Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
Beta read by OEE
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Chapter 46 – Shadow Guard
“… Wow,” Luo Xiao said.
When Jiang Yao mentioned they were going to his palace, Luo Xiao didn’t think too much about how it would look compared to the rest of the city because just Cloudsoar City itself was beyond all expectations.
But, Jiang Yao’s palace was incredible. Multiple stories high, with arched roofs and intricate ornaments, his palace was made almost entirely from precious jade. There were multiple buildings on its sides and an enormous courtyard as well. While it didn’t seem too big compared to Cloudsoar City, it was probably around half the size of the entire Heavenward City!
Luo Xiao and Jiang Yao walked down a paved road inside the enormous courtyard. As soon as the two of them got off the carriage the two men guarding the gates bowed with such reverence to Jiang Yao that it made Luo Xiao question whether their backs were alright.
“Your Highness! Welcome back, your Highness!” various servants said as they bowed the moment they saw that it was Jiang Yao walking towards his palace after which they went back to their tasks.
Following Jiang Yao, Luo Xiao noticed firsthand both the respect and fear in the eyes of the servants as the two of them approached the doors of the palace. Once the two passed by, these servants would glance at Luo Xiao with curiosity for a moment before rushing away.
“Your Highness! You’ve returned!” a middle-aged man ran out of the doors of the palace, opening them wide before bowing deeply to Jiang Yao.
Even though Jiang Yao didn’t smile when it came to other people, at the sight of this middle-aged man, the corners of his lips moved upwards. “Housekeeper Chen! I have indeed returned,” Jiang Yao said.
The housekeeper, whose full name was Wang Chen, finally straightened up. While he was middle-aged and past the prime of his life, his eyes were full of vigor. His hair was completely black and not a single strand of grey was visible. Wang Chen was actually surprisingly muscular for a housekeeper, but it wasn’t like Luo Xiao had seen a housekeeper before and didn’t question anything. .
Naturally, Luo Xiao knew that he would be unable to see this person’s cultivation even if he tried so he remained silent while observing Wang Chen.
“Housekeeper, this is my lover, Luo Xiao. He’ll be staying here for a few days,” Jiang Yao said.
“Should I arrange a room for him, your Highness?” Wang Chen asked with a bow, already thinking about which room to prepare for Luo Xiao.
His keen eyes had focused on Luo Xiao from the moment Jiang Yao introduced him, and while he seemed to express no animosity, a tinge of confusion sprouted in his heart. It was in obvious that Luo Xiao was merely a Sky Rank soul cultivator.
For Jiang Yao to introduce Luo Xiao as his lover something about this person must have captivated the prince’s heart, and just the thought of such a thing made Wang Chen question the reality of their relationship.
“No need, Housekeeper. He’ll sleep in my room,” Jiang Yao said before turning to Luo Xiao, “Xiaoxiao, I’m going to need to deal with some things since I’m back home… Feel free to look around the palace but don’t go outside the courtyard, alright?”
Jiang Yao’s hand gently cupped Luo Xiao’s cheek before finally letting go. “If someone causes trouble for you, just tell me,” he said.
Luo Xiao nodded gently, blushing as soon as he noticed the obvious stare from Wang Chen. “Is there anywhere I can get something to eat?” he asked.
“Ask a servant, they have a kitchen somewhere,” Jiang Yao said as he walked inside the palace with Wang Chen following him.
Being left alone, Luo Xiao quickly managed to extinguish the red flush on his cheeks. His eyes glanced once more at the door of the palace before walking around the courtyard’s path.
From what Luo Xiao had seen of the outside of Jiang Yao’s palace, it was built with absolute mastery. The statues of strong beasts and heavenly apparitions were so lifelike that they seemed like they would jump out of the columns they circled and bite into Luo Xiao.
Once he was done looking around the palace and a few of the gardens in the enormous courtyard, Luo Xiao planned to ask a servant to get something to eat for lunch. Once he had finished eating Luo Xiao hoped Jiang Yao would be finished with his tasks.
Meanwhile, the prince and the housekeeper walked through the corridors of the palace.
“Your Highness, the First Prince is like always in seclusion. Nobody has really heard any news of him; however, there are rumors that he will leave seclusion in a few months. The Fourth Prince’s faction has been rather restless in the last few weeks, and it seems like the Fourth Prince and the Third Prince have been at odds recently ,” Wang Chen said, swiftly detailing all he knew about the situation at the capital.
This news wasn’t particularly surprising when it came to the usual struggle that happened in the capital, but then a little sentence mentioned by Wang Chen caught Jiang Yao’s attention.
“Second Sister got married? I’m surprised… Knowing her, she doesn’t care about men at all.”
“Your Highness, it seems that her new husband was able to defeat her in a duel of pure strength and won her heart that way…” this was something that even Wang Chen couldn’t believe when he heard it for the first time, but it was the truth.
“Eventually, his Highness the Demon Emperor approved of their relationship and let the two marry.”
“I see,” Jiang Yao nodded as he pondered. “Well, at least I hope Second Sister is happy. I’ve unfortunately missed her wedding, so prepare an appropriate gift for her and send it in my name.”
“As you wish, your Highness.”
