Zu An looked first at Bi Linglong, then at Concubine Bai. They were two truly contrasting beauties.
Even though the crown princess was physically stunning, she was slightly too aggressive. In contrast, Concubine Bai seemed more gentle and dignified, and was more likely to form good impressions in the minds of those who crossed her path.
Whatever the case, these two seemed to hate each other. He could even vaguely sense sparks in the air between them.
The crown prince immediately became as happy as a puppy. “Big sis Bai, you’re here!”
That young noble lady bowed gracefully, her movements as smooth as flowing water. “I am a humble servant, and there’s no need for the crown prince to address me in such a way. You can just call me Rouxue.”
So her name is Bai Rouxue.
Wait a minute, ‘humble servant’?
Zu An suddenly realized that this young woman was probably the concubine that Chu Chuyan had told him about. The emperor had given her to the crown prince, after which she had given birth to a son.
No wonder she had called the crown princess ‘little sister’ earlier on. Even though Bi Linglong had clearly been unhappy, she had to rein herself in and maintain a mask of civility.
This Bai Rouxue looked a little older than Bi Linglong. At times, the crown princess still seemed to behave like a young woman, but this concubine acted more like a married woman, and a mature one at that.
His eyes subconsciously drifted towards her impressive chest. Chu Chuyan had mentioned that she had already birthed a child… was she still breastfeeding?
Bai Rouxue’s face turned a bit red, as if she had noticed his roving eyes. However, she did not bring it up, and turned towards the crown princess instead. “I heard little sister Linglong’s voice all the way from the other courtyard, so I came to see who had made you so angry.”
Bi Linglong was annoyed. Are you mocking me for having a loud voice?
“I only wanted to teach an ignorant man a lesson,” she said casually. “I was not expecting to startle Concubine Bai.”
The other party called her little sister because she was slightly older than her. Given her special status, this form of address was also appropriate.
However, she was absolutely not willing to call her big sister. After all, she was the real crown princess. Why would she ever call a concubine ‘big sister’?
“Oh? Is this the so-called ‘ignorant man’, then?” Bai Rouxue gave Zu An a curious look.
Zu An’s expression was strange. This wasn’t the right time for this! He felt as if he had suddenly been caught up in a great palace drama.
He looked over at Zhao Ruizhi. This fatty’s luck with girls wasn’t all that bad. Both of these girls were extremely beautiful, and possessed contrasting styles.
At the moment, though, Zhao Ruizhi was smiling like a complete idiot.
Bai Rouxue gave Zu An a once-over. “Judging from your attire, you aren’t a member of the palace. How did you gain entry?”
Bi Linglong grew alarmed. What she said was true! This was the most important issue, but this fellow’s brazen demeanor had left her fuming and dulled her usually-sharp wits, and it had slipped her mind earlier on.
Zu An replied, “Zhuxie Chixin escorted me here, after which Elder Li took me to a nearby place to wait.”
Bai Rouxue’s expression flickered. She finally remembered why this name was so familiar. This was the guy who possessed the technique that granted immortality, the one that everyone was clamoring about.
Bi Linglong also looked at him in surprise. She finally knew who Zu An really was as well.
Bi Linglong huffed angrily and said to Zhao Ruizhi, “Crown prince, let’s go back. You aren’t finished with your morning lessons yet.”
Zhao Ruizhi began to panic. “But I want to play with Zu An some more! There are so many things to do…”
Bi Linglong merely shot him a sidelong glare, scaring him so badly that he swallowed the rest of his words.
Bai Rouxue pursed her lips and said, “Little sister Linglong, why are you in such a rush to leave?”
“I must escort the crown prince back to his lessons,” Bi Linglong replied indifferently. “I cannot neglect his well-being.”
Hmph! This Zu An has been summoned to the imperial palace to meet the emperor himself, but she had just given the order that he be beaten to death! If news of this got back to the emperor, she did not wish to consider what sort of thoughts he might have towards her and her clan.
She knew that there was nothing else she could do to Zu An, so why would she linger further and make a fool of herself?
She glanced at her maid. The maid—Rong Mo—quickly ordered the eunuchs to escort the crown prince away. Their party left hurriedly. Only Zhao Ruizhi turned his head to look behind him reluctantly, either to get one last glance at gentle big sister Bai, or because he didn’t want to leave Zu An yet.
