"It's like this. The emperor of the Qingyuan Empire, Chu Tianxing, wishes to reconcile with Zhang shi, so he has specially paid a visit to the Combat Master Hall in hopes of making amends. However, Zhang shi happens to be in seclusion at the moment, so it is not convenient for him to meet him. Thus, he hopes to meet you instead," the combat master said.

"He wants to meet me? Tell him that I'm not free!" Liu Yang waved his hand impatiently.

What he was lacking the most at the moment was time, and he did not want to waste a single second of it.

"Young Master Liu, you cannot simply spend every single second of your life cultivating. You need to relax and wind down from time to time. Even though His Majesty did have a disagreement with Zhang shi in the past, he seems to be earnestly seeking reconciliation this time around. Why don't you meet him and foster some goodwill with him? No matter what, he's still the emperor of the Qingyuan Empire. If his attempts at reconciliation fall through, he could possibly resort to underhanded tricks to deal with Zhang shi, and that would only cause Zhang shi more trouble!" the combat master advised.

"This… Alright then!" After a moment of hesitation, Liu Yang eventually nodded.

While the other six of his peers were busy bringing glory to his teacher's name, he was the only one who was still leeching off their teacher, using his teacher's cultivation resources.

If he added to his teacher's trouble on top of that, what rights would he have to continue remaining as Zhang Xuan's student?

Thus, he quickly washed up and switched into a fresh set of clothes before following that combat master to the main hall.

Upon seeing Liu Yang, Chu Tianxing quickly walked over to welcome him with a bright smile, completely devoid of the airs of an emperor. "You must be Brother Liu, I have long heard of your name! To be qualified to become Zhang shi's direct disciple, you must be a man of great talent!"

Slightly taken aback by Chu Tianxing's abrupt intimacy, Liu Yang awkwardly replied, "Your Majesty, you're flattering me…"

"Not at all, not at all! There isn't any point beating around the bush before someone as smart as you, so I'll just straight to the point. As you know, I had a conflict with Zhang shi previously over King Zhongqing, so I earnestly wish to make amends and heal the rift between us."

At this point, Chu Tianxing raised his hand, and a guard standing behind him walked over and passed a jade container to him.

"This is a gift that I have specially prepared for Zhang shi as a token of my sincerity. I hope that you won't turn down my goodwill!"

Glancing at the jade container in his hand, Liu Yang frowned. He slowly pried it open, and a gush of concentrated spiritual energy immediately burst forth from the container.

Concentrated high-tier spirit stones, five of them!

Liu Yang widened his eyes in astonishment. "This…"

He knew that his teacher urgently required concentrated high-tier spirit stones, so if he could help his teacher secure these five concentrated high-tier spirit stones, he would be doing his teacher a great favor!

Noticing Liu Yang's expression, Chu Tianxing's smile brightened. "Brother Liu, aside from the gift for Zhang shi, I have also prepared a present for you, too."

He raised his hand once more, and another guard swiftly walked forward and grandly presented another jade container. "I know that Brother Liu possesses exceptional talent in fist arts, so I specially paid a visit to the Blacksmith Guild to have them forge a pair of knuckledusters for you! It's a Saint low-tier weapon, and I believe it should be fitting for you."

As Chu Tianxing spoke, the guard opened the jade container.


A powerful aura emanated from the jade container. Lowering his gaze, Liu Yang saw a pair of beautifully-crafted knuckledusters. A brilliant gleam was reflected off them, and one could feel the powerful aura of a Saint low-tier weapon.

"This…" Liu Yang's voice went hoarse, and his body could not help but stiffen in astonishment.

To be honest, he had wanted a pair of knuckledusters for some time in order to augment his fist arts. However, his teacher had been too busy recently, and he could not bring himself to trouble his teacher at such a moment. As such, he could not hold back his agitation upon seeing Chu Tianxing's gift.

Liu Yang hesitated for a brief moment before replying, "I appreciate your goodwill, but I can't accept these valuable gifts from you."

"Brother Liu, there's no need to hold yourself back. It's my fortune to be acquainted with you, and I hope that these gifts can serve as a token of our friendship for the many years to come. So, I hope that you won't turn down my goodwill!" Chu Tianxing urged with an earnest smile.

"I see… Since that's the case, I'll humbly accept your gifts. I'll also relay your goodwill to my teacher." Liu Yang took the knuckledusters from the jade container and put them on.

