Chapter 1040: Mysterious Men of the Round Table
The first time Zu An had heard of the Zhenyuan Merchant Company was when he was investigating Chen Zhou’s case.
He had learned that Chen Zhou was investigating a smuggling case involving the Zhenyuan Merchant Group.
However, Zu An knew Chen Zhou had died near the capital.
He should already have been en route to deliver his report to the capital at the time.
There was no way he would be investigating some smuggling case.
Furthermore, the corpse that had been burned in the warehouse wasn’t Chen Zhou.
That was why Zu An hadn’t paid the Zhenyuan Merchant Group too much attention.
But as the investigation continued, he saw more and more shades of the Zhenyuan Merchant Group.
Now, after learning that a fiend race expert might be hiding in the Zhenyuan Merchant Group, he knew there was definitely something wrong with it.
“I’ll go with you and investigate the Zhenyuan Merchant Group,” Zu An said.
Qiu Honglei was happy but surprised.
She asked, “Won’t this interfere with your affairs”
Zu An shook his head and replied, “It’s fine.
I just happen to have some things I need to investigate too.”
Qiu Honglei leaned her head against his arm, saying with smiling eyes, “Ah Zu, you’re always so good to me.”
Zu An patted her head.
The two of them began to talk about their lives after they had separated.
Soon after, they unknowingly entered the Zhenyuan Merchant Group’s territory.
Many of the shops in Cloudcenter City belonged to the Zhenyuan Merchant Group, so the area they occupied was extremely large.
But according to Qiu Honglei’s intelligence, Kong Qing was likely hiding in the merchant group’s general headquarters.
The two of them walked around the headquarters like two lovers on a stroll, while scouting out the state of the security and noting things like the shift changes.
After they looked around, Zu An was shocked.
He exclaimed, “This Zhenyuan Merchant Group is crazy! The security is even tighter than the Civil Affairs Manor’s main building!”
Qiu Honglei replied, “The Zhenyuan Merchant Group’s scale was massive to begin with.
Their stores are everywhere around the world.
Meanwhile, Cloudcenter Commandery is where their general headquarters is located, so the situation here is naturally pretty exaggerated.”
Zu An was somewhat hesitant.
He thought, Would it be better to transfer over some troops first
However, bringing troops with him would attract too much attention, and he didn’t have any proof at the moment.
If he didn’t find out anything, the aftermath would be much more troublesome.
After all, investigating such a huge contributor to the nation’s taxes with troops for no reason would definitely have bad repercussions.
As such, he decided to look around a bit first.
The two of them waited until nighttime.
Qiu Honglei wanted to go inside, but Zu An stopped her, saying, “Wait outside here.
After all, that Kong Qing was even able to escape from your master, so his cultivation is quite high.
Furthermore, this Zhenyuan Merchant Group is too big of an organization.
They’ll have many powerful cultivators protecting this place.”
Qiu Honglei harrumphed, sounding clearly dissatisfied.
She said, “For better or for worse, I am a proper Holy Sect Saintess.
I have the ability to protect myself.”
“It really isn’t the same this time…” Zu An said seriously, “Not only does this involve the death of your sect’s elder, it involves a huge shift in Cloudcenter Commandery’s court.
This situation is extremely complicated, and even I have to treat it with utmost caution.
I don’t have the confidence to ensure your safety later.”
With Honglei’s talent and resources, one day, she could definitely become one of the world’s most powerful cultivators.
However, at the moment, she was still too young.
She had only cultivated for a decade or so of time.
How could she compare to those old freaks who had cultivated for decades, or even more than a century
They were facing someone at the master rank this time.
Not even Zu An was willing to take risks without understanding the situation inside.
When she heard the severity in his tone, Qiu Honglei thought for a bit and said, “Alright then.
I don’t want to hold you back inside.
How about this I’ll wait outside to help you later.
If I sense that you’re in danger at all, I’ll cause a disturbance outside to draw their attention.”
She might just go in if she were alone.
But since she was with Zu An, she absolutely didn’t want to drag him down with her.
Zu An smiled and pinched her cheeks.
He was just about to sneak in when Qiu Honglei suddenly grabbed him.
In her hand was a lantern.
She said, “Bring this with you.
This thing is called the Little Empress Lantern.
Once it’s lit, it can lock down everything within a radius of several zhang.
Of course, if the target’s cultivation is really high, it won’t be able to stop them, but it can at least slow their movements.
You should keep this on you just in case.”
She was about to explain how to use the Little Empress Lantern to Zu An, but he had already pushed it back into her hands.
He said, “Don’t worry.
This item won’t be of much help to me with my current cultivation.
This is your trump card, so you should keep it with you to protect yourself.
You still need to help me out afterward.
