much time, which was why he’d summoned them after contacting Yin Xuantian directly through the command token.
The general of the Dusk Phalanx couldn’t refuse orders from Dusk Province’s standing governor. Yin Xuantian had acquiesced by sending over a hundred soldiers for now.
Because Lu Yun’s aggression was completely justified, he made sure that every action he took was also perfectly aboveboard. The hundred soldiers backed him with pressure and momentum.
“All of you, stop!” A soft cry came from beyond the threshold.
Feng Li was dressed like a dandy, as usual. However, his serious demeanor was a radical departure from his typical flippancy. A number of cultivators streamed out from behind him, obstructing the Dusk Phalanx soldiers’ way.
“Governor, haven’t we resolved the misunderstanding about House Ge’s accidental attack on the Dusk Phalanx?” Feng Li only spared a glance for Lu Yun before he shifted his attention to Mo Yi. His eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as he did so; drool pooled at the corner of his mouth and almost dribbled out.
“You’re chasing skirts like always, Feng Li. Careful, my cousin might actually castrate you sometime.” Qing Han couldn’t resist a snicker.
Feng Li shivered violently when he noticed his old acquaintance. “Why are you here, Qing Han? Is your cousin here too?!”
“My cousin isn’t here, but I’m more than enough. I am a special emissary of the celestial emperor, here to assess and survey Dusk Province on His Majesty’s orders. Why else do you think?” Qing Han snorted. “You call House Ge’s attack on the Dusk Phalanx a misunderstanding? You’re as much of a bastard as I expected. Ignore him! Arrest Ba Chuyi and his accomplices.”
“Hold on! I’m a special emissary as well. I’m an envoy too!” Feng Li breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that Qing Han’s cousin was absent. A token appeared in his hand that was almost identical to Qing Han’s.
The only difference was that his was from the crown prince, while Qing Han’s had come directly from the emperor. Given the crown prince’s present status as regent, however, the two envoys held similar positions.
“Back off, I say, back off!” The token in Feng Li’s hand emanated a faint golden light, making the Dusk Phalanx soldiers color with hesitation.
They’d been assigned to Lu Yun as his personal guard, effective until the end of his term. They were no longer troops in active Dusk Phalanx service, which denied them the privilege of openly opposing the will of the emperor’s envoys.
“You must be here so aggressively because of your maid, Lu Yun.” A different voice traveled out from the Ba residence. “Her empyrean-grade spiritual root is remarkable indeed. She’s the best sacrifice for the Dusk River Sacrament one could ask for.
“I’ve already informed the imperial court of her suitability. She’s been sent to the altar for the ritual and will be sacrificed at its commencement in six days. Isn’t the Dusk governor usually the one who presides over the ritual? You’ll have to personally sacrifice your maid in six days, Lu Yun!” The source of the mocking was none other than Lu Yuanhou.