Chapter 1106: One Behind the Scenes
He decided to first seek out Yun Jianyue and Qiu Honglei to find out what was going on.
Unfortunately, even though he looked for them for a long time where they would usually be in Cloudcenter City, he didn’t find either one of them.
He looked around the city for a bit longer without having much luck.
He sighed. The Devil Sect’s people really are hard to track down…
When he returned to the temporary residence, Sang Hong sought him out, saying, “I brought some people over today to arrest Yu Xuanqing.”
“Oh, Madam Yu didn’t interfere” Zu An asked.
Sang Hong shook his head and replied, “She did not.
However, when we found Yu Xuanqing, he had already committed suicide to escape punishment.”
“Suicide Was he forced to commit suicide” Zu An frowned.
“According to the current situation, it does look like a suicide.” Sang Hong harrumphed.
“But Yu Xuantao also died when we were trying to arrest him.
For two such instances to happen consecutively, how can there be such a coincidence I suspect that Madam Yu is actually completely different in private, and that side is definitely not honorable.”
Zu An recalled Yu Yanluo’s exceptional beauty.
From their time together, Zu An knew that she was a proper clan leader.
She wasn’t as harmless as she seemed in public.
But if one were to say that she was the one who had silenced Yu Xuanqing, then he wouldn’t be too convinced.
“Right, we also found some evidence in Yu Xuanqing’s residence.
Now, it seems Zuo Su and Uncle Ming carried out the smuggling deal with the fiend races through him.
All transportation of the goods was entrusted to the Pegasus Merchant Group.
I am about to lead a group to arrest the Pegasus Merchant Group’s people and bring them back for interrogation, to verify if that is the truth,” Sang Hong said seriously.
“The Pegasus Merchant Group…” Zu An was shocked.
Never had he expected their Imperial Envoy to be acting against the Pegasus Merchant Group so soon.
But as the Imperial Envoy, their decision was reasonable and he couldn't stop them.
As such, he said, “Then why don’t I go with respected uncle”
He was worried that Qiu Honglei would suddenly appear and save the Pegasus Merchant Group’s people.
It would be really bad if she ended up getting hurt then.
If Yun Jianyue made an appearance, on the other hand, he would become worried about Sang Hong instead.
However, with him to mediate things, he could at least prevent the worst from happening.
Sang Hong was a bit hesitant, replying, “But you are still injured…”
“It’s fine as long as I don’t do any fighting.
It’s just a merchant group; the Armed Escort is enough to deal with them,” Zu An explained.
Sang Hong thought that made sense as well, replying, “That is fine then.
When the time comes, stay close to me so that no evildoers can harm you.”
Zu An felt warm inside when he sensed his concern.
The world was just unpredictable that way.
The two of them had been irreconcilable back in Brightmoon City, and yet now, the Sang clan already pretty much considered him family.
Sang Hong thus led a group of people to the Pegasus Merchant Group.
For extra protection, he even transferred over some of the Civil Affairs Manor’s troops.
Gao Ying was currently the officer who presided over them, so it wasn’t too hard to transfer those troops to their control.
The Pegasus Merchant Group hadn’t realized what had happened yet.
At first, the one in charge outside shouted aggressively, screaming ‘Do you even know what kind of place this is’.
However, he was quickly taught a lesson on how to behave by the Armed Escort.
Sang Hong didn’t waste any time speaking to him and instead had his subordinates rush in.
They intended to seize all the people there and the proof they needed.
As such, the soldiers stormed in like a pack of wolves.
The Pegasus Merchant Group had quite a few guards and warriors inside.
They were ready to fight, expecting some scoundrels who had arrived to start trouble.
But when they saw that it was the court’s officials and even the Imperial Envoy, they all immediately lost confidence.
They were just here to make a living; none of them had any thoughts of rebelling against the court!
Sang Hong wasn’t the kind of person to wantonly slaughter the innocent for no reason either.
He quickly stepped forward and said that the Pegasus Merchant Group was involved in the scheme against the duke and smuggling goods to the fiend races.
Those who didn’t know about the matter were to drop their weapons and surrender, and the court wouldn’t pursue them afterward.
His words quickly broke down the will of most of the guards.
None of them dared to receive such a criminal title! They quickly dropped their weapons and surrendered.
But that wasn’t all.
Some of the Pegasus Merchant Group’s important individuals saw that the situation was unfavorable and tried to escape.
Soon, the sounds of intense fighting broke out from inside.
Sang Hong harrumphed and rushed straight toward the rear courtyard.
Zu An worried that it was Qiu Honglei and the others, so he quickly followed along as well.
Zu An sighed in relief when he arrived at the rear courtyard.
He saw that the Armed Escort were surrounding a dozen or so of the Pegasus Merchant Group’s men, and they were fighting fiercely.
The ones who were surrounded were all men; he didn’t see Qiu Honglei.
The Pegasus Merchant Group’s people weren’t weak.
But the Armed Escort had the advantage of numbers and formations, so they were evenly matched.
Zu An noticed that there were two familiar people in the group.
One was a chubby man dressed in dark yellow clothes who looked like a rich local tyrant.
He was brandishing the abacus in his hands fiercely.
The other had green hair.
From time to time, several thistles and thorns rushed out to disrupt the Armed Escort’s formations.
If they hadn’t been present, the entire group might already have been subdued by the Armed Escort a long time ago.
“Solitary Gold and Solitary Wood,” Sang Hong said with a snort.
He recognized the two people as well.
The two had been part of the group that had attacked his party while they were being escorted to the capital in the past.
He couldn't help but recall his son’s tragic death when he saw them, and a look of displeasure quickly crossed his face.
Solitary Gold reached out a hand and struck the abacus.
Its beads immediately flew toward the Armed Escort like scattered flower petals.
The Armed Escort screamed miserably, and many of them collapsed.
Fortunately, their armor contained special formations that greatly improved their defense.
But even though there was no danger to their lives, they still lost their fighting strength for some time.
Solitary Wood also reached out just then, clawing at the air.
The trees in the courtyard rustled and their leaves flew outward, shooting toward the Armed Escort like sharp blades.
Sang Hong released a cold snort.
He rushed forward powerfully, and with a sweep of his sleeves, he collected all the leaves in them.
He then flung his sleeves outward again, crushing the leaves to powder.
Sang Hong didn’t stop at all.
He rushed quickly toward the center of the battlefield like a streak of lightning.
He took down Solitary Gold and Solitary Wood with just a few moves.
Then, the Armed Escort swarmed around the two, pressing their blades against their necks.
The others became discouraged when they saw that, so they were also quickly detained.
Zu An was amazed.
He was so used to seeing master rank opponents that he had forgotten Sang Hong’s cultivation was also top-tier among people in the martial world.
The Armed Escort then searched through the merchant group.
They discovered that all of the accounts were gone; it was impossible to tell whether they just happened to not be there, or if they had been brought away ahead of time because the Pegasus Merchant Group had received news of the Armed Escort’s arrival.
There were too many people and too much material evidence to seize, so Sang Hong didn’t waste any time.
He began his interrogation right there at the merchant group.
Zu An wasn’t too used to the sight of torture, so he didn’t participate in the questioning.
Instead, he found an empty room and began to meditate.
Soon afterward, Sang Hong approached him with a grave expression, saying, “Ah Zu, things are troublesome now.”
“What is it” Zu An asked.
He knew Sang Hong wasn’t someone who would be shaken up so easily.
Anything that could leave him so distressed definitely wasn’t a small matter.
Sang Hong said with an overcast voice, “Even though many remained stubborn and refused to assist in the earlier investigation, some didn’t last.
The Pegasus Merchant Group is actually acting under King Yan.”
“What!” Zu An exclaimed, shocked. Doesn’t this mean Qiu Honglei and King Yan are actually in cahoots with each other
But Qiu Honglei was clearly caught by King Yan back in Yi Commandery!
“We found some letters, account books, and Yi Commandery government documents in the rooms.
Even though there is no concrete evidence, that is most likely the case.” Sang Hong lowered his voice and continued, “King Yan and the Devil Sect are actually working together.
They are also involved in the smuggling case with the fiend races.”
Zu An said with a frown, “But King Yan and the Devil Sect have continuously fought wars over the years.
They’re supposed to hate each other bitterly…”
“They have just been doing all of that for show.” Sang Hong sneered.
“Hmph, King Yan is surprisingly sharp.
He used that as an excuse to continuously request for resources from the court, but was simultaneously doing this to strengthen himself and his army.”
Zu An was alarmed.
No wonder even though Qiu Honglei had been caught, she didn’t seem to have suffered any real mistreatment.
He had wanted to bring it up, but stopped when Qiu Honglei had asked what he would do if she lied to him, and whether he would blame her.
He had thought she had meant something else before.
Now, it seemed this was what she had been talking about.
No wonder they had been intercepted by the Devil Sect right there and then, the moment the criminal escort fleet had left Yi Commandery.
Golden Token Seven had long been investigating that matter, and yet he hadn’t dared to say it outright.
That might have been precisely what he was looking into.
After all, it involved a king figure.
Without proper proof, making such an accusation would only lead to his own execution.
Sang Hong said gravely, “This matter is too important.
King Yan has powerful troops on his side.
If he decides to rebel, even if we manage to survive and escape to the capital, we will still be executed by his majesty.”
He understood the emperor’s political methods too well.
What the emperor cared about wasn’t who was right or wrong, but rather the potential effects on his own imperial authority.
For the sake of pacifying King Yan, he might even just decide to silence their group of ‘liars who have misled the public’ to quell King Yan’s wrath.
Zu An naturally knew that as well.
At the moment, the emperor’s enemy was King Qi.
He definitely didn’t want more side issues to keep growing.
He sighed and asked, “Then what do we do from now on”
The country looked rich and powerful on the surface, but there were dangers lurking around every corner.
As such, just a single spark might lead to a huge disaster.
“We cannot continue investigating this case.
We will just proclaim that the Pegasus Merchant Group has colluded with Uncle Ming and helped the fiend races with their illegal smuggling.
At the same time, we will claim that the one behind the scenes was the Devil Sect.
Either way, they have more than enough dirt directed at them, and they were indeed involved in the matter.” Sang Hong’s expression was extremely cold as he spoke.
Zu An felt a huge headache.
He knew the proposed method was their best option.
The problem was that he was close to Yun Jianyue and Qiu Honglei.