“Stop…” Chu Chuyan cried out and stopped his naughty hands. “There are people outside!”
Zu An knew that she was easily embarrassed and that he probably wouldn’t be able to do anything intimate with her within this carriage, so he did not persist. He wrapped his arms around her waist instead. “This is okay, right?”
Chu Chuyan’s body was cool to the touch, and wrapping his arms around her was extremely pleasant. It was the perfect feeling in the summer heat.
“We’re already divorced, we shouldn’t be doing this…” Chu Chuyan’s face reddened slightly.
“We can still be friends even if we’re divorced. It’s not as though we’ve never held each other before,” Zu An said shamelessly.
“Do you know of any friends who hold each other like this…?” Chu Chuyan said with a snort. However, she knew that they had only divorced because they had no choice, so she did not push him away. Instead, she buried her head in his chest. “Ah Zu, what happened to the two of you? Can you tell me about it?”
Zu An chuckled and said, “You’re probably most interested in what happened between Pei Mianman and I, right?”
“You really have some nerve.” Chu Chuyan straightened. She felt her teeth aching when she saw his mischievous smile. “I didn’t see you for a few months. Then I lost my husband, and now I find out that he’d gotten together with my friend. Despite it all, I’m not holding it against you.”
Zu An immediately hugged her and said apologetically, “What does my wife want to know? I will tell you everything in great detail…”
Chu Chuyan’s heart softened when she heard the words ‘my wife’. Even though the two of them were officially divorced, that was not how she felt inside. She was still extremely happy that he addressed her as such.
Leaning closely against each other, they shared what had happened to each of them over this period. Of course, Zu An had the most to say.
“You spent several decades with Manman in the dungeon?!” Chu Chuyan was rather envious. She hadn’t felt that way earlier on, since she hadn’t been sure what Zu An’s fate would be, and since Pei Mianman was also her good friend and not a complete outsider.
However, when she learned that they had spent several decades together as true spouses, she lost her cool. Why did it now seem as though they were the real married couple, while she and Zu An hadn’t spent nearly enough time together?
Zu An felt a bit guilty. “To be honest, I don’t think it was actually a few decades. The flow of time in the dungeon was quite strange. If someone told me that it was a few decades, I would have believed it, although, in reality, it was only a moment. We didn’t really spend decades together.”
“Even if it wasn’t a few decades, it was still at least a few years!” Chu Chuyan said, glowering. She didn’t know why she was so angry, yet the more she thought about this, the worse she felt.
You have successfully trolled Chu Chuyan for 233… 233… 233…
Zu An gently took her into his embrace again. “My wife, I am so happy that you’re jealous about what happened. I thought that you didn’t care about me anymore.”
Chu Chuyan finally lost her composure. “Why do you only feel happy when you make others angry? Are you some sort of freak?”
Zu An knew that persisting with this topic wasn’t a wise choice, and that it might really spiral out of control. He quickly changed the topic and said, “My dear wife, please tell me more about the capital. That way, I won’t be going there completely ignorant.”
He’d heard some things about it from the Sang father and daughter earlier on, but they had little time for leisurely chatter since they had been on the run. He was still pretty clueless about the capital.
Chu Chuyan’s expression grew serious, now that he had turned to more important matters. “Besides His Majesty, there are eight people who are considered to hold the highest official positions, and command the greatest prestige. Everyone refers to them as the Eight Dukes: The Grand Preceptor, the Grand Tutor, the Grand Protector, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Works, the Grand Minister of War, and the Great General.”
“By the way, the father of Shi Kun, whom you offended in Brightmoon City, is one of the eight dukes. He is the court’s Grand Minister of War, Shi Miao.”
Zu An had a strange look on his face. “Why does everyone have such weird names?”
Chu Chuyan was momentarily speechless.
What goes through this dummy’s head every day?
She continued, “Of course, you don’t need to be too worried. Even though the Eight Dukes possess high social standing, these positions do not possess any real authority. They do not manage any official affairs. That’s why, even though you’ve offended the Shi clan, things aren’t as bad as you think.”
Zu An chuckled. “That Shi Kun always looked so smug, and I’ve always thought his clan was powerful. I guess he’s just a paper tiger.”
“I only said that because I didn’t want you to feel too much pressure,” Chu Chuyan said in warning. “However, even though the Eight Dukes are only nominal positions, their status cannot be denied. Their disciples are scattered throughout the court, and many of their own descendants hold high positions. You cannot lower your guard.”
Zu An chuckled. “I’ve already offended the emperor himself. Beside him, the Shi clan is nothing.”
Chu Chuyan sighed. “You’re really optimistic.” He was right, though. As of this moment, the greatest foe was the emperor. The Shi clan was insignificant compared to him.
