Chapter 417: A Sea Change

All eyes turned towards the main gate at the announcement that an imperial edict had arrived. A wave of frenzied discussion followed.

“Why would an imperial edict arrive at this time?”

“Are you dumb? Lord Sang is the trusted aide of the emperor and empress, so it’s only natural that they would offer their congratulations! Who knows, Miss Zheng might even be fortunate enough to receive a title!”

“Tsk, even though the Zheng clan has always been a great clan in Brightmoon City, they are still a merchant clan without much status. This changes everything!”

“What’s the point of getting jealous? Why don’t you produce a great beauty like Miss Zheng as well, if you have the skill? Maybe then you’ll have a chance to change your social class too.”

Sang Qian was extremely pleased when he heard these discussions. “Dad, the emperor actually sent his congratulations! This is an amazing surprise!”

Sang Hong didn’t reply. Instead, his expression became grave. From what he knew of the emperor, his son’s marriage wasn’t worth His Majesty’s attention.

It really was hard to say whether the imperial edict was good or bad, considering that it had come at such a time.

Soon, a group of soldiers entered in a single file. These warriors were extremely proud. It was clear that being stationed in the capital had given them a natural sense of superiority towards those in Brightmoon City.

These soldiers split into two rows in an orderly manner. Then, an elderly man dressed in official robes slowly walked in, holding up a bright yellow scroll.

This man had a full head of white hair, yet he didn’t give off a feeling of great age. Rather, he seemed to glow with life.

His sharp gaze swept across the surroundings. Zu An was startled. The presence that this person gave off was even greater than Liu Yao’s!

Next to him, Xie Daoyun gave a startled cry. “A king has come personally!” she said in a hushed voice. She recognized his identity from his official robes.

“King?” Zu An’s eyes narrowed. After all, in this world, a king wasn’t determined purely by bloodline. That was only one of the prerequisites. The second was that the individual had to have reached the master rank!

This was actually a master rank cultivator!

He wondered who was the strongest—this guy, Old Mi, or Wei Dan.

In truth, these three were all way stronger than him. Any one of them could easily kill him, so it didn’t really matter who was stronger.

“King Liang!” Sang Hong immediately rushed over to greet him. As fellow officials in the capital city, he obviously recognized this individual.

King Liang Zhaoyi was an uncle of the current emperor. He was the oldest member of the imperial clan, as well as a man of virtue and prestige.

Sang Hong felt his unease grow. He had good self-awareness, and knew that not even his own wedding would be worthy of a personal visit from King Liang, let alone the marriage of his son.

King Liang nodded in his direction, and then said with a loud voice, “Linchuan Commandery Governor Sang Hong and Brightmoon City River Patrol Army Commander Sang Qian, come forward to receive the imperial edict!”

“Long live the emperor!” Sang Hong and Sang Qian were both shocked. They quickly knelt down to receive the imperial edict.

King Liang unfolded the imperial edict with a cold expression and began to read the contents. “The righteous emperor’s imperial order states… The father and son of the Sang clan have been granted this emperor’s favor, yet they forged evidence to slander the local officials and court ministers, causing great disorder within the court. Their official positions will be stripped henceforth, and they are to be escorted back to the capital immediately!”

Zu An didn’t understand some of the strange words used in the imperial edict, but he understood the most important line. A smile appeared on his face. His wife really was dependable! A new imperial edict had been dispatched so quickly! He was worried that it would take a few more days. By then, Zheng Dan and Sang Qian would’ve already been married, and it would have been too late!

An uproar broke out once all those gathered around understood the contents of the imperial edict.

What was going on?!

Wasn’t Sang Hong the emperor’s trusted aide? His prospects had seemed boundless just a second ago. Why had they suddenly been stripped of their positions and treated like criminals?

The one most shocked by the news was undoubtedly Sang Qian. He’d been waiting for the emperor’s blessings with a big smile on his face, imagining just how he was going to brag to everyone in his circle. Who would’ve expected that he would end up trapped in this type of nightmare?!

The huge gulf between his expectations and the harsh reality left him completely stupefied. “No! That’s impossible! It’s definitely fake! It’s fake!”

He couldn’t control his emotions any further, and began to yell.

King Liang frowned. He said coldly, “Oh? Are you claiming that this imperial edict I am personally reading off of is fake?”

“No! That’s not what I’m saying! But…” Sang Qian’s thoughts were already a complete mess. “We’ve worked so hard for the emperor all this time! Why are we being punished instead? There must be some kind of misunderstanding! Yes, there’s definitely a misunderstanding!”

King Liang’s voice took on an icy edge. “Are you questioning His Majesty’s judgment?”

Sang Qian wanted to say more, but his father stopped him. Sang Hong asked, “I had a bad feeling from the start, but I never expected that it would really end this way. However, I am still quite confused. How did I lose? What went wrong?”

King Liang chuckled. “Lord Sang will understand once you return to the capital city.”

Sang Hong felt his heart well up with resentment. As fellow subjects of the court, he would have expected at least that much from the other. Why was King Liang kicking them while they were down?!

He suddenly remembered a case back in the capital that he’d presided over, involving a servant under King Liang. He’d judged that case impartially, and showed no preference towards King Liang. That was probably when he had taken offence. Was he using this as a chance to get revenge?

The emperor knows about this grudge, yet he deliberately sent him! Could it be that I, Sang Hong, have already been thrown away completely?

King Liang sneered when he saw his flickering expression. With a wave of his hand, he ordered, “Arrest everyone involved!”

His group of ruthless soldiers charged towards the members of the Sang clan as soon as he finished speaking.

The sudden flurry of activity finally snapped Sang Hong out of his daze. With a bitter laugh, he said, “Today is my son’s wedding day. Could you at least allow them to complete the final portion of their marriage ceremony?”

“Young master Sang is getting married?” King Liang looked at Zheng Dan, who stood nearby. She was dressed in beautiful wedding clothes, which instantly named her the bride. She had a very good figure—Sang Hong knew how to pick his daughter-in-law. “Since you’re already married, then you’re a member of the Sang clan. You’re to be taken away as well, in accordance with the emperor’s will.”

Sang Hong felt as if a bucket of cold water had been dumped on his head. If they were going to the extent of capturing a new bride, didn’t that mean that the emperor wanted to execute the whole clan, down to the third generation?

He knew that the emperor had always been a harsh and merciless man. He had even considered himself one of the emperor’s blades these past few years, one that specialized in getting rid of troublesome individuals.

Even though he was all alone now, he believed that he had always remained loyal and devoted to the emperor all these years. He’d even gotten rid of many thorny problems for the emperor! He’d been sure that he would have at least had a few decades of retirement to enjoy. As for his skills going to waste, that would be something he would think about later.

He never thought that this day would arrive so quickly.

While Sang Hong felt like he had been thrown into an ice bath, The members of the Zheng Clan were even more alarmed. They thought that they found a great patron to latch onto, and that they were finally going to climb up into the upper echelons of society. However, they were now faced with a calamity that was about to lead to the eradication of their entire clan!

Zheng Yutang rushed out and said, “Long live King Liang! We are being wronged! We never participated in the Sang clan’s conspiracy! We had no idea what was even going on! Even this marriage has been forced on us by the Sang clan, using their authority! We are also victims!”

Sang Hong was in such a daze that he heard none of this, but Sang Qian exploded with anger. “You shameless bastard! Who was it that begged us to accept this marriage? How dare you speak such words now?!”

Zheng Yutang immediately said, “Everyone, look! I am supposed to be his elder, yet he speaks to me without a trace of respect! You can easily imagine how unfair our clan has been treated! What can our Zheng clan do if the Sang clan wields their authority to force this marriage upon us? Please judge this situation fairly, King Liang!”

All the other guests had strange looks on their faces. The Zheng clan had not stopped bragging about their upcoming marriage with the Sang clan recently. Every single member of the clan, from the clan master down to their servants, had been brimming with joy.

Of course, it was mockery for the sake of mockery. They clearly understood that, with the Sang clan’s sudden collapse, no one wanted anything to do with them.

“Enough!” King Liang said in a huff. He obviously cared little for the details. “Regardless, you are considered a part of the Sang clan if you’ve already completed the marriage ceremony. You will be escorted back to the capital city. As for your punishment, the commandant of justice and the imperial censors will be the ones to decide that.”

Everyone in the Zheng clan turned pale. It was one thing if it were just Zheng Dan alone. However, they feared that the Sang clan had badly offended the emperor. The consequences of that would reach beyond Zheng Dan, and could lead to the execution of the entire clan.

However, against a glorious king who was a master rank expert, a meager Zheng clan had no right to resist.

Several soldiers walked over to Zheng Dan with chains, about to detain her.

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