Zu An had no idea how to reply to that.
Pei Mianman, who was hiding nearby, was speechless as well, but for a different reason.
“All right, I have to go now,” San Cai said with a smile. “Big brother, do you have anything you want to say to me?”
Zu An’s tone grew serious. “San Cai, from what I’ve seen, putting aside the hostile way in which each side sees the other for now, this Ji Chang seems like an outstanding person. You don’t always have to think about doing what’s best for the Shang State. It would be more than enough if you spent your days peacefully with him. Please do not let your considerations for our matters prevent you from obtaining happiness.”
San Cai curled her lips in a sneer. “Is that all you wanted to say to me?”
With that, she turned and left, dissatisfaction written on her face.
In the end, though, she still turned around and said quietly, “In truth, I don’t really feel much towards that Ji Chang, or whatever his name is.”
After she said this, she fled.
Zu An was baffled by this whole series of events. He looked at the approaching Pei Mianman and asked, “What did she mean?”
Pei Mianman was quiet for a moment, then sighed. “This thing called love truly is painful sometimes.”
The next day, the groom brought San Cai away. Zu An and Pei Mianman had no choice but to return to Yin Capital, no matter how unwilling they were.
Then, they had to help their ‘father’ deal with the Yi invasion.
Zu An and Pei Mianman were already experienced in all sorts of battles and political affairs, thanks to the previous trial. Dealing with their current tasks was not at all difficult.
However, the two of them soon realized that the Shang Dynasty was plagued with many problems. Their nation wasn’t as powerful as it once was, and the bureaucratic system was a mess. Zu An ran into many obstacles while dealing with the logistics of the war.
Pei Mianman also noticed that the military prowess had declined significantly since the days of the ever-victorious army under Wu Ding’s reign.
The two could only do the best they could. They felt as though the country was like a small boat being tossed about in a great storm, one that might capsize at any moment.
During this period, San Cai contacted them from time to time, regaling them with snippets of her daily life, her life after marriage, the local customs of Zhou, as well as how much she missed her home.
She mentioned as well that Ji Chang treated her well, which set their hearts a little more at ease.
As time went on, her letters came more and more infrequently. Even though the two of them found it strange, they didn’t think too much about it. They were busy dealing with the Yi invasion, and did not have much spare attention to ponder over other matters.
After years of war, Zu An gradually set himself above the rest of the court, becoming the undisputed successor of the Shang monarchy.
When Wen Ding passed away, Zu An succeeded him as the new Shang king. Together with Pei Mianman’s help, they finally managed to quell the chaos created by the Yi invasion.
At this time, they received dire news from the Zhou state. San Can had died from a difficult birth.
The sudden news struck the two of them like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky. They dared not believe the news.
After all, Pei Mianman had passed away in exactly the same way in the previous trial. Zu An had been so worried that he had carefully researched this matter, and passed on his knowledge to San Cai. How could she have died the same way?
He quickly sent men to investigate, and soon enough, they dug up more information.
Ji Chang had taken in a noble daughter from the Shen State as a concubine. Once San Cai passed on, he immediately elevated her to his side as his main wife.
Not only that, there were new songs spreading through Zhou’s territory, praising the union as a marriage predetermined by fate. Even the song ‘Match Made in Heaven’ began to circulate again.
His younger sister was supposed to be the main character of this song, yet her role had been stolen by another! As the centuries rolled by, who would remember San Cai? Those who came after would only know this other concubine as the main female character in ‘Match Made in Heaven’.
Zu An was furious. He refused to listen to the opposition of his subjects, and decided to declare war against the Zhou state, firstly because he wanted to settle this seemingly endless trial, and secondly to avenge his dear little sister.
Pei Mianman did nothing to stop him. She was angry as well, because this was the younger sister she had grown up with and loved.
The two were just about to set out to war when the entire world distorted.
When their vision cleared up again, they discovered that they weren’t in their familiar palace, but in a strange and foreign place.
It was clearly still a palace, but it was far inferior to the grand imperial palace in Yin Capital.
Pei Mianman was leaning against his shoulder. The two of them were seated on a wide and magnificent throne, watching as a group of palace maids in revealing costumes danced below them.