When they had left, Zu An clasped his fist towards the graceful noble lady. “Concubine Bai, thank you for speaking out for justice earlier. You've saved me quite a bit of trouble.”
Bai Rouxue nodded her head slightly, a faint smile on her face. She offered no reply, and merely turned around to leave quietly.
Zu An felt a dark cloud hanging over him. Were all women in this palace so arrogant?
That beautiful crown princess hadn’t deigned to speak to him either, and had used her maid as a mouthpiece. She had only opened her mouth to speak after Zu An had annoyed her sufficiently that she lost control.
Now, it appeared that Concubine Bai, who seemed so gracious and elegant, was also insufferably arrogant, not even willing to speak a single word to him.
It made him feel as though he was a bloody sex offender. Who the hell are you even on guard against?
Of course, he knew that women of ordinary clans would never talk to male strangers for no reason, let alone these imperial concubines. They labeled men outside of the family ‘outsider men’. A single moment of carelessness might lead to rumors that they were secretly meeting up with an outsider man. Something like this would be catastrophic for the reputations of most girls.
The inhabitants of Brightmoon City were more open-minded because it was a trade city. The other cities were much stricter with such things.
Ordinarily, though, a place like the capital should not have been this conservative.
A sudden thought struck him. Since the crown prince was naturally slow, it was imperative that his concubines pay more attention to these restrictions, to avoid arousing suspicion.
This thought made him sigh. Even though this crown prince was dumb, he was quite blessed.
A small eunuch scampered over to Zu An. “My goodness, how did you end up all the way here? All of us were looking for you! Follow me. Hurry! His majesty has finished his court session, and will meet with you now.”
Zu An frowned, and immediately grew suspicious. “Where is Elder Li?”
The small eunuch subconsciously replied, “Elder Li seemed to have made a mistake and the emperor…”
Midway through, he cut himself off curtly. “Stop asking so many questions! Move quickly!”
Amused by this, Zu An followed the small eunuch to a quiet, elegant room. When he saw the words ‘Imperial Study’ on a plaque hanging above the entrance, he sighed in relief. Even though it seemed unlikely, he had still been worried that this small eunuch was leading him to a trap. It seemed his suspicions were unwarranted.
This was the inner palace, after all, operated by the emperor’s personal staff. If trouble sprung up here, the emperor would really be considered too incompetent.
At the entryway, the small eunuch assumed a respectful tone. “Your majesty, I have brought him,” he said.
A dignified voice sounded from within. “Send him in.”
The small eunuch pushed open the door and gestured for Zu An to enter.
Even though he already thought through his plan, now that it was game time, Zu An discovered that he was still rather nervous. His heart was thumping, and even his body was trembling uncontrollably.
It wasn’t that he was cowardly. Rather he was responding instinctively to a feeling of danger. After all, he was going to face this world’s most powerful cultivator. If his plan failed, death would probably be the one thing awaiting him.
Despite this, he himself had spent several decades as an emperor in Yinxu Dungeon. He took a deep breath to calm himself, then strode in.
The small eunuch closed the door behind him.
The sound of the door closing added to the heavy atmosphere within.
Zu An immediately felt suffocated when he entered the room, as if the simple act of breathing had become much more difficult than usual.
His expression changed slightly. He knew that this was the pressure created in the presence of a powerful cultivator. Despite having absorbed Mosquito Daoist’s cultivation and grown in strength, he still felt extremely uncomfortable.
He had never faced such tremendous pressure before. Old Mi, Eunuch Wei, the giant dragon, Mosquito Daoist—none of these opponents, or others he had faced on his way to the capital, had auras that could compare to what he was experiencing right now. The only one with a slightly comparable aura was Mi Li, when he first met her. Back then, though, he had the Heiress’ Ball of Delights, so he hadn’t been too worried.
Then, he had still possessed the courage to fight back, but now, he was trembling from the depths of his very soul. Every single cell in his body seemed to be screaming that all resistance was useless, and that he should accept his fate without any struggle.
But he quickly remembered the remnant soul of the first emperor of China that he had faced in the Ursae Dungeon, as well as the Shang king Wu Geng. He had made it through all those encounters—how could he give in so easily this time?
Furthermore, as a transmigrator, he had seen everything imaginable on the internet in his previous modern world. He couldn’t let his isekai predecessors down!
These thoughts helped him change his perspective, and the pressure instantly lessened.
Not too far away, a surprised voice spoke up. “Oh? You’re a rather interesting fellow.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter