“Nonsense! If he doesn’t believe me, why would he kneel to me…” Zu An suddenly snapped out of it. “Wait a moment, I nearly got led by the nose. What can he possibly do to me? I’m the First Sovereign Emperor, Ying Zheng!”
“…” The feminine voice.
“You’re still going to continue that act?” sneered the feminine voice. “Do you know who I am then?”
“You are…” Zu An was just about to reply when he suddenly remembered his role and quickly corrected himself, “You are my wife, the empress of the Qin Dynasty?”
“…” The feminine voice.
“Then shouldn’t you know better than to talk nonsense in my presence?”
Zu An scratched his head sheepishly. “What can I say? I just regained my memory after all. There are many things that I still don’t remember…”
“Shut up! How could I possibly not recognize my own husband? Don’t bother trying to use that nonsense you fooled Zhang Han with on me!” sneered the feminine voice. “Besides, you didn’t even fool Zhang Han at all.”
“What do you mean?” Zu An remembered the other party saying something similar to that previously. Did Zhang Han really see through me?
“You made three mistakes before Zhang Han earlier,” said the feminine voice. “First, Ying Zheng is a vicious tyrant who knows no compassion. If he really comes back to life and learns that Zhang Han has sent the main army of the Great Qin to its grave, there’s no way he would spare that man that easily.”
“I’m still weak from having just regained my memories. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with me trying to placate him for the time being.” Zu An felt that he was getting more and more immersed in the act.
“There’s nothing wrong with trying to placate him, but your words are too childish. You remarked earlier that ‘Such is life. There’s little that a man can do before heaven’s will’, but that’s not Ying Zheng’s personality. Ying Zheng believes that his merit surpasses that of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and he sees himself as an existence on par with the sun and the moon. How could he possibly bow down to life or heaven?” scoffed the feminine voice.
Zu An fell silent. He was a keyboard warrior after all. He might be able to dominate the online community, but feigning the First Sovereign Emperor without any practice beforehand was clearly beyond his means.
“The second error you made is to claim that the ponytail girl is your friend,” said the feminine voice.
“What’s the problem with that?” asked Zu An in confusion.
“Ying Zheng is an arrogant person. He wouldn’t allow anyone to be on the same standing as him, let alone have any friends. You could have called the woman your subordinate, servant, or even plaything, and Zhang Han would have spared her. Yet, you chose to address her as your friend,” explained the feminine voice.
Zu An nodded in realization. That would explain why Zhang Han’s tone changed after that. However, unwilling to give up just like that, he tried to argue, “Hmph! I’m already a new man after having lived a new life. What’s wrong with me having a new personality? How could he be so certain that I’m a fake from all that?”
“How could a person’s personality change that much? Besides, you still have an even more fatal error aside from those two,” said the feminine voice.
“What is it?” Zu An’s heart skipped a beat.
“You mentioned that you’re worried that those dead spirits will alarm me if they manage to rush out from the lake?” The feminine voice was filled with ridicule when she said those words.
“Is there something wrong with that?” Zu An was confused.
Instead of answering the question directly, the feminine voice asked, “Do you know who those undead spirits are?”
“Aren’t they the dead souls of the revolutionaries from the Six Eastern Countries?” asked Zu An.
“Hahaha! If you wish to act as Ying Zheng, you shouldn’t trust the words of others that easily!” The feminine voice laughed chillingly. “Those dead spirits aren’t the revolutionaries of the Six Eastern Countries but the 200,000 soldiers that formed the core army of the Qin Dynasty!”
“What?!” Zu An was shocked.
“Back then, Zhang Han, as the Chamberlain of Palace Revenue, was in charge of supervising the prisoners at Mount Li for the construction of the imperial mausoleum. The world was in disarray then, and the Qin Dynasty was at threat. He led the prisoners of Mount Li to defeat the invading revolutionary armies. In view of his contribution, the imperial court began supplying him with more and more soldiers, eventually entrusting the core army to him.
“Zhang Han was indeed fairly capable. With his skills, he suppressed the enemies and nearly quelled the revolution. However, a formidable figure emerged then… In the Battle of Julu, both he and Wang Li were defeated by the Hegemon-King of Western Chu, Xiang Yu, and he suffered yet another defeat in the Battle of Zhangwu too. On top of that, he’s also on bad terms with Zhao Gao. Out of fear that he would be killed, he chose to side with Xiang Yu, so he led the 200,000 elite soldiers of the Qin Dynasty on a losing battle against Xiang Yu.
“The ones sealed under the lake are the dead spirits of the 200,000 elite soldiers of the Qin Dynasty.”
Zu An was alarmed. It was no wonder why those dead spirits were filled with hatred for Zhang Han… It turned out that they were betrayed by him!
“So, they wouldn’t alarm you because they are Qin soldiers?” Zu An analyzed where he had gone wrong.
“No. It’s because Ying Zheng wouldn’t worry about that,” replied the feminine voice.
“???” Zu An was bewildered.
What’s wrong with you and your cliffhangers? Can’t you just finish your sentence properly in one go? Don’t you know how tiring it’s me to keep cueing you to continue on?
“Do you know what Zhang Han was doing before he led the soldiers to suppress the revolutionaries?”
“Didn’t you mention earlier that he was the Chamberlain of Palace Revenue, in charge of building the imperial mausoleum or something?” replied Zu An.
“To be more exact, he wasn’t building the imperial mausoleum but the empress’ mausoleum,” replied the feminine voice.
“Empress’ mausoleum?” Zu An was stunned. “Is there such a thing? I don’t recall there being such a thing in historical records. In fact, there’s nothing about Qin Shihuang’s empress at all.”
