As soon as Zu An heard those words, he pointed to Qiao Xueying and exclaimed, “Her! Let her go first!”
“…” Qiao Xueying.
“Wow, I really should thank you for your generosity, huh?” Qiao Xueying shot Zu An a deathly glare.
“You aren’t even my woman, so why should I protect you? Not to mention, we’re enemies now. Haven’t you heard of the saying ‘kick them while they’re down’?” Zu An wasn’t embarrassed in the least.
Qiao Xueying sighed deeply and said, “Haaa, you do have no reason to protect me.”
Zu An was a little flabbergasted by how easily Qiao Xueying was going along with him. “Am I hearing things? You’re actually agreeing with me?”
Qiao Xueying rolled her eyes and said, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you look so horrified when I’m agreeing with what you said? Do you actually enjoy having me refute you? Disgusting!”
On the stone table, Chu Chuyan burst into laughter. The two of them always bicker with one another whenever they meet. It really feels like a love-hate relationship.
The black-armored general shot a glance at Zu An before saying, “At least you’re much franker than that man earlier on, a genuine scoundrel.”
“Wait a moment, why am I a scoundrel? Haven’t you seen how devoted I am to my wife?” Zu An immediately lost his temper. “Oh, wait a moment. Does that mean that Shi Kun abandoned her? Did he try to use her as a shield so as to buy time for his own escape?”
Qiao Xueying was taken aback. “How did you know? Have you been spying on us?!”
“I don’t have such an interest.” Zu An shrugged. “Do I even need to watch to see it to know? It’s a scene so cliché in drama series that it hardly interests me anymore.”
“What is ‘drama series’?”
Neither Qiao Xueying nor Chu Chuyan had heard of it before.
“That’s not important. The important thing is that you should have finally seen what kind of a man Shi Kun is. He’s someone who values his own life above others. Putting aside a servant like you, I reckon that he wouldn’t hesitate to abandon his own father in times to danger!” said Zu An. “That’s why I say that women like you are shallow. You think that good-looking guys are bound to have pretty hearts too. Please! Men who look good are bound to be creeps!”
A split second later, he quickly supplemented, “Cough cough, I’m the exception, of course. Someone as handsome and gentle and kind as me is one-of-a-kind in the world!”
“Stop it, I’m going to puke.” Qiao Xueying rolled her eyes. “It’s already bad enough that I’m going to die here, so can you at least stop torturing me?”
“Hey, are you going to continue being so rude?” Zu An was displeased.
The black-armored general finally interjected with a cold harrumph. “How long are the two of you going to fight for? Don’t worry, I’ll take both of your lives at once so that you can continue bickering on your way to hell.”
It raised its hands, and two sabers materialized before their heads like a guillotine. It looked like they would fall at the next second and decapitate the two of them.
“Ah Zu!” Chu Chuyan cried out in alarm, but she couldn’t move at all. Even if she was in her peak condition, she still wouldn’t have been a match for this black-armored general.
Qiao Xueying closed her eyes. Ever since she was treated like a shield by Shi Kun, her heart had already died. At this point, death felt almost like a relief to her.
It was then that Zu An suddenly spoke up, “Brother Zhang Han, there’s a question that I need to ask you.”
Those abrupt words left Chu Chuyan taken aback. Even Qiao Xueying also opened her eyes in intrigue. Who is he talking to?
The two women took a look around, but there was no one else around.
“Zhang Han…” The black-armored general shuddered upon hearing the name. It took a long while before he finally responded wistfully, “It has been a long time since anyone has called me that. I’ve almost forgotten my own name.”
Qiao Xueying’s lower jaw nearly dropped to the ground. The zombie general has a name, and Zu An actually knows it? What’s the world coming to?
Chu Chuyan was stunned too. Zu An had really given her a lot of surprises over the last few days. More and more secrets were surfacing from him, stoking her curiosity. She realized that she had never really gotten to know the real Zu An all this while.
“How do you know my name?” Zhang Han turned to Zu An with doubt in his eyes.
Zu An smiled and said, “If I say that we’re friends in our previous life, would you believe me?”
He had already used his skill ‘Befriend a Rich Man’. Yet another 100,000 silver taels going to waste… Damn!
He had learned his lesson from his previous failure with Shi Kun. He knew that even if he became friends with the target, he still couldn’t change the target’s train of thought. Thus, he chose to proceed with this matter carefully, not daring to be too direct.
“Friends?” Zhang Han was stunned for a moment before roaring into laughter. “I, Zhang Han, have no friends. I didn’t have any before, and I’ll never have any!”
Despite those words, Zu An noticed that the two sabers in the sky subconsciously moved sideward a little.
He sighed softly and said, “Y’know, we have a word for people like you—tsundere. Are you sure that you don’t want to have friends? Surely it must be lonely for you to guard this lifeless tomb all alone for so many years?”
Zhang Han was silent for a while before sighing deeply. “Lonely? Time already holds no meaning to me, so what does loneliness count as?”
Both Qiao Xueying and Chu Chuyan glanced at one another in bewilderment. The scene before them was simply too incomprehensible. In the dingy depths of this underground palace, Zu An is actually having a philosophical debate with a zombie?
However, Zhang Han soon snapped out of his daze. He stared at Zu An with blue flames burning intently in his eyes as he asked, “Who in the world are you? How do you know my name?”
“A woman named Mi Li told me,” replied Zu An.
He made sure to assess the black-armored general skeleton carefully as he said those words, hoping to garner some information from the latter’s reaction.
“Hmmm~” A surprised, feminine remark sounded from the depths of the underground cavern. However, it was so soft that others couldn’t hear it at all.
“Her Majesty? No, that’s impossible!” Zhang Han shook his head vehemently with a fearful look on his face, as if he had just learned something incredibly terrifying.
“Her Majesty?” Zu An’s eyes lit up as he remembered a piece of history in his previous life.
In the Spring and Autumn–Warring States period, the Qin Country was originally on good terms with the Jin Country. It supported the fleeing Duke Wen of Jin onto the throne, ushering in prosperous times for the Jin Country, who swiftly moved to conquer the states around it. Unfortunately, the Qin Country harbored great ambitions—it intended to conquer the Central Plains, and the Jin Country was both literally and figuratively standing in its way.
The Jin Country couldn’t bear the notion of the Qin Country expanding its influence to the Central Plains either, so a conflict broke out between the two countries. It eventually led to the Battle of Xiao, where the Jin Country set up traps for the Qin Country along the way and defeated the latter’s army. That led to a complete fracturing of relations.
Having become enemies with the Jin Country, the Qin Country soon proposed a political marriage with the Chu Country in order to strike an alliance. It just so happened that the Jin Country was a common enemy between the two of them, so it didn’t take much for them to get together on the same bed.
In the next hundred years to come, the Qin Country and Chu Country sustained their bonds by intermarriage. The queen of the Qin Country would often be the princess of the Chu Country, and the men of the Chu Royal Family went by the surname of ‘Xiong’ while its women went by the surname of ‘Mi’.
‘Mi’ was a truly rare surname, so it was easy to link it to the Chu Country.
However, the Chu Country’s princesses who had married into the Qin Royal Family were only able to become queens. Theoretically speaking, there were only two of them who were qualified to be termed as empresses.
However, based on what he knew, neither Qin Shihuang nor Qin Ershi had any historical records on their empresses.
“How do you know Her Majesty’s name? There should have been no one in the world who knows who she is. Who are you?” The black-armored general rushed up to Zu An as it demanded with a fevered tone.
The other party’s powerful presence made it hard for Zu An to breathe. He gulped fearfully as his heart quivered in hesitation. Should I gamble it?
He was aware that even if the black-armored general viewed him as its friend, it was unlikely that it would let Chu Chuyan go. Since that was the case, he had no choice but to give it a try.
Go big or go home! If I’m right, it’ll be all good. If I’m wrong, well, death is the worst that can happen.
“Hahaha! You’re asking who I am?” Zu An suddenly burst into hearty laughter.
Qiao Xueying turned to stare at him with a bewildered look. Has this fellow been scared silly?
“I’m the one who has risen above the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to become the first sovereign emperor of the world! I am Qin Shihuang, Ying Zheng!” Zu An put on an air of royalty as he spoke. “How could I possibly not know the name of my own empress?”
In a hidden space in the depths of the underground palace, within a big crystal coffin, lay a beautiful woman drabbed in the fineries worn only by the empress. She opened her eyes and spat, “That bastard! How dare he takes advantage of me?”
On the altar, Zhang Han was utterly shocked. He staggered a few steps backward in shock before murmuring weakly, “Y-Your Majesty?”
Qiao Xueying was baffled, unable to comprehend what they were saying at all.
What sovereign emperor and Qin Shihuang? Why haven’t I heard any of that before? It’s lucky that we’re the only ones here, or else if word were to spread that he proclaimed himself as emperor, the whole Chu clan will be executed together with him.
Only Chu Chuyan frowned upon hearing those words. She remembered hearing those names from the historical records in the academy, but there were very few details stated in there. This world was severely lacking in the research of historical text.
“Zhang Han, why are you not kneeling despite being in my presence?!” Zu An roared majestically, but his heart was beating quickly in unease. Did I go too big this time around?
“Chamberlain of Palace Revenue, Zhang Han, pays respects to Your Majesty. Long live Your Majesty!”
The black-armored general recalled how it thought the latter felt close to it earlier on. With all of this circumstantial evidence in place, it quickly kneeled onto the floor and kowtowed to Zu An.
The two women were so shocked that their eyeballs nearly popped out. It was unbelievable to them how a powerful expert like the black-armored general was actually kowtowing to Zu An. They would have never imagined this to be possible.
Chu Chuyan fell into deep thought. The black-armored general had identified himself as the Chamberlain of Palace Revenue, which was one of the Nine Ministers. He was in charge of collecting land taxes and managing the imperial family’s vault. He was also responsible for maintaining the imperial garden, imperial chambers, and all building-related matters.
That would explain why the black-armored general was so powerful. It turned out that it was a ninth rank cultivator. This would also explain why this place resembled the mausoleum of the imperial family.
But what is happening with Ah Zu? Is he really that Ying Zheng he claims himself to be?
“How long are you going to continue holding me hostage?” said Zu An coldly.
“I dare not to!” Zhang Han quickly released the bindings around Zu An as it wondered why the emperor had turned so weak.
Having guessed its thoughts, Zu An added, “I’ve only just regained my memories. I haven’t regained my strength yet. You may rise.”
Zhang Han nodded in realization, satisfied with the explanation. “Thank you, Your Majesty. It looks like Xu Fu has successfully found the art of longevity for Your Majesty. Congratulations, Your Majesty! Long live Your Majesty!”
Zu An was dumbfounded.
Wow, this is really queer. It’s exactly as what I’ve heard about the Qin Dynasty in my previous life… but did the Qin Dynasty in my previous life have such formidable cultivators too?
Something must be wrong here!
However, since he had already begun the act, there was no choice but to see it through to the end. So, he sighed deeply and said, “What’s the point? My Great Qin Dynasty has already fallen!”
Zhang Han quickly kneeled onto the ground frightfully and cried out, “I deserve death for my incompetence!”
1. The distinction is made between the Qin Country and Qin Dynasty. Before the Qin Country united the Central Plains and formed its own empire, it had kings and queens. It’s only after the unification that emperors and empresses came to be.