The three of them looked at each other, not sure what to say for a moment. In the end, An Bai motioned a little further away from the palace, indicating for them to stay quiet.
The two followed him over to the other side of the garden and then looked at him questioningly.
An Bai sighed. “The spell works only in one direction so they’d hear every word that we say. Right now, I really don’t think they can use that.” Turning to Yi Zan, he couldn’t help but feel like he should probably give a bit more of an explanation. “I’m not sure what His Majesty told you. But the situation was bad.
“I’m honestly not sure if you can say that the Son of Heaven made it through because of His Majesty’s preparations or because he was incredibly lucky. Yes, there were things in place that were supposed to protect him but quite a few of those failed including two of us always being at his side.”
Yi Zan furrowed his brows, still not quite having grasped that part. “Why though?”
“His Majesty had asked me to follow him to the Heavenly Emperor’s palace for a discussion about releasing Zhong Jing Yi from the capital city so that he could take him to the dragon realm. That left Qiang Wei alone in His Highness’s palace. Zhong Jing Yi somehow made his way here and pretended that His Majesty was in danger and needed Qiang Wei’s help.”
Qiang Wei hung his head at that, feeling that this matter was resting solely on his shoulders.
Yi Zan sighed. “So that’s how he did it. Well, he sneaked out of the palace where I was supposed to guard him. I guess there were indeed several things he managed to get around.”
An Bai nodded. “Yes, indeed. I’m not sure if he had planned this a long time ago or if this was a decision he made in a split second today after not being able to leave the city. In any case, he felt caught here.
“Thar is something I warned the Heavenly couple and the Gods of War and Justice about just today. I’m afraid the warning came a little too late though.” He shook his head and then glanced in the direction of the palace.
“In any case, from the looks of it, he tried two attacks: one physical attack with some kind of blade that almost connected but was repelled by the creature that His Majesty left with the Son of Heaven, and then a spiritual attack that was caught by the arrays.”
Qiang Wei faintly furrowed his brows. “That’s the part that I didn’t quite get. The arrays … I remember they were rather explosive? Surely, if he got close enough, they should have attacked him in the same way that they attacked the Heavenly Emperor originally. Why did he manage to just …?”
An Bai sighed again. “Well, precisely because of that matter with the Heavenly Emperor. Originally, when His Majesty put down all these safety precautions, he was overly worried. Those arrays … they would have attacked anyone really. Thus, the Heavenly Emperor was one of the victims pretty soon after he laid them down.
“His Majesty toned them down afterward so that this wouldn’t happen anymore. But that also meant that somebody who didn’t rush in to kill His Highness wouldn’t be pushed out immediately.
“I guess that you could say that while they were too restrictive at first, they finally turned out to be too casual after the adjustments. This was something that nobody could have anticipated. It is neither the fault of His Majesty, nor the Heavenly Emperor, nor anyone else. It was just … bad luck.”
Qiang Wei and Yi Zan nodded, feeling that there really was quite a bit of bad luck involved. So many decisions had led to a place where Zhong Jing Yi was actually able to do something like this. Just one more mishap and the Son of Heaven really would’ve been dead.
Qiang Wei covered his eyes with his hands, shaking his head. “I feel so guilty. I should’ve known not to trust him.”
“Well, the same would go for Yi Zan then. And anyway, there was a decent chance that something might indeed happen. For all you knew, it was strange enough that was Yi Zan and I had both been ordered away. There indeed might have been something going on. And it wasn’t too clear to you either that Zhong Jing Yi might be a danger to His Highness.
“Now, I suggest that the two of you don’t think too much about this. Not even His Majesty anticipated this. So really, this is something that you shouldn’t beat yourself up about. What is more important is that we a more careful in the future.
“Zhong Jing Yi is a newly ascended deity. From what I know, he was only taught defensive spells. Sure, he might be able to conjure up some attacks just based on knowing how to use his spiritual energy but he isn’t really that strong.
“The fact that he was somehow able to outsmart several gods and dragons to do this and get around all his limitations is astounding enough. But that also proves that we were not strict enough before. If this had been a demon instead, they would’ve been able to do the same. In fact, even worse: They might have been able to actually kill His Highness. In the future, we need to be prepared for such possibilities.”
Yi Zan nodded at that. “When His Majesty contacted me, he made sure to reinforce that we were not supposed to leave our post no matter what happened. Even if we think he is in danger, we should stay there.”
An Bai nodded. “I agree with that. In any case, His Majesty is strong. And usually, he would be able to get out of a situation even if he got injured. But His Highness is currently completely defenseless. And killing him would be the same as killing His Majesty. We can’t forget that.
“Somebody preying on him is actually what we should be worried about the most. Because if they want our king dead, the easiest way to go about it would be through his lover. We have to take that into consideration from now on.”