“That’s because Ying Zheng destroyed all of my records, just like how he torched all of the Confucian books,” replied the feminine voice. “Since you have some understanding of this piece of history, you should be able to guess my origin from my surname.”
“You’re a princess of the Chu Country?” asked Zu An.
“Indeed, I’m from the Chu Country. Due to my position as the empress, there are many nobles from Chu who have a high standing in the Qin Country too. At the start, our interests were aligned with Ying Zheng, so we helped him rule the country and even suppress all of the rebellions going on.
“Unfortunately, the Qin was ambitious and wanted to rule over the world. The Chu stood in its way too, which resulted in an irreconcilable conflict between us. My uncle is Lord Changping, Xiong Qi, and he even became the prime minister of the Qin Country. However, as a citizen of our Chu, his heart still lies with our country. So, when the Qin first raised its arms to invade the Chu, my uncle rallied his soldiers and rebelled, resulting in the worst defeat the Qin has suffered ever since it embarked on its ambitious conquest.
“Ying Zheng was infuriated with us. He entrusted 600,000 soldiers to Wang Jian and tasked him to eliminate the Chu while clearing away all of Chu’s influence in the Qin. As the princess of the Chu Country, I’m naturally one of the first ones to be hit hard.
“I was soon removed from my position, and all of the nobles from the Chu in Qin are slaughtered too. Even my son, Fusu, due to having the Chu bloodline running through his veins, lost his right to succession and was exiled to the border to build the great wall…”
Zu An was taken aback. “Fusu is your son?”
“Is there anything wrong about it?” Mi Li’s voice suddenly turned chillingly sharp.
“No no, of course not. There isn’t anything wrong here…” replied Zu An sheepishly. He was still imagining her to be a beautiful and graceful big sister type woman, but all of a sudden, she turned into an auntie who already had a child. It broke the immersion of his fantasy.
He finally came to a realization. There was actually a lot of contention surrounding the succession to the throne after Qin Shihuang in his previous world. Many people believed that Fusu, as the eldest son, should have donned the crown, just that Huhai, Li Si, and Zhao Gao schemed to steal the throne, killing Fusu through their ploys.
Even so, historians still couldn’t understand why Qin Shihuang dispatched his eldest son, Fusu, away from the center of politics over to the border. Some claimed that he was intending to temper Fusu and have him build a good relationship with the Meng clan and the military so as to prepare for his succession. There were also some who said that this was simply an act of exiling Fusu.
However, as it turned out, Fusu had simply lost his right to succession due to his mother’s bloodline!
“Ying Zheng had always hated women due to his mother’s adultery with Lao Ai, and the tragic defeat the Qin suffered to the Chu further fanned his hatred toward me. Unsatisfied with just stripping me of my position, he ordered Zhang Han to construct this mausoleum to seal me off lest I seek vengeance on him in the future. So, if you were truly Ying Zheng, why would you care about those soldiers alarming me?” scoffed Mi Li.
Zu An finally understood where it all went wrong. Goddamnit, why does the circle of nobility has to be so messed up?!
“Wait a moment, auntie. I have a question…”
“What did you call me?” There was a hint of fury in Mi Li’s voice.
Zu An was rendered speechless. You already have a child, but you still don’t want people to call you auntie? What should I call you instead? Lil’ sis?
Despite his internal retorts, he was a flexible man and quickly changed his tune, “Big Sis Empress, based on the history I know, Qin Shihuang and Zhang Han should have been ordinary mortals. They shouldn’t have possessed such mystical powers. Yet, Zhang Han turned into an indestructible zombie and possesses great power, and big sis, you seem to have lived for thousands of years now, becoming something that’s neither living nor dead…
“I want to know what happened to you all. Why would you be brought over from Earth to this world of cultivation, and where did you learn these abilities?”
Mi Li was bewildered. “Earth? I don’t get what you’re saying. We’ve always been in this world, and our abilities are of course things that we slowly grasped over time. If not for Zhang Han’s strength, how could he have possibly become the Chamberlain of Palace Revenue, one of the Nine Ministers?
“As Zhang Han’s current state, that’s because he cultivated a certain dark element cultivation technique, offering his own physical body up in order to attain eternal life.”
Zu An was baffled. “You have always been in this world?”
The confirmation left him extremely confused. It seemed like a huge coincidence that this world had the same dynasties and events as his previous one, the only difference being the existence of supernatural abilities.
Is this like a parallel world, just that it’s mixed with an additional element called cultivation?
Putting together what he knew thus far, he deduced that something major might have happened in this world after the Qing Dynasty, resulting in a huge gap in civilization. It was only a long time later before civilization began to resurface.
The new civilization had not only humans but all sorts of lifeforms. In the battle for resources, all sorts of wars broke out. Eventually, the first emperor of the Great Zhou Dynasty managed to rise up on top and achieve victory for mankind, driving all of the foreign races off to the borders to suffer.
As for all of the dynasties prior to the huge gap in civilization, the people in this world collectively termed them as the ‘ancient era’.
It was then that Mi Li’s voice suddenly broke his train of thought. “You have too many questions. Hurry up and make your decision. Once Zhang Han finishes curbing the escaping dead spirits, it’ll be the end of you and those two women.”
1. Xiang Yu is a famous figure in the final years of the Qin Dynasty. He was the de facto chief of the rebels, and he defeated the armies of the Qin Dynasty battle after battle. Unfortunately, he later lost to Liu Bang, who then moved on to establish the Han Dynasty.
5. The Meng clan is the closest aide to Qin Shihuang. The Great Wall was by the borders, guarded by the Meng clan, which was also why people thought that Fusu was there to win the Meng clan over to his side and build up his influence.