A few moments of silence passed while they walked up a flight of stairs.
“Is he really your lover?” Wang Chen suddenly asked, much to Jiang Yao’s surprise.
A tinge of coldness flashed through Jiang Yao’s eyes as he glanced at the man. “Are you doubting me?” Jiang Yao said.
“No, your Highness, of course not!” Wang Chen said immediately bowing his head. He gulped a little before finally speaking again, “It’s just… anyone would find it unbelievable that you, the Seventh Prince… has such a weak lover, not to mention him being a human.”
The ice in Jiang Yao’s eyes deepened for a split second before disappearing. “I see. Do you think he is undeserving of my love, Housekeeper Chen?” Jiang Yao asked.
Wang Chen couldn’t find the courage to say as much as a word in response to the other’s question. Having gained the ability to read Jiang Yao rather well from all the time he had been his servant, Wang Chen could tell that he needed no answer.
The Seventh Prince only had to say something was like that, for it to be accepted by everyone beneath him. There was no chance of saying no – one either obeyed or died.
Eventually, the two arrived at the palace’s enormous library. Shelves upon shelves of treasured books and jade slips filled the room. Inside there were various empty corners and nice spots for one to sit down and relax while reading a book.
If one were to actually count the number of texts located in this room, it would add up to more than ten million! It truly lived up to being the personal library of the Seventh Prince of the Demon Empire.
Jiang Yao’s hand gently touched one of the shelves as he walked into the library, his eyes focusing on the last rays of the setting sun visible through the large windows.
“Your Highness, the shadow guard has arrived,” Wang Chen announced.
A second after he spoke, a dozen previously concealed figures appeared around the two of them. These dozen men and women wore simple dark grey clothes and one couldn’t see a trace of weapons on them.
“Your shadow guard greets you, your Highness,” they spoke in unison as they knelt down in front of Jiang Yao.
“Did you finish the tasks I gave you before leaving?”
“Yes, your Highness. Everything has been taken care of and not a word has leaked out. Not even the Sixth Prince’s network caught a trace of us,” one of the shadow guards immediately answered before taking a small object out of seemingly nowhere and handing it to Jiang Yao.
After checking out the object briefly, Jiang Yao nodded. “Good. You will, like always, be compensated for your work.”
The shadow guard said nothing and didn’t even move an inch. They awaited Jiang Yao’s next orders with patience as Jiang Yao himself handed the object to Wang Chen. “Put it in the treasury.”
“As for you all… From now on two of you will be tasked with protecting Xiaoxiao. Don’t let him find out unless absolutely necessary. The others will return to their usual duties,” and with a wave of his hand, Jiang Yao dismissed the guards.
The twelve men and women nodded before vanishing from the room. Just as they were disappearing, Wang Chen noticed a brief flash of confusion and hesitation in their eyes. It took him no time at all to understand why – none of them had any idea who this ‘Xiaoxiao’ was, after all.
The housekeeper felt no need to tell them – they would find out soon enough. The group of shadow guards had even been personally trained by Jiang Yao, so there was no way they were stupid.
“Actually, change of plans,” Jiang Yao suddenly spoke, his voice making Wang Chen raise his head to look at him. “Send this as the gift to my Second Sister; I think it will suit her more than anything else I have.”
“Yes, your Highness.”
“Housekeeper, when was enrollment for Cloudsoar Royal Academy?”
The question startled Housekeeper Chen, making him frown for a moment. “I think they were three months ago… At least for the first years. Your Highness, do you want to go…”
“Not me, housekeeper,” Jiang Yao said. He almost rolled his eyes as he turned around to face the man. “Xiaoxiao will attend school there,” he said.
“That human lover of yours?” Wang Chen asked with raised eyebrows before frowning even more. “But the earliest he could enroll would be during next year’s admissions. That will be in at least nine months, your Highness.”
Jiang Yao’s lips moved upward causing a small smile to appear once he heard the middle-aged man’s reply. “Housekeeper, you’ve known me since I was a child… Do you actually think that can stop me?”
Silence took over the library for a brief moment before Wang Chen sighed, shaking his head a little like a parent who had given up reprimanding their child. “I should’ve expected this, your Highness.”
With that he turned around and left the room, almost looking amused as he set to work on the task given to him.
Jiang Yao remained in the library for a bit longer, thinking about the information that Wang Chen had given him regarding the current situation in Cloudsoar City. “It seems that Fourth Brother has a trump card up his sleeve if he’s clashing with others so openly…”
Even he frowned a little as he looked through his library’s windows. Despite having a few facts that he could discern with the given sparse information, Jiang Yao had no way of seeing what exactly was going to happen. After all, he wasn’t a prophetic genius no matter how much he wished to be.
He could only surmise that some sort of great upheaval might occur in Cloudsoar City with his royal brothers and sisters at the center. His expression seemed to frost over as he thought about the possibility of his Xiaoxiao, an innocent, being dragged into such a mess.
“Maybe I should allocate more than two shadow guards to protect him… I wonder where he is at right now?”
Thinking about the surprised expression Luo Xiao would make once he appeared behind him, Jiang Yao became relaxed, and in a few moments he left the library to search for his little human lover.