At the Shouning Palace...
Li Mu fumbled with the jade piece, his mental powers projecting into the piece time and time again.
He still was unable to find out what made the piece tick.
Still no idea about anything...
He put it away and grabbed a clean washcloth, before continuing to wipe the tables and chairs in the hall.
"Eunuch Li, grave news."
Liu An, the Fourth Prince, came in just as he was finishing cleaning the furniture and was about to head out with a bucket of dirty water.
"What do you mean?"
Li Mu was puzzled.
Things in the palace had been quiet for many years, with the gravest of happenings being the infightings: the conflicts that had happened between the emperor's consorts.
None of that had much to do with the Shouning Palace.
"Sis is getting married!"
"Huh? That quick? Wasn't your sis unwilling to get married?"
Li Mu was puzzled yet again.
Ruirui had long ago reached marriageable age.
However, she would throw a fit whenever the emperor tried to find suitors for her.
She adamantly refused to get married.
"Man, when she learned that the seventh son of Clan Zhao was more than he seemed, she actually said yes. Well, my father had wanted to seal the deal in the first place, so all is well, I guess."
"Has the seventh son agreed to it then?" Li Mu asked.
"Hee, hee, hee, like he had a choice in the matter... The seventh son was forced to agree to it whether he liked it or not. But, with sis being sis, I'm afraid that seventh son…"
"What are you saying, Liu An?"
Ruirui stood in the doorway, shooting cold glances at her brother.
"I was saying that the seventh son was forced to agree to the marriage," Liu An tilted his head and answered.
He didn't realize that there was anything wrong with the way he'd worded things.
The seventh son of Clan Zhao had been pretending for so many years, so he was most definitely up to something.
The man might have thought that he was just about to marry some dumb wife.
But then again, Ruirui was a smart person who was versed in just about anything that mattered, and, moreover, she was the eldest princess of the royal family.
That meant that the seventh son's plans had just run into obstacles.
Worse still, Ruirui had already exposed the true reason for that man's intentions of getting married.
The way Liu An saw it, the man was indeed being forced to comply.
Umm...but judging from the way sis is behaving, I've just said something wrong, haven't I?
"Liu An, you piece of sh*t. I'm pretty, and I'm as smart as a girl can be. Him being forced to marry me, you said? He should be thankful that he's got himself such a bargain, all right!"
"Sis, that's not what I meant."
Liu An was dumbfounded.
"What did you mean then? That I'm unfit for marrying a rich playboy like him, eh?"
"You're asking for it!"
The Shouning Palace became all rowdy again.
Li Mu put down his bucket, standing in the compound as he watched the show.
However, the look on his face slowly changed before long.
"Hey, the floor that I just mopped! The table that I just cleaned!"
Liu An was chased out of Shouning Palace by Ruirui a little while later.
She stood on a chair panting.
Li Mu sighed.
How could she hope to wrestle against that guy if she was so short-tempered?
Li Mu began to worry for her.
"Princess, I heard that the seventh son is quite a piece of work, that he's a warrior at the Higher Heaven Realm. You…"
Li Mu was trying to warn her cautiously.
"There's a wet nurse among the servant girls who will be coming with me as I get married off to Clan Zhao."
"I've heard that the seventh son is very cunning."
"As cunning as Liu An?"
Ruirui pouted and continued, "If it hadn't been for him reminding me that the seventh son of Clan Zhao was more than he seemed to be, I wouldn't have asked father to look into it, and he would have just kept hiding what he's hiding. Xiaolizi, don't you think that Liu An and that guy could get along really well?"
"Umm, I'm not sure."
Come to think of it, the two of them really do share some similarities.
Both had tried their best to conceal their martial genius.
Cunning, strategic, intelligent, everything they had were above the common people.
That guy's powers are even higher than those of Liu An.
But then again, the prince has gotten all manner of resources from my check-ins throughout the years.
"Oh come on, you're just reluctant to speak ill of him."
"The Fourth Prince is still my master after all. He may be rambunctious and stubborn, but it is not my place to criticize him."
Li Mu lowered his head.
Speaking of which, I'm probably the one who knows how to hide my stuff best.
That seventh son or Liu An, child's play...
"Whatever. Didn't Concubine Jing have a book named "Plots" around here? I'd like to take a look."
"Umm…princess, I'm illiterate," Li Mu lied.
"How do you go about doing diagnosis and writing prescriptions then?"
"It's all guesswork."
"Xiaolizi, you've really gotten evil."
Ruirui narrowed her gaze and wore a smirk on her face.
Not only did the ones from Shouning Palace know that Li Mu was literate, many eunuchs had also learned that he knew a lot more than he let on.
At the moment, however, he was lying right to her face.
Worse still, his sincere look made him seem as if he was telling nothing but the truth.
Guess I've just learned something today...
Gosh, you're shameless!
Ruirui left Shouning Palace.
In the Taihe Hall moments later...
Ruirui massaged her father's shoulders, thumping hard every now and then.
"Father, you need to learn to be shameless. That's how you'll be able to deal with the remaining noble clans. Don't ever bother being reasonable with them. The more you try to do so, the more loss you're gonna take."
"Who did you learn this from?"
The emperor turned around and shot a look at his daughter.
He seemed to have sensed that his daughter had become someone else altogether.
Like many men out there, the emperor was practically a slave to his daughter in many ways.
It was she who brought light into his life when he was at his lowest points.
The love and affection he showed his daughter were totally different from what he showed the princes.
"Don't bother from whom I learned this. Just tell me if I'm making sense here."
"Yeah, you're right."
"And, Father, you need to get people to keep an eye on that seventh son."
"Yeah, I already did."
The emperor was feeling quite a headache whenever that man was brought up.
No one had known that Clan Zhao actually had some genius who was so cunning in their midst.
Ninth tier of the Higher Heaven Realm...
Just one more step and he's in the Spirit Manipulation Realm!
He knew that the man would have a bright future ahead of him. He then thought about his own sons.
Ruirui is really going to have a hard time.
I wonder just how bad it'll be for her when she finally marries into Clan Zhao.
I owe this girl too much.
"Ruirui, just tell me if you need anything else. Anything I can do for you, I'll see to it."
"A guqin then. A very good guqin."
Ruirui thought for a bit and answered.
Ruirui nodded furiously.
The emperor sighed.
If only the boys were just as mature as Ruirui here.
"Tell me, Ruirui. If I were to crush Clan Zhao now, then you wouldn't have to marry that seventh son. Your little brothers wouldn't need to deal with such a headache in the future."
"Father, no. Just no. Clan Zhao is very, very powerful. If we were to do such a thing, the noble clans would definitely rise against us. The regime would definitely be left in ruins."
"We have a Saint-level master in the royal palace," the emperor added.
That was the trump card of the royal family.
"The Xuan Sect is right behind the fifth son of Clan Zhao. Even if the sect were to keep their hands to themselves while we razed Clan Zhao, what would happen if that guy came back to seek revenge because we couldn't get to him?"
The emperor let out another long sigh while slumping onto his chair.
Ruirui then massaged the emperor's temples.
"Father, not all of my younger brothers are good-for-nothings, all right. There's still a genius or two among them."
Ruirui couldn't help but bring the subject up, seeing the state her father was in.
"Yeah, there're some better ones among them, yet when compared to the seventh son of Clan Zhao, the difference is between heaven and earth."
Ruirui's mouth twitched.
Come on, I just gave you a hint, Father. Why aren't you getting it?
Should I tell father about Liu An then?
"Your Majesty, we've found the Saint-level warrior emerging out of the underground palace!"
A purple-robed eunuch came in at that moment.
The emperor straightened up at once.
"That's fine so long as he's still around. Make sure to not disturb him."
The emperor stood up and paced around Taihe Hall.
"Great Friend Yu, ask him about the man when you get the chance. Forget it, I'll do it myself someday."
Ruirui was dumbfounded for quite a minute before she quietly excused herself from Taihe Hall.