Chapter 553: The Marrying Maiden

Zu An’s eyelids twitched continuously as Bo Yikao spilled his tale, and the rage that burned within him grew hotter and fiercer.

He finally knew how San Cai died. Complications during childbirth? It was all a lie!

Back then, after Ji Chang brought San Cai back to Western Zhou, he had a palace prepared just for her.

San Cai was ecstatic at first, and felt that Ji Chang truly cared about her.

However, she gradually began to sense that things were not as they seemed. There was nothing wrong with the way Ji Chang interacted with her publicly, and he also invited her to participate in various important occasions, like a loving husband normally would.

Despite all this, he had never visited her palace in private even once. The two were only husband and wife in name, not in reality. Ji Chang seemed to treat her as a mere tool, to be used to accomplish his goals.

San Cai didn’t really mind this, because she didn’t really like Ji Chang. Instead, being able to live alone in her own palace gave her a sense of freedom.

She could even write letters to her big brother and sister now and then. Of course, she never mentioned the truth about  her own life, so as not to cause them undue worry.

After her initial happiness, San Cai gradually remembered her purpose. Her first reason for entering into this marriage was to gather information on Western Zhou, and the second reason was to develop a closer relationship with her now-husband.

As such, she took the initiative to approach Ji Chang, but Ji Chang never let slip any information, and she couldn’t find a way to bring the two of them closer together.

One day, something unexpected finally happened. San Cai overheard a conversation between Ji Chang and a strategist.

It turned out that Western Zhou had already set into motion a plot to take down the Shang Dynasty. The wheels had begun to turn during the time of Ji Chang’s grandfather. Back then, Western Zhou already had thoughts of overthrowing the Shang Dynasty. However, the Shang Dynasty was simply too strong, so they could only bide their time.

After the Qiang Faction was defeated and the territory was left without a ruler, they helped the Shang state wipe out the remaining Qiang forces. Under the guise of guarding the border, they spent several decades slowly acquiring the land that used to belong to the Qiang Faction.

Then, they began to rope in various nobles of other states and improve their relationships with them.

Unfortunately, something unexpected happened. Ji Li, Ji Chang’s father, was killed by the Shang monarch, which was a serious blow to Western Zhou’s plans to overthrow the Shang Dynasty.

They also realized that the Shang Dynasty had grown wary of their sudden rise to power. Since the two states were not equally strong, they decided that it was not the right time to show their true colors.

They planned to use the eastern Yi invasion as a way to whittle down some of  the Shang Dynasty’s strength, while they themselves used the opportunity to grow stronger.

Thus, when the Shang Dynasty suggested a political marriage, they immediately agreed.

Of course, agreeing to such a marriage was one thing. There was no way that Western Zhou would allow the blood of a Shang State’s princess to flow into their successors, which would hinder their grand scheme, which by now dated back over a hundred years.

That was why Ji Chang kept his distance from San Cai. They could only be husband and wife in name.

What horrified San Cai even more was that, on the day that she was betrothed, Ji Chang hadn’t come to Wei River merely to fetch her home. Rather, he was using that opportunity to scout out the topography of the area to plan for a future attack.

Making a bridge over the Wei River using boats sounded romantic, but it was actually practice for a future attack via the river.

San Cai’s entire body went ice-cold as soon as she realized this. She knew that her country was truly in danger.

She had always listened to her big brother and big sister talk about the threat that the people of Western Zhou posed. Back then, she didn’t believe them, and merely thought that they were being paranoid.

Who would have known that the situation would be even more dangerous than they had expected?!

She quickly tried to contact her siblings to let them know about all of this, but Ji Chang and his cohort found out about her.

As such, Ji Chang placed her under house arrest. She wasn’t allowed to have any contact with the outside world.

All of San Cai’s methods to contact Yin Capital failed. She knew that she would be locked up until her death.

She didn’t want to die in such a meaningless way, so she steeled herself for the inevitable, and committed suicide.

She knew that she had no way of contacting her home country, so she could only rely on such an extreme method.

Ji Chang could keep her under house arrest, but there was no way he could hide the news of her death.

Once news of her death reached Yin Capital, they would surely be on guard.

Her big brother and big sister were so intelligent, and they would definitely understand the meaning behind it all… 

However, she could never have predicted that Ji Chang would fool the Shang Dynasty by pretending that she had died during childbirth. Even though Zu An and Pei Mianman weren’t convinced, they had been quickly sent over to the next part of the trial. As such, they weren’t given the opportunity to avenge her death.

Zu An and Pei Mianman both wept when they learned the truth about what had happened.

“My foolish sister, do you think we didn’t know how vicious and dangerous the people of the Zhou state were? There was no need for you to give your life as a reminder!” Zu An and Pei Mianman both recalled the cute little sister they had grown up with. When they thought about just how much despair she had felt, and what she had gone through while all alone in a foreign country, they felt as though knives were digging into their hearts.

She had sacrificed her own happiness for the sake of her country, and then sacrificed her life as well. She had been made to suffer so much that she should never have had to go through at such a young age.