They happened to fit him perfectly. The more he looked at them, the more he found himself liking them.

As these knuckledusters had just been forged, they did not have any spirit in them yet. As such, he could use them immediately without having to win the acknowledgement of a weapon spirit.

"There's no need to stand on ceremony," Chu Tianxing replied graciously. "Right, that reminds me. There is going to be a family banquet in the royal palace tonight. My younger daughters have long heard of your name, and they have been pestering me for an opportunity to meet you. If it isn't too much trouble, I would like to invite you to join us in the banquet!"

"This…" A hesitant frown emerged on Liu Yang's forehead. "Since it's a family banquet, it wouldn't be good for an outsider like me to join in the commotion…"

"It's fine, it's fine! It isn't easy for two people to meet in this massive world, and I have already long considered you my brother, so there's no need to be so formal with me! Actually, I intended to invite Zhang shi over as well, but it's a pity that Zhang shi is currently in seclusion. Brother Liu, it'll truly be an honor for our Qingyuan royal family if you would join our family banquet!" Chu Tianxing said.

"I thank you for your high opinion, but I need to cultivate," Liu Yang replied.

"Brother Liu, I know that you are a diligent individual, and I admire your perseverance as well. However, you need to take a rest from time to time and recharge yourself! Also, I actually do have a small request to make of Brother Liu during the banquet. My sons have been getting rather lazy recently, and that has been a huge headache for me. So, I hope that you can teach them a lesson and make them understand that there's a world far greater than the one that they see, and that they shouldn't get complacent with what they have!"

"This…" Liu Yang was conflicted for a moment before eventually nodding. "Alright then."

No matter what, the other party did give him a new pair of knuckledusters, so it was only right for him to return the favor. Furthermore, this was an opportunity for him to further his teacher's reputation. With these thoughts in mind, his hesitation in accepting Chu Tianxing's invitation was alleviated.

All six of his departed seniors and juniors were all outstanding individuals, bound for great heights in the future. Living under their shadows, he had been under extreme pressure in recent days. He strongly craved for a chance to prove himself as well, and this family banquet was the perfect opportunity for him to do so.

Seeing that Liu Yang had made up his mind, Division Head Zhou decided not to say anything else. In any case, he did not think that any harm would come to Liu Yang under Chu Tianxing's care.

Before long, the duo was already well on their way to the royal palace.

By the time they arrived at the royal palace, the family banquet had already started. Countless princes and princesses walked in and out the area, chatting harmoniously with one another.

As expected of the princesses of a Conferred Empire, they were all outstanding beauties. Sitting among them, Liu Yang could not help but feel his heart beating in nervousness.

While their beauty was nowhere on par with Zhao Ya, Wang Ying, and the others, it was still inevitable that a seventeen-year-old young man like him would find it hard to keep his cool before their charming smiles and alluring gestures.

At this moment, a young man walked over and greeted him. "Liu gongzi…"

"You are…" Liu Yang frowned.

From the other party's dress-up, he could tell that the young man was a prince as well. However, his standing within the royal family did not seem to be particularly high, especially considering how Chu Tianxing neglected to introduce him.

"I am Chu Xiang, the 77th Prince of the Qingyuan Empire," the young man replied with a bitter smile. "I have met Zhang shi on two separate occasions, so we can be considered acquaintances of one another."

If Zhang Xuan was there, he would have recognized the other party as none other than the young man he had met at the entrance of the Terpsichore Guild and Blacksmith Guild, Chu gongzi!

Who knew that he was actually a prince of the Qingyuan Empire?

However, this also explained how he could afford to pay a concentrated high-tier spirit stone for an Exclusive Dance from Fairy Zi Yan.

"A friend of my teacher? Pardon my rudeness. It's a pleasure to meet you!" Liu Yang quickly got to his feet and clasped his fist.

"There's no need to be so polite," Chu Xiang replied with a smile.

The duo chatted for a while. In between their conversation, a few princesses dropped by and offered him a drink. Drunk on the atmosphere, Liu Yang delightfully accepted their toast and drunk a fair bit. Before long, he found his eyelids getting heavier and heavier, and with a clumsy stagger, he collapsed to the ground.

Chu Xiang hurriedly rushed up to check on Liu Yang, but at this moment, Chu Tianxing suddenly appeared. With a sharp glint in his eyes, he bellowed, "Men, lock him in the underground prison and make sure to seal off all news about this matter!"


A couple of guards quickly stepped forward to bind the unconscious Liu Yang before dragging him away.

Astonished by the sudden turn of events, Chu Xiang asked, "Father, what is going on?"

"This is none of your business!" Chu Tianxing waved his hand impatiently.

"But… he's Zhang shi's student! Zhang shi is a genius who has succeeded in crashing our Qingyuan Empire Master Teacher Pavilion, and to apprehend his student like this…" Chu Xiang exclaimed anxiously, only to be interjected halfway through his words.

"Enough! Who do you think you are as to lecture me? If you dare speak another word of this matter, don't blame me for being heartless!"

Paying no heed to Chu Xiang's advice, Chu Tianxing walked away with a livid look on his face.

As the 77th Prince who had come from one of the many concubines in the royal palace, Chu Xiang's standing was not high.

In order to gain his father's favor, he had worked diligently, successfully became a 7-star blacksmith, and advanced his cultivation to Embryonic Soul realm despite his young age… He had thought that he could win the respect of others through his hard work, but who knew that he would only end up being poisoned by others as well, resulting in the impairment of his soul?

It was then that he realized that there was no such thing as kinship within the royal family. There were only relationships of convenience.

Thus, he fell into degeneracy, frequenting brothels to comfort himself in the intimate embrace of women. It might have appeared as if he had given up on himself, but it was actually all a ruse.

If he had not put up a useless front, the other princes who were vying for power would have viewed him as a threat and gotten rid of him.

Furthermore, he had realized that his father was not oblivious to the viciousness of his fellow brothers, choosing only to turn a blind eye to them. This had caused the final shred of expectations he had from kinship to freeze over like a winter's river.

He had thought that his acquaintance with Zhang Xuan might be able to change his father's low opinion of him, but who would have thought that his father would actually capture the latter's direct disciple!

Having met Zhang Xuan twice, Chu Xiang knew how protective the young man was of those around him. If something really happened to Liu Yang, that young man could very well turn the entire Qingyuan City into a living hell!

This won't do! I must inform Zhang shi of this matter this instant… If there is any misunderstanding between Father and him, they should hash it out before things get out of control… Chu Xiang clenched his fists tightly and made up his mind.

He had witnessed the incredible prowess that Zhang Xuan possessed with his own eyes, and he instinctively knew that the latter was the type of person that one should never make an enemy of.

He had no idea why his father had chosen to capture Liu Yang, but from the looks of it, it seemed like there was nothing he could say that would change his father's mind. Since that was the case, he could only deal with this matter from Zhang Xuan's side, and hopefully, it still would not be too late to resolve the conflict between them peacefully.

Thus, Chu Xiang discreetly took his leave from the banquet and returned to his accommodation.

He swiftly changed his clothes before sneaking out of the royal palace to rush to the Combat Master Hall.

A combat master stood in Chu Xiang's way and asked, "Who are you looking for?"

"I am Zhang shi's acquaintance, and I have some urgent matters for him!" Chu Xiang replied anxiously as he passed a name scroll over.

"You are Zhang shi's acquaintance? Give me a moment." Noting the anxious look on Chu Xiang's face and hearing that this was a matter relating to Zhang Xuan, the combat master did not dare to waste any time. He quickly took the name scroll and headed in.

Not too long later, the combat master returned with a fatty behind him.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Chu gongzi. I am Sun Qiang, Zhang shi's butler. May I know the reason behind your visit?" Sun Qiang greeted with a warm smile.

Noting that the person who had come out was not Zhang Xuan, Chu Xiang panicked. "Pardon me, Butler Sun, but I really do have an urgent matter that I need to report to Zhang shi about, so I must trouble you to inform him of my visit…"

"Chu gongzi, our young master is currently in seclusion, so I fear that it'll be inconvenient to interrupt him at this crucial juncture," Sun Qiang replied with a conflicted frown. "If you really do have an urgent matter for our young master, you can feel free to inform me. I'll have it relayed to our young master as soon as he's out of his seclusion!"

"This…" Hearing Sun Qiang's words, Chu Xiang hesitated for a moment. From the looks of it, it seemed like he would not be able to meet Zhang Xuan immediately, so he swiftly set up an isolation barrier and said, "To be honest with you, Zhang shi's direct disciple, Liu Yang, has been captured by my father…"

"Young Master Liu Yang has been captured?"

Sun Qiang was taken aback for a moment before his eyes slowly narrowed menacingly.



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