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Home > The Sage Who Transcended Samsara

177 Different Attitudes

 The next day, carrying his sword and blade, Meng Qi escorted Lu Guan, Ba Tu and the others out of the palace where he had seen the masters of Internal Power awaiting.

"General Lu, the palace grounds are protected by the Right Chief Minister, and should thus be safe." Meng Qi spoke sternly.

Lu Guan nodded gently and said, "The Right Chief Minister will definitely accompany us in our search for Jiang Clan's young lad. You don't need to wait here. You may do as you please."

Meng Qi intentionally dropped his pitch to a gravelly tone and said, "General Lu, the hoodwinking in the peace negotiations is a serious matter. I would like to inform the four Imperial Princes about it so that they may plan their next steps."

Lu Guan paused for a moment, appearing to be lost in thought. Then he said, "Go ahead."

He lacked the martial arts skills, interpersonal connections and status that the Right Chief Minister Wang Derang possessed. Trying to maintain total neutrality would only invite the four Imperial Princes' retaliation. "I roped you in out of goodwill, you powerless and penniless general, yet you fail to appreciate it?"

Thus, holding an attitude of scrutiny aided in dissipating such emotions. For as long as there was a hope of enticing him, most of the Imperial Princes would not go so far as to invite hatred and fall out with one another. Moreover, most importantly, nobody knew which Imperial Prince was plotting to secretly hold peace talks with the Western Invaders to increase his chances of ascending the throne, nor did anyone know if he was aware of the loophole in the deal. All these required some probing of a certain degree, and the excuse proposed fitted in nicely.

After Meng Qi saw them off into the palace, he followed the left path toward Wanghou Lane expressionlessly, maintaining a decent pace like that of his daily post-morning practice strolls.

He did not have a concrete plan on whom to visit first. The idea was to follow the path and visit whichever manor he came across first.

Upon entering Wanghou Lane, Meng Qi first caught sight of the Seventh Prince's residence. He strolled over and stated the purpose of his visit.

The gatekeeper was very polite and did not make things difficult by asking for a fee, as was the typical corrupted custom. He quickly went in to notify the Imperial Prince of Meng Qi's arrival.

This made Meng Qi pause. For him to be valued by the Emperor, the Seventh Prince was certainly no ordinary person; the fact that he did a decent job at managing and training his subordinates pointed towards that.

Shortly after, the gatekeeper led Meng Qi to a Flower Hall where a young man dressed in casual clothing with a ribbon in his hair lounged leisurely on a chaise. The man seemed lethargic and at ease, as though Meng Qi were not a stranger dropping by, but an old friend instead.

He was poised and elegant. Without getting up, he smiled at Meng Qi and said, "You are just like the 'God-petrifying Sword' Little Meng I had imagined, cool, sharp and a natural swordsman, albeit more graceful."

"Thank you..."

Such a high praise was graciously accepted by Meng Qi. "Seventh Prince, there is a loophole in the peace talks."

The Flower Hall had many guards with their heads raised high, and Meng Qi could feel them secretly prying into their conversation.

The Seventh Prince sighed. He was still laying down, with his right hand holding on to the tea cup. He said, "Whether there is any cheating going on is none of my business, I am not the one in control. Honestly, I am after the fame, be it in Father's eyes or in scholarly circles' praise, both are pretty good. Things like conceding and pleading, I cannot do that."

"Seventh Prince, your ways of dealing things have gained tremendous support and you have many supporters in court. You possess great influence in the peace negotiations." Meng Qi exposed his humility in a straightforward manner.

The man did not act haughty, rather he appeared very amiable. It was highly admirable.

The Seventh Prince laughed heartily and said, "As expected of 'God-petrifying Sword' Little Meng, just like your sword art, your words only attack, making it difficult for me to hold my own."

He continued laughing, then suddenly said with a sigh, "If Father were sober for another year, your words would be right. The me back then was in a favorable situation where the throne was no doubt mine, but now, most of my loyal court officials have begun to leave me. I can only influence the situation to a certain extent."

"But I can't back out. Since this game has already begun, I've lost the right to back out, because I'm not alone anymore."

Sunlight filtered in through the windows of the Flower Hall and bathed the Seventh Prince in a glorious golden light, making him appear brilliant and beautiful. Yet at the same time he exuded a trace of faint sadness and frustration.

Seeing this elegant man who received his guests while laying down, Meng Qi did not say anything more than a sentence. He asked, "Seventh Prince, who do you think wants to hold the peace talks?"

To think he would openly discuss matters concerning the throne and scuffles for it before a complete stranger! Meng Qi wondered if he lacked discernment or if he was intentionally putting on a show to throw him off.

The Seventh Prince seemed to smile as he sized Meng Qi up before answering, "If it were up to me, of course it would be my Third and Fourth brothers."

"Oh?" Meng Qi maintained his poker face as he waited for an explanation.

"Great Khan Modu of the Western Invaders is the head of the Yu Clan, so he is indeed a disciple of the Infernal Master of the Demon School. But that does not mean they are naturally allies with the Central Plains' Demon School. On the contrary, there is a thick tension between the Devil Empress who wishes to unify the Demon School and the Infernal Master who intends to borrow the Western Invaders' strength to do the same. It is impossible for them to join forces." The Seventh Prince offered his opinion casually.

"Throwing out a disclaimer?"

Meng Qi thought to himself.

The Seventh Prince continued, saying, "For almost twenty years since Big brother became the Crown Prince, no matter how hard Father tried to suppress them, there was always a sizable force against him. Under Father's careful nurturing, the court and army both are full of officials who are loyal to me, whereas Third and Fourth brother fare poorly in this aspect as they are supported only by skilled members of Jianghu. It's no wonder they lost. If they were to ascend the throne, they would need to get rid of the influence Big brother and I wield to secure their position."

"To resist external aggression there must first be internal stability. Of course, they would be unwilling to start a war with the Western Invaders at this point in time, and therefore turn to peace talks."

"They can ensure order within while trouble brews outside by taking advantage of the current situation to revolt." Meng Qi answered noncommittally.

The Seventh Prince smiled, then changed the subject. He said, "There are rumors about me colluding with the Demon School everywhere. Have you perhaps heard any of them, Little Meng?"

"I have," Meng Qi answered. He was being extremely penurious with his words.

The Seventh Prince shook his head and said, "The world is governed by officials who follow the Confucian ways. They view the Demon School as heterodoxy and cannot wait to uproot them. If I sought support from the Demon School, I could forget about ever ascending the throne."

"First he sows the seeds, then cultivates his own Civil Service Officers to replace the current Confucianists..."

Meng Qi's thoughts were scattered as he criticized the man inwardly.

"Sounds logical," he answered with seeming earnest.

The Seventh Prince continued to talk for a while before sending Meng Qi off. Not once did he mention anything about winning Meng Qi and Lu Guan over to his side.

After leaving the Seventh Prince's home, Meng Qi walked on for a distance until he spotted the Fourth Prince's residence. This gatekeeper stood ramrod straight with a long sword gripped in his hand, appearing valiant and fierce.

"Govern the government as you would govern the army..."

This thought suddenly sprouted in Meng Qi's mind.

The Fourth Prince's gatekeeper was somber and had an icy personality. Surprisingly, before he could even enter the residence to give notice of the visit, a butler came out to invite Meng Qi into the mansion.

"His Royal Highness has long admired Swordsman Meng's swordsmanship. Upon hearing of your visit, he had me awaiting your arrival at the gate," the butler fawned.

The four Imperial Princes all had high ranks of nobility.

Meng Qi nodded gently and replied, "The Fourth Prince is the Sword Emperor's disciple, his level of skill would be as good as mine."

Afterward, he remained silent, maintaining his stern swordsman exterior, and was led all the way to the study room.

The Fourth Prince's study room was huge. On one side were countless books on the art of war and the like, and on the other, various precious swords hung.

With his side to Meng Qi, the Fourth Prince pointed at a sword and stated, "Tengxiang Sword. It has a length of three




and three


. Created from meteor, it is sturdy and sharp. When my master was still young, he ventured out with it, and was a formidable force to be reckoned with."

"Crimson Moon Sword. Three


long and with a dark red blade resembling the moon dipped in blood, it was once used by the heterodox 'Mad Drunken Sword'."

It was as though he had just met a friend and could not wait to share his collection with Meng Qi excitedly. He was in extremely high spirits.

Naturally Meng Qi was very open about his interests; his eyes shone as he cursed that he could not sweep all these treasures away. This would be equivalent to a truckload of Karma points!

"...the Iron Wooden Sword, my master's sabre before he forgot the ways of the sword." The Fourth Prince turned around to look at Meng Qi. He said with a sigh, "I am still mesmerized by the Sword Principles, yet entangled in worldly troubles I find difficult to escape from. I can only watch as you polish your skills and bring their level to another realm. After all these years, this is the first time that my master has praised a swordsman."

He treated Meng Qi as a fellow with the same ideals as his and professed his own at the same time.

As he was listening to the Fourth Imperial Prince's rueful speech, Meng Qi suddenly felt mischievous, and seriously stated,

"Plotting for the throne and matters of hegemony, can they be gotten rid of? Glory and wealth, can they be gotten rid of? These ordinary affairs you are entangled in, can they be gotten rid of? If you are truly obsessed with the Sword Principles, everything in your way must be eliminated!"

The series of questions shook the Fourth Imperial Prince. He had been taking confident strides grandly, but now appeared pale.

He remained silent for a moment, then released a bitter laugh and said, "No wonder you have such superb swordsmanship despite your age, Little Meng. The words on the stone bridge 'You are not fit for me to use a sword' do make my blood boil, but alas, I do not possess a heart as strong as yours..."

He said with a sigh, "The Western Invaders are ruthless. I am only willing to send out ten million soldiers to save the people from disaster."

"There are loopholes in the peace negotiations, is your Highness aware of this?" Meng Qi did not follow up with the Fourth Prince's statement.

The Fourth Prince nodded and said, "I already knew the purpose of your visit. I will use all means to put a stop to the peace talks."

"I wonder which Imperial Prince is in on the peace talks?" Meng Qi asked the same question as he had at the Seventh Prince's residence.

After a hesitation, the Fourth Prince said, "Big brother supervises the country. If he objected to negotiations, we would not be in the situation we are in today, although he might not know of the loophole in the deal."

Meng Qi did not question him any further. After exchanging some insights on sword art, he bid farewell and took his leave.

The Crown Prince's residence eventually loomed into view after Meng Qi had continued walking quite some distance.

His mansion's gatekeeper bore an arrogant expression as he accepted bribes openly.

Meng Qi regarded him coldly. His Transformation Strategy intensified his imposing manner. He remained silent.

Meng Qi's frosty gaze soon had goosebumps running all over the gatekeeper's skin and sweat leaking from his glands. The gatekeeper gritted his teeth, then spun around to inform the Crown Prince of the visitor.

A short while later, he re-emerged, and said with a hint of contempt, "The Crown Prince will not see you. He is already aware of your arrival."

"Excellent." Meng Qi was not at all upset. He turned around to leave. After all, refusing to receive him was also an attitude.

On the other end of Wanghou Lane was the Third Prince's manor.

Meng Qi had only just set foot on the stairs when the gates opened. Out came the bright-faced Cao Zhan who greeted him with a smile, "Your name today has truly shook the capital up, for His Royal Highness has been waiting for you since morning."

Seeing his silver robes and jade accessories, Meng Qi grinned and said, "You are doing pretty well yourself."

"So-so," Cao Zhan responded, beaming happily. "His Royal Highness has gathered several experts, and thus has to be well-versed in the Jianghu custom of managing his people. And I happen to be good at just that, so I am doing decently, with the weapons and scripts I have been rewarded with."

"Not bad, eh." Meng Qi gave a sincere compliment. His own first Samsara task had not been this successful, what with Cao Zhan getting his hands on rare scripts and weapons without using any Karma points.

Along the way, Cao Zhan had done his best at trying to improve their relationship, currying Meng Qi's favor. He knew that this friend of his was now a famous big shot, and according to the Ranking List of Young Masters, may even be better at bladesmanship!

The duo walked through the garden and hall and entered the study room. Just as they did so, Meng Qi sighted a man around his thirties who dressed like royalty. He came up to them with his shoes on backwards. His attitude was that of extreme enthusiasm, crying,

"You are finally here, Little Meng!"

The man bore some semblance to the Seventh Prince, but his manner of speech full of fervor and his demeanor made him seem highly valued.

Luo Shengyi stood behind the Third Imperial Prince. He was calm and collected, a faint smile resting on his lips, without a trace of frustration at Meng Qi for having gone to visit the other Imperial Princes at all. Ge Huai'en was nowhere to be found; he may have been sent to handle other errands.