Zu An suddenly rose to his feet. He was going to settle things with Ji Chang.

“My king, what should we do with Bo Yikao?” asked the jailer.

Zu An’s voice was cold. “Chop him up into mincemeat!”

Since this was his end historically, Zu An was more than willing to let history take its course.

Bo Yikao quivered in fear when he heard this. “You tyrannical and incapable ruler!” he yelled. “You are completely untrustworthy, and you won’t be granted an easy death..”

You have successfully trolled Bo Yikao for 1024… 1024… 1024…

Zu An remained unfazed. Right now, he only had the desire to kill.

A moment later, Zu An returned to Ji Chang’s cell. He saw that, even though Ji Chang’s body bore several marks, he wasn’t being tortured severely at the moment. Instead, he was sitting in a corner fiddling with a rock. He seemed to be scribbling on the ground.

Zu An’s expression grew cold. “Who allowed him to rest?”

The jailer beside him replied carefully, “The imperial uncle Bi Gan came in earlier and said that the Western Duke should not be subjected to such torture. He was just about to speak with you,my king. It seems like the two of you just missed each other.”

“Bi Gan?” Zu An’s eyelids gave an involuntary twitch. He was well known as a just and honorable official. From recorded history, this man had continuously tried to rectify Di Xin’s corrupt ways. Eventually, Di Xin ordered Bi Gan to be executed by extracting his heart.

Now wasn’t the time to think about Bi Gan, though. He walked in front of Ji Chang and looked down at the writing he had made on the ground. “The Book of Changes?”[1]

Ji Chang was shocked. “I did not expect the king to know about this. This is something that I’ve only managed to figure out in recent years!”

Zu An offered no reply. Instead, he said, “I’ve heard that the Book of Changes is used in divination. You seemed to be doing some of that earlier. What did you find out?” 

Ji Chang lowered his head to look at the diagram below. He said with a bitter expression, “The Marrying Maiden; violence and killing.”[2]

Zu An was stunned. He didn’t expect this man to actually have some skill at divination. He was indeed out for blood this time, and it had to do with his younger sister.

Under different circumstances, he would actually have tried to learn about the usage of the Book of Changes from him. After all, Ji Chang was the creator of the Book of Changes, and it was definitely full of mysterious power.

However, he had no interest in all of this right now. He waved his hand casually, and a subordinate appeared in a few moments, bearing a plate of food.

A jailer quickly brought Ji Chang a meat patty. It was still steaming, and had clearly been freshly prepared.

Ji Chang’s expression instantly paled when he saw the meat patty in front of him.

Zu An sneered. “What’s wrong? Is the Western Duke afraid that I will poison you?”

Ji Chang sighed. “The king is the son of heaven. If you wished for this subject to die, then I must die. Why is there a need to resort to poison? This subject thanks the king for your favor.”

With that, he reached out a trembling hand towards the meat patty and brought it up to his mouth. Hesitation flickered across his face.

Zu An stared at him. He didn’t expect himself to really become history’s tyrant. He didn’t know why King Di Xin would do something this cruel, but he had his own reason for doing this. He had to have justice for his cute little sister.

Ji Chang sighed. In the end, he steeled himself and bit into the meat patty. However, he could not control his reaction. Turning to the side, he retched horribly.

Zu An sneered. “What’s wrong? Does it not suit the Western Duke’s tastes? This meat was freshly slaughtered and prepared.”

Ji Chang was speechless for a moment.

He took a deep breath to compose himself, then said, “The food is delicious, my king, but my body seems to be…”

Before he could finish, Zu An said, “Since it’s delicious, then have some more.”

Ji Chang’s breath caught, and he almost choked.

You have successfully trolled Ji Chang for 999 Rage points!

No matter how shrewd he was, Ju Chan couldn’t help but grow furious. However, he reminded himself of his mission. As long as he could make it past this, he would eventually get his revenge on the Shang Dynasty. He would kill this tyrannical ruler and his witch with a thousand blades. What did this momentary shame and disgrace matter, compared to the grand scheme of things?

As such, he ate all of the meat patties in front of him without a hint of expression. “Thank you, my king, for your gift.”

Zu An looked at him. “Do you know what type of meat these patties were made of?”

Ji Chang’s heart began to pound. “I do not know, nor do I want to know.”

Zu An’s voice grew cold. “Do you think that just because you obeyed me and ate these patties, I will somehow believe that you are truly obedient? That I’ll let you go back to the west so you can continue to carry out your revenge, and eventually destroy my great Shang Dynasty?”

Ji Chang knew that things had taken a turn for the worse, when he suddenly heard the words of the man in front of him. “I will make sure to repay your treatment of San Cai severalfold!

“Men, turn the Western Duke into mincemeat!”


1. The Book of Changes, or the I Ching, is an ancient and well-known Chinese divination text, originating from the Western Zhou period.

2. The Book of Changes uses a set of 64 hexagrams for divination. The Marrying Maiden (also known as Converting the Maiden) is hexagram 54.

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