Xie Lian’s gaze returned to him. After a moment of contemplation, Xie Lian said, “Qi Rong, it seems like you’ve been living quite a remarkable life these years.”

With those words, Hua Cheng shed the disguise that he had been wearing. Seeing the true appearances of the three who had barged in, Qi Rong’s eyes widened. Lang Qianqiu, on the other hand, exclaimed, “Cousin?”

Although he had already deduced from Qi Rong’s earlier words that Qing Gui was a native of Xian Yue, he hadn’t expected there to be such a relationship between him and Xie Lian. Qi Rong stared at Xie Lian’s face, scanning him up and down with a curious and greedy gaze. And when his gaze landed on the Fang Xin Sword that Xie Lian carried on his back, he suddenly burst into laughter and said, “So, it’s like this. So, it’s like this! Fang Xin is you, and you are Fang Xin. Hahaha!”

Though he didn’t know why Qi Rong was laughing, Lang Qianqiu felt extremely uneasy and angrily asked, “What’s so funny?”

Qi Rong viciously replied, “I’m laughing at my dear cousin. It’s none of your business! Earlier, I said your stupidity transcends a hundred years. I apologize, but you are truly a master with an excellent disciple. With your master’s behavior, how smart could you possibly be?” He turned to Xie Lian and continued, “You became the National Teacher in Yong An and eventually got stabbed to death by your own disciple. Isn’t that exciting? Isn’t that funny? I say you deserve it, don’t you? You truly have a knack for being a masochist!”

As he uttered the word “masochist,” Hua Cheng’s palm struck down like thunder. Qi Rong, who was already quite resilient to being hit, became even more excited when he saw Xie Lian’s appearance. Even with his face smashed into the ground, he continued to shout relentlessly, “Masochist! Masochist! Masochist!”

Each time he said those words, Hua Cheng delivered another blow to the back of his head, creating an extremely bloody scene. Xie Lian intercepted Hua Cheng’s hand before it could fall again and said, “San Lang, let it go!”

Hua Cheng sternly asked, “Why should I let it go?!”

Xie Lian replied, “It’s okay, don’t mind him. This person is just sick, very troublesome. I’ll handle it. You don’t have to pay him any attention.”

He gently patted Hua Cheng’s shoulder. After a while, Hua Cheng finally spoke in a low voice, “Fine.”

Qi Rong pulled his head out of the ground and, with difficulty, rolled to the side, spitting, “What are you pretending to be kind for? You didn’t want him to hit me from the beginning! Now you’re pretending to let it go. But no one will praise you for being magnanimous!”

Xie Lian said, “I stopped him because I didn’t want him to dirty his hands. Perhaps you’ve misunderstood something.”

At the mention of this, a flash of anger crossed Qi Rong’s bloody face. Soon, he began to cackle and said, “Ah, Crown Prince’s cousin, seems like you have a good relationship with Hua Cheng, huh? No wonder I wanted to visit you on the Ghost Festival and sent subordinates to meet you, but none of them returned. It turns out you hooked up with Hua Cheng!”

Xie Lian had no idea that Qi Rong had sent subordinates to find him. On the night of the Ghost Festival, he happened to encounter Hua Cheng and brought the young man back to Pu Qi Monastery. It seemed that Qi Rong’s subordinates had been dealt with by Hua Cheng. Thinking of this, Xie Lian couldn’t help but glance at the person beside him. Qi Rong continued, “You even call him San Lang. Tsk tsk tsk, how familiar. Cousin, aren’t you a high-ranking official in the Heavenly Court? How did you get involved with these monsters? Aren’t you afraid of tarnishing your status? After all, you are so perfect, so pure and flawless. Your holy light illuminates the earth. Hahaha…”

The Heavenly Court officials had always found Mu Qing’s way of speaking a bit ambiguous, but if they were to listen to this conversation now, they would truly understand what it meant to be ambiguous. In the past, they had wronged Mu Qing. Furthermore, Qi Rong not only spoke, but he also acted. Cupping his heart, he continued, “Crown Prince’s cousin, for all these years, your little brother has been thinking of you at every moment. Look at the statue I carefully crafted for you. I keep it by my side so that I can see your heroic figure at all times. How about it? The sculpture is pretty good, right? Do you like it? No worries, if you don’t like it, I’ll make more for you. Hahaha…”

As soon as he mentioned the statue, an icy aura emanated from Hua Cheng’s face. If Xie Lian hadn’t just restrained him, he would probably have stomped on it immediately. However, Xie Lian knew Qi Rong’s temperament very well. This person was a bit deranged. The more intense your reaction, the more excited and heightened he became. You had to go against his expectations. So, Xie Lian chuckled and casually said, “It’s crafted quite well, but the taste is not to my liking. You’ve worked hard.”

Indeed, Qi Rong immediately scowled, his tone turning cold as he said, “Be content. It’s only because of our old relationship that I bothered to make a statue for you. Who else would be willing to provide for you? If you manage to ascend again this time, most likely it will be because you’ve cried and begged to kneel before Jun Wu’s thighs. Take a look around the Heavenly Court; which official isn’t more impressive than you? Even those who have been flying for two hundred years can trample you underfoot. After all, they’re almost eight hundred years old and still manage to look respectable. Truly a failure.”

Xie Lian smiled and said, “Cousin, you’re quite a failure. Compared to your younger cousin, you turned evil in just eight hundred years.”

Xie Lian knew exactly how to deal with him. Hua Cheng chuckled on the side, while Qi Rong’s face turned pale. He glanced at the three of them and suddenly said, “Judging by the situation, are you here today to seek revenge on me through Hua Cheng and take out your frustrations?”

Xie Lian was taken aback, thinking about the situation, and realized he couldn’t refute it. Qi Rong continued, “Look at all of you. As soon as I criticize you, wow, you explode like this. Could it be that the holy light above your head has blinded you? Ah, I see now, he seems to have been blind from the beginning! Hahaha…”

Before he could finish speaking, his eyes suddenly went dark, his cheek stung with pain, and blood spurted out. He had been punched again, but this time it wasn’t Hua Cheng who had struck him—it was Xie Lian.

Xie Lian’s movements were lightning fast as he coldly said, “Just because I haven’t hit you before doesn’t mean I never could.”

The punch was harsh, and it took a while before Qi Rong could finally make a sound. Lying on the ground like a mangy dog, he pounded the ground and laughed, “Crown Prince’s cousin, you hit me, you actually hit me! My goodness, we are noble and kind-hearted, compassionate to others, even reluctant to step on an ant, and yet the Crown Prince actually gave me a look and dared to hit someone! This is incredible, incredible!!!”

He was so excited that he seemed insane. Lang Qianqiu had never seen someone behave so strangely, and after witnessing his one-man show, he was completely stunned, muttering, “Is this… is this person insane?”

Xie Lian, accustomed to such things, found it unremarkable and said, “You heard it, this person is crazy, mentally unstable. There’s nothing trustworthy about what he says.”

At this moment, Qi Rong’s laughter abruptly stopped, and he suddenly turned serious, sneering, “Don’t rush to tell people that I’m crazy. Let me ask you, how did King An Le die?”

This was the question Hua Cheng had asked him earlier, but now it was Qi Rong asking Xie Lian. Lang Qianqiu suddenly became concerned again.

Xie Lian’s heart tightened, and he couldn’t answer immediately. Qi Rong slowly got up, sat against the kneeling stone statue, and said, “After An Le’s death, I dissected his body and found that his organs had been shattered by extremely sharp sword qi. That’s why there were no external injuries, but he coughed up blood incessantly. Ordinary swordsmen wouldn’t be able to achieve such a method. At first, I thought it was some sorcerer hired by Yong An who had disguised themselves as An Le to fake his death. But now, I realize there’s another person who could do such a thing. That person, of course, is my fair and just cousin. After all, our Crown Prince, the God of War, is a pure and holy Heavenly Mountain Snow Lotus…”

Hua Cheng stomped down, and Qi Rong screamed in agony. Lang Qianqiu’s head felt like it was about to explode. Holding his head, his eyes bloodshot, he said, “Shut up! Have you figured anything out? What exactly happened? Who is the murderer? What’s the deal with the Blood Moon Banquet? What happened to King An Le? What’s going on?!”

Qi Rong said, “Lang Qianqiu, why can’t you figure it out? I’ve already pieced it all together. Look, I think I’ve got it mostly right. It seems you really don’t understand what kind of person your master is. Come, let me dissect my dear cousin for you: This former Crown Prince of Xian Yue ran to your Yong An and became the National Teacher, teaching you swordsmanship for five years…”

He spoke a few more words, and just as Xie Lian’s sword shook, before he could step forward, Lang Qianqiu’s massive sword blocked his way and he said, “Let him finish!”

Xie Lian said, “Even if he’s a madman, you still listen to his nonsense!”

With a sweep of his sword, Feng Xin’s slender blade, although extremely delicate, caused Lang Qianqiu’s massive sword to tremble. Unexpectedly, a silver blade lightly hooked it, diverting it off course. Xie Lian was taken aback and said, “San Lang!”

Qi Rong saw that Xie Lian clearly didn’t want him to say any more and that Lang Qianqiu didn’t want to listen, so he deliberately went against their wishes and seized the opportunity, saying, “After An Le died, our Xian Yue’s noble and valiant hero, he listened to me and pretended to befriend you. He single-handedly wiped out all the traitors of Yong An at the Blood Moon Palace. However, your master caught him, and An Le escaped. Then, you arrived at the Blood Moon Palace and ordered a nationwide manhunt for Feng Xin, the National Teacher. That’s the previous part, and it’s absolutely correct…” Xie Lian tried several times to block his mouth but was stopped by Hua Cheng. Xie Lian said, “San Lang!”

However, Hua Cheng remained silent and prevented him from getting closer. The more Xie Lian tried to snatch it away, the faster Qi Rong’s mouth moved. “But my saintly cousin, he witnessed King An Le committing murder and must have thought to himself: ‘This is unacceptable. It’s wrong.’ So he went to find King An Le, intending to educate him. But what he discovered was astonishing—An Le had bigger plans. It wasn’t just a matter of assassinating a few traitors. Unable to educate him, An Le made up his mind and killed the last remaining bloodline of the royal family with his own hands! Finally, you captured your master and nailed him in a coffin, bringing an end to my illustrious cousin’s career as the National Teacher. Cousin, am I right?”

He spat out a mouthful of blood and saliva near the feet of the kneeling stone statue and said, “I don’t understand you! This is what you love to do. Look at the calamity and curse you’ve brought upon the Xian Yue Xie Clan. Not only have you lost everything, but you’ve also wiped out the entire lineage in this world! Xie Lian! You bringer of misfortune, the plague! Your birth is the greatest misfortune in Xian Yue’s history. Why won’t you die? Why do you still have the audacity to live in this world?!”

Lang Qianqiu said, “But I saw him kill my father with a sword. How do you explain that?”

Qi Rong said, “If your old man didn’t go blind or have a brain malfunction, then I can only think of one explanation. That is, An Le did indeed stab your old man but didn’t kill him.”

Lang Qianqiu asked, “Did he… finish him off later?”

Qi Rong exclaimed, “What are you saying! My kind-hearted cousin wouldn’t immediately finish someone off. After going up there, he would certainly hesitate and wouldn’t have the heart to finish the job right away. He would first save the person. However, heh heh, it seems that your father ended up harming himself.”

Lang Qianqiu asked, “What do you mean he harmed himself?”

Qi Rong said, “What is the first thing a person does after being rescued from almost being killed? After seeing so many people die at the Blood Moon Palace, what is the first thing that comes to mind?”

Lang Qianqiu hadn’t fully grasped it yet and said, “…Capture the murderer?”

Qi Rong said, “Exactly! After my kind-hearted cousin saved your father, once your father caught his breath, he would definitely say something like this: ‘National Teacher, quickly, it was An Le who did it. Go and kill King An Le for me!’ No, no, that’s not all. He would definitely say something even more severe, like: ‘National Teacher! Summon Qianqiu! Summon everyone! Kill all the Xian Yue people in the country! I want them to accompany me in death!!!’”

He imitated that tone of furious despair, which sent shivers down one’s spine. Lang Qianqiu’s face slowly turned pale. Qi Rong continued, “Even if they didn’t kill him at the time, your mother still had a bunch of treacherous relatives who would have instructed An Le to kill them all right in front of him. In the future, he would inevitably turn against the other Xian Yue people in the country. When your good master sensed that something was wrong, he considered it from all angles and realized that he couldn’t let this old man live. So, with a swift strike, he left him cold and lifeless. That’s the kind of person he is—a saintly figure who can’t tolerate the slightest wrongdoing but is always engaged in harmful and self-serving deeds. He tries to please both sides but ends up pleasing neither. Hehehe, hahaha…”