What if those experts end up surrounding you I’ll feel more at ease if you have this thing on you.”
When she heard the confidence in his voice and saw the calmness in his expression, Qiu Honglei smiled and didn’t persist with the matter.
She said, “I forgot that your cultivation is already entirely different now.
That’s fine too.
You need to be careful.”
Zu An nodded.
He snuck right in as soon as the guards left.
They had observed the guards’ movements during the day, so he was able to easily break through their defenses.
But the further in he went, the more clearly he could feel the security becoming stricter.
There were many hidden places with sentries watching from all directions.
They would immediately become alerted if even a blade of grass moved a bit strangely.
“Why does a merchant group need to be so mysterious” Zu An frowned.
He felt more and more that there was something wrong with the Zhenyuan Merchant Group.
Of course, with his current cultivation, as well as the jade badge’s scouting abilities, it wasn’t too difficult for him to evade all of the guards.
But there were just too many buildings in the Zhenyuan Merchant Group area.
Zu An didn’t accomplish much even after searching for a while.
He quickly stopped his vain efforts and instead hid in the shadows of a building.
At the same time, he increased the range of the jade badge’s effectiveness, controlling all of the small creatures in the Zhenyuan Merchant Group area and having them help him.
Of course, with those little creatures’ intelligence, it would definitely be extremely difficult for them to find a fiend race expert.
However, Zu An didn’t need them to understand anything; he just needed them for their instinctive feelings of fear.
The other party was a master rank fiend race cultivator.
The little creatures were, to a broader sense, also fiend race beings.
It was just that they were low intelligence beasts.
That was why real fiend race cultivators would exert a natural pressure on such little creatures.
If the little creatures entered a certain range, they would feel extreme fear.
Then, he would know where his target was.
The small creatures began to scurry around all the different buildings.
The manor’s guards were baffled, wondering what kind of strange things were happening.
But they didn’t pay it too much mind and just thought that the creatures were too hungry, and had come out to find some food.
The process continued.
After a stick of incense’s time, Zu An finally found a result.
He opened his eyes and looked at a building several hundred meters out.
That place was pitch black, and none of the little creatures dared to approach that area.
Even the cats and mice that passed by shuddered in fear.
“That’s the one!” Zu An kicked off the ground.
He silently took off like an owl.
The entire courtyard was deadly still, but Zu An didn’t dare drop his guard.
He used Concubine Bai’s spice bag to suppress his aura to the extreme, then used ‘Mirror Mirage’ to completely hide even the weakest ki fluctuations.
Only then did he slowly approach.
Even though the other party was a master rank cultivator, it wouldn’t be the first time Zu An had faced a master rank.
He had even fought against stronger opponents in the past.
He was already at the peak of the ninth rank.
Together with his arsenal of secret manuals and bizarre abilities, he wouldn’t be at a disadvantage even if he really fought against a master rank one on one.
He carefully examined his surroundings along the way, worrying that there might be other hidden guards.
However, he didn’t find a single one even after searching for a long time.
He quickly calmed down when he realized that there was no point in having any guards there anyway.
The other party was one of the fiend races’ best cultivators.
If there had been guards there, it might only expose his identity.
As such, he quickened his pace and arrived at the center of the room.
Suddenly, he heard some whispers.
Huh There’s more than one person here. Zu An was surprised and immediately slowed down.
He could still deal with it if it were just one fiend race master rank cultivator, but if there were several, that would be much more troublesome.
But he still couldn't suppress his own curiosity.
Since there were people talking, he might be able to hear some secrets about Zuo Su’s assassination, and he might even be able to undo Cloudcenter Commandery’s greatest enigma.
As for the fact that there were more people present, with his current cultivation, he should at least be able to escape alive.
There was no way there would be many master rank cultivators in there, right
He moved over to the window, then made a small hole to look through.
There was no light inside, making the interior dark.
However, with his cultivation, he could still barely make out the scene inside.
There weren’t any household objects, save for a single round table.
The table was extremely large, more than ten times the size of an ordinary one.
However, there weren’t that many people seated there.
There were only five people.
They were all seated quite far from each other, as if they were on guard against each other.
No wonder the table was so large.
Meanwhile, every single one of them was concealed by voluminous black robes.
Zu An thought, Those dramas from my world lied to me after all. The characters in those dramas would only have some masks that covered their faces or even just their eyes, at most wearing a pair of glasses, but then no one else could recognize them.
He had always thought that if he were there, he would definitely have recognized them.
But Zu An was really stunned, because these people were disguised way too well! He couldn't see their real appearance at all.
He couldn't even discern their sex! Look at how secretive these fellas are.
This is clearly an illegal gathering.
While Zu An was mocking them, someone spoke up.
“Why was Zuo Su killed”