Chapter 164: Flexibility
Even though the Harpies had known where Halcyon Wing Streak was, they didn’t try to catch him because they had no way of countering his Light Shaking Phantom.
And Su Chen had never changed locations either. Even though Kelesda had lost his ability to precisely track Su Chen after Su Chen had robbed the high-class region of the city, Eternal Night’s spies were still able to pin Su Chen’s location to his residence. This gave Eternal Night the impression that he hadn’t lost control of the situation yet.
That was, right until this moment.
Just as the Zhu Clan arrived and the Harpies were about to spring their trap, Su Chen had suddenly disappeared.
He had vanished from the room that he had been staying at for quite a while now and disappeared without a trace.
This made every one of the higher up Harpies feel incredibly vexed.
Why had he just up and left?
Even when he was being chased by Kelesda or when a Desolate Beast attacked the city, he hadn’t tried to escape in either of those situations. But now that everything had calmed down, he had disappeared. What kind of logic was that?
And no matter what Su Chen’s intentions could possibly be, Eternal Night suddenly found himself in a mental rut.
According to his original plan, Halcyon Wing Streak should have had a strong connection to the Zhu Clan’s members. And so once the Zhu Clan was in their hands, they would have grabbed Halcyon Wing Streak by the throat.
Even if it was impossible for them to force Su Chen to surrender with just that, they should have been at least able to negotiate something. In other words, it would have given Eternal Night the opportunity to force Su Chen’s hand and plan out the situation accordingly.
If he viewed them with incredible importance, then Eternal Night could ask for an incredibly high price. Even if he didn’t view them with much importance, then Eternal Night could pressure the Zhu Clan and make them feel as if they had been thrown to the wayside. Perhaps then they would be willing to give Eternal Night some more information on Su Chen, such as the other party’s identity or weak points.
In any case, the Zhu Clan’s arrival should have given Eternal Night many options.
The only thing that he hadn’t managed to account for was a situation where the Zhu Clan had arrived, while he had suddenly lost the ability to contact Su Chen.
What could he do if he couldn’t contact Su Chen?
The only answer was that his plan would suddenly become much more complicated.
If the plan had blatantly failed, then he could have immediately given the command to wipe out the Zhu Clan. However, the plan had obviously not failed yet as Eternal Night was merely having some trouble getting into contact with Su Chen. He had no idea what Su Chen’s reaction to this news would be. Killing them off like this was indeed a bit inappropriate.
But it was also impossible to say that the plan was a success.
It wasn’t a failure, but neither was it a success. The matter remained completely unresolved, so no one knew what to do.
“You searched the surroundings too, right?” Eternal Night asked.
“We did. He was here the whole time, but after taking Sovereign Inferno’s son, he didn’t return,” reported the official responsible for watching Su Chen. The official understood how to delegate responsibility, and he was the most afraid of Eternal Night believing that his subordinates had done a bad job. As such, had he pushed the responsibility of observing Golden Blaze onto his own shoulders.
“Inferno’s son……” Eternal Night muttered. “Do you think this is related?”
Kelesda pondered the question for a moment before saying, “Halcyon Wing Streak might have discovered the Harpies watching him, but the only reason he was bold enough to stay there was because of his Light Shaking Phantom technique. But when I interrogated him in the past, I found out that this technique of his relies on the use of blood clones to activate. Thus, only he can use it. Whitetower Teleportation can bring others along, but he can only teleport at most a thousand feet with that skill, and so he won’t be able to fully escape. If Halcyon Wing Streak wants to save Sovereign Inferno’s son, then he wouldn’t be able to use Light Shaking Phantom to do so. He’s probably holed himself up somewhere along with that brat.”
Somehow, everyone suddenly had a good excuse for Su Chen’s disappearance.
Eternal Night’s expression was dark. “That makes sense. But the problem is that we cannot contact him, so our plan is still impossible to carry out.”
Kelesda replied, “I’m sure that Halcyon Wing Streak is still in the city. He is probably still thinking about a way to get Sovereign Inferno’s son out of here. In some sense, that’s a good thing. He always does things with careful consideration, and he seems to be much more careful now than he was in the past. As for passing on the information about the Zhu Clan to him, I think that we can figure out a way to do it without contacting him directly.”
Eternal Night said, “You mean……”
“Announce it publicly,” Kelesda declared.
If they couldn’t find him, then they could just make a public announcement. As long as he was still in Sky City, then news would inevitably reach him sooner or later.
Eternal Night wasn’t a full proponent for this plan because Halcyon Wing Streak’s identity of being a human was merely a guess. On the other hand, making a public announcement that he had captured the Zhu Clan would definitely involve him in a political storm.
Humans and Harpies had never gotten along well, and they were often involved in conflicts over borders. However, they were not at war at the moment, and the Harpies had no intentions of starting one, especially given that they had just fought a gruesome battle with a Desolate Beast. Of course, they had also managed to earn quite a bit from their battle, their spoils of war including the Desolate Beast’s corpse and the rest of the slain Demonic Beasts. Turning that wealth into strength, however, would take time.
