“Huh?” Zu An was stunned. Someone had spoken up for him? He couldn’t begin to decipher who the emperor was talking about. Was it Chu Chuyan? But she would never have been granted a private audience with the emperor, right?
The emperor’s expression grew gloomy. He walked over to the window and gazed into the distant skies. His initially vicious expression had softened slightly. “Back then, I owed them a favor…”
His voice trailed off. He was reminiscing, but Zu An didn’t know if he was remembering that person, or something else from his past.
Zu An was stunned by the emperor’s expression. He was probably thinking about some old flame. Also, why does the emperor look so much like a simp?
Was there some woman in this world that was beyond his reach?
This speculation instantly ignited Zu An’s thirst for gossip. Who was this woman? And, even more strangely, why would this woman speak up for him?
When did I ever meet someone like that?
He thought about the women that he knew, and couldn’t think of anyone that fit the bill.
By this time the emperor had already turned around. “How has Wanru been recently?”
“Wanru?” Zu An was stunned. It took him a while to realize who he was talking about. “Mother-in-law hasn’t had it easy recently. She has been endlessly worried, thanks to all the dangers surrounding the Chu clan.”
As he replied, his mind began to leap about. Qin Wanru had a relationship with the emperor? Why did he suddenly see some greenery above his father-in-law’s head?
Could she have been the one who spoke up for him?
That doesn’t seem right, though. She can’t even help the Chu clan, so how can she protect me?
“Are you trying to speak up for her?” The emperor harrumphed. “Who told her to pick that Chu Zhongtian fella back then? Otherwise, she would have been an imperial concubine right now, and none of the things that are vexing her would have come to pass.”
Zu An could only stare.
He was genuinely shocked. Even though he had guessed that there might be something between these two, he never expected that Qin Wanru had a chance to be an imperial concubine!
Father-in-law must have had some character, to have stolen a girl from the emperor himself! No wonder the Chu clan has been suffering all these years…
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” the emperor said with a snort, as though he could read Zu An’s thoughts. “How can an emperor like myself grow jealous over a woman? The main reason for my actions against the Chu clan is because the Chu clan is nobility from the previous dynasty, and one of the leading clans, at that. Their land and wealth do not belong to the court, which makes them a state within a state. How can I tolerate something like that?”
“I get it, I get it.” Zu An had a strange look on his face. Even so, I refuse to believe that you didn’t have any thoughts of taking down your rival in love. Otherwise, why did you target the Chu clan first? There are so many other noble clans to take care of.
The emperor frowned, clearly unwilling to discuss this matter further. “Even though I promised that person to spare your life, it was on the premise that you would hand over the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra. If you do not, then I will have no choice but to betray my old friend.”
Zu An couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.
“Didn’t you just say that you didn’t care about chasing the fleeting possibility of immortality?”
“It’s fleeting for other monarchs, but the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra is right in front of me right now. How can it still be considered fleeting?” The emperor said with a cold laugh.
Zu An was speechless. So this guy was just trying to show off? I almost gave him too much credit.
He deliberately hesitated. “It’s the only trump card I have. What if I’m still sentenced to death after I hand it over?”
“I do not go back on my word,” replied the emperor, his voice growing dangerously quiet. “If I say that I have promised an old friend to spare your life, then I will spare your life. Do not challenge my patience.”
Zu An clenched his teeth. He fished out the Hat of Forgiveness and tossed it to the other man. “The chants and forms of the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra are stored within this hat. You’ll be able to sense the scriptures if you put it on.”
He was gambling on the fact that the emperor had never truly laid eyes on the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra before. After all, all of Old Mi’s companions had been silenced back then, and there was no way that old man would’ve sent back any news regarding the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra himself.
Even the eunuch Wei Dan had never seen the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra either, so there should be no way for the emperor to know what the true scripture was written on.
Of course, he didn’t have the skill to leave soul imprints on the Hat of Forgiveness. That was Mi Li’s work. He’d only been able to pull this off because of her knowledge and cultivation.
When he caught the hat and noticed its lush green color, the emperor subconsciously frowned. He didn’t immediately put it on.
“I heard that you gave the young master of the Sang clan a green hat as well, during his wedding in Brightmoon City.” The emperor’s expression became dangerous.
Zu An panicked. He didn’t expect such details to reach the emperor’s ears. He had no choice but to reply honestly. “That is indeed the case, but that hat is different from this one. That was just a normal green hat, but this one has the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra recorded on it.”
The emperor frowned. “I still cannot understand why you would give Sang Qian a green hat, especially since your most precious Phoenix Nirvana Sutra takes the same form. According to my intelligence, you and Sang Qian did not get along.”
Zu An broke out in cold sweat. The last thing he expected was for his past pranks to end up messing things up for him now. “I wasn’t thinking about anything else back then. I just didn’t want to give him anything expensive, so I chose a cheap hat. It was a coincidence. Purely a coincidence.”
“Is that so?” The emperor sneered. “I assumed that giving someone a green hat meant that you’d fooled around with his wife, or something similar.”
Given his powerful information network, it wasn’t hard for him to figure out Zu An and Zheng Dan’s relationship.
Zu An was at a loss for words.
How could he possibly admit to that? If the emperor knew that that had been his intention, he wouldn’t be able to remain alive, no matter how many lives he had!
After all, besides threats to the imperial throne, what the emperor feared the most was any of his concubines messing with other men.
There were endless beauties within the chamber of concubines, but there was only one emperor. There was no way he could pay close attention to every single one of them. A single moment of carelessness, and one of those concubines might seek out another man out of loneliness. That was why any men who had dealings with imperial concubines would be castrated and turned into eunuchs.
He quickly sought to explain himself. “That was absolutely not my intention! Furthermore, there’s no way I could make up something like this hat!”
The emperor nodded. “Hmph, if it wasn’t because of the profound mysteries contained within this hat, mysteries that not even I can understand, I would have immediately cut you down upon seeing this type of green hat.”
Zu An smiled apologetically. “Your majesty is truly wise and brilliant!”
He sighed. This Keyboard System always gave him weird but amazing things. That Heiress’ Ball of Delights was like this as well. Early in his journey, he had been able to survive and even win fights precisely because of that item, even when there was a huge gap in cultivation.
This Hat of Forgiveness was equally profound. Mi Li could vaguely sense some mysterious rune formations on it, but that was only because of her extensive knowledge. She was truly a genius when it came to such things.
Even though the emperor was strong, his knowledge in this field did not come close to Mi Li’s. Although he could sense the mysterious dao within, he could not understand the source.
All he knew was that this hat was not any ordinary item. Not even he could create something like that, let alone Zu An. That was why he believed Zu An.
Of course, how was he supposed to know that Zu An had such unbelievable cheats?
Hat in hand, the emperor returned to his dragon throne. He hesitated a little, then put it on. He knew that someone with his cultivation did not have to fear any trickery that may have been contained within this hat. He had only hesitated because, if he truly obtained the real means to immortality, he might lose faith in the values he had believed in and pursued for his entire life.
Be that as it may, though, the temptation of immortality was way too great. The battle with the fiend races had cracked his foundation, which had lowered his life expectancy significantly. Even he could sense, in a vague way, that he didn’t have many years left, yet he still had too many things that he wasn’t willing to let go of.
Zu An let out a long, relieved sigh when he saw the lush green hat sitting on the emperor’s head. Even though there were some hiccups, things had still gone pretty smoothly.
His mood suddenly lightened significantly. He was probably the first one in history to make an emperor happily put on a green hat!Previous Chapter Next Chapter