She began to explain the various powers in the capital. “Under the eight dukes are the White Rider General, the War Chariot General, the Vanguard General, the Defense General, and other generals…
“The Vanguard General and the Defense General are my grandfathers. I already told you about them earlier… King Qi holds the title of White Horse General. This was originally a nominal position, without an actual military command, but King Qi is an entirely different case altogether. He still has trusted men under him.”
Zu An nodded. “I understand. Anyone who can go against the emperor can’t be an ordinary person.”
He’d heard much about King Qi back in Brightmoon City. King Qi looked as though he was battling his nephew, the crown prince, for the throne, but in reality, his battle had always been against the emperor. There was no way he was a weakling.
“The War Chariot General, Liu Guang, is the father of the empress, as well as the older brother of Liu Yao.”
Zu An figured that this position was equivalent to the leader of the royal relatives. The emperor probably put him in such a lofty position to keep King Qi in check.
Even though Liu Yao had nine ranks of cultivation, he seemed a bit too hotheaded and crude. Zu An wondered if his older brother was more competent.
“Then what position does King Liang hold?” Zu An said curiously. There was no way he was only a noble without any official post.
Chu Chuyan replied, “King Liang holds the position of Rear General.”
“Rear General?” Zu An was stunned. This position sounded quite complicated.
Chu Chuyan explained, “Let me explain. The six armies are the Vanguard, the Defense, the Left and Right Guard, the Brave Riders, and the Guerillas. The Vanguard leads the military into battle, while the Defense is in charge of defending the army camp. The Left and Right Guard are commanded by the Left Guard General and Right Guard General. They ensure the safety of the imperial palace. The Brave Riders and the Guerillas are the mobile forces of the imperial palace, and are used to deal with any sudden emergencies. These six armies make up the military force of the imperial palace.
“Besides these forces, there are four armies within the capital city that are in charge of the city gates and public security. Each army is in charge of one region—front, rear, left and right. The ones in command are known as the Front, Rear, Left, and Right Generals. King Liang is the Rear General.
“The Garrisoned Rider, Infantry, Monster Rider, Eternal River, Roaring Fire, and Reserve armies are stationed in the city outskirts. Their commanders are known as the six high military officials. These six armies make up the core force of the empire’s battlefield operations. They are the first to set out to battle.”
Zu An nodded. “So that’s how everything is set up!” He finally understood the military structure of this world.
Chu Chuyan continued, “The core of authority in the court resides within the Imperial Secretariat, the Central Secretariat, and Chancellery. The Imperial Secretariat is made up of the emperor’s own trusted ministers, who discuss important matters together with His Majesty. They are in charge of drafting up edicts. The Chancellery are in charge of the examination and approval of edicts. The Central Secretariat is in charge of implementation and dealing with specific governmental affairs…”
Zu An asked some questions from time to time, and soon understood the workings of the government. The Central Secretariat was a place where many extremely important matters were decided.
The Secretariat Supervisor was in charge of the Central Secretariat, and the Director was his second-in-command. There were several assistant ministers and other officials under them.
The Chancellery was composed of many eunuchs, and served as assistants to the emperor in his daily life. While the officials within the Central Secretariat were not allowed to live in the imperial palace, many of those in the Chancellery were eunuchs and palace attendants, so there was no issue here.
Of course, there was no way a palace eunuch could take care of everything. After all, a eunuch’s knowledge and experiences were limited. That was why the emperor granted many of his trusted aides in the Chancellery the authority to come and go freely about the palace.
The heads of the Chancellery were the Chief Attendants, and there were normally more than just one. There were four in the current dynasty, and under them were the court gentlemen, comprehensive duty personnel, and other officials.
The Imperial Secretariat was the organization in charge of implementation. It was led by the Director of the Imperial Secretariat, and his assistant directors served under him. Beneath them were the high officials of various departments.
In his previous world, many theatrical works involved the main character carrying out a grand scheme. Once he took care of the Imperial Secretariat, his mission would be complete… In reality, though, these various Imperial Secretariat officials weren’t really the ones who had most of the authority, because they merely implemented the policies, but had no say in making them.
Even though these three major departments were equal in name, strictly speaking, the Central Secretariat and Chancellery had greater power than the Imperial Secretariat. Of course, nothing was absolute. If the emperor was weaker and less prestigious, or if he wasn’t competent, then the Central Secretariat and Chancellery may lose power, and the Imperial Secretariat would instead become the main arm of the government.
However, the current emperor was the most powerful cultivator in the world. That elevated the status of the Central Secretariat and the Chancellery.
“Oh, right. The Imperial Secretariat, Pei Ming, and the Chief Attendant of the Chancellery, Pei Zheng, are both from the Pei clan. That’s the same major clan that Manman comes from,” Chu Chuyan suddenly added.
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