Even though Zu An was already a veteran of such scenes, his face still flushed red. The outfits these maids wore were just too revealing! Their dance was extremely seductive as well, dark and enchanting.
This was on the verge of being obscene!
Zu An quickly snapped out of his daze, he and Pei Mianman exchanged looks.
Since they were already used to passing through different worlds, the two of them managed to calm themselves rather quickly. They ordered the dancers to withdraw, and then called over a female attendant.
They were much more clever with their questioning this time around, compared to the first trial, when Zu An was Wu Ding. At the very least, no one suspected them of losing their memories.
They managed to determine their current situation and knew their respective identities without much hassle.
Zu An had a rather strange look on his face, and he stared at Pei Mianman in somewhat of a daze. After decades of progress, it seemed that the spinning and weaving technologies had advanced substantially.
She was dressed in a lavish dress that also functioned as a nightgown. He wondered who it was that managed to combine these two entirely different styles together perfectly.
She was leaning naturally against the throne, the thin material of her dress perfectly outlining her striking curves.
Topped off with her moist red lips, her figure seemed to possess an even more seductive charm than usual. Anyone who saw her would surely daydream about her constantly.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Pei Mianman said, her face reddening. Even though they had already spent so much time together, she seemed to still be the young woman from the past.
Zu An sighed and said, “I didn’t expect the two of us to take on the identities of these two people. This is probably the last phase of the trial. Whether or not we pass or fail will hinge on this.”
“Why are you so certain that this is the last phase of the trial?” Pei Mianman was rather perplexed. “Is there something wrong with our identities?”
“Something is very wrong.” Zu An sighed. “In my dream world, they were the most famous individuals of the Shang Dynasty.”
“Really?” Pei Mianman sighed in relief when she heard that they were still a part of the Shang Dynasty. They had already served as the Shang king and queen for so long, so they were already familiar with the military and system of governance. This bolstered her confidence in their ability to tackle whatever would come their way.
“Of course. It is because you are Daji, and I am Di Xin.” Zu An was full of conflicting emotions. Of all the identities they could have assumed, these two were the last ones that he’d expected.
Could it be that nothing he’d done in the past could change the turning of the wheel of time and help him avert the tragic fate that this country faced? It looked like they were doomed to fail this trial.
He was so overwhelmed that he didn’t even bother mocking himself for becoming his own son.
The father of Di Xin was Xian, the man he had been in the previous trial.
“What’s really going on?” Pei Mianman asked hurriedly.
Zu An sighed and told her the story of Di Xin and Daji.
As she listened, Pei Mianman’s expression grew strange as well. She did not expect them to be faced with this sort of situation.
She quickly sensed Zu An’s sullen mood, though and said, “Ah Zu, even though we don’t know if the world in your dream is real or not, we’ve already experienced so much together. We cannot just accept this fate! Since we already know what to avoid, then even if the conclusion you spoke of seems inevitable, I’m sure there’s a chance that we can still avoid it. It will all depend on whether or not we can grasp this opportunity!”
Zu An felt a shudder run though his body. “You’re right. We won’t give up until the very last second!”
Her words had stirred a renewed sense of motivation in his heart. His spirit lifted, and his heart grew more at ease.
Zu An couldn’t help but laugh when he looked at the devastatingly beautiful woman in his arms. “You vixen.”
“You perverted and incapable king,” Pei Mianman scoffed. After hearing his story, she knew that Daji was history’s most famous fox spirit. Of course, Di Xin was also synonymous with the words perverted and incompetent.
“A pervert? Me? Then I’ll show you just how perverted I am!” Zu An was terrified yet weirdly stimulated when he thought about her current identity. He immediately pounced on her.
Pei Mianman gazed at him with her charming peach-blossom eyes, and she wrapped her arms gently around the man on top of her. “You really are a good-for-nothing king after all. In the previous world, even when I was little, you…”
The two of them had been trapped in this strange trial for way too long, causing several negative emotions to accumulate within them. If they didn’t take whatever opportunity they could to vent them, they would’ve already gone mad.
After their exchange of passion, the two began to seriously consider what they were going to do. Suddenly, a maid entered with a report. “The eldest son of the leader of Western Zhou, Bo Yikao, has come to pay his respects to my king!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter