If Ye Lang was found, many of the migraine-inducing problems bothering the emperor could’ve been solved immediately. However, he was aware that the task of locating the boy was almost impossible. If he could have been found easily, that Ye’s daughter and his precious daughter wouldn’t have stayed mad for long. 

One thing the emperor found amusing about this incident was that everyone knew Ye Lang should be just nearby. They were confident that he had not left the kingdom but no one could locate him successfully! This wasn’t the first time something like this happened too, Ye Lang often hid somewhere people wouldn’t have thought of. 

This time, Ye Lang had no intentions to hide but no one had any clue where he would be! 

“I hope he doesn’t do anything ridiculous this time. Scaring the girls is questionable… But if he did what he said he was going to do, that would be unacceptable,” said the emperor massaging his temples.

What was Ye Lang thinking? Everyone was suffering from the consequences of his words, and now he was missing. 

“He… I don’t think he would do something like that…” answered Ye Chengtian weakly.

“...” the chancellors in the room were silent. Those whose daughters were involved in the competition realized that they couldn’t depend solely on the Ye family and the Royal family for protection. They needed to put in more effort to keep their precious daughters safe! 

The chancellors fell deep in thought. If Ye Lang had actually acted on his words and harmed their daughters, would the emperor and his father punish him? Perhaps they would but it would be a lighter sentence than he deserved. 

“Hey, isn’t Ye Lang your son? Why do you sound so uncertain?” questioned the emperor. The emperor hadn’t noticed the expressions of the other chancellors and continued to chat, no, discuss, serious official affairs with chancellor Ye Chengtian, at least that was what he called it.

“I don’t know, it’s not like you don’t know my son. He has done plenty of silly things in the past,” answered Chengtian while he slowly shook his head. 

“Ah, you’ve got a point. Let’s change the topic, we’ll deal with it when we have more news. But I have to admit my curiosity, who on earth is this Zhen Xiaoyan? Why is Ye Lang willing to go to such lengths to help her?” the emperor was suddenly reminded of the main character, Xiaoyan. 

“I did some research and found that Zhen Xiaoyan is the granddaughter of Count Zhen Tianming,” Ye Chengtian answered. He knew the emperor wanted to know more about the girl’s identity.  

The emperor was deep in thought and went silent for a brief moment. “Oh, Count Zhen Tianming, I’ve heard of him. The Zhen family has been managing this one famous restaurant for generations now, are they still in business?” 

The Zhen family did not reside within the compounds of the kingdom’s jurisdiction, nor were they located at the outskirts of it. Due to that, people here were not familiar and had not heard about the Zhen family until this incident happened. All thanks to the disappearance of Ye Lang and Zhen Xiaoyan, many started to acknowledge their existence, which the Zhen family had slightly benefited off for their future business. 

The reason why the emperor had a slight impression on the Zhen family was because they used to be the palace’s in-house chefs. The Zhen family were masters in cooking, ultimately they became one of the past emperor’s favourites which earned them the title of “Count”. 

That was also the reason why many tried to approach the members of the Royal Family. If you could please them enough till they make you a favourite, you’d gain ultimate benefit and have a bright future. Though doing so could attract great misfortunes like the extermination of a clan, but many were still willing to try. 

“Yeah, they’re still in business. The Zhen Youwei Restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in the Soaring Sky Empire,” answered Chengtian promptly. 

Zhen Youwei… was that chef who earned the liking of the emperor in the past and this restaurant was named in honour of him. With his amazing kitchen skills, the restaurant had earned huge profits and was very popular in its earlier years. 

However, this didn’t last long due to the fluctuations in the family’s managing ability, typical of a family business. As generations passed, the restaurant’s glory days came to an end and business grew stagnant in the last ten years. The Zhen family was still considered as an esteemed clan in the eyes of the regular citizens. But, it was only among the regular citizens! 

“Let’s not talk about that first, I’m more curious about Zhen Xiaoyan as a person. Is her kitchen skills as amazing as her ancestors? Is that why Ye Lang was willing to put in so much effort to help her? I mean, the boy doesn’t seem to care much about relationships these few years, he doesn’t even put in much effort for his own matters,” questioned the emperor. 

“I heard her cooking is superb, that is her only talent,” Chengtian’s answer wasn’t straightforward but everyone was clear that Zhen Xiaoyan had nothing else but her cooking to attract Ye Lang. 

“Say, Chengtian, shall we go place a bet on Xiaoyan winning the competition?” the emperor was very intrigued, slowly forgetting that he was still in his throne in the imperial house. 

“Oh, I’ve had that thought too. I’ve already placed a bet of ten thousand gold coins for that!” laughed Chengtian. 

“... How bold of you!” exclaimed the emperor as he gave Chengtian a sharp side glance to adjust his composure. Reputation was very important to an emperor in the imperial house. 

Ye Chengtian had quickly understood the hint, and used his eyes to convey his reply “The same goes to you, your Majesty.” 

“Your Majesty, why do you think Zhen Xiaoyan would win? She has nothing to offer!” yelled one of the chancellors. He was a relative of one of the participants. 

There were a few chancellors who shared the same thought, they were pretty displeased with the emperor and Ye Chengtian’s opinion though not as strongly triggered. 

“It’s true that Zhen Xiaoyan has zero winning qualities, but Ye Lang would definitely be one of the key factors to her victory. The results are unpredictable,” said the emperor with a slow shake of his head and a fond smile.

“Your Majesty, you can’t let Ye Lang do as he pleases! If that is the case, I’m going to have my granddaughter withdraw from the competition!”

“He’s right, your Majesty! We’ll all withdraw too, there’s no way we’ll let him harm our daughters.” 

“Calm down, my loyal subjects. I will not let him break the rules and I will personally ensure the integrity of this competition. If you’re still concerned, I shall give you special permissions to become the judges, that way the fear of injustice and bribery shall be calmed. Aside from that, I will also dispatch the best of our armed forces to ensure your safety, so rest assured!” offered the emperor without a split second. The emperor needed to establish that he was not in favour of anyone to avoid misunderstandings with the chancellors, though his initial plan all along was to remain neutral. 

Tight security was nothing to Ye Lang, that boy had slipped past them many times in the past. If he was determined to go against them, no one could guarantee how the outcome would be. 

As the chancellors calmed down, Ye Chengtian privately shared a laugh. He was secretly proud of his son. Of course, he had to put on an emotionless and stern outer appearance, as if he would give his heart and soul to protect these people.