“Yinye, Xue’er, describe once again the matters of the day.” In order to ascertain Jiang Chen’s death, Long Zhaofeng spoke again.
Long Yinye describes the circumstances once again, with Long Juxue filling in the details.
“Mm, according to this, Jiang Chen is dead without a doubt.” Even the usually cautious Long Yi nodded. “Your Lordship, with the death of Jiang Chen, the Eastern family’s pawn is gone. They are without moves all of a sudden. Why don’t we…”
Long Zhaofeng smiled faintly, exuding more and more the confidence of one in a superior position.
“Yinye, didn’t you say that this Jiang Chen ambushed you in the Boundless Catacombs? This is Jiang Han’s provocation towards our own Soaring Dragon. As the foremost amongst dukes, how can we allow the defiance of an inferior duke to pass by like this?”
The so-called ambush was naturally something that they had made up.
However, Long Yinye’s comprehension was high, and he immediately understood his father’s overtones. This was him wanting to make a big fuss out of matters in order to find an excuse to start something with the Duke of Jiang Han, and take a step forward in testing the royal family’s attitude!
At this time, the royal family’s attitude was ambiguous.
If Jiang Chen was dead, was this Jiang Han dukedom worth Eastern Lu’s strong support?
Long Zhaofeng wanted to test Eastern Lu’s bottom line. If Eastern Lu continued to support the Jiang family, then Long Zhaofeng could absolutely wax eloquent on the matter of the conflicts between the various dukes to one up Eastern Lu.
This title of first duke was bestowed by your Eastern family. If an inferior duke wasn’t punished for defying the first duke, then wherein lay the purpose of the laws of the kingdom?
If Eastern Lu chose to give up on the Jiang family, then he, Long Zhaofeng, could take advantage of this opportunity to eliminate the Jiang family. For one, he would be able to remove one of the royal family’s pawns, and secondly, he could suppress the royal family’s prestige. He would make an example of the Duke of Jiang Han to terrorize those dukes who had yet to flock to his Long family’s banner!
As heir to the Duke of Soaring Dragon,Long Yinye immediately grasped the twists and turns of what this entailed.
His face displaying joy, “Father, that Jiang Chen ambushed your son. He represents the Duke of Jiang Han and is insulting the golden banner of our Soaring Dragon manor. Your son will lead a troop of elites and demand an explanation from that Jiang family!”
“Mm. The Jiang family is a small man intoxicated by success. For him to be so impudent, we must have an explanation. Long Yi, you accompany Yinye!”
Long Yi was the first amongst all the Long family guards. He was an eleven meridians true qi master both in reality and in name! His training was even close to the level of Duke Long himself!
“Your subordinate obeys!” Long Yi bowed as he accepted his orders.
In that moment, the elite troops of the Long family immediately set out under the leadership of Long Yinye and Long Yi. These three thousand soldiers descended upon the Jiang Han manor with a threatening manner.
When those dukes who had pledged allegiance to the Long family heard of this news, they also found similar excuses as they all sent out squadrons of their personal guards to meet up with the elite troops of the Long family.
In the span of a moment, the troops that had been formed to denounce the Duke of Jiang Han exceeded more than twenty thousand!
In the capital, who other than the royal family dared to deploy twenty thousand troops?
Therefore, when the twenty thousand troops appeared on the streets, the entire capital once again sank into endless chaos as everyone’s hearts were in a state of turmoil.
Although this band of troops were raising the banner of denouncing the Duke of Jiang Han, everyone knew that deploying so many troops within the capital was already a flagrant overreach of ducal authority.
The Duke of Soaring Dragon’s motion was an unmistaken provocation of the royal family’s authority!
Within the palace, Eastern Lu also found it difficult to sleep and eat these days.
More than thirty percent of the heirs had been lost in the trial, this time around. Although Eastern Lu was shocked, but he wasn’t too discomforted.
However, the most important thing was that Jiang Chen still hadn’t returned.
What did it mean when he didn’t return at this time? This meant that Jiang Chen was very likely murdered at the hands of the Long siblings!
“Long family!” Eastern Lu’s face was dark. He was depressed and didn’t know which way to turn. The sudden emergence of the pawn that was Jiang Chen had obtained quite a bit of extra time for him during this period.
But now, during this critical moment, Jiang Chen had vanished, and he was most likely already dead!
This meant that all his plans were abruptly at an impasse. Just like a chain that had suddenly been broken, unable to rotate .
Additionally, with the current situation in the capital, many of the dukes were now frightened. Several of the originally neutral dukes had all flocked to the Duke of Soaring Dragon for various reasons.
Over these past couple of days, the influence of the royal family had waned and it had become extremely passive.
Not only was he at a disadvantage with regards to the greater picture, but Eastern Lu’s heart also ached for his daughter. If Jiang Chen died, who would he go to for his daughter’s illness?
“Jiang Chen ah, Jiang Chen. Why couldn’t you hold out for a bit longer?” Eastern Lu was extremely vexed. If it wasn’t for these reasons, he wouldn’t care at all about Jiang Chen’s death.
But, the situation in the capital needed Jiang Chen.
With Jiang Chen present, at least there’d be someone to hold the Duke of Soaring Dragon’s attention and maintain the impasse a bit longer.
Because Jiang Chen was dead, this balanced impasse was broken. There was nothing preventing the Duke of Soaring Dragon’s mind from running off. Perhaps he would move the decisive battle ahead after this time’s Hidden Dragon Trials concluded!
Eastern Lu was quite depressed. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to suppress the Duke of Soaring Dragon, but with the situation at hand, he didn’t have the surety or the right timing to do so.
“Your Majesty, something big is happening!”
Just as Eastern Lu was utterly exhausted from anxiety, one of the eunuchs came running in hurriedly, panting heavily. “We’ve just received an urgent report from Lord Tiandu saying that the Duke of Soaring Dragon and some other accomplices have mustered troops of twenty to thirty thousand and have already surrounded the Jiang Han manor under the banner of punishing the Duke of Jiang Han!”
“What?” Eastern Lu was the king of the nation, but was also astounded when he heard this news.
Made his move?
In that moment, he almost thought that the Duke of Soaring Dragon had made his move and already rebelled!
But logic told him that it was not yet the best timing for the Duke of Soaring Dragon to rebel.
“What is their reason for sending a punitive expedition against the Duke of Jiang Han.”
“Their reason is that Jiang Chen ambushed the Long siblings during the trials in the Boundless Catacombs. They say that an inferior duke has insulted the face of the first duke. It is against the laws of the kingdom if he isn’t punished severely.” The eunuch was also quite nervous.
“We know now. You are dismissed.”
The eunuch was perspiring heavily as he backed away. Princess Gouyu came rushing in as soon as he had left.
“Royal brother, is Soaring Dragon declaring war?” Princess Gouyu’s jade features were angry, appearing quite infuriated. Whether for public affairs or private matters, she didn’t wish for Jiang Han to be assaulted.
“Gouyu, you’ve come, I am very troubled.” Eastern Lu could expose his heart only in front of his younger sister.
“Royal brother, the Duke of Soaring Dragon can absolutely not be allowed to behave as he will in this matter!” Princess Gouyu’s attitude was quite firm.
“Ai, Gouyu. The bigger picture is most important.” Although Eastern Lu’s attitude was ambiguous, Princess Gouyu still discerned something.
“Royal brother, are you giving up on the Duke of Jiang Han just like this?” Princess Gouyu exclaimed, shocked. “Have you thought of what the neutral dukes and other dukes loyal to you will feel if you even give up on a loyal subject such as the Duke of Jiang Han?”
“However, Gouyu, have you thought about the fact that the Long family is raising the banner of the kingdom’s laws now. They have a good pretext for making trouble. If we protect the Jiang family, the Duke of Soaring Dragon can make an issue of this and coerce me. Finally, they can still raise the banner of the law and make me personally move against the Jiang family. If matters develop this way, wouldn’t it be showing our cards before the time is right and fighting the Long family earlier?”
“Then fight we will. Royal brother, you always think too much. If we had suppressed them earlier, then how would Long Zhaofeng be where he is today?” Princess Gouyu’s tone also became urgent.
Eastern Lu snorted, “Fight? It’s easy for you to say. The elder grandfather is in closed door cultivation right now, and will need two more months before he emerges. Why don’t we just hold up underneath it all until the elder grandfather emerges. When the spirit dao practitioner appears, which duke dares cause trouble beneath the heavens? The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting, to cease warring and suppress the Duke of Soaring Dragon without causing civil war. Would it not be to the populace and nation’s benefit if we don’t expend the country’s resources?”
Eastern Lu was the king of a nation and considered the gains and losses of a country. If he could avoid civil war, then he would avoid civil war.
After all, once civil war began, countless numbers would be depleted and the strength of the nation would be greatly affected. Even if the royal family won this battle, it would be a pyrrhic victory!
The costs of a pyrrhic victory were high. The internal strength of a country would decrease and strong enemies from other countries would be sure to eye them covetously.
A slight move in one part may affect the situation as a whole!
“Royal brother, soldiers are a weapon for murder, the saints only resort to them when they have no alternative. But, the way of being a monarch is one of not lightly deploying troops and not purposefully avoiding conflict. If you only consider the strength of the nation, if you only consider this and that and don’t have the resolve to fight, then I’m afraid that when you wish to fight, you will discover that you have none who will fight by your side.”
Princess Gouyu wasn’t exaggerating things to scare Eastern Lu. Lacking the courage to fight as the ruler of a nation, how would you ask those beneath you to follow you steadfastly?
There was a general feeling of insecurity, and in fact this situation had already appeared.
Why had the situation tilted endlessly towards the Duke of Soaring Dragon lately? It precisely had to do with Eastern Lu’s attitude. As the ruler of a nation, he continuously failed to bring out appropriate measures to counter the domineering aura of the Duke of Soaring Dragon. How would the dukes and subjects view him. Moreover, how would they submit to him?
Eastern Lu was silent without a word. Princess Gouyu was his blood sister and only she would plainly speak of such things to him.
Except, he still thought that without Jiang Chen, the Jiang family wasn’t worth him fighting the Duke of Soaring Dragon now.
He needed time. He needed to wait until the elder grandfather emerged!
Two months, he only needed to wait for two more months.
“Royal brother, you cannot hesitate any longer. If you continue to hesitate…”
Eastern Lu lifted his head, his gaze resolute. “Gouyu, I know you admire Jiang Chen. But now, Jiang Chen is no longer present. The strategic importance of the Jiang family is of no consequence now. My decision is made, I will have Tiandu withdraw his troops. This is a grudge between the dukes and they should resolve it between themselves!”
Eastern Lu had sent the Tiandu army to take up residence near the Jiang Han manor to protect them.
This command to withdraw troops meant that Eastern Lu was giving up on the Jiang family.
Gouyu’s heart ached incomparably, her face starkly white as she looked at Eastern Lu in disappointment. “Royal brother, is this your final decision? You’re that certain that Jiang Chen really died?”
“Whether he’s dead or not is insufficient to prevent this matter from happening. I need time. I don’t wish to expend the strength of the nation to fight a decisive battle right now! Gouyu, you know, as soon as the elder grandfather emerges, all will be resolved…”
“Enough!” Princess Gouyu could listen no longer as her charming features flushed red. She said angrily, “I’m not listening! Royal brother, I’ve heard enough of these words. Elder grandfather, elder grandfather. You’re the ruler of the nation, if you need to rely on the elder grandfather for everything, then what does it matter who sits on the throne!”
Princess Gouyu stomped her foot and walked huffily out after speaking her words.
Eastern Lu’s expression was ugly as it turned green and white. He was as dumb as a wooden chicken. He hadn’t thought that even the sister who respected and supported him the most would have had this sort of attitude at this moment.