At least for now, Eternal Night had no interest in starting a war with the humans.
And publicly announcing that he had captured the Zhu Clan was essentially the same as handing the humans the hilt of a sword.
But he really couldn’t think of a better way.
After a moment’s thought, Eternal Night said, “Let’s do it a little more diplomatically. Don’t say that we captured them; just say that we invited them over as guests. Also, invite some of the other nearby diplomats over with the excuse that we’re celebrating our victory over the Desolate Beasts. We’ll hold a three-day celebration. Also, tell the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion to upgrade their service for a little bit so as to minimize the chances of offending the foreign parties.”
“Your Majesty is truly wise,” all of the officials echoed back.
Eternal Night, however, was quite unhappy with the situation. This would decrease the amount of commotion of his move, but it meant that news of the Zhu Clan’s capture would also be watered down. It was entirely possible that Su Chen would simply ignore it if he heard about this event.
After a moment’s thought, he said again, “No, we do need to be a little harsh. We need to be diplomatic enough that we don’t give our opponents an excuse to attack, but we also need to let Halcyon Wing Streak know that, if he doesn’t come, the Zhu Clan will pay a severe price.”
This was a nightmarish situation for the diplomatic official. How would he phrase things in such a way that skirted around causing a political incident while still putting pressure on the opponent? Those two requirements appeared to be at complete odds with each other.
Of course, the official didn’t give voice to any of those concerns. He would do his best to fulfill his king’s demands.
The diplomatic official could only grit his teeth and desperately rack his brains for an idea.
Within Origin Light Castle.
In the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion.
Zhu Xianyao’s expression was dark. “What do you mean? We were invited here, and now we’re being treated like prisoners?”
A Harpy consort sat in front of her. The consort’s age clearly showed, but she maintained her poise and grace.
The consort didn’t grow angry because of Zhu Xianyao’s questions. Instead, she smiled warmly and said, “Miss Zhu, please don’t misunderstand my intentions. How are you our prisoners? I just hope that you can stay here at Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion for a few more days so that we will be allowed to host you awhile longer.”
“There’s no need for that,” Zhu Xianyao replied. “We are here to discuss the purchase of twelve unique materials and don’t have any time to waste. I appreciate your good intentions.”
The consort said, “We can discuss things here. The official responsible for this matter is currently on his way over. Just wait a few more days, please.”
Zhu Xianyao frowned. “These twelve ingredients are incredibly important. The fact that you guys are making an exception and selling them to us humans is a big deal. We should be traveling straight to Sky City so that we can directly meet with all of the important Harpies. How can we stay in Origin Light Castle and wait for them to come to us? This would imply that we have no sincerity and would be a huge faux pas.”
The owner of the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion responded, “Miss Zhu, you’re thinking too much into the situation. The fact that we have invited you all here to discuss the transaction of these twelve ingredients should be a demonstration of our sincerity. How could we think that it’s disrespectful for you to not go to Sky City? After all, this was something that we requested. But if Young Miss is unwilling to stay here at my Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion, then that would be a shame to us. Are we not worthy of hosting Young Miss? Or is there someone Young Miss would like to meet in Sky City?”
When Zhu Xianyao heard this, her expression remained calm as she faintly replied, “Since you are extending such hospitality, then it would be rude of me to be so insistent on leaving.”
When the consort heard this, she smiled widely. “As long as Young Miss understands.”
“But even if we can’t go to Sky City, then I can at least wander around Origin Light Castle, right?” Zhu Xianyao asked.
“This……” The Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion’s owner found herself in a tough spot.
Eternal Night’s primary directive was to keep the Zhu Clan’s envoy confined within the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion and to not allow them to leave at all.
However, his second command had been to not enrage the Zhu Clan or offend them.
This made things quite difficult for the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion’s owner. She needed to both place them under house arrest while simultaneously placating them. That was no easy task.
Like the diplomatic official, the owner of the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion also fell into a difficult conundrum.
Even so, this was just reality. Even the wisest ruler would sometimes give their subordinates orders that were impossible to fulfill.
This was an inevitability for any ruler. One reason was that they were used to having others obey their every command and wouldn’t think too deeply about the intricacies and the requirements to carry out that order. This was also why they almost always selected the most talented and quick-witted subordinates to serve them. If their subordinates could successfully complete a difficult task, then that was a good indicator of their talent and ability.
Under such a system, most subordinates were used to receiving and fulfilling difficult orders. This gave them a chance to demonstrate their capabilities and resilience, but it also subtly tested their “flexibility.”
This was precisely one of those moments now.
When she saw Zhu Xianyao’s expression turning uglier by the second, the consort replied after a moment’s thought, “Origin Light Castle has changed guards recently, so three of the four regions are currently under strict supervision. However, you should be able to move as you please through the eastern region of the castle.”
“The eastern region?”
“Yes. This region belongs almost exclusively to the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion.”
Since His Majesty refused to let them leave Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion, then it was better to temporarily expand the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion’s influence to the entire eastern region of Origin Light Castle.
This was what it meant to be flexible.